Saturday, August 12, 2017


Smith College
January 11, 1940
     Your last letter sounded more like the optimistic, self-confident Ed I used to know.  You can’t imagine how it cheered me up.
     An apartment on Beacon Hill sounds ideal.  I don't care what it looks like, but the location is better than I dared hope.  Just think, I can walk to the library every day if I want to -- we'll be right in the middle of everything, or on the edge anyway.       
     Just got your letter.  I don't understand you.  First you complain that you can't chase a girl who won't run.  Then you say, "Give a little."  How can I run and give at the same time?  But I know what you mean, darling.  I think the success of our married life is going to depend a great deal on our forgetting that we're married.  Aren't we funny!
     I'm sorry my letter disturbed you.  I was just especially worried at the time about all our problems.  It’s hard to be optimistic when everyone I know is the opposite.
     Vannie wrote a letter to Mrs. Malley -- why the hell won’t you?  Are you ashamed of your name?  Well, I’m not, so be a good boy and stop calling a pregnant woman “Miss.”
January 11, 1940
     Just imagine, I was afraid you might be embarrassed if I were to address my letters to Mrs. E. W. Malley, Jr.  I certainly shall do so in the future.  Remind me to tell you the two nahsty jokes about “The Southern Hospitality” and the “Professional Boil Evacuator.”  You’ll love the second one.  It is a guaranteed regurgitator.  
     As you no doubt suspect by this time, I’m a little delirious, but I love you, that’s all that matters.  I hope you’ll forgive that crazy letter I wrote last night.  I was just building castles in Spain.
                                                                                              Friday morning
     Rent 35.00, Car 9.00, University Club 3.00, Food 45.00, Clothes 20.00, Gas & Light
10.00. Total 130.00.
     Income 35.00 a week plus 5 = 140.  140 minus 130 = 10,00 balance
     Actually I earn about $150 a month, but it is best to figure on a basis of four weeks to the month.  As you can see I received a $5.00 raise.
     There will be no expense to the baby.  That’s my dad’s wedding present.  No clinic, thank God.
  Saturday, January 13, 1940
     Last night I retired at 10:15 as usual.  I was just dozing off when Durf and Mac and Kay walked in to tell me that there was a party going on in Clem’s room.  “We didn’t want you to miss it.”
     I stumbled sleepily into the party and discovered it was a kitchen shower given by the freshmen -- for me!   I am now the proud owner of gleaming pots and pans, a singing tea-kettle, unbreakable baking dishes, and brightly colored dish towels.  Also a stunning pink satin lacy nightgown that Clem said I am supposed to wear when getting Ed’s breakfast.  “He’d never get to work,” said Durf, making me blush.

Smith College
Jan. 15, 1940                                                               Monday morning
Dear Ed –
     Sympathy, please.  I feel like the last rose of summer before last.  I wish I could come home right this minute.  I can’t study in the morning because of a woozy feeling in my stomach; I can’t study in the afternoon because I miss you too much; in the evening I write letters to you; at night I dream of you.  Why don’t you leave me alone for a change? 
     I think it will be all right for you to come up again next Sunday if you want to.  Don’t forget to bring my books and my suitcase.  (If you have any spare luggage, I could use it (for pots and pans and a singing teakettle).
Mon. Jan. 15
     As you can see by my letter, I survived the icy ride home from Northampton.  You are, therefore, still a married woman and not a widow.  Not sorry, I hope.  I was talking on the telephone today with your mother and took the liberty of extending to her your felicitations.  It occurred to me that you would probably like to see her again next Sunday; therefore, if you wish I’ll drive her up there.  I realize of course the undercurrents of antipathy but I shall do my best to forget them and bring her along.  The decision, naturally, rests with you.
Smith College
Jan. 16, 1940
         I should like very much to see Mother next Sunday, provided she wants to come again this soon.  If you do bring her up, please be careful not to say anything that might antagonize her, for then she would blurt out a reproach, you would get mad, and oh, what a mess!  Maybe it’s too much of a risk to take.  I’ll pass the buck to Mother and let her decide.
Smith College
Jan. 16, 1940
Dearest Mother,
    Ed wrote about driving you up here next Sunday.  I would love to see you if it wouldn’t be too awkward.  I you do come, please be careful not to say anything that might make him think I wasn’t happy.  He is finally convinced that I want to make a go of our marriage.  For his sake, I hope I succeed.
     Did Ed tell you about our apartment?  It is on Beacon Hill right plunk in the middle of everything that is of interest in Boston.  It sounds ideal, although Ed told me gloomily that the refrigerator is in the bedroom.  When I pointed out how convenient this was for midnight snacks, he felt a little better.
Tues. Jan. 16, 1940
     My father received a letter from your mother this morning but he neglected to tell me what  she said.  As far as our domestic life is concerned, there are no new developments.
     I hope to have things ready for you to organize when you get here. My only worry is that the humble little apartment may disappoint you.
Smith College
January 17, 1940
Dear Mother --   I dreamt last night that when I saw Kathie for the first time, she had a long, long nose and her ears were rolled under like little sausages.  Later I found her in Vaughan’s room -- this time a beautiful baby!  I asked her why she was crying, and she said she had wanted to be a boy.  “Yes, dear,” I sympathized, “boys are wonderful.  But when you’re grown up like your mother you’ll be glad you’re a girl because then you can marry a boy.”  Kathie, the intelligent tot, understood my logic and stopped crying.
     What did you write to Ed’s father?  Nothing unpleasant, I hope.
Jan. 17, 1940                                                                     Wednesday night
Little Wifie –
     I just spent about two hours throwing out more of my old letters.  Honestly, there are more than a thousand of them.  You can’t imagine the feeling of melancholy they gave me.  All the loves, laughs and excitement seem far more wonderful now that they have faded into the haziness of the past.  Oh well, it was all fun but I’d gladly give it all up ten times over if only I could spend the rest of my life with you.
     A thousand kisses and a thousand more are as nothing when compared with the radiance of your smile. 
Smith College
January 18, 1940
     It has dawned on me that Mother’s letter to your father was probably intended for you.  She would never remember the “Junior.”  She probably said, “I’ll be glad to go up to Northampton with you next Sunday,” and your father must think she’s a brazen woman.
     I am sick in bed this morning.  My stomach feels as if Kathie has been tying knots in it.  She started her little game last night and hasn't let up since.  Right now, I have a water bottle on my tummy under my bathrobe, which makes me look as if Kathie was almost ready to pop. 
January 19, 1940
     While on the way over to Taffy's tonight to get your books, I stopped off at your mother's for a short while.  She is planning to come up with me Sunday.  I'm afraid that it may prove a little trying but I shall attempt to keep my temper.  How can I kiss you or tell you I love you?
Later:  A few minutes ago I unpacked the pots and pans that were in the suitcase your mother picked up last Sunday.  I piled up your books and in general gathered your things together.  The surprising thing about moving your possessions around was that somehow they were indicative of the intimacy of being married to you.  I can't wait for the next fifteen interminable days to pass.      
     Tonight I feel terribly like writing a love letter.  (Excuse the grammar please!)  It seems as though every time lately that I try to tell you how much etc. etc. I say something wrong and you put the proverbial blast on me.  Oh well, even though I can’t write them I can think them.
     I must stop or else the words will break the damn of my enforced reserve and rush forth.  All I can say is, please give me yourself and a home.  Please don’t take it away from me.
                     January 22, 1940
     News from mother!  Her friends and Vaughanie had talked her into believing that the baby would be a tie between Ed and me, but my last letter changed her mind.  Quote: “My thought is this.  I don’t want to give my friends another Roman holiday at my expense.  I’d like to take you and Kathie and Vaughan to Florida to live next winter.  They say there are excellent business schools down there.  When the baby is a year old and you are free, we could return to Boston if you like.  This would bring you back while Bob is still at Harvard.  Meanwhile you could be corresponding.  Letters are magical.  They are what won Daddy’s heart.  What do you think of that idea?”
     What do I think!  I feel as if I have received a reprieve from a prison sentence.  I have no ties to make me feel unhappy about leaving home – except  I will miss our roomer Jim Foster a lot.
                                                                                             April 29, 1940
    Yesterday morning Mother and I went over to Taffy's to see Dot's baby.  A few minutes later I wandered into the parlor, and there was the baby, lying on a pillow in the center of the table, surrounded by packages.  I still didn't catch on. 
     "Well, look at the baby!" I said.  Then I saw the other people in the room  -- Bobbie Tower, Barbara McCabe, Aline Crissey, Helen Meserve, Bette Allen -- all standing around and smiling at me.  It was a baby shower!  I flung my arms around Taffy and could hardly keep from crying.  Many of these girls I hadn't seen since the end of high school, but Taffy said they all jumped at the chance to come.
     After I opened all the gifts -- most of them thoughtfully pink -- Taffy handed me a package.  "From your best beau," she said.
    "That's Ed, but he's in New Hampshire," I said, ripping the wrapping from three red roses.  " -- Isn't he?"
     "He's here."
     I found him upstairs, thoroughly sunburned after his weekend in the country.
     "I couldn't stay away from you any longer, Babs.  I had to come back this afternoon."
     He then told me he would rather live with me hating him than live apart.  My answer was that I had grown to care for him, but I felt I owed myself the chance to make a new start.   I went away to college to "meet new people" but that didn't work out because hr was always there, camped on my doorstep.  I asked him to step aside this time and let me find out for myself what I wanted.  Meanwhile he should look for another girl with whom he can be happy.
     "We'll see what the future brings," Ed said. "From now on I'm going to do everything  I can to smooth the way for you.” 
     A much looked-for letter from Harvard this afternoon.  Yes, Bob wrote again, though Mother didn't think he would.  It was an impersonal but friendly letter -- and sounded so like him.        
                                                                                                              May 1, 1940
     It looks as if Ed has even won Vaughan over.  I thought a few months ago that those two would never be on speaking terms again, but now she laughs and jokes with him, and yesterday she even kissed him goodbye.  There is no getting around it, Ed is a darling.  He is such a perfect husband that I suppose I’m foolish to want to leave him.  However, I must be able to feel that I am mistress of my destiny -- if I stayed with Ed, I would always wonder. 
     For a Mother's Day celebration, Mother, Vaughan, Ed, Janeth and I went to "Sailor Tom's" for a shore dinner.  I paid the tab (only $3.75).  I think I enjoyed the party more than anyone -‑ eating out is a big treat for me these days.                                                               
Saturday, June 1, 1940
     Ed and I had dinner last night with a business associate and his wife.  They have just moved into a house in Winthrop.  The evening left me with a depression that I haven’t yet been able to shake off, but I am glad I went.  The life of the McKews is a preview of what life with Ed could so easily become if I stayed with him.  They have two of the most obnoxious brats I have ever met -- spoiled, whining, demanding -- and the parents are virtually the slaves of these horrible little animals.
     Evidently, unless you have plenty of money, once the children start arriving, your own life ends.  Mrs. McKew said that she loved having company because it was the only chance she had to meet people.  She hadn’t been out even to a movie for over a year.  What a hopeless rut to be in!                                                                                                                                             Monday, June 10, 1940        Dick is home for his vacation.  He is being very kind to the family -- stayed up with Janeth and her algebra until midnight -- came to see my apartment and left three books that I didn't discover until after he had gone.
     Dick told Mother he thought the baby was going to be an asset for me.  He said she would scare away unworthy irresponsible men and attract those who loved children and cared enough for me to undertake such a responsibility -- a man like Jim Foster, Dick suggested.  I do believe my brother would like very much to see me married to our roomer.  He mentions him often in his letters.
                                                                                              Thursday, June 20, 1940
     Mother read one of the books Dick left for me, "Look Homeward, Angel," by Thomas Wolfe.  She was so shocked that she immediately wrote him a letter reproving him for permitting my pure eyes to see such ugliness and asking him not to give me any more books like that.         
      When Mother told me what she had done, I flew off the handle.  I told her she could stick to "Alice in Wonderland" and "Little Women" if she wanted to, but I was going to continue looking for Truth, even if it wasn't always beautiful.  I had read books much more plain-spoken than Wolfe's. Hadn't she always given me free rein in my reading? 
     I shouldn't have lit into Mother the way I did -- especially in front of Ed.  When he finally ventured, "But the book really isn't indecent, Mrs. Beyer -- " that was too much for Mother.  She screamed at us both to get out, she never wanted to see either of us again. I went down to the car with Ed, but of course I couldn't leave her feeling that way.   After a few minutes I went back alone and apologized.
     Mother can't help thinking the way she does.  She belongs to a generation that prefers not to call a spade a spade, while my generation has no such inhibitions.  Mother doesn't mind an author talking about sex, as long the subject is handled subtly, delicately, without coming right out and naming things.
     I thought my apologies of last night had cleared the air, but this morning she came all the way in town at 8:30 -- Eddie was in the bathroom, shaving --  to tell me she had gone to the expense of telephoning Dick's  landlady in Philadelphia and asking her to mail back the letter without letting Dick see it.  She wanted to inform me of her action so I wouldn't write to him about it. 
     There was a letter in Ed's pocket that I had asked him to mail this morning, only it didn't say what Mother thought it would.  I didn't ask him to take sides with him against her.  I begged him not to reply to her in a biting, sarcastic vein (for I feared he would react to her attitude as I had).  A harsh letter from him would have been the crowning injury after the way I wrangled with my poor unsophisticated mother last night.  Damn, I wish it hadn't happened.  We were getting along so happily together.
Later:    All is well.  Mother was as unhappy all day as I.  She said she had been wrong and I said no, it was my fault, and so we made up.

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