Five of J. D. Salinger’s short stories appeared the Post in 1944 and ’45: “The Varoni Brothers”, “Both Parties Concerned”, “Last Day of the Last Furlough”, a “Soft-Boiled Sergeant,” and “A Boy in France,” which will appear in the July/August 2010 edition of The Saturday Evening Post.
In the April, 1944, issue in which “Soft-Boiled Sargeant” appeared, the Post included this small vignette about the early life of the famous, highly talented, and reclusive writer.
A Thin Slice of College
J D. Salinger at the ripe-on-the-bough old age of twenty-five regards himself as the dean of college failures, having been in the freshman class of three colleges but never having quite got into a sophomore class. The apparent reason for this was an allergy to elm trees and ivy.
Mr. Salinger finally overcame his aversion to academy life long enough to take a short-story course at Columbia under Whit Burnett, editor of Story, who published a story of Mr. Salinger’s in his magazine four years ago.
Previous to that successful foray into education, Mr. Salinger had breezed through the grammar schools of his native Manhattan and the Valley Forge Military Academy. He went to Europe at the age of eighteen to learn the Polish ham business from the sty up, and actually spent two months at Bydgoszcz (Polish pigs are fed a daily ration of szcz mixed with a little wcyz), where he helped slaughter pigs and drove by wagon through the snow with a big slaughter master who amused himself between slaughters by popping with his shotgun at sparrows, light bulbs and fellow employees. Both before and after this tenuous apprenticeship, young Mr. Salinger spent his time in Vienna. All of this was, of course, prewar.
Mr. Salinger now has the same number of stripes on his sleeve as his soft-boiled sergeant.