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#2771: Willa Cather to Charles E. Cather, October 3, 1945

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My dear Boy1:

I meant to send you this check at Christmas time, but since you have been paying a coach and going back and forth between Washington4 and New Jersey5, I think you must be in need of a little extra money.

Now, my dear boy, if I had any “influence” with politicians6, I would certainly use it for you. But in influence of that kind, I am utterly bankrupt. The moment a writer goes after any kind of political recognition, or runs about to Book-Author-Luncheons and that sort of thing, he or she is compromised and can never be a free agent again. Some nine years ago when the Roosevelts7 very pressingly urged me to attend a dinner at the White House and receive a medal for "distinction in Art"8 in America9, I absolutely refused and repeatedly refused, although there was one strong temptation. Lord Tweedsmuir10, who has always said and written such nice things about some of my books, was to have been my dinner partner., and That was to have been the especial bait.! But there is no halfway in these matters, either you are for sale, or you are not for sale. And there are many ways of buying people more ruinous and disasterous than by a simple check. In this self-advertising world, a writer who has any self respect has to be more careful than a priest to keep out of the range of political favors and recognitions.

I should admit that the eventual sequel to that White House dinner was rather a blow to my virtuous pride.!! They had to get some “public woman” to sit by the Governor General of Canada11, so they roped in Katharine Cornell12 – a very third-rater actress! So you can see what it all amounts to – just trash.!!

I am afraid just now I am in disgrace13 with some of our California14 relatives. They want to sell their Colusa15 bank stock16 over to one of the big chain banks in California. Roscoe’s17 bank was the only independent bank in the whole Sacramento Valley18. He and Mr. Yockey19 made it go, and all the influential citizens of Colusa stood right behind them. Meta20 has two hundred and fifty-seven shares of the stock – the brothers and sisters have only sixty-two shares each. I wish that all of us could dispose of our stock to Mr. Yockey, and that the bank could continue as Roscoe liked to have it – exclusively a Colusa bank. Colusa is a very old settlement for a California town. Some of my best friends in San Francisco21 were proud that their grandparents had always lived there. I rather think that Roscoe’s widow will continue to live there. I think she will feel more at home there than anywhere else, though the climate is a trial for people who dread hot weather.

Lovingly to you and Helen Louise22
Mr. Charles Edwin Cather1 503 Carleton Road Westfield, N. J.3 NEW YORK. N. Y2 OCT 3 1945 330 PM