The Big Town

Ring Lardner

The Big Town
How I and the Mrs. go to New York to see life and get Katie a husband
by Ring W. Lardner
[Illustrations by May Wilson Preston]

First published 1920
Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Copyright 1921.

Cast of Characters
KATE... a small-town girl with big league ideas... and $75,000!
And these are some of the characters Katie met in the big city...
Francis Griffin... a bachelor who cleaned up on Wall Street.
Trumbull... no matter how old you'd guess he was, he was older.
Ritchey... a chauffeur with looks, a limousine, and lots of free time.
Lady Perkins... a society dame who could really put on the dog.
Bob Codd... a famous aviator, until a little something went wrong.
Herbert Daley... he owned a string of race horses and developed a taste for women.
Sid Mercer... a good-looking jockey who didn't have much strength of character.
Jimmy Ralston... a comedian who didn't think too much of himself.

And here are some of the REAL characters you'll meet...
William Jennings Bryan... he always looked like somebody was tickling his feet.
Ziggy... he ran a little show.
Ed Wynn... he borrowed a couple of ideas, just to get a flop off his hands.
Man o' War... he could run, too.
Burleigh Grimes... the Dodgers' spitball pitcher was just a prop in a play.

The Big Town
I Quick Returns
THIS is just a clipping from one of the New York papers; a little kidding piece that they had in about me two years ago. It says:
Hoosier Cleans Up in Wall Street. Employees of the brokerage firm of H. L. Krause & Co. are authority for the statement that a wealthy Indiana speculator made one of the biggest killings of the year in the Street yesterday afternoon. No very definite information was obtainable, as the Westerner's name was known to only one of the firm's employees, Francis Griffin, and he was unable to recall it last night.
You'd think I was a millionaire and that I'd made a sucker out of Morgan or something, but it's only a kid, see? If they'd of printed the true story they wouldn't of had no room left for that day's selections at Pimlico, and God knows that would of been fatal.
But if you want to hear about it, I'll tell you.
Well, the War wound up in the fall of 1918. The only member of my family that was killed in it was my wife's stepfather. He died of grief when it ended with him two hundred thousand dollars ahead. I immediately had a black bandage sewed round my left funny bone, but when they read us the will I felt all right again and tore it off. Our share was seventy-five thousand dollars. This was after we had paid for the inheritance tax and the amusement stamps on a horseless funeral.
My young sister-in-law, Katie, dragged down another seventy-five thousand dollars and the rest went to the old bird that had been foreman in Papa's factory. This old geezer had been starving to death for twenty years on the wages my stepfather-in-law give him, and the rest of us didn't make no holler when his name was read off for a small chunk, especially?as he didn't have no teeth to enjoy it with.
I could of had this old foreman's share, maybe, if I'd of took advantage of the offer "Father" made me just before his daughter and I was married. I was over in Niles, Michigan, where they lived, and he insisted on me seeing his factory, which meant smelling it too. At that time I was knocking out about eighteen hundred dollars per annum selling cigars out of South Bend, and the old man said he would start me in with him at only about a fifty per cent cut, but we would also have the privilege of living with him and my wife's kid sister.
"They's a lot to be learnt about this business," he says, "but if you would put your mind on it you might work up to manager. Who knows?"
"My nose knows," I said, and that ended it.
The old man had lost some jack and went into debt a good many years ago, and for a long wile before the war begin about all as he was able to do was support himself and the two gals and pay off a part of what he owed. When the war broke loose and leather went up to hell and gone I and my wife thought he would get prosperous, but before this country went in his business went on about the same as usual.
"I don't know how they do it," he would say. "Other leather men is getting rich on contracts with the Allies, but I can't land a one."
I guess he was trying to sell razor strops to Russia.
Even after we got into it and he begin to clean up, with the factory running day and night,
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