The Last Days of the Ipsy-Wipsy Institute
110 Portland Road, Highlands, N.J., one-time site of the Ipsy-Wipsy Institute. View larger map. (Thanks to Bill Higgins for geographical research.)
Back in Highlands, New Jersey, William Lindsay Gresham was soon forgotten. At least he was not spoken of. Around then, the Mannings became less likely to drop by on a Saturday night. A coolness seemed to have developed between the neighbors. I don’t think that is necessarily a coincidence, but I don’ know any details. Fletcher didn’t want to talk about it, and I didn’t press him.
The weekends were still pleasurable and the company generally good. If there was any significant difference in tone it was only that Fletcher himself seemed to be a little less bouncy in spirit. The billiard-room sessions with the portable typewriter in his lap were going a bit more slowly.
I haven’t, in these pages, said anything about Fletcher’s religion. I haven’t said anything much about anyone else’s, either. Personal religion was not high on the interest list among the people of the Ipsy-Wipsy. But I did know that Fletcher had been brought up Christian Science, back in those Buffalo days of his youth, and that he still had some sort of ties to Mary Baker Eddy’s church. Yet when Fletcher began to concede, under Inga’s questioning, that, yes, it was possible that he’d picked up a mild case of the flu, I was confident that if any symptoms became really worrisome, religion would not prevent Fletcher from taking the matter to a real M.D.
Indeed, it didn’t. But unfortunately Fletcher let it go a bit too late. When the surgeons opened his abdomen up on the operating table there was no longer anything they could do. They simply sewed him back together and let him die, which he did on the 11th of June, in the year 1956. He had been 59 years old.
That was the end of the Ipsy, for Inga didn’t have heart to try to carry it on without him. She put the big old house up for sale, and the buyer who appeared was, I think, a dentist from, I believe, Jersey City. The dentist didn’t have it long, though. Before long in a midweek a fire started there, with hardly anybody around, and the Ipsy-Wipsy Institute suffered a Viking’s funeral,
The dentist tore down the wreckage and put up a more normal-sized house on that great piece of land. But the new house had none of the Ipsy-Wipsy’s magnificence, and especially none of its well-loved people.