Home again

No sooner had Evelyn returned to England than Jack (who was still a serving RAF officer), was posted to a series of RAF training schools, leaving her alone in the garden flat at 26 Belsize Crescent. This created a number of difficulties: Evelyn would have had no experience of being a householder in England, nor of managing a house full of tenants. And the house, instead of providing them with an income, as Jack had hoped, was fast becoming a massive financial drain.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

No 1 RAF Instructors’ Course
Officers’ School
RAF Station Cosford
Wolverhampton
November 9, 1944

Darlingest Dear,

Just a few lines further to my telephone call yesterday, – and I do hope you are feeling fairly well and comparatively free from interruptions from the Pirunas, Gefunkuses and Hoci Poci generally.

All very oke with me, except, as I told you, carting that heavy suitcase was the very devil.  However, I’ve now got it all right.

I have a quite comfortable room containing only six beds, – and only one of these beside my own is at present occupied by a quite decent fellow.  The room has central heating and is quite decently warm.  Forgot my dressing-gown, but it doesn’t matter as I wear great-coat in lieu when going to shave etc, – so don’t send it on.

Had our first day’s work today—all quite interesting.  I’ve just had tea, and there is just a spot of evening work from 6 – 7, after which we have supper.  Breakfast is at seven and lunch 12.30.  We have “practice lessons” etc to give to the rest, so I’m now busy preparing mine.

Judging by yesterday I’m eating an awful lot! – a big tea at 4.15 just now.  Maybe it’s the colder weather.  Anyhow I’m very fit, – except for a recurrence of blisters on feet produced by lugging that suit case.  Pricked ‘em last night, and now almost oke.

But I’ll be awfully glad to be back home again you bet with my own chookie.

No more now darling,
All blessings forever from your own
Dickie

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

RAF Station Cosford
November 12, 1944

Darlingest Dear,

I hope you got my letter mailed on Thursday fairly promptly-though I’m told the post is rather slow here, out and in.

All goes well with me, as I do trust it does with you, – and I do particularly hope you are managing, in spite of all, to get some writing done.  Your book is so splendid, – it was only the length of some sentences and too many relative clauses that I felt needed a going-over in the last bit I read.

I have quite a light week-end, – from Saturday lunch to Monday morning free, – though of course I am employing it in swatting up for my next “practice lesson”.  None the less, I have got a couple of books out of the library just for relaxation, – one of them an excellent Freeman Willis Crafts called Found Floating, which I have just finished.

And yesterday I walked (in the afternoon) into the neighbouring village of Allbrighton to get a new bulb for my electric torch, and torch is pretty well a necessity here, since there is no way of getting up at the right, early time except by looking at one’s watch with the torch, – and of course my new torch went on the blink after two days use!  It’s all right now.  I also bought a ruler and boot-polish, having forgotten to bring them.

I’m still eating an awful lot!  It’s partly the colder weather, I think.  Yesterday, for instance I ate, – breakfast; eleven o’clock snack; lunch; large “high tea” with bacon chops etc; and then supper. . .!  So, like the missionaries of the ballad I am “keeping up my pecker”.

The nice Squadron Leader who shares this room with me leaves on Thursday, and then it seems likely I’ll have the room all to myself.

No more just now darling.  Look forward to the 22nd, junket!

All dearest love from your own,
Dickie

PS  No letter from you yet, but expect I may get one tomorrow, Monday

* * * * *

 

To Evelyn Scott

Royal Air Force Station
Staverton Near Gloucester
July 1, 1945

Darlingest Dear,

Here is Sunday and thank goodness the weather today seems better.  It’s been pouring with rain recently but this morning there’s a bright sun.  I hope you got the letter I posted on Thursday. This, though posted today, won’t actually be collected till Monday so you won’t get it till Tuesday I fear.

All well with me.  The work is interesting and there’s a fair amount of free time in the evening.  Today, Sunday, we have a short period of work in the morning only.

Yesterday (Sat) afternoon I and another chap went into Cheltenham by bus between 4 and 6, – shopped and had tea.  I needed some ink, also toothpaste.

Thanks for your two letters (so far) darling.  Hope the kid1 is not being too much of a nuisance.  If we should stay at 26 Belsize he will have to go, – but supposing I am amongst those selected for this job it will almost certainly mean posting away in a few weeks time.  The temporary dislocation, getting accommodation, etc would of course be a nuisance but the job would be worth it and we might be quite comfortable for a year in new surroundings.  We should then be able to put by money for purchase of small house at end of it, and then put up No 26 for sale.

I expect to have a week or so anyhow free, after conclusion of course and before being posted (if I get selected), in which to do packing etc (as well I hope as some writing!)—but there would be no harm in your doing a little preliminary sorting and tearing-up of papers etc whenever you liked, to avoid rush at end.  Though I don’t think there will be a rush, and anyhow I may not get the job.

All love and blessings, ever your own
Dickie

PS  Ask Hobsons to repair cracked lavatory pan and give them the broken pieces.
PPS Send me on Ogg’s2 receipt, and other letters, please.
PPPS  You should get your new ration books soon, – but not on July 4th or 5th because of polling.

1It appears the child of one of Jack’s tenants was being a nuisance.
2Hobson and Ogg were tradesmen who did various repairs at No 26

* * * * *

26 belsize cres
Jack in front of 26 Belsize Crescent

To John Metcalfe

26 Belsize Crescent
July 10, 1945

Beloved Dickey  The job in your room is varnished and ready for your occupancy as soon as it is straightened—the room I mean.

The sensible solution will be for you to continue to live in your own house and of course the only ultimately sensible solution for us is the opportunity to proceed with your books and I with my books as literary value is our real contribution to any decent future.  The hell with “mass handling” any way!  War conditions may have imposed it to some extent but nonetheless true recovery depends on giving each man or woman the opportunity to pursue the work to which he and she are suited by reason of natural abilities.

I wish you were getting a longer rest between the end of the course and the posting but in any case hope your job will be near home.

I asked about the riveting of the toilet bowl that was broken and was told by Hobson’s man that riveting would cost as much as a new one, but he is to ascertain the price shortly.

I have been trying to shop and tried to get a pair of shoes at John Barnes without success my feet being a size smaller than anything suitable they had.  But I shall continue and will get something eventually I am sure.

I will not seal this until tomorrow as I won’t be able to mail it today and I will follow your instructions and forward nothing after the twelfth.  I don’t quite understand what sort of job the job is1 and shall be interested in what you have to say about it bless you and good luck

Evelyn

1Jack had completed an instructors’ course at RAF Staverton which prepared him for a position counselling airmen about to be demobbed on their career choices. He appears to have enjoyed this work very much and to have been good at it.

* * * * *

To John Metcalfe

July 10 [1945]

Darling Dickie, Splendid that you have successfully completed your course and I am sure congratulations are well deserved.  I shall be seeing you soon and am very happy thinking of it.  That you indeed for phoning to let me know.

Fisher is writing to Ogg and says he has also phoned him and satisfactory arrangements will be made.  But I won’t attempt sending the letter as you will be here so soon.

Yes I hope we may be able to stay here too.

Bless you, Evelyn

Too much “pooh-pooh” and “awful brat” but otherwise all well.

* * * * *

To John Metcalfe

July 12, 1945

It is always good to hear you over the telephone, and I was en route to answer when, as usual, “the awful brat” dashed out to intercept.  He really is a nuisance, al la “pooh-pooh”, who is no end officious at times.

No totes no totes no totes and no damn gadgetry imposed on humans, who won’t be humans until allowed to think feel and speak for themselves.  The British public should be given a clearer view of the issues at stake now was my conclusion after my guest was here yesterday.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

RAF Staverton1
July 24,1945

Darlingest Dear,

As I told you yesterday on the ‘phone, I got here all right, though the taxi failed to show up and it was an exasperating job getting another one.  However, I arrived in time for dinner, so no harm was done.

So far, Hornchurch still stands, as the selected base, and I do hope it so remains, as it is so close in to London as to enable me to live at home, – though there will be occasional nights away when I am visiting some station at the other end of the country.

Probably, I shall have the driving test, final billeting, etc tomorrow, Wednesday, and may be able to get home on Thursday for one night, before reporting to Hornchurch on Friday. Then (I anticipate) I can get home again Sat afternoon, or Sunday anyhow, after spending either one or else two nights at Hornchurch.

Then, for the two following weeks probably, my job will simply consist in visiting each station in Essex so as to get to know the CO, etc at each one, preparatorily to starting in as the actual Advice Service which is not due to begin till August 7th or 10th.

There has been a hold-up in the supply of cars, which will not be delivered till the actual job starts, – so this preliminary “tour” of the area will have to be done by train and bus etc.  Rather a nuisance, since it means paying fares out of one’s own pocket in the first instance, and claiming for expenses later.  Also, no arrangement has yet been come to for the designation of an accounting unit to pay all our allowances, which may be held up some time in consequence.  One or two fellows here have had no allowances since April!  Of course it will be all right ultimately, but until it is fixed up current “income” is only about two thirds of normal.

Anyhow, I shall hope, during the next twelve months, to put by as much as possible for eventual purchase of cottage2.  On Monday, when I had cloaked my stuff at Paddington, I saw Smorthwaite, the Bank Manager of the Westminster Bank, Haverstock Hill, – and started a small account.

I hope you have not had too much Piruna, – and down and out with all Totes.  No totes. . .!!! – Wonder what the election results will be.  We shall know on Thursday evening, – or Friday morning anyhow.

Bless you always, – All dearest love from your own
Dickie

1Although headed RAF Staverton, it appears Jack had arrivved at his new posting in Hornchurch, Essex.
2
Jack had hoped to use some of the proceeds from the sale of Jove Cottage to buy another cottage in the country. This hope proved to be unrealistic.

* * * * *

In January 1946 a third child, a son, Matthew, was born to Jigg and Paula.  Jigg was working in Chicago at the time, and Paula had been staying with her father and stepmother in Nyack, New York, a small town on the Hudson River not far from Tappan.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott and John Metcalfe


Tappan, New York
April 10, 1946

Dear Evelyn and Jack,

The first thing you will be interested to know is that our third baby—a boy named Matthew was born in Nyack on Jan 21st, 1946.  He is now aged roughly two and a half months and is doing fine.

I haven’t written before now for several reasons, mostly illness for one or the other of us—the winter has been a long series of colds and flue, for all of us and I’ve had my hands full.  Also we are in the un-enviable position of having the house we are in sold and although under law they can’t put us out for three months after they start trying, we’re looking for a place to live without buying, which is so nearly impossible as to be almost funny.  We’ve been hunting for six months, in spurts, and not one single house for rent.  They’re all for sale at high prices.  The situation is so desperate that people are being forced to buy whether they want to or not, which if we can possibly avoid it we are not going to do.  And it’s like this all over the country—the housing shortage here is worse than it is in England, in spite of the destruction of the bombings.  It would be unwise of you people to come to the States at this time, since you would have one hell of a time finding a hole in the wall even, in which to live.  Congress is about to pass a bill putting a ceiling on the prices of already built houses, and encouraging the building of new houses, which will help.  But the situation will probably not ease up for a year at least.  We, along with everybody else are caught in the jam, and yet we at least have a place to hang on to by the skin of our teeth if necessary, but heaven help the ones who don’t.

As for the rest there is not much.  As for a job for Jack, Jigg has absolutely no contacts with the academic world.  The best thing we can suggest is applying direct to schools and colleges—they are having a boom—college attendance is at an all time high now and it probably wouldn’t be too difficult to land something.  Best of luck.  Love, P

These letters fill me with loving distress on hearing of her Jig and the now four [sic] children—they have endured brutal injustice.  Jig’s Mother, London 1952, November

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott and John Metcalfe

[Scotch Plains, New Jersey]
May 9, 1946

Dear Evelyn & Jack:

I am ashamed to have waited so long to answer your good letters.  The truth is I’ve been suffering from pip about the world and even my own work and haven’t been fit company either in person or by letter!  Please forgive me!

There is little personal news except that my job is completely over1 except for occasional work.  I’m glad in a way and ought to get back to writing.  I hope I will.  But there are so many things that must be done—Dudley called them the mechanics of living.  And when I’ve done the minimum, I seem to feel just too tired.  I’m hoping it is just the reaction and that I’ll soon get a little pep and will power again.

Then, too, I do want to get in touch with friends again.  I did get over to Tappan a week or so ago and had a grand visit.  I don’t know any place that has a friendlier and happier atmosphere.  They were all well.  Denise is always growing lovelier and Frederick was amazing.  The baby was very sweet though he was away asleep the greater part of the time.  He looks somewhat like Frederick at his age, but has a personality of his own, too.

I’ve been too self centred and haven’t asked a thing about you two.  Please write anyway.  I will again and soon.

Love
Glads

PS  I have some paper2 to send as soon as coal strike is over
PPS Did you know I have a dog?  A grand one!

1For years after Dudley’s death, Gladys worked as a freelance parfumier. She had a fully-equipped laboratory in the basement of her house in Scotch Plains.
2
There was a paper shortage in Britain during and for some time after the war. Gladys, among others, sent supplies to Evelyn when she could.

* * * * *

In May 1946 Jig left his job at ABC. He had been offered a job at WBBM in Chicago, part of the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) and went on his own to Chicago, hoping to find accommodation which would allow him to bring his wife and children to Chicago to join him. This proved not to be possible: as Paula wrote, “Housing was available, but not to people like us. To get an apartment in the city one had to pay a year’s rent in advance and buy the landlord a new Chrysler or Cadillac. New-car prices were still very inflated because production had not yet caught up with demand.”

WBBM
From “WBBM Listening Guide”, June 1946

Meanwhile Cyril had married for the seventh time,. His new wife, Louise Lotz (known as “Weecie”), owned a house in the pleasant little town of Pine Bluff, North Carolina, not far from Chapel Hill, and the couple moved there. It was decided that Paula should take the children to live near Cyril, and that Jigg should fly down to join them whenever he could at weekends. This separation continued for a year, until Jigg joined his family permanently in Pine Bluff in August 1947. The family stayed there until August 1949.

At this time, too, Cyril had reverted to using the name of his birth, and had personal stationery printed “Frederick Creighton Wellman”, Paula writes of this, “When I arrived in Pine Bluff, Dad [Cyril] immediately introduced me to people, without any warning whatever, as his daughter-in-law, Mrs Creighton Wellman. There was nothing I could do about it, and Daddy [Jig] was suddenly Wellman, too. We had to spend our entire three years there as Wellman, which produced awkward moments for us. . . . Even getting mail meant that we were accepting mail for a cousin, something, when addressed to “Scott” and all our friends had hurriedly to be told to use Wellman. Dad, however, kept to Wellman for the rest of his days. . . Dad hoped that we would make the change permanent, but we reverted to Scott as soon as we left in August 1949, with a great deal of relief.”

Jigg left his Chicago job after a year and came to live in Pine Bluff full time where he and Paula tried to set up a creative business; Jigg drawing and painting and Paula designing and making greetings cards.  No doubt the idea for Paula’s enterprise came, at least in part, from the fact that when she was a child her parents had created a successful greetings card business from their home in Taos, New Mexico. Although Paula’s ideas had a good deal of approval and practical support from many of their friends, the business never took off.

At this time, Evelyn writes on a number of occasions that the family went to Lumberton, North Carolina, about 200 miles from Pine Bluff,, to live rent-free on a farm owned by a Negro in return for labour. Neither of the two eldest Scott children has any memory of this, though both would have been old enough to remember it. However, after his death years later, large detailed maps of Lumberton were found in Jigg’s papers: he may have considered this course of action, and never actually gone.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

RAF Staverton
July 3, 1946

Darling Dear,

Just a note to say I love you and look forward to Saturday next!  It was nice to speak to you on the ‘phone.  Hope you got your dress OK.  All well here.  V hard at work.  I expect a week at home before being posted; and then, if it is not London, I must find accommodation for us as soon as I possibly can.  Of course I hope it may be near enough to London to go on using No 26, – but it’s just a chance.

If selected, I shall be in charge of an “area” or “parish”, and go from station to station in car which will be provided.  Each “area” has a Headquarters Station to which I shall be attached, – and if the area is not London it means that I shall have to find accommodation for us there.

Down and out with all totes!

Dearest love always from your OWN
Dickie

PS  Better not forward anything after July 12th at latest.
PPS  Don’t forget your new ration book!

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

RAF Staverton
July 3, 1946

Darlingest Dear

Just a scribble to follow up letter posted yesterday.  The mess and everywhere is clean out of cigarettes. Can’t get them anywhere, or of course I would send some.

Thanks for letter and enclosures.  If you have not already sent it, you may as well keep Ogg’s receipt, very preciously, – but if you have already forwarded it, never mind.  Shall write Fisher.

All well here.  It has been cold and rainy, but today quite hot and I hope it will keep so.  If I get this job there is just a chance that I may [bottom of page torn off] . . . mentioned my circumstances to the powers that be, and they hope they may be able to take them into account.  The job itself, as a job is a good one and better than I could get elsewhere, and, thank goodness, two novels only need revision and Scilly perhaps ¾ done.

The course, I find, was supposed to be a three weeks one, – but someone made a mistake, – so now, as a compromise, it will be about 2 ½ weeks, – and will end on Saturday July 14th, – i.e. Saturday week, – two days later than we thought.  Then, as I said, I hope for a week or so before posting, – and then (if it is not London area) must find accommodation for us.

All dearest love and blessings from
Your own
Dickie

* * * * *

As the war drew to a close and the  world was learning to cope with the aftermath, Evelyn’s letters became more and more critical of post-war politics.  Her letters included lengthy, sometimes incoherent, passages attributing political decisions to vague forces emanating, largely, from socialism or communism or a mixture of both.  Her vocabulary, also, began to include words without dictionary definitions whose meanings were crystal clear from the context.

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott and three children

July 4, 1946

Dear Creighton Pavla Denise Freddy Mathew

Soon we hope to be writing of real peace with NO repetition of last spring’s fiasco.  I sent you a number of clippings last week, but this week seem to have accumulated nothing of interest.  However, Paris peace conferences must have a result shortly when there will be something to write about that isn’t drivel.

Down and out with tote systems
Cause and effect function just the same
Regardless of the political game!
You can’t make a world of dupes and fools,
You can’t save anything with racketeers tools!
Down and out with the totes NOW NOW NOW
SPEAK SPEAK SPEAK SPEAK SPEAK SPEAK SPEAK

Further political mummery is simply ruin anywhere and everywhere!

Every shopping tour I am bombarded by inanity which is attributable to political symbolics, as you might say, the soap situation being an example, as there is almost no soap to be had and those who are actually not allowed free public expression of opinion and whose views are therefore to be summed up as a mere x or zero make euphemistic capital of a literal lack–and it is all very stupid!  Inexcusably so!

But the nostalgia for civilization is growing and as uno1 seems to be a complete failure–and world economic control such as it has proposed can be nothing but a damnable extension of the disasters of present experiments–somebody and anybody must surely take a decisive stand SOON and we hope it will be sensibly moderate, neither the foolish “umbrella” policies of Chamberlain, nor the quite as foolish extreme opposition.

Did you get the letter asking about my father2 and if you had any recent news of him?  I have been thinking of the unnecessary difficulties extremists of both persuasions have made in the South, and that this has probably complicated the problems of the USA which, in turn, delay peace.

Pavla’s letter is something for which I remain grateful and the other letter we hope Jig will write us is also going to be much appreciated.  It is a damnably wicked and inevitably disastrous thing when circumstances resulting from politics interfere with human relations and individual careers, and the indifferent service of the post office is illustrative.  The American typewriter paper Jack and myself need has been sent us by three individuals and some of it has been over three months en route and isn’t yet delivered, and that is just one item in the general inefficiency and confusion that still prevails everywhere.

No nation, race, country, people can afford any further war and the solution must be NOW if we and the USA are to escape from chaos  No rings and no rackets!  Without controls these won’t exist.  No living under the political eye–that’s hell!!

Affectionately

This appears to be a reference to the newly-created United Nations Organisation. Evelyn clearly disapproves.
Evelyn had just discovered that her father died three years previously. The letters relating to her search for information about his death and his will are grouped together.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

RAF Staverton
July 5, 1946

Darling Dear,

Thanks for letter and Ogg’s receipt.  I have written to Fisher to tell him to put in hand the Discharge of Mortgage as soon as possible before he has to rejoin the RAF.

All well here, and I hope you are.  Have you been able to get your new dress yet?  I wish I could have left you more for it darling, but I thought I had better clear all Ogg while I could, – and for that I had somewhat to overdraw at the bank, so I have not so much in the pot at the moment.  If it so happens that we are able still to use the present house, then Derek must go, of course.  But the probability (barring specially favourable treatment, which of course I am trying for) is that I should be appointed to some other area, in which case I should have to go ahead to the station, and find accommodation for us as quickly as I darned well could:  I imagine a week or so might elapse between July 14th Saturday, when the course here ends and I come home, and my posting to an area.  If I am appointed it will mean catering for the requirements of a county or so, with a staff of 5 or 6.  A car is provided and I must dig up my driving licence again.

Lectures very interesting and a healthy bias against robotism.  Psychometric tests used with plenty of salt.  Chief Instructor an excellent type and most humanely and culturally minded.

I do hope you are getting on with what, pro tem, we call the “novelette”.  As soon as we are settled, after the interval of dislocation, we can both get on with our books I hope.

All, all dearest love, and DOWN and OUT with the Totes!!!
Yours
Dickie

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

1952—This letter without address other than the “Col Broadcasting System” Chicago on her envelope relieved yet distressed me.  We heard nothing more for three years thereafter.  Evelyn D S Metcalfe—Evelyn Scott author

[Pine Bluff, North Carolina]
July 11, 1946

Dear Evelyn,

As to your enquiries about us—we couldn’t very well be worse placed, within reason.  Jigg’s NYC job with American Broadcasting Co (ABC) came to an end last March, and it took a long time to get another, which he finally did, in Chicago.  He is living in a hotel because apartments and houses are not to be had without paying an exorbitant price for the furniture on top of the also exorbitant rent, and in view of such a profitable racket there are no unfurnished places to live.  He’s managing on 30 dollars a week, sending me what’s left.  I am living with friends who kindly offered me and the children sanctuary until the housing shortage is over.  I can’t find a place in NY because although not quite so bad as Chicago, it is bad enough to be out of the question.

We are all well and looking forward to bring reunited—probably in Chicago wherever and whenever the situation lets up sufficiently for us to afford a house.

Good luck to you both, and to Jack’s book.

Paula

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

RAF Staverton
August 21, 1946

Darlingest Dear,

Just a scribble—My release date is Aug 28 Wednesday (a week today) and I’m afraid it means staying here until then, as my leave entitlement is now exhausted, – unless I come up just for “the day” on Sat or Sun.  But even so I have have to be back here Sun evg.

But I expect to be home late on Tuesday evening (the 27th), – then I go to Uxbridge for actual release on the following day, Wed.

So it means six days from today before I’m home.  I hope you won’t get too lonely darling, – anyhow it’s for the last time.  And I do hope you can manage to get some cigs and to do some writing.  As for me, I have a fair amount of form-filling and “clearing” to do.  Saw Accts Officer at Barnwood yesterday, who were v nice re my claims.

Also of course I am idle of an evening to get on, to some extent, with the book, – in pencil, – so I need only “manually type” it when I get back.

Have dropped note to Havelock telling him I will be back next week.  Also dropped note to Nicholson and Watson to say work slightly delayed through my being down here, but that shortened book should be ready by about mid-September.

Bless you and bless you
All love darling
Dickie

* * * * *

Cyril’s autobiography, Life Is Too Short, was published in 1943, but for a number of reasons Evelyn did not see a copy until 1945.  When she did finally read it, she was incensed by what she saw as Cyril’s defamation of her character, and she wrote numerous letters in protest.  Some of her letters offered her own (highly unlikely) explanation of how the book might have been altered.  Next week all will be revealed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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An exercise in red tape

While still on secondment to the Canadian Royal Air Force in 1943, Jack was informed he would be ordered to return to Britain to take up his Royal Air Force commission and report for duty somewhere in Britain.  There was provision for spouses of serving officers to have members of their immediate families repatriated to the UK, at the expense of the officer concerned, and Evelyn decided she wished to return to England to be with Jack;  Jack therefore initiated the necessary paperwork while still in Canada.   As the following exchange indicates, the initial contact with the Canadian RAF was probably the source of considerable delay due to the application being caught between the twin stones of Canadian and British operating procedures but was probably not helped by Evelyn’s constant flow of letters querying delays.

(Personally, I would not have been happy to cross the Atlantic in a convoy during this period.)

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Royal Air Force Staff Officers’ Mess
No 31 Royal Air Force Depot, Moncton, NB Canada

Sunday September 12, 1943

Darlingest Dear,

As post-script to my other note of today; – apparently you should get your passport back in from three to five weeks after application; – so if much delayed beyond that time you had better write to Air Force Headquarters.  Now, you have your “dossier” of copies of all those letters etc I had to write, – and although they bear varying dates, the actual registered letters in which they were finally mailed were sent off from Clinton [Ottawa] in August 13th. One batch of stuff went to Air Force Headquarters through Command Headquarters (i.e. the actual registered envelope was addressed to “Air Officer Commanding, No 1 Training Command, RCAF, 55 York Street, Toronto”; and Command Headquarters, after retaining one copy of everything for their files (except the actual passport of course) sent on the other set and passport to: – “Chief of Air Staff, Air Force Headquarters, Ottawa”.  The other batch was to the United Kingdom Air Liaison Mission.  These two main registered packets were posted from Clinton, as I say, on Aug 13th, the Clinton PO registration numbers being: – For the packet to No 1 Training Command: – 338; and for the packet to the United Kingdom Air Liaison Mission: – 337.  Each of the two packets contain information-carbons of the letters etc sent to the other addressee.

Now, what all this boils down to is that if you don’t get your passport back in, say two weeks’ time, I should write to Air Force Headquarters, addressing envelope to:- “Chief of Air Staff Air Force Headquarters, (Attention D/DPC/RAF), Ottawa” and say that your husband sent your passport No 372415 on August 13th and can you soon expect to receive it?  Also state that, as I have not present funds, I am saving up for your fare, by deductions from my pay, and that this has been approved by the United Kingdom Air Liaison Mission in their letter dated August 25th and signed by Mr F C Fayers, the Civil Officer for Finance and Accounts.

All this will probably be unnecessary, so don’t let it worry you, – but if you don’t get your passport in, say, two weeks from now, there’ll be no harm in chasing it up.

There is, actually, a possibility, I understand, that you may get a passage even before I have finished accumulating the fare; – i.e. they might let you sail “on credit”, so to speak, and they carry on deducting from my pay after your arrival in the UK.  This would be swell, – and the only worry then would be that you might not have saved enough for your actual train-fare to whatever American or Canadian port to have to sail from.  I wish to goodness I had more money  I fancy the actual rail-fare might be as much as $50 or $60 (you’d better enquire re this).  I should try to put by for this as soon as ever you can.

Also, of course, hang on to your USA passport. Also, it might perhaps be useful, later, to have a chat with the British Consul in N York.

No more now, beloved
All, all dearest love always
Your own Dickie

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Royal Canadian Air Force
The Rev W Scott Morton Station Chaplain MPO 106
Fort Albert, Ont

October 15, 1943

Mrs W J Metcalfe
Tappan, New York State

Dear Mrs Metcalfe,

After receiving your letter I made some enquiries and find that there is no reason to suppose that your passport will not be returned to you in due course along with the exit permit etc.

If you do not have any further word in a short time from the relevant authorities, perhaps you will be good enough to drop me a line again, and I will take up the matter through the RAF Families Welfare Committee in Ottawa.  I am not doing so at present as I feel that it is slightly premature, but I shall be glad to write to them later on if it seems necessary.

With kindest regards to Sqdrn-Ldr Metcalfe and yourself
I am,
Yours sincerely, W Scott-Morton
Sqdn-Ldr, Station Chaplain

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
November 22, 1943

Dearest Love,

I hope you will soon get my recent several letters answering yours re the passport difficulty.  I should continue writing somewhat on these lines:

“My husband, well before leaving Canada, was careful to follow most strictly all the instructions of pamphlet HQC-33-1-26 in making application for my passage.  The date of my necessary departure from Canada to the USA (Aug 31st 1943) was also stated in my husband’s application, and as the application was despatched to you from Canada on August 13th there should have been ample time to drew my, or my husband’s, attention to any difficulties in procedure regarding the passport.  Being a special case, it may well fall outside the scope of routine procedure.  As it is, it is obviously impossible for me to acquire a fresh passport, from Consular authorities in New York, until you have returned my old one.  The money for my ocean fare has not yet been accumulated by my husband from his pay, so that perhaps my enquiries re my passport may seem premature; but meanwhile I am naturally anxious to have it returned and to be assured that everything is in order and my name on the waiting list for a passage, in readiness for the time when the money for my fare has been accumulated and fully deposited by my husband.”

Something like that.  But meanwhile of course I’m very worried re your immediate situation, – re Jig, allotment, Pavla’s health and all.  Am eagerly awaiting your next letters.

Much love, and sympathy in its troubles to the family, and dearest love my own dear to you, from

Your own
Dickie1

Evelyn’s pet name for Jack

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
November 27, 1943

Dearest Love,

Just got your letter dated Oct 20th, written when you were sending the cable re your allotment money.  I do hope you have this allotment money now, – and also that you duly received the cable I sent, answering yours.  My previous cable, sent on September 21st, I know you did not get, and I do hope you got the other.

I’m so glad you heard at last from Brownlow, and that Martin is to pursue the matter, – and that, apparently, your passport is being returned to you OK via the British Consul.  A few days ago I sent you a suggested rough draft for further letter asking for passport, – but by the time you get this draft you will—presumably, and it is to be hoped—have got the passport itself; and that, as soon as the passage-money has been accumulated and credited you should, at any time after that, get notice of your passage darling.

This may reach you by, or about, Christmas—and carries, anyhow, all my love and blessings for that and for the new year.

Much love, as always, to the family, and all dearest love my own to you from
Ever yours Dickie

* * * * *

One issue which undoubtedly made it more difficult for Evelyn’s passage to be approved was uncertainties regarding her citizenship,when in fact she had always maintained her American citizenship and held American passports.  The authorities appear to have assumed that, as the wife of a British officer, Evelyn would also be British.  This confusion led to  further misunderstanding and delays until it was eventually clarified.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Department of State
Washington DC

December 10, 1943

My dear Mrs Metcalfe:

The Department has received your letter of November 18, 1943, stating that you have a British passport and requesting to be advised whether you should obtain an exit permit to leave the United States.  Since you are an American citizen, you could not obtain an alien’s permit to leave this country and an American passport can not be issued to you at this time for your trip to England.  However, the Department will arrange to waive the customary permit to leave the United States, which in your case would be an American passport, if the appropriate British authorities should request that such arrangement be made and will assure the department that they have arranged reservations for your travel.  In that event, the Department should be advised of the exact date of your contemplated departure from this country, the port of departure and the means of transportation which you will use.

Sincerely yours.
R B Shipley
Chief, Passport Division

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
December 12, 1943

Darling Love,

No further letter from you recently (your last to be received was dated Oct 29th) and I’m hoping to hear again soon as your most recent news to reach me is now some six weeks old.

Anyhow, I’m so glad to know, by the last letters I did receive, that the issue of your allotment money had started, and also that you expected soon to have your passport returned.  Another couple of months should see the passage-money duly accumulated.

Well, darling, this is just an interim scribble.  Love as always to family, and all dearest love to you from
Yours, Dickie

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

British Consulate-General
25 Broadway, New York

December 16, 1943

Dear Madam

I write to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 15th December.

I regret that it has never appeared from the preceding correspondence that you possess Dual Nationality having been born in the United States.  This is of course apparent from your recent passport application, and I regret that the fact has been hitherto overlooked.

As a dual national, the form of application for an exit permit which you obtained from the United States Immigration authorities is inappropriate, and I think that when you applied for the form the United States Immigration authorities must likewise have been unaware that you possessed United States citizenship.  In order to comply with the requirements set out in Mr Shipley’s letter to you of 10th December, which is returned herewith it will be necessary for the British Embassy to apply to the State Department for a waiver of American exit permit facilities.  Will you therefore kindly complete in duplicate and return to me the enclosed forms, and I will ask the Embassy to approach the State Department in the usual way.  You cannot of course give the exact date of your contemplated departure from this country, nor can you state with certainty from which port you will leave.  You should consult the British Ministry of War Transport, 25 Broadway, on these points, and give such information as they will advise.

It will be necessary for you to undertake to do war work on arrival in the United Kingdom if called upon to do so, and I shall be glad if you will express your willingness to do so in writing when returning the forms to me.

Yours very truly,
A J S Pullen

HBM1 Vice-Consul for HBM Consul-GeneralHis Britannic Majesty

 * * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
December 18, 1943

Darling Love,

No fresh letter from you, and the last one I received, written in October, is now seven weeks old.  So I’m hoping to hear quite soon.

All well with me, and nothing fresh to report.  I hope your allotments are now coming regularly and that you have your passport back OK.  And by now, anyhow, you know about Jig.—I shall eagerly wait for news about that and do hope your anxieties on that score will be over,–for the time being anyhow.

All love and good wishes for New Year to the family,–and all dearest love to you, from
Your own Dickie

* * * * *

To John Metcalfe

[December 30, 1943]

NITE LETTER

SQ/LDR W J METCALFE
GARDEN FLAT 26 BELSIZE CRESCENT HAMPSTEAD LONDON NW3

RE YOUR WIFE EVELYN STATE DEPARTMENT WASHINGTON WILL WAIVE EXIT PERMIT ON RECEIPT OF WRITTEN ASSURANCE THAT PASSAGE APPROVED ETARRANGED BRITISH VICECONSUL HERE IGNORES RAF ARRANGEMENT SUGGEST YOU WRITE HIM MR PULLAN 25 BROADWAY NYC ALSO SECURE WRITTEN ASSURANCE EVELYNS CORRESPONDENCE WITH OTTAWA UNFRUITFUL

CREIGHTON SCOTT (BLUE NEWS RM 276)

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
December 31, 1943

Darling Love,

I have just got Jig’s cable, – which was ‘phoned over to me when I got home, – I having been out when the man called.

I am very worried and concerned, – because I cannot understand the cable.  It is, in a way, good news that the State Dept will waive exit permit—but how are you going to pay your ocean-fare?  I cannot of course send money out of the country in the ordinary way, – and the only way I can do it is by paying it in at this end to Air Ministry as I am doing.  The Air Ministry here then advises Ottawa (UKALM) when my payments are complete.  That is, no actual money is sent across the ocean, but the adjustment is made on paper as between London and Ottawa.  Ottawa then pays the Shipping Co, – and allocates a berth etc.

Secondly, unless you adhere to the repatriation scheme there would probably be trouble in getting your married allowances when you do arrive here.  Though this could be risked perhaps.  The point of view would be, perhaps, that though here in body you were not here at all officially.  Which, considering all the sweat and worry you’ve had in trying to get the officials to follow their own directions would be exasperating indeed.

Thirdly, – I can’t understand about the “assurances” Jig mentions.  Supposing you did scrap the repatriation scheme and raised the passage-money some other way, how could I, over here, give any credible assurances that your passage had been “approved”?  I am only longing for the time when it will have been “approved and arranged”—but you would hear that good news before I did.  And similarly with the assurance about correspondence with Ottawa having been “unfruitful”.  The only way I could assure Washington of that would be by quoting from your own letters to me, – i.e. second-hand, instead of first-hand, evidence.

I shall do my damnedest of course in any way in which I can possibly help but (a) I don’t see how you are going to raise the passage money, – and (b) the assurances, as I see it, could only come from your end.

As I told you, your passage-money will be ready at my end by early March.  The Air Ministry will then have it all and will so advise UKALM at Ottawa.

All OK here except that I’m lonely and wishing you were with me.  This geographical separation business, (though I’m sure it won’t be too protracted)—was what I always bothered about, you remember, in 1936 etc, – though people thought I was “just exaggerating”.

But cheer up beloved, – I’m sure it won’t be more than a few months now.  Blessings for New Year and for your birthday.  Love as always to family, and dearest love to you from your Dickie.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

[Red Hook, New York]
[January 1944]

Dear Evelyn—

Jig’s and Pavli’s friend forwarded your letter to where I am living in the country.  I request that you do not again use the friends of my family to get in touch with me.  It is not fair to Jig and Pavli, nor to their friends.

I am quite recovered, thanks, from my flu.  My only worry is that their doctor reports that both Jig and Pavli are in very bad health from overwork.

I trust you have a safe and pleasant voyage to England, and give my greetings to Jack when you see him.

Yours,
CKS

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
January 9, 1943 [sic]

Darling Love,

I hope my recent letters won’t take too long to reach you, for, till they do, the cable I sent in answer to yours can’t be much help!  A few days ago I sent you a copy of my letter to Mr Pullen which sets out the position (in my present state of knowledge) fairly clearly I think.  To be sure you get it, I shall be sending you another copy later.

But until Ottawa has been informed that all your passage-money has been paid in on this side by me, we cannot expect any action from them.  When it has been paid in they will have to act, – if only to get their books straight so to speak, and if there is any delay we shall then be in a position to importune.  This (the completed paying-in on this side) will be by early March.

I’m so sorry.  You are unable to get on with your own work at present darling.  Never mind, – once you get over here I’m sure you’ll be able to , – so roll on the time!  Must also postpone your birthday present till then.  I shall be thinking of you on the seventeenth.

Love, as always, to the family, – and all truest love and blessings to you.

Your own Dickie

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Department of National Defence
Air Service
Ottawa, Canada

January 14, 1944

Dear Mrs Metcalfe:

With reference to your letter of December 30th.  It is regretted there is no action this Headquarters can take on your behalf in view of your residence in the United States.  However, it is advised that the Secretary of the RAF Families Welfare Committee, Ottawa, who has received a similar letter from you mentioned above, is replying, instructing you as to the necessary action you will have to take in connection with passage arrangements.

Very truly yours,
J B Thorpe for J A Sully
Air Vice-Marshall for Chief of the Air Staff

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

United Kingdom Air Liaison Mission
Lisgar Building Ottawa

January 14, 1944

Dear Mrs Metcalfe,

With reference to your letter of the 4th inst addressed to Mr Fayers and which has been passed to me for reply, the position as far as your passage to the United Kingdom is briefly as follows.

Inasmuch as you are residing in the USA, no steps can be taken by any of the authorities in Canada to arrange for your passage and in the circumstances, therefore, all negotiations will have to made by you with the RAF Delegation, Washington.  This Mission has, however, agreed to receive payment of the cost of passage from your husband in due course and when this has been received the RAF Delegation will be advised accordingly.

I would suggest, therefore, that you communicate with the RAF Delegation, Washington, in connection with obtaining the desired UK Exit Permit that you require and complete all other necessary details for your sea transportation to enable you to join your husband in due course.

Yours very truly,
N Walden Secretary
RAF Families’ Welfare Committee

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
January 23, 1944

Darling Love,

I received your registered letter re Mr Pullen etc OK, and, also, yesterday, two more from you, – but they were undated, and the postmarks undecipherable as they almost always are.  Anyhow, I was so gad to hear you were feeling cheerier generally and had got more of my letters all right.  I hope you will get the letters I wrote to you after I had cabled you on or about Jan 1st.  I have, to date, sent you two copies of the letter I wrote to Mr Pullen.  But do remember darling to date your letters or I can’t sort things out.  Not so long now for early March when my payments will be completed.  Hurrah!  If there is undue delay after that I can begin to agitate at my end.

Much love to family, – and all dearest love and lookings-forward to you.

Your own Dickie

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Royal Canadian Air Force
Ottawa, Ontario

February 4, 1944

Dear Mrs Metcalfe:

With reference to your letter of January 20, which has been referred to the Secretary, RAF Families Welfare Committee for action.

Mr Walden, of the United Kingdom Air Liaison Mission, has now advised that he replied to you direct in regard to your passage arrangements to the United Kingdom.

As previously advised you, there is no action this Headquarters can take in your behalf, in view of the fact you are resident in the United States.

Yours very truly,
J B Thorpe for J A Sully
Air Vice-Marshall for Chief of the Air Staff

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

United Kingdom Air Liaison Mission
Lisgar Building Ottawa

February 4, 1944

Dear Madam,

With reference to your letter of the 18th of January last, I have been in communication with Mr Pullen at the British-Consulate General at New York and he informs me that, as he has now received from you the completed Application Forms for Passage to the United Kingdom, he is now taking steps to obtain the necessary waiver for you to leave America from the US State Department.

Therefore, as soon as advice is received from the Air Ministry that the necessary deductions have been made from your husband’s pay towards the cost of your sea transportation (a signal in this connection has been sent to the Air Ministry to ascertain the present position) steps will be taken by the authorities in the United States to complete necessary arrangements for your passage.

Yours very truly
N Walden,
Secretary RAF Families’ Welfare Committee

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
February 14, 1944

Darling Love,

No fresh news from my end, – save that I’m well and OK—and I hope you are at least fair-to-middling at your end.  The payments for your passage will be completed early March, – only a few weeks now.  I sent you copy of a letter I wrote to Dawson.

I shall be glad when you’re over here darling, as I know you will be.  Let me know if you hear from Pullen, to whom I wrote on Dec 31st, and sent you carbon.

Hope you manage to keep well and don’t catch colds.  Save for the one nasty cold in November that I told you about, I’ve kept very well, with plenty to eat.

Much love to family as always, and all dearest love to you, from
Your own Dickie

* * * * *

To John Metcalfe

British Consulate-General
25 Broadway
New York

February 25, 1944

Dear Sir,

I write to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 31st December. The position concerning your wife’s passage is as follows:

I have now obtained from her application forms for priority on Eastbound Atlantic Passage, which are required of all passengers proceeding to the United Kingdom.

Your wife, as a dual national, has to obtain, in lieu of the United States exit permit given to aliens departing from the United States, a “waiver” of American passport formalities which amounts in effect to an exit permit.  She has made application for this, and her application has been supported in the usual way by a letter from the British Embassy to the State Department.

I am waiting to hear either from the RAF Delegation or from your wife herself that the arrangements for payment of her passage which you describe have been completed.

I am today advising your wife that when she hears that arrangements for the payment of her passage are complete, she should so inform the British Ministry of War Transport in New York, who will in due course inform her when a passage has been obtained for her.

Apart from that financial arrangements for the payment of her passage, the obtaining of her passage and her waiver is a routine procedure which is normally followed by many hundreds of applicants similar to herself and I foresee no reason for her to have any worries about the matter.

A J S Pullen
HBM Vice-Consul For HBM Consul-General

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
March 3, 1944

Darling Love,

All OK with me, and, as I told you in my last two letters, the payments were completed earlier than I imagined towards the end of last month, – so new it shouldn’t be too long before you are advised by Ottawa.  It may, however, be a month or more yet, so meanwhile we must just be patient.

Supposing my present household arrangements to be the same on your arrival you may have to put up with cramped quarters for a short time, as I must give a month’s notice to tenants to vacate their rooms, – and of course I shall probably not know you are here till you actually are here.  But I hope you won’t mind as it will only be for a comparatively short time.

Much love as always to the family, – and all my dearest love to you, from
Yr own Dickie

PS—shall think of you on our anniversary, – the seventeenth March!

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

British Ministry of War Transport
Passenger Division
25 Broadway New York 4, NY

March 4, 1944

Dear Mrs Metcalfe:

Many thanks for your communication of March 2nd, from which we are pleased to note that everything is in order as far as the waiver of the United States exit permit requirements are concerned and that you have made preliminary arrangements with respect to the censorship of your papers.

As soon as we hear from you that payment of the passage money has been completed we shall be glad to make arrangements for passage in line with your priority, as well as the date of registration which is entered as of August 13th, 1943.

Yours very truly
G W Rehman
For the Representative in the USA

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

British Consulate-General
25 Broadway, New York

March 4, 1944

Dear Madam

I write to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 2nd March, in which you inform me that your “waiver” of American exit permit formalities has been granted. I note the arrangement you have made with the Customs about your parcels and papers.

You will, I presume, as I suggested to you, inform the British Ministry of War Transport, Passenger Division, 25 Broadway, when the arrangements for payment of your passage have been completed.

Yours very truly
P B Pullen
HBM Vice-Consul For HBM Consul-General

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Royal Canadian Air Force
Ottawa, Ontario

March 8, 1944

Dear Mrs Metcalfe:

With reference to your letter of February 24th.  As previously advised you, it is regretted that in view of your residence in the United States, there is no action this Headquarters can take in your behalf.  Had you been resident in Canada, any assistance you required in this connection with documentation, would be responsibility of this Headquarters, also finalizing of your passage arrangements.

Yours very truly,
J B Thorpe for J A Sully
Air Vice-Marshall for Chief of the Air Staff

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
March 10, 1944

Darling Love,

No fresh news here, – save to repeat that the payments are completed, so that you should be hearing before too long from Ottawa.  Loud cheers!  Also, I have a cold, – though the worst is over and I’m now on the mend.  Hope you got over yours all right.

Whenever you come, if possible a few packets of “Valet” auto-strop razor-blades would be much much appreciated.  Also some packets of pipe-cleaners.

I don’t suppose I shall have any advance intimation of when you are coming, so, as I told you, you will have rather cramped quarters at first lovely till tenants have left after their one month’s notice.  Telephone number of the flat is—HAMpstead 0659:  and Uncle Jim’s, in case you should ever need it, is—HOVe 4566.

Have been and still am, very busy, but am usually home in the evenings by about 6.15 or 6.30.  I get up, usually, soon after 6.

No more just now, lovely, but will write again very soon.  Much love as always to the family and all dearest love to you, from

Ever your own Dickie

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

British Ministry of War Transport
PASSENGER DIVISION
Representative in the USA
25 Broadway, New York

March 21, 1944

Dear Mrs Metcalfe:

We have not had any further word from you since your letter of March 4th and wonder if you have heard as yet whether payment of your passage money has been completed.

As advised you, we would appreciate this information as soon as you receive it since you mentioned to us you would not be prepared until then and we are not of course taking any action.

We therefore await to hear further from you so we may know how best to proceed in your case.

Yours very truly
G W Rehman
For the Representative in the USA

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

March 25, 1944

EVELYN METCALFE CARE SCOTT PO BOX 521 TAPPAN NY USA

PAYMENTS WERE COMPLETED MIDDLE OF LAST MONTH FEBRUARY DOING ALL POSSIBLE TO HASTEN ARRANGEMENTS LOVE JACK METCALFE.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

United Kingdom Air Liaison Mission
Lisgar Building Ottawa

March 29, 1944

 

Dear Madam,

With reference to your letter of the 9th inst, and as you are no doubt already aware, the necessary deposit towards the cost of your sea transportation to the United Kingdom has now been made by your husband and the RAF Delegation, Washington, have been notified accordingly.

Yours very truly
N Walden
Secretary RAF Families’ Welfare Committee

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott

Kansas City, Missouri
[March 31, 1944]

Dear Jig and Paula—

I am having a wonderful visit [to my son], entertained with daily luncheons, dinners, parties, theatre, etc, but I am so worried about you blessed children that I can hardly sleep nights.  Having your permission to do so, I’ve talked the situation over with Paul a couple of times.  His advice is “Throw her out on her ass, no matter what happens.  Jig and Paula, and no one else on earth, can do anything for her, and she will kill both of them if something drastic is not done.”

What I’m afraid of is that you’ll both get your health permanently, or at least seriously, injured, and then what will become of you, and those marvellous babies?  I don’t know exactly how to advise.  Would it be possible to get her to NY and then say, “You sign the proper papers, and keep your mouth shut while you’re doing it, or you’re not going to back to Tappan, even for one night.”

You see the situation is not a human one at all.  It’s a medical situation entirely.  Any trick, lie, deceit or scheme is not only justifiable but perfectly honourable in dealing with sick minds, as any physician will assure you.  So don’t even try to regard it according to moral obligation that would apply in sanity.  Get rid of her by hook or crook, with no compensations.  The complete and unanswerable reply to anything she may ever say afterwards is “You’re crazy”.

God bless you all four,
Love, Dad

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
April 22, 1944

Darling Love,

I was so glad to get your letter dated March 28th, and to know your laryngitis was better.

Well, beloved, I do hope that you won’t have too long to wait now, and don’t think you will.  As I told you in my last letter, Dawson got my letters all right and replied to me saying that he had acted at once.  So whenever I get the official information (which won’t, I expect, give me more than a very short advance working) I shall give notice to the tenants I spoke of so as to free more room, though even so, as I must give them a month’s notice, there will pretty certainly be a period of overlap during which we shall be very cramped for space, – also re sharing kitchen etc.  The only alternative would be, of course, getting a room temporarily in a hotel or boarding-house, but unfortunately I shall be too stoney-broke for that, – and anyhow it’s very difficult to find anywhere now.

Much love to family as always, – and, again, all good luck and congrats to Jig!  All dearest love to you from ever your own

Dickie

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

British Ministry of War Transport
Passenger Division
25 Broadway, New York 4, NY

April 24, 1944

Dear Mrs Metcalfe:

We wish to acknowledge with thanks your letter of April 21st, together with a copy of the communication addressed to Mr Pullen of the same day.

It is noted that the necessary payments have been completed and you are now prepared to leave as soon as we are able to make you an offer.

We have made necessary note accordingly and will see you are advised immediately the opportunity is available which we hope will be soon.

Yours very truly
G W Rehman
For the Representative in the USA

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

Pine Bluff1, North Carolina
Sunday [May 21, 1944]

My beloved Son—

Your letter of the eighteenth only reached me last night and was a shock2.

However, I trust your judgment completely in the matter, and am sure you have done what was the wisest thing in view of the circumstances, which I know I at this distance cannot judge. I’m sure you’ll get something else promptly, for the demand for men with skills is terrific and, once dug into a new place and making yourself invaluable during the duration, you will be safe again.

At least you are not starting out job hunting as an unskilled or inexperienced man.  You have a profession and can take with you real proof that you know it and have a real cash value to begin with, and are not someone who will have to be taught your job.  I’m certain that there will be places ready to snap up your services, and I believe you will find something that will not include such murderous working hours, too.

I’m going to try not to worry too much over your situation, but I wish you’d keep me informed of all developments.  I do wish I knew what to do to help out, but I know no one who would be of use right now.  I shall think of you and Paula all the time, and pray with all my might.

Tell Paula and the babies that I love you all four and carry you all four in my heart.  One thing I hope comes out of this, and that is that ES realizes that you can’t keep her any longer, with you jobless.  I’d underline that if I were you.

I’m risking sending this to Tappan, and hope no one snoops into it, before it reaches you.

My devoted love and a kiss and hug for each of you, my blessed children.
God bless you,
Love, Dad

1 This is the first indication that Cyril was thinking of moving to North Carolina. His sixth wife Louise owned a property in the town of Pine Bluff.
Jigg had lost his job with the Blue Network.

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

Pine Bluff, North Carolina
Monday [May 1945]

Darling Paula—

Thanks for your lovely letter of Saturday.  I didn’t recognize the handwriting on the envelope until I turned it over!  “All good things are God’s things” is more than an epigram.  It’s an unfolding [illeg]-truth, and marvellous.

Boy, but I hope that ES will get away soon, not only for the sake of my poor children and grandchildren, but for my own sake, for I’m hungry to see you all.  It seems years since I was out to Tappan.  And I’ve never yet seen your new home and the babies are growing up month by month—with me missing it all.  I could almost bawl myself over it.  I didn’t mean that July or August will be the only times I would come up from Pine Bluff.  I meant that I’d probably camp on you each summer while it’s hottest down here!  I miss you all as much as you can possibly miss me.

Yes, Jig is a marvellous man and Christian.  I can admire his beautiful spirit.  But I wasted 14 years of Christian kindness on ES and, I’m sorry to say, have no more for her.  I suppose I should have, but it’s now all for those who are not Pharisees and Sadducees.  I can’t cast any more pearls before her.  For long years I strove to be Christ-like and forgiving on this matter, but now, I grieve to say, I’m done.  The children of God should not suffer too unbearably at the hands of the children of Beelzebub. Yes, he and I are lucky to have you for wife and daughter.

God bless you all four,
Love, Dad

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

[June 1944]

MRS METCALFE CARE MR CREIGHTON SCOTT PO BOX 521 TAPPAN NY

CAN YOU REPORT NEW YORK, JUNE 14TH STOP.  REPLY IMMEDIATELY.  IF ACCEPTED, DETAILS WILL FOLLOW.  M H KING

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

[Pine Bluff, North Carolina]
June 2, 1944

Dearest Pavli—

I’m so immensely relieved and thankful that, after a short eternity, Jig’s and yours and my grandbabies’ home is to be freed of evil.

I do hope that neither of you will tolerate any last-minute alibis or shilly-shallying.  This is the one opportunity to get rid of something that would, if she succeeds in staying on, murder your souls and, in time, the souls of your children.  I hope you will say to her, if she balks in the  least, “We have put up with you so far, because you had no place to go.  Now you have a place to go, and our responsibility is over.  Sail or not, just as you please, but you leave our house for good on sailing day, and that is final.”  No half-way measures are either just, right or kind in this sort of a crisis.  Feel as sorry for her as you wish, but feel sorrier for each other, and for your children.  Nothing could be more fatal for the future than to allow her to put over a last-minute E Scottism on you and yours.  Be as firm as granite.

God bless you both, and the babies.  Try to have a little peace as soon as the evil genie departs.

I’ll write again soon.  I love you all four and God bless you all four.  Kiss Jig and the lovely grandbabies for me.

God bless you,
Love, Dad

* * * * *

To M H King, Royal Air Force Delegation

June 7th 1944

Miss M H King
Royal Air Force Delegation
1520 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Washington, DC

Dear Miss King,

I am enclosing with this the receipt you have sent which acknowledges that I have the Embarkation Order, and the other receipt detached from the advice on the disposition of baggage which accompanied the Order.

My ultimate address in the United Kingdom is the home of my husband and myself, where I can always be reached care Squadron Leader William John Metcalfe, 74992, RAF, Garden Flat, 26 Belsize Crescent, Hampstead, London NW3, ENGLAND.

I appreciate the attention you have given to securing my passage and I am sure you have done as well as could be expected under the circumstances.  I don’t object strongly to “dormitory” sleeping, and in respect to my baggage the only problems presented are my typewriter, essential to my future livelihood as a novelist (my profession during some twenty-five years, although circumstantially suspended since I have been in the States awaiting my passage), and the secure disposition of the manuscripts of novels and poems by myself and my husband (on which both of us will work in England) which were deposited with the censor in New York on March 6th, to be returned to me at the pier when I depart, with twenty-two contracts for books by myself previously published in the UK and the States, some shorter mss and other matters more personal.  But I assume some safe place for these will be found aboard ship although I am to be allowed only the one piece in the “dormitory”, as all these mss and documents are an essential of future livelihood and my husband, on his repatriation from Canada, took home mss and books by himself without difficulty or question,.

Again my thanks to you, and I will report at the hour and place designated with due punctuality.

Yours sincerely,

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott

[Red Hook, New York]
[June 14, 1944]

My Beloved Children—

I received both your letters in today’s mail and, if you will let me, am answering them together and, laws Deo, can send them to your home address.  For this is June 14th, flag day, because today I have been thinking of you all day.  At last you are freed of the most spiritually-destructive and evil-loving being I have ever known personally.  Until Jig’s birth she was not that way, so he, thank God, imbibed no poison through her veins.  He is not her child, any more than the marred ground is parent of the seed planted in it.  He is my son, alone, and of my seed, bone of my bone, a real Christian gentleman like my father and grandfather and great grandfather and our lone line of Christian gentlemen that I have traced back to Pauling Creighton Wellman who died in Palestine in 1251 fighting to free the sepulchre of Our Lord Jesus Christ from those who hated and profaned it.  So you see, Paula, that I agree with you when you write in the highest terms possible in words, of your husband of whom I am as proud as you.  He owes nothing, and derives nothing in body, mind or soul, from Elsie Dunn or any of her ilk, for she, when caught in the grasp of God’s will and delivered of my child, rebelled at it, at me, at God Himself.  For she could not conceive of anything or any event greater than herself.  All her mind (which was once good, even brilliant), her heart, her spirit, her whole life, was henceforth bent to master or destroy what had shown her she was not omnipotent, me, my son, even God who made us.  I had 14 years of it, part of it as bad as what you two blessed children have just been through.  So my heart aches for you.  But now you know that I, whom you both know to be kind, loving, gentle and even tender in thought an emotion, never overstated what she has become through not loving good.  Until he was born she wanted my son, because thought he, and through him I, would be hers to violate.  When he and I escaped her completely (for he took from her not one iota of her nature in any respect) her love turned to hate, and I need say no more; for you have seen it daily for nearly a year—extending from  me to everybody and everything beyond her power to rule.  she has forfeited every tie.  You, and your children, are not in any jot or tittle related to her.  I am your father and your mother both.  What God once joined together God can put asunder.  Actum est, finis est.  Amen.

God bless you all four,
Dad

* * * * *

To Paula and Creighton Scott

[26 Belsize Crescent]
[July 1944]

Darling kids

Please never forget that the personal loyalty of Jack and myself is something you can both count on always unexceptionally, and that Jack will appreciate as deeply as I do what you have done for us humanly in having let me stay these months with you.  As I have said so often (and from both of us) the happiest time ahead will be the one in which we can help positively to make you two (and your lovely babies) happier, richer, or, in some manner make things pleasanter for you all four.

You are very dear, Jig.  Jack and I have known well enough to love and admire for many a year and I have admired the human Pavli for long, but these months have allowed me to double and triple earlier respect and affection for a brave girl as well a for a fine man.

Bless you all four from us, dear kids, and don’t forget

To hell with the totalitarians!  We human beings will win!!!

Maw=Evelyn=Gran’ma

If any letters from Jack (or anyone) arrive after I leave please forward to Garden Flat, 26 Belsize Crescent, London NW3, England.  Forwarded letters to England have to be restamped with covering envelope and I leave the quarter for that as I think that will cover the few I may miss.  Thank you.

* * * * *

The following excerpt is from Evelyn’s lengthy document entitled “Précis of events indicative of libel”.  It was written in the third person in 1951 in support of what she then saw as  libelous persecution and adds further detail to the wait in Tappan and her return to England.

MVS rangitiki
RMS Rangitiki [http://www.rms-rangitiki.com]
Evelyn Scott when, in 1944, she was finally assured she would be allowed to sail for Britain, sat for three months and a half by packed baggage, her mss in the hands of the censors, her writing ended as far as Tappan was concerned; her fixity indoors or near her habitation essential, she supposed, in view of the warning she had had that she would be permitted just twenty-four hours to move in, and the combined total lack of any baggage transport whatever in Tappan, and of her son’s heart murmur which had re-alarmed her about him so that she was resolved not to allow him to carry any of her baggage for her  She had, in fact, about three days, and satisfactorily contrived to get her typewriter and various pieces of small luggage to town over the mile-and-a-half of steep hillside and flat road newly strewn with uncrushed stones, between her and the bus-stop.  And when she went aboard the vessel, which was a New Zealand troop-ship, afterward sunk and since either retrieved or the name re-used, she took into her quarters, on a porter’s advice, her typewriter and an suitcase of mss beside the single “dressing case” which was really a suitcase for clothing and which was the one piece of luggage which was “according to Hoyle”.
However—again in view of her Passport difficulties and of subsequent libel—she asks again today whether the Canadians, the British, or the Americans had it in for her in giving her dormitory space with airmen’s wives and small children, several decks down, where portholes were seldom opened and a large glaring electric bulb which lighted about a quarter of the space used by forty of all ages and was controlled by the steward so that she could not turn it out, burned fiercely a foot or two above her head most of every day and more than half of each night.

The Rangitike was not a very comfortable ship, the dormitory bunks were built high off the floor, and it was unwise to have put small children in beds from which they might have tumbled with serious results had there been any really heavy weather.  But after a tiff with the purser, who thought her “unreasonable” in wishing to store mss in his safe where “valuables” were kept, her typewriter was lashed to a rafter above her, and she made the best of her situation; though—AGAIN—she would like to know why it was that when the ship was full of officers wives who, as far as she could ascertain, did NOT “out-rank” her as Senior, she was not allowed as they were cabin-space on a passage for which she had already been waiting ten months since the first payment on it and four months since the payments were complete.

The Rangitike was in a large and very handsome convoy which was all divulged on the last day out of Liverpool, and which was probably bringing aid to France as the Allied landing was then recent; but even before Evelyn Scott went aboard her ship there had been an ado on the book about her waiver, which had been guaranteed her in a letter from Washington in late October 1943, and had been confirmed at the Customs’ House many weeks and possibly a month or two before she actually sailed.  It was said at the dock “not to be on record” and because she had to rely on the offices of a dock policeman to telephone the Custom House and verify what she had said, she had no opportunity—or thought she had none in the ensuing pother—to phone a promised goodbye to her son and daughter-in-law.  And when she was admitted to the slip at which the ship was moored, she discovered one of her parcels of mss returned by the Custom’s was handed to her un-sealed, as it should never have been.

In London, when met by John Metcalfe at the railway station, she was greeted by a fly-bomb, like a salute to their re-union, but most unpleasant.

 

* * * * *

 

A son writes to his mother

In common with many young families, Jigg and Paula were finding life in New York City with their new baby a financial struggle.  Jigg, with a modest amount of journalistic experience gained in the West behind him, had to seek whatever employment he could find and, with help from Paula’s aunt Dorothy McNamee, was able to find a position in radio journalism

* * * * *
To Evelyn Scott

[269 W 10th Street, NYC]
August 9, 19401

Dear Mother,

Got your note and very much pleased with it. Things are going from bad to worse with us, although we are keeping our chins up, rather.  We land in a crisis and scrabble and beg our way out, and then before we have recovered from that, the same old devils are back haunting us again:  rent and bread and butter etc.  It is pretty hard at times; but we have gotten this far, and DV we will go right on to the very end in spite of all hell.  Still, it is a weary business and a burden of some weight that we have to share, although amply compensated for a hope of peace and quiet and all the things which are indubitably and rightfully ours if we can only wade through the present swamps.  The future has been much brightened for us both by Pavli’s Cousin, one Dorothy McNamee, who has done all that she could do to get me a job somewhere, and who alone among those I have recently known is disposed to weep on our behalf.  She managed to euchre the general manager of a department store into saying he would give me a job; and although he welched on it, it was not for lack of energy on her part.  That was the news I was hoping to give you; and now nothing has come of it.  Yesterday I managed to get a man who runs a display company to agree to pay me 70¢ an hour for a 44 hr week.  But it isn’t much and he may have changed his mind before Monday when I start working, and I may be up against manner of technical problems (cinematography illusions and so forth) that I cannot do.  Still, it is worth trying.,

As you know, I am a natural born coward, without spine.  But I daily blind myself to what I know I must expect, and charge in.  And in the long run they do not throw me out the back door, and I extract from the name of someone to whom I may apply for the luxurious privilege of regaining my self-respect and supporting my wife and daughter.  And I lie abut myself and claim all sorts of talents I do not possess and magnify what I have, and go home exhausted and degraded beyond hope.  But somehow it is all gone by morning.  It is my nature to sour quickly; and each night I swear more terrible vengeance in the world; but I know damned well that if I ever do get the job, I’ll forgive everyone, like the ass I am.

Parental love is a wonderful thing.  How strongly I would recoil from the stained drawers of even the most angelic person.  Yet Bumpy2 lades us and drenches us with all manner of things and we are privileged to change her pants; and what is more, when she holds levee on the potty we stand around and gawk and admire.

Dated 1940 but contents indicate it must have been 1941
2
Childhood nickname for Denise

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott and John Metcalfe

[269 West 10th Street, NYC]
[November 16, 1941]

Dear Mother and Jack

This will amount to little more than a note although it should be more, to thank you both for your birthday wishes and the beautiful neckties; and to tell you that, beginning tomorrow, Monday November the 17th, I go to work for the National Broadcasting Company, Rockefeller Center, as assistant to one Maurice English, who is head of the Propaganda Section of the International (short wave) Division.  I will be paid $150 a month, on a salary basis, until such time as I seem indispensable enough to sign a contract, on a yearly basis, with the company.

Jigg newsroom_20180415_0001
National Broadcasting Company news room, with Jigg on far left.

I don’t recall that either of you have ever tried to get into Radio; so let me say that it was a heartbreaking business.  I had to lie about everything on earth, and commit myself on countless dubious points; that was the only way.  My duties consist of editing the daily news, as provided by the Associated Press, the International News Service, and about six others, including the Office of the Co-ordinator of Information (US) where my application is still being considered (I haven’t had time to withdraw it).

In addition to the above, I have to digest the Editorials of about fifty papers, and keep an itemised file of the War.  My hours vary from 7 to 9 in the morning, to 5 to 9 in the evening.  Theoretically I should appear at my desk at 9 and leave at 5; but circumstances often interfere.  There are seven broadcasts daily, in the compilation of which I have a hand; not to mention intermittent news bulletins during the day.  That is about all I know of it so far.

Yesterday (Sat) I was given a cursory introduction to my job; and am wearily resting at the moment.  I will write you more fully when I have the poop—in about a week, I think.  Which does not mean that I have not appreciated your presents.  Bless you both.

I will write Jack as soon as ever.  Wish me luck,

Jigg

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

[269 West 10th Street, NYC]
November 21, 1941

Dear Mother,

I appreciate that my correspondence is in a mess, but there is no help for it.  I have a dim impression of having written you about my new job, but, things being as they are it is very likely that I just intended to.  Here is the situation.  Last Monday—today is Friday—I went to work for the National Broadcasting Company as assistant foreign editor in the International division.  We are understaffed.  I get to my desk at eight ack emma, and leave it sometimes at six, sometimes at six thirty, sometimes at seven or even seven thirty, but never before six.  I have from ten to thirty minutes for lunch.

If you will just stop and picture for yourself the bulk of the New York Times on week days, it will help you visualise what I have to do.  The number of pages in an average Times varies from 25 to forty.  Well, an equivalent mass of material goes through my hands daily, and has to be edited and distributed to 12 departments.  In addition I have to read anywhere from fifty to seventy out-of-town papers and digest their editorials.  Not only that, but all the material from the office of the US coordinator of information goes through my hands as well.  This is merely a part of the job.  Every day I have to collect material for one half-hour broadcast, and write another.  My boss does the rest, and it is really something considerable.  At the present he is sick; I am new; and we are breaking in a Swedish department, and trying to locate the men for a Finnish department.

I don’t get Saturday or Sunday off until this situation improves.  I have already agreed to work on Christmas day and New Years, and I have worked on Thanksgiving.

God bless.  The baby is fine, so are we all.
Jigg

* * * * *

In October 1942, Jigg, Paula and baby Denise moved to Tappan, a small town on the Hudson River, where they rented a modest house.   No correspondence discussing this move survives, and is likely that they felt that, with one baby and another on the way, it would be better for them to live in the country, where Jig could continue to commute to New York. Their second child, Frederick, was born in November 1942  In March 1943 Jig started working in the American Broadcasting Company newsroom; the commute from Tappan, although long, was tolerable.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

National Broadcasting Company, Inc
A Radio Corporation of America Service
RCA Building, Radio City
New York, NY

[November 10, 1942]

Dear Mother:

It’s a boy. Everybody’s fine, although Pavli had a hard time of it.  I sent you a telegram the same day, only the telegram wasn’t sent, I’ve just discovered because I had already used up my expense account (Employees are allowed five dollars worth of telegrams per month) notifying people, chiefly Pavli’s family.  The kid was born November nine at six twenty am, weighed six pounds twelve ounces, and looks like a comedy Irishman.  The name is Frederick Wheeler Scott.

I am on the lookout for a new job, my present one having come to an end.  The government has taken over all short wave, and has banned all broadcasts to American troops abroad (on the grounds that such are not important) and so my section—which specialized in this—are out of work.  It would happen at a time like this.  I took a look at the office the war information’s headquarters here, but have decided against working there if possible.  While waiting I observed that Mr Edd Johnson, the man I wished to see, dictated his polemics to a secretary.  I just couldn’t work on that basis.  Also while I was there, Churchill made a speech, and when a someboy in the office proposed that it should be re-broadcast in its entirety, Mr Johnson said:  “Oh, no!  Because, whenever European listeners hear its Churchill, they turn off the radio.”  I just refuse to have anything to do with prejudices like that.  Naturally nobody knows what European listeners do, or when they turn off their radios.  The same man also referred to Gen Giraud as a “senile son of a bitch”—and unhappily I think Giraud is a fine man—with guts enough to fight, which is more than most of those draft dodgers at the OWI have.

So, I am looking around for a job.  Wish me luck.  For the time being everything is oke.  I’m terribly sorry you didn’t hear more promptly, but it’s the fault of red tape, and not me.

Bless you all.
Love
Jigg

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

[Tappan, New York]
December 9, 1942

Dear Mother,

After another unseemly delay, this is to let you know that we are all well.  The government has not abolished us so far; and in fact we are working harder than usual.  I hope it lasts.

We want to thank you both for the presents to the kids.  No formality this time:  they were useful as we could hope, and filled a very decided need.  Bumpy, who is after all the one chiefly concerned, was tickled to death.  She held the dresses up under her chin—the way grown-ups do—and said “purry” (pretty); and could hardly wait to get dolled up.  But she had to, because she had a cold and her nose would have run over everything, especially the green dress.  Anyhow, bless you—the stuff for Freddy is immensely useful, although he hasn’t reached the appreciative stage.

There’s just one thing about it, though: we know you are broke as hell; and it doesn’t seem right that you should be sending us expensive stuff like that when you are being pinched.  We love it; but we also have some idea of what you’re going through.

Freddy is a pretty good boy, in that he does nothing but sleep and eat and wet; and he gives great promise, although of what I don’t yet know.  Still, its very gratifying to have a son.  Fond as I am of Bumpy, I always wished she was a boy; and now I don’t have to wish it any more, if you follow me.  She is growing up to be the prettiest and best child you ever saw.  She must have gotten her looks from Pavli; but anyhow, they are certainly there.  Freddy, on the other hand, is no beauty.  When he was born he had a boiled look; and now he resembles nothing more than a comedy Irishman, with a fringe of pinkish hair, pouches underneath his eyes, and a generally apoplectic look—especially around meal times.

We have finally managed to get our house fixed up a little—it was awful bare for a while.  Pavli made us a blue corduroy couch cover, and we managed to make the chairs presentable, etc.  But best of all we got hold of a grate, and now have a coal fire in the living room.  Most of the day we keep the furnace down to negligible; let the grate heat the whole house, which it does pretty well.  I had forgotten what a pleasure an open fire can be.

I may not act like it in the matter of correspondence; but I certainly wish we could see you folks—it would do us no end of good; and we are looking forward to it like nobody’s business.

While Pavli was in the hospital, I had a fairly disagreeable heart attack—the worst so far; and was so goaded into going to a doctor.  He says I shall probably live to be ninety; but that I have to watch myself in the matter of stairs, hills, coffee (I can’t have any, which is pretty convenient, seeing as how you can’t get any) smoking and excitement.  It about scared me to death, as this is the first time I have had any really spectacular symptoms—the others were only mild.  However, it does mean that I am definitely out of the running as far as the military are concerned (it would be hypocrisy to say that I was sorry) and that I am more or less inactivated for life where strenuous occupations are concerned.  I can’t even take a swim any more.

Just as you are feeling the pinch, so are we.  When the government took us over we were all supposed to get a raise (I haven’t had one for over a year) and in fact the boss promised me one.  But he’s afraid of the Vice President in Charge of Saying No, or something; and so I haven’t gotten it.  As a result having the baby was a pretty tight squeeze.  Babies cost upward of $200; and we just didn’t have the cash.  We still have to pay off the MD.  However, the end is mercifully in sigh, even in spite of this damned Victory Tax, which begins on the first.  I don’t mind giving up 5% of my salary in a good cause.  But I do mind the blasted arguments used by the powers that be.  The arguments are as follows:  that the rich can’t pay for the war by themselves, and so there is no reason why they should pay proportionately more than the poor.  In other words, however just our cause, this still a Preferred Stockholders’ War, from where I see it.  We have a four letter man for a boss in here who is always prating about “Social Goals” and who is keeping some men (with wives and children) on less than a hundred and fifty dollars a month.  I’m better off than most, thank God.  Anyhow, if I have to pay 5% he should have to pay 55%.

I have to get back to work now; but bless you all, and the best of luck to both—and DON’T send us any Christmas presents—we aren’t sending any.

Love,
Jigg

* * * * *

In 1943, the Federal Communications Commission had ordered the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) to divest itself of its associated network, the Blue Network, thus creating the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) and in March 1943, after what appears to have been a difficult period, Jig found employment with the new network. He became editor of the new ABC newsroom and had a daily news broadcast syndicated over the 44 stations of the network. He held this post until 1946.

At this time Jack, an officer in the Royal Air Force Reserve, had been called up for active service when the war started. In 1941-42 he and Evelyn were living together in Ontario where Jack was on assignment training the Royal Canadian Air Force, but as Jack was being posted to duties in England, Evelyn needed somewhere in the US to stay while she was awaiting authority to travel and join him. This was wartime, and though she was not a British subject, as the spouse of a serving British officer, she was entitled to a passage to England on a convoy. Even so, there was a considerable amount of red tape involved and Jigg, to help out, invited his mother stay with him and his family while this was being arranged and while Jack was making the necessary payments for her passage.

* * * * *

Jig Denise Paula Tappan
Jigg and Paula Scott with Denise (18 months) in Tappan

To Evelyn Scott

[Tappan, New York]
[August 1943]

Dear Mother,

You are more than welcome for as long as you want to stay.  With some embarrassment we have to ask you to pay for your own food—about $6.00 a week.  The rest of our economy is unaltered, and your visit will be a first class treat.

It’s only fair to warn you of the following:  my job comes to an end on August 22 and I start another on the following day, hence chaos for about 3 months thereafter.  We are moving to a somewhat cheaper and pleasanter house in September—more chaos, but you can help.  The present house, where we are somewhat camping out, is small, and so is the other one.  I’m not in the best of health and pretty crockety.1  It costs $1.00 round trip from Tappan to NYC and is a bore.

All this is merely forewarning—P and I will be tickled pink to see you, and only hope that the inconvenience won’t get you down.  We also think it’s a rotten shame that J can’t come too.  Still we envy you like hell going to Britain.

I’ll send you dope on trains instanter.  A warning:  don’t bring too much baggage here.  There are no porters, no taxis, and no nothing.  And it is absolutely Verboten for me to carry loads up the hill from the station.  So, travel light, be prepared for about 1 mile walk from the train to the house.

Wish me luck on my various ventures, and lent let us know the expected date of departure pronto.

God Bless, and all our best to Jack,
Jigg

1 Jig had suffered from a mild heart condition since early childhood; he was to die of a heart attack in 1965, aged 50.

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott

[Robbins House, Red Hook, New York]
[September 1943]

Dear Jig and Pabli—

Thanks for Pabli’s lovely letter, which was a pleasure to have.

I am aghast that ES plans to dump herself on you for such a long stay.  It’s terrible, but I suppose there is nothing to do about it.  However, I hope that if she starts any funny business whatever, even the slightest, that you send her packing instanter.  With Jack’s position, she has plenty of money, so there’s not the slightest reason she should stay with you a moment longer than is a complete mutual pleasure.  Don’t make the kind-hearted mistake of starting in to handle her with gloves.  She doesn’t understand kindness, courtesy or good taste—or anything except first principles.  And she will be awake nights trying to make a rift between you two—so stick close together no matter what the merits of a discussion appear on the surface.

As I said to you, my position with regard to the lady is briefly this:  I don’t want her to have my address or know where I live, or anything whatever about Ward Manor estate1.  As soon as you know when ES is coming please drop Gladys a card immediately and tell her not to give ES my address.  For Jig’s sake, since she is after all his mother, I might just possibly see her once in New York, if it is mutually convenient, providing she will behave herself and cut out all Evelyn Scottisms.  And I want her to keep her fingers out of my book.2  Of course she will find out about it, one way or another, and doubtless get to read it.  She will say it is not true to facts, meaning that I have omitted to say that from the time we returned to New York from Brazil she slept with other men and tried to rub my nose in it, that when we went to Europe she took along a lover (Merton) whom she began to sleep with in Bermuda and slept with him in my house in Collioure and Banyuls, that when we went out to North Africa in my car she took along a lover to sleep with, whom she afterwards married (Jack), etc, etc.  She will be furious because I have left her some self-respect to live with, and myself some self-respect to die with!  But the book is true to my life.  I stood for all this for Jig’s sake, trying to seek some semblance of a home for him.  And if I have refrained from telling the world what kind of a mother my son had, and she says a word about it, either in public or in private to any friends, I shall be her bitter enemy and never see or communicate with her again as long as I live.  And I think she knows me well enough by this time to know that I mean exactly what I say.

God bless you all four
Love
Dad

1 Cyril had moved to this secluded estate just outside Red Hook, New York
2
Life Is Too Short, Cyril’s autobiography, published in 1943. Evelyn did not see it for several years and when she did she took great exception to his account of their life together.

* * * * *

Evelyn arrived in Tappan some time around September/October 1943, while Jack returned to England at around the same time. He had recently been left some money by an aunt, and used this to buy a property in London where he stayed whenever possible. The house was a large detached Edwardian dwelling on four floors, and his plan was to convert three of the floors to flats, and to use the rental income to support himself and Evelyn the basement flat. In the event, the house became a massive financial drain.

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

[Red Hook, New York]
[November 1943]

Dear daughter—

I just have your long letter, begun Oct 25th and concluded Nov 7th, and am much touched and pleased that you felt that I was a father to whom you could come in a time of perplexity and sadness.  I am glad you sent me these letters, written in a time of trouble, instead of destroying them when what you dreaded had passed, for they are one more realization that you are a really-truly daughter to me who love you as my own child.

Jig and you are more Christian in your attitude toward ES than I am.  To me her psychology is not human.  It really rests on choice of the highest available degree of emotional tension at any cost to anybody, and is thus a spiritual drug habit.  I pray that I may never become comparably oblivious to the sufferings of others, and admire the spirit of Christ-like compassion that Jig expressed and you joined him in.  I also pray that your home may be delivered from her soon.

God bless you all four
Love
Dad

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

[Red Hook, New York]
[November 1943]

Dear Jig—

I wrote Pavli last night after I talked with you on the phone, and today I want to write you.

Listen, old man.  If and when a thing no longer lies within your control the only means of safety resides in the way you meet it.  Let’s hope for the best, son, but I advise facing the alternative right now, even if it doesn’t come.  Let’s face anything that may come, with heads up and determination to win through.

I wrote to comfort Pavli, but you are the only one who can comfort her.  It’s a woman’s role to stand by in small crises—it’s a man’s role to stand by in a great one.  Start in right now to get Pavli in the best frame of mind possible to meet whatever eventuates.

It’ll come out all right, whichever way it goes.  And you are your father’s son, and you will be like him in a tight place.

All this doesn’t mean that I have lost hope—but just in case.

God bless you my dear son,
Love,
Dad

To Creighton Scott

[Red Hook, New York]
[late 1943]

My beloved Son—

I understand perfectly what you and Paula are going through—I endured it for years.  I hope and pray that by hook or crook you can get that octopus’s tentacles out of your home right away, and when you do, for the sake of your children, of Pavla, and your own sake, never let her enter it again, no matter what the pretext or circumstances presented by her.  She’s killing you and Pavla by inches, but you can rationalize it and think of the great day when she finally has to leave—your magnificent babies, when they are a little older, not having experience and perspective, would have their poor little souls completely wrecked by her satanic emotional instability and complete inhumanity.

God bless you
Love
Dad

* * * * *

To John Metcalfe

January 28, 1944
NITELETTER
SQ/LDR W J METCALFE
26 BELSIZE CRESCENT HAMPSTEAD LONDON NW3

THIS URGENTISSIMO ET CONFIDENTIAL YOUETME1 STOP AM DOING ALL POSSIBLE OBTAIN EXIT PERMIT EVELYN YOUR WIFE BUT EXTRAORDINARILY IMPORTANT YOU EXPEDITE PASSAGE ARRANGEMENTS YOUR END UNDERSTAND PASSAGE MONEY ALMOST ACCUMULATED IF NOT EYE GLADLY CONTRIBUTE FIFTY DOLLARS OR MORE MAIN POINT GET EVELYN ENGLAND PRONTO OTHERWISE HELLISH FAMILY SITUATION COMING TO HEAD TELL ME HOW SEND YOU MONEY IF NEEDED REPLY COLLECT THIS ADDRESS LEAVE EVELYN OUT OF IT UNDERLINED

CREIGHTON SCOTT, BLUENETWORK NEWS RM 276JA
1Telegraphese for “you and me”

* * * * *

Recovery, two deaths and a granddaughter

Very little correspondence remains of the period between Evelyn’s separation from Jack and the summer of 1937, when Maude Dunn died.  During this time Jack managed to sell Jove Cottage and returned to London and to the Royal Air Force.  It is very likely that, as a former reservist from World War I, he was called up when it looked as though Britain would be involved in a second war, although he may have rejoined voluntarily.  The tone of his letters indicated a much improved mental state.

Although Jack was stationed at RAF Kinross, he used the address of his old friends in Claygate, Surrey during this time for security reasons. Letters from this period also include references to his house in London, which he presumably bought with the proceeds from Jove Cottage.  This property, 26 Belsize Crescent in the pleasant suburb of Hampstead, was a large house on three storeys plus a basement. Jack planned to let out flats on the three floors and to live with Evelyn in the basement, using the rental from the flats to service the mortgage and to support himself and Evelyn. For reasons that become obvious later the property became, instead of a source of financial security, a huge financial drain which will merit a chapter on its own.

Following her return from Brazil in 1917, Maude lived with her Gracey cousins in Clarksville, Tennessee.  She was effectively a pauper and Evelyn supported her when she could with a modest monthly allowance, scraped together from her small earnings from her writings.

* * * * *

Will of Maude Thomas Dunn

I want my only child Evelyn D Scott Metcalfe (novelist) to have everything I possess.

Maude Thomas Dunn

April 6, 1937
Clarksville, Tennessee

MTD will

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

c/o Abrams, 66 Perry Street, NYC
Sunday [Summer 1937]

Darling, I hate this awful building up of days and distances between us but I know nothing can affect our very deep fundamental rapport and that love once felt for a person wholly though it may sleep in expression can rise when called for from whatever apparent tomb of silences. No dearest I am not ill, but just sapless.  Some days I think I must have TB1, again that I am on the brink of declining from some unnamed obscure malady; and in the end when I rest it is just that—fatigue—and rest is really all I need.  Jack’s situation is very, very tragic; and I can’t quite recover from my own decision, which my mind still approves, to save myself at the risk of his own chance of complete reestablishment.  He went back to England, and I won’t write to him until he is thoroughly in control again as it only harrows under the circumstances.  He has every logical chance of being OK, again and greatly improved before he left; but finance and discouragements to writing are dreadful things for a man to bear alone who has just been through his ordeal—psychological collapses are worse than anything physical and I say that knowing at least enough of the physical not to be a fool of unimaginativeness.  But at the worst if you are ill in body you die.  So I was very glad the doctors so conclusively diagnosed him as not a case of insanity, but just break down, which is vastly different in the medical meaning.

Jig is writing a novel,2 Lola—don’t tell.  I think it is marvelous in lucid, lucent reticent style.  Lots of sad things come out in it however and the theme may make it difficult to sell today.  [remainder of letter missing]

It is very possible that recurring references to chest problems indicated early symptoms of the lung cancer which eventually killed Evelyn.
Jig’s only novel, The Muscovites, was published in 1940

 * * * * *

To Louise Morgan

28 Craven Terrace, London W2
September 23, 1937

My Dear Louise,

I meant to write or ‘phone you for several days, but have been rushed.  Darling, something you said over the ‘phone annoyed me, and I prefer, particularly in my present irritable mood, to get my little “mads” off my chest.

You said I made “excellent first impressions”. What I would point out is that even that is pretty darned good for someone who, ill-advisedly, sought a better world, or no-world, only a few months back, and was told by his doctor that he was foolish to think, as yet, of so much as applying for a job.  The whole business in NY took me at a most staggering disadvantage.  I’d given up the house [in Walberswick] for what seemed, after weighing pros and cons, the joint good of both, but the actual doing of it was such a fearful wrench that I arrived a temporary wreck and said and did utterly misrepresentative things which precipitated the break.  The break itself was hardly therapeutic with effect and the vicious circle was prolonged.  It’s completely unjust, my dear, to judge a still-sick, if recuperating, bloke by standards applicable to the quite robust.  I’ve survived enough to tip the strongest, let alone someone taken between wind and water in the middle of a nervous breakdown.  I consider the whole thing a most grotesque pity, and an enormous waste of time, nerves and emotions.  I want, of course, to cut losses as much, and as soon, as possible.  Evelyn’s action is historically and psychologically comprehensible, and while I think it misguided and quite as much of a pity for her as for me, I see how it happened detachedly enough, and leave it at that pro tem.  Meanwhile, I can, with recovered health, live my own life, and get as good milk as has been spilt.

Love, – see you soon,
John

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

Officers’ Mess, No 14 FTS
RAF Kinross, Morayshire, Scotland
July 23, 1939

Dear Lola,

I’ve been meaning to write for a long while, and wondering how you are getting on.  I do so hope you are feeling fitter than when I last saw  you, and that you are able to work some.  The way you have carried on all these years in the face of so much illness and discouragement should be an example to anyone.

As for me, I’m back in the Air Force as you see and comfortable enough.  I came up here in May.  I was hoping to be posted nearer London, so I could use my own house1, but this station has its advantages.

Work is varied and interesting—but leaves little time for my own writing.  However, I manage a little now and then.

The country round here is quite lovely in its way, but we’ve been having an awful lot of rain;—it’s been general, all over England too.

I wish I could have remained longer in New York and seen more of you and of Davey while I was there.

Over here there is, of course, the usual talk of war.  There’s no telling really what will happen.

RAF Kinross
RAF Kinross, c 1935 [commons.wikimedia.org]
This station is quite new, and only partially built.  At present we are in hutments.  It’s all very familiar though it’s twenty years since I was demobbed and twelve since I came off the Reserve.  The CO is a very decent sort of bloke and the crowd as a whole not at all bad.

Ever so much love to you dear Lola, and all the best to Davey from
Jack

PS  Am worried about Evelyn who seems, from her recent letters, to be having a hard time of it.  And I, at the moment, have to put every cent from my pay into the house or, if I miss a payment, lose the whole thing.  But if I can hang on for a few months longer I will have rounded the corner.
This is the first reference to the house in London, 26 Belsize Crescent.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Care of F Walton, Esq, MA
Lime Cottage, The Avenue,  Claygate, Surrey
September 6, 1939

Darling Dear,

Hope you got mine of yesterday, explaining that, as serving officer, my address, in all letters written to “abroad” has from now on to be care of “relative or friend”.  Uncle Frank’s is above, so write to me care of him, in care of Cousin Gertrude (Winds End Riding School, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire), or at Uncle Jim (27 Viceroy Lodge, Hove 3, Sussex).

The particulars of our marriage certificate which, as I told you, I may have to forward to Air Ministry are:–

State of New Mexico
County of Rio Arriba

William John Metcalfe       of Alcade, New Mexico
Evelyn D Scott                      of Alcade, New Mexico

Sixto Espinosa Justice of Peace
Witnesses:  C K Scott, Phyllis C Scott

17th March 1930

Marriage Record Book No 8 Page No 637
Jose W Valdez County Clerk

And on back is “Marriage Licence”—No 4478

So I should think all you need quote for 2 certified copies is—the names, date, Marriage Record Book No 8, Page 637, and Marriage License No 4478.

Darling dear, this has to be just a “business” letter written in an awful scramble.  Will write better later.  All my heart and thoughts are with you and I’m yours for ever and ever, and we’ll get together sometime.

All all love
from your
Dickie1

Shall try to write lovey whenever I can, – but without [illeg] all the circumstances you could hardly credit how difficult.  If letters are delayed, don’t worry.  Yours to me, too, may be held up or undelivered now and then.  But one thing you may always be sure of, – that I love you with all my heart and soul and life, and we’ll be together soon or late, according as the situation shapes out.

1  Evelyn’s pet name for Jack

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Claygate, Surrey
October 15, 1939

Darlingest Dear,

Just got two letters from you—one dated October 1st and the other October 3rd.  I have got a letter or letters from you every week except one, so far.  In regard to putting “per USA boat”, if repeal of Neutrality Act involves cessation of USA boats’ running to England you will of course not put that.  Anyhow, the letter you didn’t put it on arrived OK.

I do so hope your cold is quite gone, and that you won’t catch more and get down.  And don’t add worry about me to your own other troubles, lovey.  I am quite oke and going strong.  And for Pete’s sake don’t stew if letters don’t arrive sometimes.  There may be long gaps now and then and it can’t be helped.

Whether there are or not you know that all is fine and strong between us.  It may be possible for you to come over later on, if and when that can be done safely, but length of parting makes no difference to what we are to each other.  I wish I could tell you!  I have such a welling and overflowing of love and everything,—as you say, it is like an “ache”,—but it will be all the sweeter when we are together.  I think of you constantly, of all sorts of things that bring you vividly back—the Yaddo W African negroes and their “Jeem-jeem, Jeem-jeem-jeem”; and the Spanish records at Santa Fe “That’ll be delightful, delightful, delightful”, and the “Valse Ananas” etc, etc.  And that isn’t just “sentiment” at all because it is all integrated with a purpose for existence, with a steady realisation of you-and-me as persons with an identity-in-differences whose actual practical living-together means intelligent understanding and work as well as love.

Send the marriage certificate whenever it comes along.  Yes, these things are slow, I know.

Dropped Jig a line for [his birthday on] the 26th (late 27th). Do hope he keeps fit and well, and all blessings on the novel.  Cyril too.  Do trust things aren’t too hard if his job ends.

So, darling, darling, darling—don’t worry—not about me anyhow.  As to war, it may be shorter than we think and after it (if not before) we’ll be able to enjoy all those things we’ve looked forward to.

All, all, all love for ever for my darling dear,
YOUR
Dickie
Love as always to Jig, Cyril
(William John Metcalfe)

 * * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Claygate,Surrey
October 19, 1939

Darlingest Dear,

Just a very hurried note to tell you I have been promoted to Flight Lieutenant (i.e. equivalent of “Captain” in the Army).

All oke.  No time for more at the moment. – tho just a very very hurried scribble that you knew.  And send marriage certif. as soon as possible.  Shall write you soon, – all dearest love and adoration from

Your
Dickie
(F/Lieut William John Metcalfe, RAF)

* * * * *

In the summer of 1940, Jig married Paula Pearson, the daughter of Ralph Pearson and Margaret (Margué) Hale. They met when living in Greenwich Village, Jig with Cyril, and Paula with a friend, and the newly-weds lived for a month with Jig’s half sister, Alice Wellman Harris in Teaneck, New Jersey, before moving back to Greenwich Village. where their first child, Denise, was born in February, 1941.

At around this time, Jig had found work in radio news, based on his experience on the Rocky Mountain News, where he had been a reporter while living with Cyril in Denver. His first radio job was with in the newsroom of the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), where he was able to make use of his excellent French by broadcasting in both English and French. He remained with NBC until March 1943.

Muscovites.jpg

Before his marriage, Jig had been working on his first and only novel, The Muscovites, published by Charles Scribner and Sons in 1940. Although it was well reviewed, it sold very few copies.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Claygate, Surrey
March 11, 1940

Darlingest Dear,

Nothing fresh since my last of a day or two ago.  Am hard at work as usual, – though there may be a lighter week-end soon over Easter, – weather and other things permitting.

Times goes slowly-quickly, in the funny way it always does, and by the time you get this it’ll be a year since I sailed last from New York and ten since our marriage, on the 17th.  Oh, golly, I think we are the funniest people out, – but I feel that after all these vicissitudes we are closer, and so much much more understanding than ever before.  How I wish I could talk to you, – just for 10 minutes, even.

Well, I’m glad winter’s over anyhow.  I thought of you when I read of the New York blizzard in the papers, – and of course (now it’s two months old, and the press has published weather-stories, it’s permissible to mention it) it’s been pretty cold here too.  Many nights really darned cold, and with my shoes comically frozen to the floor next morning.

Oh, dollink, how swell, some time, to be together again and write our books.  All blessings to your own novel.  It will mean frightful hard work under unfavourable circumstances, I know.

Thank Jig and Pavla1 (is it Pavla or Pavli?) so much for their message, – and much love to them.

Where is Cyril now and what is he doing?  What is latest news of your mother?

All dearest love, always from
Your
Dickie (W J Metcalfe)


Paula was born in Spanish-speaking New Mexico and originally christened “Pavli”, the Spanish form of Paula. After her marriage to Jigg in 1940 and their move to the East Coast she adopted “Paula” to avoid the need for constant explanations of the origin of her name.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Claygate, Surrey
April 1, 1940

Darlingest Dear,

I have just got your sweet letter of March 14th.  I hope you have been getting my recent letters OK.  There are bound to be gaps in between, – I mean, a number of letters, written on different dates, arriving in a bunch.  That’s the way with yours, and I guess it is so with mine to you, also.

I wrote you a few days ago, – and had hoped to have any leisure to write a longer letter on Sunday (yesterday).  Vain hope indeed!—And today is as bad.  I want to read your poems properly, – but nowadays I have hardly time to think at all.  This is just literally so, – No time whatever for leisure of the mind or for “souvenirs”.  But I hope to be able to get a moment to myself (and you!) before long.  My letters, such as they are, have often to be written in a noisy, crowded room, – and this is one of them.

Oh dear, – I’m so sorry, – but know, beloved, that nothing alters and one is each’s for always.

Tho only a tiny note to let you know I’m well and loving you.  Shall write better letter the moment I can.

I am so sorry for your poor mother—do hope the operation will relieve her somewhat.

All blessings on you, on your novel, – and for Jig and Pavla

Yours
Dickie (W J Metcalfe)

Do forgive this note.  It’s not my fault, love, and unavoidable—but all OK Love you!!!

* * * * *

Louise Gracey1 to Evelyn Scott

April 21, 1940

MISS EVELYN SCOTT 18 GROVE ST NYC.  MOTHER PASSED AWAY EARLY THIS MORNING FUNERAL MONDAY MORNING.  LOUISE.
1 A Clarksville cousin of Evelyn’s

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

[18 Grove Street, NYC]
[May 8, 1940]

Yes, Lola, dear, losing mother did strange things to the emotions and still does.  Death is wonderful clarifier of feeling.  Mother was so oddly, too, both the same hen-headed person she always was, and quite different toward the end of her life.  When she was ill, she had the most really aristocratic dignity and reticence.  I don’t think she ever complained except occasionally in a rather sharp joking way; and the only time she was furiously angry was when some nosey church members she didn’t know butted into her room.  I was there and she quashed them far better than I could in a highly dignified way, although she was so ill.  Her face changed, too; and got a curious aquiline contour, different from the one it had when the bones didn’t show.  And she always thought I did everything for her, whether I did or not—other people got no credit for their flowers, these all came from me.  It was very touching.  So I knew in the end that I really did love her, and that seeming not to was an instinct of nature in defense against a temperament too unlike my own to be lived with.  It was my piece of sentiment to arrange what was to be read at her funeral, even though I couldn’t be there.  They read the Episcopal service at the cemetery, and Saint Paul on charity and the last chapter of Ecclesiastes, those being the loveliest things I know.  So I hoped the petty little townsfolk would hear about charity for once.  I don’t like rationalistic funerals, in which death and garbage collection are on a par.

Now I’ve got that out of my system I won’t talk about it again.  I don’t think I need to be pampered with visits.  Just know I love them when they come.

god bless, evelyn

* * * * *

At some point during the winter of 1940/41, Jack, whose work experience was mainly as a teacher, was stationed in Kingston, Ontario, where the RAF was providing training for the Canadian Air Force. Evelyn was at this time teaching writing at Skidmore College and took the opportunity to visit Jack when she could, and eventually to live with him once again. There are only a few letters describing these events in a period during which Jack’s mental health appears to have improved and he and Evelyn to have been reconciled.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

NEWYORK NY FEB 10 857P

MRS W J METCALFE 150 REGENT ST SG

MISDIRECTED ANNOUNCEMENT DUE TO EXCITEMENT VERY DISTRESSED DENISE EIGHT POUNDS ONE OUNCE PAULA DOING FINE LOVE AND REGRETS

DSF West Union_20180325_0001.jpg

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

[269 West 10th Street, NYC]
[February 12, 1941]

Dear Mother,

I have sent you the same birth announcement which I mis-addressed in the excitement, by air mail and special delivery.  If it does not reach you, I shall print another as soon as I have time.  I’m desolate that you, of all people, should have been neglected.  I have intended to write you a full and complete letter about anything and everything when I recovered.  This is to tide you over.  The bathtub, a beauty, came; and I shall express my gratitude later, in full.  Denise was born on Saturday, Feb nine, at approx 11:30 pipemma, after twenty-four hours of labor pains.  She weighed eight lbs one oz, has dark green eyes, a dark brown pubescence on the scalp, and a fresh, not to say choleric, complexion; but less raw looking than the average.  The medical verdict is that her health is absolutely perfect.  Appetite and voice both phenomenally powerful.  I saw her for one minute on Sat, and am not allowed to see her again until she leaves hosp.  Pavli is much admired for her stoicism and fortitude.  The house physician, an assisting intern, and our own doctor all paid visits for the express purpose of telling her she was an ideal patient.  The doctor who officiated did not realize her pains were labor pains because she minimized them so.  He’s used to Jewish mamas1 who raise hell.  P had to be told that she could scream if she liked.  She was very slightly torn, but only to the extent of a mild discomfort, and nothing more:  one small stitch.  She feels like a new woman.  Plenty of milk, and enthusiastic about the baby.  This is just a measly note, but honestly, I’m a ruin pro tempore.  I’ll write you more later.

ES and DSF.jpg

You’ve been angelic, which forcibly comes upon me by contrast with MY mother-in-law.  You may be an arch-loony, like me and the rest of the litt profession, but you’ve got taste.  Margué2 gets in my hair a little, especially as she’s being very ladylike in order (I suspect) to show me up as an oaf.  Or maybe she is just ladylike like a lady.  I don’t know.  This Freudian instant-calculators gives me indigestion.  I haven’t enjoyed my meals since the lady came, although she is being very pleasant.  But whatever you say or whoever you mention, she has a bright explanation for.  For example, if you remark that Churchill said so and so, the instant comment is that, Oh, Yes; that’s probably because he has no hair on his balls, or because his grandnephew was buggered by the choir master, and so whenever he (C) has pickled beets it aggravates his Agamemnon complex so that he resents Germans.  It’s a mania, sort of an intellectual dysentery, the diarrhea of which cannot be relieved except on somebody else’s shirt.  However, she has been trying hard to be nice, and don’t ever quote me.

As I said, the bathtub is supercolossal and hyperprodigious, and I will write again.  Denise received your valentine, in what spirit I am not able to say.  My best love.

Your affec son,
Jigg

1 The baby was born at Beth Israel Hospital, a Jewish hospital in Greenwich Village.

2 Paula’s mother, Margaret Hale Foster (Margué)

JIGG

DSF announcement_20180325_0001
Engraved announcement, by Jigg

 * * * * *

For many years Lola Ridge had been a friend and close confidante of Evelyn’s, and had long suffered from a form of tuberculosis which affected her digestive tract.  She died in May 1941. Gladys Grant was also a long-term friend of Lola’s as well as a member of her larger circle and was able to attend Lola’s funeral.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Scotch Plains, New Jersey
May 25, 1941

Dear Evelyn:

Just a short note to let you know as much about Lola as I do.  But in the first place I will have to forbear taking credit for telegraphing you.  I would have done so anyway, but it was Laura who specifically asked me to and did so in Davy’s name.  So you see you were not forgotten, but they did not know your address.

I know very little about the last sickness even though I rode in the car with the nurse.  The nurse had been called in a few weeks before the end, first temporarily, then again and finally asked to stay.  She seemed to think there was no one ailment, just a complete break down of everything.  And after Lola’s life and many desperate illnesses this seems very possible.  Martin told me that Davy would not believe it until it actually happened.  Lola had recovered so many times before that he was sure she would again.  But Martin said he knew it was the end when he was called.  I don’t quite know when this was, but some time before Lola’s death.  He had apparently been around as much as he could and been a great help to Davy.  He and Laura both told me that for a year or more Lola had been in utter seclusion, seeing no-one and just saving all her little strength to write.  This as well as Davy may have been why none of us even heard from her.  In your case Lola may have been just too weak to combat any opposition of Davy’s.

I went to the funeral last Thursday.  Except for the actual service, which was merely a prayer, excerpts from the bible and some reading from Lola’s poems, it was the conventional funeral which surprised me.  I really thought there would be only a reading of her poems or something of the sort and supposed she would be cremated.  I don’t know whether it was Davy or the Benets or Lola herself who arranged it otherwise.

There were a lot of people for their apartment, but few that I knew and a few others I knew neither by face or name.  The place was full of flowers and everyone was taken to see Lola.  I do not know the name of the clergyman who was evidently some friend of a friend of Lola’s if not of Lola herself.  After the service quite a few drove way out to the Evergreen Cemetery where she was buried with almost the usual rites.

Funerals are always very unreal to me.  I could not feel Lola at all in the conventional apartment room suffocating with flowers or see her in the doll like image, even though the place was full of pictures of her and the walls covered with her and Davy’s books.  The only time I seemed to feel her presence and loss was when we were sent into the bedroom to wait for the coffin to be taken out.  Here the austere simplicity and something about the windows open and looking far out over the roofs gave a sense of Lola.  Everything was bare except for the winged victory by her bed and one sprig of flowers on her pillow.  Here I almost made a fool of myself while the others were praising the service.

The day was one to the two terrifically hot ones we have had here so you can imagine how worn out I was on my return.  Friday I was all in.  Yesterday being Saturday I had Edgerton on my hands.  I tell you this to explain why I did not write before.

Excuse tired and confused letter.  It brings lot of love to both of you.  As always I wish I could see you and have a good talk.

Love,
Glads

* * * * *

Next week we see how Evelyn came to live with the young Scott family, and of her increasingly desperate attempts to cross the Atlantic and rejoin Jack during the early days of the war.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A cottage by the sea

Evelyn and Jack left Yaddo for the last time in April 1934, Jack returning to London and Evelyn staying on in the US, staying first with her friends Gladys and Dudley Grant in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, and then at various addresses in New York City. Very few letters of the period before Evelyn returned to England in 1935 to rejoin Jack have been preserved, and the narrative, with its themes of physical and mental ill health, resumes as Jack and Evelyn prepare to return to Suffolk.

 * * * * *

To Lola Ridge

[c/o Grant], Scotch Plains, New Jersey
July 13, 1934

Blessed, your letter is stamped June 22nd.  Well, I gave only the lighter reasons for my failure to acknowledge it on my postcard to Davy. The chief reason is another accumulation of a crisis in my perpetually critical personal affairs—not men, sweet one, nor book—money, health, things happening out west1.  I have simply been too harassed to write.  Am this morning commencing to circulate among the most possible another petition to borrow money for a two week trip to the west in September of October.  I thought to make enough by writing short stuff and (optimism) selling it in the three or four months in this place, but, alas, I fear me my mental state precludes such a solution.  I have attempted five short stories since I arrived and only one has got itself completed in any form approaching saleableness.  So in desperation I am going to try to get the fare more parasitically.

Jack writes from London in a cheerful tone about his treatment at the London School of Tropical Medicine2 which seems to be doing him far more good at once than the methods used here.  However, he is running up a large bill with a Harley Street specialist as well as a hospital bill for something called “Suda” baths, so when the Aunt Mary will is finally settled, as we hope it may be in about six months, he is certainly going to need the dab he will get out of it.  Yet we are infinitely lucky to have the dab in sight, I know.  The damndest irony is that Jack has been made trustee and has every month to sign checks for his Aunt Evie (aunt in law—widow of the parson) who is the beneficiary of the income we had hoped would be his.  Ha, Ha!

 evelyn

1 Cyril was in Santa Fe with Jig at the time.
2
While working in the tropics some years earlier, Jack had contracted amoebic dysentery.

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge and David Lawson

Scotch Plains, New Jersey
September 29 [1934]

Lola and Davy dear:

I have been planning to get to Jack the middle of next month (leave then) but can’t go without that annoying object, cash, and [my publisher] is (CONFIDENTIAL) demanding $2500 for my release on the option clause on his contract.  I can’t write another book without financial support from a publisher and no publisher will give it and pay Smith and Smith himself (tho I loathe him and want to quit at any cost) won’t advance a penny himself.  I’ve got just enough left of the advance on Buts1 to pay the passage but nothing to live on.  Jack needs small ready cash for doctors bills and subsistence.  In short, while I never quite keep up with you and all that, darlings, I do my best to, as you can see.

I’ve had to go in town to the dentist and am going to stay two or three nights as Lenore’s guest this coming week.  Every day will be dentistry, but I’d make a hell of an effort to see you all for a little while if it is possible and darling Lola not very ill again.

Heaps love always, my darlings—hoping all is at least as well with you as when last heard from, evelyn

Evelyn’s acronym for Breathe Upon These Slain

* * * * *

Some time during the ensuing months Jack received his expected legacy.  The amount is not mentioned, but it was enough to buy a modest cottage in the small coastal village of Walberswick, in Suffolk.  Jove Cottage still exists, much as it was then, with nothing between it and the North Sea but marshland, fully exposed to bitter winds from Scandinavia.

DSCF3812
Jove Cottage today [photo: DSF]

Evelyn returned to England in the spring of 1935 to rejoin Jack at Jove Cottage. There don’t appear to be any surviving letters describing the reasons Jack chose to buy in this location, or her journey to England, or her first impressions of Walberswick.  The following sequence is interesting not only for its chronicle of Jack’s deteriorating mental health, but also for her descriptions of domesticity.

* * * * *

To David Lawson

Jove Cottage, Lodge Road
Walberswick, Suffolk
June 22 [1935]

Davy dear, you and your lovely flowers seem still both very near and far off.  I’m quite homesick as a matter of fact, though hoping to become readjusted and get over it.  But I am afraid I am very American.

We are making efforts to reinstall ourselves in our new abode but every conceivable power seems against it so far and we are sitting amidst innumerable boxes in the Bell Hotel, the local pub.  How long we shall remain in this suspension I don’t know.  It’s worrying about work, chiefly.

Jack is so-so, in some ways better than I hoped in some not so good.  The cottage itself looks rather sweet, with tiny rooms that are, however, adequate in number, a very steep roof with brown tiles, a white-washed brick outside and peacock blue window frames.  It is on the edge of town and has a rather sweet peep at the somewhat distant sea.  At present poppies are all over the fields and cheer the view considerably.  But the question of light (fireplaces really aren’t six inches broad) furniture and fixings as Woolworth in Britain is a more limited establishment than the same in USA.

As I have to type in my lap in a very dark room I’m not eloquent on letters but I send this ahead anyhow because I shall so very much want to receive them.  I’m just praying everyone will give me more than my own deserve as, during the next two or three weeks, I probably shan’t have any opportunity to write decently.

It is precisely a week since I landed and not one day has it failed to rain—that’s something else to get used to.  NO summer at all this year is the present prophecy.

Davy dear, the lovely roses were kept fresh in a vase in the cabin for a while and did once appear on the table upstairs.  And you and Lola are my dear, dear, dear, dear, dears forever and ever.  Always and always—and with Jack’s love, too,

evelyn

* * * * *

walberswick
Walberswick village, c 1930 [www.oldukphotos.com]

To MRG1

Walberswick, Suffolk
July 4, 1935

Dearest Mary:  July 4th and nobody knows it!  In fact I scarcely know what day it is at all.  But the day your note came was the red letter one for me, because I find myself rather low and homesick after my long sojourn in USA and mail a very reassuring celebration.  Especially mail like that from you.  One of the defects of temperaments given to immediate responses to scene is a tendency to interpret the future in terms of whatever moment it is, and I haven’t written a lick since the first week in May, when never was writing more imperatively needed.  Part of this is exigencies of any move, but a further extended part has been our effort to furnish this place cheaply from auction sale junk which looks presentable only if painted.  I haven’t taken my hands off a paint brush except briefly for two weeks and there is a lot more to come—painted two whole bedroom suites including a cursed wardrobe, and there are more living room cupboards and book shelves.  It occurs to me that women—or my sort—function much like insects in regard to houses. Obviously I should sit down on a packing box and write no matter what; but somehow, since this is presumed to be more than a transient habitation, I can’t rest without trying to give it, however, simply, a shipshape appearance of some sort.  Poor Jack (who was very bad when I came but is I think and hope improving) simply had left no reserve for furnitures, bedding, kitchen utensils—and British Woolworth’s sell few of these things.  It is most annoying to find that in England only the best is to be had and one pays six shillings for a bread box when a quarter one at home would do just as well—except that they don’t exist over here.

We have been everywhere in Suffolk looking for bargains and probably spent more in gasoline than we saved.  I don’t think either of us is very bright in a business way!  And now we are confronted with the how of paying rates and taxes, both on the car needed off the railway in the country and on the house damnation!  We’ve talked about selling at once, but it seems so lilly and as J says he would have to drop at least a thousand dollars on what he’s spent on such hurry-up things.  So I hope we can persuade ourselves not to worry for a while and enjoy the advantages.  The house is quite sweet—small rooms, but quite a number for its size, and J had it placed with the kitchen to the road and the living and bedrooms to the rear from which he have a sweet continuous glimpse of the sea.  It’s all done very nicely plain, with a brick floor in the best room and rafters and unpainted woodwork.  And J got four carpets for other rooms for practically nothing.

There are lots of psychological problems I scarcely dare write about.  Not people.  Just J’s need to be analysed which is very various and acute and much worse during last year3.  But better not refer to his in writing to me as he might read and be upset.

He sends his love and I send barrels.  Evelyn.

1 There is extensive correspondence between Evelyn and “MRG”, but apart from knowing her first name is Mary, it has not been possible to identify her.
Alfred Edgar Coppard, English short story writer and poet, who was a neighbour of Jack and Evelyn in Walberswick. They later became friends.
3 An early reference to Jack’s later breakdown and his continuing fragile mental health.

* * * * *

To Louise Morgan

Walberswick, Suffolk
August 4 [1935]

My sweet old whirlwind, what a week again!  Jack and I plan to come and put up on you all as soon as we get the car back, as it now seems we will in a fortnight or a little more, but we’ll give you ample warning as I realize it isn’t going to be any cinch for you to house so many even for a night.  And meanwhile don’t forget you DID say you could come up some Sat and go back Sunday even when not vacationing.  The “guest room” for one is done and we are scouting for a bed for the so-called maid’s room which will be two ample before long I hope.

I woke up with the most prime example of a Sunday headache and all my letters to do—Mother, Jig, and Charlotte every week but also about 25 more—so this is a scrap.  This morning a whole flock of pheasants in the—sic—“garden” and rabbits eating the wild daisies.  One shouldn’t get hectic in such a place.  However, except for likable Coppards, I suspect Walberswick is as foul a little village as every other little village, all the poison cunningly disguised by thatched roofs.

We wanna see you both SO.  LOVE!
evelyn

PS  Did I write Jig reputed by non-family to have brought back water colours that would make Winslow Homer jealous—from Dominica?

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

Walberswick, Suffolk
August 12 [1935]

All would be well with me except for time pressures.  This is a pretty house, an unimportant landscape full of nice detail—heather quite up to its most sentimental apologists.  So like the softest brightest poem of grief up and down everywhere—then the bracken going golden already and, after rain, bitter smelling divinely.  It’s been five weeks since I walked to the sea and the line of it is before my window daily.  That’s because I am working too hard, also perhaps dislike of the village which I have imagined a nastier community than I have proof of.  So when we do walk a few times we go away from town, of which we are the last house.  Barley and oats make fields full of moonlight of sunlight now the crop is dry, and this with a windmill and the water clear silver or metal blue behind.  And sometimes I feel as if I’d been born into a world where people weren’t and remembered through Karma the last warmer existence.  I never shall have a root here more than an inch below surface.  All my temperament against wanting one.  Makes me so apologetic to Jack.

Please write me if you can but don’t if it takes heart beats that belong somewhere besides letter. Jack’s love with mine toujours, evelyn

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

Walberswick, Suffolk
October 20, 1935

Sweetheart your understanding of Jack is movingly precious to us both.  He has the most huge capacity for suffering I ever saw, and that is all that defeats us in life even as it contributes to art.  The war cloud has done things to him too.  We don’t feel safe or able to plan.  We can’t write.  I try.   If he gets any money, we want Jig here.  I’m very worried all the time by Jig’s complete isolation, his temperamental resistance to contacts.  Next to Jack he is the most congenially suffering person—and so much my fault, early wounds, maladjustment, no sense of coherence in his background.  I made a mistake being so away from him—let superficial advocates of Freud persuade me it was bound to be good.  And really in twelve years he has had two productive years and both those he spent with us.  That isn’t because he doesn’t love Cyril—he does deeply and they have very deep rapports.  But I went away, and the psychic uncertainly in Jig traces to it most.  Also I wanted Jig here selfishly because of responsibility with Jack ill so much, much isolation and somebody to go to France with me for F[rench] R[evolution] material if I ever get there.

We want to rent this house but not yet able.  It would be lovely in summer months to people at ease in their minds but harder to rent in winter—bleak.  Gales over the marshes from the sea.  Chimneys shriek, walls rock and the dour neutrality of troubled English skies looks like the worst reflection of one’s own dead moods.

It was a lovely day when I left there—sunset and snow and pinons and a young winter moon.  I feel almost an exalting nostalgia when I remember.  Yes, it got me despite everything.  Here never does so much.  The Coppards especially Mrs have helped Walberswick for me but I don’t love it.  Only at times the commons with the raspberry rust of dead bracken, the pine trees and the marshes, are smally lonely in a sort of poignant way.

I signed the contract for the short book on Tennessee1 for McBride because must have money from somewhere when leave here, but shall be very disturbed if return to USA without french r[evolution] material after all.  Arms of both of us around our Lola.  Darling Cyril won’t tell when he has troubles so I never know.

God bless darling dear beautiful own lola from us, evelyn.

1Background in Tennessee, published in 1937.

 old w'wick

* * * * *

To MRG

Walberswick, Suffolk
November 10, 1935

I’ve been and still am laid low by a small rectal fissure, but an air pillow and care may ward off the depressing experience a nursing home is to me even when the occasion is trivial.  The real danger of it is that being physically a bit low inclining one to apathy and I seem able to work only in fits and starts—which is why the mss promised for Sept 15th may not be completed until after Christmas.  Once it is placed I am going home, because, no use talking, when I hear of Jig’s having bronchitis etc, I know that home is where the child is, no matter how often Freud proves motherhood to be the root of all evil.

Oh, Mary, Mary if you only could see the house!  I mean how inexpressibly more than a house it would become if some aura from the body presence of beloved people could be shed here!  The walls have been distempered now and all the furniture painting, to the so-called little maid’s room is over with—maid’s room my real triumph as its combine furnishings before painting cost exactly twelve dollars (including rug—tho we have no bedding yet).  Most frightful junk not even selected, just cast in an odd lot at auction.  But bright yellow and grey enamel with golden-brown trimmings, the rug blue and a very bright light blue mirror and candle stick with orange curtains look really sweet.  We’ve had half a dozen too expensive and tiring duty week-end guests, and not one person either of us cares two hoots for has ever crossed the threshold.  And soon it will we aspire to hope become the property of renters anyhow.  I’m too, too, too American after all to really ever want a home forever here..  Poor Jack—I wonder if he feels the same in US, and do we demand equally of the foreigner that he “spit in his own face”?  Or is that Ellis Island behaviour not current elsewhere?

We see the sea all the time–a rather remote troubled line which is very occasionally a bright blue.  We visit it rarely, and not for a month when we took our last walk down the lane, through the marshes and saw swans between the dykes.  The heather went, and the bracket is as rusty as old tomatoes, but looks fine in a sunset after rain.  Shooting at Blyborough Lodge finished the quail and pheasants who from being our tame backyard pests have become creatures who clack mournfully and rarely in some distant hedgerow.  Jack’s love and mine much, e

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

Walberswick, Suffolk
December 29 [1935]

Yes, we have had a hectic three seasons, but at present are calmer if not more settled as to futures.  I feel so touched by your understanding of Jack.  He is so kinky and so sweet both, so difficult to get to those who don’t give to comprehension with that unrestricted generosity you do.  His insides I feel may never be really first rate, but if—as for all of us—he could only make something from writing all the outgoing elements in his nature would have their real chance.

Jig had bronchitis and doctor thought even if money available he’d better not.  The houses are so cold and the climate so dreadful I expect it was sound advice, but great disappointment all around.  I worry a lot about all that, but can’t be helped.  Cyril has a makeshift job of some sort (please don’t tell it’s make shift) and what distresses me there is his prospect of old age and nothing.  However we all face parallels. . .  His book on art was so really profound I don’t see the usual editor understanding a word of it.

We went to the Coppards on Xmas day.  Do you remember Adam and Eve and Pinch Me in The Dial?  He has a very subtle intuition.  But he is also in hard waters financially and they are rather morbid there not seeing anything ahead with two kids.  Our most cheery Xmas visitor was the local chimney sweep who gave us parsnip wine and yarned about when he was in India in the Punjab.  He is very Kiplingesque.  He said of his whippet bitch:  She’s so intelligent it’s like lookin’ in a dictionary to look in her face.

Lovely I’ll be full of selfish aches of want when I arrive in NY and no you.  So I hope so hope this beautiful font of great profundity is flowing there, so we can all be glad even for our selfish selves of your absences.  Jack’s most love with all, all and forever mine, evelyn

* * * * *

In the summer of 1936, Evelyn returned to New York, leaving Jack in England.  There are significant gaps in the correspondence, but the remaining letters hint at Evelyn’s future mental and physical health as well as providing excruciating detail about Jack’s breakdown and Evelyn’s threat to leave him.

A theme of future letters, hinted at here, is Jack’s immigration status.  At that time US immigration laws required that prospective immigrants prove their eligibility by producing relevant documents and by remaining in the US for minimum periods.  Evelyn’s “common law” marriage to Cyril becomes, for the first of many times, a problem in its lack of the necessary documentation.

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

care Scott, 359 West 22nd Street, NYC
[early 1936]

My own my lovey my dear:  Next best to seeing yourself truly was seeing Davy who substantiates the link.  I love you. . .  whole letter full.

I don’t like New York again.  I mean the tastelessness of the people, the complete absence of any integrity, the casual view of brutality, have me down again.  But I shall have my nerves rubbed down and like it once more with time I’m sure.

I had flu on arrival, was in bed off and on for three weeks, and had to review my novel (not yet done) which has delayed my trip to Tennessee embarrassingly, as I am living on my travel money before I start.  You see I signed up with McBrides for a short book on the state—they have no connection with novel—and other money I get will have to be by immediate sale of novel elsewhere.  Nothing decided as to publisher for novel, nor can there be until the book is done.

Cyril is living uptown with Alice1, whose husband has died, while I am keeping house with Jig which is a great joy.  Jig is working for PWA2 and recently has done what I think some very fine painting for himself.  I see little of Cyril who works too hard.  Poor Jack has esophagitis (chronic esophagus irritation causing spasmodic contraction when swallowing) had his septic tonsils out under misapprehension it would help and other trouble worse in consequence.  I am deeply distressed by his being in Walberswick alone.  After two weeks hospital still sick with no help.  His novel Sally out soon but I daren’t hope it will make money fine as it is.

I’m working well five thirty every day and no holidays, so this isn’t much of a letter; but I hope it reaches the loveliest human sooner or later.  I’m simply an ache of expectancy to see what has come out of Mexico, which has better health behind it.   Love, evelyn

1 Alice Wellman, his only daughter, at the time a well-known concert pianist.
2
Jig was working for the Works Public Administration (WPA), an agency of Roosevelt’s New Deal which gave support to artists by employing them on public projects.

* * * * *

To Otto Theis

[c/o Scott, 359 West 22nd St, NYC]
[mid 1936]

Otto, old darling!  I have meant for weeks to write and thank you for sort of ministering to Jack.  Wynne Coppard1 has been writing me ever so pressingly abut psycho-analysis and if J has any money at all it will be the greatest act of friendship to encourage him, as while there is no advance proof of a cure, it is the only hope, apparently, for an existence not ridden by the cancer  bugbear (which in turn produces the drink one, though the cancer probably stands for the real complication).

These seven months (imagine!) have been grisly like most seven months during the last twenty years, but little distractions (by the way I howled in an unholy way which belied my sympathy when I heard Jack had a mutilated bottom too) like hospitals and work enough to kill will be nothing if this war business can only be lived down.  Jack wants me to come over immediately, and I want to and don’t.

I’m writing about New York, and the more I contemplate the place the more sinister it seems.  Insidiously so.  My friends who are here continuously don’t see why I feel it is.  Because it is so exciting.  So full of opportunities for mob hilarity and mob murder.  The Communists are much more cagey now and are gaining ground—though what ground it is I’m not sure.  Anyhow, my janitress, who is a “Limey” by ancestry, Brooklyn by all but birth, hints about the class struggle; and the Holland Dutch Jewess in the delicatessen speaks meaningfully of Andrew Mellon. The “Chelsea” communist centre gets out a newspaper calculated to appeal to Ladies Home Journal addicts—housing homeiness.

Otto, darling, can you suggest Jack might better come over here than get me caught in England in a war with mother minus any checks and Jig jobless:  I’m coming, end of October, if he hasn’t.  But he thinks Mussolini and Hitler will have run amok before then.

Awfully perturbed—that is to say normal—for me.

Heaps of love, evelyn

1 Wife of Alfred Coppard, neighbours of Jack and Evelyn in Walberswick.

 * * * *

To Otto Theis

[c/o Scott, 359 W 22nd Street, NYC
[Summer 1936]

Dearest Otto, old dear, gee, I feel grateful for the soothing sane feeling you always manage to convey.  Hearing from you about anything at all does me good, and hearing from you in connection with Jack does me good even though I don’t know what the hell and all to do about him.  The cancer of the spine1 is going strong according to his last letter, which I read between lines, as he is getting most temperate in statements, being, I think afraid I won’t show up or something.  But he sent me the address of his solicitor and has made a few light references to a “dying man”, deprecating the idea, but, actually, I suspect pretty well in its grip.  I am so sorry for him I could die myself if it would help—though contradictorally I’m sorry for myself, too, as my particular congenital brand of near christianity makes it almost impossible for me to know how to handle his fear problems with anything but emoting in response—and that of course isn’t therapeutic.   Between you and me strictly, Wynne wrote me I was going to be in for it if I returned to Walberswick alone this winter again—I mean she felt the cancer would be worse than ever and I would have a thin time handling (she speaking medically).  She tried to get Jack to an analyst in London, but he couldn’t afford even the clinic rates (he couldn’t in one sense, he is very hard up, but I expect he welcomed the rationalization of resistance); so she wanted me to get him over here where my few medical acquaintances might cooperate with me in psychiatric measures about the business. . .  I’ve done my damndest and I can’t budge him.  He professes sincerely (as far as he knows) to want to shift the focus of living here, but the fact that the house is there and rent free and we are both very poor justifies stalling about the expensive tourist entrance for six months (he not feeling desperate about him in my terms).   Jack’s previous expired application was pre-matrimonial—I didn’t come into it.  Now, ye gods (and what about penalizing “virtue”) since we are married the petition has to be mine, not his.  In order to pull it off I have to prove my marriage to Cyril (yeah—“fact”), produce divorce papers, subsequent marriage, etc.  I can supply everything but me lines preceeding my divorce, and there you are!  Wonderful irony that Jack can’t enter because I can’t prove I married Cyril don’t you think?

All this to tell you why I want very much to get J here and why I can’t. I mean I should be ready to go there at once if my book were done and there was heaps of cash.  I simply must have a found trip fare as well as arrangements made here, because if I get caught as last year with no money in that Walberswick isolation not knowing what to do for him I shall end by developing galloping cancer of my own. . . (it’s getting me, been smoking like a chimney and suddenly discovered what I thought a strange lump—cancer of mouth undoubtedly—telephoned May, without mentioning cancer, and she said go to Memorial Hospital and have them look, so I died overnight, went there the next day, and was told I had a bad case of smokers mouth but the cancer was just a congenital excrescence—like syphilitic shinbones or Hutchinsons teeth2 I suppose; very small and insignificant and unnoticed before.  With all this, I could wish Jack was nearer you than he is, because Otto dear, I simply can’t depend on his report of himself, and I get pretty piseyed trying to figure it out.

Jig and I are in suspense over WPA threat to fire 1400 non-relief people from painting project.  His job may only last until Nov 4th, and I don’t want to leave till I see either.  But he’s making chaos of the kitchen trying out technique of old masters studied through allusions in librarys (ies) and constant visits to Metropolitan.  I have about thirty letters to do and here I run on.  But I’m so grateful, and, as so often, rather drowning clutching at salvation.  Awful gossip about us here.  Suppose one shouldn’t care, but [Jack’s] failure to come over has stated some terrible tales—Mrs Ames leading, so very uncomplimentary to me.  Problem is to care about all the good things and not care about the rotten ones, instead of, as I do, caring indiscriminately about everything. Now you are much nearer my ideal in this respect. I don’t dare think about the war—but I do.  Love completely wholly to you and Louise,

 

evelyn

This reference to a diagnosis of cancer of the spine is puzzling. Three years later Jack, who was a Royal Air Force reservist, was called up to active duty: it is highly unlikely this would have happened with any cancer diagnosis. He didn’t see active service but was assigned instead to administrative duties, and there is no suggestion that he suffered from cancer in later life either.
2
Hutchinson’s teeth are thought to be a sign of congenital syphilis. There is no suggestion anywhere in the letters or in the family history that any of Evelyn’s parents or grandparents was syphilitic.

* * * * *

To Otto Theis

[c/o Scott, 359 West 22nd Street, NYC]
[October 1936]

Otto dear:

I enclose a note you may be able to give Jack before he sails.  I sent one to Bingham Hotel, Southampton Buildings, WC1, where he will presumably be until October 21st when he sails on the Montrose for Montreal.

The sale of the house,1 or its mortgage and proposed sale, was on impulse but it was best considering his terrible state of mind.  Wynne writes me he is in the most serious state she has ever know him to be and that it is acutely dangerous, I must do something.  I have no money but I’ll go to Montreal as soon as he sends some, at least to see him, hoping I can get him to enter here Tourist and return to Canada later.  He speaks in note today of buying a house in Canada as soon as he lands.  If you see him Otto please suggest not.  I’m terrified.  He has the idea he must save his money and it is so little only a house will hold it.  But that is quite mad and really as there is no reason on god’s earth for staying in Canada any longer than we can help, he’ll have to sell again and lose again.  I want him in New York where conceivably May Mayers2 will help me to get a psychiatrist for him. Meanwhile I’m on next to last chap of last draft of novel, and Tenn book not even begun and McBride already restive.  I’ll be the dotty one too soon.  Life always has another little trick up her sleeve worse than the last.  Wouldn’t it be funny to have something to be happy about!

Afraid those cheerful words go for all of us!  god bless and thank you.  Love to Louse.

Jove Cottage
May Mayers was not only a physician but a loyal friend

* * * * *

To Maude Dunn

[c/o  102 Greenwich Avenue, NYC]
November 29, 1936

Darling mother:  I hope the fact that my cheque to you can’t go until end of next week when I expect Scribners to have paid me some advance money won’t upset you.   It is coming all right.  I have my hands full as you can imagine, with Jack sick (and mental and nervous ailments take more of the nurse than most physical things).  Jig is trying to find a cheap place but at present we are all crowded together rather miserably.  Also there is a prospect of the complete collapse of the art project as enemies of Roosevelt are taking advantage of his absence in South America to shut the thing up if they can. The administration has received its heaviest criticism on the score of the wastefulness of the WPA and the most stringent technicalities are now being applied for a display of economy.  On the art projects one of every three is to be fired.  The directors (of whom Cyril is one) have refused to obey the order.  As they had no responsibility for hiring people they say they won’t fire them.  Either they are allowed to say who stays and who goes or they strike. The best artists were not on relief (the ruling is those not previously on relief have to go) yet all need jobs, and to run the project as an art project with only the dud ones left is a joke.  So tomorrow Monday, 68 directors and supervisors will refuse to obey the order to fire people.  Then Mrs MacMahon, the head of all the projects, will fire them (the directors) for insubordination.  That will bring matters to a head and the art projects will either have to be reorganized on different lines or will close up.  So Cyril and Jig may be jobless again or may not.  The whole thing will get publicity in London papers undoubtedly.  But you can see there never was such a piling on of crises in the personal sense,.

Yes, it is a breakdown easily explained and I’m sure he will recover.  You can tell Graceys he had a nervous collapse and is in a state of dangerous melancholia but not crazy, as he isn’t—I mean he talks rationally except that the worry mania is not off his mind more than half an hour at a time.

Love, love, love, Evelyn

* * * * *

To Otto Theis

[c/o Abrams, 66 Perry Street, NYC]
[December 1936]

I have not written before because things have been too, too dreadful.  Getting [Jack] into America was no cinch as my divorce1 and finances had to be scrutinized.  We are probably here only because our gratis lawyer knew the head of immigration.  Nothing illegal was done but it was all rushed through without any advantage taken of the occasion to quibble, particularly about my lack of cash.  All that lasting over three weeks was strain enough, but since arrival Jack has had a complete breakdown.  The difficulty of getting psychiatric treatment for a man whose mania is anxiety about money, so that he is almost afraid to buy a meal, has been ghastly.  Mental troubles are exclusive millionaire luxuries.  Poor people evidently just go plumb crazy and a shut up.  However a friend introduced us to a child analyst who has in turn written to the head of Cornell Psychiatric, who in turn may make some rate I can pay if Jack won’t. But the whole atmosphere of a small flat containing someone off their rocker, Jig by turns (in daily expectation of the collapse of the art project) and me trying to write has been morbid beyond expression.  Also Jack’s obsession is another house, to be bought with his mortgage money, and what was left from a precipitate sale of Jove Cottage (he now expects never to get that because of king crisis), and there has been the additional factor of train journeys here and there to find very cheap house we can move to next month.  But I want to delay until terms of his treatment are arranged.

I blew up myself two days ago and yesterday Jack made a mighty effort and visited [Davy] to show he could mix with people.  It was a good sign as far as it went.  I haven’t been able to have a soul come here and practically unable to go out myself as I find him a wreck when I return.  He never sleeps, cries all night etc.  So he did all the first part of Walberswick but he was drinking heavily then and now isn’t.  Still if we don’t die he can be cured, and in England he never would have been because I have to take the initiative and had no medical connections and only formal other ones.  If he could make money by a book, any money beyond the advance, it would probably do more than all the psychiatry in the world.

What Jack needs to think is he did the right thing in sacrificing Jove Cottage.  He dreams of it all the time with awful guilt—sure it meant perfect security.  He wants to think England sure of a war. I was horrified when he sold it tho relieved he cabled he was coming here because last year scared me so I was gritting me teeth to face isolation with someone whose mental health was so precarious.

Again loads love.  Jack sends his, too. He’s perfectly lucid but obsessed and chisophrenic.  How spell. evelyn

Evelyn and Cyril were never married. What she firmly believed to have been a “common-law” marriage had no status in law: there was no provision for common-law marriages in any of the jurisdictions which they might have been able to claim: Tennessee, Louisiana or Kansas (where Cyril’s existing marriage would have been an obstacle)

.* * * * *

To Otto Theis and Louise Morgan

[c/o 102 Greenwich Avenue, NYC]
January 11, 1937

Dearest Otto and Louise:

Jack has been in the Payne Whitney Psychiatric1 for a month and is scheduled for at least two months more before he will be considered a going concern.  The obsession is the loss of the house; and while he is definitely medically speaking no lunatic, the situation for the moment is as if he were.  It is such a long accumulated story, and I am so tired that I won’t attempt a resume of the “case” in full; but the matter of survival, and the constant fluctuation of plans between England and America play a part.  Jack is not the type to sacrifice his work for my support and neither am I capable of giving up my work to support him, if I could do so.  Then there is my mother.  Maybe we would have found a way out had our sexual attitudes been truly complimentary.  But while we are fond enough of each other for the alternative to carry considerable pain, there seems no question in the doctor’s mind any more than mine that it would be simplest if we were to separate.  Jack doesn’t know this.  He is still in a turbid, chaotic state.  He may not know it until a while after he leaves the hospital and America; because his feeling more me combines extreme dependence and extreme resentment in which such bewilderingly overlapping measures he himself cannot deal with his emotions at all.

So don’t tell what I feel is already decided: that he is to return to England as soon as able, and that I will not follow as he now expects.  So much of the neurosis concerns money, and his affairs are so precarious, the doctors consider it would be therapeutic if he got any sort of job for a while, though preferably one through literary connections.  He has lost nothing as to competence once he regains poise; and I believe, if the worst time can be got through, he is going to be far better off than for some years because the situation and his whole life will be clearer, less confused—invitation to chistophrenic behaviour less.  But I dread when I must write him the letter to say I am not coming back; and I beg and pray everybody who cares at all in friendship for either of us to stand by him and do what can be to make the terrific readjustment which will be demanded easier, so as not to throw him again into this utter defeat and collapse.  He could leave the hospital now if it were not for the certainty of suicide if he did.  Getting him to stay is made hard by his money terror, as the money expended for treatment is his, and I have none.   I don’t dare make the break in this country because he will not have recovered for long enough to bear it.  He cries continually that he cannot live alone.

So please, please, please do what you can for him.  You can imagine after Merton’s tumour2 how this hits, though thank god it is a different bag of tricks, being curable.

dearest love, evelyn

1 A psychiatric clinic in New York City.
2
Owen Merton had suffered from a brain tumour, which is thought to have caused his death for some time.

* * * * *

To Louise Morgan

c/o W O Tuttle, Esq
Corn Exchange Bank Trust Co7th Avenue and 14th Street
New York City
January 27, 1937

My Dear Louise.

May I, out of depths of the worst misery, recall a promise you once made me?  Evelyn has separated from me today.  I am (tho’ above address is for your reply) in a Psychiatric Clinic.  I have already lost my house, and now, when I was already so low, Evelyn has taken this time to decide we are “incompatible”.  I have pleaded with her in vain.  My fault was that the Atlantic between us gave me such jitters that I lost the house and came over here almost a wreck.  As a result I suppose my company was too depressing to bear, and now, while I am here in a Psychiatric Clinic she delivers this, to me, almost death-blow.  I cannot realise it yet.  I still hope the breach may one day be healed, but I don’t know.  I am coming back to England pretty well knocked.  I have to stay here in hospital for another month anyhow, but expect to sail for England about March 5th to 10th, arriving by 17th or so.

I’m not sure if E realises what she has done either to herself or to me.  I admit she is desperately overwrought, worried and fagged.  For the last six or seven months I have had blow after blow, and this is the last and worst.  I literally don’t know yet what it will do to me.

For pity’s sake do what you both can for me when I come.

Much love to all
John

* * * * *

To Otto Theis

Albert Hotel, 65 University Place
New York City (for some weeks)
February 18, 1937

Darling Otto, your blessed old letter doesn’t sound much more cheerful than I feel, but does me good just the same.  Poor you—except that you are so courageous us other poor critters keep turning to you so matter what you yourself face at times and say so little about!  After lying to Jack for weeks about England and the future, I found it made me so physically ill I couldn’t go on.  The three hourly, thrice weekly visits were grillings.  He went back on his promise to “go to England ahead of me” and said he would not leave until I did.  I wrote to the doctor, enclosing a frank statement to Jack I proposed the doctor should give him when he was well enough.  The doctor had Jack up before the “tribunal”—of doctors—who pronounced him fitter, and agreed with my suggestion it was better to deliver a blow while Jack was in the hospital then to wait until he was out and not protected against himself.  Jack was therefore given the letter before I was told and I arrived at the hospital to be informed by the doctor Jack knew my plans, had taken them badly, and was determined to leave the hospital that night.  The doctors felt if he did he would kill himself, and insisted I come upstairs and talk to him.  So there were 2½ hours hell, Jack hysterical.  I haven’t seen him since—12 days ago; but I agree to pay a few weeks if he would stay there until he got better.  I hope he will, though I scarcely know how to meet the bill.  He has to get back, Otto—the doctors think he simply can’t function here with his distrust and dislike of the country.  I am much distressed by your confirmation of the gossip I suspected.  I’m sure it is fantastically exaggerated, for I discovered in Walberswick the auld English have vile tongues.  I think Jack has told me most of what he did—bar maids, a few dives, night clubs, too much drink.  But the period was brief, I don’t think he indulged any perversities, and the great acquaintance with low life vernacular came largely from reading.  I know the books consulted and skimmed them myself.

However, the damage is the same and I shall feel pretty hellish from a distance until I know he is reestablished.  His effort to appear a rake, is entirely compensation for what has really been a very secluded narrow life—a sense of sexual inferiority among the bull-necked boastful type of males who object to him because he has such a childish streak.  Anything on god’s earth you and Louise can do—and oh, oh, oh if I could ever help you as you have me so often, Otto darling—will be so so gratefully received.

I forgot to say Jack tried to swallow the thermometer—bite off the mercury—three days after the separation was suggested.  The suicidal state may last.  But beyond that I think he is very capable of jobs and that.  The shock of my decision may stimulate recovery.  Whenever he has held a job he has been good and approved.  The last was 1928—nine years ago—Montreal and Wanstall the head of the school was enthusiastically glad to see him this year.

I wrote to Jack’s Uncle Jim and Aunt Millie and received cabled excuses for not helping—they are in a funk for fear they’ll be held responsible.  Oh these cold nice people

I feel low—though the statement about separation relieved a rather suicidy state of my own.  But at my age—44 last month—starting all over!  Very well for a man, or at least possible.  But a sex-suppressed, emotionally frustrate dame of the “dangerous age”, who still has too much hang over of romanticism to sell her fading charm to a gent of 90 with money (there are a couple near that), and who can’t sublimate in activities for the public weal, and who is too proud (too vain) to accept consolation from younger men who may rightly condescend toward a derelict, and who haven’t either the stoicism or the mysticism for  an adequate life alone—well, I don’t quite know what will become of her.

I think of all the brave people I know—like you—and say if they can come through trials as bad surely I can.  But at present all appears rather grey and desolate, not to mention the money fears which are intense, which you know so well.  For a female, these late starts are almost degrading—offering of wilted salad leaves with a sour cherry on top and rancid dressing and trying to pretend the banquet is fresh.  However, ca passe.  Matter of fact Jig at 22 is as lonesome as I am, poor lamb, and that is another self reproach for me–!  Every way I look, skeletons have bones or victims of starvation I have somehow helped produce.  But I realize those who have work—expression—which you were born to and ought to have, ditto L—are luck in the meagre measure of luck in this world.  I love you, Evelyn

* * * * *

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farewell to Yaddo

The spring of 1933 saw Evelyn and Jack at Yaddo for what would be their last sojourn.

In  2009 the New York Public Library mounted an exhibition entitled “Yaddo:  Making American Culture”, and a volume of the same title was published celebrating Yaddo, its guests and their achievements [McGee, M.  (2010) Yaddo:  Making American culture.  New York: Columbia University Press]. Yaddo welcomed its first guests in 1926 and continues today as a successful centre and retreat for artists of all disciplines, many of whom developed their early artistic promise while at Yaddo.

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge and David Lawson

[Yaddo]
May 15, 1933

It’s rather sad here this year.  The economy of regime, though all comfort within reason still exists, suggests too much an end.  Spring doesn’t belong—or else we don’t in spring.  Mrs Trask’s ghost no longer seems in opposition to other presences.  It’s ghosts meeting ghosts.

Or do I think so because I am as I am?

I’m working hard to rediscover my own land away from reviewers.  Gorham Munson1 says Migrations is my last good book, darlings, and E[va] G[ay] like a promising first novel.  Oh, curse all these fools for whom one would feel such a spontaneous indifference did not their folly grip the belly.

Mildly pleasant crowd here:  Philip and Penina Reisman, painters, rather sweet enfants terrible.  Ruth Suckow and her husband [Ferner Nuhn].  A plaintive sycophant with a resourceful wit and a bruised self-respect named Charles Yale Harrison.  A tall sea-going boy, intriguingly shy and to himself, who writes Conradish stories, Floyd or Lloyd Collins.  Grace Lumpkin, an elderly little girl, straightforward to bluntness and rather engaging.  Albert Halper, who is so completely an average American that he’s rather wonderful:  as if at last one had actually met—what!  A real cowboy, after the movies.  Or a real Englishman.  Or, or.  But he’s naively frank and all his mentality covers he regards from his own for him authentic angle.  Carl Carmer,7 who is kinder and more sensitively aware of social obligations than anyone else, with qualifications as an artist that remain ambiguous.  Louis Adamic lusting for revenge on capital.

For you two I hope and hope.  We love you so.  e

American literary critic and academic. He was very much part of the Greenwich Village group of avant-garde writers.

2Two guests later became part of Evelyn’s life: Carl Carmer was an American writer whose most famous book was Stars Fell on Alabama and was later involved with The Artists League. Louis Adamic was born in Slovenia and emigrated to the US where he was educated and became a prolific writer and editor of a number of different publications.

* * * * *

To Maude Dunn

[Yaddo]
June 8 [1933]

Dearest Mother:  I think it too bad you have all that annoyance about the house.  And those family quarrels.  Looks as tho they never fail to occur when there is any disposition of property.

IMG_20180311_0006
Maude Dunn in front of Gracey Mansion c 1930s

Thank you again about the money.  I’ll wait, unless you have pressing need, until I get the Santa Fe trip paid for. It does cost as much to go there as to Cal.  You have to go via Chicago, and change to another road, and even some shortest way, it is three days and two nights.  There is a round trip slightly less but not much—I mean less in that it is a hundred and fifty for going and coming instead of eighty-five each way, but I don’t know that I can pay that out now.  Sure wish they lived somewhere else.

I gave the name of the donors of this place wrongly.  It was Trask.  Big portraits of them hang in the reception hall, and Mrs Trask’s grave is a lovely spot, the highest on the property, with a Keltic cross to mark it and very lovely pine trees.  She died in 1921.  “Yaddo” is a corporation now, but for the purpose of managing the estate only.  The name comes from Mrs Trask’s child’s mispronunciation of “Shadow”.  The child, now dead, heard her mother (who had just lost another child) say she had a shadow on her life.  Child called it “Yaddo”. It really is gorgeous.  I wish I could write a whole book here.  The country is superb, and Saratoga such a funny nineties looking place.  The races begin there next month.

I get very funny letters from strangers about my book.  Perfect cranks write to one just because of seeing one’s name in print.  Some sound like lunatics, tho occasionally a really appreciative letter.  And people here are autograph mad.  No indeed that picture is not Jack—only slightly better than of me.  Heaven forbid.

Well, lots love.  I have a frantic week ahead.  Leave here a week from Monday.  Have more interviews to give in New York.  Lots of errands and things to see.  Will be there three days.  I’ll send Santa Fe address as soon as it is exact.  I won’t stay with Cyril and Phyllis for fear of gossip.

Love again.  elsie

* * * * *

 

To Lola Ridge

Yaddo
June 12, 1933

Sweet light:  It’s two weeks since I had your beautiful letter—and it can’t be!

Sweetie, I guess I almost write, if for anybody but myself, for you and Davy and Cyril and Jig and Jack.  Glad and Dud sometimes, but I don’t believe they quite know what I’m driving at any longer.  Anyhow, you always, so that, though I know it a wickedness to want you to write to me ever while it’s so hard to write for yourself—physically hard—it very deeply answers something when I do hear from you about a book—or ever.

Yes, Munson wrote a large review in the Sun saying E[va] G[ay] was a promising first novel by a beginner. It didn’t get under my skin in the real way, but it did exasperate me, like another one I got today scolding me for trying to reveal America.  As if this book had been written to do that!

Sweetie, plans here alter a good deal.  We expected to move to the farm house July 1st and now may have another month at the mansion.  How glad we are, since the farm house would have put us on our own about providing food.  It is one belonging to Yaddo estate and is across the highroad, about a quarter of a mile down toward Saratoga Lake.

I’m glad you had a notice of Cyril’s show.  Watson Bidwell wrote me that Cyril’s pictures done in Dakota were the finest water colours he had ever seen.  But no one is going to appreciate them while Cyril is alive.  There’s so much bitterness and jealousy about the museum job and the other painters are always trying to knife him.

Au revoir my sweet and god bless you for giving me such sustenance from your spirit about my books.   Love, love love to you and to Davy, from us, deeply and from Mrs Ames deeply too.  evelyn

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

[Yaddo]
[July 1933]

Lola darling:  I misplaced Davy’s letter with the Mount Sinai1 address so I have to keep on bothering him!  We felt very happy hearing you had gained eight pounds, so I do hope Davy will let me know if you and the doctor manage the country sanatorium because that really might do a lot to set you up.

I sympathize with Davy about your darling squiggly handwriting!  I adore the sight of it, but I’m rarely absolutely certain as to the content of that inimitable calligraphy.  Still—I gathered you were up on the roof in the sun and that, as a general indication, sounded good.

Jack god-blesses you and wishes he had been able to look in.  He saw May2 who declares his liver a little worse than last time, but insists it is because he had to knock off the medicine and promises something better when it is resumed after a few months.  His general health does seem improved.

This will sound like a clinical report, for my foot is giving me the deuce.  I went to Schenectady to a specialist and he said I had a bone broken and wanted to “operate”.  I balked, called in another man here, and he said what nonsense merely a strain and gave me ice packs and icythyol.3  I’m a little bewildered between them and may surreptitiously call in a third opinion to arbitrate sub rosa on the others.  Anyhow I’m quite crippled for the present.  Am disturbed by fear of being an inconvenience to Yaddo, tho Mrs A has kindly let me use garden studio temporarily so I won’t have to walk.

Did I write you Jig and Cyril were in Mexico?  Seventy five cents a day room and meals!

Nothing in particular happens.  An increasing overdose of communism versus art4.

Yaddo guests

Love all around and around you and Davy both, evelyn

1Mount Sinai was one of the larger New York hospitals: it appears that Lola was again in hospital.

2May Mayers, friend of Evelyn and Jack and their doctor when needed

3Ichthyol was the brand name of Ammonium bituminosulfonate, distilled from rich shale oil and used for the relief of skin conditions including eczema and psoriasis.

4There was an active and continuing debate at Yaddo during the 1930s about Communism. There is an account of this in McGee’s book about Yaddo, from which this photo is taken..

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

Yaddo
July 3, 1933

Beloved dear:

I hope the heat lifted a little in New York, as I know how one feels the weather when in bed.

This morning Ferner Nuhn is in my studio doing a cartoon of me which he thinks won’t be any good.  So my letter writing day combining with posing has not yielded the crop it should.  However, and however uninspired my communications while I am assuming this dual role, I had to drop you a line.  Mrs Ames is much distressed to hear of your illness and Eloise even more so.

F Nuhn portrait

I haven’t any news except that the snowballs are blooming outside my window and look very New England cool in their green while.  I guess I told you of work:  four short stories and four articles and a longish poem and four chapters on final draft of kid book.  As for sales, quien sabe!

Sunday dinner is approaching my sweet so. . .  And don’t feel I ever need answering.  Just hope things go better.  Just wish and wish I wasn’t as always a useless friend.  And just bless you with my heart as you breathe because your existence is such a happiness to we who love you.

Jack is no better much, but May says couldn’t be expected for months to improve.  His dear love to you all with mine.  evelyn

1American writer and editor, interested mainly in American literature. He was married to Ruth Suckow and made the sketch of Evelyn.

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

Yaddo
July 12 [1933]

Lovey, I had a note from Davy who says you’re gaining, which is something for us to be a little happier over though there probably doesn’t seem much for you in bed.

I wish I could walk in in visitor’s hour, and so does Jack who is going to NY in an hour to stay for the day and see May Mayers about the liver, again, and would so love to see you if he could stay longer.  He sends heaps love.

As a coincidence I am also doctorwards bound.  I sprained my foot on the tennis court ten days after I came, and, as I foolishly went on using it, it has grown persistently worse.  So Ferner Nuhn and Ruth Suckow are driving us to Schenectady today to see an orthopedic specialist.  I don’t look for anything very grave but am annoyed, as I was making up for past years by pretending to lead an athletic life.  We’re a bit alike in one respect, darling—sort of willing to ignore the obvious in health.  Though it’s heroism in your case and hardly that in the stance of a bad foot.

There is the usual ebb and flow of guests, and quite an exodus July 1st, with a new lot now installed.  On some days I feel the company as a mild pleasure, and, on others, face them and meals with nausea prepared.  Not that it is any especial fault in the gathering, but that communal life steals the need ineradicable in my nature, as in yours, for solitude.

Yaddo exhausts all one’s pence of small talk.  I sometimes marvel that, after more than two months, words come out of my mouth to say nothing at the dinner table.  It’s sort of depressing to meet so many people and, always, with each one, feel the pit which separates one’s self from the mass of mortals dug a little deeper.  That’s why I return again and again to you and Davy and Cyril and Jig and Jack and such very few.

Bless you, my lovey, bless you, bless you.  I’m so tired of the invisibility of my world to those here.

Lovingly, evelyn

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

[Yaddo]
July 28, 1933

Darling Lola, Dear.

I hope it’s been made possible for you to go away to the country.  I hope, as usual, everything.

I’m in bed at present, but only to rest, as limping strained my leg and produced neuritis in hip.  So one thing, small enough, leads to another!

Mrs A asks after you frequently.  Asked me again if you could come here.  I repeated I feared you were not strong enough.  Hope this is the answer you would have wished me to me, though I pray it to change.  There is embarrassment in being ill in an institution not meant for that, as I begin to realize.  Kindnesses are done but one feels as one feels nonetheless.

A mob expected next week—some 8 new people and only a couple leaving.  I wonder where they will be stowed!

Lovingly to you both from us, Evelyn

* * * * *

To David Lawson

[c/o Crawford, 286 W 11th St, NYC]
[August 1933]

Darling old Davy:

It was tantalizing to hear you and not see you, but in Phyllis’ tiny place with outsiders it didn’t seem any use getting you over.  I did hope to be back in town a night, but have decided it is foolish to climb stairs and start leg bad again, so am leaving for “Yaddo” from here.  May Mayers has helped mighty generously as I have been practically in bed and haven’t lifted a hand for myself.  (Especially, sweet of her as I owe her for doctoring anyhow!)

Well, it was a relief to know that Lola was in the country and doing fairly well—or going toward real improvement anyhow.  I shall write to her via you soon.  At present I find resting makes me so tired I can hardly scribble a note.  Fact.  I expect it’s relaxing after continued strain.  If you once sat down to rest, old dear, you probably wouldn’t budge for a year! I’ll be back in NY one of these days anyhow.

Heaps, heaps of love to you both,
Evelyn

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

Yaddo
August 27 [1933]

My angel-one, I’m getting better at it and there weren’t more than six words of your heavenly scribble I missed this time!  And it’s no spindly scribble either, but has the look now of the power they won’t let you put into writing.

Then there are the things you realize of crowds, which Jack, poor darling, feels as acutely as a physical pain.  They simply won’t let you get back in and down into yourself where the poetry lies.  It’s all got to go forth in extroversion and polite adaption to matters that don’t interest or move you or to combating tendencies you actually dislike.  The habit of being alone and depending on that for one’s strength, once it’s acquired, is certainly incurable.  So a lot of this association means loss—what might be a creative mood suppressed to make tea party chit-chat—or also gone into futile indignations better directed against universals than the accidental humans pleased to represent them at that moment.

Jack goes on on his nerves and with period discouragement and impulses to chuck his book (full of splendid writing) because of bad pages due to bad days.  I’m working in bed very comfortably and don’t quite know how I got into this short book (for me) on England, which I began in Lowestoft and is like a sort of Narrow House got cosmic, and I have no idea what it will be like in the end.  Jack loves its being English so that rules him out as a critic.  Also swatting when I can on the French revolution for the next one, but should like to write it in France which would appear impossible.

And so the days go.  So still now the pine trees give an occasional twitch just to assure you they’re real trees.  And hot again, with the clouds glaring darkly and the rain we have had all week getting ready to come down all over again.

God love you like we do.  He can do lots better by you—but can’t want too much more.

Bestest to Davy and to you from  us, blessed one, evelyn

* * * * *

To David Lawson

[Yaddo]
December 31 [1933]

Davy dear, it was a great relief to have your note.  I suppose by now you have got used to these brain waves of anxiety and, as they profit nobody anything and result in nagging about letters, you’d have a right to be impatient with them.  I’m so used to being remote from nearly everyone I care abut and periodic hauntings that something has gone wrong is a part of a well established and thriving old trauma.

We are, of course, very fortunate to have a comfortable roof with heat supplied and no rent to pay.  Naturally one does, as I have discovered of all things, pay in other ways.  I have decided that my temperament never suited me to be a member of the human race nohow, as my last experience of a group in Santa Fe was disastrous through indignations felt by me about gossip which still seem justified entirely, since the gossip was lies.  And living in a group up here ain’t no better.  Because of dedicating Eva Gay to Mrs Ames, so I have been allowed to gather, it was presumed by a group here that I was a sort of official Yaddo spy, and this story accumulated results which would be funny if one could look down as god instead of living in the midst of it.  The people who now occupy the lower part of this house were among the originators of the tale and it with my resentment of it and the fact that I deeply resent the orthodox communist stand on art and they are quite rabidly orthodox has been responsible for a feud to which there is no ending.  As I say, it am largely funny in its preposterousness.  At the same time it makes a rather depressing atmosphere when one is virtually buried in winter with this same group.

It was thirty-five below zero here yesterday, which means the coldest temperature I have experienced, though Jack knew colder in Toronto when he was there as a child.  However, considering, we felt it remarkably little.  At the present moment the rest of the household is away on holiday and we quite rattle around, though not unhappily in this place.  The icicles in front of our windows are some of them nearly three yards long and when the moonlight strikes them the diamond array is very exciting in a queer not quite believable fashion.  There are no birds, rabbits or anything else—just snow, snow, snow.

Jack was in New York for one day three weeks ago, and, feeling groggy, decided, while he waited for the hospital report on his blood test, to accept Gladys and Dudley’s invitation for doing the waiting in Jersey, as you know Margaret always has a house full and he wasn’t up to seeing people.  So the Grants fetched him out and he stayed there until he got his report on the morning of the day he returned here.  He wanted to call you all up but I, again, wasn’t able to find the number the day he left, as I had it in the notebook I used for addresses here in New York last spring and god knows where it is in the mess of moving.  So he asks me to send heaps of good wishes and love to you.  He was much distressed when he got back and found I had started this worry business about you, but then I regularly envisage calamities for everyone—Jig and Cyril of course and the few others I love most.

I have spent December getting over a job of stenography for poor Jack as because of his inability to work steadily his literary chores have piled up until he gets almost dotty about them sometimes—the four novels he is still working on none of which is yet finished.  Hope he never has such an idea again for it has delayed and discouraged him as working on one and getting it off his hands never would have.

Tomorrow I’m going to start on the final draft of my quite short book for Spring.  I have to turn it in on March 1st so it is rather sweat-shoppy as a prospect.  I almost hate having it short because [the publishers] will think they won in all this pressure brought to bear whereas it was conceived as short a year and a half ago, before me spirit has been attacked and, as they doubtless think, broken.  However it is economic pressures which made me decide to get it done at once and leave the long French revolution novel which is the next big job.  Maybe I’ve already written the title which is Breathe Upon These Slain.1

When writing to me please don’t say anything about my comments on the situation here.  I’ll explain why when I see you.  Mrs A has certainly been kind and generous to our material troubles, but there are lots of rather morbid concomitants for which I don’t hold her responsible but which exist just the same.  I think hers an impossible job—the sort of job which would work out tolerably only for a hard-boiled person who simply was oblivious to nine tenths of what went on and did not react.  By unconsciously ignoring simplification would be achieved.  For meself, I think I’d rather be a stenographer provided I could get a stenographer’s job, which I doubt.

Of course Jack and me wish, wish, wish everything for you, dear Davy, and our beloved Lola, but I’m almost ashamed to wish any more.  It’s too ironic.  We just love you and that’s that.

evelyn

1The book Evelyn referred to as the “French Revolution novel”, published in 1934.

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

Yaddo
February 3, 1934

My own lovey, I hope, hope, hope, HOPE you were finishing all the attack you were going to have—not beginning another, when you wrote to me!  I think—feel—believe—through imagining—I know those awful black weeks of yours so well and it hurts all through me as I realize what you are going through.  If only sympathy weren’t so futile!

I have only 75 pages more of final draft to finish my book, and I feel glad to have done it.  However, it’s a kind of book I had to get off my chest—first person though with no autobiographical ingredients whatever.

Lovely, lovely, lovely, LOVEY, more love around you and Davy, and would it were a fairy ring that could keep pain and trouble out.  From me and jack, evelyn

PS Jack’s novel nearing completion is splendid.  He’s been reading it to me and Charlotte and we both cry all the time—no better sign!

* * * * *

This is the last letter in the collections from Yaddo, although there were very likely many more which have been lost over the yars.  Next week we see Jack in London and Evelyn staying with friends in New York before rejoining Jack in England in 1935.

Settled at last?

In the autumn of 1932 Evelyn and Jack had left the south of England and found lodgings in Lowestoft in Suffolk, on the North Sea coast and exposed to biting North Sea winds.  Lowestoft was (and still is) a fishing port.  Suffolk would have been familiar to Jack, who grew up in neighbouring Norfolk, but to Evelyn it offered yet more opportunities for her insightful and sometimes biting descriptions of her new surroundings.

This first part of their Suffolk sojourn was not  to last:  in early 1933 Elizabeth Ames, the administrator at Yaddo, invited Jack to return and in March 1933 he and Evelyn once again set sail for New York and Yaddo.

Evelyn had been busy writing and publishing over the years and although this blog is primarily about her family story, we cannot forget that she was enjoying some success as a novelist, with a generally favourable critical response and modest sales.

In 1925 she and Cyril jointly published In The Endless Sands, the fictionalised story of Jigg’s desert adventure; this was soon followed by The Golden Door.  Two years later saw the publication of two more novels:  Ideals and Migrations. Perhaps her most ambitious work, The Wave, about the Civil War, was published in 1929 to considerable acclaim. Two more “juveniles” followed:  Witch Perkins in 1929 and Blue Rum (under the pseudonym of Ernest Souza) in 1930.  In the same year she published The Winter Alone and  a year later A Calendar of Sin.  During the time in Lowestoft Evelyn was working on Breathe Upon These Slain and shortly after their return to Yaddo, her latest book of this period, Eva Gay, was published. Throughout this period she was also publishing a number of poems and critical essays.  This prodigious  output, combined with the large volume of letters she was writing to her numerous friends, is impressive by any standards.

* * * * *

To Louise Morgan

“Lyndhurst”, Alexandra Road, Pakefield
Lowestoft, Suffolk
October 19 [1932]

Very dear Louisa, haven’t we got AN address?  We are in a bungalow which gives us two charming peeps of sea about half a block away, is as quiet as a grave, and has accessible from it about a mile of cliff and little frequented natural beach.  Those are the assets.  The liabilities are a north sea that is extremely northerly at times and no heat but one fireplace (small) and the kitchen stove.  Also one utterly mad landlady who is convinced that we are secret emissaries for Al Capone and put even the gas meter1 and the bathroom fixtures on her inventory!  I don’t know in which column to set down our eight potties, one commode, one bed pan (besides the lavatory) which are the lavish equipment for this establishment.  Jack writes in the settin’ room and me in the kitchen.  My labours are presided over by Kitchener as the patron saint, a large photographic group of an unknown family (presumably the landlady’s) and oleograph called:  Missed! A Bengal Lancer at the game of Tentpegging—Facsimile of a water colour sketch by Miss E Thompson.  And another oleograph entitled:  Cock Robin’s Funeral, well calculated to bring tears to the most reluctant eyes.

The settin room is adorned with etchings and a piano inhabited by the warring souls of all the lost Lowestoft mariners.  There is also a real oil painting of (conjectured) Juliet and her nurse; and a chromo of a strange interior which contains a spinning wheel, a Turkish coffee set, and two blunderbusses, besides several chickens rooting on the rafters.  To contradict the homely atmosphere created by the presence of the fowls, is a very grand lady..  She is being told dreadful news by a deformed maiden of the servant class, while on the floor sleeps a man in a Roman toga who hugs another blunderbuss in one arm and, with the other, protects a naked child (either asleep or dead—we are uncertain).

The bric a brac was rather out of key in its simplicity and modernity, and comprised about ten plain coloured vases for flowers.  But since the landlady set down the three cracked and handleless cups in the pantry we are afraid to trust ourselves with the vases and have put them away.

Last night after having chattering teeth all day, we took a walk on the beach and heard the water and the stars, so to speak, and didn’t feel cold at all.  The Suffolk country people talk like Swedish Americans with their baints etc.  Lowestoft is certainly the last place to find excitement but it is infinitely more attractive than Felixstowe and if we had money to invest this would be a good, cheap unfashionable neighbourhood for a house.  Sunday we bussed to Oulton Broad and while it’s not much from the road, we could see fine melancholy marshes in the distance which ought to be romantically bleak and full of hants.

I am very nearly laid up with a mashed big toe nail which is painfully being shed.  That takes my mind off heaps of things.

Love and lots, from Jack and me, to you both,
evelyn

1It was common at that time for there to be a “shilling” gas meter in rooms in lodgings. This meter was linked to the main gas supply for the house and the tenant fed it with shilling coins to purchase (often at a premium) gas for heat and sometimes for a small gas ring for a kettle.

Lowestoft
Lowestoft [www.simplonpc.co.uk]

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

Lowestoft, Suffolk
October 31, [1932]

Dear lovely:

Selma left Jig, darling; but I think you may be right in subtler ways.  I don’t think Selma was in love with Jig even last winter.  But she wanted to be married to him and she wanted to please him.  And Jig, of course, even when most infatuated, was gauche and brusque while she was smoothly voluble.  But I also fancy there was a kink in his psychology even at the time the marriage was accepted, last winter.  And perhaps resentment by the time you saw them.  Anyhow, Selma while Jig was away, got her another boy friend, Jig suspected, she denied, and Jig caught them in his room, when he returned to town suddenly.  I think he could have been won back if he hadn’t had an unadmitted desire to be free anyhow.  But of course he was shocked, hurt, excited.  He was with the Grants, but suddenly found he could bear New York no more and took train for Denver.  The marriage is being annulled, I think.  I’m unhappy as his mental state is reported not too good, and as heaven knows now when another meeting can be afforded; but I am thankful the break came before the relation has grown too complex with time.  There’s load about it I never told last year.  There was no time.  Besides, I was trying to make myself accept it.  And now, naturally, this is between you and me and Davy.  (don’t smile for I am more discreet than I used to be.  I don’t mean the break is a secret, but opinions and causes left out of general public reckoning.)

We were mad with depression in London.  The English are cold, Lola.  I was thinking recently that never once has any English person made a gesture of real friendship toward me or an imaginative one to ease the foreignness.  Sensitive and cold together.  Cold in utter indifference to the fate of everything not touching them immediately, just in theory, the sensitive and mystical regarding what is at the inner core of their lives.  They are, therefore, satisfactory in a love relation, but in friendship only after a long, long time and when special occasions break the ice.

Up here better than misfit in suburbia.  It is gloomy in a Wuthering Heights way.  Bleak coast, the sea from our windows.  Gulls, fishing boats, and perpetually troubled weather.  Fine natural beach, miles of sand.  No “scenery” as all flat.  But Lowestoft old fashioned and unpopular.  Herring industry supports it.  Wonderful humid-coloured ocean, only massive with storm—other times I see from window silver poplars and a faint neutral blue water just being born.  Very cheap living compared to city.  We have little bungalow.  Only sprouts to eat!  don’t grow anything.  But lots of herring roe.

Glad Davy is fine, god bless him.  Hug him.  Jack’s, in this instance, unenglish love, and, to both of you, the heart you’ve always had,

evelyn

* * * * *

To David Lawson

Lowestoft, Suffolk
November 22 [1932]

Davy, dear:

I guess you remember the ill-fated trunk1 only too well!  I just had a letter from Margaret Larkin,2 who had lent her furniture to Selma and Jig.  It seems they left and did nothing to communicate with her and the landlord was preparing to auction all the stuff when she discovered it (I don’t know how).  Anyway, she and her husband, Liston Oaks are installed at 127 East 34th.  As I wrote Lola, Jig went completely to pieces about the middle of September and took train for Denver.  However, he left Selma two hundred dollars which Cyril had given them to live on, and she remained in NY and, as far as I know, is still there, so it does look as if she might have taken some responsibility about Larkin belongings, once she began to rally a little from the emotion of a crisis.  I don’t want to be too harsh as I know very little of her state, but I’m rather annoyed by the impression which seems to have been left with Margaret Larkin that Jig solely was responsible for these affairs.  It irritates me to have Jig as Selma’s husband, at his age, bearing the moral brunt of a general collapse (especially when, looked at by the conventions which take account of the husbandly, he is victim and not offender).

That has nothing to do with anything, except that it appears that my trunk, blankets. pillows and books were abandoned with everything else.  I have small hope of blankets and pillows being there any more or identifiable, and unless Margaret makes some definite gesture to avow them not her own, cannot press their recovery.  She wrote to ask me if I gave permission for her to take on the beds (which were bought by Jig and Selma).  Naturally I say yes, though I don’t know the law.  Anyhow, whatever material value may be there has to be turned over to Margaret if she wants it as compensation for inconveniences.  However there were books and personal papers (autographed books—Laura, Grace Carlisle, and I fear, though hope not, one of Lola’s).  Also, particularly Benham’s Quotations, which costs over five dollars, is invaluable as a travelling reference, and which I never succeeded in getting mailed to me though I wrote many times.  I am writing Gladys and if she and Dudley can conveniently take over any small effects, and painting effects, which he, leaving stormily without preparation, dumped on them; and Dudley and I had a bit of a misunderstanding (which please never mention) because of Dudley’s discouraging Jig (I considered from confiding in me, so perhaps it won’t do to assume anything else can go to Jersey).  So I just wonder whether you and Lola, with all your so much more important difficulties, could bear taking over the oddments until I find a place for them. If blankets and pillows are, as I suspect, melted away, there’s no use bothering with that awful trunk; but I would so like to save the little things!  We ain’t got nothin’ but the clothes we stand in, and while that may be good for the soul in some ways, the repeated scattering of books and papers since the big loss in Bermuda is becoming painful.  Naturally I can’t ask this unless you instantly send account of any taxicab or sech used for transport, and, at that, I am a parasite on the dearest friends who above all should be saved from even minor additions to their own burdens; but I am so worried, Davy, and so helpless; and after all these years find that unless I appeal to you or the Grants, there isn’t a human who really cares enough to do anything but resent this kind of petition.

Jig is still in a state of melancholia, I gather.  Cyril is so worried by big things he’s hopeless about any minor ones.  And we’re all, like your blessed selves, with noses above water and no more.

We are freezing here, but it would be good for work if I could get in a proper frame of mind.  Concern for Jig has been eating into my resources despite every bit of will I have to fight it.  I am writing a children’s book but it doesn’t go as it should so far.

I’m in my usual way of sending self-centred news because in this complete isolation, there ain’t no other; but feeling aren’t all on ego, and love and longing for those who mean most to us are present just the same.

Bless you both and forgive me, dear Davy,
evelyn

PS  I has the first mild quarrel of my life with Cyril because of slow and no communication re Jig.  Cyril, poor darling, is quite literally pathological about letter writing.  I have to realize that and put up with suspense, since he still is saving Jig’s life by taking material responsibility.

1A reference to a trunk Evelyn left in Bermuda and which had been the subject of a dispute between her and Margaret Garland about its whereabouts.

2American writer, poet, singer-songwriter, journalist and, later, union activist. She was married to Liston Oak, who was an activist and an early member of the Communist Party of America.

* * * * *

To David Lawson

[Lowestoft, Suffolk]
January 27, 1933

Davy dear:

I feel sort of petty asking, but I wonder if you ever got my note about the personal possessions I left in NY at Jig’s past address?  They’re all attended to, and the wondering is simply due to my usual state of imaginings whenever I don’t hear from my dearest friends.  I suspect myself of a persecution complex1 or something like or I surely wouldn’t always begin to think this or that wrong and need letters to correct me.  Anyhow I’m worried about it on this score; that with all you and Lola have to carry in serious burdens I may have seemed so selfish in making that request that you’re disgusted with my unimaginativeness.  Do say no if it is no, in three lines, Davy dear, and if it’s yes, give me a dressing down.

My original plan was to return in January on the last of the money, but the publication of Eva Gay was delayed until April and Jack has tried so hard to complete his novel before trying for a job, so it finally seemed sense to live up the money here and use my advance to get back on.  Jack is now in bed with flu and has been for nine days. That’s temporarily ruled out work but I hope he’ll still rally in time to get another plug at his book before I go.  It’s ruled out work for me as well, though that is important only financially as I’m doing another kid book.  It’s bitter cold here as everywhere, but we suffer only indoors.  Outdoors with the sea looks blooming wonderful no matter how painfully chilly.  I’ve cursed English houses and coal fires since Jack got sick, but what really fills me with wonder is the way the English themselves blithely carry on with practically no heat.  Think Jack’s flu partly due to the effect of America on his Spartan make-up.  He seems to feel indoors as much as I do now, poor dear.

We’re in our annual uncertainty re quota and return.  If Jack doesn’t go back he loses his entry, and if he does it will be as before, no job.  I don’t expect my friends to sympathize any more with what is becoming comic.  International marriages are luxuries, seems to be the moral.

I shall be so happy to see you both again—nobody knows.  That’s always something counts heavily to counteract other less attractive aspects of NY.

Dear Davy, dear Lola, dear beliefs!

evelyn

1This comment gives an interesting insight into Evelyn’s later mental state: from the early 1940s much of her letter-writing was driven by what appeared to be paranoia.

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge and David Lawson

Lowestoft, Suffolk
March 2 [1933]

Dearest two:

Jack and I (Thanks to Mrs Ames who by cable—so perhaps best not mention it yet) asks Jack anyhow to Yaddo for a short time) leave on the Bremen on March 24th.  I don’t know that Davy remembers it but the last time we landed in June 1931 we were held up at the dock by a gang of thugs who got five dollars from us as blood money for releasing our baggage which they had simply taken away from the Cunard porter.  If Davy’s forgotten I shall explain later, but it was quite serious.  They thought Jack foreign and when they became obstreperous and offered to beat him up he offered to beat them up, whereupon I sailed in with an American voice and threatened them with the police—that helped.  Anyhow I wanted to really got to the police, but Hazel, to whose place the baggage was taken, thought if I did the West Street gangsters would damage her property.  So we did nothing.  But I am genuinely terrified of landing alone.

SS Bremen
SS Bremen [Alamy stock photo]

If the Bremen gets in after Davy’s working hours, would he be willing to come to the custom barrier to meet us?  Very few people know we are landing.  As I say, I shall write Byer and Gerald, as they have no regular jobs as far as I know and it may be easier for them.  The only others we could ask are Gladys and Dudley, impossible.  Hazel—but she’s a female.  There now!  It just occurs to me that Ellen Kennan’s nice boy Paul has no job and might be willing to come.  So amend this (I’m thinking as I write!)  I shall ask Ellen to ask him and if Davy wouldn’t mind telephoning her to ascertain if Paul will do it, all will be well with no need to inconvenience Davy anyhow.  (I won’t rewrite this, but this paragraph as all the point!)

I don’t know what time the Bremen takes going west but I suppose five days.  Jack is in bed again with gastric hangover from flu so I expect he will arrive very frail.  Mag De Silver says we may come there again and I hadn’t wanted to but I’ve written all over the place about cheap rooms so I think we’ll have to (I’ve had no responses) until we can get bearings.

But we won’t step off the boat as gloomy as this or my last orful note sounded, fore there is great relief to the spirits in action.

Love and love and love and don’t forget, I shall write Ellen at once.  But I might as well let this go because I ‘aven’t time for more today and I want you to know when we get there anyhow.  All ze love going”, evelyn.

PS  Tourist Third, Bremen

* * * * *

Our next instalment sees Jack and Evelyn happily back at Yaddo, where Evelyn in particular is enjoying contact with a their felllow guests,  creative people from all the arts.

 

 

Back and forth

After a short stay with friends in New York, Evelyn and Jack returned to Yaddo, always a source of succour and intellectual stimulation.  But life was not good during this period and, apart from the spell at Yaddo, both Evelyn and Jack faced difficulties.

To Maude Dunn

66 Perry Street, NYC
Monday [June 22, 1931]

Darling Mother:

That racket business happens to half the foreigners that land.  When I landed two years ago I let Jack go on ahead in a taxi and came behind with remainder of luggage.  When I gave the porter a bill and asked him to change it he RAN OFF with the bill.  I suppose nothing is done because in the first place the real foreigners don’t know what to do and in the second people are afraid.  I thought of writing a letter to the Times and then got scared of revenge.  The police are too crooked to appeal to and most people would rather have a small sum stolen and let it go than go into court in a hopeless attempt to arrest.  There are no policemen near any of the piers, which makes it seem an absolutely put up job.

I talked to Ruth Whitfield1 and she says the same thing happens with business freight shipments.  They send their own men to hand stuff to ships or take stuff from the ship’s employees and the freight is grabbed by intermediaries who demand exorbitant fees for simply taking it out of the had of the ship people and putting it in the hands of the cartage people.  Nothing is too bad to be believed about petty graft in America.  Our big cities are simply criminal ruled.  Jack’s foreign accent makes him more liable of course as the great object of these games is to grab people who are new to America and not give them a chance to find out what’s what.  I wish you might have heard the way I heard a customs inspector speak to a woman with a German accent.  And then I overheard a nigger porter who actually had the Cunard label on his shirt talking to some foreign man as if he were dirt and ordering him about not giving him any say so as to the handling of his own baggage.  It’s no wonder new arrivals get a horrible idea of USA.

My dear, I don’t know whether Jig ever got your parcels or not.  I have been three months trying to find out if he got a cable I sent him to General Delivery in March.  Jig is in love2 and he seems as hard hit as I was with Tyler Miller and perfectly irresponsible for the time as regards anything else.  Remembering my own lapses of the past I can’t criticize but I certainly regret he has appeared so unappreciative.  Of course when I actually see him I can find out but I don’t believe I’ll ever get anything out of letters.

Jack is pretty sick and heat and job hunting anxiety don’t help.  I am glad Yaddo will give us a chance to turn around.  As yet no decision on my book.  It is a strain.  I will be glad to look up Waldo as soon as we settle down with some idea of where we are at.  If Jack finds no job here he will have to return to England.  I shan’t go with him but lord knows what I will do.  However I’m not trying to decide yet.  Thanks very much for Times.

I forgot to say that Lady Alexandra Metcalfe did marry a distant cousin of Jack’s.  Her husband was aide to Prince of Wales for years.  Either his father or his grandfather was aide to Queen Victoria.  Aunt Mary has a picture of this cousin whatever his name was in the uniform as Queen Vic’s aide.  Jack is what is called “highly connected” but the hell of a lot of good it does us!  However, if he had money and ran where his cousins do I would not have met him.  It’s usually the poor branch of a family that turns out the most interesting people.

Sunday Jack and I went out to see Gladys Edgerton Grant and Dudley Grant in Jersey.  They are near Cranford and drove me over to see the house my paw lives in.  It is a fairly nice apartment but nothing wonderful so I expect the panic and all has hit him too.  Dudley, for a joke, took a picture of me looking at the house.  I’ll send you one.  Cranford is a hyper respectable and stodgy suburb place with pretty trees.  To our great astonishment we found Seely Dunn unconcealed in the telephone book.  I looked at all the visible kids but don’t know that I saw my half b.4

Love and love and love,
elsie

1Evelyn’s childhood friend from Clarksville.

2The object of his affections was Selma Hite, seven years his senior and his father’s secretary. They eloped shortly after this letter was written.

3Evelyn’s first reference to her half brother, the son of her father and his second wife Melissa. The existence of this brother figures in her correspondence in the late 1940s , when Evelyn tries to discover how and where her father died, and what happened to what she expected to be her inheritance.

Yaddo rose garden
Modern view of the rose garden and fountain at Yaddo. [Mapio.net]

 To Otto Theis and Louise Morgan

Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, New York
September 14, 1931

Dear Peoples,

I trust the old address will find you.  How is life?  Bless you all three, and I hope the news is good.

Having failed to get any sort of possible job in this country, I am returning to England in November.  I hope to get a small sum from the Royal Lit Soc Fund,1 and to supplement this by occasional reviewing.   I must get cheap digs, somewhere, and, if I have rather more money than I now expect, join the Savile.2  Evelyn wants to see Jigaroo again, so she will go to Santa Fe for a few months and then come over to England and join me in London.  I imagine she’ll come over in Feb or March.

The news of Merton’s death has rather laid her out for the time being and I, of course, have had to pretend to be as surprised at it as she.  That is to say, I have not told her that I already knew of it from you, and it is rather important that she should not know that I did know of it all this time.  So will you please remember this in any letters to either of us?

This place, “Yaddo”, is excellent for work and I’ve written lots.  Evelyn’s book A Calendar of Sin, comes out with Cape-Smith in October over here.  We stay here at Yaddo till end of October, then go to New York for a week or two while I’m arranging my passage to England and my re-entry permit, etc, etc.  I fancy I’ll be in London in the latter half of November.

Well, much love to you all three, and I’m looking forward enormously to seeing lots of you in town.  Evelyn, if she knew I was writing, would of course send love hugs and kisses.

Yours ever,
John

1The Royal Society of Literature describes itself as “the senior literary organisation in Britain”. Among other things, it awards grants to writers.

2The Savile Club, one of London’s “gentlemen’s clubs”. Jack would have wanted to belong to a club: male members of his family would have joined clubs as a matter of course. The Savile Club was particularly favoured by literary figures and Jack would have seen membership as a valuable opportunity for networking.

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

[Yaddo]
October 4, [1931]

My dear lovely little big guiding flame:  I wonder where you are.  I had your letter from Nice a week ago and three days ago Jack heard from Otto who said you had written him from Corsica.  Will you be back in Nice and will the Poste Restante be called on?  I won’t ask you what is going to happen next, but I suppose even you don’t know.  So I has as well turn to our news.  It sends rather like a railway guide.

Next Wed, Oct 7, Jack goes to NY for his sailing permit.  He will stay two days at Margaret De Silver’s1.  Then he returns here.  On the 12th, I go down to have a party at Lenore Marshall’s.  I don’t know whether the social strategy envolved will net anything or not but I feel I can’t refuse it.  That will be for two days, also, and I will come back to “Yaddo”.  On the 28th Yaddo closes and we return to NY, to stay with Margaret until Jack’s boat leaves and I am off for Santa Fe.  Unless Calendar of Sin sells—at five dollars—I will only be able to remain in Santa Fe a few weeks, but during that time Jig has got to come down to see me.  He is feeling, I’m afraid, a little neglected. His love affair is a lyric and thank god has absorbed emotions that might have indigested, but just the same he isn’t quite able to envisage financial pressure and he thinks I am staying away a mighty long time.  Then I shall return to NY job hunting or waiting for heaven to open and manna to descend from somewhere.  If ever there were people born not to hold jobs it’s you and me and yet you have done so.  So I would actually like to prove to myself I could, provided it was not, as it is often liable to be, a life commitment.

Yes, it’s rotten in one way to have Jack return to London; but it is his only hope if he is ever to get on.  Constancy to me has made a real failure of his prospects up to date and I learned from Merton what the threat to ones art can do to ones emotions.  So while it is a risk in the personal, sexual sense, everything is a risk and from the choice of evils this seems to be preferred.  I think we will survive it.  Other men exist in my horizon and maybe other women will appear on Jack’s.  Maybe they will occupy the whole space.  There’s no way of saying.  But we have got our deep affection and there is Jack’s British devotion to the established to match with my growing and ever growing fear of fresh beginnings.  Anyhow, it has to be gone through Saith and left to the gods.

Yaddo has been a heavenly interlude, how heavenly I realize afresh as the time for making ends meet again draws near.  There have been nice people here.  Mrs Ames has been very fine to us.  I feel such complex things in my gratitude for it that I would rather talk them than write them.

Did I write you that Merton died in June of a tumor on the brain?  It explains many things, Lola dear.  I was awfully broken up for a few days because when you love people completely once you love them always and this is not incompatible with resignation and a real preference for not being with them in the flesh any more.  He left Cyril forty pictures and Cyril is preparing a Denver show for them.  Poor Merton.  All the purity that fumbled and compromised in life remained true in his work and I wish he had lived to reap the reward I think someone will have from it.

Bless my lovely and may I hear more and the happiest of her soon.
With all the love of me and Jack, evelyn

1Margaret De Silver, a New York socialite, was a staunch friend, supporting both Evelyn and Jack in numerous ways through difficult times.

 * * * * *

Meanwhile, Cyril had left Santa Fe and gone to Denver where he had been  invited become the Director of the Denver Art Museum, now a major cultural institution. The Museum’s history dates back to 1893, when a group of artists founded the Denver Artist’s Club  to sponsor lectures and exhibitions. In 1916 the Artist’s Club was renamed the Denver Art Association.  It later became the Denver Art Museum and in 1932 the city of Denver gave some galleries in the museum in the just-finished City and County Building, and it was at this time that Cyril was invited to join as Director. It is not clear how much this invitation was based on his painting or how much on his achievements as a teacher of painting:  perhaps on both equally.  Selma Hite became his secretary when he took up the post.

Denver City and County bldg 1932
Denver City and County building 1932 [Louis Charles McClure/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection]

 * * * * *

To David Lawson

Denver, Colorado
January 19, 1932

Beloved Davy:

Well, Davy, my dear, the flu and all kept me abed until mid December, and I had just got my stride in work and settled to it when Jig, arriving for Xmas, told me (I asked him outright for it was stated in Santa Fe) that he and Selma had run away and gotten married last June.  This, for the present, is confidential with you and Lola (and I shall tell Gladys) though of course it will soon be out.  Jig had not told his father or me; but Selma had appendicitis soon after and wanted to see Jig, and she told the nuns, who told her aunt, and her aunt, of course, told the town.  And these infants believed they were keeping a secret.  Selma was twenty-three and Jig sixteen, so the marriage could be annulled if anything were to be gained by that.  We talked it over, and as Cyril was coming to Santa Fe in February, I decided to have the family conclave then when we could all be together.

Jig returned here after Xmas, but on Jan 7th first Selma then Jig long distanced and in quavering voices told me Cyril had been in bed a week with flu, had developed pneumonia and the doctor believed that his heart would not last out the ordeal.  I had just rented my house, paid in advance, and I would have come up here in a car and left my duds behind if there had been a car available; but the round trip is fifty dollars, so there was nothing for it but to pull up stakes.  I did and came here on the 10th.  Cyril has rallied a little, but the doctor still doesn’t guarantee a recovery and insists that Cyril must go to sea level as soon as he can travel to rest his heart (this is 5000 ft, Santa Fe 7100).

I hadn’t wanted to spring problems at this point but before knew of the illness I had written Cyril how important it was for him to get to Santa Fe as soon as possible for a serious discussion of Jig’s affairs.  So he immediately asked what I meant.  I then told him.  I have a feeling that Cyril’s illness last summer, which happened in June, combined with my failure to come to Santa Fe then, as I had promised (because of money and the “Yaddo” invitation) hastened the matrimonial Escapade.  Anyhow, Cyril has just weathered publicity given his divorce1 before this hundred per cent public, and nobody knows how the elopement and secret marriage of his young son and his secretary will be regarded by the mammas and papas whose sons got to the University of Denver.  There is a possibility, though I still hope not a probability, that the announcement may cost Cyril his job.  In his state, with Jig’s inexperience and ill-preparedness to make a living, and Selma (though I think she can hold down minor office jobs and she wants to work) everything is in the air; and of course anxiety as to Cyril’s recovery is the most serious problem.  He has gotten a good foothold here—just got 10,000 grant for the school from Carnegie institute, etc—and it will be rather too horrible if he gets knocked out by this.  It’s all ironical, as usual.  The family romanticism, always conflicting with the need to make a living.  Of course I hate seeing it happen because I judge from many opinions unaffected as mine might be by a maternal bias, that Jig has a very definite and extraordinary painter’s talent; and it is all he is interested in or shows a real aptitude for.  And how the hell can he, at seventeen, support a wife and make a career, or even support himself with a wife.  But there’s no use crying about it and one simply has to wait on fate.  As soon as Cyril is strong enough for company, we’ll make the announcement.  Selma is a sweet and attractive girl, though the degree of her practicality is I’m afraid, exampled in her marrying a kid of this age.  Aren’t we all brilliant that way!

The dearest love of all of us.  Jig was saying Sunday, my birthday, what a “grand chap” Davy was.  And please give all our devotion to Lola.

With heaps of love from
evelyn

I wish I knew whether you had a job or not!

From Phyllis Crawford, his third wife.

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

Forest Hill, London
April 24 [1932]

[Now back in England], where I found Jack in poor shape as HE had spent most of his money to join the Savile Club on the advice of several as to the political value of doing so.  The I think rather foolish dear had made all HIS economies on food and such things and grown very lethargic and unable to work—done frighteningly little for the five months time he has been here.  I set in to cure this state of mind with beefsteak and fresh vegetables, and three days has made some improvement already.  Now I’m wondering if Jig is behaving himself, though, I am glad to say, Selma seems to have a valuable sense of practical values and I believe I can trust her to see he doesn’t mope and starve without reason.  And I trust somebody or other will be doing the same for Cyril.  I feel I’ve grown very hard-boiled and untemperamental compared with what I used to be.  But the people I care for most don’t seem scared enough of what they may do to themselves.

Mauretania
RMS Mauretania, then the largest ship in the world [www.curbsideclassic.com]
I wished for your sea legs.  The Mauritania had a gale and a rough sea every day but one and the air simply resounded with retchings.  I Didn’t become actively sick but fell into a poisoned lethargy, nearly having my teeth shaken out by the vibration.  It is the worst tourist.

England looked pretty in a blurred dream of the usual rain (which has continued sporadically) and the flat out here isn’t bad.  Two fair sized rooms, a small kitchen and an antique bath.  It will be the first time I have done my own work in England and may be no economy as my sense of values when buying has not been developed on this side.  However the privacy is more grateful than the advantage of lodgings for the present.  It takes an hour and a quarter to get practically anywhere, so we haven’t yet investigated friends and relatives.  A trip to Bosham and Aunt Mary may come very soon.

Jig and Selma are, I think, at 127 East 34th, though I forgot to write it down and am sending my letter to them care of Margaret.  Would Davy, being good to us in so many ways already, be further good and let the kids have the blankets out of the trunk I left on his hands?  I forgot to tell them they could and fear they may have bought blankets already.

I love you, I love Davy, Jack loves you both.  Dear, dear, dear
evelyn

PS  I’m keeping the Irish sweeps ticket preciously.  In the fantastic event of winning anything, Davy and me are going to divide it.  Why mightn’t a miracle like that happen now and then!

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

Forest Hill, London
May 20, 1932

Lola, blessed, not answering your letter yet (came about an hour ago) but thank you for telling me the truth about your health.  If only I could put a magic kiss on each lung.    However, IF there were any guarantee that you could take care of yourself, I would still expect, after what I have witnessed in Santa Fe in the way of recoveries made by people apparently much TBer than you, my darling, miracles ahead.  That’s what gets my goat—all our goats of course—about impecuniousness.  And IF I possibly win anything with our gamble, you must not object to sharing it.  You understand surely that money come by that way, so to speak, costs nothing.  So you can have fun with it, without concern.  Oh, dear if it weren’t such a frail chance!

Thank you for having Jig and Selma.  I do think Jig is a real painter, though, as Cyril says, in the making yet.  Selma has a lot of good qualities and I certainly don’t complain about her as a daughter in law in most ways.  Anyhow, as long as she and Jig are OK by each other what the hell.

I’m writing soon and loving you all the time.  Jack too.  He’s pretty low mostly.  I think it’s money and lack of success.  Disappointing year over here.  Snobbery in England makes a hopeless case for the little known and impecunious.  He hurts himself so much some times it’s hard to stand.  But I have acquired wither fatalism or optimism I don’t know which and am confident about everybody as long as starvation and death are held off.

devotions of us, darling
evelyn

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

Forest Hill, London
June 19, 1932

Beloved dear:

Jack and I have just returned from four days at Bosham 1, with Aunt Mary, who, poor soul, seems to me to be really failing in health, and thus, by foreshadowing her actual demise, rebuking us somewhat for our hard-hearted thoughts.  Preliminary to each visit there I get in a state of rebellion and animosity against the hypocrisy of keeping my opinions and habits under my hat.  However, I realise, too, there would be no possibility of Aunt Mary’s comprehending even the least significant of one’s opinions.  Eighteen-eighty was her last date and is going to remain so, and any more said merely fuddles her poor old head and without registering anything more definite than fear.

Bosham

She was very nice to us and the beauty of the weather, with a temperature of eighty, and the fields full of buttercups, obliterated to some extent my usual impression of life in a mausoleum.  Bosham always upsets digestion with too much starch and too frequent tea, but even that could be taken lightly because of the flowers.  Aunt Mary bestowed upon me a very old locket worn by her mother in memory of four dead daughters—all died in childhood.  One of them, Eveline, being confused with me.  Aunt Mary, instead of calling me Eve-lyn, in proper British style, invariably addressing me as E-ve-line.  The locket, which looks old and thin, contains a braided design of the intermingled locks of the four little girls:  In mo of Clara, Flora, Eveline, Rosa is graven on the back.  It was worn by Aunt Mary’s mother, one Charlotte Brindley, whose portrait, in a voluminous costume of wide stripes, with a phenomenal brooch and a cap with strings, hangs in the bedroom we occupy.

On the return journey we were advised at Chichester to take the wrong train and found ourselves en route to Brighton, instead of London, via Horsham.  As we had to wait at Brighton to re-establish ourselves on the correct route, we decided to skip a train and see the town where Jack used to live as a youth and where his mother died.  It was a gorgeous day, and the front with the elaborate parade and glinting glass and tin roofed pier and the plethora of humanity on the beaches, made the most colourful cockney England I have yet seen.  Under the arches of the parade terraces are numberless shops—souvenirs, fish, balloons, bars etc.  There is a miniature electric railway, covering the shore to a place called Black Rock, and we took a ride in it, and had a peep into numerous bathing huts where people were dressing or undressing or having tea.  At the station at which we descended a cockney adventurer with a banjo had set up his hat for pennies, and four girls, probably from factories in the White Chapel neighbourhood,2 Got out of the train and danced together in the street in a heavy but hilarious manner, joining in the chorus of the gentleman with the banjo.  It is the first time I ever saw Londoners dance in the street as the French do, though Jack says I would see it frequently if I had any habit of the East End.

We also saw a wonderful newly caught sea monster, very slashed about and bloody, exposed on a block of wood for the populace to guess what it was.  I couldn’t and am still wondering.  It was bulky like a porpoise but longer, with very little eyes set far back from its snout.  Would Davy know what it was?

Sweet dear, I have gone through life looking for people will pride, as the people I could best love; and I have met but four people—no five—with the pride that must be in a whole person.  You know who they are.  This is a lonesome world.  It is an ugly world, and I would be for any species of revolution which would not rob me of art.  Without art, I think all of us would wither and die.

Darling, darling, darling,
evelyn

1The small harbour town near Salisbury where Jack’s aunts lived.

2Whitechapel; a district in east London then characterised by numerous small workshops.  Brighton was a popular destination for days out.

* * * * *

To Louise Morgan

[Forest Hill, London]
August 7 [1932]

Darling kid:   I have been in bed ever since I got back, sweetie.  In Paris all my insides got on a rampage and I had systemic poisoning and inflammation of the bladder.  The French doctor scared me to death—it’s part of their business I think—and when I got back here still very low we had a specialist, one Mr Palmer out, and he charged five guineas damn him, but it was worth it to relieve our minds.  None of those dumb bunnies said what poisoned me, but I have made my own diagnosis from familiar symptoms and decided the trench mouth germs I have carried in my system ever since Algeria (as I gathered from Santa Fe diagnosis two years ago) had got all through me.  However palmer said whatever pisined me, got the upper hand of me because I was suffering from complete nervous exhaustion.  Exhaustion had produced a slight recurrence of prolapsis here and there.  I was to stay in bed two weeks and do nothing at all.

Scuse such a long dissertation of innards.  I think it’s ghastly you don’t have no holiday.

Very lovingly from us both,
evelyn

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

Forest Hill, London
September 10 [1932]

Sweet:  We have had a middling summer.  I was ill through most of July, with nervous breakdown from overwork, and with some sort of systemic poisoning, not diagnosed which affected my innards various ways.  Much better since.  I rewrote Eva Gay entirely—and some chapters were rewritten three to four times also—this summer.

Confidentially, I’m worried about Jig, who doesn’t seem to be happy; and waiting for further data before definitely deciding whether I should return to NY to look over his and Selma’s affairs in the capacity of a detached (if possible) advisor.  There have been rifts, though please never mention, for they may be made up by now, and I don’t want to anticipate.  I never had a chance to talk it all over with you fully, as I do most of my affairs.  It seemed to me a mistake on both sides, but a mistake I wouldn’t interfere with.  Selma’s role at twenty-four as the wife of a seventeen year old child as unlike her as possible, with no money and no future assured, and nothing much to flatter her where she need flattery or to secure her in life, demands a nobility of her I never could quite believe in.  However, I am saying nothing yet to anyone.  Jig would not like to have anyone suspect unless, of course, the time comes when things have to be said openly; and the present unhappiness may be transient.

I never hear from Cyril.  One note in answer to RSVP so for some Umbundu (Bantu) words for Eva Gay.  He is living with a young painter named Watson Bidwell1 and thru him I get occasional and not too good health reports.

Dear, dear Love.  And if you are still at Yaddo, all our affection and love to Elizabeth2, too; and to Eloise and John, who are among our fondest memories and our worst correspondents.

Jack’s and my devotions, dear one, and may your health be strong again as your art always will be.
evelyn

1American painter who studied with Cyril at Denver and went on to become a teacher himself as well as a critic and curator.

2Elizabeth Ames, the Administrator at Yaddo

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

care Gilbert F Wright, Authors Agent
37 Museum Street, London WC 1
October 6, 1932

Lola, precious, I don’t write oftener because I keep waiting to have something nicer to write; and things don’t get better so I just send this to let you know I am thinking of you all the time anyhow.

Mrs Ames said you weren’t very well at Yaddo, and referred to your bronchial trouble; so I am afraid your dear and blessed chest is acting up again.  I wonder if you have gotten any work done, and ever so much else.

For you and Davy alone to know until more do, Jig and Selma have busted up and Jig is back in Denver.

Jack and I are leaving Forest Hill next week, and above is temporary address.  I expect to be back in NY in January, completely broke as usual.  The gods never willed a peaceful time to any of us, did they!

Anyhow, we love you and Davy, and it will always comfort us to know you are, and I shall always wish I had more than words with which to prove how much.

I think we will move to the seaside town of Lowestoft [Suffolk] which may be cheaper than London in the winter.

With love and love from us to you two,
always, evelyn

* * * * *

Not long after this letter, Evelyn and Jack were in Suffolk, on the English North Sea coast, and beginning what was the most settled period of their life to date.

 

Cornwall and Wiltshire

Some time in the early autumn of 1930 Evelyn and Jack sailed to England. There are no surviving letters about their relating to their decision to return at this time:  it is possible that these were destroyed by Jack after her death.  After a short stay with Jack’s friend in Kent, they spent a few weeks in Falmouth, in Cornwall, before leaving for Salisbury in Wiltshire.  There are no letters from this period in Cornwall (most likely these were among those which were destroyed), but the letters from Salisbury evoke England with the same vividness as her early descriptions of Algeria and France.

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

c/o C F Thompson-Walker
Red Hill, Chislehurst, Kent
October 17, 1930

Sweet one:

I wonder whether or not you have returned from “Yaddo” and what great poetry has come out of your stay?  And how are you in health, my dear?

We leave for Falmouth in Cornwall tomorrow, darling, thank God!  Jack wrote his last line on July 20th and I mine on August 8th.  The frittering away of time and shrinking cash on travels and diplomatic errands puts fear into one.  Anyhow next week begins the building up.

The boat trip was ten days instead of eight, and part of it was very rough and left us ennuied of this world and squeamish.  I haven’t really got my bearings yet.  We had a week in London (last) and this week an ordeal at Bosham with the aunt, returning here last night, and tomorrow to Falmouth.  I’ll send our permanent address as soon as I get it.  Darling, I have 56 letters to write.  That leaves only dregs of expression for my dearest ones.  A note from Cyril says nothing and no letter from Phyllis or Jig.

London is all wet wool enveloping the spirit.  Only sometimes toward evening the lights burn in tearful drama on a chiaroscuro that excites one mystically, as though life in this cockney region where our hotel is were some great ceremonial of the people in a medieval church.  Barrows of fish glitter like salty carnage.  The cake shops drape sticky offerings.  The flower stand smells of violets and chrysanthemums acrid and flaunting.  Then the bold signs: Ladies Lavatory; Gentlemen’s Lavatory, Hot and Cold Water, out of the street and people scurrying in and out of tiled caves, seem as lively and peculiarly London as the fish barrow and the flower sellers.

There is misery everywhere.  Bedraggled dames of unfathomable age nodding over match boxes and pencils, drunks abandoned in doorways, sidewalk artists announcing their peculiarly stark observations on life in impermanent mediums of charcoal and chalk.

Jack and I frequent pubs, upstairs the pub dining room with flowered paper and great domestic-looking sideboards suggest French provincial hotels. Downstairs it is all beer and chatter, but up there family life reigns.  There is no place more sacred to the memory of Queen Victoria than a pub dinning [sic] room.  Choice of “veggies”!  That means cabbage or sprouts!  Twice since I came I have had spinach.  This was a triumph.  There are French restaurants where they speak of salad, but meals there are too expensive for us.  We have to stick to British standard and there are filling viands for 2 bob1.  But oh this queer, mystical unimaginativeness!  This thought that is thoughtless!  This instructive meditation on the past!  This solidarity that equals nature’s own.  I marvel at Jack’s comparative elasticity.  He’s done great things, really, in even half adapting himself to me.  What an over-subtle, the English.  A savage waste.  An Englishman’s self-deprecates.  That is the sign.

Love love love and hope of all the best for you my angel and anxiety for news of health and work.  I’m writing Davy.  Do you think Miss Ames really means to have us again next year?

Always and always,
Evelyn

1 Colloquial term for two shillings.

* * * * *

To Maude Dunn

c/o Mrs M Sweet
7 Glenmore Road, Salisbury, Wiltshire
February 16, 1931

Dearest Mother:

At last we are in our new lodgings, as advertised before we left Falmouth and had several answers but this one the only endurable one.  Unfortunately we could not get into it until today which made five days in hotel and though we went to cheapest here our bill for room and board was forty dollars.  We had not enough money on hand to pay it, not having calculated on that but my advance came and saved us.  Wasn’t that luck?

Falmouth docks

Falmouth was so low and wet it made Jack ill, and while I am more used to low levels I found it enervating.  Salisbury is colder but we feel much peppier here so far.  Our rooms are very plain and there are inconveniences re bath etc, but we are buying our own coal so as to have good fires and it is apparently not going to be any dearer than Falmouth.  Also while at Falmouth we did have a sweet view of the harbour our rooms faced the street and we had no privacy.  Here we have no view but overlook a cute little garden and it is very quiet, though there is one child—two children, but one at school.

The hotel we stayed at which so nearly proved our undoing was The Old George, built in 1320.  It has housed Cromwell and Samuel Pepys and Dickens etc.  Salisbury is so stodgy that Falmouth in retrospect seems as gay as Paris; but it makes up for that by its archaeological interest.  The cathedral, while not so fine as Chartres, is very beautiful—built in the eleventh century, and with romantically ancient tombs.  There are many very old houses in town.  Lots of Tudor fronts and overhanging first stories.  Meandering through the streets are four small rivers which give a Holland like appearance to certain spots.  The cathedral close is a very fine green faced with Tudor and Queen Anne houses occupied by clergy.  The close had a fortification surrounding it.

But far more exciting than town or cathedral was the expedition to Stonehenge on Saturday.  We took a bus to Amesbury and walked the two miles to our destination.  Those Egyptian looking ruins, more like a crude Karnac or Phylae than anything English or even European, standing out against the desolation of Salisbury Plains (a slightly rolling plateau like that on which Madrid is built) gave me a real thrill. Of course they aren’t as large as a modern dwelling house of good size, but the individual measure of the stones raised by hand is as incredible as the pyramids.  Three hundred burial barrows have been excavated in the immediate surroundings, and crude implements, jewelry and funeral urns brought to light.  We saw some of the barrows but the things they contained are in the museum we have not yet visited.  I always thought Stonehenge was druidical but the guide says it is pre-druid, about four thousand years old.  They were sun worshipers at any rate and the great stunt is to see sunrise on midsummer’s day when it strikes the entrance stone before the temple and thus is the longest day of the year marked.  Under each of the small stones that made the outer circle lay a charred skeleton indicating propitiatory sacrifices made during the building.  The big stones—twenty-five or thirty foot each—were local, but smaller ones seem to have been brought from Wales—a job at the time.

The rest of Salisbury Plain2 is given over to army depots and airplane hangers and it is an exciting incongruity to see this other thing.

The country around here has fine aspects but on the whole is much less picturesque than Cornwall.  However, except for expense, I am very glad of the move.  It’s nice to have seen it and Jack can go up to London from here cheaply.

Just as would happen—the day I arrived my elbow went through my coat and I split my hat trying to pull it over my growing hair.  Then I tried to buy another hat and found none in town I could get on my head.

elsie

PS yes Lady Metcalfe is a relative tho not a close one.  Jack’s dad’s first cousin was the earl of pawsomething Kintaw (can’t spell it) and he has various other titles3 on that line.  Also his mother was Irish nobility on one side.  Speaking of that, I have discovered titled Dunns in London.  Never would have believed it as Mr J Gracey’s early teasing gave me a complex about the name.

Maude was translating a number of Brazilian classics into English, and it appears Harrison Smith was interested in publishing them.

2 Salisbury Plain was then and still is a major training area for the British army.

It does indeed appear that Jack had illustrious ancestry. One, Charles Theophilus Metcalfe, 1st Baron Metcalfe, had a distinguished career in colonial government in Canada and India in the 19th century.

* * * * *

To Louise Morgan

[Salisbury, Wiltshire]
February 25 [1931]

  Jack will be seeing you in a little over two weeks.  I wish you could come stay with me while he’s up there.  Not that the attraction when I’m working constantly and must be very boring as society would be so great, but this place, so like a two dimensional landscape—worn tapestry with only a few bright threads supplied by the sky at sunset—it gives me a worse pipp than Cornwall.  It’s beautiful at times but too much like a bloody gawddamned grave.  There’s the cathedral, not for use—a huge monument to things all dead.  The town has that cemetery in its heart.  I can’t see any life in it.  We walked to Stonehenge there again real antiquity so much more rooted than aerodromes around.  I feel as if I’m not seeing this, but millions of dead eyes are using me to see it.  there are lovely sallow downs around us and four little quiet rivers, and we walked over to Old Sarum1 and saw the Roman city with the grass on it.  English people so nice but I could stay here twenty years and be swallowed in this vast, formal indifference and lose all hope.  I hate being like this—I mean not fully appreciating after vulgar, hideous screaming America.  but there is also warmhearted young America.  This country seems to me rotten with moral cowardice—and feeble with caution.  maybe its working much too long and hard.

Anyhow, I shall look back on it with certain aesthetic thrills but not wish to repeat them for a very long time, not until I feel very powerful myself—if I ever do.  London seems much more friendly because there is a slothful current from outside.  But here its all so stagnant, so gorgeously miasmic.

I’ll write again soon because I want to hear from you.  Blessings.  Love and much from us both.  Good luck.  Thanks for book.  Hope you get somebody replace Larry morrow.  How come he disappeared?  Ta-ta

eveline

PS Our digs are incredible.  Jack will tell you.  Landlady asked me if American accent came from the pilgrim fathers.

1 The ancient centre of modern Salisbury

* * * * *

To Maude Dunn

[Fragments of an undated letter from Evelyn to her mother, probably written while she and Jack were living in Salisbury in 1931]

I went out to Winterslow Rectory1 and stayed two days.  There was so much sociability I couldn’t write.  Still it was a help.  England is the most dismal country on earth when you’re alone in it.  There have been two days of sun in the two weeks Jack has been gone.  I had a lovely room at the Rectory,.  It looked out on fields and had fine old fashioned furniture that suited the country surrounding.  Tall elms outside the window were inhabited by rooks that kept up such a din I thought more of them than my book.  The country had the grave, resigned look I haven referred to.  No bright colors, but a very subtle sobriety.  The church next door is fourteenth century.  The Rector and I don’t get on well; and I soon found myself arguing with everybody there—my great failing.  Of course they were all polite but I landed one bomb after another.  They are hidebound reactionaries—dyed in the wool Tories. First it was Gandhi I defended; then Einstein; then the Germans; then modern art, etc etc.

Winterslow
Modern image of Winterslow Rectory [geograph.co.uk]

Jack’s near relatives are only moderately well off.  The forty room house “goes with the living”.  All those things are bequests of the church for the use of incumbent.  At Winterslow are Jack’s Cousin Gertrude (the old lady who came through Santa Fe last summer from California) her husband, Cousin Edward, and her unmarried daughter, also Gertrude, besides the rector and his wife.  The two Gertrudes are very discontented as a country rectory seems to them gloomy after California where they lived nine years.  It is very stuffy and over proper, though pretty, the little church dating from thirteen hundred.

I am also suffering from a hurt to my operated innards again, so we are very topsy turvy.  Hope all better next Sunday and a better letter.  Very very much love.

hug and kiss, elsie

I’ll have to cut this short.  Never saw anything except the outer site of Old Sarum—a moat surrounded hill with the fragment of a church and a couple of towers on it.  The castle on the second hill we have never yet visited.  Hope we have time before we leave.

1 The home of Jack’s elderly relatives.

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

Salisbury, Wiltshire
March 4, 1931

I have an abscessed tooth which gives me for today a kind of germy passivity.  I feel as if I were lying on my back in hot grass looking at clouds that went by ever so slowly and thinking about you, as if it would be too much trouble to move for a cyclone.  I wouldn’t care.  But at the same time caring a lot about everything nice.

Salisbury is the greyest place I ever visited.  There’s no actual death here—but a dream that is much deadlier.  The country is all pale sad grass and sombre ploughed earth and very old too sturdy trees.  Nothing could move the trees, they are so rooted in the deathliness of the landscape.  There is the cathedral spire dominating the houses and it is exquisite, but it looks through the mist like somebody else’s dream, that of some poet who never knew of us or even guessed that we could be.  The sky is the only alive thing over these old houses, muffled in their thatch, and these little rivers that are so indifferent to the sea.  There are all sorts of heroic dramas every day between sunrise and sunset, between rain, snow, sleep and abrupt pallid sun.  Sometimes the downs across the railroad cut looked as if the soil in them was powdered coral, it shines so rosy though the yellowed grass under the sunset that is blue and rose.  The little rivers are sown into everything with threads of red.  Last night it snowed under a new moon—thin snow that showed the garden through.

But I don’t like England this year.  It’s too discouraging.  I feel so sharply having been cut away from this two hundred years ago and left with the crude earth of such an unenglish world.  And never can go back.

Workpeople in England look whipped, belly driven.  They lack the pride in economy of the French, and don’t seem to feel in their hearts that the have a right to anything better—so they have no right.  And the stupidly privileged, with their biological instincts so keep and their minds so mazed, and the thoroughly nice english who are liberal but have clammy hands, afraid of taking hold on anything for fear it mayn’t be nice.

Jack’s a dear but he isn’t well and his country seems to make him too sadly his own.  I don’t think he’s any happier over here.

Sometimes I absolutely hate this place.

Love you and davy, love and love.  Jack’s too.

Shall return US instant book done.  Money situation bad and shall be hard put to know what to do there.  Get my advance but that settles nothing and must see Jig.  He is so lonesome with the world he’s just discovering isn’t his as he thought, Loves his dad but his own generation surprises him by its unlikeness to himself.  He blames Denver for the world as I once Clarksville Tennessee.

love again, evelyn

PS shall let you know first minute I do when arriving NY. Jack goes to london for two weeks soon.  His book coming out—short stories only1.  Done in last several years.  Hope better money than last time.

Judas and Other Stories, published by Constable in 1931

* * * * *

To Maude Dunn

Salisbury, Wiltshire
March 7, [1931]

Dearest Mother:

Just had your sweet letter and thank you for your compliments.  You make me feel uncomfy saying you want to imitate my example; but I think it is good in part in a purely practical sense, for you do let inferior people make you suffer a lot more than they ought, and as they can’t be altered or made any bigger in their outlook it would save you a great deal if you could will yourself into a certain amount of indifference to them.  I hope you will for our sake and for my own for it is painful to see you constantly upset by folk inferior to you.

What is really distressing is this problem of your moving next fall with the extreme difficulty of securing privacy in Clarksville. With all the drawbacks, it was a good idea on Donie’s1 part and I wish she would become inspired again, for my ignorance of people there makes me a shadow for an advisor.  It makes me fed up with myself that I haven’t a suggestion to make and have to leave it in your hands not giving you one helpful idea!

I am losing three precious days from work through a visitation from Jack’s friend, Philip Burton2, who was to have come down to Falmouth with his wife at Xmas but did not arrive.  His wife is now in South Africa.  Phil is a very nice person who used to write but had his career stopped by his financial difficulties.  We like seeing him but it is hard not to stew about losing time.  I console myself thinking it all for the best because I have had tonsillitis part of this week and no doubt a rest will improve matters next week.  It’s rather bad policy to get as wound up about work as we’ve been latterly, because you can’t do more than so much however great the will.  Nature just fails.

I wrote you how Stonehenge thrilled us.  And of the beauty of the Cathedral.  I also believe I spoke of Old Sarum which antedated the present Salisbury and was built in Roman times—a double moated town on an eminence of which nothing remains but a fragment of the church and the foundation of the castle and a tower or two.  But even that is enough to reconstruct a picture with; and I imagined very easily rude armies besieging it.  The outer moat has an earthen parapet about eighty or ninety feet—maybe a hundred—high—so it must have been a job to get into it against archer on the towers on the top.  When we were there on the other occasion, the castle had the gate locked so we only saw the outside; but this week we will take Phil over and try to get in so next time I can describe it more accurately.

Yesterday evening (first social do we have had since October) we went to see Jack’s relatives at the country parsonage five miles from here.  A nice old Georgian house with FORTY rooms.  Some of them are cold and unusable, but the central portion of the house has radiators as well as fireplaces and the rooms have huge windows triple glasses looking on big old fir trees and a garden.  The parson’s study has sixteenth century carvings on mantle and dado that are very interesting.  But he is a study—about six feet two and very good looking, with a lined Roman senator sort of face, he dresses like a clerical fashion plate and wears a monocle.  He is very suave and the last thing one thinks of as a preacher from the circuit riding fundamentalist point of view.

Am interrupted so no more now.  March check enclosed.  Dearest love, elsie

PS  My throat infection is trench mouth and not cold—hard to treat.

1 Donie DeBardeleben, a member of the extended Gracey family.

2 Philip Burton was an old friend of Jack’s with whom he had been living before he met Evelyn.

* * * * *

To Maude Dunn

Salisbury, Wiltshire
March 10, 1931

Dearest Mother:

Sunday is my Jonah day as well as my letter day.  This week I have an abscessed tonsil and may have to go to the doctor to have it lanced.  So again my correspondents get the worst of it.  I shall at least answer your questions, my dear.

Delay about money was my bank’s misunderstanding.  They mailed it instead of cabled it but it came OK.

I cried with cold in London when I was first there with Cyril and again when I stayed with the Theises in the Temple about six years ago.  I didn’t happen to have a very heavy coat and hit a particularly damp and bitter spell.

 

Did I write you that my landlady asked me if I got my accent from the Pilgrim Fathers?

There were twenty one unsolved murders in England last year and eleven were attacks on women.  I really am nervous when I go out alone.  Two months ago a servant girl was found dead and horribly mutilated on Blackheath near London and about same time a middle aged woman in Lincolnshire and a girl was burned in her car and died when she was rescued though she told of attack by man beforehand up in Scotland and a woman was attacked in a railway carriage and decapitated.  None of this is anything compared to the wholesale murders in USA but they do affect the imagination.

I’ll ask Jack about the Salisbury plane [sic] battle.

It’s very sober around here—what with the town full of parsons and the landscape a monument of antiquity.  We have a lunatic asylum nearby and there is another at the other end of town.

Lots of love, elsie

* * * * *

To Maude Dunn

Salisbury, Wiltshire
April 12, 1931

Dear mother:

Jack has been sick a bed, with, I think worry.  The combined effort of job and teaching in Montreal almost did him up.

I’ve had a bad time with me innards again, but that is getting run down from fatigue and worry and is improving.  I suppose I always will have such lapses.  Yes, I wish my tonsils were out, but you remember trench mouth as well as your advice discouraged me.

The streams around Salisbury are just natural water—four little rivers that break and join around several midget islands.

Old salisbury.PNG

I do need clothes altered and can’t seem to find a decent sewing woman in Salisbury.  And the ready-mades are a fright.  It’s getting warm and I can’t get out of a jersey and skirt.  Almost as bad as in Bezier.  I couldn’t buy anything there.  French winegrowers wives dress like mutes at a funeral.  Heaps love, elsie check enclosed

* * * * *

To Maude Dunn

[Salisbury, Wiltshire]
May 3 [1931]

Dearest Mother:

Thank you for all your sweet letters.  Jack and I are still fagged and not too well but I think we are recuperating gradually. It isn’t that Jack needs to be in England specifically for the writing of his books, but to follow up contacts that will be valuable in making a success of its publication.  We could have stayed nearer London this winter if we hadn’t been fools and assumed that Jack was bound to get a Guggenheim.

I am very concerned about being nearer Jig,1 but of course will have to spend next winter wherever Jack finds a job.  Meanwhile I am consulting with Cyril re schools and all and the expense of having Jig stay with me somewhere either part of this summer or next winter.

It has been raining here for three solid weeks without four good days in all.  But I don’t think its much worse than Clarksville from what you say.

Perhaps we will have a few days free before we leave here.  I don’t know.  I would like to investigate that castle and write you about it.  Jack mailed you the views and you can get some idea of the place at its best.  The newer part is hideously commonplace but the old landmarks are very lovely.  Also the downs2 around delight me.  All green with crops, they are less subtle than they were last winter but very sort of virginal and untrodden upon.  Then the hawthorn is in leaf and will be out next month and there is a huge quantity of it.  The garden here is very seedy but forget-me-nots still survive and wall flowers are blooming profusely, as well as primroses.  Primroses are everywhere.  Boys on bicycles have primroses fixed on their handle bars.  The English express their whole sense of poetry in love of flowers.  The chestnuts are in leaf and bud, everything looks tender and lavish, if only only it were not so wet.  Swallows have arrived and thrill me as always with their scissor winged darts between earth and sky and the violent blue that flashes from their throats and under wings.

I wonder if Irene was fooled as I was at Madame Tussauds.  You remember I thought the dummy maid was alive when I was there with Cyril?  Of course these things are only replicas of the old stuff.  The place was destroyed by fire a few years ago and practically all of their valuables lost.  But I understand they reproduced them almost indistinguishably.  Haven’t had any more spiritualistic sittings yet.

Did you get delayed April check?  Time to send another and I want to be sure.  Maybe you acknowledged it and I have just forgotten as I can’t keep all your letters, but I don’t remember.

Dearest love,
elsie

PS  After June 1st, write me care Miss Abrams, 66 Perry Street, NYC, as I hope by then to have started to New York.

1 Jig was then aged 15 and living with his father in Denver, Colorado

2 Salisbury is on the edge of the Wiltshire Downs, a chalk habitat characterised by rolling hills and sheep grazing.

* * * * *

In June 1931, 20 months after their arrival in an autumnal England, Jack and Evelyn returned to New York where they were re-united with Jigg and with old friends.  It was, however, not to be an entirely happy period.

 

A writers’ retreat and the Wild West

There are no letters in any of the collections I visited covering the period between April 1929, when Evelyn was living in Greenwich Village with Jack, and July of that year.  It is not known whether they  have been lost or destroyed; so we know little of the events that took Evelyn to Yaddo, just outside Saratoga Springs, New York, for the first time.

Yaddo post card.PNG

Yaddo was first opened as an artists’ colony in 1926. The house belonged to Spencer Trask, a venture capitalist, and his writer wife Katrina. The couple wished to give something to society and, after the deaths of their four children, it was Katrina Trask’s wish to create a haven where artists could work and flourish. It still flourishes, albeit in a slightly different form, today.

It is hard to overestimate the importance of Yaddo to both Evelyn and Jack.  It provided them with generous board and accommodation at a very reasonable price but, more importantly, the other guests were a cross-section of American intellectual life.  They included artists, writers and critics and Evelyn found their company supportive and stimulating.  Yaddo’s executive director, Elizabeth Ames, provided Evelyn and Jack with much-needed artistic support and financial succour on several occasions.

* * * * *

To Maude Dunn

“Yaddo”, Saratoga Springs, New York
July 2, 1929

Yes, dearest mother, you are very beautiful in your patience about money.  If I could ever get through with doctors and dentists I would be enormously nearer being of proper help to you.  I shall have to go again in Santa Fe for I have infected philopean1 tubes and it takes a long time to treat.  Also there is proud flesh growing outside where the stitches came out and that will sometime have to be cut off.  Still I think I am better as we made a very difficult journey up here in a terribly crowded train, stood most of the way.  I had to help carry baggage, and still seem to have no very bad effects.  I knock on wood however.  I couldn’t have done that before the operation.

In a money sense our trip up here was unfortunate.  We just made it.  The round trip for us both was ten dollars each.  That was bad enough.  But breaking up Perry Street we had to take so many things with us, typewriters etc, and had to have porters.  We also missed the bus from Yaddo and had to take a taxi there.  That made five dollars extra just for luggage.  But as I told you this place once arrived is extraordinary.  It was left by some people named Trask to be used as a summer home for people doing work in arts and sciences, and of course the board is nominal and doesn’t half pay the expense.  You have to be recommended by the trustees and there is always a long waiting list.  And you can only come once.  I hope Jack can stay on after I go.

It is a beautiful estate of five hundred and seventy acres.  Part is public gardens, the rest meadows and farm.  The main building is a kind of imitation of a baronial hall, very much on the grand scale.  The reception rooms are tapestries, paintings, a fountain, impressive draperies, old Italian furniture.  For our seven a week each, the cheapest imaginable board, Jack and I were escorted to a huge double bedroom with a view of miles of lush country and the Green Mountains of Vermont like blue clouds that never move behind.  We have a private bath.  I am writing in a room as big as Perry Street and mine for work while I am here.  Jack has a studio of a rustic type about a quarter of a mile from the house.  There are fifteen artists as guests, some for a fortnight, some for all summer.  We were asked for long but account of Jig could not accept.  Breakfast is served on trays in bedrooms.  Lunch is optional—upstairs or down.  Tea downstairs.  Dinner downstairs.  Plenty of servants all very quiet and English trained.  The hostess is a Mrs Ames2 whom I like very much.  No dressing to match surroundings, fortunately, as most guests are supposed to be poor.

Dearest love and more soon as able.  I hope for better news on money later.
elsie

1Fallopian.  Evelyn continued to suffer from gynaecological problems arising from Jig’s birth.

2Elizabeth Ames was the administrator at Yaddo and was very supportive of Evelyn and Jack in a number of ways over the years.

* * * * *

To Otto Theis

care Mrs Cyril Kay-Scott1
415 San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico2
July 3 [1929]

Otto, dear:

Your letter written while Louise was in Paris was a treat to friendship.  I didn’t answer it the same day as I felt like doing, only because I can not write perfunctorily to my dearest beloveds. Now we are up at “Yaddo” there is breath.

Otto, this “Yaddo” place is to all intents and present purposes paradise.  Lola is here for one thing, but there are permanent reasons as well.  The estate is five hundred and seventy acres.  Jack and I have a huge double room which makes you feel should hold levees.  We have a private bath and a studio each.  All this costs seven dollars a week.  And I can only stay a fortnight, having decided to make a bee line to Santa Fe while the money was good.  It is a test of maternal feeling that I can.  From an acre of window, I now look down a terrace lacking powdered hair and peacocks, to a fountain that would delight a proper marquise, and then to meadows of hay, and then to hills lavish as they only grow in America, and then to the Green Mountains of Vermont—chalk blue and stern and invitingly aloof.  Rain clouds are swelling dark on the sky.  The pine trees converse in aromatic threats.  The bird songs pepp up and die away like the freshest of small musical water.  The bees behave as bees should.  It is so still my typewriter sounds like a blasting machine.  We have breakfast in bed. What, what more can you ask.  And none of the people so far are unpleasant.

After the 15th I go to Santa Fe.  Hope Jack can stay here until his book is done.  I have 22 letters to write.  Literally.  Love and love and love, evelyn

1Note that Cyril had already “divorced” Evelyn. It is hard to know whether she was not aware of this at the time of writing, or if she was in denial over the “divorce”

2In spite of the Santa Fe return address, this letter was written from Yaddo.

* * * * *

To David Lawson

Santa Fe, New Mexico
July 28 [1929]

Davy, dear:

I called you up Thursday morning several times, but nothing doing.  Did you leave early after all I wonder.  From what Jack said from Yaddo you didn’t seem to be there yet.

Davy, also it would very much help if you wrote the thing about Cyril’s work.  It still helps with the prospectus of the school, anything like that, and will be much appreciated.

I feel the altitude here.  It makes my head ache a lot, but they say you get used to it.  If I can get in shape physically, I shall enjoy every minute—first in work, and second in looking at an old land of the gods which somehow got into this western world.  Burnt and bitter and lovely and colossal—the half desert with its little green flows to plateaus dead of everything but more vivid than life.  The Indians are suspiciously affable—rather broken winged birds, but they still belong in their clothes that mingle their civilization with Mexico.  Mary G is here on visit and asked us to her hotel to see Indian dance.  Sun dance—great fat man leading had sun made of eagle feather around a white plaque, wonderful bonnet—not much else.  Stamping and hopping very agile, while chorus chanted monotonously and drum thumped.  Then Eagle Dance by two men who wore huge wings, and headdresses and tail feathers.  It was very fine in a plastic way.

Haven’t written a line yet and so MUCH mail.  I won’t write often and I suppose you never.  Yet I do so long to hear how Lola and that magnificent poem go and how you are and the gamble of the examination.  won’t you sometime tell me?

Very deepest love to you and her, Davy dear,
evelyn

If you ever can vacation here—gee.  I think you’d love it, Davy.  And Lola would make the world ring with what she saw.  Gee, gee.

Santa fe
Modern view of 411 San Francisco Street [Google Earth street view]
* * * * *To Lola Ridge

Santa Fe, New Mexico
late July 1929]

Lola, lovely and dear:

I was sorry to hear through Jack1 that you had been having more hard times, my precious. 

Sweet, I don’t see how you could bear the trip unless it were done gradually like a pilgrim’s journey, but Lord you would love this country.  Half of it hangs in the sky.  The rest is hot colossal nudity—burned in all the warm tones of flesh, but aloof, aloof—old and still in the west with which it seems to unrelated.  Of course there are more intimate aspects, when the pines dress whole hillsides in crisp dark petticoats—but the old and angry and the burning yellow is the best.

Until we got to the Kansas prairies all was America as I have known it too well.  You have seen them doubtless, so know how that more rugged sea of the earth seemed to hurl itself on the train, more capaciously than any waters.  I went to bed in the lake of grass and grain on Thursday and at three am Friday morning looked thru my window and felt that the tide has suddenly been arrested.  That great rocks had been startled out of the night to meet us.  That was Colorado which I didn’t half see.  It wasn’t till reaching Lamy at ten and being met by Cyril and Phyllis (Phyllis is far finer than any of us conceived, Lola.  She is a beautiful, staunch person, humanly clear and sound straight thru) and Jig, that I began to realize yet another world—mountains blazing with white cloud wreaths, and a solemnity of no pioneer remembrance merely, but of the only eternal our senses can approach.

The Indians I don’t hope to “understand”.  But I felt their sulky pride of children under the affability of broken spirit.  It is as if inside they had retreated from man like the land—gone inward to die, not quite beautifully, but with unimpaired dignity, but with something alive and hatefully protected against the rest of us.

Jig is a delight.  Sends his love to you.  Cyril wants to have a permanent school here.  El Paso was hell.2  To that end if I can I shall help buy a plot of ground and a three room adobe house for a beginning (don’t tell).  It is what I can do if at all for Jig who feels free and happy here and released from the east, no place for youth.  Nobody has any luxuries and Cyril can’t paint, but it is being alive and somehow sanely and more comfortingly.

Cyril is recognised as distinguished as a teacher and there is hope, but it takes capital and a long time.

Bless my dear and her work.  Give my love to Davy.  Cyril sends his to you two.
evelyn

1Jack was at Yaddo, with Lola, while Evelyn was in Santa Fe with Cyril and Jig

2Cyril had opened his first school of art in El Paso the previous year.

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

[Santa Fe, New Mexico]
August 11 [1929]

Darling one: I am in a panic.  My mother has written that relatives are turning her out and that my cousin Elizabeth, past insulter of all I love, who lives in Tarrytown, has my address and is coming out here to get the low down on me and find means of sending mother to me.  It makes me feel suicidal, but in a nightmare way, as the literal result of mother’s descent on me is too awful to be believed in, so that truly I don’t believe in it.  I have written post haste to Sophie about an old ladies home—the kind to which you pay an entrance fee and are recommended socially.  Of course I believe that mother would have to be taken to it in a straight jacket.  Mother says the Graceys simply do not believe that I can’t afford to keep her—my trips to Europe and all that.  Mother is in agonies herself.  She affects me as a rabbit!

* * * * *

To Otto Theis

Santa Fe, New Mexico
September 5 [1929]

Dearest Otto:

Well, Cyril has given up El Paso as too much of a hell hole of mediocrity for a life residence, and the school is being reorganized up here.  I think it is going to make a smashing hit.  All the big bugs on the new board, and town giving studio.  But it is, very privately, the usual strain to get through the preparations financially.  There will be nothing coming in until the new school is actually under way, and they are buying a house and a bit of property and there is the removal of all the property portable from El Paso.  It’s the first home Jig has ever had except the Bermuda fake.  And thank god for once in my life I’m being able to do at least a ninetieth as much for them as they have for me (q.t.).

Cyril has worked on it a long time but now has the town by the ears and the artists here quite frankly are unanimously for him and his teaching and work.  All the good ones are on his board, including John Sloan and so on.  So I think it ought to go.  Of course he won’t be able to paint for another couple of years, but I still pray he’ll get the chance for that in the end.

Jig is the joy of me life.  I enclose a notice of the hanging of his picture in the school exhibition at the museum.  He has the goods as an artist, but has a poverty complex from watching his parents sweat.

Darling old Jack has spent a productive, but I hope to some degree lonely summer at Yaddo, and has finished his book.  He is now dickering with publishers in NY, and expects to come down here the middle of the month where, as living is cheaper than in NY, we hope to stay until January.

Love from everybody here to you all, and from me from the ‘eart, always, old dears, evelyn

PS Otto don’t tell but I have put my eyes out on a nursery story.1 Hate it.  Never do another.  Began it before knew The Wave would go.  Isn’t quite done yet.  Hell hell hell to write, don’t dare let anybody know I did it, nom de plume.

Evelyn is referring to Blue Rum, which was published in 1930 under the pseudonym Ernest Souza

* * * * *

To Maude Dunn

[Santa Fe, New Mexico]
[November 7, 1929]

Dear Vava,1

I do hope you do not feel sore but I have been living cowboy fashion for the last week and one cannot write letters twenty miles from nowhere.

The cowboys sure are a tough lot.  They ride all day (I rode 50 miles bareback), sleep in snow, get up with the sun, and shoot and cook their breakfast in the freezing cold.

After having roped (lassoed) the horses, an hour is spent in resting and packing, and then off again.

I froze my feet and both ears the day before yesterday.  I have acquired a good bird dog by the name of Sadie, whose only lucid thought is food.

I sure appreciate the cufflinks, and will wear them with my cowboy shirts.

Much love from;
Jig

1Jig’s pet name for his grandmother

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

586½ Camino del Monte Sol, [Santa Fe, New Mexico]
December 27 [1929]

Sweet, sweet, sweet:

To think I have left your letters unanswered over two weeks.  To think I sent you no message for Xmas—or Davy—and not even one to Cyril, Jig or Jack.   I was ill for all of three weeks after I got here, and am still unwell, but this is not important, being no more than altitude and a state of mind. I am so full of disgust for Santa Fe I cannot express myself even in profanity.  No use going into it, but the divorce between Phyllis and Cyril, my return here without Jack, Jig’s love affair with a girl older than himself1, and the fate of the Art School have unleashed that almost impersonal malice of a small town, and I have been through many of the same things I did when Cyril and I first separated.  Current assertions:  I came here last time to break up Cyril’s home.  I succeeded.  I am back because I am in love with him.  (If I try to defend Cyril against the most scurrilous falsehoods that is the answer.  You see his leaving here for Denver infuriated those who had profited by the Art School boom here.)  I have left Jack to become the mistress of Don Clark2.  Cyril only went to Denver because he had played fast and loose with art school funds.  (There weren’t any.)  And the whole rigmaroles about Jig and Selma.  Oh, to have some real escape into this country whose vastness at present seems to exist only to emphasize the picayune nature of humans.  I look at the very mountains as if they had betrayed me by being gorgeous and aloof.  My weakness is such a profound aloneness among my kind that when I am literally living alone I lack the fibre to bear it.  If I have one human who is mine, to whom I can turn for re-affirmation of everything of which the crowd is unmindful I can be as contemptuous of crowds as the pride of my mind would have.  But this has happened to me before, and when there is not a human being to turn to for complete trust it seems beyond me to keep going at all.

From your nostalgic and loving,
evelyn

Camino del sol
Modern view of Camino del Monte Sol [Google Earth street view]

1Selma Hite, then Cyril’s secretary, was 7 years older than Jig. They eloped the following June and moved to Greenwich Village, where Selma later ran off with a man her own age. Evelyn and Cyril managed to get the marriage annulled.

2American reviewer for New York Times and previously a lecturer at University of California

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

[Santa Fe, New Mexico]
[early 1930]

I feel sort of emotional today over decision I am making, if lawyer can get me out, to lose what I paid on the mud Mexican cottage and give up the idea of living in Santa Fe.  It isn’t the Phyllis Cyril problem, as so many people thought it would be, but another nest of complexes uncovered all relating to small towns and N Orleans.  I have an obsession to the effect that I am being looked askance at morally and that people are trying to cut me.  It’s quite horrible to have this infantile throw back come on like an attack of measles.  I couldn’t understand myself until, after much analysis, I harkened back to New Orleans, my mother’s idea of being cut after my father got broke and my grandmother got crazier.  Only cure for morbid reflex is, apparently, to accept the invitations and go in for social life—and that spoils writing.  Didn’t you ever hear of anything so nearly batty!  Living remotely superior, and suddenly here I feel as if people were being deliberately nasty to me, when my intellect tells me that is impossible.  However, I have just about decided that I can not settle down in a small southern town.  It only hurts because of spoiling nice plans for Jig.

And it does look so pretty here!  love and love, evelyn

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

[Santa Fe, New Mexico]
[February 1930]

Beautiful love;

What I feel pretty awful is that I have run through my own prosperous year and have nothing to show for it.  Misfortunes seem to be with Cyril forever as far as money goes and as it is I let the piece of property go and—was a fool, I don’t know—lost outright what I had put into it.  Because to have gone on would have meant borrowing at eight to ten per cent from money lenders who had to be pain in the year.  So that idea of making Jiggy’s future safe is certainly a fluke.  Cyril still has three thousand dollars to get paid up on his part, and seems pretty sure to have no income at all here during the winter months, as the attendance at art school is for summer only.  I don’t want this to go beyond you and Davy and Glad, however, as bluff as usual is still the thing.  But what actually scares me is the idea of leaving here and leaving Jig with them when they may be reduced to ten dollars in the world as they were last week.  And then if they don’t pay up on the house they lose the whole thing, which is several thousand of investment already.  Cyril’s too old1 to ever get back into any business, and if this don’t work I don’t know what will.  Makes me sort of sore that the people who profess to like him and admire him (a la Stieglitz,2 for gods sake never mention that!) never have made any effort to sell his work.

The mother thing is another crisis.  No Home will admit her in any state but Tennessee and that is the one place she hates to go, and as I slumped from sending her a hundred a month for a little while down to twenty-five and the relatives had to take on things again, they are again after me.  They write that I have sold a hundred thousand copies of my book and must be rich.  That makes me angry, but at the same time it is sentimental vanity still and I ought to be more honest about the home arrangement and brutal.  I suppose it’s loving Jig so makes this mother stuff get me so much.

Santa fe courthouse.PNG

But in between such tiresome consequences occasional time to remember what really important, eh!  Such as the white fog of perpetual snow in the pines on the mountains—the spirit look of fresh snow-falls when I look out the kitchen door at night and see a silken back yard and silver and silver drifting faintly down.  I really love snow now.  Then I can think of “wash his pale hands in the milk of the light” and things like that.  Also that acceptance to the scheme of life which is mostly hell brings some sort of immediate unwordable compensation which adds a dimension to living—only I only achieve it sporadically—it seems nearer a perfect surmounting of all the limitations of literal action when you realize it.

Blessings and love forever.  evelyn

1Cyril was 59 at the time.

2The influential American photographer Alfred Steiglitz was said to have praised Cyril’s paintings

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Marraige cert.PNG

On March 17, 1930, Evelyn and Jack got married in Tierra Amarillo, New Mexico, about 90 miles north of Santa Fe. There are no letters extant referring to the decision to do so, nor to their choice of that town (although Evelyn says later in  a letter dated November 23, 1953 that they chose such a remote place to avoid any chance of being pursued by the sensationalist press). Nor do any of the letters refer to the fact of their being formally married:  however, as they had been posing as married for some time, they may not have felt the need to emphasize their new status.

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To David Lawson

Santa Fe, New Mexico
July 23, 1930

Darling Davy:

Have tonsillitis today and pretty sick.  Wanted to answer you properly but things just keep on coming up.  So glad Lola lovely dear is off to Yaddo.  I await the next miracle from her typewriter.  I hope she’s better and that you are easing up a little, Davy.

Thank you about Cyril and art school.  It has done very well this summer.

Davy darling, I am just too sick to write—tho not serious—just same old thing.  Book troubles me because I must leave here and can’t seem to finish.  However have come thru before so maybe will now.  I’ll be in NY around sept 1st.  Jack and I aim to go to England few weeks thereafter as not enough money to finish book here but might string it out with cheap English living.

Cyril’s love and mine and Phyllis’s regards, and Jig has always thought a heap of you.

my love dear Davy as always,
evelyn

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To Lola Ridge

449½ Hudson Street, NYC
August 5, 1930

Dearest Lola,

What do you mean, I should like to know, by signing yourself my “friend if I want you”?!  Don’t talk so!  You should know I want you as a friend!

Poor Evelyn was thinking of packing up to leave Santa Fe when she fell ill,- bad tonsillitis and also a broken tooth-bridge. So that means delay.  She hopes to have the bridge fixed and be well enough to travel by about the 14th or 15th of this month,- and will first go to Clarksville for this awful family pow-wow about her mother.  I am hoping to be able to meet her when she arrives at Clarksville and see her through the unpleasant business.  Golly, how glad I’ll be when we’re together again.  I have been missing her terribly, Lola, so badly, finally, that I get too restless to settle down to good work.  But it won’t be long now I hope.

Drop me a line whenever you can, and good luck, dear Lola, with health and work.

Very much love, and kisses from
Jack.

PS Please remember me affectionately to Mrs Ames.

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To Otto Theis and Louise Morgan

Care Mrs M T Dunn
739 Madison Street, Clarksville, Tennessee
But reply to:  care F Sommers, The Attic Shop, 449½ Hudson Street, New York City

August 24, 1930

Dear Peoples,

Here we both are in Clarksville savouring the dilapidated South in company of our mother and mother-in-law respectively.  A hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs and much much coffee is found useful, and sustains us through the day.  However, all good things must come to an end eventually and we are probably leaving here this week.  Then about 3 weeks in N York and then England.  We shall probably be in London for a few days round about end of September or early October.  Oh what fun to see you people again!  Blessings to you, and hugs and kisses from us both.

Jack (“John”)
and Evelyn

This letter marks the end of Evelyn’s time in New Mexico, although she did continue in contact with Cyril. Some time in the early autumn (and again, letters relating to their decision to travel are missing) Evelyn and Jack sailed to England and to the start of a new chapter in  their lives.

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