I am revisiting my books, my friends — skimming by them one by one as I catalog and categorize and shelve them in their new Philadelphia home.
I find gems I had forgotten were among the family: LeGallienne’s At 33 signed to my grandmother Hermine in 1940 (part of a literary club book tour no doubt) and other signed copies of volumes by artists ranging from Thornton Wilder to Gloria Swanson to Bette Midler to Sara Paretsky to Hal Prince to Julie Harris to Tony Kushner to … well. Quite a range.
As I thumb through the initial pages of Broadway the American Musical (by Michael Kantor and Laurence Maslon, 2004) on my way to its ISBN number, I find a page with a great section of dialog that somehow fits my assortment of passions and new accident of geography.
First, basic details:
written by George M. Cohan
Sep 23, 1912 – Feb 1913
As quoted on the frontispiece in cited volume, this exchange from Cohan’s show:
Josie: What is Broadway?
Josie: A street?
Jones: Sure, it’s the greatest street in the world.
Josie: Some people say it’s terrible.
Jones: Philadelphia people.
Josie: And some people say it’s wonderful.
Jones: That’s just it. It’s terribly wonderful.
Josie: I don’t understand.
Jones: Nobody understands Broadway. People hate it and don’t know why. People love it and don’t know why. It’s just because it’s Broadway.
Josie: That’s a mystery, isn’t it?
Jones: That’s just what it is, a mystery.
© Martha Wade Steketee (November 15, 2009)