Next stop Paradise!
U 15.2192-3: Join on now. Book through to eternity junction, the nonstop run.
The salesman evangelist rushes people through to Paradise by train. References to ‘Eternity Junction’ in the newspapers cluster around August 1920, precisely the time when Joyce was in Paris collecting materials for ‘Circe’ and writing up the text.
The story which Joyce must have read tells of the sad death by suicide of one Henry Collins, who left an unusual suicide note. The report was covered by many papers, and was syndicated round the world. Here is how the Daily Mirror described events in its issue for 5 August 1920:
Death With A Joke.
Suicide Writes ‘I Shall Only Take Single Ticket to Eternity.’
An extraordinary letter left by a man who committed suicide by coal-gas poisoning was read at an inquest at Newington yesterday on Henry Collins, aged fifty-four.
Ellen Boston said that Collins, who had lodged with her for three years, was found dead in his room. He left a letter which ran: -
“Just to let you know I’ve gone on my holidays. I don’t think I shall return, so shall only take a single ticket, you see the fares are so expensive. I think of booking to Eternity Junction. Inform my wife as to my movements.’
A verdict of Suicide whilst of unsound mind was returned. (p. 4)
By 31 August in Des Moines, Iowa, the report had taken on new features:
To Eternity Junction. London – ‘I think of booking to Eternity Junction. On arrival there I’ll ask the station master on which line he will dispatch me – to H. or H.’ This note was found on a Walworth man, found dead in his bedroom, with a gas tube in his mouth.
Des Moines Daily News
(Iowa) 31 August, p. 9