The Starbuck essays of Henry Stommel
Stommel, Henry M.
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From the Forward: These essays appeared from time to time over a number of years in The Enterprise, the community newspaper of Falmouth, Massachusetts. I first encountered "Starbuck" as a youthful editor some forty years ago. We were early in the cold war. We were in the McCarthy era. Inspired by McCarthy, persons ambitious for attention were going about the country discovering Communists. One of these Paul Reveres of the cold war came to address some gathering on Cape Cod and announced to a startled audience that there were-he knew for a fact-a thousand or more dedicated Communists living on Cape Cod. A thrill of excitement ran through that part of the community that enjoyed alarms and nourished the idea that there were Russian spies everywhere in the land. Kicking around the newspaper office was a Rotary Club handbook that listed the members of the several Rotary clubs on the Cape. I counted the names. They added up to a couple of hundred. So I ran an editorial saying that there seemed to be more Communists than Rotarians on Cape Cod. It was the sort of appeal to the ridiculous that delighted Hank Stommel, and a day or so later he came to me with an appreciative note that was signed "Starbuck." I regret the note isn't preserved. I remember that it was amusing and to the point and that I wished that I had written it. I had met Hank Stommel, but I did not yet know him. That was the star. Encouraged, I like to think, by my appreciation, the "Starbuck" letters began to arrive at The Enterprise offce. These letters, which I correctly called essays, speak wonderfully for themselves. Reading the "Starbuck" letters will suggest the pleasure of spending a sociable evening with Hank Stommel over beer and fresh-shucked oysters. I can hear his laughter now.
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