1934. N.p.: n.d. (c. 1934).
4to, 2 typescripts, Norris: 37 pp. carbon copy, occasionally corrected in pencil, [and] Pitkin: 10 pp. original typescript heavily marked up in pencil for typesetting; [with] a one-page typed letter on American Druggist letterhead. Enclosed together in an untitled leather box (worn) with gilt-rolled cover and a silk lining. Upper corners of the letter chipped, otherwise documents in very good condition.
§ A strange collection of documents carefully preserved together - a mystery to be solved. The first is a carbon copy typescript, corrected in pencil, of an apparently unrecorded short story by Kathleen Norris titled The Old Maid-Wife. The second is a letter from K.B. Hurd, advertising manager at the American Druggist, to George Evans of McKesson & Robbins, dated December 6, 1934, informing him that "the original manuscript of Kathleen Norris" is currently at the printers and will appear in the January 1935 issue of Pictorial Review. (McKesson & Robbins was the pharmaceutical manufacturing company at the heart of the biggest and most elaborate financial scandal of the 1930s.) It seems plausible the letter refers to The Old-Maid Wife, but no reference to the short-story, published or unpublished, has yet been found. In the story, a San Francisco surgeon and widower hastily and cynically marries his new operating-room nurse (a colorless old-maid of 34) in the hopes she can tame his tyrannical 6-year old son who is being relentlessly pathologized by female family members and meddling Freudian analysts.
The third document is an original 10-page typewritten manuscript of an essay by Walter Pitkin of Columbia University, titled in pencil "40 Candles on Your Cake". Pitkin was the author of the 1932 best-selling book (and popularizer of the phrase) Life Begins at Forty. In the article, he appears to be adapting his signature theme for the reassurance of 40 year-old readers of American Druggist ("Your life is just beginning Mr. Druggist!").
The connection between these three documents is not readily apparent but perhaps has something to with Herbert Mayes, the titan magazine editor, who is mentioned in the letter. Mayes joined the Hearst Corporation as editor of American Druggist in 1927, and became editor of the Pictorial Review in 1934, before moving on to Good Housekeeping. Item #110781