Ah, Mencken

I am too young to remember H.L. Mencken. He died in 1956, around the time I was in kindergarten. But I quote him all the time.
I’m not sure how I became aware of Mencken, the writer and satirist for The Baltimore Sun, but I suspect it was through William Zinnser, author of the book “On Writing Well.” Zinsser refers to Mencken often and that sent me in search of him.
I quoted Mencken as recently as a couple of weeks ago when my wife and I went to a restaurant for the first time and ran into a priest we know who told us the bishop frequents the place. I told him this was great news. The reason lies with H.L. Mencken. “When a Catholic priest is promoted to the rank of bishop,” Mencken wrote, “he never again hears the truth. Or eats a bad meal.”
The food, for the record, was outstanding.
I will be quoting Mencken to my advertising students in a few weeks when I tell them about that highly successful mid-’70s’ product, the Pet Rock. “No one ever went broke,” Mencken wrote, “underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”
Just when I think I’ve heard the best of Mencken, however, he again surprises me. Such was the case the other morning when a student was working on a project and needed a good quote. I told him to look up Menckenisms, as they are often called, and when he did, this was at the top of the list:
“On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
What can I say?

Ed Ackerman