David Hoefer, of Louisville, Ky., is co-editor of The Last Resort and the author of the book's Introduction. If you would like to share your thoughts on Clearing the Fog, contact us here.
One of the more challenging aspects of preparing The Last Resort for publication was getting the details right. Sallie and I spent countless hours running down obscure references and perusing what Poe called “many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore” in assembling the footnotes and the species list. (Yes, some of the book’s content probably qualifies as arcana.)
Why all this effort? Because accuracy matters, even in little things. The devil may be in the details, but so is the delight of finding new ways to connect with the past by ducking down unexpected pathways.
That’s why I was pleased when Sallie forwarded to me an internet audio file she discovered of the University of Chicago Roundtable program on the NBC Red radio network. This was the episode from December 7, 1941—the date that lives on in infamy. NBC interrupted the start of the program—a discussion of what Americans could learn from Canada’s war footing as a member of the British Commonwealth— to announce the attack at Pearl Harbor. How does this fit with the boys of The Last Resort? The Roundtable program followed Sammy Kaye’s Sunday Serenade on NBC Red. As we noted in the book, Bobby Cole was a fan of Sammy Kaye’s music.
In listening to the announcement and the discussion that followed, I entertained an image of Bobby leaning in close to his radio, hearing for the first time about the devastating raid at Pearl. I have no knowledge that it happened exactly this way, but it seems likely that the news would have spread quickly once the government announced it, and radio was the premier broadcast medium of its day. The residents of Anderson County, either individually or in small groups, would have come into the news while living out the usual routines of a day.
Those usual routines—like pleasure taken in music—were now linked to the chaos and cacophony of war. By the time Pud Goodlett began his camp journal in February 1942, the Salt River idyll was already coming to a close.