Saturday, August 12, 2017


Boston                                                                         Thursday -- Jan. 2, 1941
My sweet –
     Today when I got your lawyer’s letter I was surprised and hurt to note that you are going ahead with your plans so that the proceedings are to take place in January.  After your letter of last week I had hoped you were willing to wait until after I came down. Why are you in such a hurry to get rid of me -- for after all I don’t really have a “violent, ungovernable temper.”   You simply must wait a little longer.  I just can’t adjust to letting you and the baby slip quietly out of my life (excuse this slipshod scrawl but I’m terribly upset).
     I’ll try to make my next letter more cheerful.  I’ve had so much bad news from you that my resilience is gone. . . .
Friday, January 3, 1941
     Bobbie, Janeth, and I have been going out with northern college boys this vacation.  They’ve all gone away again, so things will be pretty quiet from now on.  I wasn’t impressed with anyone I met -- except that it was refreshing to be taken dancing and to beach parties without being pestered for kisses by your date.  One fellow I went out with, I allowed to kiss me on the second date because he was a nice boy, and what the heck, I’d never see him again.
     I had a disappointing blind date last night.  He wasn’t bad at first, but after a few drinks he got violent and forced me to kiss him.  Said he, “You don’t act like a girl of nineteen; you act like a girl of twenty-five, who thinks a kiss means an engagement or marriage and takes her necking very seriously.  I couldn’t resist telling him I was married and had a baby.  That sobered him up, especially after he checked up on me with Bobbie and Janeth.
     Janeth’s date had said to me, “I can’t figure you out.  There’s something about you that puzzles me.”  When he heard I was married, he exclaimed, “I knew it!  I could tell by your eyes that there was some mystery about you.”
Coral Gables                                                   Monday night -- Jan. 6, 1941
Dearest -- I’m sorry Mr. Wood’s letter was a shock to you, but I thought you understood that I wanted to take advantage of your offer to free me.  Darling, I really do think it’s best that we get the divorce over with.  I’ll never rest until I’ve had my “chance.”
      And please, when we’re together, don’t feed me that line about “live for the moment, we have so little happiness,” etc.  I’ve learned my lesson. You pay for a moment of illicit joy with years of sorrow and regret. 
     I hope I have proved to you that you really have no reasonable excuse for asking me to postpone the divorce.  Please co-operate.

Coral Gables                                                               Tues. Jan. 7, 1941
(from Mother)
 Dear Dick -- As you know, Barbara will have her divorce by the end of the month.  Now she tells me that Eddy is planning to be here the latter part of February to stay three weeks!  I am really almost crazy because he expects to come here and be housed and fed at my expense, while once more he tries to ruin Barbara.  Can you imagine how galling  the idea is that I, who am so hard up that I have to take in boarders and who have only $300 capital left over the $105 income I have monthly -- can you imagine how I feel at the prospect of entertaining that brash, noisy boy for three weeks free of charge?  Can you imagine what extra work it will mean for Vaughan?
     I have paid for Kathie’s bed, clothes, medicine and doctor bills.  I have bought Barbara clothes and am putting her through school.  Eddy has sent her only $10 since she came here three months ago.  No doubt he is saving up to give her a marvelous time which will make her think he is necessary to her happiness.
     Every minute that he and Barbara are out of my sight I will be worrying.  He overcame her once.  Here, where it is summery, where moonlight and flowers combine to make a romantic setting, he will, I am sure, attempt to do the same thing.  Even if they are divorced they will remember the past.  It would be easy to be swept away again.  Barbara needs a man.  She wants to be married.  She hasn’t met anyone here to interest her, and has little inclination, I fear, to wait for real love.  I never knew anyone so avid for this minute’s pleasure.  I tremble for her.
     I was wondering, therefore, if you couldn’t write to her.  She argues and weeps and puts me in the wrong.  So far I have said nothing of my antagonism to the idea of boarding Eddy while he seduces Barbara.  But perhaps you could put it up to her.  Explain how heavy my expenses are and how my capital has dwindled.  You see, I’ve been getting no Dorothy Muriel dividends.  It is impossible for us to live on $105 a month.  That’s why I’m having the Culberts board here.  But that adds only $70 to my budget.  I’d hoped to get another boarder as soon as Vaughan came.  But if Eddy is here I won’t be able to.  I wouldn’t dare “wish” another person on Vaughan; nor would I have room for someone else.
     On top of everything else, Barbara is planning to quit school during the three weeks Eddy is here.  That lost time will have to be tacked on later.  It will mean all of us, Janeth and I as well as Barbara, will have to stay here three weeks longer than we otherwise would.  That means more rent etc, and will drag out her course far into the hot weather.
      And all this so that Edward can come here and strut and spend his money on Barbara!
      I feel that she should not see him until she is through school.  He interrupted one of her chances of success. That’s enough!
     If she would wait until she is through with this course, then I wash my hands of her affairs.  Her life will be her own.  By September she will be self-supporting.
     I see ahead that I will have just enough to get her through and nothing more.  I will have spent even the money saved up to send Janeth through Katy Gibbs.  I trust the dividends from Stanley’s new business to repair that leak.  I can take only one thing at a time -- one problem.  Janeth’s will have to wait.
     If Edward comes for three weeks I will live in Hell.  I dread it.  How can I go through such an ordeal?  Do you think Barbara should expect it of me?
     Suppose you write that I mentioned Edward was coming.  Or, possibly she has already done so herself.  You could pretend that she had.  She wouldn’t remember she had not mentioned it.
     Then carefully, cooly try to place the picture before her from my standpoint.  I feel too strongly to be coherent as this letter proves.  Suggest that she wait until September to see him.  That isn’t too much for her to do for me, is it?
     I feel that she is doomed to wreck herself and my heart aches.  She has a “what the heck” attitude over love, morals and the like.  I see how she is drawn to almost any nice man -- drawn a little even at first meeting.  If she should meet her “true” love, I know she would settle down and be a good wife and mother. But if he is a few years away in destiny, will she wait?
     She loved Bob Black -- yet she took Eddy!  She admired Professor Rinker almost to the point of love -- yet she took Eddy.  She must be protected against further misfortune.  Do help if you can.
P.S.  Wouldn’t it be more decent and considerate of Edward if he wants to come here, to take a room nearby and pay for it?   Perhaps that would make it necessary for him to reduce his stay to a week or two instead of three weeks at my expense.  But it would be more square and self-respecting, wouldn’t it?
Boston                                                             Tuesday, Jan. 7, 1941
     Have you thought of me or are all your thoughts of those ardent swains who are fortunate enough to be down there with you? How stupid they are to try to force their attentions on you -- even I wouldn’t presume to be so forward. 
     I didn’t get any letter from you today, but as I got three yesterday I suppose I must be satisfied.  Your letters give me so much courage that a day without one is hardly worth living.   
Coral Gables                                                               Tuesday -- Jan. 7, 1941
My darling –
     At school I’m beginning to hear a familiar tune -- “Oh, ask Barbara -- Barbara always studies her lessons” -- said in a scathing tone.  It doesn’t bother me the way it used to.  Maybe those kids think they’re clever, just “getting by,” and “putting things over” on the teacher.  But I wonder what will happen to them when they have to get a job -- and keep it.  Besides, the sooner I finish this course, the sooner I’ll be able to return to Boston, which I miss very much.
     Only a month and a half to go.  I would be marking the days off on my calendar -- if I had a calendar.
Coral Gables                                                               Wed. -- Jan. 8, 1941
Darling Eddie –
     Kathie has definitely inherited one thing from you, anyway.  Her good looks, her charm, her disarming personality, superior intelligence, and astonishing wit may all be traced to her mother.   But one minor detail I can by no stretch of the imagination claim responsibility for -- her tongue.  I have seen only one tongue like it: take a bow, daddy.  She has just discovered that she has such a thing, and she is quite as amazed by it as I was by yours, when you touched the end of your nose with it.
     Kathie spends a good part of the day experimenting.  She knows how to make every kind of raspberry there is.  Sometimes I can hardly believe that such weird noises are coming from my child’s rosebud lips. . . .
Coral Gables                                                                           January 10, 1941
Darling –
     Brrr, we are having some chilly days down here!  I hated to get out of bed this morning, it was so cold, but between the alarm clock and the baby, I had no choice.  Now that I am dressed for the weather, though, I am rather enjoying it.  The brisk, tangy air reminds me of Beacon Hill and of Saturday mornings at Smith, when you and I used to walk around “Passion Puddle.”
     I don’t know whether my typing teacher appreciates my current activity or not.  When I stare out the window, trying to think of something witty to write, she must suspect that I’m not copying exercises out of the book.
     Spanish class now, so I’ll have to stop and continue this letter tonight.
Friday night -- Jan. 10, 1941
     You’re lucky, listening to the Emperor Concerto and playing our records whenever you feel like it.  I haven’t heard any good music since I came down here.  We always miss the symphony on Sunday because we spend the day at the beach. 
     That was a beautiful calendar you sent me -- beautiful but dumb.  What a spot to put me in, you dope.  “Barbara, what was in the package?” asks Mama.
      “Oh -- er -- uh, a calendar.”
     “Oh, that’s fine.  We need a calendar in the kitchen.”
     “Not this one.  It wouldn’t be -- uh -- appropriate.  It’s a pastel of a girl.”
     “Hmm, I see.  I’ll bet she’s terribly over-dressed!”
     I’ll bet you did it on purpose, you rat.
     Mama wants me to listen to “Information Please” with her. Bye for now. 
Boston                                                                         Friday ‑‑ Jan. 10, 1941
     I just can't bring myself to sign that divorce release ‑‑ at  least not until I see you again.
      I loved and still do love you.
     I held you, kissed you, and loved you when Kathie was conceived.
     Kathie is a vital, real part of my body, my soul and my life.
     I can't live without you both.     
     I was the one who wept, worried and suffered for you the night of August 27-28.
     The letter I wrote to you that same night.
     Please forgive me and try to understand.
Coral Gables                                                           Saturday night ‑‑ Jan. 11, 1941
Eddie dear –
     Your favorite people, the Harrises (Freedom, N.H. -- remember?) are spending the week-end with us. Their winter quarters are in Fort Lauderdale in a trailer camp.  Aunt Theona is wild about the baby.  Doesn’t that soften your cold, unfriendly heart a little bit?  Just because she told Mama you were the business man type doesn’t mean she doesn’t like you.  Vaughan is here for supper.  She has been staying with her “brats” in Miami, but she’s coming to us next Thursday for good.
     What are you doing tonight?  The Green‑Eyed Dragon and I are getting together and we're thinking awful things about you.  If you did all the deeds we suspect you of, the Malley clan would soon be tripled. 
Coral Gables                                                            Sunday afternoon, Jan. 12, 1941
Dear Eddie –

     Bobbie and I washed our hair, put it up on curlers, and are now sitting out in the front yard in all our glory and all our curlers, trying to get dry.  It’s too bad you can’t see me now -- you’d forget you ever loved me.
     Aunt Theona is a very inspiring person when you get to know her, really she is.  She is the best batik maker in the country, if you know what a batik is.  (There was one hanging over the piano at 716 and one on the dining-room wall.)  She sketches beautifully and has given exhibitions in many big cities.  She showed us some of the scenery she painted when she and Will went out to Arizona in their trailer.  I don’t know much about art, but I know I liked those watercolors.  The mountains, the plains pin-cushioned with cactus plants, the square windowless Indian houses -- all such quiet, restful scenes that you feel almost as if you were listening to one of Tschaikovski’s beautiful melodies when you look at them.  I would like to own one of those sketches; then whenever I felt turbulent and unhappy inside, I could look at it and grow calm again.
     Bobbie and I are going to buy a trailer and go to Arizona next summer -- that is, if someone will just give us a million dollars, or even half a million.  When Kathie starts going to school and my guidance is no longer needed so much, I’d like to cruise around the country in a trailer for a couple of months.  
     Aunt Theona has even inspired me to write poetry.  I haven’t felt much like writing since the time you laughed at my efforts, but now I feel the need for an outlet of some kind.  Mother was an opera singer and writes beautiful poems, daddy painted, Dick writes wonderful letters -- but I can’t do nothin’! 
     Kathie has just discovered how to use a rattle.  She waves it as proudly as if she had just invented it.
Coral Gables                                                               Monday -- Jan. 13, 1941
(from Mother)

Darling Richard –
     Your letter in reply to mine has afforded me the comfort, at least, of knowing you agree with my viewpoint in regard to Eddy.  I hope you will be able to have some influence over Barbara who, though I love her so dearly, seems to be beyond my reach.  It isn’t that she is unloving or disloyal.  It’s just that she doesn’t see things in a conventional way.  She seems to care nothing for the “look of things.”  For instance, I think it is decidedly indecorous for Eddy to stay here.  She flouted convention during high school days and paid the price of losing a high honor which otherwise would have been awarded to her.  If I were she, I would start living down that sort of thing -- flirting, being up late, and all those probably innocent little acts which yet start tongues wagging.
     It doesn’t do any harm to be decorous.  But it often causes much damage not to be.
     Don't worry about my finances, dear.  So long as you stay out of the red, that is a great help and all I hope I'll ever ask of you.  For a year or so, until Stanley gets things going, I may not get dividends.  But when they do start, they'll be better than Dorothy Muriel's were.  I can stand one lean year.  I may possibly work out some position with Stanley when we return to Boston.  He wants me to.   
     As to living together, you and I, or you, I and the girls, I rather think we could do it now.  But all of us are "edgy" people.  I think houses "a hedge away" as Emily Dickenson said, would be sweet.  I miss you, darling, and wish we could be together soon.  Much, much love....

Coral Gables                                                                           Wednesday, Jan.15, 1941
Dearest -- 
     Kathie is going to be musical.  As I was changing her diaper today, I started singing a song in a minor key.  Her little lip went down and she looked as if her heart were going to break.  I tried a cheerful tune and she was all smiles.  I swung back into a minor key; she puckered up again.  What a remarkable baby!

Coral Gables                                                               Monday -- Jan. 13, 1941
(from me)                                                                               
Dear Dick –
     Eddie couldn’t come down this vacation, but he’s coming next month.  My lawyer sent him a document  to sign, but Eddie said he didn’t want to release me until after he’d seen me.  I’m getting the divorce anyway.  His signature would have made things better -- perhaps a little more legal up north -- but it isn’t absolutely necessary.
     You certainly feel harshly toward Eddie.  Poor boy, he used to say, “Your brother is impressed with me, why aren’t you?”  Perhaps someday I’ll feel differently, but right now my attitude is softened by pity.  For he does love me, Dick, in his own way, and I really think he is having a hard time of it.  I know I am, and I don’t claim to be in love. . . .

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