Chicago Tribune

Professor is Foolish Boy, Her Answer to Charges.

The eternal triangle, as exemplified in the case of Prof. William Isaac Thomas, sociologist at the University of Chicago and eccentric writer on matters of sex, became a family circle last night. Mrs. Thomas, who is nationally known as a pacifist, took into her home the young and pretty wife of an army officer, who yesterday boldly proclaimed her love for the elderly professor.

With the sanction of Mrs. Thomas and on her invitation, the “other woman” spent the night at 6132 Kimbark avenue, the home of the man to whom she gave her heart while her husband is fighting for his country on French battlefields.

In the morning, Mrs. Granger had admitted her love for Prof. Thomas, and the professor’s wife had been made aware that her husband was the man who registered with Mrs. Granger on Thursday as “C. Roland and wife.”

Mrs. Thomas Sorry For Her.

Knowing this, Mrs. Thomas invited Mrs. Granger to meet her downtown Friday afternoon. Accordingly, Mrs. Granger kept the appointment, accompanied by her sister, Miss Delia Raines, a motion picture actress and an art student.

“I am terribly, terribly sorry for you,” Mrs. Thomas told the soldier’s pretty wife. “The only thing I can’t forgive is the utter stupidity and the absurd childishness of the professor’s doing such a thing. He ought to have known better.”

The three women motored to the professor’s home. Last night the lights in the rooms upstairs burned late as the wife and the other woman discussed the professor and smoothed the edges of the triangle into a circle.

He’s a Foolish Boy

To Mrs. Thomas, according to those close to her, the elderly professor, who is 55, is only a foolish boy.

The young and errant wife is, in Mrs. Thomas’ view, a child of immature mind, who was naturally dazzled by the professor’s brilliance, but who failed to realize that he must be guarded against his own boyish foolishness.

Late last night the sister, Miss Raines, left the Thomas residence alone in the house the soldier’s wife had been safely tucked in bed by the kindly hands of the professor’s forgiving wife.

Thus, Mrs. Thomas, who some years ago answered critics of her husband’s “advanced” ideas on sex by replying “To the people sufficiently advanced in thought the utterances of Prof. Thomas may even be trite. Only the cult will understand” — thus she lived up to her convictions, gave her husband that “understanding” that he required, and took the other woman into her home.

Is Pacifist Leader.

Mrs. Thomas, daughter of the late Rev. James Park, a Presbyterian minister at Knoxville, Tenn., is the president of the Chicago Peace Society and accompanied the Henry Ford peace party to Stockholm. She has had a bent toward socialism and the “wider view.”

But while Mrs. Thomas with philosophical calm was thus settling the professor’s tangled affairs in Chicago there is somewhere in France an army officer still, happily, unaware that in Chicago his young wife was admitting her passion for another man.

And somewhere in an Arkansas town — Fort Smith — there is a little child, only 3 years old, prattling fondly of the “daddy” who is in far off France.

It was the husband in France that the worried the young wife yesterday, and it was because of the husband in France that there was bitterness in the comments heard on the university campus.

Fears Husband’s Vengeance

The young wife, admitting her love for the professor, is fearful that the soldier husband, unenlightened by the advanced theories of the scholarly philosopher, may fail to understand and may one day come back with wrath in his heart and a weapon in hand.

“I hope my husband doesn’t hear of this,” was her plaint. “I know he’ll desert and come over. Then

( cont, p. 8) there will be shooting, ghastly shooting.”

“What are your feelings today?” she was asked. “Are you sorry ?”

“No, only humiliated, worried about my husband,” was her reply. “I did cry several times when I thought of him today. But I have no sorrow because of my love for Prof. Thomas.”

“Did you ever consider Mrs. Thomas ?”

The girl turned her large brown eyes upon the interviewer as in surprise.

“Not particularly,” was her ready admission. “I don’t think you understand. Mrs. Thomas and the professor had separate interests. Theirs was simply a matrimonial alliance.”

Some Sex Passages.

A passage in Prof. Thomas’ book, “Sex and Society,” reads:

“Matrimony is often an arrangement by which the woman trades her irreproachable conduct in perpetuity for irreproachable gowns.” Another:

“Most women have accepted marriage as a means of luxury, or at least of livelihood.” And another:

“Marriage, as it exists today, is rapidly approaching a form of immorality.”

The author of these sentences met the army officer’s wife in New York, according to her story, where she had gone to see her husband off to France. That was last December, but the husband didn’t leave till February.

Mrs. Granger admitted a trip to Washington with Prof. Thomas, where the sociologist went to confer with his intimate friend, Col. E. M. House, chief of President Wilson’s advisers, regarding a book which the professor is preparing on the war.

Reserved Rooms Here.

On March 22, Prof. Thomas wrote from the Prince George hotel, New York, and reserved two rooms at the Stratford hotel Chicago. One room was for himself, the other was for Mrs. Granger and her sister, Miss Raines. The room numbers were 339 and 343.

“I came to Chicago with the Professor to obtain a position under him,” declared Mrs. Granger. “I had the money and paid the fare myself.”

“I did not  pay Mrs. Granger’s fare at any time,” asserted Prof. Thomas. “I promised to give her work typing manuscripts for several books I am writing.”

It was Mrs. Granger’s intention to fit herself, by studying sociology under the professor, for juvenile work, she declared.

Sought Own Flat.

“While the professor was making arrangements for the girl to begin her studies, the two young women moved from the Stratford to the Colonial hotel, near the professor’s home. They left the hotel on March 31. The professor had checked out the day before.

It was their intention to obtain a furnished apartment of their own, but this plan was upset when federal authorities took a hand in their affairs after Prof. Thomas and Mrs. Granger registered as husband and wife at the Brevoort hotel Thursday.

It was while the soldier’s wife was living at the Colonial hotel that her love for the professor really ripened.

Her Experience “Wonderful”

“Then began a delightful experience with my wonderful daddy,” related the girl, recalling the events of the last few weeks. “One must really know him to realize why such an experience as ours is possible. He is the possessor of all the wisdom of the ages. He knows the mind; he penetrates into one’s secret chambers, into one’s heart.”

The girl told of sitting in “great darkened corners” in the Harper Memorial library, where she and “daddy” bared their hearts to each other. She also told of meetings at the hotel and of romantic wanderings in Jackson Park.

Mother Hears of Tangle.

“Mrs. Granger’s mother, Mrs. Willis Raines Chowning, learned at Fort Smith, Ark., last night of her daughter’s predicament. She will not come to Chicago, she said:
“What can I do?” What can I do ?” she wept.

She said that her daughter was married to Lieut. R. M. Granger, then a telegraph operator, three and a half years ago. They have one child, a little boy, who is living with Mrs. Chowning.

Granger is a member of the signal corps and reached France about a month ago, the mother said. The daughter was formerly with a New York film studio, but the war caused her to abandon film work.

Until now, Mrs. Chowning declared, the life of the Grangers had been happy. She admitted that Mrs. Granger had often mentioned Prof. Thomas in her letters home.

Warrants Talked Of.

What action will be taken against Prof. Thomas and the girl today is problematical. Last night it was announced that a warrant would be asked in the Morals court against each of them, but the action of Mrs. Thomas in taking the girl into her home may upset the plans of the authorities.

It is said to be unlikely that prosecution under the Mann act will develop, but District Attorney Clyne is expected to take action against the couple for registering falsely at a hotel in violation of the five mile vice zone law.

University Authorities Reticent

Reticence marked the attitude of authorities at the university yesterday. While they were loath to believe the truth of the charges against Prof. Thomas, there were indications that he will have few defenders. The fact that the woman in the case is the wife of an army officer, now serving his country, was a shock to the professor’s friends and acquaintances.

J. Spencer Dickerson, secretary of the board of trustees, declared that in event the charges against Prof. Thomas are substantiated, whatever action will rest with President Judson.

“In all internal matters connected with the university, President Judson has full authority,” he declared. “This matter comes within that classification.”

Told that the girl had admitted her love and had declared that “daddy” loved her in return, Mr. Dickerson inquired as to the girls’ identity.

“She is the wife of an army officer now in France fighting for his country,” he was told.

He is Shocked.

“O, my,” gasped the secretary of the board of trustees, and there was pain and shocked disapproval in his tone. “I must not say anything. I do not know that the charges are true, and if they are, it is a matter for President Judson to deal with.”

So far as the university is concerned, the professor’s case will rest until Monday when Professor Judson returns from Washington. When seen at his hotel in Washington last night by a representative of THE TRIBUNE, Dr. Judson stated:

“I know nothing about the case except what I have read in the newspapers. I will not discuss the matter until the facts have been officially called to my attention. I have received no communication from Chicago regarding the matter, and I do not expect to be informed until I return next week."

Prof. Thomas’s spring lectures at the university have been canceled, it was learned. Why, was not explained.

The feature lecture of this course each year has been called “The History of Prostitution” and has been given to mixed classes, young men and young women attending the school. Another was “Research Methods of investigation, with field work for advanced students.

One of the requirements before a student could take this “field work” in investigation social problems, was a special permit. It was said yesterday that Prof. Thomas’s recent visit to Washington had to do with work in social problems for the government.

It is possible that this has been the cause for canceling his spring lectures.


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