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In All Candor

November 30, 2010

On my other, more static website, Gridleyville.com, I’ve long concluded the introduction with a joke:

“It should be obvious by now that this website has nothing to do with the hamlet of Gridleyville, situated near Candor, New York. Sam Gridley greatly admires the name of that town but, in all candor, has never been there.”

The pun always makes me laugh rather than groan, which is all anyone needs to know about my sense of humor. As my wife often grumbles, no one else finds it funny.

But, come to discover, the jest has a deeper layer of meaning. It seems that about 1919 the eminent writer and philosopher Kenneth Burke rented a summer cottage in Candor for $5, from a man named Sam Gridley.

Although the price matches my idea of good commerce, that wasn’t I. Nor was it an ancestor of mine, I don’t think. We’ve never had real estate moguls in the family.

But wait, there’s more: In 2007 the U.S. Navy commissioned a ship named the USS Gridley, and it belongs to the Burke class of destroyers.

This is enough for a conspiracy theory.

But the truth remains: I still haven’t set foot in the real Gridleyville. Perhaps I will, though, to see whether the Burkean aura suffuses visitors with a deeper understanding of human nature—and of weird coincidence.