30. 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.

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.

It appears the child of one of Jack’s tenants was being a nuisance.
Hobson 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

Jack 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 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

Although headed RAF Staverton, it appears Jack had arrived at his new posting in Hornchurch, Essex.
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

1 For 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.
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 Jigg 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 [Jigg] 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. There is no evidence for this unlikely scenario:  neither of the two eldest Scott children has any memory of this, though both would have been old enough to remember it. However, years after his death, 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 will be presented in a future instalment of this blog.

* * * * *

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.

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 1946.  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 manuscript might have been altered.  Next week all will be revealed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “30. Home again

  1. Really enjoyed that… and nice to see a picture of Jigg in the newspaper article – not sure I’ve seen a photo of him before 🙂

    Like

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