Orrick Johns, ‘Time of Our Lives’
Posted here is an excerpt from Orrick Johns, Time of Our Lives: The Story of My Father and Myself (New York: Stakcpole Sons, 1937).
Orrick Johns (1887-1946) was an American poet and playwright.
A native of St. Louis, Johns was the son of George Sibley Johns, editor of the St. Louis Post Dispatch. (In the 1890s, Dreiser was a reporter in St. Louis.) After graduating from the University of Missouri, Orrick Johns eventually landed a position at Reedy’s Mirror, a literary journal in St. Louis whose editor was William Marion Reedy. Reedy was an early champion of Dreiser when the latter’s critical reputation was far from secure. Reedy wrote a highly favorable review of The “Genius.”
Johns moved to Greenwich Village in New York City around the time that Dreiser was writing The “Genius.” In 1912, Johns, a modernist free-verse poet, won The Lyric Year poetry contest for his poem “Second Avenue.” Competitors for the award included Edna St. Vincent Millay.
In the 1930s, Johns became a communist, briefly. He was supervisor of the WPA Writers’ Project in New York City. Johns’s Time of Our Lives: The Story of My Father and Myself was published in 1937.
The National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners was an organization founded in 1931 as an accompaniment to the International Labor Defense, led by the Communist Party USA. It was under the auspices of this organization that Dreiser, as de facto leader of the committee, became involved with the plight of striking miners in the Kentucky and Pennsylvania coal fields.
Dreiser’s involvement in the case of the imprisoned labor activist Tom Mooney is covered in my post
Roger W. Smith, “Theodore Dreiser in the US Communist Press”
— posted by Roger W. Smith