Source File: cat.bohlke.i.12.xml

from Willa Cather in Person: Interviews, Speeches, and Letters

Selected and edited by L. Brent Bohlke

Lincoln & London: University of Nebraska Press, 1986

Return to Interviews Table of Contents

Cover of L. Brent Bohlke's Willa Cather in Person

1921: OMAHA

The interviewer from the Omaha Daily News was more interested in Cather's childhood experience than her current work. There seems to be some confusion, either on the part of the interviewer or Irene Miner Weisz, about whether the make-believe town was Sandy Point or Stony Point. Other sources agree on the former, but the town was fictionalized as Speckleville in Cather's 1898 short story, "The Way of the World."

TO LIVE INTENSELY IS CREED OF WILLA S. CATHER, AUTHORESS

To live intensely—that has been the creed of Willa Sibert Cather from the days when, a born feminist, she was mayoress of the play-town of "Sandy Point" in a Red Cloud, Nebraska backyard, to the present, when she had achieved recognition as one of America's foremost novelists.

Miss Cather is to speak before the Fine Arts society at the Hotel Fontenelle ballroom at four p.m.

"Tremendous output, tremendous reserve, that's the secret of success in any vocation," said Miss Cather.

Superbly does Miss Cather live her creed. Splendid strength, well-controlled, shone from her clear blue eyes, as with the help of her friend, Mrs. Irene Weisz, she resurrected the little girl Willa Cather, the livest live-wire in Red Cloud, over the dinner table at the Hotel Fontenelle Friday night.

"There's no question about it, Willa started her literary career in 'Stony Point,'" said Mrs. Weisz. "She was editor of our play-paper, 'The Stony Point News,' as well as the mayoress."

"But, I didn't want to be an author, I wanted to be a surgeon!" protested Miss Cather. "Thank goodness, I had a youth uncorrupted by literary ambitions. I mean it! I think it's too bad for a child to feel that it must be a writer, for then, instead of looking at life naturally, it is hunting for cheap effects.

"I have never ceased to be thankful that I loved those people out in Republican Valley for themselves first, not because I could get 'copy' out of them," she said.

"How I loved the long, rambling buggy rides we used to take," exclaimed Miss Cather. "We went over the same roads this summer. I could tell who lived at every place and all about the ailments of his family. The old country doctor and I used to talk over his cases. I was determined then to be a surgeon."

"When you go back to them," said her friend, "you're the same Willa Cather who was mayoress of 'Sandy Point.' Do you remember of buying my vote with a sack of candy?"

"My only plunge into politics," laughed Miss Cather.

Of her books, Miss Cather enjoyed writing The Song of the Lark most. She wants her public to judge her by her new book, One of Ours; she considers it her best.

Miss Cather denied living in Greenwich village. "The village doesn't exist," she said. "How could it in these times when the last cellar is empty?"

Miss Willa Cather will be honor guest of the dinner this evening given by the League of Women Voters at the Brandeis tearoom. One hundred and fifty reservations have been made. Mrs. Rose Berry of Berkeley, California, general federation chairman of Fine Arts, will be present.

Omaha Daily News, 29 October 1921.