Tuesday, June 08, 2010

O, Henry

Last Saturday was the centenary anniversary of William Sidney Porter's death. Today's Wall Street Journal has a nice article about Greensboro's most famous writer: His Writers' Workshop? A Prison Cell. I wrote some time ago about my favorite O. Henry story, "A Man About Town", here. It tells the story of Porter's search around New York to learn just precisely what a "man about town" was. At the end of the story he is struck by a car on the street and sent to the hospital. The story ends:
A hospital nurse laid a hand that was not particularly soft upon my brow that was not at all fevered. A young doctor came along, grinned, and handed me a morning newspaper.

"Want to see how it happened?" he asked cheerily. I read the article. Its headlines began where I heard the buzzing leave off the night before. It closed with these lines:

"Bellevue Hospital, where it was said that his injuries were not serious. He appeared to be a typical Man About Town."

There has always been a little confusion between the name of the candy bar "O'Henry" and the writer "O. Henry". When the Grasshoppers opened the new stadium downtown they had an area called the "O'Henry" something-or-other, and I pointed out to them that was like Baltimore recognizing the great baseball player Baby Ruth. In short order and with a nod to economy, "O'Henry became "O, Henry".

Here is a photo of O, Henry. Note the reused apostrophe.

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