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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

SHOULD I HANG ON TO MY TYPEWRITER OR MY SKIRTS? (12)

Coral Gables                                                               Tuesday -- Jan. 21, 1941
Dear Eddie –
     It’s all very well for you to say, “Don’t worry, darling, everything is going to be fine.  I don’t feel like staying at the Y.M..C.A., so I’m going to stay at your mother’s.  Won’t that be nice?”
     The only catch is that Mother just simply refuses to let you board with us.  It isn’t a question of money.  Maybe you can understand how she feels without my putting it bluntly.  I think she’s mean, I’ve argued and shouted to no avail, but still, I can see her point of view.  If someday Kathie should have the experience I have had, I expect I wouldn’t feel any too cordial toward the young scoundrel.
     Do you still think there’s nothing to worry about?  I called the Y.M.C.A., and they charge $2 a day just for a room, so that is out of the question.  Bobbie is going to ask her friend Jimmy, who lives not very far away, if he still has an extra room at his house.  He wouldn’t ask more than four or five dollars a week.
     Sometimes I think it would be better if you didn’t come at all.  We are fairly accustomed to being apart now, and since Mother is making things so difficult, it seems doubly foolish to go to a lot of bother for three weeks of fun which will inevitably be followed by months of loneliness and misery for both of us.
     And now, my dear, I am going to let you do all the worrying, as you suggested.  I shall anticipate your visit happily, confident that you will work out a solution to our problem.
     The old typewriter is doing nobly, isn’t it?  I had (Must continue in pen, as Mother and Vaughan are going to listen to the radio out here in the garage apartment.  There ain’t no privacy!)  As I was saying -- I had to carry the typewriter from the repair store to the corner where I catch the Coral Gables bus.  As it was very windy today, I was faced with a dilemma: should I hang on to the typewriter or my skirts?  Being more mercenary than modest, I let the skirts fly.  Fortunately, I was wearing the pretty new slip Taffy gave me for Christmas.
     On the bus a cross-eyed man leered at me all the way home.  I didn’t know which eye to avoid, so finally I just stared out the window.  Waiting at home were four letters from you -- whoopee! 
Coral Gables                                                               Wednesday -- Jan. 22, 1941
My dearest –
     I’ve been doing a little scouting around the neighborhood in the hope of finding a room for you nearby.  You will have breakfast with us, lunch on the beach with me, and supper out with me or at home once in awhile.  (I’ll pay for my own meals when we eat out.)  I am offering $20 for your room for three weeks.  You’d better start figuring, darling.  Beg, borrow, or starve -- but get down here if you don’t want me to die a horrible death from an advanced case of Suspense Culminated by Disappointment.
     Today I typed 63 words a minute for 20 minutes with only seven errors.  The best I ever did before was 53 a minute for 10 minutes, with a good many errors.  By the way, my letters to you are not typical of my typing skill.  It so flusters me to be writing to a big business executive that I make all kinds of stoopid mixtakes.
     Bobbie wants to use the typewriter, so here I am in pen again.
     That cross-eyed man sat opposite me on the bus again today and ogled me all the way home.  He must be either psychic or triplets -- no matter what bus I take, he’s always on it.
     Kathie just let out a strange little strangled cry.  I dashed in to see what was wrong, and there she was, half-drowned in her own dinner, to which she had evidently taken a sudden dislike.  Whew, did she stink!  I cleaned her all up and whew, did I stink!  Now she’s fussing and acting famished.  What does she think she is, an old Roman?  By the way, this is the sort of lovely chore you’ll be doing for your daughter next fall when I’m on a date.  Remember, you’ve repeatedly said you miss her and love her even more than you love me.  Well, fond papa, you’ll have to learn to love her vomit and other excretions, too.
Coral Gables                                                               Thursday -- Jan. 23, 1941
Dear Eddie –
     Who, or whom do you think you’re fooling?  “Why don’t you stay married to me and do something creative, like writing?”  You may as well have said, “Why don’t you compose symphonies?”  You know darn well that if I had to depend on my writing ability to earn money, I wouldn’t even be able to afford a garret.  Phooey on you!
     Believe me, Eddie, I am enjoying this secretarial work much more than I expected to. I never cease to be fascinated by the ingenuity of the shorthand symbols and the miracle of the typewriter.  I feel, when I type, as if I were playing the piano -- only words instead of music flow from my fingers.
     And I am truly looking forward to working.  It will be refreshing not to have homework, to be able to spend my evenings any way I please.  And I want to pay off my own obligations, Eddie.  I wouldn’t want to marry you or anyone else with such a big financial burden to start off with.  I know you’d be a willing victim, dear, and I appreciate your offer; but you must let me do things my own way this time.
     I gave Kathie your letter to play with.  When I glanced at her a few minutes later, her face was smeared with ink.  She had evidently been trying to eat your words of wisdom, as the Tartans of old tried to educate themselves by eating books -- a fact I learned in a typing exercise .
     I am so glad to hear of Harry and Margaret’s “happy ending.”  Please give them my blessing.
Coral Gables                                                               Friday night -- Jan. 24, 1941
Eddie darling –
     Have you been reading “Terry and the Pirates” lately?  Wasn’t it thrilling when he kissed the Chinese girl?  I went around in a fog all day.  I think it’s the best comic strip there is, don’t you?  And don’t pretend you’re “above the funnies” because I’ve seen you so engrossed in them at 33 South Russell Street that you completely ignored both your new daughter and me.
   Bobbie says she wants you to bring someone with you when you come.  Anyone will be gratefully welcomed, she says, only make sure that he’s “dark, 6 ft. tall, no mustache, flat ears, dark bedroom eyes, size 12 shoe, with an intriguing personality.”
     I won’t give you my specifications, because you’d only have to look in the mirror.
Coral Gables                                                                           Saturday ‑ Jan. 25, 1941
(from Mother)
Darling Dick,
     The days slip by and I do not seem to be able to keep up with my letter writing as I should.  Perhaps the Florida climate is making me lazy.  I find it hard to resist my hammock swung between two palms.  The baby sits on my stomach and gazes at the passing autos while I lie in thought‑less wakefulness in regular Georgia Cracker style.
     Kathie looks beautiful.  Her face is small with a pointed little chin.  Her eyes are very dark blue (they will probably change, later, to brown) and extraordinarily limpid and expressive.  As yet she has forgotten to grow some hair.  It takes a lot of beauty to triumph over baldness!
      Did I write you that Stanley has offered me a job writing advertising for the company at the staggering salary of $160 a month?  When I go back to Boston I'll probably live in or near the Tavern in Hampton, N. H.  Just how soon my salary will begin I don't know.   I am not able to do a lot of writing, located so far away.   Still, what I have sent has hit the spot with Stanley.
     Eddie wrote Barbara that he had given up drinking.  "I've  found," he wrote, "that it isn't a good way of escape."  This sounds very virtuous.  He was clever enough to realize from Vaughan's comments and mine that drinking made him seem weak.  So he has become good and strong right away.
     I told Barbara I couldn't have Eddie here as it would be just too hectic and hard on Vaughan.  Poor Barbara wept copiously, but I stuck to my decision.  It is now arranged that he shall live elsewhere.  Vaughan and I have a phrase for Eddie.   Every time we speak his name, we say "Damn him!" under our breath!
     Well, here comes Caliban clumping down the stairs.  That is what I call Mr. Culbert.  He rented the upstairs, but he never stays there.  He comes down at nine in the morning and I don't see the last of him until nine at night.  He lies like a log on the living room couch all day long; or sits and stares glumly at the paper.
     If only he went to his room for part of the day I'd have a little privacy which is something on which we Beyers thrive.  As it is, in order to get his unhappy face out of my sight, I go to the garage apartment.  I tell myself he pays his bills promptly and nothing is ever perfect.  But oh, when I think of dear, clean, happy Jim Foster!
     I am planning to spend the weeks when Eddie will be here in Winter Park with Aunt Ruth.  I think it will save me lots of needless worry (fruitless, at least) if I get out of the way.
Coral Gables                                                               Sunday -- Jan. 26, 1941
     Everything is working out beautifully, just as you promised.  Mother has decided to visit Aunt Ruth for the three weeks you will be here.  At first she planned to go by auto, but now thinks she will take the train, which means that we can take Kathie to the beach every day in the Olds.  I don’t know how we would have managed without a car.  I’m glad that you and Mother won’t be meeting and getting on each other’s nerves.  You see, what Mother wants more than anything is that nothing should interfere with my finishing my courses.  With the times as uncertain as they are now, no woman should depend on a man for support.  If my future husband has to go to war, it will be reassuring to know I can support myself and Kathie until he returns.  Mother can’t help feeling that you might sweep me off my feet and nip my “career” in the bud.  If I should want to marry you after I am fully prepared for any emergency -- well, it’s my life, she says, and what would make me happy would make her happy.
     Even though Mother isn’t going to be here, you’ll have to room somewhere else.  Both Vaughan and Mother think if would “look funny” if you stayed here.  You’ll need about $35 or $40 for your room and meals, and about $5 for entertainment.  That entertainment item includes gas for the car, bus fare for trips in town, and a couple of movies.  And maybe a few beers -- but not too many -- at the Old Mill.  You said you would have $30 after train fare, all of which you would give to Mother. Well, all you need is about $15 more and you can be independent.  If you can’t afford it, wait a couple of weeks more until you can.  You’re going to receive your salary during your vacation, aren’t you?  Poor boy, you are probably saving your pennies for a motorcycle or a house or something and I have to nose around with embarrassing questions.
     Last night Kathie felt so peppy that she rebelled against going to sleep.  Her room is just outside the dining room, and she cried all during supper.  It was awfully hard to keep from picking her up, but not wanting to spoil her, I resisted the temptation.  Besides, Vaughan kept saying, “Now don’t you pick her up.  She’s all right.  Just leave her alone and she’ll go to sleep.”
    During dessert there wasn’t a peep from Kathie’s crib, so I figured she must have gone to sleep.  I  took a look -- and she wasn’t there!  I glanced into the kitchen, and there she was, sitting up in Vaughan’s lap as pleased with herself as could be -- watching Vaughan eat lemon meringue pie.  Was somebody’s face red!  Does that give you an idea of how irresistible she is?
       Kathie has started eating solid foods at last.  Yesterday she struggled and screamed when I fed her some cereal, getting most of it blown back at me, but today she opened her mouth like a little bird for a worm.  How fast they grow and learn once they get started!  She ought to be thinking about crawling by the time you get down here.  Perhaps you’ll have the thrill of seeing her take her first creeps.
 Coral Gables                                                  Monday night -- Jan. 27, 1941
Dear Cave-man –
     Where do you get this no-holds-barred stuff?  I don’t think it’s fair of you to threaten me after all the noble promises you made.  You said you just wanted to see the baby, and I needn’t stay around if I didn’t want to.  You asked shyly (!} if I would allow you to kiss you just once before you left.  Which of your personalities is going to show up on my doorstep?  I have a feeling I’d better get a very short haircut to avoid being dragged away bodily.
    Kathie is getting to be quite a grown-up young lady.  She took some water out of a glass today for the first time. And she ate her cereal like an old timer after she howled only two days ago,“I hate solid food!  I positively will not eat it!”  Moreover, she knows just what to do when I put her on her potty every morning. I’m telling you, I don’t care what Vaughan says, we have produced a precocious baby!
    Everyone is all excited.  A man just called in answer to Mother’s ad and he’s coming over to look at our spare room.  Mother and Vaughan are both out, so we’young ladies will do the honors and persuade him that this would be a lovely place to live.  Do you think he has a chance of escaping our clutches?   Bobbie suggests that if he isn’t good-looking, we should tell him the room is already taken and then not tell Mother that he called in the first place.  Janeth volunteered to check on his third finger, left hand.  As for me, I don’t care what he looks like as long as he takes the room.  Until Mother’s job starts paying off, or until the dividends from her stock begin rolling in, it’s still hard sledding for the Beyers.
Coral Gables                                                      Tuesday night -- Jan. 28, 1941
Eddie dear –
     We have two young men for our spare room.  So far, they are ideal roomers.  They have all their meals out, they come in late at night and leave before we get up in the morning.  We hardly know they’re around.
     Kathie is getting to love her solids.  Mother gave her a cup of strained carrots today, and how she did gulp it down!  It’s lucky she doesn’t take after her father in her attitude toward vegetables.  I would have to feed her nothing but fried chicken and steak to keep her alive.
     Sorry there isn’t more to tell you.  Sorry I don’t feel imaginative enough to make up some nonsense.  I’m sleepy.  Good night, darling.
Coral Gables                                                                           Tues. Jan. 28, 1941
(from Mother)

Dearest Richard --     
     If I had only waited a little longer I would not have had to have an argument with Barbara on Eddie's staying here.  The house is now entirely filled up, the one room which has been empty  until now having been rented by two young men, a Mr. Coaker (Tom) and Mr. Curtis ("Buddy").  They are both very busy managing a jewelry business and we see but little of them.  This is ideal and I only wish I could say the same of the Culberts.
     I am getting so sick of the sight of Mr. Culbert that I'm afraid I'll blow up and tell him a few things some day.  Then goodbye to $70 a month!  But I'd almost rather take in washing than lose my privacy.  I thought when I rented my upstairs to him that he'd use it at least part of the time in the daytime.  But he has taken to parking his hideous carcass on my living room divan, and there he lies all day long.  The worst of it is that he no longer shaves himself, his hand being crippled.  I offer to take him to the barber but he says, "Oh, Bobbie is going to take me sometime" -- and his beard grows grisly through the week.  He sometimes says (expecting me to contradict him probably), "I look ninety today.  Couldn't shave."  I don't contradict him but keep silent because he looks a hundred and a dirty unkempt hundred at that.
     To make matters worse (and very smelly!) his male nurse who used to come and give him a bath once a week has had the flu.   Mr. Culbert has been growing more and more noisome.  It's been eleven days since he has had a bath.  His body is full of poison and he throws off a horrible aroma that permeates the whole living room, which he keeps hermetically sealed, fearing a draught.   I've gotten so I stay in the yard or in my garage room practically all of the time.
     Wouldn't you think he would have the grace to go to his room after supper and let me have my part of the house to myself for a few hours?
     Twice I have entertained company and instead of removing himself so I could visit with my friends, he stays around, loutish, lumpish, unshaven and odoriferous.  Believe me, Dick, I'm earning that $70!
     I think we will probably return to Boston in June and let Barbara graduate from one of the business schools there if we can make arrangements for it.  Her marks are outstanding and I think Bryant and Stratton might finish her up and give her a diploma.   I'd like to get back and start to work on the new job Stanley has offered me.
     You'll love your niece when you see her.  She is simply entrancing, a pink and white, dark eyed, cooing, gurgling, bouncing darling.
     Well, sweet, write to me soon.  I hope you are happy again, not torn and distraught. . . .
Coral Gables                                                   Wednesday night -- Jan. 29, 1941
     Edward dear -- This letter is going to give you a real jolt.  Brace yourself for the shock. I’m sorry, darling.
     So your friends finally talked you into fighting for your “rights.”  Do you really want me to be your wife against my will?  I thought you had too much pride -- to say nothing of genuine love for me -- to try to drive me into a corner.  Well, it really doesn’t matter.
     I planned to break the news to you before you came down, so you could back out if it made any difference to you.  (By the way, if you do back out, it will prove you were indeed using the baby to pressure me into seeing you, to keep me from getting a divorce.)
     Get ready to hate me, darling.  I found out from my lawyer that I could still get a divorce even if you didn’t sign the paper.  It would be a little more legal up north if you would cooperate, and also would become final sooner, but a release from you isn’t essential.  (I granted your three petitions about sharing custody, by the way, so you don’t have to worry about that aspect.)
     I have been feeling guilty about this, but I’m glad now that I rushed the matter through, because a court fight would have been more than I could endure.
     Oh Eddie, I wish I could have my way without hurting you!  I wrote affectionate letters because you practically threatened to commit suicide if I took hope away.  But evidently I overdid it and led you to draw false conclusions.  This much I’ll admit: I still can’t bring myself to say, “I know I’m right.”
     There are times when I am thinking of you that something wells up inside of me and I long to surrender and make you happy.  Oh dear God, what a mess!  Why did I ever go to that surprise party for Bette Allen?  Eddie, forgive me.
P.S.  I am not going to write again unless you ask me to.  You probably hate me now, so I won’t presume to bother you with my silly letters. 
     But oh, it will be so lonely if I don’t hear from you!
Boston                                                             Friday -- Jan. 31, 1941
Dearest Babs –
     What a silly little goose you are!  Of course I want you to continue to write to me.  If you were to stop doing so I should feel very lonesome.  As it is now, I won’t get anything from you for a week -- and that’s horrible!
     Regardless of what happens, I am going to Florida.  I want a vacation; I want to see my baby; and at the risk of seeming selfish, I want to see you.  Although things haven’t turned out just the way I wanted them to, I still love you -- and there is always the future.
     In spite of everything, my theme song is still “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”  I have hopes that you’ll see what a swell home we could have together with a pretty house, tropical fish, love, and a lot of little Malleys.
P.S.  In all fairness to “my friends,” I must assume all responsibility for the decisions propounded in my ten-page letter.  It was entirely my own desperate idea, and I alone am to blame.
Coral Gables                                                               Sunday -- Feb. 2, 1941
Dearest –
     It’s nice to be able to write you again.  Eddie, don’t worry about where you are going to stay.  Now that we have two more roomers, we couldn’t possibly squeeze you into our house, but I know I’ll be able to find you a place within walking distance.  You can hike over early in the morning, help me bathe Kathie, and then the three of us will drive off to the beach.  If it isn’t warm enough for the beach, we can play badminton in the back yard.  Mr. Coker, our new roomer, bought the set because he wasn’t getting much exercise in the jewelry business. 
     I just had a nice fast game of badminton with Mr. Coker.  Whew, I’m hot!  By the time you get down here I’ll be able to trounce you.  (I’ll let you win once in awhile the way I did in ping pong.)  Mr. Coker just shook a grapefruit out of our tree and is now eating it as if it were an orange.  They are almost as sweet as oranges. . . .
Coral Gables                                                               Monday night -- Feb. 3, 1941
Darling –
       Poor Vaughan has the worst luck.  Last night she was hurrying home so she wouldn’t miss Charlie McCarthy, and all of a sudden she fell flat on her face.  She couldn’t do a thing about it, it happened so quickly.  Her hand was doubled up under her when she fell, and it pained her so that she lay there all by herself in the dark and cried.  She turned over on her back and lay there until she got her breath back.  She cried all the way home, and when she arrived, no one was here to sympathize with her.  Janeth was out with a date, and Mother and I were at the movies.   She said she almost felt like waking up Kathie to tell her all about it.  Poor Vaughan’s finger is black and swollen.  She said when she first touched it, it wobbled all around, as if it didn’t have any roots.  Mother and I couldn’t help laughing, her description was so droll.
     Oh, and another accident happened yesterday.  When she got off the bus, the driver shut the door on her arm and prepared to drive on.  Vaughan calmly tapped on the inside of the glass with her fingers.  A woman inside was shrieking, “Oh my God!”
     “I was a little worried when the bus began to move with my arm still in it,” Vaughan admitted. 

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