Monday, November 3, 2014

Amanuensis Monday: Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Cousin

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, newspaper articles, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them.

I began this project back on February 16, 2009. Since I began, many others have joined in on the meme. I am thrilled that this meme I started has inspired so many to transcribe and share their family history documents.Why do we transcribe? I provide my three reasons in the linked post. You may find others.


This week I transcribe a few paragraphs from a collection of essays written by well-known author, Tom Wolfe. In his first published collection of essays, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (1965), he mentions a cousin directly. The essay, "Las Vegas (What?) Las Vegas (Can't hear you! Too noisy) Las Vegas!!!" was originally published in Esquire Magazine.

The wheeps, beeps, freeps, electronic lulus, Boomerang Modern and Flash Gordon sunbursts soar on through the night over the billowing hernia-hernia sounds and the old babes at the slots—until it is 7:30 A.M. and I am watching five men at a green-topped card table playing poker. They are sliding their Beebrand cards into their hands and squinting at the pips with a set to the lips like Conrad Veidt in a tunic collar studying a code message from S.S. headquarters. Big Sid Wyman, the old Big-Time gambler from St. Louis, is there, with his eyes looking like two poached eggs engraved with a road map of West Virginia after all night at the poker table… As everyone there knows, or believes, these fabulous men are playing for table stakes of fifteen or twenty thousand dollars. One hundred dollars rides on a chip. Mandibles gape at the progress of the battle. And now Sid Wyman, who is also a vice-president of the Dunes, is at a small escritoire just inside the golden fence signing a stack of vouchers for such sums as $4500, all printed in the heavy Mondrianesque digits of a Burroughs business check-making machine. It is as if America’s guys-and-dolls gamblers have somehow been tapped upon the shoulders, knighted, initiated into a new aristocracy.

-- The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, Tom Wolfe, 1965, pp 14-15.


1) Sid Wyman (1910-1978) was the first cousin of my paternal grandmother, Belle Feinstein. Several years ago I transcribed a newspaper article about him that I later took down for copyright concerns. However, these short quotes from Tom Wolfe's essay surely fall completely within fair use guidelines.

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