A Century of Perspective
an interview with Ethel Agnes Emerson


Part 12 in our 12-part series.

by Jimmy Guthrie, EIN Staff Writer

ic2.jpgEthel Agnes Emerson began her work as a writer at the age of 16 during World War I. For over 80 years, she has been one of the most respected women in American journalism. Known for her hard-nosed opposition of censorship, her work has been honored by countless awards, and been translated into 400 languages. Over the past year, Electronic Internet News has been fortunate to have the opportunity to speak monthly with this 100-year-old living legend, as she shares her thoughts on the last century. Her only condition upon agreeing to do the interviews was that her words not be edited in any way. Though her Alzheimer's has progressed significantly since we first began this series, we are staying true to our agreement, and printing the interview in its entirety. As Ms. Emerson has so often said, "The truth requires no revision."

EIN: Ms. Emerson, what advice do you have for young people in today's society?
Emerson: I don't like oatmeal! Why do they keep giving me oatmeal? And who might you be, young man? What are you doing in my house?
EIN: I am doing an interview for the news service Electronic Internet News. We are very grateful-
Emerson: I don't like oatmeal! Where's that lady with the pink clothes? She's the one who stole my shoes! I put them right over by the fireplace, and the next thing I know, they're gone. I think my rickets are acting up again. You don't have any castor oil, do you, son?
EIN: No, ma'am. I can get the nurse if-
Emerson: Oh no you don't! I didn't just fall off the trolley. You're trying to get at my money. Well I'll have you know that Jefferson over there is an attack dog. Get him, boy!
EIN: I don't believe that's your dog, Ms. Emerson. It is a garbage can for infectious waste.
Emerson: That lady with the pink clothes stole my shoes! I always keep them right over by the fireplace. I don't like oatmeal! I think I need to tend to my apoplexy. Could you get me some ammoniated linament, fella?
EIN: I really should get the nurse.
Emerson: What are you doing in my house? Sic 'em, Jefferson! I'm telephoning the police, as soon as I find my telephone set.
EIN: Well, this is not really your house. It is the Sunny Seniors Care Facility. And the "fireplace" you refer to is actually your roommate, Myrtle.
[Myrtle tries to make conversation briefly. She is ignored by Ms. Emerson.]
Emerson: I don't like oatmeal! What does it take for a girl to get a little logwood decoction around here? I think I'm coming down with the croup. And while you're at it, get some mucilage for this ringworm!
EIN: Would you say that, in a way, your distaste for oatmeal parallels your intolerance of censorship? Aren't you, in effect, saying, "I don't like governmental restrictions placed on my freedom of speech!"?
Emerson: I don't like oatmeal! Why do they always bring me oatmeal? What I really need is a compound rhubarb pill for this goiter I'm developing. Are you my husband?
EIN: No, ma'am. Your husband passed in 1956.
Emerson: 1956? That's 30 years from now! Who are you- some kind of martian sent from the future?
EIN: No, I am just a reporter, finishing up this interview for Electronic Internet News. Thank you very much for spending time with us. You are truly an inspiration to us all.
Emerson: Don't you want to ask me some questions?
EIN: Well, I was wondering what advice you might have for young people in today's society?
Emerson: I don't like oatmeal!

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