thumbnail of Why is a writer?; Old Ironsides
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
You know I was school of the air presents Why is a writer. Why is a writer is produced by Radio Station WSU under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. Today's programme Old Ironsides. September 18 29 in Washington D.C. affairs were quiet. The United States government functioned as usual. Beautiful morning is what is it Mr. Bray over there see over there in that tree thrush. Oh what addict are rare. Are you sure. Well I always thought that rushes were easily found in this part of the country. Oh
yes yes perhaps they are but the importance of this rush is that he is right there in the tree. I haven't seen one there all summer do you understand. Not quite I'm afraid. It's a matter of philosophy you don't just see how important it is that if there are thrushes all over the place if I never see one on the other. Yes of course I understand. Think about these things my boy. That's what makes a man in government thought good old American thought. It's the backbone of everything that a man in my position has to do. How do you suppose I became secretary of the Navy. I'm sure it's all very helpful. I'd never get through the day's work without saying to myself. Without thinking some basic thought. Quite so sir. I've noticed no doubt you've heard the government criticized the reason mind you I'm not being petty. Is that more people need to think basic thoughts. For
instance what what have we on the come under today. Routine matters routine. Nonsense. That's love. Very point to a thinking mind and nothing is routine. Well there is this matter of wait wait before anything else. A man has to relax light up a cigar and relax and think. Go on with what you say which just this matter of the Constitution. Yes yes of course the Constitution a fine ship. The recommendation is to scrap it. Yes of course. But Pastor pardon me for saying this. Well she is an unusual fact I daresay we are all in the Navy Department while no heritage you might say something that ought to be kept kept as part of American history. Why do you have much to learn. It costs money to keep a halt like the Constitution so you may be a fine ship but Manet my
boy is money. The Constitution the secretary of the Navy signed the order. That's a shame Charlie costs too much money he says and money is money. Money was money all right. None knew better than the Yankee traitors of New England. But there was something morally wrong in Boston at Harvard. A slightly less serious young man came across a certain item in the pages of the Boston Daily Advertiser. He was 20 years of age. His name Oliver Wendell Holmes. I can see why you're in such a hurry. The coffee is cold there's nothing to keep me Holmes I'm daft if I can sometimes figure you and you bond to know better. Well I'm off later. Where you going. Won't you read me the poem not on your
life. Why not. It's a public poem you dance a patriotic poem. Well I'm patriotic and I love all ships Sorry I read it in the Boston Daily Advertiser. I don't subscribe but you ought to. No excuse will do all men. How do you know they'll even take it. Maybe they'll agree with the secretary of the Navy what's his name couldn't enter interest me less. And you haven't had your muffins. Well perhaps it would somehow make me wiser today. Having muffins. And a coffee. You know what's good. Washington never complained about lukewarm coffee. He's been there done when he was alive you dunce. And I plan to be a patriot because you've written one letter my dear. On what of me. The Patriot has to starve himself and accept whatever coffee there is. Haven't you read any history that forced my
grandfather told me about the battle of York so many times now I know your grandfather. What I mean history. Now look take this fellow branch. Who would you call that coffee. All right if you really want it. Who is he the secretary of this country's navy that's who. And he's in government you see it gives him a feeling of being a big frog. How do you know what people in government feel that way. Well maybe he's a real fine fellow humble you know and all that. Maybe he's honest alright even that. But let's say he's honest to the core but my point is which takes a long time coming if you will let me see. Is that any man with half a grain ought to realize that the frigate Constitution is the symbol of this country. Yes but the symbol is rotting in Chesapeake. Then fixer apre outfitter spends some money. Holmes your impractical it would be a lot of money and an arguing mood. You know I've got to go. I'll be back for dinner.
Who knows what awaits a patriot. In those days. Those early days Holmes never took himself very seriously. He whistled along the street. Looked attentively at the pretty young ladies he was past found himself in the Boston Common sat. Rest. Somehow later on made his way to the offices of the Boston Daily Advertiser where he left his three stanza poem. Well you have been lazy back so soon. I am wary of your bonds. I intend to finish that discussion this moment. What
were we talking about. Being a patriot and going to war and all that I know very well where it peace which does not call any the less for men of courage. Ah yes to be sure I warn you old man I'll stamp on your beaver hat if you continue that wretched tone with me. I am deadly in earnest. Here's a typical example that wonderful ship fights are magnificent best in the Revolutionary War and now when she is old and leaking a bit at the seams you aren't living on your father's money. You'd have more respect for money I say money dear fellow is merely the excuse to look at all the foolish things the government spends the money for but that you place the poem in the paper took it and thanked me. Well I'm glad for that. But you won't discuss the real issue here. Sorry I have to go through the book ordered from George. Why don't we talk about the Constitution. Tomorrow I tell you this is a national issue. On the one hand we have the people who worship money and all the other.
Cause great. Thank you for that window closed we can at least hear ourselves talk. Yes we can Mr. Branch know about this constitution Oh yes the Constitution. Is there something the matter the orders have gone through for dismantled already. I think so sir. Shall I check. Well the situation calls for more than checking. I've been doing some basic thinking. You know the constitutions of Fano would ship something to be proud. Read Holmes poem Holmes Oliver Wendell Holmes of Boston I believe the name is familiar. Look Charles I think a mistake has been made a mistake. Who ever advised that the constitution be scrapped what do you yourself sir you said then I have been considering it which is always a good idea for a position of government. Yes but of course let's not be hasty. Wait.
Feel out the public sentiment. Do they want the constitution saved or do they want to save money. That is the question What shall I do in the meantime Mr. Right. What. What followed was or must I spell it out to you. Your in government. Someone made a mistake but you just said sir that we must not be hasty right. Let's not commit ourselves but yield the people's pulse. Read all the newspapers. If the swings the other way be prepared be sure nothing is done to that fine ship the Constitution may be dismantled already Mr. Secretary I won't hear of it. I make you personally responsible. You're. All over. When the
whole of. Those days high spirited. But there were things of importance for him. And from within. Some people say. The poem. His poem was carried across the country. Save the Constitution save the cost. Quite a splash you've made Holmes. You are a big fraud if you must know I did it for your Grandfather Goosey never went near the water he fought at the Battle of York. What other. Well not more than 60 miles from Chesapeake Bay old man. You are a fraud Holmes. You are sentimental. Clear through through to what I happened to have brought a copy and read the poem. But what of it. I'll bet you were fighting mad when you heard about it. Now you're letting your imagination
wrap the pencil. No I generally use a pen with a voice not what the editor of The Daily Advertiser reported a short poem of mine he indignantly scribbled in pencil a moment after seeing that despicable report of the Constitution. I don't see that it's any of your business. Patriotic is the common property of the whole country. Now I'm no such thing but you have your finger on the national pulse. How rare. I bet the secretary of Navy has a red face. What's his name. I couldn't care less. I believe in minding my own business which is more than I can say for some friends of mine. Well there you are. Typical situation typical to its roots. What's saved you know there's been no official inquiry has there. None I know of. Yes quite a cigar shop. Thank you no sir. No in
calling I learned could have been if I hadn't caught it. That comes from having the finger on the people's pulse my boy like Oliver Lendl Holmes the whole Boston wrote that poem. Oh yes I haven't read it myself. Something about the Constitution wasn't it something. But of course the poet is not the statesman. All that rhyming jibberish you know yes of course Mr. Secretary there's much to be learned about the government. Say oh it was another thrush rush sir. Extraordinary rare. Well I must remember to tell my wife about it. In today's program Floyd Horowitz spent Schroeder and
Please note: This content is only available at GBH and the Library of Congress, either due to copyright restrictions or because this content has not yet been reviewed for copyright or privacy issues. For information about on location research, click here.
Why is a writer?
Old Ironsides
Producing Organization
University of Iowa
WSUI 910 AM (Radio station : Iowa City, Iowa)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-959c964v).
Episode Description
Old Ironsides, written by Oliver Wendell Holmes, was a successful attempt to save the Revolutionary warship Constitution, which had been destined for scrap.
Other Description
Produced by the Iowa School of the Air, this series focuses on various works of literature from Shakespeare to Twain.
Broadcast Date
Media type
Actor: Stribling, Don
Actor: Morris, Greg
Actor: Setterberg, Dick
Actor: Hoffman, Theodore
Actor: Schroeder, Spence
Announcer: Carter, Dave
Director: Walcoff, Larry
Producing Organization: University of Iowa
Producing Organization: WSUI 910 AM (Radio station : Iowa City, Iowa)
Writer: Horowitz, Floyd
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: S60-6-13 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:14:30?
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Why is a writer?; Old Ironsides,” 1961-01-06, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 9, 2022,
MLA: “Why is a writer?; Old Ironsides.” 1961-01-06. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 9, 2022. <>.
APA: Why is a writer?; Old Ironsides. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from