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Saturday, August 12, 2017

IF EYES WERE HANDS, I''D SOON BE DOWN TO MY SKIVVIES. (8)

Cambridge
(from Bob)                                                                              Dec. 20, 1940

My dear Mrs. M.,
     If there is yet aesthetic eclecticism in your mundane character these tickets may be used for more than a mere functional visitation.  If the taste-buds of your mind are not yet dulled to bourgeois consciousless, the swollen grape of life may still be burst against the cheek and a nirvana-like, subsequent stimulant will trickle into the stomach of your soul.
     If you can no longer drink life to the lees, that would be an excellent incentive to return them, the tickets, not the lees.
     Seasonal, annual, personal, cosmic wishes.        Sincerely, R. Black
Coral Gables                                                               Saturday -- Dec. 21, 1940
Darling Eddie --
     You don’t know how much I appreciate your more cheerful style of writing.  Now whenever I read your letters, I laugh instead of cry.  Maybe I’ll start putting on weight. I’ve lost five pounds, and mama says I’ve lost my looks along with them.  When Vaughan comes next month, she’ll fatten me up.
     That’s another nice thing about your coming in February.  Vaughan will be here to see that you are well taken care of.
     Bobbie and I are going to the library to pick up some books to entertain us this month.  Isn’t it pathetic?  Two beautiful girls, all dolled up and no place to go and nobody to go with.      
     You’ll soon be leaving 33 So. Russell St.  Don’t forget to give notice that you’re not renewing the lease.  I don’t envy the job of moving your aquaria.  Poor boy, it’s a shame I can’t be there to help you -- in a supervisory (bossy) way.  I miss you.
Boston                                                                         Monday, Dec. 23, 1940
Barbara dearest,
     Do you know what you and I are going to do tonight?  Well, we're going to set up our first Christmas tree.  I've been to the five‑and‑ten and purchased tinsel, garlands, and ornaments.   Isn't the tree a beauty?  Where shall we put it? 
    Now Barbara, I know Kathie is curious but she must not crawl in the way of her very busy daddy.  If we don't do this just right Santa might miss our chimney.  You too must be good or you won't get any presents.
     Why don't you make some popcorn for stringing while I fix these blankety‑blank lights that won't light?  How about a big kiss to inspire me?  Mmm ‑‑ Oh!  Oh!  We almost knocked the tree over. 
     Hurrah, the lights are working.  Aren't I wonderful?  Master  Electrician Malley.
     I'll stand on a chair and place the ornaments you hand me where you want them.  You're the big boss and can run the whole shooting match.  I'm just your humble stooge but can you guess how you're going to pay me for being so amenable?  Quiet, Kathie, how spoiled you've become.  We should have put the tinsel on the very first thing.  Oh well, it looks just as nice if you close your eyes and just sorta toss it on.
     Barbara, don't you think that we should have just a little drink while we string all this popcorn?  We simply must get this well organized to impress Santa on his first visit to the Malleys. 
     Oh darling--------

To Eddie                                                              Monday night ‑‑ Jan. 6, 1941
Dearest ‑‑ 
     I am sorry if my lawyer's letter was a shock to you.  The main reason I want the divorce to be final by the time you come  is that I'm weak, darling.  Right now, I am very susceptible to seduction.  I need a divorce to protect me.
     The cocktail napkins arrived.  I especially liked the smudge of lipstick on one of them.  Yes, I really appreciated that ‑‑ you heel!  I sit around and mope all vacation while you go out with beautiful women.  "Taint fair!  Well, me to my books and you to your blondes.
Coral Gables                                                               Wednesday -- Dec. 25, 1940
Eddie darling –
     It’s 1:30 A.M. Christmas morning and I’m a wreck.  Will you forgive me if I make this short and go to bed.  I have to be up at 6:30 in order to be at work by 8:00.
     Did my telegram reach you?  I worked nine hours today and will work eight tomorrow -- ten dollars worth!  Sorting telegrams, very boring.  I’m so tired.  Merry Christmas!  Whoopee!     
Christmas night
Darling -- This was a peculiar Christmas for me.  It is not enough that the climate is uninspiring for holiday spirit -- I had to work all day.  I hope I’ll spend future Christmases up north, where the snow and crisp December air make you feel excited and tingly and Christmas-y.
     I was a little disappointed not to hear from you.  Perhaps you are saving your pennies and 3-cent stamps so you can splurge when you see me in person.
Thursday, December 26, 1940
     On December 20th I sent a card and a message in poetry to Bob Black. Today I received a letter from said Bob Black, originally addressed to 33 South Russell St.. -- dated December 20th.  Enclosed were two tickets to the Boston Symphony, which of course I had to send back.  If that wasn’t a case of mental telepathy, what was it?  Coincidence, you say?  Oh diary, must you be so pragmatic?
Coral Gables                                                               Thursday, December 26, 1940
My sweet –
     I’ve written you every single night, even Christmas Eve, when I worked till one.  (That letter will reach you late, as I just discovered it in my purse today.)
     You’re always suspecting me of things.  I opened Bob’s letter first, saving the best until last, and that’s the truth.  It’s lucky you didn’t tear it up, as it contained two tickets to the symphony for us.  Wasn’t that a thoughtful gift?  Too bad I had to send them back.
     It was very stupid of me to send your gifts, but I thought you wouldn’t want to wait for your visit in February.  I know it’s awfully hard for me to wait.  What do you want my ring size for?  (Absurd question.)  Eddie, please don’t get me anything expensive, it would make me feel bad. I’ll give you the size if you’ll promise to do all your shopping in the five and ten.  Here is an outline of my wedding ring.
    You poor darling, so your genius is leaving you.  Even though I’m very jealous of her, I am sorry that you must be deprived of her company.  Is she pretty?  Tall, short, medium?  Blonde?  Please satisfy my curiosity or I’ll run up to Boston and find out for myself.  No, that isn’t a very effective threat.  Well, I’ll go away the last week in February and the first two weeks of March, so there!
     “Baby Snooks” is coming on, so we must stop this chatting and tune in.  Or are you above such trivia now that you pal around with geniuses? 
Coral Gables                                                   Saturday night -- Dec. 28, 1940        
My dear one –
     I don’t know why I should address you so kindly.  I don’t feel kindly, having been neglected by the mailman yesterday and today.  Am I in the doghouse because you haven’t been getting any mail from me?  Darling, I swear I have written you ever single night, but my letters must have been delayed by the Christmas rush.  Didn’t you get my nice telegram?  I thought that was very sweet and thoughtful of me.
     Today was cold and windy -- a nice day to spend by the fireside with a book and a box of chocolates.  It’s lucky you didn’t come this vacation, as the weather had been temperamental.  We’ve had only one day that was warm enough for swimming.
     See how hard up I am?  By failing to write and inspire me, you have reduced me to writing about the weather.  Sorry, but this is the best I can do tonight.  I’ll save this letter and continue it tomorrow.  In the meantime, I’ll retire with my book and try not to read between the lines, where you so often lurk and distract me.
Sunday night
     I have discovered a wonderful way to keep Kathie happy without spoiling her.  I give her a sheet of paper from a newspaper or magazine and she has a fine time mutilating it.  Does that prove she is literary-minded or the opposite?
     Now listen, Mr. Malley, it’s been a long, dull Sunday, and I’ve had plenty of time to ponder on the injustice of the world.  How dare you neglect to send me a letter for two days in succession?   Have I done anything to warrant such abusive treatment?  How would you like it if I suddenly stopped writing to you? 
      If this letter fails to enthrall you, it’s your fault for shutting off your inspiring vibrations.
P.S.  While adjusting the damn baby carriage, I pinched my finger and dug a chunk out of it.  It’s all swollen and black and painful. Maybe I’ll get blood-poisoning and die and then you’ll be sorry you were so mean to me.  I WANT A LETTER!  
Boston                                                             2:00 A.M.  Sat. Dec. 28, 1940
My dearest -- Now I am worried about you as I didn’t get a letter yesterday, there was none today, and as tomorrow is Sunday I won’t hear from you until Monday at the earliest.  Please write because if you don’t I die a thousand deaths if the mailman leaves me empty-handed.
     I “crashed” a party at Taffy’s house tonight. I had lots of fun being the odd man out and dancing with all the pretty girls.  At twelve o’clock I went up to Taffy’s room by myself, sat down and dreamed of that last New Year’s Eve when you were with me again and I was so happy in loving you and wanting you.  Do you remember?
Coral Gables                                                               Monday -- Dec. 30, 1940
Dear “Husband of Violent and Ungovernable Temper:”
     Now do be a good boy and sign the paper Mr. Wood sent you.  Count to ten (better make it ten hundred, slowly) and try to restrain that nasty temper of yours.  I really will be grateful to you if you will co-operate.
    The beach was unbearable today.  I mean, the weather was fine, but the people were not.  Every five minutes I was accosted by some well-meaning matron who would ask me questions about the baby and make suggestions (“You shouldn’t put her feet in the water, the salt will dry out her skin” etc).  There was one consolation: I could sit back and study human nature in the raw.  Don’t you just love to study people, Eddie?  I think it’s just too fascinating, la-de-da.
    The radio is playing “All the Things You Are.”  It makes me think of Smith and an open Packard under a starry sky.  Remember?
     Dick’s presents just arrived.  He sent Mother and Janeth photographs of himself and to me -- Tschaikowski’s Nutcracker Suite!  Now all I need is a phonograph.
Boston                                                             Monday -- Dec. 30, 1940]
My darling one -- What a crazy world this is in which we live.  None of us seems to be able to have what we wish, and what we do not care for is ours in abundance merely for the asking.  The unfairness of it all annoys me terribly.  Here I am, eating my heart out for you but you do not care.  There is someone eating her heart out for me but I do not care.  Are you eating your heart out for someone who does not care?
     Why aren’t you and your Mother impressed with me -- other people are, young and old.  But of course I can’t sell you myself -- somebody else, namely you, must do that.
     Yes, I must admit that my genius is a female.  Is she pretty?  Well, she was a model for eight months, need I say more? To add more data about her, she has never had a drink, never smoked, and has been kissed only once.  Now do you feel that you haven’t a thing to worry about?  I did get a lot from my acquaintanceship with her as she stimulated my desire to know more about music and those who wrote it.  By the time I see you I should be very sagacious. 
     The Wallaces moved tonight, so I’m afraid it’s going to be even more lonesome here. You should have seen the great safari to Somerville -- a North Terminal Rental Company truck with handsome Ed at the wheel led the way. It was followed by a trail of cars belonging to Arthur’s fellow workers.  It took us only an hour and a half to take the furniture out of the apartment, load it into the truck, drive to Somerville, and carry it into their new abode.
     The Columbian National is going to let me stay here as a tenant-at-will.  That is what I’d like as I hate to go to the trouble of moving until such time as I know what we’re going to do.  When I know exactly when you are coming back I shall get something really nice fixed up.
     By the time you get this letter, you will have received my roses and telegram.  A year has passed since I married you and every day has found me loving you more.  In that same short year, I became the father of a lovely baby girl.  Now my prayer is that next year will find me, not alone, but with those two people whom I love above all others in the world.  As surely as I have love and strength, my prayer will be answered.
Coral Gables                                                               Tues. -- Dec. 31, 1940
My dear Master Impregnator:
     This is to acknowledge your letter of December 26, in which you called to my attention the merits and advantages of your service.
     I regret to tell you that at the present time it will be impossible for me to take advantage of your generous offer.  I am busy giving birth to a career, and feel that under the circumstances a baby would be neither convenient nor legitimate.
     However, if my career should be short-lived and I decide that a woman’s place is in the home, I shall gladly consider your qualifications.
     At your suggestion, I got in touch with customers to whom you have been of service in the past.  Mrs. Hugh Plenty was especially enthusiastic over your technique in creating a Malley product.  She told me that her cousin, Miss Bee Haven and her maiden aunt, Miss Rosy Prospect, would also give you good recommendations.
     Miss Anne Thrope wrote me that she couldn’t find words to express her opinion of your product.  She simply enclosed a picture which she thought would speak for itself.  I am forwarding it to you, so that you may see how the fruits of your labor have flourished since your last visit to Miss Thrope.  By the way, is there an extra charge for triplets?
    I thank you for your kind offer, and will let you know when and if I need your assistance.  Yours very truly, Ida Wanna
Coral Gables                                                                           Tues. -- Dec. 31, 1940
My love –
     Bobbie, Janeth and I went out with three college boys from Cincinnati.  They took us some place dancing.  It was refreshing to go out with fellows who were willing to entertain you without expecting anything in return.
    You will be pleased to hear that I did not have a good time.  I have nothing in common with nice little college boys -- full of bright talk about bands, band leaders, and football games. Their
conversation left me cold.  One thing brightened the evening, though.  Sitting at a nearby table with a couple of fellows was a man who looked remarkably like you -- so like, in fact, that my heart knocked like a woodpecker every time our eyes met.  He stared at me through half-shut, experienced eyes, and I felt that if eyes were hands, I would soon be down to my skivvies.
     I have been thinking of you ever since.  There is something pent up inside of me that is bursting to be expressed.  It isn’t just physical.  I want so terribly to love someone with all my heart and body and soul.  I’m so lonesome!  I haven’t been this low in a long time.
     Tomorrow is our big double anniversary.  What a mild beginning for this year compared to January first, 1940.  At least -- to quote a well-known executive -- there was “never a dull moment” after I met you.
     If I’m feeling like this when you come down, you’d better watch out. I’m liable to squeeze you to death like a python.  Again, let me warn you -- don’t get hopeful, no matter what I say when I’m blue and lonesome as I am this evening.  I’m not going back with you in March.  I’m not returning to Boston until sometime in September, when my secretarial courses will be completed.
     I’m looking forward to returning to school on Thursday.  The time passes much more quickly when I’m busy.  Before I know it, I’ll be waiting at the station for that exciting moment when your train comes in.  Should I arrange for a reception committee, brass band, newspaper photographers and reporters?  Or shall I give you the famous Beyer-brand reception? 
Mmm -- I can hardly wait!
Coral Gables
(from Mother)                                                             New Year’s Day

Dear Richard -- The photos are fine and I think they look just like you.  Thank you, darling.
     It is too bad that you put your worst foot forward with your Mary. I should never be silent when in her company or reproachful. Yet do not criticize yourself so harshly.  You excoriate yourself as the monks of old laid on the lash.  Just work hard to improve your social side; work hard, too, at business, to prove your ability.  Then leave the rest to life.  How I long to have you find happiness, that Holy Grail for which all seek.  It is not, however, the most important thing in our development. Nor does any man know it when it is in his hand, or knowing it, treasure it so that it cannot escape.  Happiness is an ever-vanishing horizon.
     Barbara will have her divorce in another four weeks.  Then Eddy will come down and start his courting anew!  I think, however, that Barbara will give herself a year or two, now, to allow her emotions and her judgment to grow up.
     Mr. Culbert’s sister has been here for about ten days -- a “paying guest.”  She is well-educated, soft-voiced, charming -- different indeed from her brother who has arthritis of the soul as well as of the body.  I tried hard to like him but he is so narrow and petty that it is quite impossible.  He does, however, pay his rent and mind his own business -- but he’s the Skeleton at the Feast always.
    I gave him a box of candy, having once found out that he liked a particular brand.  He had eaten most of mine, helping himself whenever he cared to.  I thought when I gave him a box of the same for Christmas that he would share it with us, as I had shared mine with him.  But he took it right upstairs to his room, kept it there, and ate it all himself.
     This is typical of him, and I do not wonder that his body is so shriveled.  His spirit must have reacted upon it!  His daughter can scarcely be civil to him.  At first I was disturbed by her attitude, but now I sympathize with her.
     Vaughan will be here in two weeks.  It will be heavenly to be with her again.
     Next year I’ll be back in Boston to keep house for Janeth, Barbara and Kathie.  Could you put off your summer vacation until then?  You see, I don’t think I’ll be back until September when Barbara will have completed her business course.
     And now, dear, a “Happy New Year” to you . . . .
Coral Gables                                                                               Wed. -- Jan 1, 1941
My sweet –
     I was thrilled with the beautiful roses. I had a suspicion that you’d do something nice, but I didn’t expect anything quite as grand as a dozen roses.  I hope they didn’t cost you too many lunches, darling.
     Poor Kathie is having a hard time of it these days.  I think she must be teething, for she cries steadily and drools so much that her nightgown is soaked on top as well as in the usual place.  Poor child, it’s a shame she has to suffer so much at such a tender age.
     We’re going out with the Cincinnati kids tonight, then they’re going back north.  I’m not looking forward to the evening at all, but it’s too late to back out now.
     Last night I went to bed and celebrated the New Year by dreaming of you..  What did you do? Nothing as innocent as that, I’m sure.  You must tell me about your dates or I’ll stop telling you about mine.
Coral Gables                                                   Thursday night -- Jan. 2, 1941
My darling –
     We got in quite late last night, so I didn’t go to school today.  The evening was more fun than I anticipated.  The boys had arranged a beach party, and as they were nice boys, it stayed a beach party. My date sang college songs to me all evening.
     Your letter made me writhe with jealousy.  I can’t get over the feeling that you’re mine.  I suppose it’s because I have nobody to think about but you.  It will probably take us both quite a while to overcome our possessive feelings.
     Your description of your genius did not all reassure me -- as you damn well know.  A beautiful girl, kissed only once before -- what a challenge for the great Malley! But I’m sure your feeling for her was entirely platonic.  I shall expect you to spout words of wisdom about music when we are together again.
     Kathie has reached the stage where she knows a stranger when she sees one.  Every time an unknown face bends over her now, she clouds up and begins to cry.  Even gentle Vaughan worried her at first. So don’t be upset if your daughter howls at the sight of you.  She can get used to anything if you give her time enough.

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