Uphill Both Ways
Volume 9 - Boston 1956
of one of those clans, a descendant of a sailing family who remembered the slight his family felt at the hands of the newspaper such as they were and the uneducated public at large at the time.
What had happened, as I remember the story, was that a sea captain of this clan had returned to Boston with an extravagant story of things he had discovered and experienced over the last year while he had sailed the high seas in his fine China clipper (I made that part up). One of his stories involved an enormous sea dragon (I didn’t make that part up). He claimed to have seen it and that was good enough for his relatives. They, too, knew that he had seen a sea serpent. His story found its way into the media which was just as scruffy and disrespectful then as it is now. He was ridiculed, people scoffed at him. The very idea. A sea serpent. Who does he think we are? We know the world had been explored and it’s been proven that there ain’t no such things.
Well, that stuck in the collective craw of the family. Ol’ Uncle Abraham said he had seen a sea serpent, therefore he had. But the besmirched escutcheon of the family’s veracity would not be un-smirched by their protestations, by their defenses, their assurances. That’s how matters stood until the Harvard money boys got hold of this “last member “.
He was reportedly nigh unto death when the MCZ boys called that afternoon and spun their own tale for him - no doubt cashing in on the sense of wounded pride and family hurt that was nourished over the generations. Well, when they got to the part about this big dinosaur that “was really a sea serpent if you’d like to know the truth,” he got a glint in his eyes. Like they hoped he would. So he slyly allowed as how his great-grandpappy had seen one of them, too. Then the two sides were hooked and bargained and negotiated and pretended to not understand -or TO understand, as he case may be- until around 5pm, quitting time, they all agreed the meeting had been a pleasant one, and why don’t we make it lunch next Tuesday at the Harvard Club, Al’s buying that day, and we can seal the deal. So they all did.
They all did (I made all that up again) and that time Mr. Cabot/Lodge got a promise that Harvard really did have a sea monster and that they were in the middle right then of mounting it for the public to view, at which time he offered a promise the underwrite the insertion of the I-beam so that the public would really get a clear view of how large the sea serpent was that his great-grandpappy had seen. The family reputation/escutcheon would then be un-smirched.
In the end he really did cough up the rubles, handsomely, and you can see the wonderful result. Was he taken advantage of? Perhaps, but isn’t that how human affairs function best? We all pretend to be objective and fair and