There's a wonderful extended joke about Apley's prep school cohort, one member of whom "is now known for his exhaustive study 'The Massachusetts Fishing Fleet Before the Civil War.'"
I'd read that. By the way, what ever happened to exhaustive studies? Seen one lately?
The character George Apley is born in 1866. I especially enjoyed this rendering of his father's wartime service and present it in full as a fine specimen of Marquandish mischief. Apley is here writing to his son.
As a young husband who was about to become a father, and as the head of an important business enterprise, upon which hundreds depended for their daily bread, my father, although as staunch a Unionist as anyone in Boston, when the fatal die was cast could not fight in the Civil War. At the time of the Draft Act he was obliged, much to his own regret, to hire a substitute. Clarence Corcoran, the head gardener of his country place at Hillcrest, took your grandfather's place in the ranks, receiving the usual bounty and with it the promise that his little family should b cared for comfortably in case of any accident. I once saw some letters that my father wrote to Clarence at the time of the Wilderness Campaign; letters of affection and good cheer, each with a financial enclosure.If I could pack that much meaning (and innuendo) into two nonfiction paragraphs I'd very quickly become exhaustive myself.
It is gratifying to add that Clarence came back safely and that a friendship existed between him and my father which endured even after Clarence was obliged to leave Hillcrest, on account of drunkenness and an unfortunate infatuation for your grandmother's maid. Clarence and the Corcorans have been pensioners of the family ever since, even down to his grandson, John Apley Corcoran, whose tuition I paid myself in Boston University and later in the Suffolk Law School.