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Death of a Blythe Spirit

Chapters

The Letter

First Sib Meeting

Dreams of Love

Family Origins

The Making of a Batterer

I Care for Him!


Barriers

Keeping Company

What Price Love?

Wedded Bliss?

The Honeymoon

Newlyweds

The Honeymoon's Over

The Babies Come

Home Sweet Home

Moving Again

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Other Mat'ls

Thoughts on Mother's Poetry

Mother's Essays

Penny's Vampire Chronicles

Gina's story fragment

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The Forties, the Babies Arrive
 

Ten years later Mother would write:

what he cared about was this mythical Frances he built up in his mind, this wonder-woman fit to be mate to the Wonder-man he feels himself to be. This Frances is an intelligent woman, able to match him mood for mood, whether it's listening to Stravinski (whom I hate) or discussing the meaning of Life, with a capital 'L', to go for a walk when the mood strikes him and audibly express her feeling for clouds and shapes and such abstractions. This Frances is a superb cook, a hundred percent of the time, always spends money wisely and still gives her family everything they need in the way of extras, manages the children so well they are never a nuisance and keeps the house in apple pie order. This Frances is a marvelous combination of mistress, housekeeper, manager and wife. 1942 Mother, Kate, Rudy

But in the forties, Mother was still striving to meet his expectations. Beginning in 1944, it seemed that the Casagrandes were constantly moving and/or separated. The war was over by the time the letters start, but I suspect all the moving had to do with Fatherís work since he worked for the military industrial complex his entire career.

Motherís letters are charming, full of love, almost each one illustrated with cute little drawings. Fatherís letters are equally loving, filled with details of his affairs. In 1944 Father was gone for three months, only one month in 1945, but a full six months in 1946 which culminated in Mother taking us three kids to California on the train for a three month visit. During this time Mom and Dad exchanged a number of genuine love letters; apparently absence indeed makes the heart grow fonder.

In 1947 Father continued to work for the military, but something must have been going on because in 1948, after a decade of silence, Mother resumes journaling, revealing a deep bitterness. Nothing in the 1940ís letters give a hint that this is coming, but it was about that time that we moved to Southern California, leaving behind all our family and friends. There are no letters or diaries to indicate what prompted the move or how Mother felt to be leaving her family, but Bob and I have a few memories of what it was like when we got there. The five diary entries in 1948-1949 show that the marriage had irrevocably ruptured.

Deedee and I are concerned, however, at what Motherís letters reveal about her failure to properly care for us children. After 10 years of marriage she is fixed into her roleóas wife. There are simply too many examples that show that she simply didnít cope, didnít react, didnít know. I suspect that, like Adelaide before her, Mother simply could not successfully juggle the needs of her demanding husband and two children. I do know that I am also a borderlineóthe primary cause of which seems to be failure to attach to the mother. (Thank God my Father didnít batter his children as well as his wife, or we all might have become abusers ourselves! [remember, all three factors must be present])

I was a longed-for childóat least on Motherís part. She told me she perfumed her hands before touching me, for heavenís sake! Nevertheless, I do not doubt that she was unable to behave as she would have liked. The letters are very revealing if you read closely.

More importantly, however, children exposed to violence in the home are traumatized. Not only do they suffer serious neglect ďat a rate 1500% higher than the national average in the general population,Ē they are prone to ďanxiety, low self-esteem, depression, anger and temperament problemsĒ which can follow them into adulthood in various forms.

 

1944 Letters

typed letter from F at 151 Harrison St. , West Hempstead, L.I. , N.Y. to Mr. J. Casagrande, 142 Federal St. , Salem, Mass.

Tuesday
July 25, 1944

Dearest Sweetheart:---

My, but this place is lonesome without you---just goes to show you---Home is where the heart is!!! And I guess there never was any doubt where MY heart is. . .

Well, without any pomp and circumstance our son and heir became one year old today. 'S funny, but he doesn't look a bit different. You'd think such a grave occurrence would leave its mark, but no, his brow is unfurrowed and his sleep untroubled. Maybe I should have celebrated the event my buying him a mammoth steak and a bottle of Sauterne, as it was, the only milestone so far was a birthday card from the Bumford's and one from Katie and of course the Cradle Roll. The Cradle Roll never forgets.

Our little funny-faces seem to be bearing up very well and have been good as gold. All anyway, no worse than they ever were. They sleep fairly late in the morning, too, and I've got more rest these past two days than I expected. Gee, maybe I'll be spoiled when I have to take up my wifely burden again. That is, if I haven't starved too death by then. O, I guess I eat enough, but I don't think it a good idea to nibble for weeks, maybe. I'll have to make a real effort to cook up a meal. If I keep on eating sardines the fish in the tank are going to give me the 'fisheye' when mealtime rolls around.

Golly, it's hot again today. My clothes are sticking to me. I keep thinking of that nice cold Massachusetts weather we had a sample of last week. Is it still cool up there?

The kids are pulling Spooky apart and I can't concentrate on my letter anymore. Any minute now I've got to go and run interference. Last night I had to run out and get the baby carriage in before it rained and somehow Spooky went out without my noticing, and this morning around five o'clock she meowed under the bedroom window and I had to get up and let her in, and of course Ming Toi had to go OUT and by the time she came back and I composed myself for another bit of shuteye, Bobby started up. But I ignored him and peace reigned until eight.

Gee, Jere do you really think it looks hopeless? Dear me, that's all I have to sustain me, the thought that any day now, maybe, our troubles will be over. I hardly think that you will want to send all your spare time in a bus seat between Boston and New York. Much as you love your family, I think you might grow to love your flesh more, Just think---I might have to dig out that old photo of yours to remind me what you look like. Oh dear! †

Bobby is getting too insistent, and after all this is his birthday, so I think I'll end with all my love and take this letter and the kids to the store.

See you Sunday.

Until then, love from all of us

Frances P.S. No check yet.

*************************************

[special delivery letter same addresses, postmarked July 29, 1944]

Friday morning

Hello Darling:

Well, I called your mother last night and she said she wasn't well enough to come this week. She might be able to come next week but under no circumstances for more than two days. What good are two days??? She said she was too old and not strong enough to cope with two small children. Mami would be willing to come, that I know, if she could quit now. And I can't possibly ask her to do that. Pop's work is still much too uncertain and they also have a great many bills to pay off. Anyway, she will come as I have said, from Saturday night to Thursday. Meaning she'd have to go home on that day to be able to go to work over the week-end.

Well, I thought if we can postpone it until the following week, maybe between my mother and yours we could wrangle a week. But I hate to spend the money when we are so short right now. We also have a great many bills by now and they keep right on coming. The phone company called me up on Wednesday and asked if and when I was coming in to pay. It bothers me no end. Well, if only that darned check of yours came I could do something about that. I think I'll go into town this morning and get the five dollars deposit back from the pressure cooker and get you a ticket, for just one way, I don't believe it'll stretch for a round trip. That way, you'll at least be able to get back again. And by then surely we ought to have some money. Gee, I hate it like sin, to be without a cent. It isn't so bad as far as living is concerned, my credit is good, I know that, but golly, never to have a bit of cash---it's just awful. I can't ask Betty for any because they don't get paid this week, and they are a week behind anyway, since Cliff took two weeks off without pay.

I don't know whether it was the heat and storm combined or the worry over this business, but I had another one of those attacks yesterday, and oh boy, I thought I'd like to die. Did I tell you on the phone that we had an awful storm? It blew down trees and a phone pole here in the neighborhood. The light and power was off until three this morning. Just because I couldn't put any lights on to read I couldn't sleep a wink, and I had such a headache to torment me you wouldn't wish it on a dog. And no more aspirins. I even took your cold pills in desperation, hoping it would help me. Then finally after three I heard the refrigerator go on and I knew we had lights once more. I put on the bed lamp and read the new Reader's Digest for only five minutes and presto I was sleepy. Funny what a state of mind can do for you. You know, all the time I felt so sick I kept telling myself it was only because of this unpleasantness and trying to Pollyanna my subconsciousness, but My Subconsciousness knew better, it kept right on cramping up my stomach, it knew right well that the job was still there to be done. Oh well. If I sound like a spineless jelly fish and not the woman you married, please forgive me, darling, when it comes right down to it, you know I won't shirk, but there isn't much comfort in trying to get things off your chest over a long distance wire. That's why I wish you had come home this weekend first and talked things over and not try to do it on the phone. Too many things come up that way, and writing and wiring is no good either because you don't get an answer right away.

Well, I guess I'll close now, don't worry about me, while I still have a few butterflies in my stomach this morning, I'll be all right. The poor kids though, I snapped at them all the time yesterday and this morning. Camille keeps saying 'Bad Mami' and I guess maybe she's right. I'll try to turn over a new leaf now, and let the wet pants fall where they may.

Bye-bye darling, until Sunday, and please come with an ample store of patience, will you? I don't want to spoil our day together by haggling. I know I'm awfully stupid and a rudderless ship without you, so you've got to make allowances for me. I love you just as much as ever, though and think a four room flat with you in it is ever so much better than a house without out.

As ever lovingly

[signed] Frances

[insert]

I just finished calling up about your check, and for all the information I got I might have saved myself the trouble. After endless waiting around (she wouldn't call me back because it's an out of town call) a man's voice spoke to me and said as far as he know there were no termination papers, and he'd have to get in touch with the Nassau plant about. And he said something about sending out the first of the month's checks already and that furthermore "those things take time" and that he'd do his best to rush it through. But what it all amounts to is that there will be no check this week. So thusly and therefore what am I to do???? Will you be getting any money from Sylvania on the first? How are you fixed with cash anyway? Could you get by until the first, even with coming home? Oh well, there it is, if you have anything important to say, phone or write, otherwise I'll expect you on Sunday morning. Okay?

Love

*************************************

[letter from J to F]

Salem, Mass.
August 1, 1944

Dearest little "slug-wug",

How's my love, just about melted? Patience, 'twill cool in time.

The trip up was ok, a nice road, mostly the middle-aged schoolteacher and "ma and pa" type: quiet and uneventful. However, I slept only a few hours. When we arrived in Boston at 6 AM I decided to take the train and got there at 7:40.

You know, we forgot the electronic [Gem] Instructor's Book" in the manila envelope, probably on your bureau, and the clock. Incidentally I got on the coach to Portland without much trouble but didn't get a chance to drink my vin. Sat next to an old lady, across from an old couple and behind 3 old maids (I think).

Mrs. Carroll has agreed to have you and all is well in that regard. However, Mr. Frey has nothing and another woman who looked promising has nothing. But who knows, something may turn up at any time.

The weather is beautiful here, hot in the sun, but always a cool breeze. Of course it is hot in the plant, due to furnaces etc. , but on the roof it is comfortable.

Love to the children and "Spooky", give Camille an extra bounce for me, and Robert once again around the kitchen-living room circuit,

So long sweet,

Jere

XXX [Franie, Cami, Rob, Spooky ]

*************************************

Father had a great relationship with his children while they were young, giving "piggyback rides," etc. Deedee remembers Penny and her snuggling in bed with him. They had a loving, touchy-feely relationship. Strangely however, Deedee says she does not remember having a similar "physical" relationship with Mother.

I don't remember being physically close to either of them; in fact, I remember being aware that I kept a physical distance from my father. I think I was afraid of him. Clearly, that wasn't the case when I was a young child.


*******************************

[letter from F at 151 Harrison St. W. Hempstead, L.I. , to Mr. J. Casagrande, 142 Federal St. , Salem, Mass.

August 2, 1944

Hi, Skipper:--

Your letter, Darling, was like a touch of spring. It had been raining, steadily and monotonously, for the past twenty-four hours, and I was beginning to feel a little blue. I guess you've never had to spend a day cooped up with two little children that want to go out, or looked at your wash drooping on the line, and no nearer to a state of dryness than when it came out of the tub, or fished to the last pair of dry panties out of the drawer threatening your first-born with dire results if she didn't stay clean, so you can have no idea how blue you can get without half trying. Anyway, I've chuckled all afternoon whenever I thought of you (and that's quite often) so wasn't it worth the effort???

I send my bike off this afternoon while the kids were asleep, and it took my last two dollars. Do you realize, friend husband, how very short you left me????? I'll have to call up mother tonight and tell her to come well-heeled.

I realized about the clock the next morning, and for a while I flirted with the idea of sending it and the pants to you, but on second thought decided it would get up there about Friday anyway and you could struggle along without 'em for another day. I already put the magazine and pants and clock in the suitcase so I'll be sure not to forget. The other pants will be ready from the cleaners by Saturday, and I'll have to tie a knot in my little finger to remind me to get them.

(Camille insists on sitting on my lap and helping me type and you can imagine how much help that is! I wish she'd play elsewhere---)

As per your instructions I took her for a piggy back ride and then played for awhile with her blocks. Gee, it seems to me I do nothing but play with those kids these days. They'll be so thoroughly spoiled they won't be fit to live with. And it will be worse if Camille finds no playmates and has to come and hang around her Mommy's skirts.

But just the same, it is kind of nice to give them some attention once in a while. You know, Bobby walked all the way to the store and home again, with Camille and me pushing the carriage after him. I mean he walked holding onto my finger, not by himself, but still, he gets the exercise. But he just will not walk for anybody else. Well, he'll do it in time, and then I'll be sorry I encouraged him to, and have to chase after him and bring him back. As it is now, every chance he gets he waltzes across the street and sits in the gutter to play. What a boy!

Well, darling, I guess I'll say so long, this letter will probably get there at about the same time as me, but anyway, this is just like talking to you, and it makes me feel good. By the way, it looks as if it would have to be a parlor-bedroom-and sink existence after all, eh? Well, we'll see. Goodnight Sweet Prince, and till Sunday morning, all my love to your as ever

Frances

Spooky says "meow" meaning thanks for the pat. Darling I love you, you strike the right note every time. It amused me so that right away I wasn't lonely anymore.

[darling drawing of boy baby and girl baby, top hat and cane and bonnet-ed, plus cat chasing ball--titled "His Honor and the first Lady stepping up to say 'Hello'">

*************************************

[letter from J to F]

Salem, Mass.
August 14, 1944

Dearest Love,

Does this find you enjoying a well-deserved rest? Since the children can be confined within the fenced area, they should be no problem(?). How are our darlings? By the way, did you arrive in time Monday morning and are you out of the "dog house"?

It appears to be more trouble than it is worth to take that house. About all I can see at the moment is going to the [House] Title Co. for an increase on the first or a second mortgage. In view of the loan for the insulation and the original valuation of $5600 I do not feel sure enough of the result to ask for the additional $1000. It seems that the Beverly Cooperative Bank (this is the Mass. equivalent of a Building & Loan Assoc. ) will give (or take) a $3800 mortgage, and Mr. Mahoney will credit us with the 4% agents fee, or $200. The result is that the selling price will be $4800 with a $3800 mortgage and $1000 in cash, plus some $70 in fees and costs.

There is a bare possibility that a loan or underwriting of a loan (guaranteeing) ca be arranged through Sylvania, but this is doubtful. It would certainly be good business on their part, for it would put us in their debt literally and morally, and would increase my efficiency by removing a very pressing problem.

It was awfully hot today, even at 6AM, so bad that the plant shut down at noon. We had a violent rain storm from 2PM on for about 2 hrs.

I found a nice pretty little 5 rm Cape Cod house not too far away for sale, but have not been able to find the people yet. It has no fireplace (only one flue in a small stack), is white shingle with a white picket fence in what appears to be a nice neighborhood. It is not quite as convenient as the Beverly house but is a much nicer one and is only a half a block from a bus line.

I've just come back from the above house. It is a "cute" and cheap one, poorly constructed, but pretty. I'd value it at 4500 or 5000 as compared to ours at 6000. The woman reminded me very much of Mrs. F [from] (Queens?) and you would think she was giving you a wonderful bargain and doing you a great favor.

Well maybe something new will develop. Love to all, with a pat for Maui and a clap for pop xxx for you and the children, Love, Jere

*************************************

[to J from F at 71 Conrad Place, Dover, N.J. ]

Wednesday, August 16, 1944

Hello Sweetheart:-

Well, I got back again all safe and sound and miraculously all in one piece. I was so tired I slept right through the rest stops---only opening one eye to see where we were. He sure took the funniest route, through Rhode Island, where he got a ticket for going through a red light and was he mad!!! We got into 50th Street at 3:30 in the morning and on inquiry I learned that the earliest bus to Dover was 8 o'clock. That wouldn't do, so I took the 7th Ave. over to 34th St. raced to the H&M tubes and found a big crowd of sailors and soldiers waiting for them to open the gates. The train went at 4:05, and here I was gnashing my teeth until 4:00. Of course I missed that train and had to wait until 5:15. That one was express to Dover and got in only 18 minutes after the 4:05 train. Mami was all set not to go to work when I showed up.

It's been so awfully hot up here, you can just imagine, and if I thought I'd get more rest than home, I was sadly mistaken. As a matter of fact, Mami makes me get up at six in the morning and Bobby so far hasn't co-operated either. I don't know what's the matter with that boy of ours. He's all broken out in the face, it's pitiful to behold. I'm afraid it's "Impetigo" and if it is it's a long drawn out affair and hard to cure. Especially since he won't keep his hands off his face and keeps rubbing the salve off. He's cross and restless and cries much too much. Pop had to move up into the attic room to get his night's rest.

Camille is up to her usual tricks, going out and coming in and leaving the flies in. The fence doesn't mean a darn thing. . .it didn't take her 5 minutes to learn how to open the gates. She doesn't bother with the kids yet and hangs from my skirts every waking moment. When I firmly put them both outside it's either a crying jag or she opens the gate and coaxes Bobby through it (not that he needs much coaxing either). Several times I've looked for them and found them playing at the side of the street.

***************************************

August 18

Dearest Darling,

You're probably wondering why you haven't heard from me this week. Believe me, Jere, I couldn't be more marooned on a desert Island. There's no store, no mailbox, no nothing within easy walking distance and I can neither take the children for such a long walk nor leave them. Besides for the past few days I haven't felt like walking for obvious reasons. Every morning Pop and Mami go off without that letter and I have yet to see a mailman. There must be one, the gremlins didn't leave your letter the other day, I'm sure. Oh well, you know, I think of you and love you as much as ever. Bobby hasn't been getting worse nor has he improved any that I can see. And its quite an ordeal to tend the little imp. It hurts to put on alcohol and the salve. It's a drying up process, you see. There's a scab right on the tip of his little nose. You ought to see your son---if he isn't a sight--oh joy!!

It rained yesterday, and today it got very cold. I tell you, never a golden middle way, always either broiling hot or too cold and dreary. I just read this letter over. I sound awfully low, don't I? The truth of the matter is--I'm bored stiff. Home at least the kids would be off my hands, and I'd have things to do. Here the children are strange, and they must not touch this, or go there, oh, you know. . .and I can't keep Bobby in the play pen all day. Gee how I wish it were next month. . . .

Longingly you

bored but loving wife

Got your letter just now, darling, thanks a lot. Nothing much new. Mami goes to work and I clean and wash and tend the children just as I do home. She comes home around 3:30 and that's nice, from then on I get bossed and talked at, but that's okay with me (for awhile anyway!)

You know there's even less to do than around home. I can't take the children out because I have no carriage and sometimes I take them for a walk but there's no place to walk to, and Bobby wants to play in the gravel. Right now, with this impetigo, that's the very last thing I can let him do. So he's always screaming from frustration. Poor boy, it isn't easy on him either. It seems to be worse than poison ivy, every time I look at him there are some more spots somewhere. In spite of my earnest endeavor it has spread to his neck and arms. If I could just put him in a straight jacket for awhile!!! I got some band aid and had a heck of a time to cover each spot. . .now he looks as if he'd been in an accident. About the house, anything is okay with me, dear, if only it is soon. Something will turn up, I'm sure. Don't get too discouraged.

(I've looked for the typewriter, high and low, and it seems it's been sold, so I have to struggle on by hand. I love to write but this way it's too tedious. Can you read it???) Got sick this morning and feel lower than an ant. Got mad at Mumi when she woke me up at 6 again. Damn her. Well, will write again. Good bye sweetheart and all my love to you as ever. Greetings from Pop and Mami and love (I hope) from your offspring.

F

*************************************

[letter marked Special delivery --12 cents!!!--and personal to Mr. Jere Casagrande, Sylvania Products, Inc. Boston Street, Salem, Massachusetts - postmarked August 21, 1944]

Darling:

I just called you-9:15- and you weren't at home!!!!!!! So I'm dashing this off to keep you up to date. I called the moving people and they told me I was giving them very little notice, but that they would see what they could do. About an hour ago a man called me up (I forgot his name) he's connected with the traffic department or something and he told me that they expected a shipment from Boston on Saturday and that they could load on Sunday if that was okay with me. This was only tentative and they would keep in touch with me and let me know definitely as soon as possible. I tried to make it as urgent as possible, and they have been most courteous and helpful, but of course the situation as is, we have to make the best of whatever arrangements they make. I also found out that so far they have not received any authorization from the Sylvania People and that's the reason I wanted to talk with you. Please have them send a letter right away. I tried to call the New York office but of course it was already too late, I do think, however, that I'd better do so again in the morning, in case we are able to get moved before Sunday. In any case it wouldn't hurt for you to tell them also.

I got in touch with Sefton's (poor things, they have been hanging on tenderhooks, too, and not liking it I bet) and they will come over to see me. I'll have the lease ready for them by tomorrow.

You will get paid tomorrow won't you? I would appreciate a little extra 'moola' my sweet and only. After paying all our bills up to date, and buying the stroller and a pair of shoes for Camille (which she absolutely had to have) we have eight dollars in the bank. I've paid up all my incurred debts at the grocers and milkman and have now five dollars between me and the big bad wolf. So unless you want the kids and me to travail ourselves on the night bus you'd better send us some money. Yes?

As soon as I hear from the moving people I'll see to the phone and utilities, and I guess that's about all. Of course I'll send in a change of address, and notify all our magazine people. Anything else?

Tomorrow, in between breaths, I'll even write to your mother, at least a short note, to the effect that we have a new address.

So in the meantime, keep your hair shirt on, my love, and think of me struggling manfully with all the details and spare me a few pitying tears.

Oh yes, I asked about how long it took before we saw our belongings again, and it seems we have at least one homeless night to look forward to, so I thought it would be best to engage a drawing room and travel at night. Our little darlings will be asleep, praise be, and some sort of breakfast I can manage for them to keep them happy when they wake up. I think that would work out best anyway.

So once more, goodbye until we see you, which can't be too soon for me.

Love as ever

[signed Frances]

P.S.

Just in case you're gnawing at your knuckles wondering what I did with all that money, here it is.

   
Phone
17.73
Gas and lgt
5.15
stroller
24.00.
shoes
5.00
classics
6.00
Book house
4.75
Book house
 62.63

there seems to be a five dollar bill missing which I can't account for at the moment, but no doubt it will turn up somewhere, if I think hard enough. I only know I used it for a worthy purpose, no doubt. [handwritten]

After thinking it over I realized there is no missing $5. There's still eight dollars in the check. acct. Uff!!

*************************************

[letter from J to F]

Sept 10, 1944

Dearest love,

This is being written in "[longhand] en route between Utica and Syracuse, N.Y. The car is rocking and swaying badly, please forgive the [grating] of penmanship.

This train went thru [Mau. ] direct to Albany and did not go the New York. It went through Worchester, [Springfield], Pittsfield, Chat[bury] [aslk], thru the beautiful Berkshires. It was light until we got to Albany so I was able to enjoy the scenery.

It [s;lkdj;kljkf]

 

1945 Letters

[letter from F in Salem to J in Jamaica c/o Mrs. Rink]

[drawing of crying baby in crying standing in crib]

February 10, 1945

Well, we struggled along without you for two whole days and don't seem to be none the worse for it. (Though I must confess the numbness is wearing off and when I think of the days stretching endlessly ahead of me I could just take my hair down and bawl---)

Of course you know now that the day after you left it started to snow and continued to do so until next morning, great big wet flakes, and when Salem opened its doors in the morning there was a blanket of snow that covered everything like the moist warm tongue of a lapping puppy dog. The snow clung (cling clang clung--yes 'clung' is right0 actually clung on the screens and the sides of the houses, Jere, I never saw anything like that in my life. It was up against the side door, and I could have walked off the porch without any great trouble, except it was so soft you sank right out of sight. Mr. Nikitas worked for an hour cutting a path from the back to his car and then found he couldn't budge it. I finally went to work and cleared a path along the sidewalk, but I'm telling you I was exhausted when I was through. I had to cut it with the shovel and then dig it away, why, the snow was actually as high as my thigh, when I was through it was like a tunnel. Especially after the snow plow had come through. It did look lovely though, like a fairy land, every tree and bush was bowed down under it's load of snow, but still it clung. The children enjoyed it for awhile, then they wanted to get away from the beaten path and got stuck up to their hips with every step they took, then they got too tired out trying to get out, and after I rescued them for the umpteenth time I finally shooed them inside.

Clyde had gone to school on Thursday night as usual and didn't get home until three in the morning, wet and cold and shivery and disgusted. He'd tried to call me but could get no answer, yet I was here and awake all evening. The bus had gotten lost in the snow and he had to walk home for quite a distance. Poor guy. Trains didn't run all night, until early Friday morning, buses and cars were stuck all over, and transportation didn't get back to normal for a long time. I paddled to the store in your galoshes and got some bread and a can of spaghetti for my supper, if I'd tried to get into town they would have had to send a ST. Bernard after me. . .

Ruby came over Thursday when I was still feeling pretty low, and the dear girl did all my ironing for me, what a relief. I finally got all the washing out of the way, little by little and things would settle in a groove if the kids would only stay out of trouble. Honestly, if it isn't one thing it's another, and me not being able to talk to them. Yes, I'm still croaking, and my nerves will be all frazzled by the time I get my voice back, from trying to tell them not to do things in a whisper. This morning I was so beside myself I'm afraid I shook Camille until her teeth rattled. I went into the just cleaned living room and found they had taken a plant from the pot, de-leaved it and the earth was all over, and I do mean all over. I located them in their room and cleaned up the mess, and when I went back to see what they were doing, they had unrolled the whole roll of toilet tissue. That in itself is nothing, costs only eight cents and is cleared out in a jiffy, but I can't get that kind, and it's swell for runny noses. . . .That's when I exploded. No wonder my voice doesn't get better and my throat still feels constricted. . .if I have to talk and talk and admonish all day long! Nuts to that.

Oh I meant to tell you, Mrs. Nikitas sent down my dinner for me last night. Very tasty, too, fried clams, and French fried potatoes, and lettuce and tomatoes and tomato soup. Wasn't that nice of her? She knew I was alone and not feeling too good, so she thought she'd save me the trouble of cooking. . .

I got a check from the Seftones just now, but she doesn't mention one word about looking for a place or the fact that we're coming back or anything. Just completely ignored it. Said the furnace was off one time, and that they were running short on oil. Things like that. Well, what now?

Sunday

Ruby asked me if I'd take Jimmy for a couple of hours last night so she and Clyde could go tobogganing with a couple of the boys from the plant. Of course I said bring him along. Unfortunately Jimmy just would not be consoled from the time the door closed after her, just stood there and cried his little heart out. Bobby was already asleep so I bundled Camille up and took them both over to the other house. For the rest of the night I sat on the rocking chair with Jimmie on my lap and Camille crouched in back of me putting marbles in a bottle and letting them roll out again. More fun. I didn't mind it so much though, and I know if I could have used my voice I could have lulled them both to sleep. They all came back around eleven in very high spirits. (I envied them a little, I'd dearly love to go) and I heard all about the swell time they had had. We made waffles and I ran home for my two cups, 'cause Ruby only has three, looks like all of us with infant children are in the same boat, and while I was home I took a peek at our male off-spring and he was still in the Land of Nod. So I went back and proceeded to enliven the company with my mute presence.

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[valentine from F to J postmarked Feb 12, 1945 and signed 'to my dearest love with all my heart']

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February 14, 1945 postmarked valentine signed for Cammie by mother to Mr. Jere Casagrande, 150 39 87th Road, Jamaica, N.Y.

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[letter from F in Salem to J in Jamaica, c/o Mrs. Rink]

February 14, 45

Hello, Dearest:-

Well, I called the moving people, but they won't be able to send someone until Friday, but at any rate I expect we'll be able to move in a week or two. (I hope, I hope)

I went up to the attic (you see--simple!) yesterday when the kids were having their naps, and I got everything all bundled, tied and stacked and ready. Uff. One of these days I'll tackle the pantry too, if I can think of a place to stack things. It won't be too bad I trust. . . .Ruby will come and help me, I know, when the time comes.

I sent off your package today, but I found that the railway express office won't accept anything that goes beyond Boston, there's an embargo of sorts, and that doesn't look good for your bicycle. Unless it's lifted next week again but the driver there wasn't any too encouraging about it. Do you still want it?

Oh yes, another thing, Campbell of the personnel office called this morning, and he was very much put out to learn you were still in New York. It seems nobody told him about it, and he was quite upset. He thought you had only gone down for an interview. I told him you were working at the Kew Garden place, and that was all I knew about it. . .When Ruby came over this noon, we got to talking and she said that Clyde had a feeling as if the research lab was going to fold up, instead of moving. . .

And another thing, it has become increasingly apparent that your female off-spring has missed you more than I gave her credit for. She has been so moody and sensitive, she's burst into tears or temper tantrums at the slightest provocation (or no provocation at all) ever since you left. And last night she went through the most extraordinary performance. She held out a spoonful of food in the general direction of your chair and said "Here Daddy" then she'd eat it. She kept right on doing it until she was finished. And this morning when she went into the cellar with me, she got a thumping thwack on her cheek with the end of the shovel and went howling upstairs and when I came up she was glued to the side door crying for her daddy in the most heart-wrenching sobs. What's more she wouldn't let me near her or touch her in any way. After awhile she came and cuddled up on my lap and said, "I want to stay on my mamma's lap" and there she stayed. The big baby.

By the way, oh just by the way and incidentally, it's doing it again. You know, that white stuff, beautiful beautiful snow. And this time, by cracky, I'm not going out to shovel it either. If the people next door who are so very very 'Salem-ish and can leave it on their sidewalk for people to break their necks on, so can I. Not a stroke nary a one. . . .

The mail man just came and brought me a Valentine from My Love. You darling, I thought sure you'd forget. Fooled me, eh? That's the way I like to be fooled, and now you know why I love you. There was the check you mentioned, and a letter from Mother. And the way our two hellions are tearing around in back of me, will Grandma ever be surprised! Not to mention Grandpa. There'll be some changes made and I don't know yet who's going to be changed, Mumsi, or our impies. Who do you place your bet on????

Well, darling, guess I'll sign off for now. More later on in the week. Bye now. All our love, as ever

Frances

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[letter from F to J with drawing of little boy head and little girl pigtailed head saying 'Hi Daddy']

February 16, 1945

Hello Darling:-

I've just hung up my 'umpteenth' pair of panties and Lordie am I ever tired tonight. It's Friday night and nothing worth listening to on the radio--can't seem to get interested in 'who dune it' ---and am must to restless to go to sleep, so I thought I'd chatter to you awhile.

I've waited around all day today for someone from the moving company to call on me, but apparently they got lost in a snow drift coming down from Boston. I made one attempt to call up, but was told that someone had left at noon and should be there 'any minute now'. . .It is now going on ten o'clock and so far no dice. The other company I called can't come around until Sunday. Well, I suppose somebody is bound to show up. But I'm so on edge waiting, I'd like to get a moving date, so I can plan on doing things. Like selling the stove. ( spent a whole morning the other day shining it up inside and out, and even using stove polish on it, and oh boy, you'd never recognize the ol' thing!) And another thing that has me a bit worried is the fact that the coal seems to be running out much too fast. I've tried to cut down on it, and once or twice it was out all day, and the kitchen fire I start in the morning until I have hot water and then let it go out, too. It hasn't been cold, I mean, really cold, so it didn't seem to matter, but with all my economizing it still looks kind of hopeless unless we move next week, or the week after.

You know, Jere, if we should be lucky and get a hundred or a hundred and twenty-five dollars for the stove and the moving costs about 170, or something like that, we almost don't need that money you borrowed from Pop. We got $299.34, oh no, you said you took out twenty, that makes it $279. -, gee, we haven't had that much together for quite awhile, have we? Aren't you going to get a check down there this week? How much is it costing you to live, do you think? I'm rambling again, don't mind me, it doesn't really matter to me at all. I guess it's because my subconscious keeps nudging me to ask for a pair of shoes. Papa, can I have a pair of shoes? You don't want me to come up to my mother's in a pair of shoes that are only held together by a shoestring, do you? She'd be simply scandalized.

You know, dearest, it's just lovely getting letters from you. I wish there were one every day, it would be something to watch for. But you'd be kind of running out of subject matter wouldn't you, and I'd have to make out a batch of form letters all stamped and ready for mailing.

When your letters come I read them aloud to Camille and tell her it's from you, and she'll hold onto it for a long while. Usually I sneak it away when she isn't looking, she seems to be very jealous about your letters, won't let me have 'em, and thinks they are hers. The poor little mutt. She looks at the photograph album and picks out your picture and mine, and she knows 'Grandpapa, and 'Grandmama's pictures too. That's what makes me think it would be better not to plan on staying with you permanently, but just to get together over the weekends or I could meet you in New York once in awhile. I think it would be too hard on the kids not to have either one of us around. And if I should get a job, and I might very well, I'd like to come home to them. At night, I mean. Then I can let Mumsi be disciplinarian and Mama will be just sugar candy to them. They'd love that, all right. But we'll see about that later. Maybe the Seftons will get out sooner than you think (wishful thinking on my part I guess) Gee, I can't help hoping they'll be decent about it. Oh well, the eternal optimist!

Mami said in her letter I was a coward for not telling her about Mickey. Just what did you say to her? Did you tell her how much he cost and when we got him, or what?

You lucky dog, you,--going to movies, are you? Why don't you advertise as a baby minder or sitter, to keep your hand in. I have a good mind to call up Dorothy tomorrow afternoon and go to a movie, too. So there. Except I never relish the idea of going alone. And Clyde is more often at school than he is at home, and it would never do to dump them on poor Ruby in the day time. She has trouble enough as it is. Having her brother-in-law there made her so homesick for good old Michigan that for two cents she'd let Clyde go up to 'what ever its name is' and go back to the 'project' with Jimmie. She hasn't got the temperament and yes I can say it to you, the loyalty to stick like certain little girls I could mention if I weren't so modest. She'll be lost up there in the wilds.

Well, dear heart, I think I shall say goodnight now, and as the hen said when she got into the nest: Guess I'll leave it here. Bye now. Will write again Sunday.

[signed Frances and Co. ]

P.S. You ought to see Mickey now, gee, he got so big, and loves to go outside, but I'm still kind of leery of that. Too much snow.

P.P.S. It's getting awfully boring to sleep in that great big bed all by myself. . . .I miss you, Lover.

[XXXXX]

*************************************

[letter from F to J with drawing of young baby boy in bed with dream talk "hearts 'Daddy'"]

Sunday
February 16, 1945

Hello again, Darling:-

Why didn't you come and visit your adoring family over the weekend, why didntja, why--hmmm-why? From the looks of things we'll be sitting here until the end of the month. 'That Man' came from the moving company, and he couldn't give me a definite date, though he called his office and tried to get in touch with the dispatcher. It was Saturday, you know, and by the time he'd found his way into 'beautiful and historic' Salem it was pretty nearly noon, and apparently they don't work after the stroke of twelve. So I won't know until Monday. I told him however that it was urgent that I move as soon as possible on account of the coal, and I wouldn't sign his contract until I know the shipping date. There is another person coming today from the Allied Moving Company, and perhaps he can give me something definite. If not, I shall choose whichever will give me the earliest date. The Grey-van man told me I might be lucky, as there were some trucks coming in next week and possibly I could get shipping space on them. But Holy Hannah, I don't want to have just three days to pack in again, though with conditions the way they are, I will most likely have to jump at whichever opportunity offers itself. Well, here's luck---I toasted you in prune juice!

The kids and Mickey are outside and I feel like a flea on a hot griddle with a crick in its neck, jumping up and looking over my shoulder where they are. . . .

Ruby came over last night to help me while away the lonely hours, she said she might as well come over to see me, 'cause what with Clyde studying his body might be there, but his spirit ainít, and he'd just as soon not have her distract him be pacing up and down like a caged lioness. So we sat on the bed and talked and talked and talked, and then had coffee and toast and talked and talked and talked. What in the world can two women find to talk about for hours and hours anyway. . .But when we looked up it was twelve o'clock and Cinderella had to go back to her ashes. By that time I was beginning to feel hopeful and listened for every footfall thinking it might be you. What did you do with your week-end anyway? Have you got to work all day Saturday?

Oh by the way, I asked about having the cribs sent to Dover and I was told that in that case we'd have to pay for the whole load to its furthest point, in this cased Dover. And they wouldn't take the cribs unless we paid the charge from Salem to Dover. So I think it would be best to take them to Hempstead and then ship them by Railway Express to Dover. If they'll take them. I just don't know what they will do. They don't handle any freight either unless it s absolutely essential. It seems because the freight cars and trucks are so tied up on account of the snow and what with having an especial rush on war material everything else has to wait.

You know, darling, when I look around at the decrepit junk we call our own, I feel like stuffing it all in the furnace. Did I tell you it will be approximately $170.00 and we won't know the actual figure until the load is weighed or something, since it goes at so much per 100 pounds. This is an overestimate, and might well be much less. It makes me laugh, people come in and look at the furniture and mentally think it isn't worth carting, then they get a good look at your stuff and they throw their hands in the air and want to scream. I get so tired of remarks like: "Your husband must be a radio amateur" (I say no he's a radio engineer) then they will inevitably add "There's enough stuff here to equip three radio stations" or words to that effect. And I stand there and say "Yes, isn't there. " Gr-r-r-r

Did you get the little radio from mother again, or didn't you bother? I listened to Traviata yesterday afternoon (the kids slept till after three) and it made me feel awfully sad somehow. Even the first act.

It was such a lovely day today, I went out into the yard and tried to take the swing apart. When I tell you that I walked up to it and the top bar was on a level with my nose, that will give you an idea what I was up against. The nuts and bolts gave me hardly any trouble at all, but oh gosh golly, after digging down to solid earth I found it frozen to the ground. (The holes were big enough to lose Bobby in, and I had to dig the kids out with one hand and shovel the snow with the other---so to speak) But eventually I got it up, and only lost two (!) stakes. The ladder is now standing up by its lonesome, reaching up to high heaven in the middle of nothing, it looks awfully weird. But the bottom rung had sunk into the ground and is now imbedded in the frozen earth. I have hopes of thawing it with hot water when the time comes. Maybe if I keep the ground around it free from snow it will soften enough to be able to yank it up. You know, that's the worst of this lot of snow. One day the weather is mild and it thaws like mad, but there is such a lot of snow to melt, that by night everything is a frozen wasteland again.

It is now going on evening and 'that man' hasn't shown up yet. But I'm resigned to that now. If he comes okay, and if not, maybe I'll call someone else tomorrow. Or I hear something more definite from Grey-van.

[signed Bye now Frances etc]</i></p>

***********************

February 17, 1945
Dover, N.J.

Dearest love,

Your [arousal] has me again as you can see: thought I'd get in practice, even bought a ten trip ticket--saves 10%. There seems to be a lot of snow up here, but the walks are fairly well cleared. Looks like more snow now.

Let's forget the bicycle until we get down--I can ride it in from there some afternoon.

Campbell is an old fuddy-duddy. Did he think I was going to pay three fares? In addition I didn't wish to take a chance. Let me know more about Clyde's feeling about the lab.

How's our little girl child doing? Do you read to her regularly, and tell her that daddy will be with her again soon to sing "Doodle" and "Old [man] Tucker"? Play "Peek-a-boo" and "Teddy Bear" and blow "bu[fs]". Here's a sketch showing where daddy works, all for Camille. [drawing of building with daddy, door, 2nd floor window labeled] [heart with "Here's to my Valentine--Cammie from your daddy" in it]

There will be changes made, alright, alright I can see Bobby standing up and saying "I don't wanna," or "I want [dis]" or even "{pooey]". Camille, Bobby, Spooky, Mickey, Sussie, and the half-blind old dog [Tricksy] that's a combination capable of anything, and usually doing it.

Incidentally, I did not yet receive my paycheck and have now drawn two checks for a total of forty (40) dollars.

Have you given any thought to the supervision of the move in at Hempstead? If they pick up the load Saturday morning and unload Monday morning we could proceed as follows:

 

  1. I take bus up Friday night.

  2. We supervise loading and check time of arrival.

  3. We take children to Dover Saturday afternoon or evening, perhaps dinner or a walk in New York.

  4. We return early Monday morning to Hempstead.

This is just a suggestion and invites comment.

What do you think of my proposal to live in New York weekdays and Dover weekends? It might be a good idea providing your people are willing. I haven't sounded them out. It would get your desire for change out of your system and solve our own problems--it would be like a second honeymoon, we could really "do the town".

I had to wait till I was in New York to hear the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Someone gave me a ticket to Wednesday's concert at Carnegie Hall. Kousevistsky gave a five concert--Mozart's Divertimento; A Stravinsky ballet; Schakowskyís Pathetique. It was really splendid. I had a rail seat at the right end of the topmost balcony, almost an eagle's nest. The house was sold out--he is evidently a favorite in New York. The Boston Symphony Orchestra is reputed to be the best in the country and perhaps in the world. I did so wish you were with me.June 6, 1942--Rose and Lorense

Did you hear "Traviata" this afternoon? I was traveling, unfortunately.

Mami keeps asking for red points--can you spare some?

Don't forget, when you arrange the final plans for moving, to have the children's cribs and whatever else you need, shipped down or from Hempstead to Dover.

I bought a ten trip ticket to Dover, at a saving of 11% over the regular round trip rate.

Mami says no Spooky, so you'll have to give him to Rose.

Pop is very busy finishing the second attic room before the children come down. He does a good job. Someday we can do likewise, when we have a lot of money to invest--several hundred dollars.

Don't forget to send change of address to W. Hempstead, to Electronics, Readers Digest, Home Title, County Trust, etc.

Well, sweetheart, it is getting late and I must bring this to a close. As soon as it is sealed there will be much to say, but so it goes. Love to you all. my dearest sweetheart (my only grown-up), little Cammie, "want dis" Bobby, "Just Mickey Finnish", and even "Spooky".

Jere

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1946 Letters

In the summer of 1946 Dad started working at something that took him to Washington, D.C. , then Norfolk, and eventually Treasure Island in California. I think this was actually an intentional "trial" separation (see September 16)! Nevertheless, Dad's letters are always loving and conversational. The two below are no exception.

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letter from j at 640 Alabama Ave. SE, Washington DC to Frances Casagrande, 151 Harrison St. , W. Hempstead, L.I., N.Y.

Washington, D.C.
July 2, 1946

Dearest love,

A kiss, a hug, a line to let you know your flirt is yet a live and well.

I had a most enjoyable chat on the trip down, with a southern gentleman who was quite a fellow. Our conversation covered everything from OPA to education and Roosevelt. This man was I would judge about 50 wealthy but not filthy with it, a conservative, and obviously a keen observer. Over half a dozen ales (which makes a very fine warm weather drink) we had a thoroughly enjoyable and stimulating 3 hrs.

Washington is a beautiful southern city, has a large negro population, is interspersed with veritable slums, and gives a first impression of being first another large city, and a southern one.

Congressional Headquarters is some 6 to 10 miles from the heart of Washington, but is still urban. The planes from three airports make a continuous racket, many going only a few hundred feet overhead.

Mrs. Cusick is a friendly unassuming woman, and she has one other boy here, a veteran who is a relative. He is ok too, only he spends a half hour at a time in the bathroom.

The job looks interesting and there certainly is enough for me to learn, and people to meet and work with to keep me busy for some time.

The weather here is not greatly different from what it was at home, perhaps somewhat warmer at night and quite humid.

Love to all, and to all a good night, xxx to my only love, Jere

p.s.

I just remembered our anniversary, and have no card. Please take the thought for the deed and enjoy these luscious chocolates.

*************************************

Washington, D.C.
July 9, 1946

Dearest my love,

Again a short note at bed time, a token, a proof that you are not the forgotten woman.

The tour de force of this epistle is the information that next week I am being shipped to Florida, and since it is so far and I shall probably be there some 3 or 4 months, I shall be home this weekend. I am planning to take the 'Congressional' which leaves sufficient time to make the 8:48 out of [Dover].

My bicycle was struck in Penn station, why I don't know. The luggage [tube] got lost but the tag you put on remained; that being so why didn't they return it to Hempstead, or at least notify us?

Love to all, and to all a good nite

Jere

[with four X's labeled FC, CC, RC, and DC and the note "this is a big hug (really"]

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July 16, 1946

Dearest love,

This is your last letter from me from Washington; I fly to Norfolk tomorrow. The address is a bit different from that I gave you yesterday--

JC
E.M.U. , N.A.S.Norfolk, Wa.
Box 21

Where is my laundry bag? You robber, you--what will I put it in?

*************************************

All these letters typed on personal stationary imprinted in German gothic

Jere and Frances Casagrande.
151 Harrison Street, Wet Hempstead, L.I.

Most letters have little drawings executed my mother.

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[something had been taped to letter with note "Don't lose them"]

July 9. 1946

Tuesday

Hello Darling:-

Your loving family is struggling along valiantly without their Lord and Master. And do we like it? You answer that one--

The mailman rang our bell yesterday and handed me personally a letter from Germany that had followed me all around the countryside. I suppose when one leaves a forwarding address it's pretty hard to drop out of things. Yes, it was from my father. He's alive and well and still with the same old firm, where he tells me he celebrated his twenty-fifth service year. †They were bombed out of Berlin (now ain't that a shame) and moved to a little place on the Rhine I never even heard of. He's living in a furnished room and though he speaks of 'we' he never mentioned his second wife. Well, now my Mumsi ought to be satisfied. I suppose I am glad he's alive, after all, I did love him with all my heart when I was a little girl.

I wrote a letter to Polistina about that wheel, I thought it was cheaper than calling him up and much more remindful to have a letter lying about, then hanging up the receiver and calling it a day. I wonder if he'll react right away. I sure could use that two-fifty.

Were you awfully tired, Sweetheart, when you got back? I'll bet "fresh as a daisy" was not the way to describe the majority of your associates either. . . .

Cammie woke up Monday morning and bounced into the room with "Did Daddy bring me. . . " and then she noticed you weren't there and never another peep out of her. But her little mind is hard at work, and you'd better not show your much loved face around here unless you have a surprise for those dear little egotistical heathens.

I just read your letter, darling, and all I can think of is--what chocolates--. I'm so bored with myself at night I'd give my eyeteeth to have something to munch on to dull my senses. But unfortunately that ol' budget does not allow boxes of luscious (you stinker for reminding me) as I say 'luscious' chocolates. The way things look I can nibble on a piece of bread and consider myself a very lucky girl.

Did you have someone nice to talk to on the way back? or where you able to sleep? Well, Sweetheart, in two days nothing much momentous happens and I think I'd better make a noise like a hoop and roll away. Back to the salt mines for me, and that huge overpowering basket full of wash. The iron is leering at me right now, and it's a lucky thing it isn't hot today. . .I ironed for two hours last night and then felt so sorry for myself and went to bed. But I don't know why I bothered, your kids take a fiendish delight in taking turns waking me up all through the night. Someday I'll break a leg and sleep and sleep and sleep for a whole week. This morning I opened a weary eye around eight and heard Bobby Bonne say something to the effect that it's 'paste'. I leaped out of bed like a startled fawn and found Bobby had taken the glue out of the drawer but hadn't as yet opened it. What got me was that they let Bobby Bonne in and were playing around as quiet as mice. Next time I'll lock the door and throw the key away. . .

Well, as I was saying goodbye My Lord, with all my love, as ever, your adoring wife and brood.

P.S. When I got that letter from my father I think I used admirable self-restraint and did NOT leap to the telephone to call Dover. I wrote a letter instead.

[signed] Frances etc. --you took all the green ink, you. . .you. . .

*************************************

[drawing of two hands holding wine glasses, toasting, with words, "to you. . . !" by each hand]

July 17, 1946

Hello, Dearest. . . .

I was wondering when it would dawn on you that I didn't have your new address, and here I was going to surprise you with a letter. Oh well----

I went to get your bike today, and oh brother, wait till you see it! It certainly wasn't worth it. The seat cover was missing and of course nobody know a thing about it, and apparently it had been left in the rain for the Lord knows how long, the tag was a soggy hardly decipherable mess, the chain bangs and the rear wheel clanks (I guess it was knocked against something). I thought I'd better tell you all about it or you'd come home and accuse me of it. I guess it would have been all right if you'd been able to pick it up right away in Washington, instead of it's kicking around for three weeks now.

The check came yesterday, and oh my, was it ever welcome! I left the baby with Irene and took the kids with me to town. I needn't tell you it always costs me money when I take 'em along, and I don't mean carfare. . .I bought a pair of skates for Cammie and she is so enamored of them, sheíd wear them to bed if I'd let her. For such a little person she does all right, too, I bet it won't take her long to learn it proper. 'Bobby got a toy cannon that shoots a projectile, at least it shot till last heard from, but that's no positive guarantee. We had quite a wait for the bus, and he was happily collecting burned out matches and shooting them from his cannon and didn't mind in the least whether we got home the same day or not. If it hadn't been for the baby I wouldn't care either. Of yes, I also bought some records for the children and if I heard the farmer in the dell, and the Three Little Pigs once, I heard it a dozen times. With encores. . .For Bobby Bonne. . .For Gail. . .For Regina. You fill in the details. In other words, it is a huge success with everybody.

The photographer came by last night too, and not a minute too early. I've sent a family group picture to your mother, the children and an extra family group to my parents, a family group and children set to my father in Germany, an extra children set to Rose and Lorenz, and an extra family group and a children's set to Joe and Ruth. I've kept a group picture and a set of the children plus the two baby pictures for ourselves, and I think that accounts for the lot. The other extra family group picture is not good enough to give away and the extra children's group is too nice, so I'm keeping it. You might want to give them to someone yourself, anyway. It sounds kind of complicated, doesn't it, but you'll know what I mean.

Thanks for your letter, sweetheart, it was good to see your handwriting on the letter, made me feel a bit nostalgic. Gee, if I feel that way now, how'm I going to feel three months from now!

On by the way, and just incidentally, Gary is going to have a baby sister (or brother). I talked to his mother today, and during the course of the conversation she mentioned that Gary is going to school this fall and she said she hopes someone SOMEONE is going to be able to do something with him. Hopefully she said that. Thought maybe a few older children might take a little of the bully out of him. So you see, she knows, but probably because of the way she feels she hasn't been able to bother much.

Oh and another thing, you were so careful to caution me about talking about your joining the Masonic order, but you might know, when Betty knows something pretty soon everyone does. Irene mentioned it to me, that's how come I happened to think of it just now. She also said that Betty had been pretty cool to her lately. So it isn't just me, she just wants to have nothing to do with anyone and as far as I'm concerned it's okay too.

*************************************

[dewing of doggie holding piece of paper; speech bubbly says "Hello"]>

July 22, 1946

Dearest Love:-

I feel as lonesome as a little spotted pup today----, it's been raining, more or less heavily, since last night, and as you well know, that makes you twice as droopy. I only hope you had better weather to travel in. That was quite a storm we had last night----I had to run out and batten down the hatches. Garbage can lids and tin cans rolled merrily all over, doors banged and shades flapped and didn't our kids have a lovely time hanging out of the back window! -And I'm sorry to say, our hollyhocks bowed meekly to the elements. Well, we can't have everything, and we certainly needed this rain. .

I got your letter this noon, it may be 'old stuff', but still as welcome as the flowers in May. Thank you, darling.

Tuesday

Still raining, and how! Just a lovely steady, monotonous downpour. The house is beginning to feel like a mausoleum, and the very thought of the damp and clammy bed-sheets is enough to drive sleep from my mind. Yes siree, I don't have to water for all of a week, I'll bet. . . .

I was energetically sewing away last night when the machine gave a might heave and spewed a piece of machinery in my lap. Of all the darn fool luck--I didn't mind so much finishing Cammie's dress my hand, but here goes another slice of my non-existent funds. The piece that broke is something, whatever it is, that holds the spring that holds the shuttle in place. I can sew, if I go very slowing and carefully and periodically look to see that the spring is in it's proper place. I suppose I'll have to call the Singer people around the first, and they can give it a good over-hauling while they're about it. Never, as they say, a dull moment. I was baking cookies to please the children and no sooner had the mixer going when they both came running full speed full of good intentions and the spirit to help. In the resulting tussle the large mixing bowl and the measuring cup both went the way of all flesh or should I say Glass. . .Needless to say I was furious, and what started out as a lovely way to spend a rainy afternoon turned into a fiasco (What's a fiasco, Daddy?) fey--fiacre--fiasco: a failure or breakdown in a drama, an ignominious failure in general. Yes sir, that describes it exactly. . .In case you're wondering what the above diatribe is (what's diatribe, daddy?) I looked up 'fiasco' and as usual I learned the meaning of at least two other words before I got to the one I wanted.

I'm rambling again, and that's because I haven't any interesting experiences to record. Nobody discusses Schopenhauer with me on the bus, and you know exactly what my daily life is like: diapers, dinner, dishes, DIRT, spelled with capital letters. I think I shall ask the milkman if he believes in the Hereafter and have a nice long lovely talk wit him.

I saw Betty today. I was indulging in my favorite outdoor exercise--running after the kids to bring them in out of the rain--when she stuck her head out of the door and after telling me they wouldn't melt and to come and say 'how-de-do'. But it was the same old routine you know. Among other things she said that her nephew is quite a responsibility, and has a habit of running off. The other day he ran off from Sunday school and they had everyone, including the police looking for him. He is turning the rest of her hair grey and it will be pure relief when he goes home this week. That I can believe.

Had a card from mother, from Atlantic City. She says why don't I write. SHE says why don't I write, well, as if I hadn't written two letters already. She's having a wonderful time it seems. I'm glad, she might as well.

Wednesday

Oh by the way, I called up Palmer's secretary about canceling that insurance. She is away right now on vacation and the young fellow who answered the phone said he'd check into it and let me know. ????--Well, I'll find out pretty soon, but I'd much rather find out by finding the check larger than the usual amount. Or am I money-mad??? Or just plain mad--

I also heard about my bike. It will be $1.25 that's not bad, but still I won't be able to get it till next week. I'll probably do everything at once that day. Incidentally there was another gas and electric bill, it's now three months and runs to about fifteen dollars, a little less anyhow, and I think it's about time we paid it. There is a phone and a water bill, too. The amount totals up to, let me see, twenty-five dollars. Gee-whiz, it adds up, doesn't it? How are you fixed for money? Shall I pay these bills on the first? Maybe I'd better.

It's still dismal and gray today, but the kids are out anyhow, probably catching their death of cold. I'm sitting here, trying to concentrate and listening with one and a half ears to Beethovenís Seventh on the records. That's the only time I can get an oar in--when they're out of the way. Not that they don't like to listen or don't appreciate it, but there is too much squabbling over who puts it on and how it's done to suit me. That's one set of records I'd rather keep intact. I really do love to listen to it. If only I didn't have to drop my mop and run to shut it off it would be wonderful to cheer me on in my daily tussle with ol' debbil dirt.

Thursday

I feel very unhappy today. . .I was looking for those addresses you mislaid and came across your diary of 1938. Honestly, Jere, why don't you throw that book away, it causes me so much mental anguish it isn't even funny. Stern Reason tells me it means nothing to you any more and what you feel for me today can't compare with those Puppy Love emotions of yesteryear, but here I set and bawl my eyes out because nowhere can I find a scrap of evidence that you ever were aware of my existence or how much you cared for me in the early days of our courtship. In other words I'm so jealous I can't see straight, much less think straight, because that lovely, turbulent first budding wasn't for me. I get so mad just to think of those expressions. "Those eyes! That hair!" phooey. There, already I feel better. . . . .But, oh My Darling, why couldn't you have seen me first!

Mother just phoned. Her dogs had pups, three of 'em, and with the prices they bring these days, two of them had open roofs in their mouths and will probably die before long. Isn't that the darndest luck? Anyway, I guess this time we won't get a puppy wished on us. And in a way I guess I'm not sorry. Mrs. Schreiber has actually unbended enough to more than say "Hello and smile, she got so she offers bits of conversation, and who am I to spoil this cautious budding of neighborliness.

I meant to mention it to you before, but there was an ad in the paper about a property that sounds like the one up there on Hempstead Avenue. You know that dilapidated looking place. They are asking $13,500 for it, and guess who's got it? Yup. Our old friend R.L. Smith!

I just looked and it's still in the papers, so I'm enclosing it.

Can't let the day go by without an anecdote about your off-spring. This one is really funny and one on me. Yesterday I spent a frantic hour searching for Bobby, I wanted him home for lunch, and he couldn't be found in any of his usual haunts. I was just about to call out the militia when I had occasion to go into the nursery (a clean diaper, OF COURSE) and lo and behold, there's my little boy, fast asleep in his little trundle bed! I let my breath out with a 'whoosh' and the relief, believe me, was heartfelt. . .

Here comes the mailman up the street, so a hurried goodbye. With love and kisses, oodles of them, from

Your loving family

& especially Me, Frances, remember---your wife!

Since we've had this damp spell I find the house full of little black fleas, it's simply driving me crazy. They don't bite, apparently, but just the fact they crawl all over you, is enough to give you the willies. I've sprayed what was left of the Flit around the rug and furniture, and dusted some powder, but so far not much success, and now I have nothing left to fight them with. I even made a fire in the fireplace hoping the heat would dry things up a little, but it's so warm even with all this rain, it drives you out of the room. And makes it muggier than ever. You know, if this is what the tropics are like, they are all yours. I'll take an igloo and a seal for a pet.

Well, my one and only, we'll sign off again for today, tune in tomorrow and find out if Little Red Riding Hood eats the Grandmother. (On looking back I find this epistle bristling with misplaced letters, I think I'll have to fire my secretary. Can I help it if my agile mind leaps ahead of my poor toil-worn hands!) Goodbye again. Be good, or anyway, as good as you can be under the circumstances, and think of your loving family pining away in our ivy-covered cottage. I think this time the kids are missing you, actually, and not for the presents you bring either.

With all our love, as ever

[signed] Frances & Co.

[with drawing of two bunnies and voice balloon "To Daddy, Love & kisses and bunny hugs"

*************************************

July 24, 1946

Dearest Darling:-

Guess you can't complain about lack of mail this week, can you? Anyway, here we are again. Got the enclosed letter from Ellis Grell today, I hope you don't mind my sharing the letter with you. Thee was also that tax receipt you asked for from the Title Guarantee Company. Did you want all those papers sent to you, and the last tax receipt from the box or what? I hated to send all those papers through the mail unless you particularly wanted me to. Could you maybe come home and read 'em personally?????? About that insurance coverage---you be sure and take care of your neck once you get your feet off the ground and your lofty mind, not to forget the body that goes with it, amongst the clouds, d'you hear me! And it isn't the vision of me as a lowly scrubwoman supporting my three little waifs that makes me talk like that, either. You know that song they used to sing (and the very fact we both know it, dates us for sure) "Button up your overcoat etc. etc. --"

I finally collared that Mr. Posistina for the two-fifty. You know, that poor guy didn't have a chance with us women ganging up on him. He had no sooner pulled up in his truck today when Mrs. Conry was on the phone telling me he was there. So I waylaid him gleefully. Boyohboy, two-fifty more than I had yesterday. As it is, with the ninety cents you so generously left behind Sunday, I just managed to pay my outstanding bills, and I can now look our tradesmen in the eye again with a clear conscience. You see, I do all right (though somewhat skimpily) with the money I have, when I have to, and without running eternally into debt.

Oh yes, and another thing. With that letter from ?Grell was the receipts for the insurance check, and also a statement of dividends. $24.40 on one and $4.88 on the other. What do you want to do about them, leave them there or have them sent us a check, or what? I didn't send them along, because it seems kind of silly to burden you with a lot of papers that might get lost.

How did you make out on your return trip this time? Okay? I was thinking all sorts of horrid thoughts--like you getting stuck with all of maybe three dollars in your pocket! And of course, your honest face!

(There is such a conclave next door I simply cannot concentrate on this letter anymore, there's all the Schreiber's plus Hazel's Intended, and the Avis's and all of them talking at once) So I'll better say Good Night, Sweet Prince.

With all my love, as ever

[signed] Frances & Co

*************************************

Monday,
August 5, 1946

[drawing of puppy lying on floor]

Dearest Sweetheart:-

"I have a little shadow
he goes in and out with me--
and what could be the use of him
is more than YOU can see. . . "

But oh, isn't it nice!

Yes Sir, Duke is a great comfort to me and we get along just fine. Camille loves to take him out and is like to walk his legs off if she were permitted. As it is, the poor thing comes in with his tongue trailing and sneaking out whenever the door is opened is definitely not one of our troubles. He's glad enough to stay with me in the house. . .I took the children and Duke with me to the ducks Sunday afternoon, and Billy and Cliffie begged to go along and after due permission was granted we were off. It would have been okay, but we were no sooner down thee and having a grand time feeding the ducks and so on and so forth when Mrs. Iger appeared on the scene wit her dog. Well, Billy no sooner saw her that he became unmanageable. He had fallen in the gravel earlier and been scratched up, but it didn't bother him until his mother saw it, then he began to whimper and cry, oh well, then it was "Billy keep away from the water" Billy come here, you'll fall in" and finally I could not stand it another second and suggested we go home. Well, Camille had been holding Duke and got too close to Peppi (the other dog) and before you could say 'scat' we had a fight. Cammie, of course let go the leash and Mrs. Iger like a poor fool lifted the dog up high on the least and turned around in circles with me madly grabbing at Duke. I tell you it was a circus, and I was wild. Duke grabbed a hold of Pepi's rear and nipped his tail before I finally grabbed him, by reversing myself and meeting the merry-go-round head on. . .Duke's not bothered any other dog so far, but I've given Camille strict instructions to stay away from any and all and to walk him towards Thomas's where there aren't any, and to play safe I stand by and watch till she's tired of walking her 'doggie' and brings him back. It gets to be shorter and shorter intervals, I've asked Cliffie to be sure and keep Mac away from her when she's out with the dog, but I don't think they would tackle. They hadn't when I took him over to show to Betty. This sounds like a lot of bother, doesn't it? But I'm still delighted to have him and I think we'll do all right together.

More rain today, but very muggy weather. How did you make out with your schedule?

Cammie got a birthday card from Cliffie and Rose called tonight to apologize for not sending it on time. But apparently every one else has forgotten our kids were ever born. But no matter, when they get old enough so it matters to them I shall personally dispatch six cards apiece. . .

Not much else tonight, dear heart, your family misses you sorely, in fact your female child (the one that talks) piteously cries for her daddy to come home for no reason that I could see. Well, goodnight my love. I shall have to go and walk the dog for the good of my soul before retiring into my little trundle bed.

[signed] As ever Your loving Spouse & Co.

*************************

[with note, received 8/16]

August 7, 1946
Wednesday

[drawing of bouncing baby on floor]

Dearest Darling:

Gee, if it takes an airmail letter this long to get here, I bet my other one will probably reach you some time next week, even though I mailed it yesterday. . .Anyway, thanks a lot. I was beginning to wonder. So sorry you had a tough time getting there---you must have been dead!

The California sunshine must have a mellowing influence on your mother---she surprised us by sending the kids two lovely sun suits she'd made for them. They really are beautiful and colorful, one in yellow and the other light-blue, with embroidered bands for trim. Cammie choose the blue one (it had pickets) and Bobby the yellow, and as it turned out it was the proper choice, it fitted them just find. I must sit down tonight and write a thank you not. No letter as yet, though.

I was just reading the Newsday and ran across an item that made me laugh out loud. Seems a polo team came up from South America to play here on the Island and the captain approached the winning captain in the bar and in dead seriousness said: "It is all very strange, these American girls! They let you do this, they let you do that, and then they say 'goodnight'. . . "

In that same edition I see where Pastor Ranum's little boy was run over by an automobile in front of his house and had to have an operation for internal injuries, poor kid! He's just Camille's age, you know. Camille's dolly came Tuesday. It's really worth the money. They didn't have nice little babies like that when I was a child! She is crazy about it, and I told her you sent it, she sends back her love and kisses and thanks. The other day she came and asked me to call you on the phone and make you come home. Tja, if it were only as simple as that, my darling! Bobby, the little realist said: "But he can't come home, he's got to work. "

The kids found the blackberry patch down South Charles St. and came home after I frantically searched for them all afternoon, covered with scratches, blackberry juice and minus a shoe. And when I breathlessly scolded them and asked where in thunder they'd been all this time, they looked at me out of innocent brown eyes and said "Down there", now I ask you! P.S. we found the shoe and also my garden trowel. . . (and a few berries they'd missed)

Camille 023046

Thursday 8/8

Had a very nice letter from Jerry Hammond, I do like her very much and wished there was a way I could go and see her. Your electronics came and a belated card from Rose. The birthday cards trickle in, and at this rate the kids will expect one a day.

The mailman just came by and brought another fistful. Darling it's simply lovely to get letters from you!! Camille is keen on her card, and of course, need I say it, had the spoon off it in two seconds flat! I read the sentiment on it until I'm now blue in the face and have sent her off to show it to Billy, Bobby anybody just to get her out of my hair. . .In fact I've had to read all the birthday cards, verses and all, over and over and over again until I can recite them in my sleep. The one from your mother had a really nice verse on it, and she must be psychic, it has a boy and girl on a merry-go-round horsie on the front and inside it says to wit, as follows:

 

Can't call you little anymore,
you're big and tall and smart and FOUR,
you know a lot of games to play,
you learn to do new things each day.
Why think--in just another year,
you'll be in kindergarten, Dear!

Have you gotten my letter yet, dear? How are you doing now? Made any friends and acquaintances yet? Nja, nja, let me hear you bragging about the good coffee you get now!

If you're such a distance away from your quarters and squadron do they have a conveyance or do you wish you had your bike???? Tell me, what do you thin of Florida now? And how long do you suppose you'll be down there? Questions, questions, and more questions. Reminds me of the very first letter I ever wrote you. Remember? When you were in CMTC. Dear Jere: Tell me what you do and how you do it! and you wrote back four pages and earnestly replied in detail. Not that I don't want to know, because I do. Tell Mama everything. Say, do you wish you had a radio? I hardly ever put ours on, for some reason I never think of it, and when I do there's nothing fit to listen to. And half the time in the evening I get so busy about something or other I completely forget about the programs we usually hear. Oh well, I suppose I don't miss much, do I? Who cares about murder mayhem and sudden death on Mr. District Attorney, or a fig on the Falcon who is a friend to those who need one. (and don't forget the eye for oppressed ladies) and Mr. X and Pegon can just go take a flying jump into the blue Danube for all of me. Gee, I wish you were home again. . .

Duke is living up to his name and is a prince of a dog. I am very glad he has come to join this outfit. There hasn't been any trouble atall, and nothing further like the Iger Debacle (oh, boy, am I getting a chance to air my knowledge of two-bit words!) I've been spending the evening combing his hair and have got him so he bites at the comb instead of me. I found his stomach infested with ticks or something, and had a bit of trouble at first removing them. I suppose it hurts and he would lift his lip and snarl, but you know me, I don't take 'no' for an answer and the dog I can't handle isn't born yet. We're quite good friends now. After all, we were strangers to the dog and what does he know what to expect from us. It's up to me to win his confidence and I think I have done so. He's okay with the kids, all of them, and I watched them pretty carefully at first for any signs of nervousness on Duke's part, but he's all right. I noticed, too, that Camille has pretty good control over him, now that she's been told about other dogs, she never lets him go and she's such a sturdy child she manages to make him go HER way. But just the same I'm glad she doesn't think of taking him out too often or too long. She still does it you know, but rather sporadically, like she feeds him--off and on.

I understand Bonne's sale went through and they are supposed to be out in six weeks. The people who took it have two girls, high school age, I hear. The Avis' are away on vacation and occasionally people come to look at the house and Mary plays chatelaine. One bunch of people came back three times, so I guess they must be interested. Elderly people and they look pretty fast, if you know what I mean. No children I imagine and they probably will have parties every other night. Oh Brother!

Bonne's incidentally, bought a new house, one of thirty in a group, with plenty of ground around each, and from what I gather from the description she gave the development is similar to the one in Dover. I can't see the gain in that. It isn't even quite finished, something about water pipes, and you know what that means. If we were to buy now I'd sooner look for an older house, at least you're reasonably certain it isn't going to fall down around your ears. No green lumber or shoddy pipes and second hand materials, and sagging foundation anyway. . .

Well, Dear my Love, I think I'll sign off for today. If I can find an empty bottle I'll send this air-mail. Goodnight dearest, and best love from us all

Your darling wife & Company

P.S. I hope you aren't thinking of letting your family starve. Did you get some money? How about sharing the wealth!!!

*************************

[rec'd 8/16]
August 9, 1946
Friday

Dear Lord & Provider(?)

[with drawing of stick figure mother, two young children, baby carriage, duck in pond near tree--park?]

The mailman has just been and gone and left me nothing but a cheery 'hello'. As you will have noticed by my previous letter I was not able to dig up a bottle for an airmail stamp, and as a matter of fact, this will be my last three-center, too. I guess for Sunday Dinner we'll go down to the ducks and pick out the one we've been fattening up these many day! (Your offspring feel themselves cruelly neglected as re: ice-cream cones, and their wails are loud and piteous and might be heard all the way to Miami) I sent Camille over to Mrs. Iger with some nice fresh string beans and she gave her a nickel (most unnecessary I thought) and of course it was lost and found a dozen times yesterday. When the 'tinkle-tinkle' of the ice-cream man was heard today there was a frantic search for that missing nickel and oh, the wails and tears! I finally found it and of course had to scrounge around for a bottle for Bobby. I scooted up to the store and spent an anxious five minutes running down that elusive white truck. Bobby was properly appreciative and impressed. . .He really is a good kid, you know, and never carries on the way our Eldest does when things don't pan out.

The man from Slomin's came today to clean the furnace. I was beginning to wonder whether they'd forgotten. Did I tell you Betty had an oil-filter installed? Cost $7.50. She asked me to call Slomins and find out how much they charge. They want $8.50. It's supposed to cut out clogged nozzles and they say it pays for itself after awhile. If all the things that are supposed to pay for themselves where added together-------!

Well anyway, the man left the truck parked in the driveway or what passes as such around here, and I went out to pick up some toy or other and didn't notice a large hook protruding from the side--it was all hidden in the forsythia--and rammed my forehead against it. I thought I'd split my head open. Honestly thee ought to be a law. . .against poor dopes like me, I mean. You better come home before I kill myself by slipping in the bathtub or somethin'.

Incidentally, I was talking to Betty about this and that and mentioned that I didn't think Anita was capable of taking care of children, and what do you suppose I found out? Remember when we went to see Peckham's (and you were so uncooperative about going home) and we left her to mind the children. Well, it seems her mother won't let her mind them anymore because she had first of all a terrible time to get them into bed, had to call her mother for help and put them away in their clothes! and then we came home so late (you see!) and oh, a number of other reasons. What do you know. Seems to me the time to object was beforehand and she knew right well we wouldn't go out and come right back at nine o'clock . . .

Never a dull moment around here---, I heard the darndest screeches sometime last evening, like brakes going on, and thought I'd better round up the kids if there was a lunatic loose. I found them all right, all the kids in the neighborhood with the exception of our Bobby who was punished by staying in his bed. It seems the Volunteer Fire department of Lakeview practices over on South Oak, in front of Mrs. Skofskie's house. Of course I let Cammie stay and even went home and got Bobby out of bed, after all, a fellow doesn't see two fire engines close up like this every day. They had a grand time. The engine would come down the street like a bat out of hell and would brake to a stop, the men rushed out got the hose on, and so on so fourth. The fun was that they didn't always get the hose on, and then there was a fountain of water all over the street. The kids stayed there until it was dark, the longest they stayed up in ages, it was eight-fifteen when I finally dragged them home.

Well, my darling, I think I'll say goodbye for today. I'm plumb out of inspiration. Besides this does not seem to be my best day anyhow, for reasons you can guess. Gee, seems to me that period rolls around with astonishing frequency--every three weeks. I keep wondering if there could be something wrong! Guess I'm not looking at the world with rose-colored glasses today and look for trouble yet! Oh well. I have no one to growl at, unfortunately, but our poor kids. If they have any sense they'll stay away from under my feet, today anyway. But I love YOU, just the same. Even if I can't weep on your shoulder. . . . .

The processing is still going in and out of Avis's guess even with the prevailing housing shortage people can't see $14,000. in that house. Oh did I tell you, thereís quite a furor kicked up here on account of the shoddy housing going up. The veterans have banded together and complained (and who can blame them) loud and long about their new houses falling down around their ears. Of course nobody wants to take the blame, and nothing seems to be able to be done about it. The FHA only warns prospective buyer to beware and look with eagle eyes at the houses offered for sale. That helps a lot when your ceiling parts from the wall, and your cellar is flooded with stinking smelling water from your waste pipe, as has been the case according to the paper. Yes, there has been quite a tempest in-the-teacup. And through it all the inspector maintains that the houses were perfect when he looked at them, and to his way of thinking there are no better homes to be had anywhere for the money. Of course the fact that he is a building contractor himself and in partnership with the company that put the houses up might have something to do with his sentiment. I'm darn glad we have this house, and I want to stay put. . .

Well, looks like I got another paragraph in after all, but now goodbye for sure. Take care of yourself, dear, and try to find some nice friends to talk to. Are you doing any better now? How long do the sípose you'll be there? Or don't you know? We miss you.

With all our love and lots and lots of hugs from your loving Brood and ME your spouse. [with drawing of crying baby standing in crib in font of window with word bubble "we want our daddy!"

*************************************

[rec'd 8/16]

August 10, 1946
Saturday

[ with drawing of boy and girl and bubble "Hello daddy" and letter "to xxxx"]>

Hija, Darling:-

Thank you for your letter today (all contributions gratefully accepted) we're always more than happy to hear from our daddy. You know, any old crumb from your conversational table is more than welcome. And thanks again for sharing the wealth. . .Could you spare it, dear? You mentioned something about not getting your check?

I want to thank you, too, for that lovely birthday present. . .bet you didn't know anything about that did you? I got Archie and Mehitable from the library and noticed it was published in Garden City, so I asked Madeline to try to get it for me. She did, and it was only a dollar. Thank you so much! Oh, but I love Archie and his comments on Life and Love and What-have-You. Not to mention Mehitable, who is always the lady. Toujours gai, she says, toujours gai. . .

The Avis's both back from their vacation, I just noticed. But the parade is still on. The girl on the corner (I don't know their name) stopped me today and asked whether you came home this weekend????? I suppose the Schreiber's have their own source of information, eh? They must be right up on the news. So I told her you were in Miami right no, might as well give them the record straight. And she said, "Oh, I thought he was in Norfolk". (see what I mean?) and I said "No, he is, but. . " Would you care to add a word or so to your fans???

Sunday

Well Darling and how are you making out in that Turkish Steam Bath of yours? Shall I enclose a little of this lovely cool breeze we're having this morning? Oh, but it's beautiful today, in fact we've had the nicest weather this past week. We've had some rain, it's true, but just enough to make a nice green lawn, and there is still lots of sun during the day.

Our string beans are swamping me, I've given Betty permission, nay, I begged and implored her to take some away whenever she wants them. She did this morning and fund a huge green caterpillar, the nasty things been eating the leaves and I couldn't find it. Now it is no more. . .The tomatoes will come in any day now, and brother, is my tongue hanging out for some right now. There will be lots and lots of them, I can see that. No, don't say it. I can't stand the word 'canning'. I probably shall put up some tomatoes but I will not be bothered with the beans. Besides I haven't got a canner.

Well, darling, looks like you can't complain that your family neglects you. I may sound like a chattering, gossiping magpie, but I manage to get a page a day written to you. It's almost like talking to you, you know, whenever something crosses what ordinarily passes for brain, I rush to the typewriter and get it off my chest. At any rate we think of you all the time. . .

Your kids are hanging from my skirt tails right now and saying, You wrote enough Mama, come on now, I'm hungry" and to tell the truth the chicken does smell appetizing. We'll adjourn. Bye now, dearest, write when you can, and let's keep our fingers crossed that youíll be home soon.

With all our love and affection, as ever

[signed] Frances & Co.

*************************************

[with drawing of man yelling and jumping up and down and woman with her fingers in her ears]

Hello, Darling:-

Gosh, but this enforced state of single blessedness (and I use the term loosely) is beginning to pall on me something awful. Not that it isn't peaceful around here, but gosh, I'd rather put up with your irascibility in the flesh than enjoy tranquility by my lonesome. . .

. . .And oh, what along weekend with no daddy to look forward to. I have to think up a lot of things to do to keep myself from moping. Like for instance, mowing the lawn. . .I trimmed the edge of the lawn tonight and now I've got calluses on both forefingers. Someday I shall ask Santa Claus to bring me a 'whatchamaycallit' you know it looks like this [drawing of circle with long handle coming up from the center] an edger I guess you'd call it. The lawn is beginning to look very sad indeed, with burned out patches all over, and no amount of watering seems to make a difference. I look with jaundiced eyes over to Mary's gorgeous green carpet. Yes, if I had a husband to bring me twenty wheelbarrows full of good topsoil---or is that a sore subject with you! I know, I know.

I took the kids over to the playground in the park today. You know, sweetheart, I'm only sorry we didn't go while you were still home. It's not at all far to walk, and such fun. We could have taken a picnic lunch and a bottle for the baby. There's a merry-go-round, a real honest to goodness one, and that, as far as I'm concerned is the only flaw in the ointment. Even at a nickel a ride it can cost a doting parent money. I have to pry them off the horsie each time. I let them ride once more before going home to give them a breathing spell for the long voyage home, and Bobby patted the horse's head and very softly said "Hello, Horsie", and this time he really enjoyed it, he laughed and crowed and waved his hand, and you could see he was in Fairy-land. Well, we slid the slides and swung in the swings and tried the merry-go-round you have to push yourself, and dug in the sand pile and had a perfectly grand time. You know, in the children's playground they have tables with blocks and choochoos and all sorts of play material. Of course it is all old stuff, actually, because we have everything at home, but there is so much much more of everything there, and there are children swarming all over and there is the general air of excitement and festivity all over and that makes a difference. Oh yes, what we haven't got and they loved is a jungle gym, you know, and Bobby can just barely reach from one bar to the next, but it didn't take him long to learn to manage, though at first he had trouble getting down. No trouble at all getting up, I can tell you. . .

We're still playing the records. Still with encores. And everybody fights for the privilege to put 'em on and take 'em off. Our children have learned now how to do it more or less properly. I've bought another packet of cactus needles, figuring that even though they ran it over the records, at least this way there is the least damage. Heigh-ho, The Farmer in the Dell and I have gone from a nodding acquaintance to a life-long and lasting friendship. I think I hum it in my sleep. . .But just the same the Three Little Pigs win hands down. It just goes to show you---I can't see why, it's just a story, no music in it at all, but because the book goes with it, and they know just what comes next, it's a great favorite of Cammie and Bobby.

I'm getting sleepy (the old refrain) so I guess I'll say what the hen said when she couldn't find her nest, 'Guess I'll drop it here'.

P.S. Say, do you need a dictionary! How do you spell wear??? You spelled it 'were', tsk, tsk, tsk.

[signed] Goodnight, my dearest Dear, as every Frances & Kids

*************************************

August 12, 1946
Monday

[delightful drawing of mother in kitchen dumping huge basket of cherries captioned "picture of me surrounded by cherries"]>

Hija, Skipper:-

Well, I have seen my duty and I done it. . .the HOUSEFRAU in me has cropped out once again. I noticed all those lovely wild cherries growing out there in the lots, and after sampling them (kind of tart and bitter) I decided they'd make dandy jelly, and besides, you gotta try everything once. So the kids and I, not to mention Duke, went and picked a strainer full and made jelly. It's quite a messy job, as you will remember if you think back to Albemarle and the grape arbor, but oh, what a swell tasting product it makes. Soooo, I went to work and picked some more. Up till now I've had six large glasses and I do mean large, and one to eat and several to give away. I told Mary about them, in case she feels ambitious too.

Incidentally, the moving man brought barrels to Avis's today and Mary went over with a stack of newspapers, so I guess it won't be long now before they'll move. I hard he's going to Pittsburgh. They seemed to have sold the house on Sunday (yesterday) because a real estate man came around today asking if there were any houses for sale and when we told him he went over and shortly came back and said they had both been sold. But yesterday the cars were still as thick as flies on a piece of meat, so that means they must have sold just then. They probably did get their asking price. I tried to get Mary to give out with some information, but she was apologetic and said it was confidential and she'd rather not say. Which was very white of her, I think. So whatever information is forthcoming will be through Betty, who said Nekton was handling it. Shall I get in touch with a real estate man, too? At thirteen thousand?

Erick stopped the car yesterday to say 'hello' and asked how you were. You know, that fellow has me tongue-tied. Can you beat it? But I just can't talk to him at all. I asked about the old man and Mrs. Isbister, and he said okay, and now this morning the girl from the corner, (what IS their name!) came over and told me that old Mr. Isbister had dies last night. Of course being a well-brought up young lady I went right out and bought a sympathy card. I guess they'll sell that house now the Old Lady will not want to live by herself. And I don't think Eric would like her to.

Darling, thank you so much for that lovely long newsy letter. I'm glad you found someone to talk to, or should I say listen to? Six children, my of my, but they sound nice. I hope you don't want to exchange your little white brick house for a little white adobe mansion. . . .

Incidentally, now that Schreiber's are away on vacation or something, the girl on the corner must be lonesome because she's come over and we've had some nice long chats together. She told me about the house they bought and which they can't get into. Now they've been thinking of selling it again and buying Isbister's. She likes it out here.

Anita came and cried on my shoulder last Saturday because her mother wouldn't let her go away for a week. Boy, she sure took her hair down this time, Snow White's stepmother seems to have no edge on this one. Anita said a little more and she'll run away. I believe she'd do it, too. Of course I talked to her like a Dutch uncle and said time will heal all wounds and before she'll know it, she'll be eighteen or even sixteen and can go to work etc. etc. Poor little kid. But I still won't let me mind the kids anymore. . .

Goodnight now, dearest. We miss you more and more, and even hardboiled Bobby keeps asking when Daddy will come home.

Tuesday

Rose Binsack has just been here. I phoned her, you know, because I figured if we're going to do anything about relocating now is the time. I told her what we had in mind and she said she'd look through her files and see what she can find. It would help if you gave me some idea of what and where and how much--you see, that's the part of this arrangement I don't like. Not selling our house, or moving, but the fact that you're not here to look at places and decide about them. Well, we'll see what develops. Naturally I would want to have a place first before selling this, I've had my share of hole-in-corner living. Let me know just what you want and I'll try to do my best. You should have seen her eye light up when she saw this place, she said maybe you'll let me sell this house for you, and I said of course that's the idea. . .In spite of all the little flaws in the place, I don't think we'd have any trouble finding a buyer.

Islip? Merrik? Babylone? East Hempstead? Suffolk?  Nassau? North Shore ? South Shore ? One Acre, two or three? Chicken Farm? ?????????????

Mrs. Iger just came to ask me to help her sew a skirt. So me and my scissors went on a neighborly good deed. I'll just cut this short today so I can catch the afternoon mail. Goodbye dear heart, I love you, come home soon.

With all my love as ever

Most faithfully yours,

*************************************

Wednesday
August 14, 1946

[darling drawing of woman and talk balloon with picture of man in heart-shaped picture frame; caption is "sigh-sigh"]>

Dearest Darling:

I dreamt of you last night, and it was so realistic, when I woke I missed you so poignantly, if I weren't an old staid married woman I'd write you a real honest to god love letter

(By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul
loveth; I sought him but I found him not.
Let him kiss with the kisses of his mouth; for
thy love is better than wine. My soul thirsteth
etc. etc. etc. )

See what I mean?

You know Jere, Camille is awfully funny. I scolded her and Bobby last night for not putting things back into the playhouse and she started to cry and said: "You KNOW Daddy doesn't want you to yell at me. I wish daddy were home, HE wouldn't yell at me and he wouldn't let you yell at me. " Jere, defender of little children! How dear to her heart. . . .

Slomin's sent a bill for $13.50, gee, they didn't waste any time, did they? There was also a bill from Dr. Dery for which I sent him a check. We got another phone bill, and another Electronics cam(?) how often do they come? Shall I send you the Newsday and funnies? Or do you think you'll be home some day soon????

Darling I just got your letter saying you haven't received any letters from me. Geewhillikins, now I know how the service wives felt when they got a letter from overseas wailing about no mail when they themselves have written their fingers to the bone. . . .My own darling, I've written you a letter every other day since you went away, five letters in all, dated the 5th, 7th,9th, 10th and 12th. I addressed most of them to Room 148 BOQ 1. The last one to Box 1. I guess the reason is that most of them were sent by regular mail, and only the last two by airmail. From now on I guess I'll send them all by air. I know how it feels to wait and wait and get no mail at all. It makes you feel positively abandoned, doesn't it? I havenít heard from your mother either, just the package and the two cards.

Cammie has a tummy-ache today and is making my life very hard crying for you. Yes sir, she's daddy's girl all right.

You know I kept wondering why you never mentioned my letters at all, --now I know.

Duke has turned out to be a fighter, after all. He's fine with the children and me, as a matter of fact I can do most anything with him myself now, but let him just see another male dog and he's at it hot and heavy. I'd taken him over to the school yard to run, and he tangled with Happy, remember Happy (he never used to like Mickey either, but he was just a pup and afraid of him) well, they were at it hot and heavy and there was so much storm and strife and yapping and snarling, you'd think they'd both be torn to ribbons, but after I hauled Duke off there wasn't a mark on either one of them. More sound and fury, I guess, than actual harm. But that's the human perversity of it, I find myself sneakily being quite proud of the fact that MY dog has so much spunk and spirit. And he looks as if he couldn't say 'boo' either. . .

Well, sweetheart, I shall send this off into the void with my fingers crossed. I shall leave you with your clouds and such, say, does your weather instrument tell you anything much down there? Will you be quite the expert when you come home again? And dazzle me with new knowledge! Goodnight, goodnight and all our love goes with it.

*************************************

Thursday
August 15, 1946

Dearest Darling:-

I just got word today that my father in Germany died of heart failure two days after he sent me that letter. I feel very sad because he didn't get my letters or the package, and now he never knew that I have three children. I think he would have liked that. Mother is all broken up and she cried all over the phone and under the circumstances she can't show it much, but I really think she feels very bad about it. For some reason those two have never ceased to be interested in each other and to her the shock and grief is just as much as if he had been her husband all these years. Personally I don't feel anything at all, and maybe I should, but all I can think of is that it's a shame to have to go all through the war years and then succumb. It seems he also suffered from diabetes, and his second wife thought that perhaps a food package would have helped him. The sugar and drugs you know, which we would have been able to send him. Well, there is nothing can be done about it now, and all the if's and when's and maybe's don't help at all. Now I have no ties with Germany at all anymore. . . .

The Avis's have gone today and without a goodbye to me. Not that I have been such good friends, but my goodness, she's gone past our porch any number of times without a word to me, and me sitting right there with the baby. I don't give one whoop in hell whether they went to Pittsburgh or Philadelphia (that's the latest word) or wherehaveyou. But I think it's silly to make such a mystery out of it.

I've been over at Mrs. Iger's for afternoon coffee with Betty. We had quite a nice afternoon, but I do wish she wouldn't feel so obligated just because I helped her with her skirts.

Friday

It's quite cool again today, you know, if this keeps up I shall have to take the overalls and sweaters out of the mothballs again. Is it still so sultry down where you are?

Well, Skipper, there is nothing else new to report, except Cammie feels a little feverish today. I tried to keep her in bed by reading to her, but after eating a little lunch she wanted to get dressed. Her temperature is only up a degree, but I keep haunting myself with specters of such things as Polio or rheumatic fever and things like that. Polio cases are on the up here in Nassau, and only the other day I read of a boy who had a sore throat one day and the next was dead from polio. . .

Well, dear, I'll get this ready for the mailman now, I'm sitting here impatiently waiting for the check! Isn't it just awful? I just hope this once you won't come along and denude me of all my cash. (though if the truth be known I'd gladly give you all I have or will have to have you with us for the weekend)

Bye now dearest. Did you finally get some mail?????

With all our best love as ever

[signed] I sent you $160 by wire, I noticed your paycheck was for 326.50. It cost $3.00 to send. Imagine? Let me know when you got it. All our love. Frances

*************************************

Ye Olde Homestead
151 Harrison Street
West Hempstead, N.Y.

August 16. 46

My Dearest and Best:-

I truly wouldn't blame you if you shook your head in disgust and wondered audibly WHERE my head is. Just because I get a check for more than the expected amount and right away I'm thrown into a state of utter confusion! All I can plead in my shamed and cowed state is that you did mention in practically every letter I got that you hadn't received your expense money yet, and I knew you must be pretty desperate for cash, so I rushed right out and wired you some.  But while I was stirring the jelly tonight (yes I'm still at it) in the quiet of the evening, I idly applied my mind (!) to the problem and it hit me like a bolt from the blue--two times $163-.25 - $326.50 -- and which is exactly what I got. But why they sent the whole months check has escaped me so far. Have you been fired? Or quit? or what?

Can you see it in your heart to forgive me this stupid mistake? Because you now have next fortnight's allowance. I don't believe I actually need it, do you think you might bring it back in person?????

Sperry's had a little strike flurry over in the Lake Success plant because someone was dismissed and the union protested. (A Jew of course they say) But it didn't last more than a day. I hear the salaried employees are going to have to take a cut again????!!??

I bought some clothes for the kids and myself today. Camille was practically walking on the ground again, so I bought her a pair of shoes. Bobby's are still all right and anyway, he has the white ones yet. I did buy him a couple of suits because the ones he now has are much too small for him. I wandered into one of the stores where they were having a sale on summer things and got three polo shirts (I paid $1.25 for them before) at fifty cents a piece. Also two pair of shorts at 59cents each, and a pair of slacks at $1.50 which I like very much. I'm afraid I'm going to be addicted to slacks, they certainly are comfortable and easy to get into. I got some underwear for myself, too, and it's been such a long time since I bought some, when I saw the prices! I almost didn't, but remembering the rags I call panties I just had to shell out the necessary coin of the realm. 89 cents for a pair of pants, it's ridiculous, oh are the good old days of 100 cents to the dollar ever going to come back?

Saturday

Well Dearest it looks like another bleak and daddy-less weekend. I got my sewing machine back again. Twelve-fifty. It had better be good for at least five years to make it worth while.

Have you been getting any chess in? And how do you spend your spare time these days???? No redheads, I hope!

I just got the surprise of my life with Mami walking in with the pups and a suitcase, so I guess they'll stay at least over the weekend. More next week, sweetheart. Goodbye and best love as always;, and a hug and kiss from your best little girl and your son and heir, and last, but not least

your loving spouse

[signed] Frances & Co.

P.S. Mumsi said where's the card you said you were going to send her?? Had a letter from Ruth. They bought a house up there, so I guess Joe will just never be back now. More about that later. F

*************************************

Monday
August 19. 46
[precious drawing of little boy riding in toy airplane titled "Bobbie's Dream!"]

Dearest Darling:-

Sweetheart it was wonderful to get such a long newsy letter from you, and thanks especially for the Leaf of Life, it's interesting, isn't it?

I had told you, didn't I? that Mami and Pop came as a surprise on Saturday, we had a lovely visit. For once they weren't in a hurry to depart for greener pastures. (Bobby, dogone him, is sitting next to me and every once in awhile puts his oar in by moving or pushing something leaving me stranded--) I asked him what I should tell Daddy and he said Tell Daddy to bring me a tractor and a train and--and--and (he ran out of inspiration) The little monkeys, that's all they can think of (That's too much---off to bed he goes)

Let's see where was I, oh yes, my mother had a lovely time bossing me around and for once Pop was in a mellow mood, too. The kids were wrecking havoc on him and he ate it up. Both Bobby and Cammie sat on his lap and were taken for rides and ice-cream, and even Gwen and Gail sat as close to him on the porch swing as they could. You should have seen him--entertaining the kids with one hand and rocking the baby's carriage with the other. How the Mighty have fallen----! When it came to decide which of the two they wanted to take home it was a tossup. Bobby wanted to go and Pop has a tender spot for him, but Mother wanted Cammie (she doesn't wet the bed) and Cammie didn't want to go. Mother bribed her with all sorts of promises and softened her to the point where she was willing, but oh, when she got into the car--the shrieks and screams--you would have though she was kidnapped or murdered. But one look at Mother's face and I hardened my heart and Pop drove off, with Mami clinging to Cammie and Cammie half out of the window. Oh it was quite a show. It brought both Mary and Betty to the fore. . . .Later Mother called me up and said not to worry, she was all right before they'd turned the corner, or Pop would have brought her back. I do think it is good for her to get away. You know, whenever I mention school she firmly tells me she will not stay but run home. I couldn't have her make a scene like that, so I've got to condition her now. Bobby felt sad (for a moment) and we had to tell him that when Grandma brings Cammie back and he's dry at night he can go, too. So now, when people ask where Cammie is he tells them she's at grandma's and he can go too if he's dry nights. Half the people don't understand what he means!

I wasn't going to tell you this if it had been serious but since I feel okay now, I guess I can divulge the latest escapade. I had diarrhea quite bad last night (search me why) and I was so sleepy and tired that toward the last I laid my head on the basin while I was enthroned and must have dozed off, because I came to on the floor with a lump on my head (another one) and a bruise on my hand and my watch dial broken. I felt kind of faint and just made it to the bed. I took a good big dose of castor oil, that's what the doctor always tells me to give the children, and it did the trick. Anyway I feel fine today, but keep wondering what in tarnation I could have eaten. Both children are okay. It was raining again today, just the sort of day to sleep and sleep, and I did that mostly, between tending the baby, Bobby is such a good kid he's no bother at all. Betty came in with a luscious piece of peach cake which I don't dare eat.

I have to date harvested four tomatoes, so there, and they were delicious too. If only we didn't have so much rain, it was awfully hot Saturday, and then we had a thundershower again, that's the way it's been right along. Lots of cool days and rain and in between just to let you know it is summer, it gets hot.

Your descriptions of Miami make me quite envious, although I wouldn't care for it as a steady diet, I'd love to see it for myself. You really should have a camera, why don't you take it the next time you come home. Oh Dearest, how I wish you could make it next weekend. I do miss you most terribly, the days are so meaningless and the evenings so very monotonous, and what with dragging along I don't get to sleep any earlier than I used to. Nothing is any fun and everything we used to do has lost its zest and sparkle. I don't mean to make it any harder for you, but oh my dearest darling, I'd far far rather have you here, bossing me, than playing Queen of the Hive all by myself. . . .

I couldn't find that snapshot you mentioned, are you sure it isn't among your other cards and such. The last time you showed it you had quite a time finding it. I'm having a copy made anyway.

Incidentally, Bonne's got $13,000. for their house, I couldn't swear to it, but I think the Avis's got their asking price. They were so closemouthed about it, I wouldn't demean myself asking Mary about it. Let them keep their little secret for all of me, Oh you know, when the movers came, little Margie asked him where they were going and one of the men said 'Philadelphia', so take your choice. At any rate it is out of the state. She came running over to tell me about it, she had heard (by grapevine) that I was anxious to know where they were going. As I said before, who the h---l cares where they're going. I told you he'd never make an effort to be friendly with you, because we're friendly with Betty and they just don't want to satisfy her curiosity. (Betty told me a nice juicy tidbit about herself remind me to tell you when you come home. . .just to show you it happens in the best of families)

I got a letter from Ruth, she said they were buying a house up there, a duplex, and they are on pins and needles right now. They didn't think there was so much red tape connected with it, and they haven't closed the deed. Their landlord is making hell hot for them, and they don't know when they'll move out and conditions aren't very pleasant there. Guess Joe will just never come back to New York now, gee.

I also got a birth announcement from Jerry, and the cutest snap shot of the baby. Wish I could go and see her. But I suppose I'll have to wait for mother, she did promise me to come for a couple of weeks after the pups are sold and Tante Hanni has come and gone. (and there isn't the slightest suspicion of you coming home) she said she wouldn't want to butt in on our few days together. Gee, the way things are going that's not hard to arrange!

I'm getting tired now, Dearest, and it's also getting late, so I shall sign off for tonight. Remember that record I got for the kid?

"The other night Dear
as I lay sleeping---
I dreamt I held you in my arms,
But when I woke Dear I was mistaken, and I hung my head and cried. YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE, MY ONLY SUNSHINE etc. etc.

Well, anyway, with all my love as ever

faithfully yours,

[signed] Frances & Co.

*************************************

[letter from F to J with picture of bunny bank with question marks and coins going into the slot and caption "Ha ha! Did you say save"]

Wednesday
August 21, 1946

Dearest Darling:-

Well here we go again, and this time it's your letter that's full of question marks. Let's see what happened around this little Garden spot since my last letter. Nothing actually, and it's awfully quiet around the house with Cammie gone, and would you believe it--I don't miss her at all--is it possible? Now that I've put it on paper it sounds simply incredible, but there it is, I hardly know she's gone. For that matter, Bobby is out all day, too, and only comes home to eat and wee-wee anyway. Lord but it's peaceful. I was thinking of going to Oceanside today, but Bobby wonít come, he's been playing in the Bonne's house (!) all morning and I could scarcely get him home for lunch, he's just fascinated by the fact. Oh well, another day will do as well. My wash came back today and I have lots to do.

About your check, well Jere, it's a funny thing. The stub says nothing whatever, except that the date is 8/31 and the amount is, as I said, just $326.50 net. I sent you the money because I thought it was yours and because I thought (if I thought at all) that you would have difficulty cashing a personal check. You said so once. I put $100.50 in the bank, and kept 63 dollars. I spent thirteen dollars on clothes including the shoes for Cammie. We have now a balance of $110.89.

I phoned Rose Binsack again yesterday, and she said she hasn't been able to locate anything yet that would fit with what I told her. She said that sort of house costs $15,000 or $16,000 and I told her we couldn't or wouldn't want to pay more than we could get for ours. She seemed to think she could get between $12,000 to $13,000 for ours 'because it needs decorating'. When I mentioned flaws, Dear Heart, I meant the obvious ones, like wallpaper and paint and hard wear we've given it. Not structurally, and naturally I had nothing but praise to her when I showed it to her. I noticed several likely prospects in the paper, notably in Port Washington, Islip and the North Shore , but Darling, how can I possibly track them down. I have no car and the children. I could go maybe by train and once or twice if I can get Geraldine to mind the baby. I think I'll call someone else, too, it can't do any harm.

You know My Lord and Master, if I didn't make a mistake now and then, you wouldn't have anything to catch me up on, and you might even lose your old touch, and that would never, never do. Wives or wifes, whichever way you spell it, I'm yours for better or worse, and don't you forget it! The Larsen Man keeps teasing me all the time and telling me about the time he was in Miami. He said the way the girls run around kept him a nervous wreck. Shall I send you a pair of blinkers, like they put on horses???? I told him that you may look but mustn't touch. Well anyway, up till now you've described the natural beauties to me, and not the bathing beauties. Oh you know, Jere, what you said about the water being so lovely, reminds me of Lake Constance . At that time I couldn't get over the color of the water either, it was so lovely. Only that was more blue than green. Some day when our fledglings have flown the nest and you collect your old age insurance you can take me around and show me all the beautiful sights you've seen. I had a nice, long letter from your mother, too, and she also writes about scenic beauties and how marvelous it is in California. (But she is still homesick, and feels as if she were only on a visit).

I just noticed that car in front of Avis' again, if those are the people that bought it, well, they have a big beautiful Doberman (the kind I've always admired and which costs a small fortune, so they must have money) and the people are quite elderly, but not so old that they don't enjoy life anymore. I think I mentioned them once before. Well, no matter. I don't expect to be friendly with the new people anyway, and they probably want to lead their own lives. I shall never be sorry that I laid myself open by asking about the Avis's affair, gee, you don't dare have a bit of natural curiosity around here without people thinking you're a gossiping snoop. When I told Mary I'd heard that the Avis' were going to Pennsylvania, she said, Well, now they're satisfied (meaning Betty) and also said she didn't want to broadcast other people's business like a town crier, and run from one to the other with tales. Those were not her exact words but that was the meaning, and I felt it like a slap in the face because essentially it is quite true.

Well, darling, that about brings us up to date, your youngest is howling for her dinner, so I'll sign off now.

With all that rain we've been having the lawn has become so lush, I had quite a job to cut the grass yesterday. A little more of this and we won't have any bald spots at all. And that darn old forsythia and peach tree is getting so wild, it pretty near leaps out and bites you as you go past. I certainly am going to transplant it the very first chance I get.

Went out to hang the wash up and Mary told me that the people I mentioned above did buy the house. She didn't venture any further information and I didn't ask. Maybe someday it will all come out naturally. I bet they got the $14,000 they asked, the people did look affluent.

Bye for today, dear. Oh I hope you'll be home this week-end. With much love, as ever

[signed Frances Bobby, Diane, etc. ]

*************************************

August 27, 1946
Tuesday

My Dear;

Marriage, they tell me, is like a pair of scissors. So joined that they cannot be separated; often moving in different directions; yet always punishing anyone who comes between them. . .

We had quite a storm last night. The Lightning crackled in the wires and the thunder boomed until even my intrepid heart quacked. I sat on the porch swing and clutched Duke to my bosom and watched this awesome spectacle until the rain got too much for us. And how it rained!! and isn't it a good thing I hadn't let any grass grow under my feet about fixing that window pane. Incidentally, that isn't a job I'd care to tackle every day. The next time could you please manage to break one that is easier to get at????(Yes, I know what you're going to say; I still say you did)

My fish are dying one by one, and somehow I don't give a hoot. When they're all gone I shall empty the aquarium, dry it and put it away till further notice. I have not the time nor opportunity to sit and look at it, let alone take care of it. I say 'spinach' and I say 'the heck with it'. . . .

The authorities say (and who puts them up as an authority anyway I'd like to know) they say a good conversationalist never talks about personal experiences unless asked, or discusses absent people or banalities like the weather, so what does a good conversationalist talk about? Have you read any good books lately? And how does Plato's Republic compare with our democracy?

I've just been down in the cellar to put a wooden pusher on our son's tractor (like Bobby Bonne has it) and I can tell you, Pride of My Life, Lamb of my Bosom, I refuse to do anything about that---that conglomeration you call your work shop. Good Grief, it seems to me you could have made some semblance of order if you weren't going to do anymore work down there. I just will not be responsible for it. I feel like walking out on the whole damn mess. . .

Don't you talk to me about MOODS, I've got 'em, but bad. In retrospect it seems to me I've lived all my life with you on top of a powder keg that periodically explodes under me, because I've failed to take into consideration 'a mood'. Oh well, another one of my gleanings is that sage observation that the weather and Men is something you can't change, and if you can't change it you have to make the best of it. When it rains on the day you wanted to go on a picnic there's nothing like curling up with a book or a game of cards or yes, so help me, even chess. And when you husband has a mood, you have a rousing good fight (after sending the children to the movies and lashing down all breakable objects) and when the storm has passed you take a deep breath and congratulate yourself on what a wonderful man you have for a husband. So kind, and thoughtful and considerate, and such a good father. Hello, Darling. Have I remembered to tell you I adore you?

And on this cheerful note we take our leave for today. As Mehitable says: Toujours gai, we have our ups and downs, but through it all I'm always the lady, if I have to lay your nose open with my claws to prove it. Toujours gai, My love.

Your loving spouse

[handwritten note]

P.S.

I meant to tell you. . .didnít you say youíd cancelled the insurance on your check? They deducted .72 for life and 1.77 H&A ins. Whatís F.O.A.B. ? The check was for (1.75) 160.76

We also got another notice from the County Trust with an added penalty on it (sounded kind of nasty. ) I had mailed it that day we got the letter from the insurance co. remember? Shall I ignore it, or what?

*************************************

to Frances Casagrande
151 Harrison St. ,
W. Hempstead, L.I. , N.Y. via Air Mail
July 5, 1946

Miami, Florida

Dearest,

Just a line to let you know I arrived here safely. Couldnít get space on the two flights I expected to go on and not wishing to take a chance I went over and got on the NAT which left Wash. at 3:30 , stopped at Norfolk for 45 min, at Jacksonville for two hours, and finally get in here at 3:00 (daylight time). Then we waited for transportation and finally Iím about to turn in at 4:30 --23 hrs on the go. Good nite, Jere

*************************************

[picture of auto with rumple seat, caption ďin our merry OldsmobileĒ]
Thursday
August 29, 46

Dearest Darling:

That was quite some Odyssey you had there, didnít you? I thought that only happened in books or on the radio--where oneís bags go off and youíre not with Ďem. Some people have more fun! How about writing a book for the edification of your offspring.

I have not been idle either. I sent to Mineola today to get a permit to learn to drive, and tomorrow I shall have my first lesson. I enquired about learning to drive and apparently my best bet is to go to a school. The Nassau Auto School to be exact. I shall have eight lessons and it will cost me fifteen dollars, and they will go with me for the road test. Betty says to ask them for a guaranty for the passing. She had paid ten dollars at the time when she learned. She told me that Cliff had started to teach her, but they decided it was worth the ten to get her lessons from someone else!!!! I hinted to Bill Maclenahan and he said who is the unlucky sucker who will let you ruin his car? and I dropped the matter right then and there. Mrs. Iger told me she paid thirty dollars and then she was so unsure they had to give her another test. But am I a Mrs. Iger??? Incidentally would you consider selling the house to them? She mentioned it to me today. Said at one time I said we would sell and she has been thinking about it and would like to have it because it has a backyard and two such nice neighbors??????? I wonder how long sheíd think that with Billy loose around here. Anyway I didnít say one way or the other but said Iíd write and ask you. And another thing, are you sure Mr. Purser is going to do right by us? Here itís been almost a week and neither hide nor hair have I seen of a client, or heard from him in any way. Iíve tried to get him on the phone about that message and finally gave it to his girl.

Jere, do you suppose there is the slightest chance of getting a furnished something out there? Or do you think it wouldnít be worth while to go and have you move on again? Iím also going to ask mother to try to get me a furnished apartment or house in or around Dover, then Iíd put our things in storage and get out right away. With the house empty and able to be decorated it might perhaps be easier to sell it. She is bringing Cammie back this Saturday and after Tante Hanni has gone home again she will come out for a visit. If I still have a roof over my head by then. You know, there are times when I feel I wouldnít be sorry at all if no one bought this place. It is so convenient to everything, and so nice for the children with the school near and friends. If we go out into the sticks theyíll grow up alone, and when they get older they will not like it to be stuck away someplace with nothing to do. You know how young people are.

Itís pouring rain again, and thundering and lighting, gosh does it ever do anything else. I suppose I ought to be thankful that my wash dries every day. Remember that other storm I wrote you about? Well, one of those lighting flashes went through Bettyís cellar where Cliffy was working and blew out the bulb and went through his leg. Gave him a shock anyway, but no burn. I knew it was close the way it crackled around me.

Bill Maclenahan is building a garage, and the poor guy is sorry he ever started the project. Heís worked like a horse and faces the cheerful future of working like a horse some more. They came and dumped the gravel in his driveway and in order to make room for the cinder blocks he had to cart the gravel in the back by wheelbarrow and oh, his aching back. I went up to return the magazines Irene had lent me, and gave him a hand for a little bit. Just like old times when I worked with Pop.

I went to Mineola this morning you know, and figured Iíd be back by twelve, but you know how the bus service is around here. It started off by me missing the Lynbrook bus by a nose, it was early of course, and when I rushed Bobby up to the station that one just went by as we got to the service station there, and as luck would have it there was no one waiting, so he went right on. Then I chased back Eagle Avenue again because I wanted to take my watch to the repair shop (youíll die when I tell you it will cost me eight-fifty because the fall I took broke a part inside. Damnation) Anyway, when I got back at twelve-thirty I saw Mrs. Stauder wheeling the baby up and down in front of her house! Can you imagine? While Anita was having her lunch. Irene has her sister and her little one for a visit so I couldnít ask her, and Betty was feeling punk with a headache and lying down, so I didnít want to bother her. Iím telling you Jere, it will be just heavenly to have a car and be able to pack the kids in it and just go.

Bettyís brother was around yesterday with his big empty truck and the kids had a picnic playing all over it. That is, it was fun until Billy Iger half cut his finger off on a crate or box or something inside it. His mother was almost beside herself, and Mrs. Burchard took her to a doctor or anyhow they went from one office to the other and no doctor was available. Finally a druggist patched Billy up temporarily, but he had some stitches taken in it tonight. I tell you, that boy is so stitched and banged and scared, there is hardly an inch on him that wasnít injured at some time or other. Heís the perfect example of that article I was reading some time ago in the Parentís magazine. They claim that a child that has more than itís share of accident has an underlying cause of anxiety or fear that needs to be straightened out first. Do you think because his parents are so overanxious about him that heís tense about being hurt? Because he would never keep away or be careful, not Billy. I keep telling her sheíd do better to leave him alone. But itís Loveís Labor lost to say anything, oh well.

Well, my darling, the storm is over, perhaps I can go in and listen to the radio awhile to put me to sleep. I guess Iím worried these days, I donít sleep as soundly as I used to. Things go round and round in my head like a squirrel cage, not that it does the least good, I keep telling myself that. But I guess I just donít like the uncertainty of it all. I do more than dislike it, I hate it. The thought of having no definite place to go to except my motherís house is very distasteful to me.

Well anyway, goodnight sweetheart (come home, all is forgiven, mama. )

With a hug and a kiss from your son & heir

and ditto, ditto, ditto

your loving spouse

*************************************

[letter from F to J--See "Cars Hate Me!" for additional paragraphs in this letter.]


Friday, Aug. 30. 46

Hello, Dearest:-

Thank you for your letter, Darling, it was very heartening to hear from you and such a lovely cheery letter. Of course, Silly, I keep all your letters, I quite often read them over again, when I get lonesome and haven't had any mail. I'm sorry I sent you such a punk letter the other day, I would much better have mailed it in the wastebasket. I do love you, Dearest, you know that and we have too much in common, other than physical attraction to let a little think like a mood or a quarrel separate us. There was quite a pertinent article in this month's Parents Magazine, too bad you won't want to wade through it, it's quite good and too lengthy to give here. It bears out what I've always felt about our quarrels, none of this sweetness and light stuff, and peace at any price. It says, "those couples are indeed fortunate who can differ strongly and openly without getting panicky about the future of their marriage. " And "no marriage is a strong one unless it was tested by crisis, conflict and adversity: and goodness knows we had enough of each to feel ours is based on a Rock of Gibraltar, eh? But it goes on to say that: Having taken the position that much of conflict is normal and desirable, it is still necessary to distinguish between that which is productive and that which is destructive. In other words don't be bitter and belittling and destroy cherished illusions, which keep marital relations intact. I hope I'm never guilty of that, because I love you dearly and would rather be married to you than anybody I can think of, and I want never, never come to the point where I say (and mean it) that our marriage was a mistake. I suppose I do try and irritate you sorely, much more so than you will ever do me, because of the fundamental difference in our nature, so it really is up to me to make more concessions than you should be called upon to do. I shall try very hard not to learn over backward trying to find something to throw in your face the next time we have our annual spat. Because nothing matters greatly when you're sweet and loving and amiable, but that you should be sweet and loving and amiable. See?

I just happened to think--if we should sell the house on our own, say to the Igers or someone like that, would we still have to give Purser a commission? I suppose I'll have to call him and ask him that. If I wait for him we'll both be old and grey (gray?) You know, Dear, I don't feel like doing anything to the old Homestead anymore, even going out to count our tomatoes has lost it's thrill, and I think "Why worry over the compost pile, or the weeds or why bother putting ashes around or fertilizer, who cares?

I've been down in the cellar again this afternoon, and if anything is better suited to put me in a fighting mood, let me hear about it! The big boxes which we so lovingly saved have fallen to pieces, and couldn't be trusted to put more than a few lightweight feather pillows in. And then I see those boxes and boxes, big and little, and one heavier than the other, and THEN I go upstairs and snarl at the dog and frown at the baby (who thinks its great fun and laughs and laughs) and woe betide Bobby if he should happen to come in with wet pants at that precise moment! ;$%^))()^%$$*%(Have I remembered to tell you I adore you?)

Well, My Dearest and Best, I shall now take time out to go in and listen to Mystery Theatre, and sew on a few buttons and knit a few rows and compose my thoughts. Don't ask me why I have to go and listen to that drivel, somebody always gets killed on that program, you know! or is that news to you? Bye now.

Saturday morning

I won't have much time to write more, with my folks AND Tante Hanni coming I'd better clean this house, but good! So goodbye for this time, Lover Mine, will write more tomorrow and tell you all about the visit.

With all my love, as ever [signed Frances]

*************************************

[letter from F to J]

Tuesday
September 2, 1946

Dearest Darling:-

Something dreadful happened after we said goodbye to you and turned home, I still can't believe it's true. We were walking down Eagle Ave and about to cut across the school yard when a great big sand truck came along and Duke gave a leap and broke away to bark at it (you know the way he would) and ran right under the rear wheels. Ugh! I can still see him--and those two big wheels went right over him. When I ran to pick him up he was giving his last breath. Oh Here, you can't imagine how I felt. I carried him home with all the kids following and asking questions, and me crying like a fool. I put the body in a box and hid it on the stairs, after calling the dog pound to come and take him away. Sure enough in a very short while the kids stated to come to the door to see Dukie (dead Dukie) and Cammie and Bobby went around giving everyone the stark details. (A big truck ran over him and he was all bleeding) actually he wasn't marked at all, but when he lay for awhile a lot of blood came through his mouth. Irene came and commiserated and Betty called up, and gee whizz, Jere, every time I had to tell it over again it was just as if it had happened again. If they only would let it BE, you'd get over it in short order. Even Madeline came over last night, and the kid who owns Happy mentioned it. I guess by now the whole darn neighborhood is in on the fact. I called mother and she put in words what everyone else only felt, namely, good riddance. But he was such a pretty dog, and we would have been good friends I know. Oh well. It just isn't meant for me to have a dog around here, and if I have to go live with mother I suppose it's just as well. And I was supposed to go for my second driving lesson, too. I felt so shaken up about this business I thought I'd never make it. But you know me, it never occurred to me to call it off, anymore than I'd skip school or work for anything less than a broken leg. I went all right, but I'm afraid my mind was not on the job, I was fine for awhile, and actually held the car on the road (I learned that much anyway) and managed to learn a U turn. (as well as could be expected) but then I slipped, and when he said "Now we'll make a right turn" I made a left one, and when he said 'left' I went straight ahead. And after that I decided I'd better call it a day. My knees were shaking too much and I just simply could not concentrate. It was all right while I had something to do, but when I just drove straight ahead for awhile and the car ran smoothly, my mind wandered and then I didn't know my right from my left anymore and decided to call it a day. Well, dear, I think I'll go and mail this letter now, and write again when I feel more composed. Don't worry about me, I'm all right, I'm just such an old Softie, you know those things bother me a little. But if no one mentions it to me any more I'll forget it. Mother said they were coming out Saturday cause my Aunt Hani came after all. So, more later. I hope you made it all right and expect to hear from you soon. Bye now, and all our love,

as ever

[signed Frances & Co. ]

*************************************

Thursday
September 5.46

Hello Darling:

Well I see you made it. I told you not to worry just put on your most important air and the olí Casagrande poker face, and it will get you through every time.

You know, dear, much as Iíd like to write you every day, we seem to be running out, nothing happens nothing is worth writing about. And I feel as if I were living in a rut, I donít ever even get a chance to go to the library anymore. TAHLT, as you can imagine, is a fate worse than death, even though I only skip from one murder to another. Still there is always the chance that I might run across something nice.

And the line of people jostling one another I their anxiety to look over our little white love nest is NOT forming to the right. Sometimes I wonder if Mr. Purser is interested in selling this house at all, seems to me when the folks across the street where in the market, there was a continuous stream of people looking at it. And how are you going to find a buyer if no one comes to look at it. Not even to look at it. I do think we should have given the house to more agents. I know you think there is no hurry, but gee-whiz, you know me, when thereís something to be done, I want it done an over with. And if weíre going to sell, it seems to me we ought to sell it now. From the way you talked youíd think people were falling all over themselves to grab this house. I just canít stand this uncertainty. I donít want to do anything and then again, I feel I should go on as if we were staying here, and transplant and paint and fix as we had planned. Oh hell! I drive myself and the kids crazy trying to keep the place neat and clean and feel positively frustrated whenever another day has gone by without any clients dropping in.

They brought some oil today, and there was another bill from Slominís in the mail. Shall I send them a check? $13.50. The oil seems awfully high to me this time. 8.9. It came to $17.80, and it seems to me we never had such a high bill before.

Well Dear I think Iíll call it a night. Iím enclosing a letter I got today from Mr. Nekton. Are you happy now? God only knows where you will be by that time. Mother called up and said she was coming Saturday, or did I tell you that once before? Well again, gíby.

With our very best love and lost of hugs and kisses

from your brood, and last (but definitely not least) you loving wife [signed F]

*************************************

[drawing of beach scene with palm tree and caption have fun, dearie. . . ]
Friday September 6, 1946

Dearest Darling:

Well, well, the globe-trotter is at it again---! A little bit further each time, eh? And donít forget to send a postal card to your stay-at-homes, will you? To think that all my life Iíve dreamed of far-off places and the nearest Iíll ever get to Ďem is to sniff the rare exalted air on a bunch of envelopes, woe is me, alackaday.

I had another lesson today, and I tell you frankly, Jere, Iíll never get my license unless I have a car to practice with. I do all right as far as that goes, in fact I do much better than I dared hope, but I can see there is lots of room for improvement. I hear tell they are pretty strict these days, especially on u-turns and parking, and after doing a couple of them you begin to feel the strain. I have a tendency now to stall the motor on the turning, and after him telling me a couple of times to give it a little gas I gave it gas and how! I donít know how much you know about the mechanics, but you see you have to ease up on the throttle or clutch whatever you call it, and give it the least little bit of gas at the same time, if you give it too much you car leaps forward and if you donít time it right, it stalls on you. I feel I could do better if I could practice by myself for a bit, this way, with an instructor in the car with me, it makes me feel so dumb when I do a silly thing like that, and you know me, it puts me on the defensive right away the more I try to be perfect then, the more I fizzle it. I have to take a tight hold on myself, and a deep breath and deliberately go about it. I feel pretty confident on a straight driving and turning, though I must say, Iím still a bit leery going across heavy traffic, where there is no light, but on the whole Iím not doing too badly. As I say, I can see where lots and lots of practice does the trick. He asked me if I get a lot of practice in since the last lesson (so I must have improved a little) and when I told him I had no car at all as yet, he said I should not feel too badly if I fail in the first few tests, as it does take a lot of practice to get on to it. †Betty keeps telling me that after all sheís been driving for sixteen years and she wasnít so hot when she started. I know all that, but that still wonít help me. Everyone consoles me with the same thing, but at the same breath they tell me not to be offended if they donít offer their own car to practice with. And I can just see Pop if I should ask him! You know he would never even let Joe drive even after he had cars of his own. Iíd dearly love to buy a car, there have been several listed at around two-hundred fifty to two-seventy five, and one or two at a little less, but the way you talked in your last letter I donít know whether I should wait until you have your buying spree over with. Good, when do I get a chance to spend money???? What do you have to get now, that is so important? Mind you, I donít care actually, but Iíve started this now, and Iíd like to get it over with while I still have the nerve. You know something? Itís going to be wonderful to have a car of my own to drive, it gives you the loveliest feeling of freedom. Just the thought of it gives me a thrill. But as I said to my instructor, I want to be sure I know how to handle a car under all conditions before I take the kids out with me, I have quite a lot of respect of an automobile and all it can do, and when you get in trouble itís not just yourself that gets hurt, I feel the responsibility very much.

Cammie came home in high glee this morning with a handful of little records that Mrs. Schreiber had given her. I was promptly regaled with Three Blind Mice and Hickory Dickory Dock etc. etc. They are quite nice, wee little records that Hazel had had as a child. I thought it very nice of Mrs. S to give them to the kids, especially now that Hazel is on the brink of matrimony and presumably motherhood herself.

I brought up some of the old records to try out and see whether I like them or not. And I can tell you frankly, your oldest girl-child is not, so far very much impressed with the old masters. In fact, she definitely does not like Ďem. Gwen does, and she wanted to play ďstandchenĒ which I think is quite enjoyable even for kids, and Camille was so annoyed she walked out of the house in a huff. Gwen plays them all as they come along, and itís a little funny to hear Caruso mixed up with Cock-a-doodle-doo and GalliGunci singing the Bell Song right after the three blind mice have galloped away from the farmerís wife.

I bet you havenít given your new radio time to cool off yet. . .

Anita and I have been having a contest whipping up fudge, and so far Iíve won hands down. You know I kind of like to have the kids hang around and mess up my kitchen. It gives me a phase of my girlhood that I missed out on entirely. I used to hear talk of girls making up a batch of fudge in their motherís kitchen but I never had good fortune to be in on it. I think Anita will never have that experience either unless I give it to her by proxy. I can just see what her mother would say about the mess and wasting sugar etc. etc. Besides my sweet tooth aches, too, and I havenít got the wherewithal for an honest to goodness box of chocolates. And you never did buy me any!

Well darling, Iíll say goodnight and go in and drown my sorrow in fudge and a book. Yep, a book. I may mail this tomorrow morning or wait until after my folks have gone. Bye now, dearest, with all our love to our daddy, as ever

your loving family

*************************************

[note: we have $233.22 balance, an oil bill of 13.50 and a telephone bill of 11.36]

[drawing of high kicking dancer with caption ďThis is what I feel like doing]


September 8, 1946
Sunday

Hello, my darling;

Well, weíve been tested and approved. Tante Hanni, Pop and Mami were here yesterday, although I have to pinch myself to remember them, they made such a little dent in my life. YOU know, here at twelve and gone by four. Oh well. Tante Hanni likes our house and wondered (audibly) why we wanted to sell it. She brought a box of chocolates and the thought of them and the book I was reading at present made the thought of their early departure bearable. Can you imagine my chagrin when I looked for them and found mother had hidden them! The little minx. By the time I found them and combed the kids out of my hair the mood was all gone, and to make it doubly bad, after me longing for some all week I found my mouth too sore to enjoy them. Too much fudge or tomatoes or just plain Ďbadnessí on my part, I guess. Anyway, Iím alternately endearing myself to our children or infuriating them by doling them out like the precious commodity they are. Incidentally, Tante Hanni sends her regards and her regrets that once again sheís missed meeting you. Did you ever---here we are married going on thirteen years and sheís never once met this paragon I married, though I donít doubt but sheís heard plenty about you. And to think her bounty away back in those golden days made it possible for you to take me to the movies remember? And by the way, Mami is just as jealous of her as she ever was, the poor darling, she and Hanni just never hit it off, and Hanni grates on her like a hair shirt (or am I mixing my metaphors?) Tante Hanni is the sort of woman who is statuesquely positive about everything, she has a very imposing facade and (donít breathe it to a soul) I like her a lot. Well, now that her lady is dead and she is at loose ends she wants to settle in New York, and Mami has threatened dire things if Pop so much as opens his mouth and looks as if he might invite her to make her home with them. . .

You know, dear, it looks as if even old Mother Nature is doing her best to put the Ďkiboshí on everything. Now that they have our old enemy the Japanese Beetle under control we ups and have a new blight on the tomatoes. I hear where it ruined acres and acres of crops in New Jersey and is spreading here to New York. The Casagrande Pride and Joy Handkerchief Patch has found that out. Iíve had to throw more than half of the tomatoes away, and it still is taking half the coming crop. But I am not alone. Mary is working against time to get enough under jar lids to make the growing worth while. Itís in the skin only, and if they had a chance to ripen more or less, you can skin them and use the meat for juice or sauce. Of course if it comes on the green ones the best thing to do is to throw them far, far away. The beans have gone now, and my mother was mad at me, she said all she ever heard was how many beans I had, and when some comes over theyíre all gone. Everybody getís Ďem, she says, but me.

I donít know whether youíve had any repercussion of this food situation, but it sure is getting fierce. In the first place we have this trucking strike tying everything up, and now with meat being back on OPA there just ainít any, and every time you turn around your dollar buys less and less. Betty tells me it wasnít worth going to Hempstead yesterday, the shelves were bare, there was no fruit no vegetables and no meat. Maybe I ought to breathe a prayer of thanksgiving that Old Bease gave me that little piece of roast and a chicken after vowing, as usual, that there was nothing in the store. More damn strikes, even the Sperry drivers are striking in Ďsympathyí.

Gloria Goodman just went on her way to matrimony, past an admiring throng of neighbors. Yes, I was one of them. I happened to be talking to Mrs. Sauder about that cute youngster of hers, when the procession went by. Mrs. Goodman, damn her eyes, was smiling sweetly and oh so proudly, and waved her hand.

Not much else to report. Big Cliff has an eye infection you know, his tear ducts donít work, and he has to squeeze out the puss at intervals and itís quite painful, he is not at his best these days. . . (Iíll have to get a new ribbon if I should ever get into town again. . . )

Monday

Iíve been a very busy girl this morning--Iíve moved our bedroom around, and I like it ever so much better. I think you will, too, when (and if) you come home again. Díyou suppose they will let you come back for the week-end before you go to Cuba? Cuba!--sigh! sigh!

Itís been the darndest weather this week. Summer is taking a reluctant leave, and just to show us what we missed it was quite sultry yesterday and today. The thermometer says seventy degrees, but it feels like ninety-five. Maybe the humidity has something to do with it. Maybe there is something to that old saw after all. You know--itís not the hear, etc. etc.

Once again, goodbye my darling. Write often and I really donít mind hearing about clouds, I like clouds too, when I can see Ďtem. Say, Jere, do you think you could send one of those Leaf of Lifeís to mother? She would love to have something like that, I know, and she would be so pleased.

The mailman is coming up the street, so Iíd better hurry and finish up. I hope he has a letter with green ink on it. . .

With all our love to Daddy,

as ever

his loving family [& spouse Frances]

*************************************

[drawing of radio playing music Do you love me?]

September 10, 1946
Tuesday

Dearest Darling:

Donít you talk to me about Ďforgotten mení. . .Iím the original forgotten woman! I had just one letter from you last Friday and none since till today. I thought you didnít love us anymore, not one word of consolation from you about Duke until today. I guess we expect too much from the U.S. Mail, anyway I always have the feeling after I drop the letter in the box that youíve practically got it already and are reading it. . .It always comes as such a surprise to me when you write and say youíve had no mail for days. Iíve been so deep in the doldrums this past week it would have taken an earthquake at the least, to lift me our of it. Iíve felt so indifferent about everything (even or should I say, most of all, you). Life wasnít worth two whoops in hell to me, the children were a drag on me, and I felt hemmed in all around. That gives you an idea. . .Jere I donít like this life, it is entirely without meaning to me. When you come home, we are so out of touch with each other and we try so hard and all we do is quarrel. Donít ell me to get out more, that isnít the answer, I feel sure that even if I were able to gallivant about Iíd still feel this emptiness.

Well, Darling, if you were to ask me now I could say in truth, yes I can drive a car. I know all the mechanics. I have learned to U-turn and park behind a car, I can keep the car where it belongs, and donít feel too apprehensive crossing traffic, but all that doesnít stop me from stalling the blasted thing when I try the U-turn. My mind is crystal clear on the subject but my left foot and my right foot canít get together on it. I take my right foot off the gas pedal too soon and by the time the left one eases off the clutch the motor is stalled. I make the U turn all right eventually, but it makes me so darned mad that I canít get that right. My instructor laughs at my chagrin and tells me everyone has that trouble in the beginning, but I feel thatís no reason why I must, and nothing infuriates me so much as the instructor calmly remarking ďyouíve stalled it againĒ. Itís then I wish to chuck the whole thin and am sorry I ever started it. I suppose if I were all alone in the car, Iíd just swear a little and go about it again and again until I had it. He, the instructor, said that all of a sudden it will come automatically and then Iíll wonder what made it seem so hard. I suppose heís right, and one of these days Iíll be eligible for membership in the Perfect Wives Club. I heard Arthur Godfrey mention it on his program, seems whenever a woman has driven ten-thousand (I think he said ten) miles without an accident or traffic ticket, she can join after getting her husband to sign an affidavit to that effect. Hitting him over the head with a rolling pin to get him to sign does not count. And, he said, if youíre a single woman itís a little harder. First you must get the husband and then the car etc. etc.

Our youngest sprout is giving a dress rehearsal against the time when she really begins to creep. She puts her nose down and gives a mighty heave, with the end result of her derriŤre in the air and herself not one inch further. She twists and wriggles and turns over so it isnít safe to leave her anywhere except in her bed or on the floor. Iíve put the pad down lately and she has a lovely time rolling around on it, only she usually ends up off it, or the kids lie down with her, sometimes with disastrous results. I think we ought to get a play pen. Bobby is very busy right now demolishing something in his room and reminds me of a poem: to wit

The Scientific Approach

What goes together
must come apart---
On that theory
Little boys start.
But for some reason
They donít care whether
What came apart, goes back together!

We had a letter from your mother yesterday. Laura and George are giving her quite a whirl according to her glowing descriptions. These two celebrated their fifth anniversary on Aug. 25th. Iím sorry to say I had quite overlooked that momentous occasion. They took your mother to Hollywood for a show, where the stars appear in person, like vaudeville. They also went to a big outdoor rodeo, with Roy Rodgers and Trigger (naturally) as the stars of the event. They went to the Pan Pacific Industrial Exposition and she said you would have liked it, they had a lot of electronic equipment on display. You know, radar as used by ships and planes, and without a doubt a good old gyroscope or something. They showed things in plastic and the newest in house-hold equipment. She mentioned a trailer at the mere cost of $40,000. Fit for a movie star to live in, no doubt. With portable swimming pool! She says she loves it out there, gives glowing descriptions of the scenic beauty and Hollywood by Night. Oh you traveling people! Between you, you are certainly making it hard for me to be a stay-at-home. We got clouds here, too, but they will never compare to yours, and we have twinkling lights at night, and balmy evenings and the same moonlight casting a magic glow on the countryside, but can it compare to Cal-for-ny-a? Never. Oh for the privilege to see it for myself, with my very own eyes, and then say: ďShucks, itís no different from home after allĒ.

Did you have your radio on last night? (Monday) There was quite an interesting program describing the effects of the Atom Bomb on the people of Okinawa, whatís the matter with me, not Okinawa, but Iwojima. I canít for the Life of Me remember what station and I have only the vaguest idea of the time, it must have been either during the Lux Presents Hollywood (phueey) or Lady Esther neither of which I cared to listed to. It was remarkably well done, and is in four installments, last nightís was titled The Silent Noise, and it was really something to get the re-action of people who lived through it for some fluke or other. Did you by chance tune in on it? I had been lying on the bed, drinking a bottle of beer out of sheer boredom (it had been left from Saturday) and can you imagine me being a solitary bibbler????? To think it has come to this! It will be Pepsi-Cola next, and then Iíll be Case No. 04048766 on some doctorís agenda. In this monthís Home Companion is a timely article on Do Our Women Drink Too Much, maybe Iíd better read it again and take it to heart before my Nearest and Dearest says to me with averted eyes: Lips that touch Pepsi shall never touch mine (unless it also has some rum in it) How I do run on, eh? Just to fill up space.

I took that old sewing machine stand out of our bedroom again and left it in the hall temporarily, and it wasnít five minutes later that Bobby was found squatting underneath it, moving that wheel on the side and making believe Ďmotorcarí. Iím glad now I wasnít able to take it off when I was dismantling it, they have such a lovely time with it. I moved it into the dining room and right now Gwen and Cammie are having the time of their life--one on top and one underneath--and how can I concentrate with little treble voices making like a motor---brrrrmmmbbb---

You havenít written yet whether you want me to pay our bills or not, and what you had in mind to buy (besides my birthday present. )

Goodbye darling sweetheart, our best love to you

as ever

[signed Frances & Company]

*************************************

[drawing of woman smelling bouquet with package and basket of letters captioned ĎHere it is. . .the smiling face etc.Ē--See "Cars Hate Me!" for additional paragraphs in this letter.]

September 11, 1946
Wednesday

Hello, Dearest:

Thank you for your letter, sweetheart. I guess Iím a sentimental booby, and to keep me contented youíll just have to pat me on the head periodically and say you love me or give some sort of sign that you want and need and love me. Then Iím perfectly willing, nay, eager, to take up my burden again and keep on wiping noses (and heinies) and stuff little mouths and clean and mend and do all those innumerable chores necessary to hold a house and family together. In other words what I need is a Ďriason díetreí. And besides when those periodical blues roll around, nothing takes the place of a pair of husbandly shoulders. When you feel grouchy and moody without visible reason nobody wants to act your Father Confessor, and besides I want nobody but you.

ďLoving in truth, and fain in verse my love to show,
That He, dear He, might take some pleasure of my pain,
Pleasure might cause him read, and reading know,
I sought fit words to paint the blackest face of woe---,
---But words came halting forth, wanting inventions stay,-
Bidding my truant pen, beating myself for spite;
ĎFoolí said my Muse to me, Ďlook in they heart, and write.

Okay, so Iíll write. And letís hear no more from you about not getting mail. Iíll just bet you have everyone there green with envy with all the letters you get. And me a mere WIFE.

Wonders, Dear Heart, never cease. The mailman just laid an offering at my feet that fairly took my breath away, when I saw the address was 54 Davis Avenue, White Plains. A letter, actually a letter from Audrey. Not much to it, they had wanted to surprise me with a visit but the couple with whom they were going to come had an accident with their car and they are waiting for the verdict, if and when it will be fixed. They will pay us or should I say me, a visit then. Sheís sorry that you will not be here, but sheíll make your acquaintance some day. Little Paul is a fine boy, weighs nineteen pounds (to our little rosebudís fifteen point three). She sent a snapshot of him, itís taken indoors, and not very good, but you can tell heís a lovely healthy adorable baby. Every bit as cute as ours, and thatís going some. Of course you canít tell much from a letter, especially when it doesnít say much beside the bare essentials, but I suppose they get along all right. Gosh, how I wish mother would come soon so I can go see people. . .To tell the truth, Iím really very curious to meet her and I do want to see the baby. I want to see for myself how Albert is doing as the head of a family, a married man and a father! Gee, sometimes I feel like an ancient crone, with so much of life behind me. . .I can see where itís very easy for older people to give out with a lot of free advice from he store of their knowledge.

Your surprise hasnít come yet, and I donít know if Iíll live till then. By the way, I sent off that jacket and tags you asked for right away yesterday afternoon. I hope you get it before you leave for parts unknown. How about your mail, will you get it even after you go? And donít forget to let me know right away what your new address is, will you Dear? Well, Sweetheart, that about covers it for now. You take it easy, too, and donít you dare stray off the straight and narrow. But oh my, by the time you come back to the bosom of your family again youíll be so inoculated with the movie bug, you can get a job as reviewer any time. But donít you worry, just because I havenít got any money right now to dash off to the movies doesnít mean Iíll hoard my nickels and dimes when I get Ďem. You just wait, Iíll fill YOUR ears with a digest of all Iíve seen. I really have to get out, do you know, Bobby put up such a fuss the other day when I went out for my driving lesson, he had the whole neighborhood out with their eyes bugging out. He ran after me and then stood in the middle of the street and had hysterics, you know him, stamping up and down and screaming bloody murder. Betty went after him and put him in his bed and calmly told him she couldnít possibly talk to him while he yelled so, and when he wanted to get out of bed he should say so. And that was the best thing she could have done, because he went to sleep. But it embarrassed me so, when I heard about it, after all, I donít go galloping about for my own fun, and people might think it terrible to leave the kids. I donít know. You see, Anita just is not able to cope with them. Itís okay when they are good and play out side as usual, the baby is no trouble to her, but when they get obstreperous and unmanageable, she doesnít know what to do, and her mother just doesnít wish to be bothered. As it is, I usually come back nearer to six than five-thirty, and I invariably find Mrs. Stauder minding the baby while Anita has her supper. That is, when she sees me come, she makes a great show of rushing out of the house and covering Diane up and wheeling her up and down. Iím glad when I donít have to call on Anita anymore.

Well darling, with all our love to you, as ever Frances

*************************************

[drawing of bedroom layout captioned "thatís the way the bedroom looks now.  more spacious!Ē--See "Cars Hate Me!" for additional paragraphs in this letter.]

September 12. 1946
Thursday

Dearest Darling:

I had quite a windfall just now, two letters all at once. One was postmarked the 11th, 1:30 PM and the other the 10th, 10:30 am. Do you suppose Uncle Sam heard us and has taken it to heart? What service could be better than that? Especially since the second letter covers Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning.

You know, dear, I should never write a letter when Iím out of sorts it always sounds so silly to me when I get your reply and youíve fretted yourself about me. Seems to me , the proper place to mail any but the most cheery and newsy and informative ones, is the waste-paper basket. And look whoís telling me to get all cheered up reading Schopenhauer maybe, or Machiavelliís Discourses. (Put not your trust in princes, nor any son of men--) I donít see you curling up with Platoís Republic of nights, oh no, you fritter your time away on the Cowboyís Lament! Njah, so there! When I feel in the mood to improve my mind, such as it is, Iíll know where to look, but when Iím in the dumps, and donít want to add to my woe reading about the vagaries of human nature. I want to be taken out of myself, entertained, even if someoneís blood must flow, and thereís a corpse on every page, and a ghoulish chuckle tucked in the lines, so what?

Now to get back to your letters, letís get the incidentals out of the way first. I checked with Betty, rather she checked with me, and the oil is definitely gone up. As what hasnít? Your Sonny Boy is very much okay, lively as a cricket is no work for him as my last letter can attest. If you donít see him, you hear him, who should know that better than you? AND for his musical tendencies--well, he seems to be mainly concerned about putting the record on and taking it off, holdin' Ďem. Clutching is the word. He gets animated about it when I do, or someone does. Heís just a born copy cat, and will be some smart teacherís pride and joy. I should have more time for him, what a wonderful Ďonlyí child heíd make. Heís so cooperative and willing to be on his own, and so advanced in everything, or maybe he wouldnít be if he were the only one. Who knows.

*************************************

[See "Cars Hate Me!" for additional paragraphs in this letter.]

September 13, 46
Friday

Hello Dearest:

Well here we are, every hour-on-the-hour Casagrande. Thereís just been a phone call from a certain Mr. letís see now, a Mr. F. T. Dalton of the Fairtown? Co. , anyway he said youíd been to see him about a job with the engineering department. Did you? and when? I told him you were out of town but were expected home either tonight or some time next week (liar that I am) and he said when you came back to phone him, heíd be in daily from 8:30 to 5:00. His phone number I have here. Just thought youíd like to know, in case your feet are itching again. Thereís a song I remember snatches of that goes somewhat like this: ďmy feet are tired and need a change, come on , itís up to you. Itís overland, and overland, and overseas, to where? Most anywhere but here, says I, his face turned kind of queer. The place youíre in is always Ďhereí, the other place is THEREĒ

*************************************

[darling drawing of baby, arms up, being helped to walk captioned Ďthis will be next!!í]

September 16, 1946
Sunday

Dearest Darling

You Ďsweetí offering came late Saturday afternoon, but none the less welcome. Thank you ever so much, sweetheart, you ARE a dear. I had the strangest feeling that you might be home this weekend, but my feminine intuition played me false, it made the weekend twice as lonely. To give you an idea how the whole thing affected me--I dressed myself very carefully I my second best dress and wore my nylons and my war paint, and then to give it fillip, I took the kids for a lovely walk over to the ducks and then to the hill. I must report that although those who knew me best raised polite brows and said ďwowĒ, no tall, dark and handsome stranger offered to take me home to show me his etchings. I have failed. Could be the lack of ĎTabuí, or Purple Passionís Palpitating Heartthrob. . .

K. Binsack is still leading lambs up to slaughter, anyway, HE keeps on trying. That other party I was telling you about was very much interested but too short of cash.

It got awfully hot again today, just when I was beginning to debate whether or not to do something about the storm windows. Should I paint Ďem, do you think? Or put them up the way they are? Or should I wait awhile longer and let the new owner do it? I know what youíll say, and I suppose youíre right, thereís no hurry.

Our little Little has caught on to Bobbyís trick, she getís herself up on her hands and knees and then just rocks and rocks until she falls over. More fun, daddy!

[See "Cars Hate Me!" for remainder of this letter.]

***********************************************

I think the exchange that follows is the most interesting of all the letters Mother and Father ever exchanged. They are apparently in the midst of a trial separation, trying to find a way to live together amicably.

***********************************************

Jere, tell me something truly, has your being away solved any of your problems? Are you happier on your own? I mean, now that you can arrange your life to suit yourself is it more tranquil, with nothing to provoke your wrath? I was digging around upstairs looking for Dickens when I came across that little book ďexercises in Thinking and ExpressingĒ again. Itís a little book, but oh my, it opens up so much. You know Dear, if you make the world your home, instead of the Home your world, there is no need whatever to feel bored (not counting moods, which all of us are inflicted with at one time or another). You know, I think thatís the one reason Iím not satisfied to live the way we do right now---we used to talk a lot to each other about all sorts of things. Letters are all right, but they are not the same, you say something, anything whatever is on your mind and there is no repartee until days later when you no longer remember what caused you to think and say what you did. Besides, this little book I mentioned, said among other things: Disagreement is as necessary for a flow of connected thought as is difference of potential for a movement of electricity. I donít know too much about differentials and potentials, but I see only too clearly what he means.

Monday Sept. 16

I didnít get this letter finished in time to give the mailman, but he handed me yours, dated the 11th postmarked the 13th, 8:30 PM, and delivered into my hand the 16th. I do believe itís a matter of when a plane takes off and whether they go right through. Letters that are written and mailed toward the end of the week donít seem to get here until Tuesday, and those mailed at the beginning arrive almost within a day or two. If you will look over the letters youíve gotten you will notice I write practically every day, but there is no consistency in when you receive them. But now you see what I mean when I say writing a letter isnít the same. By the time the answering letter comes the mood is altogether different and itís difficult to recapture the motivating force.

Darling, you say in your letter that you know very little of my thoughts and you wish Iíd tell you more. . . ! Well, it seems as if we have been puss-footing around without scratching below the surface. Do you realize your letters have been mainly a skeleton frame of your days. I know which movies youíve seen and what youíve done but I could not read between the lines about how you felt. Youíve never mentioned whether youíre lonely or whether you miss us, or whether youíre sorry you started this chain of events. How can I bare my heart and take down my hair to you when for all I know to the contrary you may be perfectly content to live a bachelorís existence. You may enjoy the change and freedom and I would not want to be the one to say, come back and be chained down with trifles and irritations. And then again, I donít know that Iíd like you to go back on your promise. Although you didnít sign a contract you did promise to abide by the rules for a year. When you come right down to it, I think Iím afraid we will both like it only too well to be separated, and the thought scares me. By the way did you listen to ďExploring the UnknownĒ last night? How not to worry indeed. I was never one to worry much myself, but I can see how easily oneís inner conflict can make a chronic worrier out of you. To get back on the subject: remember how we used to snarl at each other in anger and Iíd say ďGo away, thereís peace in the house when youíre not in itĒ and ďYour support is all I ever want from youĒ, Darling, I think subconsciously I worry whether it really is so, because, you see, I want more out of marriage than just that. I donít want to be alone, thatís too simple, I do so want to live with you, but amiably and contentedly. I hate scenes, but I doubly hate the thought that the structure of our marriage is dependent solely upon me, rightly or wrongly, it seems to be up to me. You see, itís all right for awhile, and then we have a quarrel, and it seems to be always I who precipitated it. It automatically puts me on the defensive (why should I always be the one to give in) and you know Frances with her hackles up: double trouble. Oh nuts! Darling, Iím lonesome for you and I want you to come home as soon as it is honorably possible for you. I donít mean right now, and I donít mean you must, it is up to you really, I just want you to know as far as Iím concerned the experiment was successful. I would far rather live with you in hell and shed buckets of tears on account of you, then live this way. . .bound by bonds of affection but separated by circumstances.

It would be so simple if I didnít care for you anymore, but I do, it isnít just the pattern of love Iím following. I donít delude myself, I do love you, for better or worse. Or am I just trying to convince myself? Oh darn.

Anyway, now itís up to you to tell me what you think and feel. Though if my past years of living with you donít deceive me, I know right well, that you have no such scruples. Men seem to have that wonderful knack of leaving yesterdayís ashes strictly alone and only making sure they have enough fuel for tomorrowís fire. I bet all youíre concerned with right now is the disappointment of not going to Cuba, after missing out on that assignment to the FDR. You would be willing to throw in the sponge now because youíre fed to the teeth with Miami, which hasnít even the ordinary comforts of home to reconcile you. Do I sound mean and cold, dear? I donít mean to be, but one of my secret sorrows is the knowledge that you could leave us behind and your life would close up with scarcely a ripple to show it. Well, to get down to a concrete idea, unless you feel this new job that seems to be open to you is worth throwing over the one youíve got, you and I will just have to jog along until further notice. The house will be sold one of these days, and I shall be creeping in with mother, and after that is time enough to take stock and see where we are. The kids and I will be alright, and so long as I can still meet the mailman with high hopes of a letter from My Dear, weíll get by. So keep that green ink flowing. . .

The check hasnít come yet, and I had counted on it. Tomorrow morning Iím taking Camille to the dentist. Her teeth have an awful lot of tartar stains on them, and besides I think you should take them after three or four to get them accustomed to the idea. Iíve said it to myself so often (I must take Cammie to the dentist to have her teeth cleaned) that finally I just picked up the phone and found myself with an appointment. In the afternoon that appraiser is coming and I donít know now if I have time to go to the bank and get back in time, that is to say, if the check should come tomorrow. Who knows????

I shall have to take Bobby into town with me to get him some shoes. That last wetting his brown ones had to take simply disintegrated them. (Quite a jump, from heartthrob to shoes, ainít it?) And I hate to bring this up, Daddy, but one of these frosty mornings we shall have to dig into the bank roll and buy their winter clothes. I paid Slominís bill for the service the one for the oil hasnít come in yet, and besides that can wait awhile then. There also came another phone bill, and this time I simply must pay Ďem. I am going to keep enough cash out of your check for that and for Bobbyís shoes.

Your candy was scrumptious, sweetheart, but now there is only a faint memory of it. I bet you never thought it would take over a week, did you? Now I wish I had sent your jacket by railway express, although it probably doesnít matter too much if youíre not going to Cuba. Iím sorry youíre not going, dear, I know you would have loved the trip. Are you going to Banana River then? Or does anybody know what happens next? Will you have to stay I Miami? Donít mind me peppering you with questions, when you know and I know, that you wonít know till you get there.

Well goodbye my love, duty and Diane is calling, so with all our love as ever [Frances & Co. ]

*************************************

[this is a Ďgreen inkí letter from dad to mom, handwritten]

Miami, Fla.
Tuesday, Sept. 17, 1946

Dearest love,

No letter today, and life is beginning to become boring. Not enough to do, nothing but movies or the radio. I adjusted the movie amplifier this afternoon for the boys at Master Field, and tomorrow Iíll find out how much good it did.

Wednesday, Sept. 18

Just received your letter of Sunday and Monday, the big one. Iím very sorry I couldnít get home, but thatís the Navy. Incidentally, I think it takes 1-1/2 days from the post mark for a letter, morning to next afternoon, or evening to day after next morning.

Right, leave the windows where they are unless you need them.

So our ďlittle littleĒ will soon be walking--time goes on, life moves swiftly, and absence makes one keenly aware of the day by day changes.

One would get the impression from your letter that you donít like Mr. Purser--any particular reason, or is it just an impression?

Yes, it is not our kind of a community, and Iíve come to the conclusion that nothing in it has changed, it has simply followed its natural development whereas we have not grown into it for many reasons. Neither of us would have a place in it and it has not made an effort.

It didnít seem that these were peculiarly problems of mine, but rather our little difficulties. Life is naturally move tranquil, with no flare-ups, but how could it be otherwise? Tranquility hasnít been one of my goals, nor did I think it to be yours. Certainly, letters are a poor medium for the exchange of ideas between intimates on common, everyday subjects, and the correspondence merely serves to emphasize the separation, if by no other reason than by adding a [?] of new unanswered questions.

I donít like a bachelorís life, never did and never will--that much you should know about me without being told. I donít enjoy the things I might make use of, nor do I either desire nor know how to take advantage of the so-called freedom. You say you are afraid we will both like being separated--do you? Are you content to live alone with the children? I donít like it, but if you do I can probably learn to.

I, too, dislike scenes, and would like to live amicably and contentedly--but is that possible with two such independent and strong individuals as us? Sweetheart, you sound so uncertain and distressed--you know there can never be anyone but you, and all that you say for yourself goes equally for me. These feelings are only natural, and all that is required is a little common sense and self-restraint, plus a modicum of consideration and courtesy.

I donít know what you mean by ďI know you have no such scruples.Ē On the theory that you were content for awhile I was trying to make the most of an unsatisfying situation, in which an assignment to Cuba looked like a promising one. As between our life together and all the new and wonderful places of the earth, there could be but one choice. Miami is one of the garden spots of the earth, and I have enough money, or could get it, to do almost anything I desired. As it happens, I do nothing, I live on the base and work, eat, sleep.

Do you think that I left home and forgot everything? It did not seem fitting to talk of what I missed, and I wanted to share what there was here with you, and give the most cheerful picture.

Iím becoming so confused that I donít know what you want. As you say, I did promise to stay for a year but I have good reason to change that. Perhaps if we could get together weekends we could work this out until things were more settled. That job with Fairchild might turn out to be good, but a ďbird in the hand is worth two in the bushĒ and I donít at this moment want to leave Sperry, but I would like to get out of this A.C.G.

How is our bank balance now? Have you bought a car yet? If not when are going to? When next I get home I expect you to teach me to drive--I can see you proudly displaying your driverís license and pushing me into our jalopy for a lesson from ďherself.Ē

Perhaps with a car, and the house sold, we could take stock of the situation once again and decide on exactly what to do. One possibility Iíve been turning over in my mind for a long time now is taking a job in So. America, making Latins of us all.

Have you done any pruning and is the grass cut? Must make the place pretty, you know, to show off our ďlittle white home in the westĒ of Hempstead.

Well, so long for now, Iíll stop here and take it into town to mail.

All my love to you and the children,

Jere (daddy)

*************************************

Wednesday, Sept. 18. 46

Dearest Sweetheart:

My name ought to be Penelope, Ďcause I spent a very unprofitable day yesterday just waiting. . .First I waiting for the mailman, no check and no letter, and all afternoon I waited around for that appraiser to come and neither hide nor hair did I see of him. I called up Sperryís and they told me theyíd check into it and call me back, he did, and it seems the secretary had forgotten to call for the check and mail it. Full of vacation dreams no doubt, and her mind not yet functioning. Darn her. I suppose if I hadnít called Iíd never have gotten it. Iím sorry to say I had to cash a ten dollar check because today being Wednesday I expect, among other things, the laundryman and the egg man. This is the second time I havenít paid and I canít let it go again. I took the kids to the dentist this morning, and surprisingly they were very good about it. I tried to tell them just what would happen (keeping my fingers crossed that the dentist wouldnít hurt them) and it worked out fine. Cammie has two cavities in her back teeth that have to be attended to. Bobby just had his cleaned, he is alright. We go again Thursday, gee thatís tomorrow already! The tartar on Cammieís teeth was so bad, he didnít finish it, I guess he didnít want to tire her, and preferred to do it another day, which is wise I think. After supper I took Bobby to the barber, people were beginning to say: Ba-ba Black sheep, have you any wool, to him. His resemblance to his daddy at certain stages of hair growth was remarkable. He came home and asked me if he was a girl, apparently someone had been teasing him about it. And all because I didnít get the check when I expected it. It should have been here last Saturday.

[See ďCars Hate Me!Ē for additional paragraphs.]

Well, my One and Only, I think Iíll call it a night, too, take care of yourself and donít forget us. Cammie said the other day that when Daddy comes home he is never, never going to Washington to work no more. . .And how I wish it were so.

Goodnight Dearest,

with love from us all

[drawing of mother, daughter, son--with halos--and baby]

*************************************

Thursday, Sept. 19. 46

Dearest Darling:

[See ďCars Hate Me!Ē for additional paragraphs in this letter.]

To get back to your letter. The lamp, that youíre so worried about, is suspended from the window frame, and can be hung on either side. (or two put up, for that matter) I like it so much better, it seems more spacious and not so cluttered. And you donít walk into the room and right onto the bed.

Iím sorry to say, and isnít it a shame? Your children have completely accepted your absence. Once in a while, when I punish Camille sheíll retire into her trundle bed and sob for her daddy. (like God) and every so often she will ask if youíll come home soon. I say ďwe got a letter from daddyĒ and they look at me and keep right on doing what theyíre doing. Or at noontime I crane my neck for the mailman and they will teasingly ask what Iím looking for and then answer their own question. Then one or the other, itís a game you see, will say ďwhat do you want from the mailman?Ē and the other one will laugh like anything and say, a letter from daddy. This doesnít happen often, and more and more seldom. Thatís why I wish you could come home over the weekend oftener.

I just took some time out for an afternoon Kaffeklatsch with Betty, Irene and Mrs. Iger. Nothing much was said except the usual. Took Cammie to the dentist this morning again, but this time it wasnít very successful. The cavity I spoke about was quite deep and he had to do a lot do drilling. Toward the end he hurt her, and now I know why they say Dr. Kaim isnít a good doctor for children. He started to scold Cammie for crying and you know what that does to her--made her cry only more. I thought it very unnecessary. Especially in view that he made us wait for thirty minutes, and by the end of that time the children were cranky anyhow. Oh well, I have to go once more and that will be that. Though Cammie vowed she wasnít going back to THAT man again, ďIf you make me go, Mammie, Iíll run awayĒ

I got another letter from Mr. Nekton, in which he said the same thing as that notice from your lodge, which I sent on to you. He also said, that if you couldnít make it on the 30th, you could still take your second degree on the other date mentioned. Oct 27th, I think.

Friday morning

Well, Dearest, it looks as if we will have to spend another weekend apart. Itís going to be another hot day, we certainly had that summer weather we didnít get in August, this past week. Wheww, how I long for nice crisp autumn days.

I thought Iíd rush off to the movies the minute I could lay my hands on some money, but I havenít so far. In the first place there is nothing Iím keen on seeing, those pictures you mentioned are still in New York, and anyway, I have a book to read thatís fascinating reading. So Iíd just as soon spend my evenings at home. Itís nothing earth-shaking, this book ďAsk no QuarterĒ, but it is interesting and historical, and adventurous. Itís about colonial Newport at the end of the 17th century and Rhode Islandís struggle to keep itís charter. I like it. Goodbye for now, Lover, until the next time. With all our love, as ever

*************************************

[drawing of baby captioned Hiya daddy--See "Cars Hate Me!" for additional paragraphs in this letter.]

Friday, Sept. 20. 46

My Dearest and Best:

your letter, dated Sept. 18th, just came. Itís good to get a letter from you, next best thing to having you walk into the house. Maybe Iíll be having the Morton Lodge to thank for having you home for my birthday, eh? Can you come home that weekend? You know, dear, Iím sorry I made it so hard for you with my last letter, but truly, I donít like living alone, although if I must, why I guess I can struggle along, as I always have in the past. (The funny thing is, each time I vow itís the last. ) It all seems so pointless now, though, and as far as saving any money is concerned, that all is an optical illusion unless youíre saving any. We have now $287.81. I paid $19.98 for three monthís phone bill. four dollars to Dr. Dery, incidentally he came today to look at little-little. I called him up and said it was too hard for me to take her in and would he come over and he did. It is worth the extra dollar for a home call, to me. The baby weighs 15.5 and will be on straight milk, three meals a day, with egg and potato and dessert and the milk from a cup. She is practically growed up now. . .

Itís getting very late again, I think Iíll call it a night. Maybe tomorrow morning Iíll be full of inspiration again. Good night Dear Heart, be of good cheer, one of these days weíll be together again---you in one room listening to Shirer (or Kaltenborn, or Fulton Lewis) and me in the other with nothing but The Shadow for company. . .

I couldnít sleep anyway, so after reading your letter over again I thought Iíd come out and talk to you a little longer. Oh darling, you see what the written word will do---I eased myself by writing all those dark thoughts down and laid my burden plumb on your unsuspecting shoulders. I just donít know why I torment myself with those doubt and uncertainties, when I know darn well that after all these years the very thought of having to live without you always leaves me panic-stricken. No, a thousand times, no, I donít like to be separated from you, and I could never get entirely reconciled to it. Not for all the peace and tranquility in the world. I guess like a woman I just had to be reassured that you would rather be with us than at all those fascinating faraway places. I quite agree with you it does no good to pour salt in the wound by harping on it, and I wonít say anymore about it. Iím just so sorry I made you unhappy, I know it isnít easy on you, in fact it is harder on you than on me, if youíll permit me to be funny at a time like this: youíre such a domesticated bird that clipping your wings is scarcely necessary, and whatís more I know it. You know the whole trouble was that after those flare-ups we had, especially just before you left and we didnít talk to each other practically the whole time you were home, we didnít really talk it all out, and my feelings were so hurt it was easy (for me anyway) to imagine all sort of things. I felt like I was only the mother of your children and your chief cook and bottle washer and it was hard for me to be tender and loving and longing in my letters during that period (as you no doubt noticed) and it sort of repressed me, because God knows, Iím as crazy about you as I ever was, and Iíve got to show it or burst. So I busted, and let the chips fall where they may. But I promise to be good now, and be a Patient Little Griselda and wait for my man to come back to me, whenever Fate and Fortune so degree. Oh Iíll miss you most dreadfully, but like the Spartan I am Iíll bear up under the strain. So you go right ahead and absorb the scenery and customs and Life with a capital L around you, so you can give all those experiences to me, second hand Ďtis true, but arenít your eyes my eyes? And I noticed from your letter the Ďtinkerí in you crops out regardless, doesnít it? How is JC #1 doing these days, did it do you any good? We could use a radio mechanic around our house, so how about coming home and qualifying for the job. You know the dial of the radio in the living room is off, and how itís off. I hardly ever use it because you have me spoiled and the hunt and try system doesnít appeal to me anymore. When I want WEAF I expect to find it within a second and not have to track it down from one end to the other. And the radio in the bedroom must have something wrong with the push buttons, sometimes when I put on WQXR I get, of all things, the German program. And while their records have a nostalgic twang, I can do without their commercials beautifully. All they ever do is talk, one record and ten thousand words of twaddle. And besides itís so low you can hardly hear it. Only on WQXR though, and just when I want that music to follow me around the house on my work. My eyes are getting droopy, Goodnight again, sweetheart, more tomorrow. Toujour gai! Toujours gai!

Saturday morning

Itís raining a bit for a change, and I had planned to go into Hempstead on the bike. Oh well. That way I donít spend any money.

I think Iíll finish this letter off now and start another one when the mood strikes me. Bye bye dear, and best love from all of us as ever

*************************************

[drawing of angry cat captioned Ďthis is how mad I feel. . . '--See "Cars Hate Me!" for additional paragraphs in this letter.]

Sunday September 22, 1946

Dearest Darling:

Itís been raining rather heavily overnight, and the lawn is quite lush again today, though nothing can be done about the backyard. I tell you, Jere, Iíve felt so badly about it, like a mother duck with her ugly little swan-duckling. Honestly for two cents Iíd give up the whole idea. However, we will do whatever you say. I do wish you were here.

And another thing, I told you it was raining yesterday all day and into the night, well, sometime after seven the lights went out, just as I was doing the dishes, so I lit the candles and let the kids come into the kitchen and read their books by candlelight. It was fun. Well afterward, by eight it cam e on again and I put the kids to bed and lay down on our bed to listen to the radio. Around nine or so I thought I heard scurrying footsteps and looked to see whether the kids were in bed or not, when I heard Mrs. Conry at the door. She told me sheíd brought the kids home in the car after finding them playing in the puddle outside her house. They were soaking wet, and after I got through with warming their bottoms it is to be hoped we stove off pneumonia. I was so angry I didnít say one word, just laid each over my knee and spanked. Just think those impies went into the dark night in their pajamas and played, the lord knows how long in the rainy street. They might easily have become lost or run over by a car who certainly donít expect to see children wandering about at that hour. I tell you, what will they think of next.

I'm sorry, but I truly don't understand how a four year old and a three year old could "sneak" out of the house. This is just too oddÖ

Monday morning

It looks like another dismal Ďblueí Monday today. Iíd give anything if I could jump into bed and pull the covers up over me. . .Bobby has given me such a restless night! He wouldnít and wouldnít go to sleep last night and kept creeping into my bed only to fall asleep and roll on the floor with a thud, after which Iíd put him back in his crib and before I could close my weary eyes heíd be back again. He is such a dear little fellow I didnít want to be harsh with him, but oh gee gosh, am I tired this morning. Ho-hum

Thereís not much else to say, so maybe Iíd better get this letter ready for the mailman when he comes at noon. You know darling, it seems to me I spent all my time at the typewriter writing letters to you and every one else gets sadly neglected. I really must get to work and write to Ruth and Audrey and Ann. Gee, I wonder if Iíll ever get a chance to see her.

I just remembered that you asked my why I didnít like Mr. Purser. I couldnít tell you exactly, Jere, but you remember even at that time I told you he didnít care whether he sold our house or not. Sure, if someone came up to him and he had nothing better in mind he might go so far as to hold his hand out for the deposit, but thatís all. Do you mean to tell me that in all this time there has been no one at his office with the necessary $5000 dollars who was looking for a nice little house like ours, so convenient to the station and everything? You mean after describing it to them people have decided, sight unseen, they donít want it? Some time ago, a week to be exact, he had an ad in the Newsday, just a bar listing of houses, mostly in East Hempstead and much, much cheaper than ours, of course. I donít know why, but that man struck me as if he had made his pile and didnít want to be bothered anymore. If it is easy, sure, why not, but work for it, not him. That would be alright, waiting, I mean, if we had to place to go to and werenít in a hurry to sell. You may not be, but I am. I want it over with and settled someplace else, and I donít mean my mothers. While I donít mind right now having people waltz in at all hours, it gets very irritating after a while. I want if over with.

I got to go now, the mailman is coming, so goodbye for today, dear.

With all our love, as ever

*************************************

Father continues to express his love and wax romantic in between news.

letter from j in Miami, Fla. , to Frances Casagrande, 151 Harrison St. , W. Hempstead, L.I. , N.Y.

Miami, Fla.
Sunday, Sept. 22 '46

Dearest love,

Looking around at other women, or reading about women and their ways, makes me keenly aware of your great worth spiritual stature. Never lose your independent spirit, above all don't allow me to bully you. The light gayety of your presence, as witness how all the children and young people of the neighborhood ideolize you, enriches the life of those around you. It takes real depth of spirit to exhibit such qualities of mind and heart. It is a coincidence that "[Doctor's] Wife" has just started on the radio.

Monday, Sept. 23

Just received your letter dated 19 and 20. I'm very sorry to hear that you had a headache--do you eat properly? Please do, you are the only thing that matters to me, and your health is very important to us both. I love you very much and you are the only real value in my existence. I realize that I haven't said this often, but I have thought it, and I shall try to remember that you should hear it. I love you, only you, could never love another, and have never loved anyone else like that, not even [Marie]. I love your body, I enjoy you, I want you--I love your mind, I love your thoughts, I love your nature, the you and your reaction to life. I love you as our children's mother, I love you as my wife, I love you as my mistress. It is within you forever to control me completely, because I believe in you, I trust you completely and implicitly. Never let me be cruel to you dear, you can stop me or drive me on. You are my life, the reason for my being. Life without you is empty, purposeless. I want you, I want to be with you always.

Well, that was quite a burst from a headache. I'm happy that you have finally started to get things for yourself, I do want you to look pretty--you are, you know, you're my darling.

So you're having trouble getting a car--well, happy hunting.

What is our house appraised at, and what will a bank lend on it?

I wasn't worried about the lamp, only [carrier]. I'll definitely be home Saturday, probably about 6PM, unless the ever-present unforeseen occurs. It will be until Tuesday morning, but I will have to return to Florida.

Do you mind going to Miami for a while? If you do, I'm sure we can make some other arrangement. Please think it over carefully and let me know when I come up Saturday.

Our poor little [ferush threatening] to run away--tut tut. Don't starve yourself or the children, you must eat, regularly and well--remember that.

Another thing, don't you believe for a minute that I came home for the Lodge--that's only an excuse, you're my love, first, last, and [supreme]. I'll be with you on your birthday, and I might even have a surprise for Frances on her day.

Let me finish this with another burst of emotion. Often I just lie here and ache for you, for the feel of you, with the desire to fondle and love you, to possess you, to gasp to a [thrfing, ] blinding climax with--that I want.

And then to look at you to talk to you, to share your thoughts. I want every part of you, my love, my wife. Can I say more?

Your lover

Jere

May I share your [desire,] what we may leave all pain but pleasure behind, and know no ache or fall.

*************************************

Miami, Fla.
Wednesday, Sept. 25 '46

Dearest love,

A little star winked at me, and with a wink in return I said "Starlight, star bright, first star I see tonight, how I wish I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight. " Guess what that wish was. . . . .I've just returned from a quick trip to town for a very special reason.

Got your letter of Monday this morning. In regard to Mrs. Birsack's offer, if sold at $11500 her commission would be $575, leaving $10.925 net.

Let's get some new snapshots of you, like the two you gave me, but without the children. You have a beautiful figure and beautiful legs, and they should be emphasized to advantage. Then the snaps can be enlarged so that you fill a space 2-1/2 x 3-1/2 inches and will nicely fit a portable double frame I have.

Life is becoming so complicated and yet simple. I didn't think I'd ever feel this way again or I might say feel this way. To think that after being married to you for 12-1/2 years after becoming a respectable and staid husband and father, suddenly you should so get into my blood and [pulse] that I can't get you out of my mind. It is as if we had just met and fallen in love, violently, with the wild abandon of a tropical hurricane. Vainly I tell myself its ridiculous, but there you are. I've always loved you, from our first kiss, that beautiful, precious kiss--it has been a treasured memory to me. I deeply respect and love you for those very wonderful qualities of mind and spirit. But no I'm like a newly smitten boy with his first love! I want to touch you, to fondle and love you, to possess you. I could go on and on---Never again need you be jealous of Marie, nor of any woman who ever lived. You are all woman to me, yet still the only one. This whole phenomenon must be very tiresome to you 1200 miles away, your husband and the father of your children acting like a sick calf. Well, you wanted love letters, here they are.

The thought of you rouses me, the memory of your body, the feel of your heart, the way you react to the stroking of your legs and hips, the feel of your mouth, of your neck---

I suppose I ought to destroy this. Probably I shouldn't entertain such thoughts of you, but again I say you're the only woman and I want you.

Perhaps this [business] will have passed by the time we are reunited Saturday. At any rate we will have some very important things to discuss and your birthday will indeed be a day to remember. Perhaps this fever of mine marks the beginning of a new phase of our lives. I do so wish I knew what your reaction was--this whole arrangement is very clumsy, to say the least--it is no way for two such people to live their lives. Its like carrying on a conversation thru a long [period] delay line, and having answers come back to prior questions. One has to be a mental gymnast and there's always the thought, she'll think me a fool--but I've resolved to risk that and tell you everything without reserve as it comes, bold and stark. It must be so, and I want you to be so, too, to bare your soul to your chosen mate.

Good nite, my love, may you dream, and dreaming come to share your life, to unite and embrace in spirit while yet enchained by space

Your lover,

Jere

*************************************

In all our years together I have never experienced such intense longing and desire for you. It is a new experience, this [concussing] longing for you, for your caress, the feel of your body, the thrill of possession, the common emotional exhilaration of the love act. I can't sleep, just toss around. If you share this feeling I won't be able to leave you--either I'll have to remain or you will have to join me. And you complain that I can shake you off like so much chaff!

*************************************

Interestingly, there are no diaries or journals in the forties!! Perhaps she didnít have time, what with the arrival of her children: I was born in 1942, Bob in 1943, Deedee in 1946, and Penny in 1950. No doubt abuse continued and was escalating. Mother no doubt struggled to be both the wife he demanded and the mother her children needed. She didnít really succeed. She told several stories of the time that reveal the inherent difficulties.

She told us, for example, that I had a bad habit of wandering down to the beach and taking off all my clothes. (How could you not know where your four year old was??? With an ocean down the block??????) One particular evening she and Dad Ďwent for a walk,í leaving us children asleep in our beds. (I assume we were around four and three; I canít imagine leaving an infant Deedee!) I woke up, awoke my brother, and took him out for a walk, probably to look for my parents. When Mother and Father returned to the empty house, and Mother thereafter went up and down the streets yelling, ďCammy!ÖBobbie!Ē Eventually, a women came out of her house to say that she had taken us into her house for safekeeping. The woman didnít think much of my mother for leaving her children that way, even if the time was only 1946.

In 1946 Dad writes of love after a separation possibly due to the war.

*************************************

This is like falling in love with you all over again, deliciously, thrilling, every reminder of you has its [stimulation] and your ring, the symbol of our union brings a feeling of sweet tenderness.

I want to lay the world at your feet, to satisfy your every wish. You want the moon? It is yours!

This isn't supposed to happen, no one falls in love with the same woman twice. I don't know what I'd do if you belonged to someone else.

We've been living together for 12-1/2 yrs, and very happily--yet at our first long separation this leap to a new plain takes place, unaccountably, mysteriously. I know only that I love you as I have loved no one or nothing, more intensely in many ways then I did before, with a richer, more mature passion, yet with all the tenderness of my puppy love. You've become at once my ideal and its embodiment.

Were I a poet I would write beautiful verse for you, if a musician, songs would tell you of my hopes and fears. Being only an engineer I must needs give you the [awkward] facts, the bald data, and trust that you will accept them in generous spirit, in some of the sprit in which it is given.

You have all your life deprecated yourself in [front] of others--yet you are in all but one respect beautiful, and in that one are the redeeming feature of great expressiveness and animation of feature. No one could want more than you are and what you have to offer--my love, my sweetheart, my [mature], my sweet wife. You are at once the present and the future, the means of sensuous ecstasy and of fruitful building and development.

"Oh [dkdkj], oh nite of bliss"--to you they are singing that song. Ah love, would that I were a poet, that I might make of this separation a thing of beauty, that I might translate the pain and longing into ageless substance of expression.

"Nite and day, you are the one, day and night I dream only of you" Cole Porter expressed it in a beautiful song, a truly beautiful song in words and music.

Here I sit in the "Ship's Store", eating my evening repast--two cans of beer, a big hamburger, a dish or French fries. A juke box is pouring out "For Each His Own". Outside the rain beats down in an unsteady downpour; but in my heart is peace because your love fills it, and [lubricates] my journey through life, to our union.

As I walked down here in a light rain in the dark three marine color guards were outlined under the [shelved sunset] beneath the national emblem, standing rigidly at attention, awaiting the signal to haul down the colors. At the dramatic moment the whole station is filled with the notes of "Colors" and cars stop, men everywhere under all conditions snap to the salute and the night officially begins as the colors are folded in the rain and sunset.

*************************************

[includes Dorothy Dix clipping about marital bliss]

Thursday, Sept. 26.46

Dearest Darling:

This is by way of Ďloving remembranceí because Iím sure this wonít reach you before you come home, but it will be something to greet you when you get back again. Iíll try not to repeat myself, because I shall probably talk a blue streak and all night long when you come. So much is happening all the time, too, it is hard to stay on generalities.

Sweetheart, I just got your letter dated Monday the 23rd. Why, Beloved, you leave me breathless. Itís wonderful to know someone cares for me, and that someone YOU. I know I miss you most dreadfully in more ways than I can tell you, but I thought youíd be so busy with your work you wouldnít have time to give me more than a passing thought. I guess I did you an injustice, but I canít say Iím not glad, oh, I am. Itís a beautiful feeling, to know Iím being cherished.

When I knew for sure that you were coming home this weekend I was so delighted I could have counted the hours and minutes, and words would be running through my mind like these:

My heart is like a singing bird
 whose nest is in a watered shoot;
My heart is like an apple tree
 whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit.
My heart is like a rainbow shell
 that paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these
 because my love will come to me.

This oneís by Christina Rosetti. The words ďMy heart is like a singing bird. . .Ē kept repeating themselves so much I looked through the anthology and found it.

Dearest Love, díyou know it sometimes is very hard for me to remember that you are the father of my children and my husband these many years, my heart just bubbles over with love for you. I donít feel one whit less Ďaddlepatedí about you than I did at the tender age of twenty-one, if anything you have become so rooted about the core of my existence that to try to separate you from me would disrupt my whole life. Is it selfish of me to want to twine myself about you? I suppose I can step aside for awhile for your work, but when your frivolous moment comes I want to be right there at the receiving end. If there is a woman in your life, I wan t to be HER, whether itís a mistress you want or a Home Companion, or even a nurse. Darling you know, I read all those articles on perfect husbands and the Ten Major Gripes women have about men, and to my eyes youíre absolutely perfect. Not one of the faults mentioned can be applied to you, so judging from any standard you will, youíre still a Prize. And I drew you. Will you remind me on the average of twice a day to appreciate you???

On that tender note I shall say Goodnight, and let the more prosaic mattes of everyday life take over. Little-little has caught cold from her bad sister and brother and has been making my nights hideous with crying. I donít know what to do for her, her little nose stops up and she canít breathe right and it makes her uncomfortable. Nothing seems to do the trick except rocking her in the carriage or holding her for a while and that just cannot go on forever. I lie and toss in between crying and think about all sorts of things. The house, a car, and most of all, YOU. Thoughts go chasing each other around like a squirrel cage. Woe is me. I only hope she is better by Saturday.

Goodnight again, and remember I adore you! then, as now, as always,

with all my love to the dearest lover, as always [Frances]

*************************************

Mother could also still write of her love in 1946, as the following letters illustrate:

October 1, 1946

My Dearest Dear!

Even nature is conspiring to fit the mood of the day, it is cold and bleak without you, in my heart as well as outside. I shall have to buckle down and work so I don't find time to sit and brood, even though you told me not to, it's always better to keep busy until I get really tired enough to nap, than to just mope about the house. And what a day for moping this turned out to be. Makes you want to cuddle up to a fire, (if I had someone to cuddle with) I might have know it--now that you aren't here anymore my monthly blues are catching up with me, so perhaps it might be better if I don't steep myself too much in the [ ] but oh sweetheart, the chair you sat in has hardly had time to cool off and already I miss you most appallingly.

I keep wondering whether it was all a dream, were you actually here in my arms, whispering 'Frances' against my lips. . .

After you phoned and I had the children fed we all went into town. I had long ago given up all hope of ever getting a ride into town so it came as quite a surprise to me when a fellow in a little old car stopped and gave us a lift. He was a mechanic and he told me he never went into town in an empty car if he could give someone else a lift! I hope he recording angel is busy putting that in the record. . . ! Anyway, we went to the post office first, found out it would have been almost $1.50 by airmail, and the postal clerk told me that special Delivery would get there as quickly, two days he said. I told him I wouldn't mind the money if I could get it there faster and he said it made no appreciable difference. I hope he is right,.

This cold weather caught me quite off guard, I had a job bundling up the baby. She is too big for the bunting and wrapping her in blankets is out, too, 'cause she wiggles out of it. So I found Bobby's blue corduroy set and put that on her, it wasn't too bad, but obviously makeshift. I left the pictures at the camera mart and they will be ready Thursday. After that we caught the Mineola bus and got our license plate. On the way home Bobby started to fall asleep again and I had quite a time getting him on his feet, but once out in the fresh air and he revived. When we got back I had barely time to unpeel the children and give them something to eat when there was a knock on the door and people waltzed in to look at the house. You know the state of the place! .and I was so ashamed of it. Oh well.

Wednesday

I had a nice long uninterrupted sleep last night and woke up so refreshed and chipper and cheerful, I seem (at the moment anyway) quite reconciled to your absence. Why I have even spoken quite gently to the children this morning though they still try me beyond endurance. You see what you do to me, you relax me so completely and make me content. Like a long cool drink of crystal water after a day of tortuous thirst. My very Dear, my own husband!

I called my mother because I thought it a little [odd] that she should have forgotten my birthday, she told me Pop had had another accident to his back. He got hit by a two-by-four and bruised. He's had to go for treatments and x-rays and such and she hadn't wanted to leave him to do for himself. She said she would come out next Friday and stay over the weekend, till Sunday anyway. Well, that's better than nothing, though I doubt whether I'll get much done in such a short time. We'll probably be so busy gabbing I won't get anywhere. I told her we had a car now, and she said she might get the feel of a car again, and drive it. You know Pop won't let her touch his, so she's had a license all these years for nothing.

I'm going to find it a tight squeeze with the purse-strings. After paying my bills to the laundry, egg and milkman I fear there won't be any cash left. Betty said I should get anti-freeze into the car, what with this cold weather coming up so sudden. Five bucks she said, if I take it to a garage. Plus the broken handle. Oh brother, maybe I should drain it.

Thursday morning

Our Little-Little kicked up a rumpus again last night so I had plenty of time to lie awake and think things over. You know Dear, I've come to the conclusion that when you have had a happy and satisfying sex life, abstinence over a period of time becomes very nerve wracking, even though you may not be aware of it. For instance, when I was longing for you this past month it was mostly for your companionship, your presence and hardly at all for your love making (except perhaps once or twice) but all the time I could feel myself getting crankier and crankier, and moodier and moodier without quite knowing why. My senses weren't aroused at all, perhaps it needed the stimulus of your presence, your hands on my body to bring that about, but all the while my nervous system must have been clamoring for you. Because right now I feel so at ease and contented and, (please don't let this hurt your feelings) it doesn't bother me at all that you're not here. That sounded as if I didn't care, so I shall try once more, Darling, I want you most desperately to be home again, but knowing that at the time it is not possible I'm not going to bruise my heart against a stone wall, so I have accepted your absence. For the moment anyway, I don't know how I'll feel tomorrow or next week, but right now, I'm quite contented. You see I have the children to fondle and love, while you have nothing, and no one but your memory, and I think that makes the difference. When we were first married my feelings for you were so intense I could not bear to be parted and could think of nothing but you, feel nothing but you, and went around in a rosy daze, just biding time until we were together again. I wish, oh so hard, I could recapture that, so I could pour my feeling into yours as I did then. Because I love you more than ever, your touch is just as thrilling, if not more so, and when you're near I want to touch you and kiss you and my heart is so full of love it bubbles over. It bothers me so much that I don't ache for you the way I used to, I miss you, oh I do miss you so much; but not quite in that way, and it disturbs me. Why don't I? I read over the letters I wrote you back in those days, and as I read them my love wells up, and the words are just what I want them to be, but I want to find new words, new ways of saying the old thing, and I can't. There was one letter in particular that so fits, I could write it verbatim and it would still be exactly the way I feel. I could write it and I bet you wouldn't remember it, but you know me, I can't do that, but still I think I will write it, if only to show you how I feel.

*************************************

Dearest One

My mind and soul is so full of you today, I just have to pour it out to you. I can't keep this ecstasy to myself any longer. I'm simply walking around with my head in the clouds---living again and again those precious moments. You're in my arms and in my heart. Darling, my body just aches from you, but every ache is an ecstatic pleasure--a token of your reciprocation. The flame of desire that burned so hot and bright and high consumed itself into a cozy and comfortable warmth, the sort of feeling you get coming away from a cold, bitter winter night and snuggling into a soft warm bed against a beloved body. Oh my darling, was ever a woman so blessed--to lose oneself in another is to gain such unbelievable heights. The wealth and power [of] them unlocks with such a simple key. . .You have crowned my womanhood with such glory as could not possibly be conceived on this sordid planet. You have given me so much, so very much, and the wells of your understanding and love seem never to run dry, no matter how large the demand. You've become so much a part of me--a wish, a thought half born in my subconscious and it is already dedicated to you and accepted by you. Dearest thee is but one earnest and constant prayer in my heart, not to keep our happiness intact, but to be capable of lifting YOU also out of the baseness and narrow-mindedness of the life. If I can infuse but a part of my feeling into our relationship, but a part of the power that has me in it's grip--then it is [complete], then--why Dearest, our love will go on forever.

Best Beloved, all those unspoken words, all that agony of longing can only be quenched in the consummation of love, in you. I miss you so, oh, how I miss you.

Yours ever and ever

Your wife

You see, dear, I've been so foolishly, sentimentally, madly in love with you all my life, that now when I most especially want to tell you about it, it's as if I were telling an old old tale. The words just don't want to flow in a smooth new pattern, I feel that everything I say, I've said before, and it frustrates me. This new and ardent surge of feeling you are experiencing is not new to me, and yet I feel I ought to scale new heights to match yours, yet--How high can a little bird fly????? Oh my own darling. I'm afraid I'd better stop right here and now, or that lovely feeling of peace and tranquility is going to desert me altogether. . . . .or would you rather have me pine away for you? You see, sweetheart, one part of me is ever ready to give myself over completely to thoughts of you, and from thinking to yearning is only one short step!

Tell me dearest, are you still as ardent as you were? Has the feeling abated somewhat in the cold grey light of day? Do you love, do you love me, do you love me DO YOU? I can scarcely wait for your letter. . . . .

*************************************

As the next three letters attest, Mother apparently left the children with her mother and made a bus trip to visit Dad in November. The three letters are all handwritten on stationery of the Hotel Maurice, 761 Post St., San Francisco 9, CA., Alex Hoffer, Mgr.

[postmarked Salt Lake City, Nov 21, 1946, to Mr. Jere Casagrande Bldg #77, N.A.S. Alameda, Cal. - Air mail stamp for 5 cents!]

Wednesday night 12:30

Darling

This has been a miserable voyage, and my luck better change tomorrow. . . !! I might as well have spent another night with you, it would have gotten me just as far. I told you we were stuck on the mountains what with roads blocked by stalled cars and the snowplows clearing the road. It was some blizzard. I just had to shut my eyes and consign my soul to the devil, Ďcause I sat on the side next to the ravine and held my breath in fear whenever we had to inch past another stalled truck.

Then two hours out of Salt Lake City the bus developed motor trouble, a broken airline and the mechanic wondered audibly how we got around those curves in safety. It took over three hours to fix it, all of us wondering if weíd ever get out of that jinxed bus. It was 45 minutes late getting started and we were more than eight hours late. Of course it knocked my schedule into a cocked hat, and though Iím lucky here, Iím going out at 1:15, I donít know how it will be after this. Iíll probably get into N.Y. in the middle of the night and there are no trains, no buses, no nothing. Oh, damn it, what a finish to an otherwise glorious vacation. And thereís been nothing but snow ever since we got to the top of the Sierras. I keep worrying about the car at home.

Well dear, Iíll see you soon, I hope, so in the meantime, have fun, but not too much.

Livingly

Frances

*************************************

[As above]

Thursday (I think) 6:00 pm

Hello Sweetheart:

The one bright spot in an otherwise monotonous day was when we crossed the Continental Divide, and went through some mighty pretty mountain country. According to our driver we were 9000 feet up, the highest spot on that route. There was Medicine Bow, a national part, filled with the inevitable pick nick tables and foot trails and Christmas trees.

During the day we passed a spot where smoke was seeping out of the ground and the driver told us it was a coal mine that had been burning for the past 35 years. What a waste of good fuel.

I bought a Coronet magazine and it has so many good features in it I shall have to send it to you. Especially the one headed ďMemo to myself at 50Ē, its a damn good idea to keep young mentally. Darling I deeply regret you arenít with me, Iím so lonely for someone to talk to. Most people on the bus are either too dull to do more than say a few words and donít go very far or they are the young soldiers with ideas and I donít feel in the mood for that sort of give and take. Tomorrow morning weíll be in Omaha and I can only hope my connection continues good. Say can you read this? Iím writing on the bus in the semi dark. Everyoneís here but the driver.

Doggone it, again weíll be up in North Butte in the dark! Do you suppose Iíll ever pass this way again? Good night no dear, for better or worse Iíll try to get some sleep,

with all my love as ever

F

*************************************

[As above]

Saturday, Nov. ?

Dearest Darling:

As I fly through the Pennsylvania mountains I keep thinking about you, trying to figure out (as if I needed to after all these years!) what makes you dearer to me than any other person on earth. Possibly it is because you are the only person who ever lit (or cared to light) a firecracker under me to make me think and made the word "can't" obsolete in my vocabulary. Just my very fondness for you makes me accept almost without question any task you want to endow me with. Sometimes I feel myself struggle but I always give myself up to your optimism. There certainly is never a dull moment in our life, is there? And your enthusiasm is the best part about you.

 

*************************************

Arriving home after a horrendous voyage, poor Mother was greeted with a telegram from her Lord and Master. After this November visit Father was so re-enamored of Mother that he insisted she bring the children out for Christmas.

*************************************

[back to typing on her own stationery]

November 25th
Monday

Dearest Darling:

I came home around six-thirty yesterday morning, frozen to the marrow of my bones, tired, hungry and disgusted. Itís been nothing but bad luck, from the time I started, and forty-five minutes late at that. Due to all that delay I wrote you about we were eight hours late and of course, as far as hitting the right places at the right time was just a snare and a delusion. I didnít see the great salt flats at Salt Lake City, I saw lots and lots of Pennsylvania farms, but when it came to mountains--the mantle of darkness descended upon us. We got into New York at 2:50 a.m. and there was no train at all till after three. There did happen to be a train to West Hempstead at 3:49 and I decided to wait for it. Among other little annoyances I found that the suitcase Iíd checked through to 34th Street had gone to 50th, and when I wanted to check what baggage I had on hand they wanted thirty cents for it, I couldnít find a locker and when I did find one it was for twenty-five cents. I had no change anyway, so I just stuck it in one of the bottom compartments and trusted to luck that at that hour nobody would bother to use that particular one. When I got to 50th street my baggage wasnít there anyway, I was fit to be tied. If I had had a inkling that the bag wasnít with me I would far rather have checked it on and off myself though there sometimes wasnít much time between one bus and the next, and I had my hands full as it was. (The box managed to stay together until I got home. ) Well, there was nothing to do but give the check to Railway Express and have them pick it up. Well, as I was saying I waited til 3:49 for the train, and I was supposed to change at Jamaica, and instead of getting out at the proper platform, but where I was accustomed to get out and discovered my mistake just in time to have the doors close in my face, and by the time I got down and around the train had been and gone. I could have cried from vexation (and tiredness) but you know me, where thereís life thereís hope, and Iíd be darned if Iíd wait around til nearly seven for another train, so I took a chance on the Bee line bus and trotted myself over. Just in time, too. The bus got into the West Hempstead Inn stop at six and there was supposed to be a Lynbrook bus at 6:20 or so I thought, clear forgetting it was Sunday. So I stood and shivered, and shivered and cursed, in the wee cold morning and watched the dawn come up. The bus came at 6:45 and seeing I was his first and only customer he made the run in less than five minutes and let me off at South Oak. When I got home and Mami poured about six cups of what she laughingly calls coffee, into me she produced your telegram as a clincher. My own Darling you might at least have let me get my breath back. . .And now Iíve been gnawing my fingers for that letter thatís supposed to be forthcoming, for further details. As to how you think Iím going to manage all that. Carfare is my first and foremost consideration. What about the car? Do you want me to sell it for the necessary wherewithal, and how much of a loss can I take on it? Will this house you mention be furnished, and will I have to ship the babyís crib out?

Incidentally, there are a flock of unpaid bills waiting to devour this coming check. Slominís, phone, gas, and electric amount to 52.26 and they all are for two months. Home Title, Trust and the house for two weeks is another hundred and one, that leaves a balance of exactly nine dollars, or something like that.

Tuesday

Hello Sweetheart:

Just got your letter and after re-reading it about five times and beating my head against the wall a few moments I settled down to try to make some sort of order in the chaos of my mind.

It will probably take years off my life, but I guess it can be done. Closing the house for the winter is not easy, and thee are several problems, such as the plants and fish and canary and cat. Gee, I hate like anything to always have to start from scratch. . .The radiators will have to be drained and it is not good to leave a house without heat for so long, so I thought it might be a good idea to try to rent it. I looked into Newsday and found an ad that would just suit. A Lt. Colonel is looking for a place for his family including two babies, from December to April. I answered the ad and will see what develops. I though Iíd ask seventy-five if they pay their own running expenses and a hundred in which case weíll pay for gas electric, water and oil. In that case I wonít have to discontinue the service and go through a lot of bother to have it reinstalled.

About the car, I thought Iíd put it in a garage because Iíd have to take an awful licking on the price if I sold it right now and Iíd still not have one when I come back (maybe I can learn to drive out in Ca. ) if I fix it up it will be okay for us for quite awhile yet. Unless, of course, I have to sell it for the fare. Fare, that reminds me, how about it? No money no ticket, and whatís the good of a reservation if I havenít the money to pick up the ticket. I can go anytime at the end of this week, whenever I get a reservation. I thought a roomette might be best, it would have to have two beds at least and floor space to put the baby. Whenever I think of it my hair stands on end, though it will most likely be easier than I think.

Please Jere, find out whether we have to bring our own linen and blankets, and let me know immediately. When we have all these details ironed out and I have the money I can leave right away, I thought possibly Monday might be a good day to start.

I just called the Pennsylvania Railroad and they said they were all sold out way into February!! No compartment, no bedrooms, no nothing, and now what. How can I take a chance on going down with the kids in the hope that there is a cancellation, and if so will they give it to me. It smells awfully fishy to me. Do you know anyone who might be able to get us a reservation? Should I try by plane? Or go by bus and lay over every night, or go on the train anyway???? On the Admiral which hooks on the Overland and is a through train, Iíd leave at 6:45 p.m. and arrive at Oakland on the third afternoon 1:42.

Now I am really in a stew, because itís one way to just plunk down the money and struggle for a couple of days, but when I have to figure ways and means of getting a reservation to boot---well.

I may not be able to finish this letter in time for the mail, so Iíd better get it ready now. But everything seems to have fallen flat on its face now, and there is no point of doing nay of the things Iíd intended unless I know how and when Iím going. What do you suggest now?

I spent the day putting up the storm windows and all of last night until the wee hours painting what hadnít been done, and I hate you to pieces for not being here to at least, at the very least, cheer me on. You know, the house is in such a mess, the blinds so dusty, Iím almost ashamed to have anyone come in to look. Oh the heck with it, Iíve got other troubles. Should I call Sperryís and ask them to get me a reservation? Or can you arrange it? Questions, questions. Gee, Iíll be glad when Iím settled SOMEPLACE.

Bye for now, and our love of course

*************************************

Wednesday, Nov. 27

Hi Darling:

I just spent the most enjoyable evening talking to this Lt. Colonel I mentioned in my last letter. It looks as if I rented the house at a hundred a month. Heís going to call me tomorrow and let me know definitely and arrange things. Incidentally, Camille and the baby have come down with the Chickenpox, as if I didnít have enough trouble. I only hope it has cleared up by the time we are ready to leave, though actually I ought to keep her in bed and indoors for at least ten days. She has those pustules all over her body and some on her face, and of course they itch. The baby has it very mild, only a few here and there, but Cammie, oh brother, is she a mess. Gail had them, and naturally I find it out when itís all over but the shouting. Her mother supposedly kept Gail away from the other children, but I understand the pox donít show until sixteen days after exposure, so for all I know sheís been exposed to the same source. Cammie, I mean.

Thursday

Díyou know I almost forgot it was Thanksgiving Day today, just goes to show how our life is turned topsy-turvy. But never fear, the kids will not let you forget, itís been Ďanything for Thanksgivingí all morning and our own two have been out all decked out in mamaís best lipstick and rouge and such.

By the way, youíd better write to your lodge you got another notice to appear on Dec. 2nd, and from all reports you wonít make THAT date.

Thursday night

Iím all tired out tonight. I went to bed so late last night and then I was up half the night with Cammie, Iíd like nothing better than to call it a day now. I have not heard anything further from Col. Perron, and in a way Iím rather relieved. He is very nice, and as Iíve said we had a lovely evening together talking of this that and the other. He is somewhat in the same sort of boat as you and I, his wife and two small children are in Texas and heís trying to persuade her to come out here for those few months. I understand heís just been back from China, which he liked immensely, but his wife wouldnít consent to coming out there. (I think I would like it) Anyway, if he took the house, while he seems reliable enough and all that, it would be quite a bit of trouble to me to make the house ready, you know, clean and empty closets and bureau drawers and such. Well, he might come around yet, who knows, I didnít give him much time, but yesterday I didnít know about those darned Chicken Pox, they came out overnight. And if he wants the house by Monday I donít know what I shall do, what with this mess (Calamine lotions to relieve the itch, and keeping her in on account of the fever---) and me being unable to get reservations. I do sound a bit incoherent donít I? But honestly, darling, why must those things always happen to me at those crucial times. On top of that Mrs. Binsack came again today with a couple, they sure give up hard. While I was away someone kept phoning, and I donít know what mother told them, but I had hardly gotten warmed up Sunday when they called again, offering us the munificent sum of $9000. Itís for her son, a veteran and ďI believe young people should be by themselves, although we have a big house and plenty of room etc. etcĒ. I told her you thought that offer ridiculous and impossible. Mrs. Binsack keeps saying the market is down (and it does seem so) and would we settle for less. Would we settle, doggone it, I thought Iíd made it clear I didnít want to sell. Mother must have put a bee in her bonnet with this California business, and us maybe settling out there. Iím so tired of the mere idea of moving.

I moved the peach tree yesterday, and am keeping my fingers crossed that it will grow and flourish.

I forgot to mention, Pop was so mad at me he would hardly talk to me, and he came and picked up Mums without any fuss or feathers. Mami was okay once she saw me, relieved of course, and unhappy about that letter, I do wish I could remember what an infant she is, and not always get annoyed with her so much. I guess Pop did make hell hot for her about coming home. She had a tooth pulled the day after she got back, it was badly abscessed, Betty told me she was very much worried about motherís habit of taking so many aspirins at once to kill the pain. Sheíll not only kill the pain one of these days, but herself as well. Betty is not well at all, she went to another doctor and he told her it wasnít what we thought at all, but a tumor, and Betty is worried to death itís cancer. She has to go to the hospital to have a piece of her womb tested. Poor Gal.

Darling, this has been the darndest thanksgiving weíve ever spent. Apart. No company, no fuss nothing. I had a chicken, but I might as well have saved myself the trouble, the kids werenít hungry, Cammie was too sick to enjoy it, and Bobby too full of candy and peanuts and God knows what else. (Their loot amounted to about fifty cents between them and not to mention the candy etc. etc. )

Friday morning

Just a few more quick lines to bring you up to date. I spent another horrible sleepless night with our female child. Sheís got a cold to top everything off, and coughed and sneezed and cried and Ďitchedí to make the angels weep.

I meant to tell you, I tried the car and it seemed to be alright, but when I took it out to try it, something was definitely wrong, there seemed to be too much of a flow of gas, and the car leaped forward like a startled fawn without me so much as touching the gas pedal, in fact I had to ride the brake most of the time. Yesterday being a holiday there seemed to be nobody at the gas station, so this morning I set out again, this time I went to Dick Clarke, Heís an old timer and has a fine reputation. First he said he had no time, too much work, and most everything was done on appointment, but after looking at it he said he could fix it right away, and he did. I got some gas and a new windshield wiper and it cost me $2.70. It sure made a heck of a lot of difference. I was scared to take the car out before, but now I feel right at home in it again. I went up to West Hempstead, but parked it just before the traffic light and walked the last block, at that it saved me quite a bit of time and trouble. I wonder if I should apply for another test. . .Oh yes, I also asked Clarke about storing the car for three months, and he said while he didnít ordinarily, last winter he stored one for a man in the neighborhood while he went to Florida. Said, he had a space in his garage, but it would have to be moved occasionally, said heíd arrange something with me when Iím ready to leave. So thatís that, canít cost a fortune, and Iíd still have the old Rattle-trap when I come back.

Well, darling, Iíll be looking for a letter from you in todayís mail. Will write more later. I made out the checks for the bills I mentioned in my last letter, and they are now in the mail. I forgot to tell you, I got a check from Sperryís on Wednesday. My, but they were in a generous mood to send it so early. Probably to give their people a chance to buy that turkey! We have a bal. of $14.62 and no outstanding bills except the insurance. Howís every little thing with you?

Had a card from Ann Platts, they had a little boy, now isnít that nice? They have their pair too. I have to sit down and write her a nice long newsy letter, God knows Iíd love to go over. Wished I had nerve to take the car!

Bye now, dearest, and all our love

as ever

*************************************

Saturday, Nov. 30

Dearest Darling:

I got your letter from Tuesday yesterday, good gosh, fellow, did you expect me to sit right down and write you Sunday when I had absolutely no idea what it was all about? I told you I was waiting for your letter giving me a little more detail. Donít go off halfcocked he says, but be here by next Sunday. Hah! And after what Iíve been through the past few days, I canít think of anything Iíd rather do less than go to California. At any rate, I wonít be able to come until the children are better. Up till now Bobby hasnít got the Chicken Pox but he has a very bad croupy cough, which keeps me up all night with him. He probably will get them two weeks from now, it takes about that long for the disease to make its appearance, but weíll most likely be out there then, and then itís okay with me. Cammie seems to be getting better, or the Calamine lotion has relieved the itch, but her cold is bad, too, and she coughs all night. Ditto the baby, so you can see I have my hands full and in no mood to get all starry-eyed at the prospect of going to Frisco.

But all that will be smoothed out in due time, if I can just get the reservations on the train. But Iím not going to beat my brains out going out there on the day coach or bus, and Iím not going to burden myself down with a lot of possessions like the bikes or the typewriter or such, because it sounds very easy to you to say check everything through as baggage, but thatís not saying how Iím getting it on the train. You know how the L.I. trains are--change here there and anywhere, and I have enough with the children and whatever I have to take to keep them comfortable. In fact the more I brood on it the less I like it.

I havenít heard anything further from Lt. Perron, so perhaps he has not been able to persuade his wife to come. That means I have to see about shutting the house up, and making some sort of provision for the livestock. The plants Iíll just have to give away or let die.

I suppose after I mail this letter today Iíll get one of yours straightening everything out for me and Iíll feel foolish for being so disorganized. But honestly, Jere, you ca have no idea how I feel right now. Besides tired. And I still donít know what to do about reservations. I expect you to figure that one out for me, because I called again just to see if there was any change, and itís still the same. No reservations.

I see the mailman come up the street so Iíll say goodbye for now. Will write again tomorrow.

With best love to you from the kids and me (especially me)

*************************

Tuesday, Dec. 3.46

Dear Jere:

Here it is Tuesday and as yet I have no word from you beyond that short note you penned last Tuesday. What am I to think? If circumstances had permitted my going out to California yesterday, how should I have been able to go without money?

I havenít had an easy time of it since last week, and not hearing from you is almost more than I can bear. I realize Thanksgiving Day sort of put a crimp on the regular mail service, and I hadnít actually looked for an answer to my letter until today. Now Iím hanging at the end of a rope--I donít know what to do or whatís expected of me. The children are still pretty sick, Cammie as usual, had her cold settle in her ears again and itís driven me frantic not being able to help her. I wouldnít think of traveling until the childrenís coughs are cleared up, but on the other hand I want to know what to expect. There are several questions to which I want to know the answer. Have you got enough money for fare, and what about Christmas. The children badly need their winter clothes, too. Have you thought about the reservations and is there anything further I can do about it? I sincerely hope this afternoonís mail is not too disappointing.

Iíd been worrying about my suitcase, too, and now it has finally turned up, so thatís one worry off my mind. It sounds so simple to say ďWorry is interest you pay on trouble before itís dueĒ, but when you lie awake in the middle of the night itís not easy to keep worry off your mind. I took the car to go up and get it and although I had quite a bit of trouble getting it started (I finally had to call Pete to help me), I got so used to the car, I take it at whatever opportunity offers itself. If only the kids were well, I could do more, but I hate to leave them alone for more than five minutes or so at a time. The car sure saves time for me. . .

I called up Skidmore and he told me he wrote you at the Maurice Hotel, so I guess you got it by now.

The afternoon mail was just here and all he had was a notice from your lodge. I guess youíve cast off your family for good!

Itís gotten quite cold now, winter is upon us for sure. Well, I think Iíll say goodbye for now and see if I can catch up with the mailman. Please Jere, do write. If I am coming out I want to be there before Christmas anyway. Itís a funny thing, dear, I was dusting the books and on an impulse opened the bible and do you know what my eye lit on? Ďand they gathered themselves onto David and said: Behold, we are thy bones and thy flesh--Thou shalt be Shepherd. So I tried again and this time the trusty old tome came up with: Ďand they went forth---í Well, looks like the trek is on. . .I feel better already, not quite so mad at you as I was this morning. Iíll give you one more chance--till tomorrow at one! And brother, there better be a letter!

With our love, as ever

*************************

Wednesday
December 4. 1946

Dear Jere:

Really, this has become intolerable. Another day without a word from you. Iím not only angry Iím beginning to get worried. Jere, how can you do this to me, it is so unlike you, I canít think of a suitable explanation at all. Even if you were ill, Iím sure you would have gotten in touch with me.

Mrs. Binsack has been here with another young couple, will you sell for $10,500? If you will, and want me to sell it, please furnish me with power of attorney, and tell me what you expect me to do.

The children are still quite sick, and I think Bobby is coming down with the chicken pox, too, so it will be another week before I can think of leaving. Iím so exhausted and tired, Iím just living from one day to the next without any coherent idea in mind except to get through the day without a minimum of fuss. The baby is what has me stepping, she is crying constantly and sleeps only intermittently, and when she does, Bobby steps in the breach. Betty isnít feeling well, and of course Mrs. Iger canít do more than phone and ask if thereís anything she can do, I wouldnít dream of having her in the house, as Billy hasnít had the chicken pox yet. Irene is busy painting and getting the house ready for her mother-in-law and aunt next week. They all phone me daily, but as for actual help, I just have to do the best I can. I wouldnít mind any of it, if I only had some word from you. Itís this uncertainty that is killing me. I know you are anxious to have us out thee with you, and Iím just as anxious to get going. It might do us all some good. But circumstances being what they are, it just isnít possible right now.

4:30 p.m.

At long last, a letter from my Love. You can disregard all things I said, ---all is forgiven. But why oh why, did it take this letter so long? Itís dated Nov. 29th and postmarked Dec. 2nd and it got here just now.

Well, letís see where we are. The kids, as I said are still too sick to go out, and Oh, Iím keeping my fingers crossed that those couple of pimples that Bobby complained today of itching, are not what I suspect. If he gets the chicken pox too, it will be at least another week. Oh dear.

There was a letter from the Maurice Hotel enclosing a card to the effect that Railway Express could not locate you at the address youíd given and would you advise them (Railway Express) as to what your wishes are in regards the laundry bundle.

Did you get a letter from Mr. Skidmore? He said words to the effect it would take two weeks notice to arrange for transfer of your initiation and he thought it might be better for you to wait until you get back. But as you said in your letter we might be there for quite awhile so maybe youíd better find out the data he needs and go ahead down thee at their earliest opportunity. I called Walter too.

Letís see now, what else. Driving the car to Cal. is out. I wouldnít attempt to go in the winter. I saw too many cars even good-looking ones, stalled along the way. Besides---no license (yet)

Okay, we will not sell the house. (Goody-goody) Iíll call Sperryís tomorrow, about getting reservations for next week. I had thought the same thing--I could have called the service dept, but I knew it wouldnít be a good idea to let them know I was going out there. But I didnít know whom to call, thatís why I asked you.

Thursday morning

I called up Eric this morning and he was no help at all. He said he couldnít do it, it was too much red tape involved, and he suggested I call your boss, Mr. Lyons. Of course, I didnít, and I didnít bother to try to explain to Eric about the expense account etc. He didnít sound too cordial anyway. Asked me if you were still with Sperry? I called up Pennsylvania railroad again, and this time they came up with a section, upper and lower for Monday Dec. 9 having to take two berths I had to pay half fare for one child. Thatís the best I could do. And unless I get the money from you right away and pay for the reservation by tomorrow afternoon, I may have to wait until January. No, this is no fun at all. I didnít rent the house, so Iíll have to get a plumber to drain the house.

And Iíll have a million and one things to do, which canít be done until the last minute. Wish me luck, darling. Iím only keeping my fingers crossed that the childrenís runny noses and cough is okay by Monday. It isnít going to be easy, but if the baby should cry all night theyíll surely put us off the train!

Write again if you can, will you Dear?

With all our love as ever

How much had you figured it would cost us anyway? You never said. or if you had that much money. Iím just assuming it.

*************************

Friday, December 6, 1946

My poor Darling:

You must be thoroughly confused by now---what with telegrams and frantic letters deluging you. Better take a deep breath---Iíll just bet youíre sorry you started the whole thing. Well, the way things stand as of tonight itís this way---I had to send that telegram for money in hopes it would come through in time for me to pick up the ticket tonight, but thatís out now. So why didnít you send me some money right away? Or didnít you have it? You know how those reservations work, you have to pick the ticket up within a few days or no soap. All I can hope for now is a bit of luck along the same lines. And I wonít bother until I do have some money. A compartment or bedroom is out until January, and then it wouldnít pay me to go. If I canít be out there by Christmas I wouldnít even bother. Roomettes donít go beyond Chicago, and the only other solution is another section, meaning one lower and one upper, which gives us the sections for ourselves, and as the girl explained it, the lower makes up into a seat and that way we can stay put. In any case where there are two beds involved whether, compartment or bedroom, I would have to pay two fares, or in our case, a fare and a half. I couldnít possibly squeeze us all into one bed. So much for that.

I couldnít get a hold of Col. (thanks) Peron at all, he may possibly have been moved on. But I got to talking with Mrs. Sturge, you remember her--in back of us, three kids, Dalmatian dog ĎMikeí) and she told me about her eviction notice, and I felt so sorry for her that before I thought I said, why donít you use our house while weíre gone. The poor woman was so grateful she was practically speechless. (But wait till Betty hears about it, sheíll be off me for life--she and Mrs. Sturge do not agree) Anyway, she said sheíd consult her husband and phone me. You see, the way she puts it, she hates to take the two boys out of school, and if she could stay here until June when school is out for the summer, she could see about finding a place for the summer and it will give them that much more time. Her husband is in his own business and right now too tied down to invest in a house, but they hope to be able to at the end of the summer. The thing hinges now, whether they are able to secure a house for rent they heard of through a friend, which would be a permanent arrangement, as the owner had died and their heirs intend to rent. If they cannot come to terms with those people tomorrow (Saturday) then they will gratefully accept my offer. Of course I shant blame her for wanting something permanent, and I only offered our house as an anchor to windward, so they wouldnít be out on the street. One way, I shall be glad to rent the house and have it taken care of, and on the other it is very distasteful to me to have someone living among our things. I have a great deal to do to make it livable for them, you know, empty closets and drawers and clear away all personal papers and stuff. And thereís your stuff in the cellar! I know, theyíll do their best by us, but I know her, sheís easy-going like me, and Christy and Cleighty are now angels.

[See "Cars Hate Me!" for additional paragraphs in this letter.]

***************************

[via airmail to Mr. Jere Casagrande, 3745 Columbian Drive, Oakland 5, Cal. c/o Turner--See "Cars Hate Me!" for additional paragraphs in this letter.]

Tuesday, Dec. 10. 1946

Dearest Darling:

I got your letter dated Dec. 7th, this afternoon. Isnít it awful? Weíre talking at such cross purposes it isnít even funny, and when it takes so long for a letter to get there and an answer to come back---well! Letís see if we canít make some sort of order out of this chaos for once and all. I got another reservation on the train for which I must pick up the tickets by this Thursday. It isnít what we had in mind, a section consists of an upper and lower berth, no private toilet, and it adds up to $226.00. It seems like an awful lot of money to spend on carfare and not have the comforts you mentioned. But there is absolutely no chance of getting a bedroom or compartment, as they have only a few on each train, and they seem to be reserved for months in advance. Any way thatís what they keep telling me. If I could go by air it would save me a great deal of trouble and would make it more worthwhile. I do so dread taking the baby on the train under the above mentioned conditions. I called up Clark, but it was already late in the afternoon and although he said heíd call me back today, he probably didnít have time to. No doubt Iíll hear from him in the morning. He knew of no arrangement such as you mentioned, but will find out, and if itís so make reservations for me for some day next week, or any day after Dec. 16th. The money really is quite a sore point, and I truly donít know how we can possibly manage it. As a matter of fact the more I think upon it, the more I wonder if weíre wise to spend such a sum on travel. (and we got to come back too) The children need clothes so badly, it seems a shame to take them on a trip in such threadbare outfits. I suppose I shall have to sell the car, and get what I can (at least $300 or thereabout, maybe $325) but then we shall have that money spent and I donít know if weíll have enough for another by the time we come back. Of course it will be foolish to hang onto it, if Iím going to California, and especially since we are so short. And the insurance and Christmas coming up!

As to renting the house for the next four to six months, Iím afraid we wonít be able to, nor do I think it a good idea. I would far rather accept the loss, such as it is, and close it up. Housing is so desperate still, it would be simply something if our perspective tenants developed barnacle-like tendencies again. Even if youíre covered with contracts and such, it is so unpleasant and costly, especially costly, to get people out again. No I donít think it would pay us. Of course if I had been able to arrange something like with that Colonel, or with the Strurges who would have wanted only a stop-gap, it would have been different. And even then, can one be sure?

You said something in your letter about your questions remaining unanswered, so I got out your letters again and checked back. Why, seems to me I covered everything. I told you about the lodge, and sent your letter on, I sent the leafax, have packed your rubbers and gloves, as requested, in fact I told you all there is to tell. Yes, I did have Dr. Dery, as a matter of fact we owe him eight dollars. But you know how it is, he comes and reassures you and gives you some medicine prescriptions and tells you to call him if. . . The sleepless nights the fuss and bother are all mine, and I know there is nothing one can do until things get better. I spent a lot of money on medicine, too, but their lack of appetite kinda made up for that! Well anyway, thatís all over, and even the baby is getting her appetite back again and eating as usual.

Mother came late yesterday afternoon and stayed overnight. She wasnít feeling too good, but wanted to bring the childrenís presents and see them again. Sheíd love to keep one of them, but I fear her health is not too good for that, and besides sheíd want Cammie again, here is Bobby clamoring to go with her, and she wants Cammie. You know why. Cammie is wise now, and said ďYou are NOT going to send me to Grandmaís and go away again.Ē I couldnít.

I made up my mind Iím not going to separate them. If one goes, they all go. Mother was trying her best, along with everyone else here in the neighborhood, to dissuade me from going. Oh, I know, it seems a waste of money which we could turn to much better advantage, both in the house and for ourselves, but no one knows how much I miss our not being a Ďfamilyí. I suppose, now that one month is almost over I could stand it another two, if weíre sure you were coming back at the end of ninety days. Pop had said heíd come and get us for a couple of weeks over the holidays so we wouldnít be alone for Christmas, and she keeps telling me all the things the kids need. All of which is true, I suppose, and if I had my right mind Iíd flatly and firmly say Ďnoí to your request for us to come. But then, have I ever been able to say Ďnoí to you? Even the butcher shakes his head and tells me Love is grand. And mother read me a long lecture when I got back about how it was time I forgot about being your sweetheart and putting the children ahead for a change!!!! I had not been aware I had neglected them for you! Yes, Iím aware it is costing us a lot more than we can afford, but if you want us to come, and itís anyways possible, weíll come.

The people who are renting Isbsisterís house, just came from the west. They have two children, a girl of four and a little boy about two or two and a half. That was almost the first inkling I had of them---I looked for Bobby and found him clambering about their porch, and when I called him I found he was playing with the little girl. It didnít take them any time at all to gravitate into the nursery and back yard, and thatís how I happened to meet their mother. She was looking for Ďem. Their name is Stearns (I think) do you know him? He must be in the service department too, she told me theyíd been in Frisco for a year and a half, and by all means for me to go!

I finally got a sign of life from Rochester today. And after Mami preaching to me to be sure and not send them any presents, they were short on cash after buying the house etc. etc. , what should come today, but a great big parcel with a doll for the baby, a dollís chair for Cammie (something she wants, too) and one of those big beautiful steel jeeps for Bobby. Also something Iíd meant to buy for him. Well, thereís nothing for it, Iíll have to wrack my brain for a specially beautiful present for Leo.

I got Bobby a haircut this morning, he sure needed it, he looks cute again now, a regular fellow. I also made some pajamas for Cammie out of the stuff I had up in the attic. Oh, they need snowsuits so badly. Bobby came home yesterday with his heinie hanging out of his ski pants, they are absolutely beyond repair. Now I have to put that legging set on him Iíd made out of your old tweed suit, to fill in until I can get him something, although it is a bit too small this year. Kids! And the way they grow. And if they donít outgrow it they ruin it. I have to get him some shoes, too, there is nothing to sole on them. Like with Cammie having more than one pair I always have one pair fixed up which she wears the others. This time it really was a humdinger, and it kind of knocked me for a loop when the shoemaker asked 1.75 to have them soled and heeled. Whoof. You see, all that added up, and I had nothing to take it from except the money you sent for carfare. Gee, if I could just once have enough so I wouldnít have to worry over every dollar. . .Well, I cried enough on your shoulder, now I can go to bed. Nightie-night Lover, you are still my dearest darling, and donít let anyone kid us out of it, either. I took the films into town, and I ought to get them back one of these days. Also the enlargement you asked for. Golly, sweetheart, at this rate you wonít get a wallet from Santa Claus or nothiní, and weíll be lucky if heíll manage to find the kids with all this moving and such!!! Oh my chin and whiskers! Say, you know, Iíve been reading Alice in Wonderland to the children, and they clamor for it nightly. I thought it would be too old for them, but no, they hand on every word, and know all about it. If I should leave something out one night, they tell me, Kids!

Love from all of us as ever

*************************

†[Ďgreen inkí letter from J. Casagrande, 3745 Columbian Dr. , Oakland 3, Cal. to Frances Casagrande, 151 Harrison St. , W. Hempstead, L.I. , N.Y. ]

Tuesday, December 10

Dearest love,

I have just sent you the telegram regarding Lt. Bizzellís wife Marion. He asked me if you would care to travel with his wife, as he has been trying to find someone for her. She, however, wants to fly out, but he wants the car here. You could drive down the Atlantic Coast to the Gulf, around the Gulf to California, and up the West Coast to San Francisco. What do you think of the idea? His initials are P.E. , address 2183 Amsterdam Ave. , Manhattan, no telephone. He is Electronics Officer of Fasron 8, ComFair Alameda, the main Iím working with now, just so youíll have something to tell his wife. He thought the car, a Ď38 Buick, would handle the children alright, and I told him you can drive. Donít let the license stand in your way.

I would estimate distance as follows: straight across country, 3200 miles--down to Georgia, Alabama, the Gulf, Texas, to California, and up to San Francisco, 4000. Driving conservatively, not killing yourself, possibly 10 days--just a guess.

Let me know in detail what happens, and by all means rent the house, even if only [through Nekton]. That is, I think it would be better to leave the house in his hands than to [desert] it, and it would be best to rent it with oil, gas, light, and water furnished.

All my love, Jere

xxx for you, sweetheart--chin up

xxx for the children, Cammie, Bobbie, Diane

*************************

[See "Cars Hate Me!" for additional paragraphs in this letter.]

Thursday, Dec. 12. 46

Hello Sweetheart:

I seem to be spending the best years of my life looking up the street for the mailman, waiting for the letter that doesnít come.

Darling, things look very bleak as far as us being a united family around the Christmas tree is concerned. It sure looks as if Fate, the old battle-ax herself, were agin us. I called Clarke as I told you in my last letter and went to the office the next day to contact the Airlines, and each and every one of them are unable to come up with anything before January. I decided to wait until I heard from you and then your telegram came about me contacting Mrs. Bizzell. Okay, so Iíve contacted her by letter (no phone number listed) and am now waiting to hear from her. Of course if that poor woman has any sense sheíll say Ďnoí most emphatically; about traveling with three young children!! Naturally I said nothing so derogative in my letter! So weíll see what develops. Driving I betcha, takes at least 10 days if not more. Especially if we have to take the southern route. Darling, why donít you try to get a lift by plane and come home for Christmas yourself?

I waited for a letter today, because I thought there might be an answer to some of the questions that are burning me up. You know, if I thought youíd be home in two months or so, I would give up all thoughts of trying to wrangle a way to go out to Oakland. So much agitation and all that money, I wonder if it is worth it, for such a short time.

Later.

Hellís Bells! I just finished putting the kids to bed, and giving Bobby his bath. Now I know why he didnít want to eat any supper and was so listless today. Yes, you guessed it. Chicken Pox. Well, this tears it. I am now perfectly willing to throw in the sponge. Another week of misery, and I shall go stark staring mad, so help me why, oh why, must these things happen to me, and always, ALWAYS around the holidays. Remember last Christmas? Me sick, and no turkey cooked and company coming!

Coming to think of it, shall I try for a plane reservation after the holidays? Iím sure things must be better then. Are you sure youíll be staying longer than ninety days? Because if I thought you would be out there for six months for sure, it would still be worth going. Honestly, this writing back and forth is hell, and it must be awful hard on you, poor sweetheart. Do you feel like a little lost chick? Gollies, I almost hate to send you the enclosed Pin-Up of me. Incidentally, I got the pictures back that we had taken, and they came out swell. Iím only sorry I didnít save them all to be developed at home. Although some didnít come out at all, those that did are pretty nice. Considering the condition we took them under. The one you took of me, and I of you (sounds like a gag) the ones under the Redwood trees, came out very good. But not the close-ups of the trees. Even the one you took of that water fall place, remember? Came out pretty good. They certainly do bring that wonderful day back full force. I want to show them around first, but one of these days Iíll send them to you.

Well, darling, Iím going to bed now. ďTo sleep--perchance to dream--Ē

Friday morning

Your money order came this morning, so now I can go down to New York this afternoon and pick up the reservation for the train. But that will mean that our Christmas this year will have to be celebrated a few days late. It will be up to Papa this year to get a tree and some kind of presents for the children. No, on second thought I think Iíll order some from Sears and have them sent to your present address. Iíll try and get a doll house thatís collapsible, and the furniture for it, and a fire engine for Bobby. You see if you can elbow your way into a five and ten and get cut-out books and paint books and crayon, something like that to make it look like a lot. And something to trim the tree with, just a little snow and a box of balls and such.

Bobby, poor little guy, is feeling quite sick today, and I shall just hate to have to take him out with me. But as luck will have it there is nobody to mind the kids for me, and itís too late to wait for Anita to come home from school these days. Guess Iíll just take the car down to the station parking lot and leave it there, that way he wonít have to walk much, and I donít have to carry the baby so much either. Iím going to cash the money order while they both are sleeping, and maybe the mailman will bring a check from Sperryís, too, then Iíll get that over with.

Betty is going into the hospital next Monday or Tuesday, depending when theyíll have a bed for her. She has the jitters about it, still afraid itís cancer. I hope sheíll be alright, I guess they take good care of them nowadays, though.

Jere, I just got your letter of Tuesday. I really donít think it a good idea to drive such a distance with three small children, and I canít wait any longer. If Iím going to go out there, I want to get there some time soon, not next year. And Iím going down to New York this afternoon to pick up the reservation I made come Hell or High Water. Iím sick of hanging around and thereís nothing for it but to make a jump one way or the other. I canít let this reservation go by again and besides I donít think that girl would like the idea, I know I wouldnít. Ten days is an awfully long time to be cooped up with three children.

I called up Mr. Nkton but heís out, I explained the situation to his secretary and she said sheíd tell him, etc. etc. So you will hear about it one of these days. Iím going out now. So goodbye for now.

*************************

[See "Cars Hate Me!" for additional paragraphs in this letter.]

Monday Dec. 16. 1946

Dearest Sweetheart:

I just got your letter dated the 13th, well Dear, it looks as if I wonít get out there until the 26th after all. As I explained in my last letter there simply was no reservation to be had on the plane and I canít wait any longer. I figured weíd rather have our Christmas together, albeit a few days late. When I phoned about the reservation Iím pretty sure the girl said the 20th, but when I phoned them on Thursday to ask them to hold it for me till Saturday I found that the date was for the 23rd and for me to pick the tickets up on the 13th, five oíclock sharp. They were very firm about that. Well, I was all set to let it go by again ,because I saw no way of getting enough money together by that time, but your money order, and the pay check both came through that day so I bundled Bobby and the children up, and sick as he was (and he WAS sick) I went down to get the tickets. To the devil with planes and compartments and comforts and such, Iím sick to death of hanging by the skin of my teeth, and Iím going although it will probably kill me. There is no need to tell you all over again what a time Iíve had since Friday with Bobby, I had the doctor and he said heíd never seen a case so bad. I tell you, there wasnít an inch of his hide that wasnít covered with pustules even the inside of his mouth. And that is what made it so bad, he couldnít swallow, and he was so hungry poor little kid, but he couldnít or wouldnít even eat ice-cream or drink milk. On top of that, while we had two days of peace with the Ďdroop-snootsí, both Camille and the baby and in due time no doubt Bobby, too, have runny noses again. In spite of the cod liver oil, which I never fail to pour into them. Iím so disgusted, you can have no idea. Night after night I go around from one bed to the other, until Iím ready to scream. But donít blame yourself Dear, you know very well, even if you were here, there is not much you could do to help, except give me a shoulder to wail on. Today he is much better, anyway, and most of the little spots have gone away, now the big sores will have to heal up and heíll be alright. He is the messiest looking little boy you ever saw, his face and scalp, oh, oh, but he is getting better, and is eating today. Cammie didnít have it nearly as bad, mostly on her body, and very little on her face and arms, so she got over it before you could say Ďbooí, it was the cough and earache that bothered me so much with her. By the way I paid Dr. Dery and sent your mother a ten dollar check and b ought some presents for the children and a nice one for Leo. I wish I could have gotten one for Bobby too, it was a magnetic crane, a well constructed toy, and it picks up pins and pieces of metal, and I know he would have loved one. But I bought mostly things I could ship or carry easily. As it is, I spent about ten dollars.

Darling, you never answer any of my questions, and they still burn me up. And you never tell me which of my letters you got, did you get your laundry and what do you want to do about your lodge? Of well, in ten days Iíll see you and Brother, I will wring your neck! (But lovingly)

************************************

letter from f in Hempstead to Mr. Jere Casagrande, 3745 Columbian Drive, Oakland 3, Cal. c/o Turner

Hey there:-

Tell me, has the shock of us coming out at last frozen you good right hand, or what? Remember, I still like to hear from my dearest and nearest. Besides, how can you expect me to give a change of address if I have no address to give? Answer me that. So give, will you.

This was one day I almost overlooked not getting an airmail envelope, when I got a wee square envelope with that precious yellow slip inside, yup, my license. Weee! I was so excited, honestly! Now I'm a real honest to God, full fledged driver, and can go up and look every policeman in the eye with a clear conscious. Up til now I've looked them in the eye but with my fingers crossed in back! Betty came back from the hospital today, and it gave me the greatest kick in the world to meet her at the train and bring her home. She was a bit woozy poor girl, and mighty glad I was there I bet. [no taxi in site] she has to back after the holidays for a real job. I haven't been able to have a heart to heart talk with her yet. Every time I go over there's someone there, usually little Cliff who won't budge from her side.

I hope you get the parcel I sent intact. The mailman keeps right on dropping parcels in my lap and I keep on cursing them and wondering what to do with them. I honestly don't feel like lugging everything out there, but for the kids sake I guess I'll have to. There was a flock of packages from Sistie, plus a Christmas card. Gosh, she did herself proud this year. The one for us contained a tablecloth which I unpacked and put away for the time being. There was also a pop gun for Bobby but I gave that to the little Hilderbrand boy who is in the hospital with pneumonia. The others I stuffed into the trunk without opening. (The pop gun was marked Mr. and MRs. , that's why I opened it. )

There was, also, believe it or not, a parcel from the A. Casagrandes in White Plains, which nearly knocked me for a loop. Books for the kids, from the feel of them, but it was nice of them to think of the children, and there were also some cards. Incidentally, I sent out our Christmas cards the other day too. From the Sperry people I included only the Hammonds and Innerleys and Mrs. Sbister and Erick. Oh, and Charlie Brown. If there is anyone else you'll have to take care of it yourself. Another package came from Laura for Cammie, also a book from the feel of it.

I called up mother to tell her I got the license and am leaving Monday, and to my dismay I found them both at home sick. Pop has a bad cold and his back bothers him, but mother, gee, she really is in a bad way. Has gall bladder trouble, she told me she was all yellow; and she has trouble with her intestines and is on a strict diet. I thought that would happen. Nothing spicy or greasy. She sounded pretty sick when I talked with her, but would not hear of my coming out before I go. I feel pretty bad about that, and only hope that nothing happens to her while I'm gone. Of course, she's right, there's no sense of taking a chance with an old car in this cold weather and me with a reservation next Monday and a lot to do yet. I haven't heard from Nekton at all. I tell you, Jere, no one wants to rent for such a short time, especially in the winter. Now if it were summer, it would be different. I'm sorry you're disappointed, but it can't be helped, and frankly I'm glad.

I guess after this letter you won't hear from me again. In the first place I won't have time and in the second place they're taking the typewriter on Friday. So by tonight I'll have to get the trunk all ready. I'll have to have the playpen and carriage folded up and tied and tagged and hope they will take them that way. The day comes nearer and nearer, but I guess I'll manage it ok (I hope I hope). We are leaving New York at 4:55 pm Monday, December 23, and should be in Oakland Thursday morning. I'll wire you exactly when, but you might find that out yourself too. By dear, wish me luck. Love from us all. F


1947 Letters

letter from F to "Betty"
On stationery ďUnited States Pacific Fleet, Air Force, Fleet Aircraft Service Squadron Eight, U.S. Naval Air Station, Alameda, California]

January 21, 1947

Hi, Betty:-

It was a pleasure to hear from you again, and itís good to know you are back in circulation. Just take it easy and one of these days youíll show Ďem thereís many a dance in the old dame yet. But not too lively please, you know old bones are brittle!!. . . .

Seems to me all the news I get back from home is bad. Have I told you my mother was in the hospital for observation? They think itís gallstones or something like that, and they kept her at the hospital awhile, though they wonít operate just yet. The doctor wants to try something else first. If anyone should ask me (and they donít), I think that doctor would make a very good shoemaker. Heís had mother under his care for so long, and knows sheís complained of pain, and I canít see why he hasnít suspected something like that sooner. I do hope nothing serious happens to her, I heel so darn helpless away out here, and Iíd just never forgive myself if anything should happen and I couldnít be three. I know she felt badly that I wasnít there at Christmas time, and God knows, if Iíd had an inkling that she was that sick I would have waited and spent some time with her first. Well, all that is water under the dam, and since one canít turn the time back, thereís no use moaning. Life is full of such Ifís and Maybeís anyway.

As far as weíre concerned, believe me, Betts, there is never a dull moment. As for instance only the other day I was in a particular hurry to get my work done because I wanted to go shopping (little olí Cindy was at the garage having her innards repaired. Iíd brought her home from having her motor overhauled, and was beginning to congratulate myself on how smooth, for her age, she was running, when there was a clank and a clash--gear jammed! And only a block from home at that. Sheís very considerate that way. . . ) Well, I went to the laundry early, and was just letting the soapy water run out, when something happened and said soapy water went all over the floor. Before I realized the hose had come off we were almost ankle deep in water. I jammed the hose back on and went to mop up the water--and endless process, and in so doing I managed to knock my nice clean wash on the floor, and presto, it was not nice and clean anymore. Back I threw it in the water, and in my hurry to get done, I fed the wash too fast in the wringer and before you could say ďstop thiefĒ, my hand was in it too. Luckily itís one of those where you donít get hurt much if you shut it off right away and reverse it, and with those soft rollers thereís not much chance of damage. I kept my outward composure, but to you I can say I was saying nasty words to myself inside. The lady next to me said I was certainly good-natured about it all, and now I ask you what good would it do me to dissolve in tears and beat my head against the wall????? Incidentally, now that weíre here awhile, the blur of faces cleared up a little, and itís got so I know some of the women. There are, like everywhere else, some that are nicer than others, and while I donít know anybodyís name, weíve broken down so far as to say hello and good morning when we meet. So democratic!

I found a place down at the beach to take the kids to whenever the weather permits. It isnít much of a beach for bathing, but for the children itís fun to dig and play along the shore. There are great big rocks tumbled together with driftwood caught between, and in this particular place is a great big thick plank above the tide level with a big rock behind it, itís sheltered from the wind and always sunny, so I sit there and read while the children play around, and the baby bounces around in her carriage. It gives us a place to go, and there is always something to see, as for me, I love the water, and this lazy life just suits me, I rush through the little housework there is and go out. I certainly wish I had the camera with me, all the things I can think of that I wish Iíd brought! Well, Iíd love to take some pictures. It looks so pretty to see all those little white houses along the shore and the mountains behind them. With here and there a palm tree, it looks so tropical, or anyway it reminds you of what you think the tropics looks like. Some of the newer homes that are built along the water front are little gems. Most of them are white stucco or cement and they have great big huge windows, and when you go by, it seems as if they all are living in glass houses, you can see so much interior. And most of them have shelves along the outside with colorful pots of flowering plants on them. They are so gay and attractive. And there are flowering shrubs everywhere. Geranium grow like bushes and poinsettias like trees, a story or even more high, just covered with flowers. And the cacti, I tell you, this is a gardenerís paradise.

Jere was aboard one of the carriers last week and was gone for about a week, he came back all bubbling over with what life on a carrier is like. He flew in one of the planes, and it must have been exciting. To be catapulted into space and come back again to the mother ship, wish I could be on one. I watch the planes all the time, in fact right behind this settlement is the airfield where the surplus planes are stored, and we can see them sometimes bringing one and taking some away. Some of them have their wings folded up, youíve seen Ďem, Iím sure. Some have all kinds of scribblings all over them, that the pilots left on them, those are the fighters that are not used anymore. Oh, I think itís so exciting to watch them. Well, when Jereís ship was expected back, we went out to the point to see it come in, but to tell the truth, Iím much more excited about such things than the kids. All Bobby cares about is things on wheels and those wheels firmly on the ground. Heíd follow a tractor around to hell and gone, but those big ships zooming overhead or the carriers here at the base leave him cold. Oh well.

The weather has been consistently lovely, only for the past four or five days weíve had those celebrated San Francisco fogs, but it seems to lift in the afternoon. I am getting quite unconcerned about driving in one, though sometimes in the early morning you can hardly see ahead of you, and the curb is invisible. But you know, Iím no speed demon, and the way Cindy and I crawl along we couldnít possibly get into trouble, unless someone bites us in the rear. (which could very well happen) You know, Jere gets quite a kick out of using me as a chauffeur. The other night I took him to see the secretary of the Apollo Lodge here, and after leaving him there I came home again. Well, about ten oíclock I thought it would be nice to go and pick him up again, to save him that long walk home in that foggy and damp night. When I got there I couldnít for the life of me remember which house it was, so picture me knocking on a door saying: Pardon me, is my husband still here? As it happened I didnít even know the name of the man he went to see nor his phone number nor the number of the house. I felt like such a silly fool. And while I was standing outside again (no they didnít know nuttiní) someone else opened the door and asked me if they could help. No doubt they were forestalling my Ďcasing the jointí. Anyway I explained and he said, Oh you must mean Mr. Noes, and like a gentlemen took me to the door. Unfortunately ten minutes too late. So I came home. No Jere. I went out again, back the way we had gone and peered through the fog. No Jere. Home again, and still no sign of Jere. Once again I patrolled the street, taking in the ones we usually walk on. No Jere. I stopped for gas, this gage isnít working either and I didnít want to be stranded. Well, when I got home this time, there was Jere all agog saying ďWhere have you been?Ē, seems we just missed each other each time by a fraction, and he was walking around looking for me, and me doing the same. More fun I tell you!

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February 11, 1947

Dear Betty:-

I was sorry to hear about the loss of your father, and I know how shocked you must have been at the suddenness. Words are such poor things to tell a person how much you feel for them, but, Betty, please don't feel so badly about it. Remember death and sickness come to us all and we must bear it as best we may, and you mustn't, don't ever feel that is your fault in any way. Itís not a punishment visited on you, but one of those milestones we all must come to, sooner or later. Donít grieve too much, Betty, just try to remember all the nice and pleasant things about your dad. It sounds so futile for me to sit here and tell you that, I know, and if it were my own Iíd probably be broken hearted, too, but you know, too, Iíd do anything to make it easier for you, if I could. Itís too bad it had to happen so soon after your illness, and you arenít prepared for such a shock, so take it easy, Betty, and you must not think that any action on your part would have made any difference. Oh, how I wish I could be there to pat your shoulder and say: ďThere, there, it will be all right.Ē

Feb 1949, a FordWeíll be leaving here on the 21st, Jereís orders are up here, and we shall probably go down to San Diego after that, and God only knows what happens then. Home James! I guess I havenít gotten around to telling you yet that Cinderella turned into ďLady LizĒ. Through a fellow who works for Jere he heard of a 1935 Ford V8 for only $375 and in excellent condition. Seems this fellow got a new car and rather than trade it in and get nothing for it heíd keep it and sell it to a friend. While we can hardly be classed as Ďfriendí, he nevertheless decided to let us have it. So I sold the old car and we bought this one. I went to get it myself (should I say Ďnaturallyí?) and it was quite a thrill to drive a nice car like that home. I tell you Betty, I practically flew like a bird. I had to watch myself so I wouldnít step on the gas too much. The motor purrs like a kitten and it takes the hills like a swallow. The original paint is still in good condition and except for a few rusty marks on the front fender it is in very good condition. Now Jere wants me to drive it home, and whatís more Iím more or less agreeable. First, as Iíve said weíll go down to San Diego with it, and it is sure nice to have a car you wonít have to wonder if it will hold up. We could hardly wait for the weekend to roll around so we could really go on a ride. Weíve wanted to go into the mountains, but with the old car we didnít quite dare. We had to take it easy, and the way things are around here, you have to go through Oakland before you get out into the open, and for the first half hour itís nothing but traffic lights and shifting of gears. I tell you, after driving through Oakland a couple of times you can tell Big Cliff for me, that taking Jere to the airport would be a cinch for me. And as for driving in New York--poohpooh! In this one short month Iíve become cynical and calloused about the other fellowís fender, and I donít wait around like a nervous hen waiting for an opening, no siree, and parking on a busy main street holds no terrors for me. But donít get the idea Iím careless, no, itís just that Iíve gotten used to driving. As I was saying, last Saturday we decided to go on a real picnic and drive up into the mountains. It was fun, and Iím sure we passed some breathtaking scenery but I wouldnít know about it! When I want to look at a view I have to look for a place to park first and get out and look. Oh for the life of a chauffeur! I get a thrill out of driving though, and oh brother, those mountain roads sure can supply that thrill. First you crawl up in second and then you cautiously creep down the other side. Those hair-pin turns were enough to turn my hair. (until I remembered to go into second). We had a grand time, and whatís more the kids did too, even the baby is quite contented in her bed. We meant to go again Sunday, but unfortunately it poured cats and dogs, and we spent a most miserable day as you may well imagine. Jere and me walking around like caged lions because we had our heart set on going out, and the kids clamoring for a ride. We tried it for awhile in the afternoon, but

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[Drawing of baby here. ]

West Hempstead, N.Y. Driving Cross Country
151 Harrison Street
April 14, 1947

Greetings and Salutations:-

This was meant to be an Easter Special , but like all good intentions it went a little astray. Howsoever , better late than never they say , and while my halo is still on straight I think I'd better give an account of myself forthwith. I suppose your mouths are still hanging open the way us Casagrandes get about , here today and gone tomorrow , but I can tell you right here and now this time I'm staying put. Come to think of it that sounds awfully familiar so maybe I've said it before , and I'd best keep my mouth shut. Well never mind , before I completely forget the details of our trek across country I think I'd better tell you about it. It was a lot of fun , and if I had to do it over , knowing what we're in for , I'd still do it again. Going by car is the only way to travel across country. With or without kids. As a matter of fact , I had less trouble with the children coming home than I had going out , and they were pretty good even then....

[See Cars Hate Me! for the full story of the cross country adventure, and what an adventure it was! But Deedee wants to know who changed the diapers and amused the children who were cooped up in the back seat for a week? In fact, Mother told the ďamusingĒ story of driving along and suddenly realizing that Bobby and Cammie werenít in the car! They backtracked until they found us walking hand-in-hand down the street in some town where we had apparently got out, unnoticed, while they got gas. Deedee and I decided that, for us children, it must have been a nightmare of a trip.]

...Oh but, Ruth, (and Joe too) it was wonderful to see the skyline of New York appear again, and heavenly to ride over the Triborough Bridge and know that we were HOME again. I like California well enough, but to me New York will always spell HOME! It was simply thrilling to get to our house and see the same old neighborhood unchanged (and why should it?) and the same kids playing on the street. I tell you it didnít take them five minutes and they were all congregated at our house and werenít the kids excited to be home! Poor Cammie, she was almost hysterical, ran from room to room, and dragged her toys out and cried and was so excited there was no stopping her. And Bobby asked me that night: ďWhere are we going to sleep tomorrow night Mummi?Ē Poor kids, I guess it did tell on them to have no security al all. This time Iíll really stay put, if only for their sake. Jere went back to Washington to take over his new assignment (Flying Missiles) and he comes home every Friday night and leaves again Sunday night. That isnít too bad.

Letís see what else is new. As an anticlimax let me tell you Iíve finally got a hold of a washing machine, and what a blessing itís turned out to be. Heavenly, with those kids of mine covering themselves with mud and glory, itís just heavenly to let a machine do the work for you. It does take a lot of my time, but I really donít mind, and I was getting kind of sick of the laundry sending me back odd socks all the time. I got it from Betty up at Motherís and went up to get it a few weeks ago. Now what with that telephone strike Iíd love to go up and pay mother another little visit, but I havenít gotten my registration papers yet from California and the other day a cop stopped me and said I couldnít use the car until I get license plates on it. In spite of all my explaining, he said DONíT USE IT. So now I have a car I canít use and another one at the repair shop. Iím reduced to the bike again. What a comedown. You know itís funny, you get so used to riding around in a car, why Iíd even take the car to go down to the corner store. And how I miss the convenience of it. I wrote to the motor vehicles bureau and the man I bought it from but so far no dice. Gee, I made a mistake and put the Fibber McGee program on and now I canít concentrate anymore. See you later.

Well, Ruth, how are you feeling these days? Pretty darn punk Iíll bet and hoping to have the whole business over with? Just you be patient, little mama, your troubles havenít even begun! But you know yourself the little things are worth every bit of inconvenience they cause us. I know I wouldnít send my three little limbs of Satan back even if I could. They try me sorely sometimes, and then I look at them asleep like the little angels they arenít, and I love them so much my heart about bursts. Well, Ruth my dear, I wish you the very best of luck, and I hope this time you have an easy time of it, methods have changed so these days, and I hope your doctor kept step with the time. Anyway, Iím keeping my fingers crossed for you, may you get your heartís desire. Boy or Girl. Hang on awhile longer and take it easy. If you feel up to it Iíd like to hear from you sometime, but I wonít be made if I donít cause I know there are times when you feel like nothing except crawl in a hole and pull the cover down over you. So chin up and stomach out!

Well, I got to run along now, one of these fine summer days I may run up and surprise you with a visit, then weíll get a look at what you produced at the same time. You might give me a hint in one of your letters how to get to Ye Olde Homestead. We wouldnít stay with you though, Iíd try to find a Motel someplace in the vicinity like we used to. Well, so long folks, with our very warmest and best love to you all, big brother and little nephew and to you, Ruth,

as ever

Frances


For the sake of the children

Given the renewal of love on both sides in 1946, one can but wonder what changed in the last two years. Nevertheless, something happened in 1948 that signaled a major change in Motherís attitude. Was this a particularly stressful period? Whatís going on with Fatherís job situation? Possibly itís just simply that the ultimate straw finally break the camelís back. In any case, in 1948 Mother begins another journal where she records very bitter feelings.

Certain phrases come up again and again in this journal, phrases that shout out the cycle of abuse:

  1. The tension-building phase
    constant fear of displeasure"
    break out at any time for any reason"

  2. Rumination/Blaming the Victim
    it would turn out to be that he was the sole injured partner"
    the list of my own derelictions endless"
    Look what you made me do"
    ďI will always be the object of his wrath and the storm center in any caseĒ

  3. The battering phase
    ďthe brutality and vile languageĒ
    ďa wonder my arms ever lost their bruisesĒ

  4. The Contrition Phase
    I have forgiven time and againĒ
    ďBut each time I feel that this time it will be differentĒ
    ďHis words of loveĒ

 

*************************************

May 30, 1948

There is just one thing I regret--not marriage, not the children, how could you think of children the way I do and not want them! No, I regret my error in judgment, of thinking that anything or anybody could change. But that was an error of youth and the illusions of youth, and I know full well that, given the same chance and the same circumstances, it would happen again, and in the same way. But after fourteen years of bitter striving I have become [certain] there is just no way of [dealing] with such a man [and still] serving your own integrity. You live in constant fear of displeasure, and the agony of suffering such scenes as last night is something I can't stand anymore. So it is just come to a choice of bowing meekly and jump to obey and the frustration of it is making me eat my heart out. I've got to become a puppet for the sake of the children and the sake of society.

Camille and Daddy campingAll right, I'll try it, but I fear it won't be easy or even that I can do it. I'm sociable and loving and I will forget easily as in the past. But I wish I could remember that love is not in his heart, self pleasure yes, but not love. He couldn't do those things if he truly loved me. His is an immature mind behind that facade of nobility. Oh how I hated to admit it, and that is the error of judgment I so deplore. To be so fooled into thinking that that was the exception, think rather it is sleeping while things run smoothly and apt to break out at any time and for any reason, any reason that runs counter to his pleasure, wishes or desires. We could have such a good life together, such a good life, and here it lies smashed and bruised, all for the indulgence of an egocentric though brilliant intelligence. "I want or else. . . ", do as I say. . .or else.

Don't thwart him, don't deny him, he has the whip hand because his violence is real and without bounds. No sense of decency, no shame stays his fury, and I am helpless against it because my fury is assumed in self-defense and for the ultimate end. I might as well lie down and let him beat me, what does it ever get me to fight back, nothing but the doubtful knowledge that I'm not a submissive beast. I bear the bruises on body and soul, and the job of salvaging the pieces. Perhaps my mind is not as brilliant, but it is more adult, and that is also a curse. I can't behave with such childish antics and so am licked at the start.

If there were a God and I could believe, I'd pray with all my heart and soul to please let him grow up and face life like an adult not a spoiled child.

*************************************

May 31

I don't know if it just the reaction but I feel curiously indifferent. I look upon him with the eyes of a stranger, someone to be polite to, and friendly because we are associated but that's all. His opinions and orations I listen to with tolerance and politeness but not even worth my while to dispute. Why bother, I feel I get nowhere, so why exert myself, it is of no consequence to me. And things brought out in conversation shed a highly unsatisfactory light upon his character. I no longer feel compelled to excuse and condone. He is an interesting conversationalist, a stimulating companion for an evening, it is true, but one I'd as soon take in smaller doses, and in my own time.Bob and Camille at Deep Creek

At the same time he is so dulled in his perception that he can't see our relationship has changed. If I were to permit discussion of that affair of the other night it would turn out to be that he was the sole injured partner and the list of my own derelictions endless. Discussion would only lead to further quarrels and nothing is ever gained so I'd rather have it at an armed truce.

His cleverness repels me because I can't cope with it, it leaves me helpless, a clumsy inadequate fool and it is not a feeling I care for. It makes me uncomfortable and I am animal enough to want to shun discomfort. Any why should I not? I don't believe in the hair shirt and the flagellation. My intellectual spouse would say that was the trouble with me. I shirk thinking if it makes me uncomfortable. But if I shirk mental discomfort, how does my clever Lover feel about physical discomfort and irritations? Does he put up with it philosophically or does he say: "Away I say. . .out with it, get thee out of my sight!" If he cannot tailor it to suit, he would smash it to bits.

So Mr. Irascible-Clever, it comes to this. The things that matter to me will never matter to you, and vice-versa, and when love dies between us, there is nothing to hold us together any longer spiritually. You will go on saying clever things and know all the answers. And for the sake of the children I shall try to avoid any conflict, even if it means avoiding intimacy of mind and spirit.

*************************************

June 3

All life they say is an illusion, and if you tell yourself long enough and often enough a thing is so, then it is so. And if you can make an illusion, you can unmake it too. It all depends which makes you happiest in the long run. Telling myself I'm in love and my Dearest a gem of rare perception and sensitivity has made me very happy in the past and made the fall all the more agonizing. I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that such outbursts will take place any time and for any reason and I will always be the object of his wrath and the storm center in any case.

Shall I then encase myself in an armor of indifference and thus escape hurt or take the bitter with the sweet and continue to build an illusion of love and thus extract such sweetness and content and exquisite pleasure only the surrender to love's illusion brings.

*************************************

April 14, 1949

Well, it was just too much to hope that we might go on a trip without any scenes to mar it. Regardless as to who and what was the cause, it is, as usual, I who bears the scars, both physical and spiritually. It's easy for him to blow off and five minutes later be able to casually point out a cow to the children, but for me the whole trip was spoiled, and it isn't fair. I shall never be able to recall the beauty and wonder of all we saw without also remembering the brutality and vile language. I no longer try to talk about it afterward because I know just what will develop. Sure, he is sorry and contrite as witness that outburst: "I'm tired of apologizing to you. . . " and he will always claim I'm the core and cause of it. Well, I'm also tired of being made the scapegoat, and he wont have to apologize [able] for me or to me any more. It is always the same pattern, and if I could only develop some firmness of purpose and not lay myself wide open by association. But each time I feel that "this time it will be different, this time we won't have a scene, no matter what goes wrong. " But it never is. Sometimes the scene is minor and quickly blows over, but always, always we're just this side of a blow-up. Is it any wonder I can't work up an enthusiasm whenever he suggests a ride or trip. God knows I love to go and see different things but not under those conditions. And there is no use discussing anything. All he wants is a monologue, and just let him try to deny it. Any counter opinion is stupid and "you don't know what you're talking about. " Well, I don't have to talk; I can learn to be silent again. But Brother, that blow you struck will cost you dear.

As I look back all I can see is a long memory of unpleasant scenes whenever we left home to go anywhere. The trip home was marred by unpleasantness and back was just an endless succession of irritation and it's a wonder my arms ever lost their bruises. Even other people don't stop him from giving vent to his feelings and I wished I hadn't been so impulsive as to invite Ann to stay with us. I, too, am tired of apologizing and explaining plausibly.

A man who loses his temper loses his dignity and like a drunkard, a man without dignity is a repulsive sight. I used to feel pity for his weakness and blame myself for not being farsighted enough to avoid any cause for such outbursts, but now all I feel is contempt. His weakness is not only a quick temper but refusal to be responsible. It's so much easier to say "Look what you made me do".

*************************************

June 6, 1949

We've had scenes before and talked them over and made them up, but this last one last Saturday was different. I'll never make that up, never. I've shored it to the back of my mind and it festers there, an ugly spreading canker that eats away the contentment and happiness of my days. I would give a lot of forget it--wipe it away, but I can't. Like a foolish child I hug it to my bosom and let it eat my heart out. It would be so easy to turn to him and love him and in loving again be healed. He will never change and I know it so well. But I can't forget, I can't forget. All his words of love sound like a hollow mockery. You simply can't love a woman and do those things to her even in anger. I have never willingly hurt any living thing and my soul shrinks from violence and yet violence is visited upon me so often that I have forgiven time and again, but that he should let me lie in a faint and make no effort to revive me, no, he need never protest his love again. I just don't believe it. And how can I live without love. Now I know that is what shocked me so and made this so different from all our quarrels. I had always counted on his loving me and now I have nothing, nothing.

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Wow, Iíll bet this is the time I remember!!!! Years later I told my psychiatrist of a vivid, visual memory I have of seeing my mother lying on the floor, moaning, while I and my two siblings stood nearby watching. I have absolutely no memory of what I felt. I had obviously already shut down my feelings. Is it surprising that, as the ACADV website says, ďwhen violence is a part of family life, children live in constant fearĒ? What IS surprising, is that we have no memory of the fear.

Probably it was during these two years that the family moved to California. I think we moved first to Compton, where Mother made friends with Sophie Mae Duncan who was to be a life-long friend. The Duncans even eventually moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, in the sixties I think, so true reconnections were made.

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