So help me, it never occured to me that there would be such a beast as a Robert Benchley society. In these days of want and woe, when factions form to harass fellow men, it is positively heart warming to know that some people in the world get together at a watering hole to discuss a man who has been on sabbatical far too long.
I knew nothing about Robert Benchley until I was a seventh grader on board the old S.S. Tuscarora. Our bosun, a harsh and profane old man, was often seen carrying a book by Robert Benchley and enjoying it between swearing at us as we holystoned the deck. We boys tried to get a glimpse of the book (we were stuck with textbooks and Bowditch) but the bosun would drive us away. In the evenings he would dog down the door to the rope locker and read his book in private. You could hear him roaring in there. We left him up there when the ship sank.
And so I knew no more of Benchley until I reached late adulthood. Thanks to a policy of our local library, which is to banish all humor that is not overtly political or social, old books are often sold and I glommed onto Benchley. I have acquired several books this way.
I salute your society even though I am not likely to be in Boston anytime soon to hoist a few. If you will excuse me, I need to dog down the door to the rope locker so I can read in peace.
In response to our suggestion that he form a chapter in this hometown he wrote:
I am located far in the Confederacy, Charleston, South Carolina in fact. I wouldn't suggest trying to establish a society with me as the trailblazer. I would run off with the dues or misuse my exalted position. I'm also bashful as all hell. If my fellow citizens form a society, I'd join. Otherwise, I am content to have a long distance admiration for the society and wouldn't mind getting a message or two in case you need a southern perspective on Mr. Benchley. Regards, xxxxx xxxxx