Saturday, August 12, 2017


Monday, April 15, 1941
     Oh my God, my poor brother!  He came to the apartment today, and I was overjoyed because I hadn’t expected to see him for another year, at the soonest.  He had a couple with him whom I assumed were friends.  Alas, he had gone A.W.O.L., and his companions were from the Judge Baker Institute.  He had sought out a psychiatrist he knew there from his “problem child” days. 
     My God, he was so blue!  He must have been in a terrible condition when he arrived at the Institute, for he told them he wanted to commit suicide.  I talked with the doctors, but they couldn’t do anything but send him back.  What a powerful machine the army is!  Once you’re in it, there’s no escaping until “they” let you go.  It doesn’t seem right that a human being should be so completely at the mercy of an unfeeling institution, but as Dick says, once you join the army, you’re a number, not a name.
     As I understand it, two things drove him nearly crazy: the discipline and the complete lack of privacy.  He was bossed about and insulted by his “superiors,” ignorant dolts who had scarcely managed to get through grammar school.  Also, this camp had as yet no library, recreation, movies, or anything to lighten the monotony of eating, sleeping and digging ditches.  He was mistaken as a “Jew-boy” because of his name and his nose, and taunted by bigoted fools.
     You’d think that a man who had enlisted would receive greater consideration than the draftees, but the latter have preference.  They were made to go against their will, while those who enlist are “asking for it.”
     Oh, the lost, hopeless look on Dick’s face! I’m so scared he might really commit suicide. He embraced me desperately before they took him away.  God, I’ll be miserable till I know he’s all right again.
                                                                              Thursday, June 18, 1941
     I thought my love life was over -- I mean, Ed is devoted and very affectionate, so our marriage is one continuous honeymoon -- but outside of marriage, I expected no romance.  However, Vannie has turned up again, as fond as ever.  He is almost an Ensign now, and has grown tall and handsome in a square Dutch sort of way.  He says nothing indiscreet but looks volumes.  He did say this afternoon that he would give me a chance to marry him when he was twenty-six.
     “By that time I’ll have three or four children -- is that all right?”
    “Sure, I guess I’ll be able to afford it.”
    It is naughty of me to find so much pleasure in his admiration, especially when I get all the love  a wife could ask for from Ed.  He is very annoyed at having Vannie about and wishes him all kinds of bad luck.                                      
[Marginal note: He certainly didn’t want Vannie to die at the age of 23 in his submarine, after winning many awards and medals. Floyd Rinker told me that for years his mother refused to believe he was dead.  She was sure he would be found alive on some island.]
     Dick has been given a medical discharge from the army -- absolutely no stigma attached to it, the sergeant said.  However, my brother is sensitive and fears no one will respect him and will say he “couldn’t take it.”  He talks about going up to Canada to enlist, but I think we have dissuaded him from that idea.  For the present he is staying with us and job hunting.
     As Janeth, too, is boarding with us, we are all together again except for Mother, who is working for Uncle Stanley and living near Lamie’s Tavern.  Janeth makes a little money by taking care of babies in the neighborhood.
     I love our new apartment in West Newton -- seven rooms, including a sun porch!  The couple downstairs have a baby boy a month and a half older than Kathie.
 Thursday, July, 17, 1941
     My marriage becomes more and more satisfying.  I have given up my romantic dreaming of what might have been.  As long as Ed loves me and is kind to me, why should I be discontented?  I have a lot to be grateful for -- a beautiful baby, a nice home, friendly neighbors, enough money, and a devoted husband.  What more could I ask?
Sunday, August 17, 1941
     Twenty years old!  Goodbye to the teens -- those years of excitement and turmoil.  From now on it’s the conservative life for me with lots of little Malleys to compensate for my lost youth.
     Ed gave me an old Model B Ford touring car a few weeks ago, an advance birthday present.  I have been driving it all summer and have practically lived at the island. 
[Marginal note: Ed said he had paid $50 for my car.  When he later confessed it cost $75, I was angry about the deception and his extravagance.  When we moved to Sandy Cove in Cohasset, he wanted to hang on to the Model B, but I insisted on selling it as soon as I got another car.  How wrong I was!  I didn’t dream the old relic would someday be worth a fortune.]

     Today Ed gave me some luscious but fearfully expensive lingerie, Dick gave me cologne, and Janeth three dollars for Ed and me to dine and dance on. 
                                                                                    Tuesday, January 13, 1941
     My wonderful husband had his salary raised another $15 a week.  We have been house-hunting, and the very first one we looked at, we fell in love with.  It’s in Waban, about ten years old, and originally cost almost $20,000 to build.  We can get it for $6500, which includes $300 worth of improvements.  It really is a beautiful place -- almost as big as our old home on Commonwealth Avenue.  Mother will be pleasantly surprised when she sees it.
Thursday, June 28, 1942
     My next baby will soon be born.  I have almost reached the end of this notebook, so now is a good time to sum up all the news. (My next diary will be less intimate and chiefly a record of the children.)
     Mother is with us for the summer.  We get along beautifully together, and she and Ed are more congenial that I dreamed possible.  In fact, he has won over my entire family, and Mother says I should be very proud of him. 
     Bob Black left yesterday to go on duty as an Ensign in the Naval Reserve.  I received a farewell letter from him and Caesar Franck’s D Minor Symphony.
     Dick has a good job with the government.  He seems much happier and more self confident.  Janeth will be independent in another few months, so Mother’s responsibilities will soon come to an end.  The poor darling, her eyes are so bad, but she never complains.  I don’t see how anyone who has gone through what she has can remain so sweet-tempered.
(from Bob Black)                                                                    June 9, 1942
My dear Barbara -- Christmas in June.  Or mayhem in B flat.  Is it too late to acknowledge your Christmas card and thank you quite sincerely for it?  This may prove that I remember you at times other than the merry ones in December.
     This is a sort of farewell notice, though I do not see that it will make much difference to us.  I am
sailing as a navy ensign this month, but perhaps between shots I can write you, or at least drop postcards that won’t give away my location.
     I have heard that you are well through the interpreter for the Beyer-Black families, your old friend, Vaughan.  I wonder of course if you have lost your spirit.  Your Christmas card indicates that you are still capable of rotten poetry, but perhaps life is quite pleasant, if not even stimulating.
     Hope Ed is well, that your son will have his mother’s soul, that God speeds you well.
(from Vaughan, at the Black’s farm)                                           June 20. 1942
      Strange isn’t it, how starkly certain vivid childhood scenes stand out against the backdrop of memory?  Being here on the farm brings back to mind the old pot-bellied wood stove, its isinglass windows glowing red and cheery, the last litter of kittens sprawling from their box in the chimney corner.  I can even see the heavily frosted window panes with all the kids names scratched on them, and a row of us kids sitting on the floor, trying laboriously to fold long legged drawers inside heavy wool stockings.  I was a real expert at that, believe it or not.   Guess I’d better shush my reminiscing, that’s a sure sign of old age creeping on.
     Mrs. Black was up Wed. night, she said your Mother was arriving that day.  Bless her darling heart, I’m so homesick to see her.   I’m praying hard that Mrs. Black will bring her up with her Sat. night or Sunday, but she didn’t say anything about it.
     There isn’t a person living who is less deserving of the rotten hand which your dear Mother has had dealt to her in the past 3 or 4 years, and what a brave soldier she has been thru it all, just stood up and taken it on the chin.  What limitless love and flaming courage she has shown.  It is a privilege given to few to know so intimately the rare spirit that is hers.  The undying love she has shown for you, Babbie, & for Janeth & dear Richard.  Love like hers is stronger than death.  It is hard to comprehend why such a gallant soul as hers should be tried so sorely.  Sometimes I find myself wondering if there is a God, honestly I do, the whole world is in such deep sorrow.  Dear Mrs. Rush, her heart is bleeding for the loss of her lovely boy.  Her light has gone out, she seems like a clock that has stopped but keeps on ticking. 
     She of course is only one of millions.  Then there is Bob Black, such a fine handsome young men, next week he will be gone God only knows where nor for how long.  He has scarcely smiled since he came home from school.  The day he came up from Harvard in the station wagon, I was looking out the window as he was unloading his things, and as he picked up his uniform I saw his expression change and a look of perfect hatred came across his face.  Four years of hard work and $5000 for it.  Now that he is ready to take up his life work and make a home for himself he must be pushed into the army. 
      What is wrong with our country anyway?  They say Gods way must be right because he created so much beauty in the midst of this stormy and transitory life, and beauty is an eternal thing.  Well -- I’d like to see a little more beauty and a little less of this dreadful fighting and war.  Anyway with deep reverence I thank God that he created the Beyer family and that they came into my life, even if I have been taken away from them, that’s another thorn in my side.  Why did I ever have to become separated from your Mother? Of course I expected that the time would come when you children would go your own ways but I hoped that I’d always be with your sweet Mother, damn it.
     I leave here next Wed the 24th for the Rushes camp.  I’ll be there until Sept 1st, then -- where?
My only guide will be my vagabond will, my wanderlust.  One thing I am sure of (as sure as we can be of anything) that is I’ll go to Florida next winter.  I must see my priceless brats just as long as I can.
     What a crazy incoherent letter this has turned out to be.  Excuse writing I’m doing it on my knee.
     The best of everything for you sweet lamb.  Please let me hear from you from time to time and fondest love to all of you.  Mrs. Beyer dear do write me and come see me if you can, either here or at camp.  My address at camp will be Salisbury, Vt. c/o Keewaydin Camp Dunmore.               
Love, Vaughan      Kiss Kathie for me X
 Sunday, June 28, 1942
     I had been looking forward all week to going out to dinner with Ed Friday night.  I didn’t know where we were going.  On our way in town, he was obviously very much pleased with his plan -- said he had pulled all kinds of wires to arrange something special.
     We parked the car in front of the Copley Plaza Hotel.  In the Oval Room, a waiter took us to a reserved table near the floor show.  Ed said this was one of the very few places in Boston where good food and a floor show were combined.  The room was ablaze with light from enormous crystal chandeliers.  Prosperous looking people surrounded us.  At my very elbow sat a bejeweled woman who stared coldly at my bulging tummy.
     Ed sat across from me with an expectant grin, waiting for me to enthuse.  I tried to frame the proper words, but they came out all wrong.
     “Oh Ed, how can I talk to you or smile at you with all these people right on top of us?  This isn’t what I had in mind -- I wanted it to be like a date, intimate and romantic.”
     Poor Ed, what an awful thing to do to him, but I couldn’t disguise my feelings.  As it was, I could hardly keep from bawling then and there.
     He patted my hand and said never mind, we’ll find some place you'll like better.  We got up and walked out of the Oval Room, and a few minutes later found a darling little restaurant with the kind of cozy atmosphere I love. We had a booth all to ourselves and a bottle of champagne and the biggest baked stuffed lobster I ever saw.
     Darling Ed, I do love him!  I love him so much I’ve decided to accept him exactly as he is and stop nagging him to stand up straight, etcetera.  I haven’t nagged him for two whole days!  
     Today Ed and I gathered together all my diaries and our letters a view to burning them.  We got to reading them, and when it came down to it, neither of us could light the first match.  We’ve stored them away in a closet where we trust they won’t combust spontaneously.  Someday when our children are old enough to understand, perhaps they’ll enjoy reading about the Crazy Older Generation.  


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