July 16, 2020
Los Angeles, California
Below is a short story that was written by my mother, Dorothy Harvey, (just a few years before marrying her first husband, John Huston) and published in her high school yearbook (Benjamin Franklin HS, Los Angeles, California) in 1921, when she was just sixteen. She would also star in the HS play the following year, which if I recall correctly was MEDEA by Euripides. (Hmmm)

Dorothy Harvey yearbook story age 16       Dorothy Jeanne Harvey age 19

Benjamin Franklin HS, Los Angeles CA

Star Dust and Rent Money

By Dorothy Harvey
(As printed in her 1921 Franklin High School Year Book)
               To him who is blessed with an imagination, surroundings are immaterial, things to be considered only in the most extreme cases.
               One of these cases presented itself to Rose, one morning, in the form of an irate landlady.
               The landlady was a cautious soul, whom long acquaintance with park-bench, unsalaried humanity had made distrustful. “A week’s salary in advance” was the slogan with which she greeted all boarders, particularly the hopeful paupers who expected tremendous sums of money next week, and whom she regarded with unbounded suspicion.
               Rose was out of this hope-to-get-rich-quick type. In fact, she never thought of money except for its convenience, now and then, in disposing of certain troublesome, unenlightened people who persisted in thinking that money really counted and that sunsets, and singing birds, and all beautiful things did not matter.
               But then, Rose had had her Dream, and the creditors and landlady had not. The Dream was the most wonderful thing in Rose’s life. It had come to her one evening as she lay on the worn sofa in a little two by four attic room, looking up through the skylight at the myriads of stars above. She watched them as they whispered mysteriously among themselves, and as they arranged themselves, under the orders of the Brightest Star, in a glorious Idea; an Idea so beautiful and unearthly, that it had blinded her eyes with tears.
               To say that she wrote it down would be an absurdity. She felt it down. And she guarded the paper containing the Idea, jealously; a secret too precious to be shared.
               But stardust is not the stuff that rent is paid from; which brings us back to our starting point—the irate landlady.
               The landlady, upon being admitted to the room, stated the reason for her visit without mincing matters in the least or troubling herself to be diplomatic.
               She had, contrary to her usual policy of business, not only not insisted on Rose’s paying in advance but had actually let her rent run for two whole weeks without putting her out. But matters had reached a climax. She could no longer bear the thought of having a boarder whose rent was not paid.
               She delivered her ultimatum to Rose, who listened with a sinking heart. Two days’ grace were given her. If at the end of two days she failed to pay her rent, she would be without lodgings.
               After the thunder and lightning left the sky, the rain came in torrents. Rose wept; not the tears of despair, but the tears of a mother who is compelled to sell her child as a slave. For Rose knew, even before the landlady left the room, that the idea would have to be sold.
               You recall the poem, no doubt, for it caused a tremendous upheaval in American literature and became universally known. You doubtlessly envied the author of the poem her fame, as well as the fortune she made from it. But you didn’t picture her in a little attic room weeping tears of sorrow and repentance as the stars gazed reproachfully at her through the skylight, now, did you? For, for her, they had been shattered, “the glory and the dream.”

6 Comments

  1. Debbie Scott on July 17, 2020 at 2:09 am

    So well written! Enjoyable and compelling.

  2. Patricia ONeill on July 17, 2020 at 12:26 pm

    Steve, both Your parents had an abundance of smarts, good looks, talent plus living and growing up in California….. life could not get much better than that, right?! Unfortunately as so many of us have learned, the “good life” is not easily achieved or maintained in the Garden of Eden (or is that Evil!). For many, the line “You can checkout anytime you like, but you can never leave!” becomes the frightening reality for so many! The brunt of the horrors perpetrated upon so many women by GHH fell heavily upon your mother at a very young age and as she valiantly tried to care for and raise three boys!! Dorothy Hodel rode out her storm, finished her race and imparted gifts of intelligence, empathy and tremendous courage to her sons! Rest in peace, Dorothy…….by God you earned it!! 👍👌

    • Steve Hodel on July 17, 2020 at 12:38 pm

      Patricia O:
      Thank you Patricia. All true.
      How ironic that Dorothy Harvey Huston Hodel would be “the source” and bear forth the fruit that would be GHH’s ultimate undoing. That makes her the ultimate heroine of this story and The House Of Hodel. In retrospect, have to love hearing the God’s laughing long and loudly. Stay tuned, much more to come in “The Early Years” as each week seems to reveal more “thoughtprints” that connect so much of the long ago to the “Now”.

  3. Luigi Warren on July 17, 2020 at 4:14 pm

    Steve: I have a feeling this hope-to-get-rich-quick “Rose” might have put in another literary appearance a few years later. -LW

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