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Editors Who Sway the People T. A. McNeal A Power in the West By HAROLD T. CHASE I fg VjJ of a series of articles on cdU ' i 0 ittflunu , m the country, WING hi the Atlantic Monthly of the strug Itld ambitions of his early youth on a it Kansas farm, a writer who has since had detlfafi with matters of international ICOpc remarks; "Wei in those days the Topeka Mail, with Tom McNeil readable and wortn-wntie editorials. - back in the 80s, which i n t r a 1 probahl v aCuu;i r the misspelled name. The perennial spring 0fXoi Menl'i humorous, worth while editorials still gmhe! i for the Topeka Mail, now the Farmers' Mail ;r ; Breeze, a publication known from one end ol tbl . to the other. Kver week there is a double the ipreading head: "Pasting Comment 1'. h Ni al " It discusses war. international prob lems, domestic politics, rural matters; no topk is out- sympathetic interest of the editor, and the views ,;i viewi ol Ton McXeal in the mood and on the date when he writes them -not alwayi the sinu tl iamc subject. He reserves all his rights Hid w convinced of the error of his wa reverses htmSM Cahfl nonchalance which is one of the things I I account for the fact that in 30 years of writing ;1 McNeal! editorials have never "lost a il we except a considerable number of pro-German readers four and five years ago. Pljj Comment is an elastic, liberal and com prehensn caption, of which the editor takes advantage. When the controversial spirit fails to move aright, he will "ren nisce" ol early days, and these chapters ol the pi ' iue period when everything west of To peka tras a COW pasture, and when McNeal was run ning an-!' ' Jerry Simpson for marshal of the town oj Mm! Lodge, or against Clu ster Long, later a United Stat I Senator, and beating him. for the state legislature, and was a friend and neighbor of Carrie Nation- all four d these historic persons were habitant , the village of Medicine Lodge in the late 70's and early '80's are a sort of reading, humorous, witty, an :dotai and pictorial in letter and spirit of a period no past, that in the "long winter evenings" not only the farmers and the farm bs. but the denizen ! Kansi tOWIIS and cities "eat up." Or Passing Btmenl will relate the surprising adventures and philosophic opinions of Truth ful James, a patronymic m igo invented by the editor as the vehicle of a different passing and recurrent humor. There is riuinali: the tales and experiences of Truthful James, ami local color; otherwise its prototype is the late Baron Munchhausen, But the farm reader, to use a colloquial expression, "claps his beak" over "Truthful," as Passing Comment calls him "for short." Not a week passes but from one to a dozen, and it times a Hundred or more, farmers drop into Topeka. perhaps for a convention, or on the way to or from K.iiis.ts City with a car or two ol cattle' or hogs, and locating the publishing house of the Capper publica tions, inquire for Tom McNeal." On these occasions a man of sturdy build, medium height and ol deferential manner, rises, extends his hand in cordial greeting, and more likely than not calls the visitors by name, for there is no count) at in Kansas where he has not delivered a speech, and his own name is a "house hold word" in the Itate. There is no formula pre scribed for interviewing Tom McNeal in his editorial den. or retaining him ill Conversation. These personal greetings often are prolonged tor an hour, two hours, or longer, for the farmer "has nothing particular to do till train tune." and to his colleagues it is the perennial marvel ol Truthful James's methods of work that time is no object to him. No matter who the visitor, of what age. Occupation, lex, condition of life, or color, he or she has a hospitable and respectful welcome, for McNeal is one of the people, likes his fellow-men well and meets them on a level. The farmer is fully as class conscious as the union ized workingman, and more suspicious of other classes. His confidence in denizens of cities is strictly circum SCribed The lublime reliance ol the Kansas farmer on Tom McNeal is illustrated by his mail, in which not a sreek passes but a farmer or farm wife or even farm boy writes for the solution of some vexatious personal problem, a line fence, a mortgage, and many times in regard to domestic friction, even a threatened divorce. Several years ago a closing out sale of men's clothing was advertised in Topeka. in which overcoats wen "marked down" to $5. During the sale a letter came in Passing Comment's mail from a farmer in the west em part of the state, who wrote with rural brevity and directness : "I see by the paper Badders is advertising overcoats for $5. I enclose a $5 bill. Please pick me out an overcoat and send it to my address." There was nothing in the letter to indicate whether the writer was undersized or of Jets Willard bulk. A further exchange o! letters necessarily followed, but the farmer got his overcoat. The author of Passing Comment has known inti mately every important public man in Kansas for a Mmjl 'jBaaaaaaaaV aa s THOMAS A. McNEAL generation. He has served in the legislature. He is regarded as the father of the state publication of text books for the public schools, and since its creation has been a member of the State Textbook Commission, an arduous and unsalaried public service. The most noted humorist in the state, there is nothing else so likely to " get the goat" of the author of Passing Comment as to be introduced as a humorist, or to be invited to make "one of your funny speeches." In his serious writing there is much "in Passing Comment to grip the intelligence and idealism, as well as the common sense, of the Middle West Mc Neal endeavors to keep the lid on his sense of humor, but it is a jack-in-the-box that cannot be repressed altogether under any circumstances. He regrets this infirmity, believing that it detracts from his serious aims in impressing the sober mind of the reader but it is more likely that, together with his amiable way. in laying down often dogmatic opinions, of allowing, in cidentally, that these are merely his impressions and may, of course, be entirely wrong, it is the principal foundation for the faith his now hundreds of thousands of readers have in his sincerity and disinterestedness. However that may be. Passing Comment today in Kan sas comes nearer than anything else since Greeley's Tribune of the border-ruffian era to constituting in politics the farmers' bible. The Achievement of an Actress Concluded from page 11 I beuan t understand. When I left her company she mile' me, wishing me great luck. "Renit n r, the w ay tO be a good actress is to pre tend that i n performance is your opening night on Broadwa) lien von will never give a bad perform ance." So 1 hack to the stock companies Albany, Toledo. 1 . Moines. I had tried so many tunes to get the char t : ,l.t in a New York City production, and jddenly r ed how poor an actress 1 had been, and how shah creature. 1 re solved never to make an i? a New York production until I had tnofOOfhl) arned my craft. Heretofore 1 had aimed at a low tried part, supporting a star suddenly I transferr- y ambitions. I was going to be hading "vwt- ir, at a salary of two hundred, or tivc ''l irs a week! 1 wee Yorl a Kood h was never iroing to enter king for work until I could drive up to in a taxi, register for a large room and V"' wea l clothes, and walk into a managers jWcesod: ,1 that the people in the uter otYicc would toy uunand. j"f 11 Moines offer came to me because oi mj JJJJ1 m a dler company. The salary was very large. -M a IV I IW .. " . ..' .1.:. ........ ..-r,l. ' ' I UilllM, 1 1 ION l li I I I 1 s i 1 1 iui r i ft lit . vl t .f ilr. k .. .... I- nwl lIllMI -VITV 'Mil tant t , i ne ouiul it sjDc 0 Umrm m trjck of chaiacteria It I w . ' , til t III US ltd I I. 'I I II 11 . 11 V',, il1 the most difficult order." but each week . . -i wihi piavea trie cm nan sioppeu talked k "Ur Tu, s(,ay or Thursday matinees, and th K, )rm ' me in New York along the Street e ol il,,n. It i, i i . i .i 1,1 a ie neen oniv a snrug oi mm wvwucr, ,otl, Ii the hands, the intonation of the voice, but (nd i ia amv M t,u' 1 xi,rt ss,nn oi mdhridualit ima,- ,?CVC1 5'rgt Mrs. Fiske'l advice to MM M) nation grijfyi in Om Monies for eightv weeks, and auerc y,,n rtIitation grew beyond the city. Man "Sirs an . .. i. . . . i . i "" ' wno played the city naa stopped i JJ? amc the day when I felt that 1 had learned w hat i' uhn' 1 Could go to New York, and demand ralt. rtd to bc m' own- 1 announced to the M ome, I, P aIthat I was leaving mv place in Dei 11 " eighty weeks. I had saved considerable :)-n,' h allow me to go to the fashionable 1)11 v cm J i( Ut a,l( purchase a proper wardrobe; to n Wit; to wire to a New York hotel to nc rooms, ; ' arr,v;d in New York 1 was rested. Dressed etfcok 1 the tht'ater. backed bv a well -idled Nut to my mite, and ccn before 1 had taken off my hat. the telephone rang. I had been recog nized in the lobby, and it was a manager asking if he could see me. Vskjngl I had not seen the rooms in which I was to live, yet New York knew' I had arrived and wanted me. The very next day I ligned a contract That fall I appeared in a war play. " rnis and the dirl" and the dramatic critics announced that I was a newcomer and a great success. It was hard work, that business of climbing toward success. There were plenty of hours when I was dis appointed, when I hated myself and everyone about me, when I cried myself to sleep. Hut I never gave up fighting, and I never forgot that every performance might be the one at which a manager might see me. and be so impressed by my work that he would en gage inc. Even after I reached New York. I never gave up my study. Every play I've seen I've watched how other people gained their points; every play I've read I've i l f lole. Hard Work Ticking wild flowers around the North Talking with an armless deaf and dumb man. Convincing your syife that her 114 hat is right in style. Smiling when your alaim clock goes off. Reading Henry James's books Refusing B drink. Pronouncing those Kuropean names. Finding a new joke in a musical comedy. Mating live broiled lobster daintily. Convincing yt Hired! that you don't want an automobile. Getting yOW wife to the theater before the second M t (letting your husband to church before the do.olog Paying your bills. tried to discover a hidden characterization in the au thor's written words. I have been fortunate enough to have succeeded in four roles in New York City, two of them allowing me to play Oriental characters a Chinese girl in an American atmosphere, and a Japanese girl of fantastic mind also an American girl, and a foreign duchess. Only a versatile training allows one to attempt such a diversity of characterizations. Since the great success of MEas1 is West," it has been very amusing the way people have asked. "Did you Study 1 Chinese cirl before you played 'Ming T. ;" I don't think that I ever consciously studied any par ticular person. I notice the speech of everyone I meet, catch their inflections and gestures, and put them awav in my mental storehouse. I have never been to the Orient probably never will. Just at present I am so content in having a home in New York City, and being able to play in the large cities of the united States, that I ask for nothing else. However. I am not satisfied by any means. I want to keep on going, right to the top of my profession. I would like to appear in a modern play picturing the life of the people of the lower classes, where emotions are primitive. I think that the part of a woman oi the slums would not be beyond me. At any rate. I am ambitious and jealous for mv future, and what is more, I am perfectly willing to work as hard m tin years that are coming as I have in the past After all. my story is not 0 vastly different from that of any actress who has achieved. Most of them have gone into their work as si onsen, not as children. It is only twenty odd vears smce I played the first part with Nance O'Neil in "The Jewess and in spite of all the hardships that I may have passed thi.uigh. I have never ceased to enio mv work Mrs Flake I story ol imagination has been a guiding star, and it still beckons me. People of the theater will aaj that the life of an actress is ery. very hard, t haustmg. tires,. me per haps it is. but there is an exaltat i i i t hat lilts one from the slough of despondency and makes work satisfying. W hen young women ask SAC about going on the stage. I teU them that they must be willing to start from the b .ttotn. and work. I tell them that theaters are otttn cold, dismal places, that rehearsals are long and tin -some, and above all. that they must work. work. work. If they still have the light oi enthusiasm m their ees. I know that they are worthy of a career. It thev sulk or BOHl, I know that the at, Iggy, that the) forget that I ual w -man must work in this hie. that the ideal existence, bung a wife and mother, means woik.