Home  Intro   Bio  Historical Perspectives  Ripley the Man  Ripley's Works  Gallery Credits

by Connie Wrzesniewski, Banner Staff

Author Stuart Cummings Ripley of Uhlerstown, PA, best known for his scathing novel, My Town, died February 2, 1964 in Hahnemann Hospital, Philadelphia, PA. Ripley was 74 years old. He is survived by his beloved long time companion, Jill Castenberry, son Thaddeus, daughter-in-law Elsa, and grandson Stuart Providence Ripley.

A native of Cummings, Ohio, a small farming community, he was the son of lawyer, Horace John Ripley and Susannah Abigail Cummings, a descendent of the town's founder John C. Cummings, who was involved with the Underground Railroad of the Civil War.

"America's greatest forgotten author," Ripley collected friends during his career in journalism as he was vaulted from Cummings, Ohio, to such far off and exciting places as the South Pacific, Mexico, Spain, Europe and the Middle East. As a World War I war correspondent on assignment by the Ashtabula, Ohio, "Star Beacon," he encountered Ernest Hemingway in Paris and again while covering the Spanish Civil War. It was Hemingway who introduced him to playwright Lillian Hellman in Spain.

He also formed a special friendship with T. E. Lawrence (of Arabia) and the notorious Abdullah Fey while reporting on the capture of Jerusalem from the Turks. The following year he expanded his friendships to Europe while covering the German Siege of Paris. Fond memories of his expatriate days in Paris spawned friendships with such notables as Sherwood Anderson, Djuna Barnes, Kay Boyle, special friend John Dos Passos, Ford Maddox Ford, Hilda Doolittle (HD), Henry Miller, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, and Alice B. Toklas. All but Toklas and the deceased Stein are expected to attend the final remembrance, scattering the ashes of his cremation into the Delaware River from the famed Lumberville Footbridge aka the "jumping bridge" near his home in Uhlerstown. Anyone wishing to visit Bull's Island, NJ, is free to walk the entire span of the bridge to the other side.

Linked to a failed assassination attempt on British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, Ripley was plagued by the erroneous accusation throughout his life. Famed Bucks County psychiatrist Abelard Honig was instrumental in ridding him of the demons that possessed and tormented him in connection with the incident as well as the suicide of his second wife Sally Beacon. During therapy

the truth of her death emerged -- murder by the Russian Mafia. Dr. Honig and Ripley's close friend J. Robert Oppenheimer, "Father of the Atomic Bomb," will share in the presentation of the eulogy.

A poetry reading from his book Fleur, named for his first wife, Fleur Beauvais, a prominent Parisian prostitute, will take place following the scattering of ashes. Ezra Pound, influential during Ripley's poetry period in Paris as an expatriate, declined the invitation to attend, citing ill health. In his place Robert Penn Warren will officiate, reading the erotic selections, Talk to Me, Slow and Tender, Song of Farewell and I Love You So.

George Plimpton is expected to make a commemorative leap from the bridge following the poetry reading and firing down five shots of Jameson neat. Paramour Tokyo Rose, nee Iva Toguri, along with Ripley's and Rose's beloved daughter Chrysanthemum will arrive by helicopter to retrieve Plimpton from the Delaware.

Ripley's remains, encased in a vintage wooden Garcia y Vega cigar box sent to him many years ago by Pancho Villa, will be carried on the back of a riderless horse, a descendant of his beloved Angel's Wings. The cortege over the bridge will be led by a team of twelve foxhounds, followed by his numerous friends and a bull mastiff at the rear of the procession. Ripley's adored Siamese cats, Pixie and Cleopatra, are unable to attend.

The family -- which reaches out to embrace Bucks County intimates Dorothy Parker, queen bee of the Algonquin Round Table, and S. J. Perelman, who formed close relationships through their sessions at New York's famed Algonquin Hotel, as well as their Bucks County gatherings -- requests that donations in lieu of flowers be made to the Society for the Perpetuation of Aspiring Writers, Neat (SPAWN). Ripley and the Algonquins often befriended hopeful writers in an obscure group involved in a workshop in Doylestown, frequently including them in their Algonquin drinking soirees. The fund will be used to further the group's writing endeavors and to encourage future careers.

The ceremony will take place at 11:00 AM, February 5. An international buffet will follow at the Black Bass Hotel catered by Ramon Serrano Suner, Spanish Minister of the Interior. The menu will include recipes from Ripley's own cookbook, Recipes By Ripley, most of which were filched from famous friends.

Home     Intro      Bio     Historical Perspectives     Ripley the Man     Ripley's Works     Gallery    Credits