O.O. McIntyre: 25 Selected Stories

s-l225Oscar Odd McIntyre is forgotten, a New York City columnist in the days before the Jazz Age, he was sarcastic and dry-humored, writing weeklies about the small town man’s view of the city. Like Bat Masterson before him, this columnist was an outsider, though he wasn’t a gunfighter like Masterson. He came from Ohio and began his career in Cincinnati papers, eventually having his column syndicated. He describes the fresh New Yorker as “a country boy who sees the high-hatted city man, with his urban airs and extra cash, and gets charmed by his ways.” The rube then heads for the city, sees what it’s really like, and the fantasy dies. As McIntyre puts it, “bang, into the grave of youth goes another illusion!”

Back in the 1910’s, rich men enjoyed rough pastimes. Vincent Astor liked the cheap restaurants around Grand Central Station, and Vanderbilt had his own cobbling studio in his 5th avenue basement. McIntyre wrote a story called The Simple Rich, about wealthy men who raise their own chickens. Perhaps they like it because it’s not all they have? Like Americans today, they enjoyed these things, as hobbies, but wouldn’t like doing them for a living.

As for the silk-hatted city man, he says “don’t be fooled.” The man who you think is rich and refined probably came from Kentucky and came into money later on. Like most New Yorkers, he wasn’t likely to have been born there. Unfortunately, McIntyre only writes about the wealthier classes, so you won’t read much about the police, teachers, chefs, or average people. Then again, only the rich and affluent would’ve bought the newspapers that published his column. It would be another few decades before Gale Sheehy would write stories about prostitutes and sleaze and be credited for promoting feminism. Perhaps there will always be a readership divide?

These 25 stories were written for Cosmopolitan, one of the many publications that ran his work. My research tells me that he started his New York career in PR, handling publicity for Broadway stars. He turned down a chance to do radio because he didn’t want to lower the quality of his work. However, I think he just didn’t want his readers to know how he really sounded!

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