Saturday, August 12, 2017


Wednesday, December 27, 1939
       When I walked into my room tonight, I found Mother crouched down by my suitcases, my clothes strewn all around the floor.  Her face was wild, like a trapped animal’s.
     “Where’s your diary?” I’m looking for your diary! Your father has told me -- you’re in trouble!”
     She held up a paper on which she had been writing words supposedly coming from a supernatural source.  “Bar - Barbara  - trou - trouble, trouble, trouble - see, help - Edw - Edward - diary.”
     “Mother, have you been reading my diary?”  (After my father died, Mother would come home from séances, excited about spiritualists who helped her contact him, but this sounded fishy.)
     “No, I got this message from your father.  I suddenly woke up and started writing.”
     “If my father had anything do with this, he would have let me tell you in my own good time, when I was ready.”
     Finally Mother admitted she had overheard a conversation with Ed and had concocted this plan as a way of talking to me.  “I didn’t want to hurt you.” 
     Somehow I felt better that she knew the truth.  With her, at least, I could be honest about my feelings for Bob Black.
     “My biggest worry has been how this would affect you.”
     “I could be happy just to feel that I was wanted and needed.”   
      I told her Ed and I would be married in New Hampshire on Monday.
Poem clipped from a magazine and left on my desk:
     Words for a Daughter
Though you have shut me out, your eyes
Betray some wound your speech denies.
You need not fear, 
I shall remain outside    
That baffled look of pain
I shall not see, for I must learn
To mask my pity and concern.
And I am proud that you have shown
Courage to face your world alone.    

Only remember this: when there
Are times when you have need to share
Your problems, I shall always be
Waiting for you to come to me ‑
Eager to help you on your way,
Or blunt the sharp edge of dismay.
Your need of me, if you but knew
Is nothing to my need of you!     
Monday, January 1, 1940
      Today, New Life Day, Ed and I drove to Hampton, New Hampshire, “the marrying town.”  My wedding finery was a plaid skirt and jacket, scuffed white moccasins, and socks (with a hole in the heel).  I didn’t have a ring yet, but the Justice of the Peace declared us man and wife nevertheless.  We decided to pick one out tomorrow and then go to a hotel in Northampton for our wedding night.
     Ed dropped me off at my house.  Oh, how I dreaded facing Vaughan. She had just come back from a weekend baby sitting job and had no idea what I’d been up to during her absence.  I begged Mother to break the news before I came home. 
     “Where’s Vaughan?” I asked.  “How did she take it?”
     “I think she went up to her room to recover,” said Mother.  Then she described what had happened.
     “Can you stand a shock, Vaughan?”
     “Sure.  Are you married?”
     “Oh, no.  Sit down.  Barbara’s married.”
     No!” Vaughan screamed.  “She isn’t!  She isn’t!”
     “She was married last September to Ed.” 
     “I don’t believe it!  How could Babbie do this to us!   Oh, I hate that Ed -- he has ruined my Babbie’s life!  I’ll kill him!”    
     I raced up to Vaughan’s room, my mind a blank except for wondering if she’d be able to forgive me.  Her arms reached out to me.  She hugged me and we both cried, and she promised me she’d always love me no matter what I did.  “Anyone can make a mistake,” she said, “but I did so hope you wouldn’t make this one.”
     Then she told me that old Nanny over in Arlington has been predicting this marriage in the cards for a long time.
     “Barbara is either married or she’s going to be.”
     Vaughan said she laughed.  “Oh no, that isn’t possible.  Babbie’s going to college.”
 Wednesday, January 3, 1940
     I took the subway and met Ed in Boston yesterday afternoon.  Together we picked out a wedding ring at Long's with ten little diamonds for $25.00.  When I slipped it on my finger I felt really married for the first time.  My dorm mates won’t believe their eyes.
     Our delayed but very exclusive wedding reception took place at Nick’s Bar and Grille in Springfield. We toasted each other with beer (“Here’s to hope,” said Ed), then feasted on meatballs and spaghetti.  Or rather I feasted.  He said he wasn’t hungry.  It was a waste of 60 cents, but I didn’t want to start married life by nagging him.  We drove around until we found a hotel not far from Smith.  Ed signed his name on the register and pushed it back to the clerk.
     "The missus, too," the clerk said, turning the register around again.
     “Huh?” said Ed.
     "Sign my name," I prompted.
     "Oh."  After much thought, Ed put "Mr. and Mrs." before his name.
     "I guess he's used to traveling alone," the clerk said with a grin, handing Ed the key.
     You'd think my husband had never seen or touched me before, the way he acted in our room.  He stuttered and bumped into chairs like an awkward schoolboy.  As for me, I was miserable but tried not to show it.  I was dismayed by even so trivial a thing as Ed's pajamas hanging droopily on the bathroom door.  Is this what my future holds ‑‑ droopy, unromantic pajamas?  Well, there’s no turning back, I made this trap myself.  Now I've got to sleep in it. 
     College life resumed this morning.  I gave Mrs. Scales the same trumped-up story that I’d been married since September, and she said I could stay on until the end of the semester.  She wants my marriage made public, however, as the college dislikes secrets.  I shall be famous (infamous?) from now on.
     I am notorious!  I guess everyone in college has heard about my marriage.  As soon as anyone sees my ring, she exclaims -- “Are you the freshman who’s been married all this time?”
     “You certainly had us fooled,” my dorm mates said.  “You must have had fun kidding us along.  Now we know why you were so peculiar.”
     Peculiar??  “What do you mean?”
     “You always seemed apart from everybody, sort of in a world of your own.”
Smith Colllege
Jan. 3, 1940
Dearest Mother –
     I told Mrs. Scales the news this morning.   She was distressed that I had “kept you in the dark” about my marriage and hoped I appreciated what a kind and understanding mother I had.   She said she was glad I had married Sept. 1st because the college wouldn’t feel so responsible. . . .

Jan. 4, 1940
Dearest Babs –
      As yet I haven’t done much about finding an apartment for us, but by the time I write again I shall have some information.  Hooray for that Paradise for Two, where the score is two down and three to go -- a peripatetic madhouse where love, laughter and tempestuous temperaments should keep the air blue with action.  Our motto will always be “Never a dull moment!”
     I can’t even begin to be humorous; there is too much love and yearning in my heart.
Smith College
Thursday night, Jan. 4, 1940
Dearest –
     You can address your letters to Mrs. Edward W. Malley, Jr. now.  In one short day I have become the sensation of the campus.  Some of my friends ask the most personal questions!  They look on me as a woman of experience and want to know first-hand what it’s all about.
     My psych. lab teacher heard the girls wishing me happiness, so before calling the role, she asked to be informed of any changes in names.  From now on she will call me Mrs. Malley.
     Oh Ed, I love my ring!  Everyone thinks I’m so lucky to have such a beautiful ring and such a handsome husband.  Of course I agree with them.
January 7, 1940
Smith College
(to Mother)                                                                                                     
     I don’t understand some of the things you say in your letters.  For example, “You disappointed me terribly by marrying Ed and giving up college.”  Well, in the first place, you -- and you alone -- know why I married Ed -- and when.
     It makes me miserable when you say that your heart bleeds inwardly all the time. The gossip I can bear, but the thought that I have made you unhappy is unendurable.
     I wish you would let me go on being your bright hope, dear Mother.   There are so many things I’d like to do for you, and if you’ll only have faith in me, I’ll come through.   Please tell me you still believe in me, and half my battle will be won.
January 7, 1940
     Well, your spouse has had a busy two days endeavoring to find some sort of domicile for his lovely bride.   After all this investigation, study, and searching, he is as far at sea as ever.
     The first problem is that of money.  If we are to follow the theory that the rent for a month should never exceed one week's pay, then we are definitely limited as to the places we can get.   Thirty dollars is just enough to hire a good sized closet.  I suppose the solution is to keep searching until we find a place we like at a price we can pay.  It is certain, however, that we can't afford more than thirty dollars per month.
     Next we are confronted with the problem of where to live.   One school maintains that the only place worthwhile is the city itself.  The advantages of an in town apartment are handiness to the stores, theaters, doctors, my office at North Terminal, etc.  The disadvantages are lack of a place to leave the car, and the dirt and stuffiness of the city.  Of the latter I can speak from experience.  Even out here in Dad's apartment on Park Drive, the dirt and heat of summer are almost unbearable.
     There are those, on the other hand, who hold that the suburbs are the only place in the world.  From a physical point of view, they are a lot more pleasant.  Marion Marsh would like to see us settle in Quincy because she feels that there would be a more active life for you there.  She believes you would enjoy such things as the Junior Women's Club, afternoon tea, bridge, etc.  As far as I am concerned, Quincy's advantages are mainly that it is near the ocean and the Yacht Club and would for that reason be pleasant in the summer ‑‑ but very far from the city.
     For myself, I don't care where we are.  I don't like the lousy drive back and forth from the suburbs and I hate the miserable, filthy heat of summer in an in-town apartment.  All I want is to see you happy.
     You may be interested in what progress I have made.  All I can say is none.  Every place that I've seen I wouldn't let a dead hen live in.  If I do run into anything interesting I'll tell you about it.
     With any kind of luck, I think that we'll have fun.  You might even get to like married life.  Here is what I think is the ideal sleeping setup for married people.  It has all the advantages and none of the disadvantages of a double bed.  Please try to like it.  You and I both dislike sleeping with someone else.  The bodily contact and the shifting of the other person are annoying to us.  Yet there are obvious disadvantages to twin beds.  This young married couple I know had the same difficulties and settled them this way:
     The beds are the conventional twin beds.  Each is made up separately.  Both are, however, placed side by side so closely that they touch.  Under such an arrangement each person has his own single bed and can toss and turn without fear of bothering the other person.  If either has a bad dream or for some equally frivolous reason wishes to be near his beloved, all he needs to do is rub the magic lamp, murmur the mystic word "Darling," give a little roll and toss _____then, behold,  all is solved.  What do you think?  
Ed (the deliriously happy hubby)
                                           There is never any telling
                   Where the danger lies
                   To the problem known as Women
                   No one rule applies.

                   Whether they be blonde or redhead
                                           Brunette, short or tall,
                   Baby‑faced or siren‑visaged‑‑
                               Brother, watch them all.

                   Compromise and you will rue it,
                                           Fly and they'll pursue;
                   Drop your guard one instant
                                           And they will marry you.
                                                                                     So there, Beyer.
Smith College
January 8, 1940
    How about taking a week off and spending it with a very bored Mrs. Edward Malley, Jr.  Everyone is having reading periods or studying for exams or worrying about them except your just naturally brilliant (and brilliantly pregnant) wife.
         Ed, do you realize we don't have a thing to start out with?  Every time I mentally plan a meal, I realize how many things we need -- pans, bowls, meat choppers, knives, etc.  We'll have to take a trip to Woolworth's before I can boil an egg for you.
January 8, 1940
     Vannie has written that I should be the happiest fellow in the world but he can’t see that my happiness is measured by your happiness and likewise my sorrow measured by your sorrow.   I can’t help but feel that deep down in your heart you are far from happy.  Oh, my darling, what can I do?  Even now I miss you so terribly that my words and thoughts are chaotic and meaningless. 
     Only this do I know:  that if anything should ever happen to that promise we made last Monday, I should surely die.  You may laugh at this as melodrama but don’t, because it is bitterly true.   Whether we make a go of marriage or not; whether we love or fight, whether we cry or laugh -- as long as I am, there will be my love for you.  You no doubt can guess I’m even a little jealous of our baby if it has all your love.  Couldn’t you find just a little for me?
     This is very incoherent and mixed up but I hope that even though you may not care for me, somehow my love will help you when you are sick, scared or unhappy.
                                                                     All of my love,Ed, who would be not only the happiest man in the world but the happiest man of all time if you would smile and say you were glad.  Remember?  “And the Angels Sing” . . . “Deep in a Dream” . . . “I Get Along Without You Very Well” . . . “Over the Rainbow” . . . “Dance of the Polevetski Maidens” . . .
Monday nite
     I spent most of today looking for apartments and finally after going through about a thousand that were lousy, I found a swell one.  I don't know just what to do now.  I hate to take it without you seeing it and yet I'm afraid someone else may take it.  Do you suppose you could come home this weekend?  I could have a couple of prospects lined up for you.  I'd even make the round trip to Smith.

Smith College
January 9, 1940
     No!  No!  NO!!  I don't want to be way out in Quincy all by myself -- separated from my family and friends.  I don't give a damn about bridge and afternoon tea.  Why would I want to waste precious hours that way? I want to read, listen to the Esplanade concerts, explore Boston -- if you plant me out in a suburb I'll wither up and die!
     Suburbs are out then.  If we could only get a place near the library or near the clinic -- but in town, at any rate.  As for your sleeping idea, that doesn't appeal to me either.  Deep down, I still have a longing for separate rooms.  I know our finances make that impossible but someday -- oh Ed, I wish I could make you see how I feel.  When we stayed at the hotel that night, a sense of what married life would be like made me very unhappy.  It was all so matter of fact, not a bit like the excitement of pursuit that we used to have.  The romance had gone.  With separate rooms, however, the husband must continue to court his wife instead of taking everything for granted.  Thus, they are more like lovers than a married couple.  But I suppose you'd get tired of making the same old overtures.  I'd never get tired of having them made to me, though.
     It's no use my making an issue of this.  For financial reasons, you will have things the way you want them, your meals served in bed, so to speak.  Someday, if it isn't too late, if I haven't grown callous, perhaps my way will work.
     Do you know how you addressed your letter to me?  "Miss Barbara (Malley) Beyer."  Emily Post has banished people to Siberia for less.
               He pursued her and pursued her,              
With impassioned words he wooed her,
                          Till at last she was unable to resist. 
           Now they're married ‑‑ is he grateful?
               No, he's positively hateful!
    "What a prize you caught!" he ever does insist.

                                                                             Yah, yah, Malley!
January 10, 1940    
     You leave me sick at heart.  It seems as though always you misunderstand.  Please try to understand that I don't care where we live.  All that I'm interested in is seeing you happy.   If you want to be in the city, then that is where we shall go.   We'll discuss it when I see you Sunday -- especially the apartment I mentioned in my previous letters.
     So you think I take you as a matter of course!  If you will forget yourself for five minutes and stop to think, you may realize that in my desperate pursuit of you, I've tried to eliminate your sex.  Do you suppose I was unconcerned that night in Springfield?  Christ, I was nearly crazy trying to think of the right way to act.  I didn't dare be too aggressive for fear that you might not want me to come near you.  I was only trying to let things work themselves out.
     I assure you that I realize my chase after you is far from finished.  Even though we are married you are still far from won.  My whole philosophy toward you has changed.  My whole being wants to be tender, gentle and sweet to you.  Feeling thus, it is hard to pursue you in an active, physical manner.  If you wanted me to, I'd chase you with a club across the room, behind the chair, over the bureau, and rape you under the bed.  That’s what my instinct wants me to do but my love which is stronger almost kills all sex within me.
     Really, Babs, I love you most when you are coy but damn it, woman, if you won't run I can't pursue.  I'm not tired of making "the same old overtures" but I do like to have you surrender in terms of "mmm, mm, I want you."  Forget that we're married and I promise you I shall.
     To conclude the subject, I don't want any meals of any kind served in bed.  Grrrr.  Oh yes, and no more unnecessary lessons in social usage.  I felt a little embarrassed about sending a letter to Mrs. Edward W. Malley, Jr., yet I couldn't resist getting a Malley in somewhere.  I laughed as I did, knowing that you'd pick me up on it.
     Come on, sweet, fight for happiness.  All I do is because I love you.  I haven't caught you yet but I'm going to. 
                  He loved her and he loved her
                         With impassioned heart he sought her,
            Until at last he caught her in his grasp.
                         Now they're married‑‑is he grateful?
                  No, he's positively woeful!
        For "Pursue me still" she evermore does gasp.

Wednesday night
Dearest Babs,
     This letter is written as of January 1, 1950.  In it is my heart, my love, and my hopes.  Whether or not they reach the fulfillment they seek, only frivolous Fate can tell.  All that I can do is hope that when 1950 comes, I shall have the ultimate joy of taking you into my arms, saying “My darling, I love you,” and having you kiss me.  And so to you I write: (To be read when you have leisure.) January 1, 1950
My darling wife,    
     I want first to take you back to when we were married.  At that time I was so passionately in love with you that life was just a crazy dream.  There was omnipresent in my conscious subconscious a vital throbbing force which could be designated only as “awareness” of you.  It was like a dull, bitter toothache that lingers painfully in the back of one’s head -- indefinable but painful.  The thing that I can remember most clearly was my desperate hope that somehow I could engender in you the same feeling toward our relationship that I myself had.  Always it seemed as though I were welcoming and seeking love while you were fighting to keep yourself from it.  When I saw or felt you thus fighting, I would fear lest you would build up within you a barrier over which my love could not climb. 
       With all your shattered hopes of college, the pain of parental resistance, the pressure of poverty, lost dreams of freedom, the fear of responsibility and the worry of having a baby -- my darling, my sweet how could you love me, the one who had brought all this terrible burden down on your young shoulders.  I feared that what could be for me the beginning of life, could too easily be for you the end.   My heart and head chased each other in a monstrous whirl of love, worry, fantastic ideas and always the never quite lost beautiful dreams born of hope.     
       If only I could have reached into the citadel of your breast and torn out your scared, young heart and then breathed into it part of the great love I had.  Talk about blowing hot and cold with the same breath; my fears and hopes, grief and happiness, tears and laughter all followed each other in such kaleidoscopic rapidity that they became a mashed, mixed Gargantuan hash of wondering what would come next.  In fact, I’m quite sure that I had a bad case of emotional indigestion!
     Maybe you have wondered just how I tried to remedy all this.  Nothing that was very successful, I fear.  I would get the most awful frustrated feeling because whatever I tried to do to help matters would, through misunderstanding, become a boomerang and knock me silly.  That terrible lost night in Springfield, I wanted to be gentle and thoughtful as I feared you might not want me.  As a result I seemed complacent and matter-of-fact to you.  Darling, I was trembling inside.  Now that night is gone and the happiness which it should have held for us has slipped away.
     It seems to me now as though I must have been like a lowly, earthbound mortal striving to capture an elusive white dove with only the aid of a step ladder.  Really, the dove can’t be caught.  The only way for the man to have her is for her to fly to him.  And she will fly to him only when she feels that she will be safe and happy in his hands. 
     Now that ten years have passed since that cold but happy day when we were married, I love you as much as I did then --  more if it is possible.  This letter has been addressed to “my darling wife.”  Maybe through the years things haven’t worked out for us and we are not still together.  Even in that case, I still call you “my darling wife,” for you are the only wife my heart shall ever know.  If we are apart, if words and events are past that can never be taken back, even if I have denied it, I still love you.  Nothing can ever change that.  I do of course hope, however, that we are still together, living the full, happy life that we both deserve.  Maybe our love of music, literature, life and our children has knit for us a bond that makes a life with each other the only one imaginable.
     For all the laughter and fun, for all the arguments and squabbles, for all these years with you, my dear, I say “Thank you.” Isn’t it a delight to realize how many years we still have ahead of us?  Just think, we’ve hardly begun to live yet.  We have a home, a family, each other -- and I’m only thirty-four and you a flapperish twenty-eight.  ‘Tis indeed wonderful.
     And, my dove, what do you think of your children? Kathie is nine and already beginning to show the brains and willowy beauty of her mother.  Edward is quite a problem, however.  I’m in hopes that when he is seventeen instead of seven, he will begin to be less rambunctious.  I’m sure that he will make us proud of him, but he never will be a Phi Beta Kappa, that’s sure.  Dick at five is a darling and no doubt will someday be his Mother’s pride and joy.  The baby, naturally, is my pet.  She is such a joyous little cherub that my heart flows out to her.  I don’t know why but when I see her I love you more and when I see you I love her more.  It seems as though she is somehow the ultimate manifestation of my love through the years for you.  Sure, and it’s a fine family I’ve got.  Somewhat of a madhouse at times, it is nevertheless the consummation of all the dreams that a man ever had. 
     In all things, through all the years, you have been the guiding star, your love and understanding making our life what it is.  So on your tenth anniversary, I salute you.  Congratulations!
All my love forever,
     Please save this and remember to read it again on our tenth anniversary.

No comments:

Post a Comment