Diary of Albert E. Holland

November 22, 1944

Nov. 22nd

Still under Air-alert. Some internees say they heard all night the rumbling of guns & flickering of lights far to the South – In a great arc from Southeast to Southwest – that would center around Calamba, if I am not mistaken.

The air alert ended at 2PM – We are back to an “all-clear” again – This is disappointing, but tomorrow something may happen again.

I have finished “What Makes Sammy Run.” A very good book, indeed. Sammy, an East Side Jew gives his philosophy – “Work hard, and, if you can’t work hard, be smart; and if you can’t be smart, be loud.”6

“No fair. Like they say in the sissy schools, no fair! For chris’ sake, grow up, this isn’t kindergarten any more. This is the world.”7

“Talent can get you just so far. Then you got to start using your head.”8

“How the hell have I had time to love anybody?”9

“You can give it all the fancy names you want – But when you come right down to it, its dog eat dog.”10

[165]

His friends describe him (

Al – “The horror of a fetus called Sammy Glick sprinting out of his mother’s womb turning life into a race in which the only rules are fight for the rail & elbow on the turns and the only finish line is death.”11

Al – “You’re physically incapable of having friends – all you can ever have are enemies and stooges.”12

Al – “I knew what he was thinking, that he would have liked to have her, that he would have liked to have someone, but it was impossible, it was absolutely physically psychologically, economically impossible.”13

Billie – “I’ve always felt that if I ever went to bed with him – even if he didn’t pay me – I’d feel as if I was doing it for money.”14

Kit – “A germ he didn’t have anything to do with got inside him and twisted him out of shape.”15

Kit – “Sammy’s childhood environment was the breeding ground for the predatory germ that thrived in Sammy’s blood, leaving him one of the worst cases on record.”16

Kit – “What do you think Sammy is but a desperate, hungry guy?”17

Kit – “He is the id of our whole society. He is the thing itself, the id, out in the open. It might not be very pretty, but there it was.”18

[166]

And now more general –

Al – “We only hate the results of people. But people aren’t results. They’re a process. And to really give them a break, we have to judge the process thru which they became the result which we see when we say so-and-so is a heel.”19

Al – “I realized that what was coming to him was not a sudden pay-off but a process, a disease he had caught in the epidemic that swept over his birthplace like a plague; a cancer that was slowly eating him away, the symptoms developing and intensifying: success, loneliness – fear.”20

Al – “But what good are words when not even experience was regenerate. It was too late to hate him or change him. Sammy’s will had stiffened. It had been free for an instant at birth, poised bird-free in the doctor’s hand that moment in the beginning before it began to be forced to the life molds, the terrible hungers of body & brain, the imposed wants. The traditional oppressions and persecutions, until at last Sammy’s will had curled in on itself, like an ingrown hair, festering, spreading infection.”21

Al – “I was modulating my hate for Sammy Glick from the personal to the societal. I no longer even hated Rivington Street, but the idea of Rivington Street, all Rivington Streets of all nationalities,

[167]

allowed to pile up in cities like gigantic dung heaps swelling up the world, ambitions growing out of filth and crawling away like worms

– – – – – – – – I realized I had singled Sammy out not because he had been born into the world any more selfish, ruthless and cruel than anyone else, but because in the midst of a war that was selfish and cruel Sammy, having become selfish, ruthless, & cruel, was proving himself the fittest, the fiercest, & the finest.”22

Al – “Sammy’s story is the blueprint of a way of life that was paying dividends in America in the first half of the 20th Century.”23

The writing is not pretty, but it suits the subject perfectly – a very fine book, good analysis – It deserves a place along with “Main Street,” “Babbit,” “Elmer Gantry,” Marquand’s books on New England – A picture of the times – This book should outlast all the trash like “Anthony Adverse,” “Gone with the Wind,” “The Sun is my Undoing,” etc.

I hear that while no landings have been made, the Tyabas & Batangas Coasts have been shelled for the last 48 hours – And a landing (or landings) is imminent – Hence the guerrilla activity.

[168]

It is time – Leyte has been consolidated, the air bases established, supplies brought in.

The food situation is becoming grimmer & grimmer – Many will not be able to hold out for more than a month –

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