Saturday, 27 June 2020

The Life of Mrs Paul Terry

It’s a question that, no doubt, has crossed your mind time and time again: What’s it like to be Mrs. Paul Terry?

Wonder no longer.

The answer can be found in the Larchmont Times of September 7, 1939. It interviewed her about her life. Mrs. Terry leaves one with the impression that she engaged in what wives of men in a certain higher income bracket did back then—a lot of clubbing with other women in a similar station in life, and superficial dabbling in the arts. It was not a taxing existence. Still she seems to have a been a well-intended, socially-minded person.

To show you how times have changed, the article was written when the social protocol was to refer to a wife by her husband’s name. This is why nowhere in the story is her first name mentioned; she is called “Mrs. Paul Terry.” In thinking about it, this must have changed around the time of the women’s liberation movement in the ‘60s. Anyway, Mrs. Terry’s first name was Irma.

You may wish to chuckle about the reference in the story that Mrs. Terry had a recipe for a cake. It’s doubtful she stepped foot in the kitchen. At the time, the Terrys had two live-in servants, Myron and Annie Trottie; the husband was a chauffeur/butler, the wife was a maid/cook.

Unfortunately, the copy of the newspaper on-line is faded and some words are unintelligible.

Irma Terry was born in Hungary on July 5, 1900 and died in Rye, New York on January 7, 1969 after approximately six weeks in hospital. Paul Terry was still alive, his former studio had ceased operations.

Wife Of Paul Terry Met Him When Both Were Cartoonists
“My husband's work to me is one of the most fascinating occupations I can imagine," said Mrs. Paul Terry, wife of the inventor of the Terrytoon cartoons. “I probably am so enthused over it because I used to draw and love art."
It is apparent that Mrs. Terry is an artist although today her entire interests center around her home and family. She is a delightfully natural person, void of all the superficialities that often come with prominence. She has a mind that grasps rather at the beauty of life than at the sundry passing fancies. Her life is full and as she says she enjoys every minute of it.
Before Mrs. Terry was married she was a cartoon designer and even after her marriage she continued her work. From her childhood on she was interested in art and when she grew up attended the Academy of Design in New York. Her ambition in life was to be a poster artist.
Her First Employment
“I shall never forget my first position," said Mrs. Terry. “One of the department stores in New York advertised for an errand boy to do commercial art. In my great desire to get ahead and be an artist I applied for the job. The employer, needless to say, was greatly amused and hired me. However I didn't have to run errands, but modeled hats and drew jewelry for the advertising department."
Shortly after this Mrs. Terry did free lance work and drew many posters for neighborhood theatres and later took up cartooning. It was while doing this that she met Mr. Terry.
“I sometimes feel that I shouldn't give up drawing," Mrs. Terry said, “but there seem to be so many other things to keep me busy. 1 read a great deal and am greatly interested in autobiography Someday I should like to write a book."
Short story writing and poetry interest Mrs. Terry. She admits that she has a flair for memorizing selections from notable works such as Shakespeare and Shelley and regrets that if you asked her the recipe she used last week in making a cake she would have to refer you to the cook book.
“This seems strange to many people, but I think it is just the difference in the workings of one’s own mind," explained Mrs. Terry. “I always am able to remember perfectly the things that make the greatest impression on me whether they are important or not.”
Several years ago the cartoonist’s wife attended Columbia School of Journalism and also took a writing course at the New Rochelle Library. She has written a great many short poems most of which are used on place cards and personal messages.
“I have written several serious types of poem," she said, “but none of them have I thought of submitting for publication.
This Winter Mrs. Terry is planning on learning braille in the hope that she will be able to write some books for the blind. At the present time she is greatly taken up with her ten-year-old daughter. Patty, who at her early age has shown a remarkable ability for acting.
“One evening last year." said Mrs. Terry, “when we were having dinner, Patty stood up and recited long sections from 'Snow White.' Of course Mr. Terry and I were amazed at the beautiful manner in which she gave the interpretation. Some of our friends later heard her and she presented it at an entertainment given by her dancing school."
Nothing Too Difficult
“This ability of hers," continued Mrs. Terry, “manifests itself in many ways. Both she and my husband will tackle anything Nothing is too difficult for either of them. Patty makes masks and costumes for the plays which she writes and produces. She and several of her friends have a club room above the garage where they do all their work. She also helps her father by speaking children's parts in his cartoons."
Being an only child, Mrs. Terry feels that she cannot give her daughter enough attention. She says that she and her daughter are best friends. The fact that Patty has no sisters or brothers seems to make her more self sufficient," explained Mrs. Terry. “She is never lonesome and always is able to amuse herself. I guess it is my part to play neither sister and brother.

Fifteen years ago Mrs. Terry remarked they moved to 115 Beach Avenue Larchmont, from New York. “A group of artists, including Herb Roth, the ghost writer of the Timed Soul cartoons, decided to move up here," she stated. “We were going to form a colony of our own. All of us thought we would buy a large piece of property and build the type of home on it that we desired. Even that might have been perfect if one had not wished to live in the [], one in the valley, and one by the water. It goes without everyone moved where they wanted and our little colony was never formed."
The Terrys, according to Mrs. Terry, have kept their old friendships and made a great new close associates. "People of [] types fascinate her but most of their friends are artists.
“Artists understand human nature," she retorted, “perhaps better than anyone else for they are in such close contact with it. The artist puts himself into each experience and is anxious to get the most out of everything. I have noticed in particular that he is not anxious for wealth but for amassing the beauty of the world in all his endeavors."
Likes To Entertain
With a deep fondness for being with people, Mrs. Terry entertains a great deal. She believes the best way for having a good time is to let your guests do exactly as they wish and not worry whether or not they are enjoying themselves.
“Young brides," says Mrs. Terry, “go to all kinds of trouble over company and the result is usually that everyone feels uncomfortable. I have learned that the freer people feel the more they enjoy visiting me."
This understanding woman knows as much about cartooning as her husband and spends many evenings discussing his work with him. She says the process of making a film cartoon is in many ways the same as producing a feature picture, including preparation of story, music scoring and building of sets with this important difference: The story is sketched instead of being written, the sets are drawn by an artist instead of being built on a stage, and the actors are all drawings instead of human beings. . . thus the players will perform as the artist's mind sees fit and there is “no display of temperment."
It is easy to see why this thoroughly satisfying person gets so much out of life because she never considers anything more important than people who contribute the joys and sorrows to it.

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