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Saturday, August 12, 2017

PEOPLE ARE URGING ME TO FIGHT THE DIVORCE. (5)

Coral Gables                                                   Mon. night -- Nov. 18, 1940

Eddie darling –
     How could you doubt me!  I always write you Saturday night, but the mailman doesn’t come on Sundays, so what’s the point of mailing it?  I continue the letter Sunday night, mail it Monday, and thus save three whole cents of Mother’s money.  There’s no mailbox within miles.
     Speaking of Mother’s money (I hate to bring these sordid matters up again, but this is the last time, I promise), could you spare at least enough to pay for her present -- five dollars or so?  Then, when you come down, we'll limit ourselves to inexpensive activities to make up for it.
     Thanks for the check for a million dollars.  Someday when you’re a millionaire, I’ll see about cashing it.  Wouldn’t you be surprised!  And wouldn’t your wife! 
Tuesday, November 19, 1940
     Yesterday a wave of loneliness swept over me so unexpectedly that tears were streaming down my face before I could think to leave the room.   What I need is to get out of myself -- to work and to study.
     I registered this morning at the Walsh School of Business Science.  The thought of being occupied once again makes me feel better already.  .
     I had to give up nursing Kathie a few days ago when my milk ran dry.  Making up a formula isn’t as difficult as I expected.  As Mother will have most of the baby’s care, I coached her during Kathie’s bath this morning -- as if she hadn’t managed to bathe three of her own!
Coral Gables                                                                               Wed. night
Nov. 20, 1940
Dear Eddie –
     I start school next Monday.  It will be wonderful to have something tangible to do and think about.  I made sure before I registered that it would be possible for me to take a three week vacation next month without being charged tuition.   
      Mama was giving Kathie her bottle this morning when the doorbell rang.  She picked up the baby and found a magazine salesman at the door.
     “I’ve just been talking to your husband, ma’am.”  (Mr. Culbert was sitting in the front yard.)  Then he saw the baby in her arms.  His eyes popped out as he looked from feeble old Mr. Culbert -- to mama -- to the baby.  He must have thought, “Wow! There's life in the old guy yet.”
     Mother didn’t disillusion him.  She wasn’t thrilled at being taken for Mr. C’s wife, but she enjoys it when people think Kathie is hers.  Wherever we go, strangers approach us to admire the baby, assuming that she belongs to Mama and that I'm an insignificant teenage relative.  Mom doesn’t say a word -- just smiles and nods and looks like a radiant young mother.
     Darling, I'm concerned about your drinking so much.  I would never want to marry a chronic tippler, the type that goes on a bender every time his wife does a little innocent nagging.  You’d better be reformed by the time I start thinking about settling down.
     The mailman doesn’t come tomorrow (“Franksgiving”), so I’ll have to take a hike to the post office or you wouldn’t get this letter until next week. 
     Warm weather again.  We plan to spend the day at the beach, swimming and fasting in order to work up a good appetite for the $1.25 Thanksgiving special at the Barcelona.                          
Boston

Nov. 21, 1940
Beloved Babs,
     As you probably can guess, all of the people who know about us keep urging me to fight the divorce, to keep you with me by any means.  But I love you so much that I haven’t the heart for such a fight.  It would end at best as a Pyrrhic victory and I should only suffer more to see you hurt. 
     What am I to do?  I cannot escape the fact that you are part of me.  And what is more terrible, you are that important part that makes me a man.  I believe I have the ability to make a fine career and successful future for myself, but I know I can’t accomplish anything without you at my side to cheer me on.  Alone, I couldn’t even attain mediocrity.
     To solve my problem, I now realize that the only way I can keep going without destroying you is to keep “Hope” living within me.  In order to keep “Hope,” there must be some bond between us to keep you in your restlessness from drifting away from me. 
     So my darling, I beg you to compromise and do either of the two following things:
1.  Give me the three summer months of your year.  The rest of the time is yours to do with as you wish. 
2.  If you don’t want the above, couldn’t you postpone the divorce for the present?  You could live your life in any way you wish without ever seeing me until you had definitely decided what your future would be.  In case you feel that you would still be too tied to participate in a new social life, couldn’t you lie for my sake and say you were divorced?
     You could tell people that I had gotten the divorce up here to save you the expense.
     In either case, I promise you that if the situation becomes intolerable for you or if you can say, “Here is the one I love.  Please give me my freedom,” I shall give you your divorce at my expense at once.
     Please don’t be angry or think me selfish or shrug me off with “Impossible.”  I beg you to give me my chance for happiness.  My only crime has been to love you.  Please do not make my punishment too heavy.  As it is, it is almost too much to endure.  My whole life is in your hands. 
     Even though it hurts and inhibits, try to find the kindness to sacrifice so that we can both find happiness without causing unbearable pain to either of us.
     So, with a prayer to all the gods that be, I send to you my love.
P.S. Whether or not I shall go to Florida depends on you.  No!  This is one decision I am going to make.  I am going  to Florida.  One modification:  if you do not want to see me, you can make arrangements for me to see Kathie sometime when you will be away.
P.P.S.  Could you find out how much it costs to rent a car from the rental companies?
Friday, November 22
     We had “Franksgiving” at the Barcelona Restaurant.  The $1.25 turkey dinner was good but skimpy.  Kathie slept angelically in her carriage next to me.  I left the table early to wheel her outdoors.  Everyone we passed wanted to look at her.  I noticed a sad looking young man, eating his Thanksgiving dinner all alone.  I felt him look toward us as we passed.  How I wish now that I had stopped.  The lad looked so lonely, and I might have been able to cheer him a little by talking to him and showing him the baby.  Poor Dick had to spend his Thanksgiving alone in Philadelphia, too.

Coral Gables                                                               Thursday night
Nov. 21, 1940
Eddie dear –
     I didn’t think much of the Barcelona $1.25 dinner.  You would have downed the serving in one gulp.  I was so proud of Kathie.  She was dressed up in a little pink dress and sweater, and not one peep out of her during the entire meal.  You can imagine all the attention and compliments she received.  
P.S.  I was just telling Mother the nickname of the girl who did my hair in Miami -- “Little Butch.”  Then I added, “They call her husband Big Bitch -- I mean, Big Butch!”
     Mr. Culbert was lying on the day-bed.  We're not sure whether he heard or not, but his face stayed dead-pannish while Mama and I had a fit of giggles.
Coral Gables                                                               Friday night -- Nov. 22, 1940
Dear Eddie --
     Have I thought of you today!  Are you trying to be funny?  I only wish I could keep from thinking of you.  As you often used to predict, it isn’t easy living a solitary life when you are accustomed to affection and companionship.  I’m hoping school and study will help me feel a little more human again.
    Yesterday Kathie did something she never did before.  She chuckled out loud, without anyone encouraging her to do so.  She sat in Mama’s arms and laughed away at some private little joke.  We all burst into delighted laughter, which startled the poor little thing so much, she probably won’t chuckle again for a week.
         You ask me when I would like to have you here.  I would much prefer that you come in February or the end of January.  By all means stay three weeks if you can.  And naturally you’ll stay with us.  You may not sleep in the same room with me, you idiot.  Let’s not have history repeating itself.  If we marry, I want it to be a glorious take-off, not a forced landing.
Coral Gables                                                                 Saturday, Nov. 23, 1940
Eddie darling --
     When I first received your letter, I was inclined to say “impossible” to both your suggestions.  Here is what I had planned to write you: that such a half-hearted arrangement was intolerable to me.  I would rather give up all my plans and reconcile myself to making this marriage successful than to be married to you in a sloppy sort of way.  I was going to beg you to let me start off with a clean slate, unhampered by ties of any kind.
     However, I have changed my mind.  You seem to understand even better than I do how I feel and what I am looking for.  Even though you were miserable because I took the baby and myself out of your life, you were still kind and thoughtful. The least I can do in return is to agree to your second plan -- to postpone the divorce until I am sure what I want to do. And Eddie, you will promise to free me if the time comes that I want my freedom, won’t you?  I think I should get the divorce, in that case, as it is cheap and quick down here.  Also, if you sign a document of acknowledgment that my lawyer would send you, the divorce would be legal up north, too.  Thus, if you should fall in love and want to remarry, you wouldn’t have to wait two years.
    So I’ll let things slide, as you ask.  I suppose I’m taking a chance.  Months from now you may care more for the baby and less for me and be more inclined to be “firm,” as your friends advise.  If I ever want divorce, please remember what you promised.  I sound terribly distrustful of you, don’t I?  Really, darling, I trust you as long as you love me -- but I doubt that your love will endure as long as you imagine.
     My beautiful sacrifice is modified by so many “ands, ifs, or buts” that it is losing its halo.  I trust this concession will satisfy you, dear. 
P.S.  Now that you are on good terms with “hope” again, is it all right for me to punctuate my letters with endearments?  Such as: Goodnight, dearest darling . . . .
P.P.S.  Cars rent at 12 cents a mile, $3.35 a day, and $20 -- $22 a week..   

Coral Gables                                                                               Sunday night
Nov. 24, 1940

Dearest Eddie –
     We had a beautiful day at the beach.  The bronzed young Tarzans are getting bolder.  I noticed one of them noticing me.  I guess he noticed me noticing him because when Mom and Janeth and Bobbie went swimming, he came over and started talking to me.   As soon as the first two words exited his mouth, I lost interest.  "Them things on the beach can sting, y'know.”  And he claimed he was a college graduate!  After awhile he got discouraged and went away. 
     Another b.y.t. devoted himself to Bobbie.  He asked her for a date, and finally she accepted because he seemed nice, and promised to take her anywhere she wanted to go.  I thought he was a pain in the neck.  He kept posing as an intellectual giant.   Though I’m no intellectual myself, I can spot a phony with ease.  Maybe Bobbie will like him.  He’s a good dancer (he says).
     Ed, forget what I said about coming in February.  Since I am postponing the divorce, you might as well come for Christmas.  Try to get down here the Saturday before.  I’ll quit school for the three weeks you are here.
     Just think!  In less than a month we’ll be together again !
Coral Gables                                                               Monday night, Nov. 25, 1940
Eddie darling –
     Whew!  Am I tired! My work at school is not really difficult, but as I’m three months behind, I want to catch up with the other students. They are offering commercial Spanish at no charge, so I tacked that onto my schedule.
     I take the 7:50 bus to Miami.  Classes start at 9:00 and end about 4:00.  Study, supper, study, letter to you, bed.  So you see, you don’t have --
     Margaret Speaks is singing “Un Bel Die.”  Are you listening?  Wait till I put cotton in my ears.
     -- you don’t have to worry about your wandering wife.  I wouldn’t have time or energy to go out even if there were any suitable men around.
      It’s nine o’clock, and I must walk down to the mailbox (I found one at last, a few blocks away) and mail this letter.  By the time I take my shower I’ll be a sleepy girl. . . .
Boston
Nov. 25, 1940                                                                Monday night

Hi infant –
     Brrr, we are really having our first taste of cold weather.  How I wish I had my love to keep me warm.   Think of how nice it would be if we were cuddled together in a nice big feather bed.
     I’m going to New Hampshire over Thanksgiving (we New Englanders don’t go for your ersatz “Franksgiving”).  This year I’ll really have something to be thankful for, namely: nine of the happiest months that any man ever had.  In spite of the crazy, restless, drunken existence I’m leading, I’m still thankful for having loved you and  loving you still.  You are mine, whether near or apart, until death do us part. Someday you’ll love me -- you can’t help it -- I know you will have as much happiness from your love as I have had from mine.  Please don’t chase the will-o-the-wisp for too long.
Coral Gables  
Nov. 26, 1940

Dearest Richard,

     It was a great joy to get your letter telling me that your work is being noticed.
     Barbara has succumbed to Edward's wild pleas to postpone her divorce.  I know she is doing this just to satisfy him.  He has gone to great lengths in arousing her pity, telling her he gets drunk, he can't bear it, etc.  His letters are wild orgies of pleading, and they upset poor Barbara dreadfully.
     Yesterday she started a Civil Service course at the Walsh school; Spanish is thrown in free.  I hope this will keep her mind busy, and perhaps insulate her a little against Edward’s onslaughts.
     I have the care of the baby now, and of course I love that.  Janeth is devoted to Kathie, as you would be, too, if you were here.  Would that you were!  I was sorry to be apart from you on Thanksgiving. . . .
Nov. 26, 1940
Dearest –
     School is really quite easy.  I am beginning to like it -- typing especially.  Accounting confuses me, but dear, optimistic little Mr. Streeter has hopes for me. Debits, credits, assets, and liabilities are all muddled up inside my head.
     When I told Paul, the bus driver, that the baby carriage (and baby) in my yard belonged to me, he almost stalled the bus.  He had thought I was a “high school brat” of about seventeen.  Paul and I are good friends, but don’t be alarmed.  He has a wife and a five-year-old little girl.
       That’s the only interesting news I can think of for the present.  Oh yes -- Kathie had a relapse.  She woke up at 2:00 A.M. this morning, half starved.  I didn’t mind getting up, though; it’s such fun to give her the bottle and watch her go after it.  I miss her so during the day time, it’s hard to keep from spoiling her when I come home.
Coral Gables                                                   Thursday night -- Nov. 28, 1940
Dear Eddie -- I like school a lot.  It is run on the principle that each individual should advance as fast as he is capable of doing.  I am so busy finishing up one project or starting another that the hours whiz by.  In fact, when the bell rings at the end of typing period, I often regret that I have to stop dashing off exercises.
    Today (the real Thanksgiving) was gray and chilly -- a kickback from your stormy weather up north, I guess.  I spent several hours on Business English and managed to get the back work done, so I am now caught up with the others.
    Three weeks from tomorrow you’ll be here!  Oh blissful unborn hours!
Coral Gables                                                               Friday night -- Nov. 29, 1940
My darling –
      I’ve met a peach of a girl at school named Julia Ward.  She has had a colorful past.  When she was sixteen, her family wanted to put her in a convent.  Being a spirited girl, full of zest for living, she didn’t fancy such a future.  She threatened to run away, but her grandmother came to the rescue and whisked her off to California.  Her parents followed later and wanted to put her in a convent there.  She rebelled, fled back to her home town and married her childhood sweetheart, aged 19.
     They lived together with his mother, and Hubby No. 1 (2 coming up later) was contented to lounge around the house without looking for a job, while Julia had to wash and iron his shirts and be a maid-of-all-work.  She put up with this for five months, then came down here and divorced him.  Her second husband was killed in an auto accident.  I don’t know how she felt about him.  That will probably come out in the next installment.
     I told her about us as impartially as I could without revealing too many intimate details.  You’ll realize how fair I was when I tell you what she predicted matter-of-factly:“You’ll get together again.”
     All these mutual confidences were exchanged in one short lunch hour.  Julia insisted on paying for my lunch (10 cents).  I had confessed that I couldn’t spend much because I was saving up money for my mother’s Christmas present.  (I have decided not to depend on getting help from you.  If I just buy a sandwich for lunch, I should have enough in a few weeks.)
Saturday, November 30
     I’ve just finished Christopher Morley’s Kitty Foyle.  I can’t believe he wrote it -- at least not without some female help.  It undresses a woman's mind and lets you see what is always there, but usually concealed.  No man could possibly understand a woman that well.  I don’t see how a woman could, either, for that matter.
     The book made me think of Eddie and me.  It made me terribly lonesome for him.  I wonder if I’ll eventually give in.  Life with him wouldn’t be so bad if I had a job.  I could pay a maid to keep house and keep in touch with the world by working.
Coral Gables                                                               Sunday eve -- Dec. 1, 1940
Dearest –
     The ocean was perfect today.  It’s getting so crowded, though, that you can hardly sit down without landing in someone’s lap. Bobbie has the most irritating new boyfriend, the fellow who thinks he’s such a master-mind.  He is always looking for opportunities to quote Shakespeare and show how superior he is to the rabble.  He was married for a little while, but it was a “purely physical” companionship -- her intellect was so inferior to his.  His attitude toward me was belligerent.  He would say, “I’m willing to admit my shortcomings, are you?”  I guess Bobbie had told him I was smart in school, and he wanted to show me up.
     Finally he said something I didn’t hear.  He repeated it twice, but so indistinctly that I still didn’t get it.  (Half his teeth were taken out recently and haven’t yet been replaced.  I’ll bet someone knocked them out.)  Annoyed by my lack of comprehension, Mr. di Christopher said in his most supercilious tone -- “Are you dull?” !!!
     There is a question as to what was burning hotter –  old Sol or your little wifie.  I was so exasperated I sputtered as if I’d been short-circuited.  He said a few minutes later that he hadn’t meant it, but I wasn’t pacified.  I want you to meet Mr. di Christopher when you come down, just so you can see how aggravating a person can be.  Maybe you’d better not.  He’d be sure to lose more teeth.
     Oh Eddie, I’m getting so excited!  I won’t know how to act when you come down, you stranger.  Isn’t it funny that I should be all steamed up about my own husband?

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