[24 Feb. 1952]
Your gift is delightful. It is lovely to look at and I know it will be delicious to the taste. I haven't yet torn off the cellophane cover, as my wife says your tangible message of sympathy must stand for a few days on the centre of the mantlepiece for visitors to admire. This is rather tough on me as my mouth is watering for that pear and grapefruit and all the other things suggestive of Miami. The gift has turned February into summer, and when my family decide that the time has come to bring the contents into full sunlight there will be an appropriate ceremony, the chief feature being a toast to the class drunk in the very Canada Dry now reposing in the lower left corner of the box.
Well, a word now about my accident. Last Friday week, precisely at 10 pm, I was crossing Cortleigh Crescent into Cortleigh Boulevard (the street on which I live). As the street was very slippery following the snow storm I thought I would take the centre of the road instead of the sidewalk. There was my mistake. One second I was walking erect, dignified, chin up, professional, in fact pure Greek in the symmetry of my pose and locomotion, and the next second I was angular, out of proportion, my centre of gravity lying decidedly outside my base of support; in other words I was earth-bound ending up in a condition of extreme gloom, my left shoulder fractured.
For a period which I could not calculate, my mind was occupied with the following maze of considerations:
(1) I observed that there was no person on the street who could report the indignity of my position.
(2) I was thankful that it was my shoulder not my neck which was broken.
(3) I was thankful also that I had enough anatomical sections intact to enable me to collect and hold together the other fragments until I reached my house which luckily was only fifty yards away.
(4) My spirit of thankfulness, however, was modified by inward agitation vainly trying to find language strong enough to do justice to the event. Having spent so much time with you in the presence of Hardy was fortuitous. I tried a few of the more vehement oaths Crass Casualty, It, Unconscious Principle, the President of the Immortals, the Brute and Blackguard who made the world and the Brooding Fate. I rejected them all as too abstract. I wanted something I could get my teeth into, something I could hit with my right fist and I found it in a very concrete individual, namely the Head of the Department of Street Clearing at the City Hall who neglected to put sand or cinders on that treacherous corner. What I said about him cannot be written down. But this spate of invective was of meagre support in keeping my mind off the pain of the fracture.
And now I am in my house for another two or three weeks. With all the bandages on me I look like a dromedary. At least my pose can scarcely be said to be photogenic. In the meantime, my dear students, I shall toast you in Canada Dry and offer up a prayer that all the good angels both pagan and Christian will hover over you with their heavenly wings and preserve you from falling.
With esteem & affection
E.J.P. X his mark
Last Friday week
two or three weeks