Katharine Fullerton Gerould

Ringside Seats

At the funeral games of Anchises the Trojan Dares was about to claim the heavyweight championship of the world by default when the aged Entellus, throwing into the ring the brains-and-gore-stained boxing-gloves of Eryx, challenged him. Lovers of the Æneid will recall how Entellus fell, to rise again and buffet the Trojan with such murderous rights and lefts that pious Æneas, as referee, stopped the bout. Dares, spitting out teeth and unable to stand, was dragged away by his friends. Both contestants presumably wore regulation bull-hide gloves well knobbed and studded with metal. They must have weighed considerably more than five pounds; and, indeed, the cauliflower ear, I understand, was even more common in classical times than now. There was, moreover, no adrenalin at hand.

An impression is made of many memories. Perhaps it was Dares and Entellus, perhaps the vast half-lit reaches of the Stadium, curbed to the familiar classic shape, perhaps the concentration of a hundred and forty thousand souls on the beautiful bared bodies of athletes—with jumbled memories of the terrible cestus, of the “pancratist’s ear,” of matrons barred from the Olympic games on pain of death, of the Circus Maximus, of “Reds” and “Greens” and “habet” and turned-down imperial thumbs: perhaps it was all these and more that pulled me so authentically back through time. Those white faces, massed tier above tier, beyond all counting, until the topmost parapet of the arena cut them sharply off from the lowering starless sky—surely, they dumbly affirmed, the spirit of this scene was a very ancient one. In spite of electric lights, and American slang, and hot-dogs, and field-glasses, and monotonous dark male clothing, I had but to turn my eyes away from the brilliant ring itself, half close them on that ordered multitude, to imagine that we were all the guests of Julius Cæsar. No, I have never felt, potentially, so much a part of the Imperial world. Except that this was far quieter—so quiet that it just might have been (between bouts) not the gladiators, but a new play of Sophocles that we were waiting for. A jumble, yes; but all a classic jumble.

There are a great many people who have a prejudice against prize fighting. I number them largely among my friends and kin. Such folk might overlook a man’s going to a fight, because—as women all seem to know, especially the older women—there is, in the normal man, a residuum of brutality that no amount of association with perfect ladies (male or female) can quite reduce out of existence. A woman’s going to a fight is another matter. They would quite agree with the old ruling about the Olympic games—no ladies except priestesses of Demeter (of whom, fortunately, there are none left upon earth) should be admitted. Accordingly, I took care not to tell most of my friends beforehand that I was going to the Dempsey-Tunney fight. Some of them would have felt like accessories before the fact in a criminal case. If I had mentioned Dares and Entellus or the pancratium, they would have thought I was pretending. It was better they should be presented with a fait accompli. Perhaps I could come home and placate them by announcing that I had been quite sick.

I knew better, of course. Though I had never seen a prize fight, I knew better. If I had seen no fights, myself, I had talked with those who had. I suspected that this would be a great, grave spectacle, intensely interesting to the amateur, and presenting aspects of serious beauty to the tyro. The very tickets were grave—with their size, their stamped enormous price, their pictures of Dempsey and Tunney, their printed grandiloquence about “the heavyweight championship of the world” (“the world” settles it: you can’t be bigger than that), the faint blue signatures of Tex Rickard all over them, as though to guarantee that every inch of this pasteboard was sacred. A cloud of governors, a bevy of millionaires, the Pennsylvania Boxing Commission, and the Liberty Bell would all see to it that there was not “rough stuff” or foul play. You do not offer rough stuff or foul play to a two-million dollar gate—to private trains, and proud specials from Pittsburgh, Chicago, South Dakota, and points west, puffing staidly on the West Philadelphia tracks. Through what brutal hells of blood-lust, what sordid treacheries of dope and fouls and “framing,” in furtive sporting clubs and obscure bouts in the desert, a pugilist may have to lift himself (and lucky to survive) before he gets out into the Sesquicentennial Stadium and up to the big promoters, I am probably not aware. But one felt sure that the air would blow clean on this fight.

The tensity of a championship bout, as of any occasion that draws to itself, for its own sake, a vast crowd converging from great distances on the one event, begins long before the bout itself begins. Those human beings bring their own excitement with them, from east, west, north, and south; and as they clot together and the streams grow thick in the main avenues of approach, their own excitement is reinforced and multiplied. The nearer the fight, the more you feel it. At North Philadelphia the industry of America seemed to have stopped. The windows and doors of factories were crowded with faces; the station platforms uneasy and staring. I never made out just what it was, though I did hear porters saying “Tunney.” Perhaps, we thought, his train had passed through from Stroudsburg. Later, we wondered if the challenger’s airplane had flown over; perhaps he was even then being historically sick above the North Philadelphia station. Perhaps it was only a rumor of champion or challenger. Perhaps it was nothing—only a vague expectancy raying out from the ring itself and hypnotizing everyone on the direct route to it. The nearer you are the more you feel it, is true of any spot that is focussing the passion of scores of thousands. Things happen, even to you—even if you are only at North Philadelphia (in a factory window) watching the world channel itself in one direction.

Preconceived ideas are a general infection of middle age. Though by six o’clock the station and City Hall Square were crowded, the crowds—except that they were male, in very large proportion—failed to bear out any of my expectations. There was a total dearth of conspicuous clothing and fancy waistcoats; an almost total dearth of fat black cigars. Instead, there were binoculars, binoculars enough to supply every officer in the A. E. F. The hawkers in front of the station who urged you to buy seven-dollar glasses for fifty cents, as well as those who offered ringside tickets under the shadow of William Penn, may have done some business; but it looked as if everyone had brought his own field glass and his own ticket, and had left his flask, his Havanas, and his emotions at home. It was a perfectly unremarkable crowd. You were shouldered and shoved by quietly active thousands. You were one of a multitude so drab and dignified that it lost all quality of multitude except sheer physical weight. Almost any crowd shows higher lights than this one. It lacked color, it lacked noise, it lacked even emphasis, and your nerves had to feel for its secret purpose. Except that it was moving relentlessly, unwaveringly southward, no purpose was visible or audible. Its very force was latent, tacit; you realized only that nothing short of an act of God would deflect that stream from its objective. In the Sesquicentennial grounds it flowed thickly on through the appointed gates (there was a spaced series of them) and you walked in the midst, compassed closely round with softly treading shadows that never turned to right or left to stare or shout or dally. The poor little lights of the Exhibition buildings were inadequate to illumine this mass, to pick out individuals here or there. Almost every crowd has “humors,” diversities, to catch the eye. This crowd had none. Pouring through the darkness, it had no time for byplay. It was only going to the fight.

To one who from early youth has experience “sport” chiefly in the form of Big Three football games, those hours from six P. M. to three A. M. were an amazing demonstration. I had come to believe that rowdiness, drunkenness, bad manners, maudlin emotionalism were inseparable from great crowds at a sporting event in the open air. Adverse critics, whether of college football or of professional baseball, usually attribute the vulgarity of the spectacle to the commercializing of the game. I had always helplessly supposed that commercialization was partly responsible, as well as the animalism latent even in respectable people when they have once turned into a mob. Yet there were three times as many human beings in the Stadium that night as I have ever seen at a football game—three times as much excuse for the loosing of herd-excitement. Nor was Mr. Rickard exactly giving tickets away, nor were champion and challenger—to put it delicately—fighting for nothing. Something like one hundred and forty thousand people present; two hundred thousand dollars for Mr. Tunney and something like seven hundred thousand for Mr. Dempsey—you really could not say either that the crowd was safely small or that no money was involved.

The argument that in “ringside” seats we were separated from the proletariat amounts to nothing; for we spent only two hours and a half out of some nine or ten in that privileged position. Taxis seemed to have disappeared from Philadelphia. We went from the station to the Stadium in a bus, and after the fight we milled in the rain with thousands, for an hour and a half, before we could even achieve a bus to return on. The station doors at one A. M. were shut against the crowd and the storm. We dribbled in, a few at a time; after half an hour, inside, of pressing against other gates, the compact mass of which we were a part catapulted us through into the train shed, the police protesting vainly. Sodden, we stood for another half hour before we could get on a train and, sodden, we fell into our seats. Sodden, among the sodden, we hitched along the obstructed tracks for an hour and a half. We were, for many hours, soaking, unsegregated, massed with the lesser and poorer fight fans, those cheap and brutal addicts to the sport over whom other people shake their heads. Just once (in the station) between six o’clock and quarter to four—nearly ten hours—I saw a man take a drink; never did I see anyone who had obviously had a drink; not once did I hear a bet so much as mentioned; not once did I hear an oath or any questionable language. Yet I have never experienced, or watched other people experiencing, a tenser excitement than during the big bout; nor have I ever been in a crowd that was suffering greater physical discomfort than the crowd was suffering during the hours after it. In the Stadium itself the quality of the excitement might explain it; but what about the letdown afterwards? My husband and I confessed to each other that it would be a long time before we could again endure the vulgarity and rowdiness of a football crowd, since now we had clear proof that they were unnecessary.

“The quality of the excitement”…Even now, a week later—a week during which the memory of the whole occasion has hardly once left me—I am unable quite to define that quality. During the preliminary bouts, only one or two of which were keenly interesting, I turned my eyes frequently from the ring to the vast stretches of the arena, serried and stippled with faces. I have said that it stirred all sorts of incoherent memories and imaginings of classic scenes. As a spectacle, the high-piled, densely peopled Stadium, with its gamuts of light and darkness—shadowy where vagueness was needed, brilliant where strength and skill, terribly compressed into human form, were emphatically contending—was impressive and beautiful beyond foreknowledge. Yet by being other than they were, differently possessed, those thousands could have turned the place into a spiritual shambles, a great mortar in which you were brayed with unspeakable ingredients. Crowds are not beautiful…unless they are animated by a literally respectable emotion, unified by an intellectual as well as a physical interest. Hysteria, even in a noble cause, is a horrid thing. Perhaps the elaborate ritual of announcement and preparation helped—dignity, after all, is dignity wherever it be met. Perhaps people were awed by a superlative—the heavyweight championship of the world does imply a superlative. Certainly the absence of sentimental partisanships helped: it was a cooler, more reasoned interest. Professional sport has the advantage over amateur sport that people are more apt to be looking for excellence, unswayed by prejudice. (At least, it should have this advantage—I believe professional baseball does not bear me out, in practice.) There need be no Red Mist of anger hovering over the benches.

It is hard to determine the nature of other people’s excitement except through its physical manifestations. I know only that they were immensely and quietly concentrated; that ushers had no trouble in getting people to keep their seats and take their hats off; that any necessary shift of position was made as quickly and apologetically as possible; that everyone (it seemed) would rather die than shove; that ushers and vendors passed down the aisles crouched double, so as not to interfere; and that, while the big bout was on, the murmur of multitude did not prevent your hearing the occasional low speech of a man some rows away. People who have attended crowded athletic events will know what I mean when I say that no one made noises in his throat—there were not even those familiar guttural beginnings of emotional lapse. As no one, I fancy, has ever seen a hundred and forty thousand Lord Chesterfields assembled together—and certainly not at a prize fight—I could account for the manners, the quietness, the considerateness, the general decorum not by the quality of the people, but only by the quality of the interest that dominated them. Though there were plenty of thugs present, as the crowds afterwards bore witness, they were not illustrating thuggishness just then.

Keen concentration was no doubt part of it: it was all happening in a ring twenty-four feet square, and there was no possible dispersal of “effects”; there were only two men to watch; it was personal combat in its intensest form. For the initiate—presumably the majority—it was an entrancing display of “science” and speed which claimed all their vision, all their mental faculties; they could not afford to be distracted for a second from those lightninglike sequences.

Beauty also was part of it; to the tyro, a very great part. A year or two ago, I saw Dempsey do some exhibition boxing in a Broadway theater, and I remember being amazed then to realize that I had seen no such grace of motion since Nijinsky was dancing here with the Russian ballet. Shadowboxing and the mere illustration of hooks and jabs and swings are of course not to be compared with the real contest with a real antagonist, when there is force behind the speed, and constant counterplay of gestures. There is no plastic beauty in football, none in baseball. There is beauty in lacrosse and in hurdling and pole-vaulting. But in none of these is there plastic beauty comparable with that of good boxing: two perfect bodies matched against each other, melting from attitude to attitude, grouping to grouping, a hundred poses succeeding one another with incredible speed—and the ultimate purpose of it, triumph and the lifted arm. They dance, they spar, they clinch…and every instant reveals to the eye some new aspect of art or strength. I have ever preferred statues to pictures; there is something in the validity of three dimensions that comforts my soul. And infinitely better is the statue released to motion, its poses incalculably varied and multiplied.

Impossible to explain that to people preconvinced that boxing is all physical brutality and—therefore—physical ugliness. “But how could you stand it?” wailed one friend of mine; “didn’t you have to see blood?” I knew then that I could never explain. “Do you know how long a round lasts?” I asked. “No,” she shuddered. “Well, it only lasts three minutes, and they wash ’em off in between.” To such evasive crudity I was reduced.

The Battle of the Century appears to be the mystery of the ages. It is not for me, in my ignorance, to sustain or to challenge anything said by any sporting editor in the land. I do not know what “happened”; or why Gene Tunney was able to beat Jack Dempsey. I keep, unperturbed, my own deep sense of the spectacle; and no hashing over of the fight, in talk or in print, can alter one jot of the impression which was, that night, forced upon me. Of necessity, my own reactions to the bout were only æsthetic and psychological. If it was, for me, a great experience, that was simply because I had never before been a tiny assisting unit in so impressive a spectacle. Someone once told me, concerning the Dempsey-Carpentier fight, that it was like watching a Greek tragedy. His words came back to me in the arena, where I was duplicating his internal comment. So subtly are we wrought upon by the rest of any audience of which we are a part that, unless we are in open and deliberate revolt against our fellow-witnesses, we partake in the common spirit of the occasion. I do not know if anyone else was saying to himself that it was like watching a Greek tragedy; but there was nothing in the surrounding atmosphere to contradict my own mood. In feeling the event to be like that, I seemed to be agreeing with a hundred thousand people around me.

I do not for an instant mean that to those spectators the defeat of Dempsey was a personal distress. The newspapers, I believe, said it was a Tunney crowd. Around us sympathy was evenly divided. If it was like a Greek tragedy, that was precisely because messy partisanships seemed to be absent. As round succeeded round, and Dempsey came no nearer landing a knockout blow, incredulity seemed to be swallowed up in impersonal awe. One could do nothing; one’s muscles made no attempt to stir in sympathy with either athlete (which of us has not impotently tried to help a halfback down the field?); one’s throat was dumb. The event was beyond all petty worrying, beyond all impulse to change or forestall it. There were no tears in it except the universal “tears of things.” Whatever was happening had to happen: you were only watching. You might as well protest an Æschylean catastrophe. It was like seeing a doom fall from the very hand of the Parcæ. That, in part, is why I confirm again the Greek tragedy comparison.

The protagonist, too, was a symbol, or the event would not have been tragic in the impersonal, classic sense. No matter what they say of Dempsey now, the majority of sporting writers and boxing fans said earlier that he was the greatest heavyweight fighter of our times. I have no means of knowing whether this is a true estimate or not, and for my own purpose it does not matter. True or not, the crowd believed it. The Dempsey legend hung heavy over the whole arena. Whatever they hoped, they believed him invincible. The moments just before the champion entered the ring were almost intolerable in their weight of expectancy. They were the only moments in the Stadium I would not willingly live through again. Tunney climbed through the ropes, debonair in his gaudy bathrobe, and there were cheers a-plenty, but the general tension did not slacken. I heard a young man, some distance away from us, murmur to his companion—low and painfully, as if breath came hard, “You just watch—when Dempsey comes—he’ll come into the ring looking just like a gorilla.” If you had to wait much longer for Dempsey, blood vessels would crack, everything would go dark….Not quite for eagerness to see the fight; rather, because Dempsey himself was, to most of them, a superlative, something that had nothing to do with human averages. No one had seen him in the ring for three long years: he was a legend and had taken on legendary proportions and gifts; the exaggeration of myth was about him. They might call him in words the “Manassa Mauler,” but the tone said “Achilles.” It is ill waiting for lightning or earthquake, a portent or a revelation. He came, at last,—at the proper moment, no doubt; and if Shakespeare had been writing it, he would have made the rain begin—as it did—when Dempsey entered the ring.

For a person with no technical knowledge to describe a fight, even a single round of a fight, would be more than folly. It would resemble the insolence of the local vet’s wife who analyzes Shakespeare’s Sonnets for her woman’s club. Experts pronounced themselves on both subjects, too copiously, too long ago. What, then, was the spectacle that transcended one’s ignorance and fed one’s intuitions for forty fleeting minutes? For one had no sense of not knowing what was going on; and if one was bewildered, so were all the gentlemen who had no time to smoke. I have read, I think, square miles of “dope” about the fight, yet I am precisely where I was, that night, in the dripping Stadium.

What one saw, with one’s unenlightened eyes, was Tunney, infinitely tall, his half-inch advantage expanded to a cubit; Tunney and his long arms swinging right and left to Dempsey’s ducked head; Tunney wide-mouthed and panting, but perpetually dancing round the champion, forcing the pace, and only once (or so it looked) clearly frightened. Tunney’s tall ugliness (as Henry James would have put it) and his flailing arms. And Dempsey? Dempsey, whose face, lowered at Tunney’s breast, you seldom saw; Dempsey with his bull-necked crouch, weaving, bobbing, closing in—but always the shade too slow, his half-inch longer reach not counting; Dempsey “flat-footed” and dancing not at all, robbed somehow of the speed that makes strength fatal; Dempsey ineffectual, but terrifying, portentous, to the last gong-stroke, so that, for thirty counted minutes, you were expecting him, the next instant, to explode from that crouch, and kill. If ever human figure looked invincible, that figure was Jack Dempsey’s; and in the later rounds (prolonging themselves incredibly beyond the fifth, which most people had taken for the ultimate) one felt that invisible burdens must be laid upon him, great weights that no scales could register, no officials detect.

I have been accused of being a Dempsey fan; though just why it is an accusation, I do not know. Certainly, if I felt any pallid partisan desires, they were all for Dempsey’s victory; but I have never had the opportunity to become a fight fan, and my pugilistic sympathies are, veritably, neither keen nor profound. I felt during the fight, no more than, and no differently from, the Tunney supporters at my right hand. The same bewilderment paralyzed us all. Every man and woman there must have been asking the tacit question, “What has slowed Dempsey down?” I believe anyone who had never heard of Dempsey would have asked, that night, the same question. Dempsey, in the ring, spoke for himself, defined himself, illustrated, to any eye that watched him, the quintessential gladiator. Numen inest. You might know nothing about it, be less than the least reporter, but you felt, with every internal muscle, a classic strength deprived of speed, a perfect engine somehow ill-fired. “A great ox stood upon my tongue,” says the Herald in the Agamemnon. A great ox seemed to be checking Dempsey with unseen hoofs and breath. For he looked, each moment, as if he would co-ordinate that strength with one tremendous impulse and knock out the challenger. If, after the fifth round, you no longer quite expected it, that was from a dim, a fortiori logic—if Tunney had stuck it as long as that, he might go on sticking it; and, clearly, he was hitting home far oftener than Dempsey. Even to the last round, one looked for the natural fulfilment of the strength and science that were Dempsey. But the speed never came back.

If I shut my eyes, regarding the bout once more with the simplifying, fore-shortening gaze of memory, I see three things—Tunney, standing clear of Dempsey from the chest up, swinging rights and lefts to Dempsey’s head; Dempsey, crouched and ferine, weaving, weaving, searching Tunney’s body vainly for the appointed, vulnerable spot; and Dempsey, coming from his corner, those last times, dripping with rain and looking as blind as the Cyclops. I am no expert; but that is what I seemed—eternally, yet so briefly—to see. That is how, to the untrained eye, it looked. And no one believed any of it—any more than I did.

Vachel Lindsay has long since refused to read in public his poem called “Boston.” You may remember the constant refrain of the uneven stanzas:

And John L. Sullivan
The strong boy of Boston
Broke-every-single-rib-of-Jake-Kilrain.

(Was that the fight that went forty-five rounds? I do not remember.) I used to think that poem was quite as near as I cared to get to a prize fight. Though the rhythm carries you, in spite of yourself, they are reeking lines. And no doubt their suggestion is right. Boxing, very likely, is a brutal business. Referees stopped two of the preliminary bouts, on this occasion, because one of the fighters was so clearly outclassed that to continue it would have been like letting John L. Sullivan break every single rib of Jake Kilrain. Perhaps, among other things, it was the more perfect matching of champion and challenger, the greater science displayed, that permitted one to forget Vachel Lindsay and hark back to Atropos. Certainly, as I have reiterated, the setting helped. But I believe that the classic quality, the awe, the tension, the helplessness derived from a deeper, more personal source. If Dempsey’s defeat was like, as I have so tediously repeated, a Greek tragedy, it was neither because Dempsey was passionately beloved nor because all fights are like that. None of the preliminary bouts was in the least like a Greek tragedy. That the quality of inescapable doom, the suggestion that the Fates themselves were mixing in this matter, the curious enlarging of the fight from “sport” into a more poetic issue, the injection of symbolism into the effect produced were directly due to Dempsey, I think none could deny. If, for example, Gene Tunney, later, should fight Jack Sharkey, these graver and nobler elements, I feel sure, would be lacking. I watched Dempsey, round after round, a crouching, ducking, terribly weaving figure, battered about the head, forced to the ropes, recovering, following, pursuing, swollen-faced, bleeding; and in the teeth of defeat I could see why he had been a legend. Someone behind us was whispering at intervals, as if in a private agony of prayer, “Just one blow, Jack—only one blow—it’s all you need, Jack—only one.” Some Tunney fans directly in front of us checked up each round with stammering amazement. When the announcement of the decision finally belled over the Stadium, they clasped one another in delight—with just a touch of boyish consternation. No man is invincible, the Manassa Mauler or another, and seven years is, I suppose, a fair length of time to hold the heavyweight title, which is, in these days, a property of youth. Even Dempsey had to be defeated sometime, and all these people had sense enough to know it. Many of them, no doubt, hoped to see him lose his title that very night—by a knockout. All champions go through the Arician cycle:

The priest who slew the slayer,
And shall himself be slain.

If this was different, there was a reason; and that reason lay, I believe, in Dempsey himself, as I have said.

For the world likes (though seldom it gets) its types complete. Dempsey was, to the eye of contemplation, the Platonic idea of a heavyweight fighter, the perfection of a type, one thing supremely and nothing else. Apart from being a beautiful boxer, Tunney was, to the common vision, a thug like another. Several times, psychology prevailing, in my interest, over sport, I focussed the present champion’s “fighting face” through my good German glass. No man’s fighting face is pretty, I need hardly say, and I was not looking for beauty. I was looking for some quality, some emphasis, that always evaded me: it was not there. Tunney was what the French call quelconque. “He might be a gasoline salesman,” I sighed to my husband as I gave over the search. But not Dempsey, whose ferocious face and beautiful body alike suggested nothing but the great gladiator. He was, you would say, engined, created, fashioned to be that, in its perfection; it was the original purpose of him from the beginning of the world. Not one element of him betrayed it. There was nothing quelconque—vague, indeterminate, drably indefinable—about him. The prize fighter may not be one’s pet type—it certainly is not mine—but as I say, the world likes its types, whatever they are, perfect. Dempsey might have been the primal matrix from which all great fighters are struck. He was complete enough to be a symbol; and when a symbol ceases to symbolize, it is like a death. The man who told me that the Carpentier fight was like a Greek tragedy—youth, grace, beauty, gallantry going down before brute strength—added, “And it was right. If Carpentier had won, it would have been logically wrong; you would have been happier, but your intellect would have been outraged.” This time the case was other. I have noticed that, even now, when everyone knows that Tunney did beat Dempsey, there seem to be comparatively few people who believe that Tunney can beat Dempsey. It was a decision according to fact, but contrary to nature. One must square facts with nature somehow, or the brain reels; and this fact could be thus squared only by the law of the Arician doom. Whether Tunney or someone else, it did not matter; sometime or other, that symbol of strength, because he was only a man, had to be proved mortal and subject to the processes of decay. Therefore, one had the sense that, as I say, the Fates themselves were mixing in the matter. Perhaps the boxing fans are right, and Tunney cannot beat Dempsey—only did beat him, for the high cosmic reason that legends are weaker than laws, and the Immortals concern themselves periodically with proving it to us.

It may be that I poetize it too much. As we surged slowly, thousands of us, out of the Stadium, we saw a single fan seated among acres of empty benches, watching the last bout going on in the downpour. He was fat and genial, and the rain slid down him on every side in shining arcs. “Want your money’s worth, don’t you?” someone sang out to him across the wet expanse of bleachers. “Sure,” he chuckled; “I’ve been here all night and haven’t seen a knockout yet.” He obviously did not consider that he had witnessed a Greek tragedy.

Yet something, for hours to come, laid a finger on foolish lips. Something kept the crowd in general from swearing, during that night of discomfort, when the rain was searching their very bones. Something kept the packed, motionless crowd in the train, from any discussion of the fight; kept them from protest or vaunting or comparing of notes or exchange of “dope.” I incline to think that it was what kept us, until at five in the morning we achieved dryness, warmth, and comfortable beds, exalted, tense, and silent. I think that they had seen a classic drama, though they knew only that they had seen a fight.

(1926)

MLA Citation

Gerould, Katharine Fullerton. “Ringside Seats.” 1926. Quotidiana. Ed. Patrick Madden. 20 Mar 2015. 26 Apr 2017 <http://essays.quotidiana.org/gerould/ringside_seats/>.

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