It was a morning of artistic creation. Fifteen minutes after the purple prose of Babbitt’s form-letter, Chester Kirby Laylock, the resident salesman at Glen Oriole, came in to report a sale and submit an advertisement. Babbitt disapproved of Laylock, who sang in choirs and was merry at home over games of Hearts and Old Maid. He had a tenor voice, wavy chestnut hair, and a mustache like a camel’s-hair brush. Babbitt considered it excusable in a family-man to growl, “Seen this new picture of the kid—husky little devil, eh?” but Laylock’s domestic confidences were as bubbling as a girl’s.
“Say, I think I got a peach of an ad for the Glen, Mr. Babbitt. Why don’t we try something in poetry? Honest, it’d have wonderful pulling-power. Listen:
Wherever you may roam,
You just provide the little bride
And we’ll provide the home.
Do you get it? See—like ‘Home Sweet Home.’ Don’t you—”
“Yes, yes, yes, hell yes, of course I get it. But—Oh, I think we’d better use something more dignified and forceful, like ’We lead, others follow,’ or ‘Eventually, why not now?’ Course I believe in using poetry and humor and all that junk when it turns the trick, but with a high-class restricted development like the Glen we better stick to the more dignified approach, see how I mean? Well, I guess that’s all, this morning, Chet.”
By a tragedy familiar to the world of art, the April enthusiasm of Chet Laylock served only to stimulate the talent of the older craftsman, George F. Babbitt. He grumbled to Stanley Graff, “That tan-colored voice of Chet’s gets on my nerves,” yet he was aroused and in one swoop he wrote:
Do you respect your loved ones?
When the last sad rites of bereavement are over, do you know for certain that you have done your best for the Departed? You haven’t unless they lie in the Cemetery Beautiful,
the only strictly up-to-date burial place in or near Zenith, where exquisitely gardened plots look from daisy-dotted hill-slopes across the smiling fields of Dorchester.
Babbitt-Thompson realty company
He rejoiced, “I guess that’ll show Chan Mott and his weedy old Wildwood Cemetery something about modern merchandizing!”
He sent Mat Penniman to the recorder’s office to dig out the names of the owners of houses which were displaying For Rent signs of other brokers; he talked to a man who desired to lease a store-building for a pool-room; he ran over the list of home-leases which were about to expire; he sent Thomas Bywaters, a street-car conductor who played at real estate in spare time, to call on side-street “prospects” who were unworthy the strategies of Stanley Graff. But he had spent his credulous excitement of creation, and these routine details annoyed him. One moment of heroism he had, in discovering a new way of stopping smoking.