AMERICA IS- An essay by Dorothy Huston Hodel

April 9, 2022
Birch Bay, Washington

My mother, Dorothy Huston Hodel, was, in my mind, the personification of The Good, The Beautiful, and The True. She was self-educated, and a voracious reader whose lifelong passions were Art and love for Nature.
Mother was a writer. Her dream was to follow in the footsteps of her literary heroes and write “the great American novel.” Though she did not realize that dream, she did write scripts for radio programs and was a screenplay doctor in the Forties and early Fifties.

For example, just prior to the release of the classic film “Treasure of Sierra Madre” her former husband, director John Huston, came to her and said, “Dorothy, I can’t get this scene right with Bogie and the Mexican boy (played by a very young, Robert Blake). You have three boys that age, can you help me?”
Dorothy rewrote the dialogue, and it is one of the great scenes in a great film.
The following essay was written by Dorothy circa 1944, about the same time the below photograph was taken by our family photographer Man Ray.
I hope you see the elegant mind she possessed and her genuine love for all that was true and noble which she demonstrated to her three sons, Michael, Kelvin, and I.
We shared in this love while she lived. Now through her words written nearly eighty years ago, you can share in what we experienced, her light, brilliance, and her gentleness.
Steve Hodel
St. Patrick’s Day, 2022
AMERICA IS – By Dorothy Huston Hodel (Kindle 22-page essay- $1.99 )


Dorothy Huston Hodel

Author’s Note: HUGE KUDOS to my good friend, Robert J. Sadler for the cover design and layout of my mother’s AMERICA IS essay.

SKH- It was not my intent to make a .35 profit from each purchase of my mother’s essay, but rather to have it reach a larger audience. Hence, the Kindle publication. For those of you that regularly read my blogposts, and those that just happened on my site for the first time. Below is my mother’s original 16-page essay which she typed some eighty years ago. ENJOY!


  1. Joakim on April 10, 2022 at 5:21 pm

    The song Do You Love Me? by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds contain lyrics about bangles.

  2. Luigi Warren on April 10, 2022 at 6:07 pm

    That is a lovely, kaleidoscopic essay. -LW

  3. Edith on April 13, 2022 at 2:22 pm

    I really enjoyed Dorothy’s essay. I liked how she used her perspective on American history and took a single thought process to interweave historical moments. Your mother was a talented, lovely, elegant and thoughtful lady. Thank you for sharing your mother’s essay, Steve.

    • Steve Hodel on April 13, 2022 at 2:59 pm

      Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it. She had her demons for sure, but also LOTS OF ANGELS.

  4. Frank Adkins on September 24, 2022 at 2:05 am

    Wow. I’m not a reader of very many essays but I have to say I really enjoyed it. Your mother was an exceptionally talented and incredibly beautiful woman. She was obviously extremely intelligent and well traveled and well read.her knowledge and recall of historical events and locations was astonishing. It’s hard from reading this and the photos to reconcile the troubled struggling alcoholic you describe in your books. She did had a look of deep sadness but also a look of strength.she had the look of a survivor.
    I know you guys are proud.i can’t imagine the high wire act she had to pull off onna daily basis for many yrs. being in love with as well as financially dependent on a murdering,,narcissistic psychopath for yalls financial well being.
    How was your father around your mom when y’all lived together? was he kind n pleasant to her or cruel n dismissive? He must of been decent at one time for her to fall in love with him n bare him 4 children.
    As always thanks for an interesting read. Very thought provoking. Take care.

    • Steve Hodel on September 24, 2022 at 11:09 am

      Frank A:
      Yes, a remarkable woman. I have few to zero memories of my mother and father’s interactions. Tamar, who was six years older and only with us for a few summers describes seeing “our father strike and beat her and pull her around by the hair in the driveway at the 335 Monterey Road residence. Ditto Mady Comfort, who was both parents mistress. I liken mother to, Rime, the jungle-bird-woman in Hudson’s, Green Mansions. A delicate beautiful creature just not fit to live in civilization.

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