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Old 08-01-2017, 07:09 AM   #1
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Cobb, Irvin S.: Local Color (collected shorts). v1. 02 Aug 2017

LOCAL COLOR
A collection of short stories BY IRVIN S. COBB (1876–1944)

The contents of this book first appeared 1914–1916 in the magazine “The Saturday Evening Post”. This collection, Local Color, was published in 1916. Text is in the public domain in countries where copyright is “Life + 70” or less, and in the USA.
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Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb was an American author, humorist, editor, and columnist from Paducah, Kentucky who relocated to New York in 1904 for the remainder of his life, writing for the New York “World”, “The Saturday Evening Post”, “Cosmopolitan”, and other newspapers and magazines. Cobb wrote more than 300 short stories and 60 books (most of these being collections of his stories and articles). Some of his works were adapted for film.

Cobb was one of America’s most popular humorists during the first third of the 20th century, but his writing was not limited to comedy only. His descriptive writing was masterful, and his stories were often dramatic, poignant, tragic – even terror-ridden.

Herewith, a tasty buffet serving up tidbits of the many flavors of Irvin S. Cobb.

EXCERPT (from “First Corinthians...”)
Spoiler:
Christmastide impended. The spirit of it was every where reflected: in the price tags; in the swollen ankles and aching insteps of shop girls on their feet behind counters twelve to fifteen hours a day; in the harassed countenances and despairing eyes of shoppers; in the heaving sides and drooping heads of wearied delivery-wagon teams; in the thoughts of the children of the rich, dissatisfied because there was nothing Santa Claus could bring them they didn’t already have; in the thoughts of the children of the poor, happy as they pressed their cold little noses against the plate-glass fronts of toy shop windows and made discriminating selection of the treasures which they would like for Santa to bring them, but knowing at the same time he couldn’t because of his previous engagements among the best families.

This all-pervading spirit penetrated even into the newspaper offices, borne thither upon the flapping wings of the full-page display advertisements of our leading retail establishments. One of the papers – the Morning Advocate – compiled a symposium of paragraphed miseries under the title of the One Hundred Most Deserving Cases of Charity, and on the Monday before Christmas printed it with a view to enlisting the aid of the kindly disposed. The list was culled largely from the files of various philanthropic organizations. But it so befell that a reporter, who had been detailed on these assignments, was passing through Pike Street on his way back to the office from one of the settlement houses when he encountered Papa Finkelstein, homeward bound after a particularly disappointing business day uptown.

The reporter was impressed much by the despondent droop of the little man’s sloping shoulders and by the melancholy smolder in his big, dark eyes; but more was he impressed by the costume of Papa Finkelstein. It was a part of Papa Finkelstein’s burden of affliction that he customarily wore winter clothes in the summertime and summer clothes in the wintertime. On this gusty, raw December day he wore somebody’s summer suit – a much larger somebody evidently – and a suit that in its youth had been of light-colored, lightweight flannel. It was still lightweight.

Infolded within its voluminous breadths the present wearer shivered visibly and drew his chilled hands farther up into its flapping sleeve ends until he resembled the doubly mutilated victim of a planing-mill mishap. If his expression was woebegone, his shoe soles were more – they practically were all-begone. A battered derby hat – size about seven and five-eighths – threatened total extinguishment of his face, being prevented from doing so only by the circumstance of its brim resting and pressing upon the upper flanges of the owner’s ears. They were ears providentially designed for such employment. Broad, wide and droopy, they stood out from the sides of Papa Finkelstein’s head like the horns of the caribou.

This reporter was a good reporter. He knew a human-interest story when he met it walking in the road. He turned about and tagged Papa Finkelstein to his domicile and there, after briefly inspecting the Finkelstein household in all its wealth of picturesque destitution, he secured the names and the address from the head of it, who perhaps gave the desired information all the more readily because he had not the slightest idea of what use this inquiring stranger wished to make of it.

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Text was obtained from gutenberg.org. Transcription errors were corrected; punctuation, diacritics, and italics formatted; American spelling restored (as in initial magazine publication); some spelling and punctuation modernized to provide consistency.
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Last edited by GrannyGrump; 08-03-2017 at 04:38 AM. Reason: add excerpt
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