April walk on memory lane. Exactly 65 years ago, Gertrude and Alice were back in California for the first time since the beginning of the century. On April Fools Day 1935, they were invited to a Hollywood party where they met Charlie Chaplin, Collette Goddard, Dashiell Hammett, Lillian Hellman, Anita Loos and many other stars. “After the dinner all those people were seated in front of me , and I did not know what it was all about or what they wanted, and finally one blurted out, ‘What we want to know is how do you get so much publicity?’ So I told them, ‘By having such a small audience. If that small audience really believes, they make a big noise, and a big audience makes no noise at all.’”
On April 8, having pioneered renting a car, they drove into San Francisco where they stayed at the elegant Mark Hopkins Hotel. Gertrude lectured on “Narration“: “It is a rather curious thing that it should take a hundred years to change anything that is to change something, it is the human habit to think in centuries and centuries are more or less a hundred years and that makes a grandfather a grandmother to a grandson or a granddaughter if it happens right and it often does happen right…
I like the feeling of words doing as they want to do and as they have to do when they live where they have to live that is where they have come to live which of course they do do.”
She also talked about “How Writing Is Written,” “Pictures,” and “Poetry and Grammar” at Stanford, the San Francisco Women’s City Club, Cal Berkeley and Mills College, Oakland.
“My lectures are to be a simple way to say that if you understand a thing you enjoy it and if you enjoy a thing you understand it,” she explained on the Pathé newsreel about her America tour.
Alice liked the tour so much that she wanted to live in America again. But Gertrude preferred Paris. In Oakland, she had seen that the wild, romantic 10-acres land of her childhood home, where she and her older brothers used to roam, largely unsupervised, was built over. It was all gone: “There is no there there.”
On the 19th, they flew back to Chicago for their final two weeks in America.