Death of a Blythe Spirit


The Letter

First Sib Meeting

Dreams of Love

Family Origins

The Making of a Batterer

I Care for Him!


Keeping Company

What Price Love?

Wedded Bliss?

The Honeymoon


The Honeymoon's Over

The Babies Come

Home Sweet Home

Moving Again


Other Mat'ls

Thoughts on Mother's Poetry

Mother's Essays

Penny's Vampire Chronicles

Gina's story fragment


Site PDFs

Death of a Blythe Spirit
(web contents)

Cars Hate Me!
(letters '46-'57)

New York Diaries
(life in the 1930's)


Camille's Diary

Vampie Chronicles

Newlyweds, 1936 Diary

In 1936 both Mom and Dad were working in a factory (CC of A), the in the laboratory and she on various parts of the line. The 1936 diaries show clearly what married life was like before the children came. The cycle of abuse, if quite subtle, had already begun.

There are three parts to the cycle. The length of each is not fixed and can vary from minutes to years, but battering relationships apparently always include these three distinct phases. In the first phase the batterer begins assaulting his partner with verbal and/or physical criticism and/or abuse. Tension mounts and abuse escalates, but in phase one the batterer is, by definition, in control of himself.

In phase two, the tension is discharged; the batterer loses control, and abuse is generally severe. This is generally when the battered partner has negative feelings—seeks help, goes to a shelter, initiates a divorce, is angry and determined.

In phase three the trap is sprung. The batterer is contrite, loving, charming. There are flowers and other presents, great love-making, protestations of undying love and "It will never happen again." The battered partner remembers how much she loves her spouse, leaves the hospital, cancels the divorce, and the cycle begins again.

In 1936, however, Father was still in the “tension building phase.” Both Mother and Father were still adjusting to marriage. Mother, having “adjusted,” wrote the following just after their second anniversary:


(handwritten on piece of paper stuck in diary )

August 19
If he hadn't had a toothache, he wouldn't have been cranky
If he hadn't been cranky he wouldn't have made me irritable
If he hadn't made me irritable he wouldn't have broken the chair
If he hadn't broken the chair I wouldn't have knocked the radio over
If I hadn't broken the radio he wouldn't have wrecked the place and struck me.
If he hadn't struck me he wouldn't have broken my glasses
If he hadn't broken my glasses I wouldn't have a headache all week

And I'm still miserable with that headache


(Journal Entry)

Friday, August 28, 1936
I’ve come to another very important crossroad in my life where I must decide, once and for all, on one thing or another.

Unfortunately, I put my all into my love and nothing else exists or is of any importance than my passion. But it will never do to make him a slave to my whims. And though it breaks my heart I must learn to accept and bear with his absorptions. I simply must learn to amuse myself by myself, to live by myself again.

Mother’s didn’t begin writing again until the fall, and those diary entries are light hearted and prosaic. She proudly inscribed her diary with

Mrs. Jere Casagrande, Jr .
133 North Fulton Ave.
Mount Vernon, N. Y .


October 25
Slept very late. Took Winkie for a walk to get the Times while Jere made breakfast. Betty came up while I was cleaning. Washed my hair and she set it for me very nicely too.

Loafed all the rest of the day. After supper visited with Mrs. Smyth awhile. Stayed to keep her company while she ironed. Am very much afraid my full heart spilled over. Too much so.

October 26
Of course it had to rain today before I got halfway to work. After all of Betty's effort I looked like a drowned kitten. Jere had to work late. Felt [punk] all day, work was slow and my back ached unbearably. There was such a fierce storm on the way home, I could hardly make headway and here I was without hat, coat, gloves or stockings. Was almost frozen and almost wept with helpless rage. Just about got thawed out then started back for Jere. Brought two wool caps to keep our ears warm.

October 27
Felt sick as a dog and decided to stay home for the day.

Did go out for a few errands. Went to the 1ibrary and found I'd forgotten the card. Came back for it. By two oclock finally settled in bed with a contented sigh. Stayed there til Jere came home. Mrs. Hubbard came up to see about Mr. Calleren well that's a load off my mind. I'm glad it's settled.

October 29
Mr. Calleren was here at last and seems to have made a good job of it too. Thank God. Went out later for a walk and bought two whole pounds of Fanny Farmer candy and some cigarettes. We enjoyed it enormously. Winkie just loves her walks. We ought to take her more often poor doggie.

October 30
Had an altercation with Jere again because of the dog. My poor baby had a toothache, that's what made him so cranky. At lunchtime I find he'd not come to work so I got on the bike and hurried home as fast as I could in that wind. It was awfully hard going. Took all my willpower to keep going. Find he had the tooth pulled and, my, he looked a sight! He stayed home of course. I was late for work but who cares. !

November 8
I'm disgusted. Here I wrangled a weekend out of Harold and did you ever see such disgusting weather!

Adelaide dropped in on us last Monday, right in the middle of a beautiful squabble. The dog as usual. Jere was all for packing her off again but I persuaded him to let her stay. I took her down to the plant and asked Harold to get her a job. He did; she's working in the mica department. It seems to work all right; she helps a little with the housework and goes out every night.

November 22
I'm so frightfully disappointed. Another idol has shown his clay feet. I thought Harold was so very nice and a real square fellow and he's just a four-flusher after all. Deceiving, like most of the males. How could he deceive [Lucy] like that. Why? He knew he couldn't get away with it. Too many people knew about his wife and three children. He even tried to kid me for the longest while. Oh, it's all so sordid.

Oh my sweet husband. I'm so glad you’re different. I know I hold you high and love and need [wtl share it with anyone. You are mine and mine alone. Do you wonder that I cherish you so and adore you.

November 27
It was too bad Jere couldn't get the Thanksgiving weekend off. But work is work, and we did have a wonderful time. We made [in with] Harold and were supposed to go back with him. But when I called him up he said he was leaving at four and that was much too early. We were having such a grand time. Tante Rose and Lawrence, Lotte, Erick and Eddie were there. We were singing and playing games etc.

November 28
Adelaide Casagrande: left

[handwritten paper inserted]

draft of a letter that was never sent.

November 30

It is really too bad that you bad to run out on us like this. You didn't even have the decency to let us know, not that it would have mattered anyhow, you were free to come and go as you chose. I can see now that you knew last Thursday already that you weren’t coming back. I suppose there's no need to become melodramatic, you know very well what I mean when I say I'm through with you. Even if you didn't lose your job at the plant I wouldn’t shelter you again even if you had no place to lay your head, not for one night. I’ll not live with anyone I can't trust and you have proven time and again that you cannot ever be open and aboveboard. The responsibility of having such an unbalanced person in the house is more than I care to bear. Therefore, I don't want you ever to set foot into my house again. I shall go to no further trouble on your account. You may come and get your things and your check then I'll have nothing more to do with you.. You are Jere's sister as far as I'm concerned, that's all.

December 6
The stork arrived at last and I’m about worn out. It's almost as if I had the puppies. Benita started right after breakfast and was restless all afternoon. I [curled] next to her box and even fell asleep with my hand on her. Around five the first one came. Light fawn just like [Benny] and sometime after the other one chocolate brown and so tiny. I thought it would never come, but between us we managed to get it out. Both are males and so sweet. They're all doing fine now.

December 17
Harold had to go into Yonkers for his wife so Jere and I went along to take the puppies to Vernon. Christmas I’ll have my hands too full to take them [two]. Harold, Rose and Margie had supper at our house. It was just scrambled eggs and toasted bread for the whole bunch. I hardly got anything myself. Got to Mt. Vernon at 9 o'clock. Went to Jere's mother's house but no one was home. Might have known it.

December 18,
Friday, 1936
Minded Harold's children again while he and the others went out. It is the most dreary place imaginable. I could never call this home. I'm always anxious to get home to our own cozy little place.

I can't understand Harold. He bas the [nicest] children and he goes around playing Romeo to every skirt that will listen. The more I see of him the less I like him. I think he's [certainly] crude and commonplace and ordinary. And so is his wife. I do not like her at all.

December 22
That was some circus this morning. Jere got up with a grouch and he provoked and irritated me so much that when he accidentally spilt the coffee on my clean cloth I was furious and yanked the (skirt) off with all the dishes on it. Everything went spinning. He lost his temper and slapped me; and I [raved]. We patched it up somehow but I wasn't fit for any thing after that day. I'm afraid my nerves are shot plumb to hell. I must get some rest.

December 29
Went home for Christmas and stayed til Sunday. Oh what a time we had. We made the rounds, visiting everybody. [Harry and the kids] also his mother. She seems content with her new job. I only hope she keeps it. She's working for two [priests] and staying there. That gives her a rest from her family. We got to know Harry’s sister and her husband quite well. They're really very nice people. I like them both. We had a jolly nice time up there.

Adelaide was miffed because we paid no attention to her. So what. Winkie was glad to see us [back. If only] I could take her with us .


[undated notes on same kind of slips of paper]

My darling, my joy, how sweet to hold you when I weary of this foolish world. What an endless barren monotony Life would be if I didn’t have you to laugh with.

I just bubble over with pure joy whenever I become conscious of the fact that [annition] that we two are truly self-sufficient. We can [work] and [books]; our walks and [ljflskjdls] others have loved as we, as faithfully and passionately as dearly and tenderly.

Frieda – your husband phoned that you should not meet him to-nite.


Friday, June 23, 1936
I don’t know just what to say about Walter, I really don’t. I guess though, I’d better use [much more] discretion than the situation might warrant. There’s no denying the fact he rather likes me, and what’s the use to play with Jere. Not for myself, good heavens. I’m [someone] to him, but it’s true I do like him; he is German and so much like Joe. To me it’s a pleasure to have him around but not at the expense of his and Jere’s friendship. His and Jere’s friendship—[how] are they friends? Certainly they were, and if they aren’t I must honestly say it isn’t all Jere’s fault. He knows how he is, be’s been with us long enough, so it’s either [that he's really] too [long or his gonny weed] of him. Which I hope not. My darling is such a sensitive nature, it would hurt him very much. But I [know] just as soon as I know how it is one way or another, I shall see to it there’s a clean and complete break.

(That damned fool, does he think I’m so hard up for entertainment that I could ever remotely think of going out with him!! He must think me a complete ass. The poor stupid fool.)

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 Page last updated on 05/17/2007



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