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Saturday, August 12, 2017

I SHALL HAUNT YOU ALL THE DAYS OF OUR LIVES. (4)

Boston
Oct. 31, 1940                                                              2:00 a.m.
Dear, dear Mrs. Malley,   
     Please accept my most sincere apologies for being slightly inebriated.  I'm all nice and clean and everything 'cause I just took a shower, cleaned my teeth, and dreamed up wonderful clever things to write to you.  Now I've forgotten them all . . . except for one practical answer to your suggestion.  There’s no possibility I could move to Florida.  My work, my life, is up here.  My heart resides in Coral Gables.     
     Damn Coral Gables, damn the nice weather, damn the silver sands.  Damn any bronzed young Tarzans lurking at the beach.  Damn everything that keeps me from you.  I shall haunt you all the days of our lives.  My love is a  fire that shall burn unquenchable in your heart.  Though a dozen other men marry you, though you are a million miles away, I shall not yield you ‑‑ you are mine!     It is really wonderful to love someone.... 

Coral Gables
Nov. 1, 1940
     Good evening, sweetheart.  You ought to see our blonde roomer, Bobbie.  She is sitting here, waiting for her date, all dressed up with a flower in her hair.  Lucky girl.  Once, a long time ago, I used to have dates.  
     Bobbie just gave her father another blasting that made me feel kind of sick.  Poor old man, he hasn’t got much to look forward to.  Janeth is the same way   She takes every opportunity to point out to Mother how “stupid” she is.  Sometimes I get so mad I can’t hold my tongue, and then poor, blind Mother jumps to Janeth’s defense.  “Don’t say things like that, Barbara.  She never criticizes you.”  That’s because I’m perfect and never do anything criticizable, but I’m too modest to make that observation to Mother.
    The people around here are beginning to get on my nerves.  Or maybe I’m irritable because Kathie was naughty today.  She cried incessantly from morning till now and spoiled her reputation for being “such a good little baby.”
     Good-night, dearest.  Give my love to the fish.
Coral Gables                                                                          
Nov. 2, 1940                                                                         Sat. night
      I was so disappointed when I got home from the beach tonight and didn’t find a letter from you.  I took it for granted I'd get an answer to my first letter today.  Mr. Culbert explained that for some reason it won’t arrive until Monday.  From now on you must send your letters by airmail.
     This morning I set the baby on her bathinette and got ready to cut her fingernails. Mary raised her hands in horror.
     “Oh, Mrs. Bobbie, do you think that’s all right?”
     “Sure, why not?”
     “Haven’t you heard the saying that if you cut their nails they’re gonna steal?”
     Humoring her, I said, “Well, Mary, what do you think I should do instead?”
     “Everybody ah knows bites ‘em off!”
     I took my chances and used the scissors.  No sense in sending this letter because it won’t go out tomorrow anyway.  I’ll continue it tomorrow.
Sunday noon
Dear heart --
     Did you ever try to write a letter and listen to the radio at the same time?  I wonder if you are listening to these programs, too.  Or are you out with some beautiful blonde?  S’funny, the very idea makes me jealous, and I have no right to be jealous.  But having lived with you for so many months, I can’t help feeling a little possessive.
     Janeth just found her mislaid seven dollar camera that she got for two bucks.  We took some indoor pictures of Kathie to try it out.
Boston
Nov. 4, 1940                                                                                   10:30 p.m.
     I hope you notice that I’m in early for a change.  After the weekend in N. H. and the long drive home, wouldn’t a game of Hearts, you, and some Pepsi-Cola be nice?  Oh darling, where are you now?
     After reading your letter suggesting the possibility of my going to Florida to work and maybe make a home there with you, I didn’t know what to think -- or even where to start thinking.  I am determined to let absolutely nothing stand in the way of salvaging our marriage. The decision is yours to make -- I can’t make it, as my power to do so was lost when you left me.  If by the time I come down for my vacation, you feel that we belong together, then I can come to you.  Until you write and tell me that you love me and want me, I can’t go as there is in reality no place for me to go to.  To just go down to work and be near you and Kathie would be a torture too great for even Tantalus to endure.  As you must understand, I couldn’t live close to you and not have you both belonging to me.  There is nothing further that I can do except to pray that you will call for me.

Coral Gables
Nov. 4, 1940                                                                           Monday eve
     Hey, old souse, how about writing me a sober letter, for a change?  I smell a bad influence.  You tell Dick Staples that I want him to stop corrupting you because liquor is bad and evil and leads only to the gutter.  Besides, it makes me jealous.  Orange juice is the strongest beverage I’ve had yet.  Incidentally, in season down here you can have all you can drink for a dime.
     I wonder if you’re going to win that five dollar bet on Roosevelt.  If you do, why don’t you send it down to me and I'll spend it on a second-hand crib.  In the day-time I keep Kathie on a bed, so that she has plenty of room to exercise and move around.  At night, I put her in her carriage, which is beginning to fit her like a glove.
     You're going to need a lot of patience for Mr. Culbert.  He is an awful bore, as I told you -- listens on Mama's radio to Amos ‘n Andy and the Lone Ranger while the rest of us wish we had ear plugs.    Although we aren't thrilled to have him around, he’s such a pitiful wreck, we can’t help feeling sorry for him.  Only a few years ago he was an active man, an enthusiastic golfer.  Now he barely manages to get from place to place without crutches.  When you come down, don’t try to help him up from his chair, though he may seem to need it.  We can tell he wants to be self-reliant, so we leave him to his exertions and look the other way.
     I don’t expect we’ll stay at the house much anyway.  I have all sorts of things planned for us to do.  We’re going to visit the Indian reservation nearby; we’ll go to the airport to see the planes leaving and arriving; and I want to take the dollar boat cruise so that you can see the beautiful waterfront homes at close range.  Kathie doesn’t have a ten o-clock feeding anymore, so we can stay out as long as we want -- within reason.
     Darling, I know you won’t pay any attention to my pleas, but I beg you to take it easy on that murderous motorcycle.  You scared me with your casual reference to young Dick Pascoe’s near tragedy.  I can’t understand what fun men get out of playing with their own lives.  
     Good-night, dear heart.  Kathie sends you a finger-squeeze.

Wednesday, November 6, 1940    
     History was made yesterday when F.D.R. was elected for a third term by a substantial majority over Willkie.  I don’t generally concern myself with politics, but this event was so sensational that it seems almost a duty to mention it.
     Now to more important news.  I am finally quite sure in my own mind that I want a divorce.  However, I don't want to break the news to Eddie for another few weeks. By then he should be accustomed to my absence.   Poor darling, it seems to me as if I had been away for months instead of 12 days.  I can hardly remember what it was like to live with him.  From now on, I must look ahead.
Coral Gables
Nov. 6, 1940
Dearest ‑‑ 
     I suppose I did go off half‑cocked.  I fell so in love with Coral Gables that I thought you would want to live here whether we were married or not.  Oh darling, sometimes I think I suffer more from the knowledge that I am hurting you than you do from being hurt.  Why did we ever meet?  We would probably both be happy now if it weren’t for that fateful night.  I suppose I will never be at peace until I give in or until I am sure that you are happy with someone else.  I don’t want to give in -- yet.  As things are now I don’t know my own heart any better than I did before we parted.  I am torn between the desire to be free in a renewed youth, and the aching longing to take your word for it that we can be happy together.       
WITH BABY KATHIE NOVEMBER 1940
     You may keep the enclosed pictures if you want them.  How do you like my tan?  The picture that shows me with a bow in my hair was taken in our front yard, the others at the Venetian  Pool.
       Friday, November 8, 1940
     Kathie has broken herself of the ten o’clock feeding, so she sleeps from 6:00 P.M. to 6:00 A.M.  When she awakes, ravenous, instead of squalling, she smiles coyly at me and flutters her big eyes  flirtatiously..
     She is intelligent, too.  While the average baby doesn’t laugh aloud until it is four to six months old, Kathie started chuckling before she was ten weeks old.  I think she looks cutest when she starts to cry.  I hope I can capture her in a sketch with that little lower lip thrust down in self pity.

Boston          
Nov. 8, 1940
Dearest Babs,    
     I just got three letters from you and the hurt in them has left me so stunned I’m nearly crazy -- somehow this must all end.  If it doesn't I'll go berserk and commit suicide or come to Florida and kidnap you.  If all that you have is sympathy for me ‑‑ as you intimate ‑‑ I might as well call it quits.  It was doubly awful to get your pictures and endearments and then read your letter and know that I was just some guy in Boston. 
     I had hoped ‑‑ God damn hope ‑‑ that you wanted me  in Florida with you and not just as a part of the landscape.  As far as I can see there is only one thing for me to do ‑‑ cut my own  throat by asking you to write purely impersonal letters and don't send any more pictures!   It's killing me.  WHAT SHALL I DO?    
     Barbara, I just can't come down this winter, I just can't.   If I do I might do something so horrible that there would be no point in living.  Before we end this finally can't I appeal to some chord in you which will make you love me?  If you can't love me, won't the happiness and love I will give you suffice?   Don't answer -- my heart, mind and body just couldn’t stand the shock and strain of any answer.  Just write:  Dear Eddie,   The weather is fine, etc. etc.  As ever. . .    
     But to you and Kathie I send my heart, my life, and my love.
Coral Gables
Nov. 9, 1940
Beloved ‑‑  
     Forgive me if I wax mercenary, but I am in a rather embarrassing position.  I've been letting Mother pay all my expenses so far, but it is a little too humiliating to ask her for Christmas money.    
     "Let's you and me give Janeth a watch," I say.    
     "Oh, let's!" says Mama.  Then we go look at watches, pick out an $8.00 one, and Mama writes a check.   I have nothing to contribute except the idea.    
     I suppose if I were resourceful, I would figure out some way of earning money.  But I'm not, so I can only turn to you.  You made the mistake of telling me of your ill-gotten wealth from election bets.  Could you spare at least enough, ten or fifteen, to pay for yours and Mama's presents?  If not, forget about it, and no hard feelings. 
      You and your bronzed young Tarzans!  You don't seriously think any decent fellow would go after a married woman with a baby, do you?   I have spoken to only one young man, and that was when Bobbie introduced me to one of her dates.
     Enclosed are more pictures for your scrapbook.  The one of Mama makes her look as if she were about to choke the baby.   Don't worry -- she and Janeth both adore Kathie.
Coral Gables                                                              
Nov. 11, 1940
Darling Eddie --
     On our way to visit friends of Mama’s this morning, we saw the postman and stopped to get our mail.  Your airmail upset me so that I was unable to enjoy what should have been a lovely day.  I was unhappy and impatient to get home so that I could write to you.
     Oh my dearest (forgive the endearment,  I wish that I could tell you what you want to hear.  But I can’t hold out any hope -- for the present, at least. I would be a fool to prophesy how I’ll feel in the future.  And you would be a fool if you hung around waiting for me to change my mind.  Please try to see if you can’t salvage your life without me.  Please give me this chance, while I’m young, to shape my own destiny.
     However, I can’t possibly be happy if I feel that you will never be.  Tell me honestly, dear, is yours a hopeless case?  If it is, I might as well wake up from my dreams, for they would turn to nightmares if I were to wreck your life.  I’ll leave it up to you -- and please consider this carefully.
     Possibility 1: You are desperately, hopelessly unhappy.  You honestly think that no one else will be a satisfactory substitute.  So I come back to you and devote my life entirely to making you happy.
     Possibility 2: You give me my chance -- to be a girl again, have a job, meet people, etc.  After two or three years, I promise you I will come back to you if you haven't married meanwhile.
     I feel sorry in a way that you have decided against coming down Christmas.  I was looking forward to seeing you.  However, I think you are right.  We would have a glorious time together, then when we had to part, the old wounds would be torn open again.  We will probably be better off if we don’t see each other for a long time.
     But if you do change your mind, I won’t argue.  The desire to see you again is stronger than my good judgment.
P.S.  I will send this by airmail.  Meanwhile I am about to write you a newsy, impersonal
letter, as requested
Dear Eddie,                                                                                     Monday night, Nov. 11
     The weather is fine, etc. etc. etc.  We spent today with the Palmers.  That pair really knows how to live.  Their little boy has a sailboat all his own, as do most of the young people who live by the water.  Nearby is an island, on which the boys have built a cabin.  They sleep overnight and cook meals there, like Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.
     We cruised along the Miami shore in the Palmers’ boat, marveling at the magnificent homes and private yachts docked in their back yards.  As we came to one mansion, we saw a nurse bustling around on the terrace.  She waved to us, and Mrs. Palmer told us it was the home of Fred Smith, the boy who lives in an iron lung. 
     We also passed the home where Kresge’s (5&10) first wife lives.  She seems to be doing all right on her alimony.  We dropped anchor to fish for trout -- in vain.  Mama suggested that whoever caught the first fish would win Kathie as the jackpot.  “You mean the Jill-pot,” cracked Mr. Palmer.
     It’s awfully hard to refrain from ending this letter without the usual endearments.
It is all I can do to keep my pen under control.  As you suggested, I shall only say -- As ever . . . .

Boston
Nov. 12, 1940
     Are you interested in what I did this weekend?  I’m almost afraid to describe my wild escapades, born of a futile, dissipated search for vacuous forgetfulness.  Sunday night Harry, Dick and I went to the Wolfboro Cinema and afterwards downed nine quarts of ale.  I assure you that we three were rather “high” for the rest of the evening.  We ran the gamut of drunken discussions. 
     To my amazement and sympathy I learned that Harry’s whole life and heart are being torn with the constant unhappiness of his ill-starred love for Margaret -- and believe me, they are both really in love.   At present they are kept apart by the iron-willed Mrs. Bartram’s absolute refusal to allow her daughter to see Harry anywhere but in the family parlor under the watchful eyes of at least a million chaperones.  Margaret and Harry are both twenty but the old girl refused to let them become engaged and made her refuse Harry’s engagement ring.  Why must life be so cruel? 
Coral Gables                                                               Tuesday night, Nov. 12, 1940
Dear Eddie --
      I  believe it would indeed be wiser for you to stay away from Florida.  By the time Christmas comes, we will be fairly accustomed to living without each other.  It would be foolish to awaken old emotions and desires.  I might as well not kid myself, you will always be practically impossible for me to resist physically. 
     As you see, I am in a bad way.  All day I have been thinking of your kisses.  I guess it must be that special time of the month that you read about in books on sex education.  I ought to go out and have a good, strenuous swim.
     If you don’t want my snapshots, please send them back or give them to Taffy.
Boston                                                 Thursday (11:30 p.m.) Nov. 14, 1940
Dearest dear,
   Do you mind too much if I come to Florida?  Maybe I'm foolish to expose myself to further heartbreak but I'll have to take that chance as  I want to see Kathie.  I see from her pictures that she is getting big.  She is going to be a veritable Queen of the Amazons.   Questions: Why didn't you write Saturday night?  (I'm suspicious.)         
                        Why can't you want me more than all those other silly things?        
                        Why don't you start arming yourself now against my charm?         
                        Why must time pass so slowly?         
Do you miss me?         
                        Why do I love a funny‑face like you?    
P.S.      I just don't know what to do about the money you asked for.  All the money that I won in the election I've put in the bank for my Florida fund.  I'm so  hungrily, desperately looking forward to my visit with you that I hate to part with money saved for the trip.  If I mean anything to you, please let me come to you once again.  The prospect of seeing you is the only thing that keeps me going.     
Coral Gables                                                               Friday night- Nov. 14, 1940                
Eddie dear ‑‑
     Your letters are very upsetting.  It's not fair that you want me to write you in an impersonal vein, and then you write me such emotional replies.  Will you please try to spare me a little? If you don't, I shall start "dearest‑beloveding" you again.
     I had to put Kathie on formula tonight.  My breasts have gradually been running dry for some reason.  Now anyone, almost, can be a good mother to her, while before, only I would do.  At  least my time will be my own from now on.  I shall probably start school early next year.
     I hope you aren't really "taking to drink."  You should be looking around for some nice girl to keep you company.
     I just went into the kitchen.  I’ve forgotten now why I went out there.  Anyway, a big rat ran across the floor, right in front of me.  I let out a shriek and sprinted to the living room as if he and all his cousins were after me.  Before I managed to articulate what was the trouble, Mother and Janeth both leaped to the conclusion that Kathie was dead or dying and rushed to the crib.  They were relieved  to hear it was only a rat.
      Only a rat!  Ugh, Shivers are still rippling across my spine..
     Bobbie said to tell you we wish you were here so you could kill rats for us. 

Coral Gables                                                               Fri., Nov. 15, 1940
(from Mother)
Dear Dick -- The life of the party is now asleep and I have a moment for writing.  It is not that Kathie demands my time.  I give it to her without her asking, for she will never be just two and a half months old again.
     I wish you could see her.  Her skin is so pink and white; her eyes, which used to be closed most of the time, now open to dark blue wideness, and she looks at us roguishly, wonderingly, thoughtfully, smilingly, soberly -- and every expression is worth waiting for, as one waits the opening of a century plant.
      Barbara seems completely contented.  To my surprise she doesn’t seem to miss Edward much, although his letters arrive daily, and I know they plead with her.  Poor boy!  I can put myself in his place and imagine how he must be missing her.
     Barbara wants to go ahead with the divorce, then go to the Walsh business school.  She is not taking all hope from Eddy, but wants the freedom to make her life’s choice -- that freedom which she too quickly relinquished.  I should feel much safer if she were armed with some professional expertise even if she eventually decides to be Mrs. Malley.
Coral Gables
Nov.16, 1930                                                                           Sat. night     
     I rather regret that you are coming by train -- if you come.  Mama, too, wants to do all the things I’ve planned with you, so that wouldn’t give us much time alone since there’s only one car.  If the Packard were here, I wouldn’t feel so guilty about leaving her and going off with you.  She and Janeth could used the Olds.
     However, I see your point.  It would be a long, lonely drive down here and an even more miserable one back to Boston.  I really think it would be better if you didn’t come at all.  It hurts me every time I suggest this, for I am terribly lonely. A bunch of women and an old man are not the most exciting company in the world.  It would be wonderful to see you again, to feel the invigorating effect of your quick, masculine mind, to feel you big and strong by my side.  I hope this loneliness will lessen when I start school.
     What do you think of the idea of coming down later, after it is “all over.”  If you come “before,” you will be tortured by suspense and hope.  Oh Eddie, please give me my chance and try to understand that I must go through with this.  Be patient, dear.  I swear I will never let pride stand in the way of asking to be taken back.
     Am I writing too personal a letter?  I’m sorry, I’ll try to do better tomorrow in the next issue.
Sunday
     Brr!  What a cold day!  I had to wear a wool dress, a sweater, and my winter coat in order to keep from turning blue.  The weather had a depressing effect on me.  I made me feel blue mentally as well as physically.  As we were all sitting around the fire, the tears began to roll down my face before I knew what was happening.  I couldn’t get up without attracting attention, so I put my head in Mama’s lap and pretended to sleep while the others conversed.
     I wanted so much to be with you -- this time not because I felt sorry for you but because I was just plain lonely.  You are really better off than I am.  You have the Pascoes, the Andersens, the Marshes -- all gay and cheerful people. 
     You probably think I’m mad to stick to my resolve when I admit to feeling this way.  But don’t you see, darling, when I marry the man I love, I want to do so after sane, careful deliberation -- not impelled by emotional pressure but confident and happy in the step I’m taking.
     That’s another reason why you shouldn’t come down Christmas.  I can well imagine what will happen.  You will sweep me off my hinges.  You'll have a lot of money saved up; you'll give me a gay whirl; I'll remember how lonely I was away from you ‑‑ and how will I be able to resist  you?
     Please don't take advantage of me.  Give me a few months, at least,. You had that chance.  If you care for me at  all, you will give me the same chance. . . .

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