Kenneth Roberts in the Saturday Evening Post: “I Like Girls With Simple Tastes” – Part III

Kenneth Roberts’ “I Like Girls With Simple Tastes” (Saturday Evening Post 208:52, 6/27/36) is a fun read (Roberts’ classic humor is on full display) and an insightful look into Roberts’ tastes and personality. Admittedly, however, the article comes across as a random diatribe against sophisticated girls. Why would Roberts write such an article, and the Post feature the title and Roberts’ name prominently on the issues’ cover? Without any knowledge of the purpose behind Roberts’ article, one can easily dismiss “I Like Girls With Simple Tastes” as typical Roberts cantankerousness. The featured opinion piece is nothing more than an old, well-to-do author complaining about one aspect of the changing times. And to be fair, such an assessment would be accurate if there was no insight into the why behind Roberts’ penning a piece on sophisticated ladies.

Thankfully, page 104 of the 6/27/1936 issue of Saturday Evening Post provides readers with the very purpose why Roberts enlightened Post readers about the true meaning of sophistication. In an issue of the Saturday Evening Post prior to 6/27/36, an anonymous writer penned an article titled “Why I Like Men With Money.” The article drew the ire of many readers, resulting in “several hundred” letters to the editor complaining about Ms. Anonymous’ article (“Keeping Posted,” Saturday Evening Post 208: 52, 6/27/36, p. 104). One reader from Huntington, NY wrote: “The author of the article I Like Men With Money knew what she was doing when she did not sign her name…Who does she think she is, anyway–Queen Marie?” (104).

The Post responded to the reader’s letter, claiming that many were in agreement with him; the editors just thought it would be good for Post readers to meet one of the people as described in the article. They closed their letter by promising an article from the other side of the picture in an article to be titled as “I Like Girls With Simple Tastes.” Because of the reference to Queen Marie (I’m not familiar with this reference), the Post wrote Ms. Anonymous in an effort to clear up supposedly derogatory reference. Eventually, the comment from the reader from Huntington, NY drew the author of the contentious article from the shroud of anonymity into the hot spotlight of criticism. She sent a tersely worded wire to the Post granting her permission for the Post to reveal her name, refusing to be said of her that she was a “sissy” and signed her name to the wire as Alice-Leone Moats (104). (The writer of “Keeping Posted,” after quoting the wire in full, adds – as an indication of Ms. Moats’ character – that the “wire was sent collect” (104).

The stakes raised, the editors of the Post sought to assign an author to the future article “I Like Girls With Simple Tastes.”  Their guidelines for such an author were that the article had to be “written by (1) a man (2) a man who has been around (3) a man who carries his silver in a change purse. Adding (1), (2), and (3) gave us (6), or Kenneth Roberts” (104). (Great humor in this one statement). Thus, it was “into the middle of this situation, redolent with recrimination, defiance and invitations to torture, we lured the innocent Mr. Roberts” (104). After obtaining Roberts’ services, the editors were satisfied…to a point. Closing the piece, the writer dreams of a meeting between Moats and Roberts…a meeting in “New York. A little dinner, a show—” (104).

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