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Catholic Worker odds & ends
February 20th, 2011
05:36 am


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Dorothy Day and J.D. Salinger
While reading Kenneth Slawenski's new biography of J.D.Salinger I remembered Dorothy Day's enjoyment of his "Franny and Zooey" in which he speaks of the "Jesus Prayer," one of her devotions. In her Diaries she writes that she met a priest, who had met Salinger, who told her, "he reads the CW every month." She seems to have corresponded with him in the Seventies. See page 577 in her Diaries. More interesting stuff in the Salinger bio. He carried on a love affair with Oona O'Neill, who
later married Charlie Chaplin. Oona's mother, Agnes Boulton O'Neill Kaufman, Eugene O'Neill's second wife visited Dorothy in the 1958 when her book "Part of a Long Story" was published. I had
dinner with them at the Chrystie Street house and later drove Agnes uptown for a TV interview at
one of the major networks for an interview about the book. It is interesting to note that after her romance with Salinger had cooled Oona married Charlie Chaplin, whom she met in Hollywood where Agnes had taken her to to try to find her a career in the movies. That was in 1943. Another interesting fact is that when novelist Theodore Dreiser died in Los Angeles in 1945, one of the pallbearers was Charlie Chaplin and another was Berkeley Tobey, Dorothy Day's ex-husband. If Agnes and Oona were still in Hollywood I wonder if Agnes met Tobey. They had certainly known each other around the Hell Hole and the Provincetown Playhouse back in the days when Dorothy hung out there with O'Neill and the Hudson Dusters. Another peripheral memory of mine is encountering Agnes son and Oona's brother, Shane O'Neill, in the Seventies, in the apartment house I've rented in in the East Village for many years. Shane used to come there to purchase drugs from a petty criminal named Sammy M., botth now dead, Shane a suicide. Both sad cases. RS

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