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Well, the war went on a little while in Spain and Dave
was wounded quite badly. Nobody could get him out. Communications
were so faulty. Helen was frantic. She adored her
brother. It was her brother who had gotten her interested
in leftist causes. She had voted for Herbert Hoover one time.
She then was a solid Republican girl from the best society of
San Francisco. But now all was changed!
I met her father, Fred Thompson, a charming, wonderful
man, who was very interested in his children. He was wondering
what had made them be what they were. Instead of being
outraged, he was deeply interested. As it turned out, he had
an affair, too. He was living with a sister of a painfully
social-conscious publisher in New York, a society snob, who
looked down his nose at any newcomers in publishing ranks, if
you know what I mean. To have a sister living in sin with the
father of children like Dave and Helen Thompson was more than
he could stand so he cut his sister dead. When I met his
sister, it turned out that she was worth forty-eight of her
brother; she was a great girl.
An interesting thing... When this elegant publisher's
firm broke up, its two best editors came to Random House--one
of them is still with us, Albert Erskine. As an editor, I
rank Erskine right up there with Maxwell Perkins.
Frank Taylor was the other editor. I wanted Frank Taylor
terribly. I had never met Albert Erskine, and Taylor said
that Erskine had to come with him. I said, “Let's meet Erskine.”
He brought him right to this house that we're talking in now,
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