In terms of wish fulfillment, this was a good one.
I was finally able to procure a copy of the 1942 original story Very Much Alive, with accompanying artwork. (There is no name given for the artist.)
The extremely likable short story, Mr. Hamble’s Bear, which I wrote about here, was first published under the title Very Much Alive, in the April 11, 1942 edition of Liberty magazine. (This weekly magazine was considered general interest reading, somewhat along the lines of the Saturday Evening Post.)
In comparing the Liberty version of this odd little tale, with the one published in the later Sharp anthology Lost Chapel Picnic, there are some interesting edits, some made with a view to page layout, and the need to make the story fit around the advertising.
The story is introduced with the helpful note:
‘Reading time: 12 minutes 28 seconds’
This feature of the Liberty publications is explained here: (courtesy Wikipedia)
‘A memorable feature was the “reading time,” provided on the first page of each article so readers could know how long it should take to read an article, such as “No More Glitter: A Searching Tale of Hollywood and a Woman’s Heart,” Reading Time: 18 minutes, 45 seconds.”
This was calculated by a member of the editorial staff who would carefully time himself while reading an article at his usual pace; then he would take that time and double it.
With this handy feature the editors of Liberty seemed almost prescient in anticipating the short attention spans, the ‘Ten Steps To A Better Whatever’ blogs, and the fractionalized, ever more compulsive information gathering that marks the internet age. (guilty as charged!)
On a side note: In the same issue that produced Margery Sharp’s Very Much Alive there is a serialized story (From This Day Forward, part Ten and conclusion) by Elswyth Thane…. (Reading time: 26 minutes, 27 seconds)