The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University

Freedgood, Seymour, 1915-1968

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Descriptive Summary

Record Group: Section A - Correspondence

Dates of materials: 1950, 1963-1968

Volume: 36 item(s); 47 pg(s)

Scope and Content


Seymour "Sy" Freedgood was one of Merton's friends from Columbia University. It was through Freedgood that Merton met the Hindu monk Bramachari, whom Merton describes in The Seven Storey Mountain. He was one of the Columbia group who had attended Merton's ordination in 1949. Sy Freedgood was later an editor at Fortune Magazine, and Merton was in contact with his wife, Anne, at Doubleday. He did not seem to settle into a religious tradition, but constantly read and struggled with religion. He wanted to visit Gethsemani in 1964 to dialogue with D. T. Suzuki but it did not come about. In 1967, he arranged a trip to Gethsemani. Merton interpreted a car accident Freedgood had on the way to the monastery as a gloomy portent, and Freedgood would be killed in a house fire the following year. His wit and sense of humor are evident in his arrangement of a shipment of crates of all 57 varieties of Heinz products to be delivered to the monastery to the abbot's shock. He made Merton a member of the Steering Committee of NIPS, the National Institutes of Public Scolds, an organization dedicated to lampooning bureaucratic red tape and causing other mischief. (Sources: The Road to Joy, p. 123; and The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia, pp. 163-164.)

Usage Guidelines and Restrictions

Related Information and Links

See also published letters from Merton to Freedgood in The Road to Joy, pp. 123-131.

Series List

This Record Sub-Group is not divided into Series and is arranged chronologically.

Container List

SeriesDateTypeTo/FromFirst LinesPubFull TextNotes
 1950/02/25 TLS[x]from MertonFather Abbot gave me your letter to answer. There is a statue of the General Chapter forbiddingYes  
 1963/08/15 (#01)TLSto MertonI have just had a letter addressed to Dr. S. Freedgood at my address in NYC from Dr. M. Bramachari,  [encloses letter to Brahmachari of the same date]
 1963/08/15 (#02)TL[c]to Bramachari, , MahanambrataI am sorry to learn that your friend, Mr. A.J. Chatterjee, is suffering from T.B. with neurological  [enclosed with letter to Merton of the same date]
 1964/01/02 TAL[c]from MertonGot your letter in August and went to the hospital soon after it with a bad back because the pixiesYes  
 1964/01/06 TLSto MertonI think the best place to meet is the New Moon Inn at 110th and Broadway. The West End Cafeteria is   
 1964/02/10 TLSto MertonAnne showed me your letter thanking her for the parcel of books. Now I have another question   
 1965/07/01 TL[c]from MertonAs I gradually approach the terminus of my latest work, the Metaphysical Footnote, now runningYes  
 1967/01/10 TL[c]from MertonI am writing to inquire about a subversive outfit in your building and perhaps even right under yourYes  
 1967/01/17 (#01)TALSto MertonBy risible circumstance, Time-Life Books <u>is</u> located under my desk: I am at this very moment   
 1967/01/17 (#02)TALSto MertonAs I was putting the carbon of my letter to you of this morning in my files, I discovered this copy  [encloses letter from Julia Freedgood]
 1967/01/17 (#03)TAL[x] from Freedgood, Julia / to David J. and Katharyn ColtonMy parents, Mr. and Mrs. Seymour Freedgood, have asked me to write and thank you for the book you  [to David J. and Katharyn Colton (great uncle and aunt of Julia Freedgood) - dated 1966/12/31 - enclosed with 1967/01/17 letters from Sy Freedgood to Merton]
 1967/01/19 TAL[c]to MertonI have been pondering the letter I sent you the other day in answer to your request of Jan. 10th for   
 1967/02/02 TALSto MertonI get the impression from the letter you sent Anne on Jan. 29th that you had not yet on that date   
 1967/02/04 TL[c]from MertonOk, I have wiped out all the tapes and have sunk a tugboat called the Maine in Havana harbor.Yes [letter has the facetious date of 1902 on it]
 1967/02/13 TL[c]from MertonI am horrified to hear how Slate was set upon by Hells Angels in the Metro. The Metro ought to beYes  
 1967/02/24 HLSto MertonIf it's okay with you, I'd like very much to come down for a couple of days sometime during the work   
 1967/04/06 (#01)TLSto MertonThanks for the books. I will sell them at once for the value of the inscriptions and replace them   
 1967/04/06 (#02)other <u>POET IN A PINCH</u> [-] (<u>BEIRUT--GRIGGS</u>). EVGENY YEVTUSHENKO BLEW INTO  [enclosed with 1967/04/06 letter from Freedgood to Merton]
 1967/04/12 TL[c]from MertonMany thanks for your two letters and for the transcript of the tape. Thanks also for discussingYes  
 1967/04/28 TALSto MertonThis lady apparently joined the CIA and <u>found</u> God. So, if any of your colleagues are still   
 1967/05/02 TALS[x]to Hartford, HuntingtonI have a complaint to make about the conduct of the guards and ticket seller at your museum.  [labeled "For NIPS distribution" - NIPS was Freedgood's "National Institutes of Public Scolds", of which Merton was a member of the Steering Committee and copied on this letter]
 1967/05/06 TLS[x]from MertonThanks for the Nips blasts. The enclosed will show that I am doing my own small part.Yes  
 1967/05/12 (#01)TL[c]from MertonThanks for bringing to my attention the momentous decision of Judge Milton Shalleck regardingYes  
 1967/05/12 (#02)TAL[x]from MertonThanks for bringing to my attention the momentous decision of Judge Milton Shalleck regardingYes [seemingly a copy for NIPS distribution on 1967/05/22]
 1967/05/15 (#01)TLSto NIPS Steering CommitteeI regret to bring the enclosed matter to your attention. Assuming there is an iota of truth to   
 1967/05/15 (#02)TLS[x] from Ferrari, M.We acknowledge receipt of your letter of April 24, 1967, and regret to inform you that the indicator  [enclosed with Freedgood's letter of 1967/05/15 - 1967/05/09 letter from M. Ferrari, manager of the Central Bureau for Registered Addresses in New York]
 1967/05/16 TLSto MertonAndrei Voznesensky is talking at Town Hall tonight and later some friends of Anne's and mine   
 1967/05/17 TL[c]from MertonI have not been able to find a copy of my letter to you but here is one to the NY Times Book Review,Yes  
 1967/05/18 (#01)TALS[x]to Krianes, J.I was so taken by your perfervid talk re NIPS (the National Institutes of Public Scolds) at that  [message copies to NIPS members - recipient of letter is variously addressed as Jim; Jas. K. Ma Krianes, Jr.; and J. Ma Kreanes]
 1967/05/18 (#02)otherto NIPS MembersNIPS STEERING COMMITTEE [-] 1) Mrs. Seymour Freedgood [-] Doubleday &amp; Co., 277 Park Ave.,  [enclosed with 1967/05/18 letter - includes names and addresses of NIPS Steering Committee and "Cautious Observers"]
 1967/05/19 HLS[x]to Brown, FrancisI was very impressed with the talk you gave me about the "new" Sunday Times - and particularly  [from Freedgood to Francis Brown, editor of the <u>New York Times Book Review</u> - Freedgood includes Merton's 1967/05/04 letter to the <u>NYT Book Review</u> disputing a negative review given to Lewis Mumford's <i>The Myth of the Machine</i> - copy sent to Merton]
 1967/05/22 TL[c]from MertonThanks for the interesting clipping on Voznesensky. As a matter of fact, I would like to meet himYes  
 1967/05/31 TALS[x] from Fox, James / to Seymour FreedgoodA few days ago a truck pulled up to the monastery and unloaded seventeen cases of "Heinz 57  [copy of Dom James Fox's letter sent to NIPS members regarding a truckload of Heinz products delivered to Gethsemani - Freedgood notes to members, "Stop laughing. This is serious."]
 1967/06/13 TALS[x]to MertonI want you to be the first to have the NIPS letterheads after Anne and Dr. Free-Weld (Dec'd).  [on letterhead of "The National Institutes of Public Scolds" with Merton's name listed on Steering Committee - letter initially addressed to Prof. Laurence Lafore with Larry crossed out, then Father crossed out and addressed "Dad"]
 1967/12/31 TL[c]from MertonHappy New Year to you and Ann. Bumper crops. Derby winners for Julia. World champion PoloYes  
 1968/01/23 other Read at the Services for Seymour Freedgood [-] January 23, 1968 [-] by John Brooks  [pamphlet with a eulogy read at the funeral of Seymour Freedgood]

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