49. The story unravels

During what would become their final months in Carmel, Jigg was becoming increasingly desperate at his inability to fnd work and support his family. Depending on Paula’s relatives was onerous Jigg sought the wisdom and assistance of trusted friends, including Lewis Gannet, an American writer who had known Evelyn for years and had become a friend of Jigg’s. These letters are a heartbreaking insight into the desperation Jigg must have been feeling at the result of years of his mother’s interference.

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

January 7, 1961

Dear Jigg,

Margaret [DeSilver] sent me your letter of December 30, possibly thinking I might help about a job, with a footnote “Do at least write to Jigg… No word of this, of course, to Evelyn.”

Well, I’m not in communication with Evelyn any more, although we did politely exchange Christmas cards. Your letter sent me to my files, including a fat lot of letters from Evelyn, some dating back to 1923: Bermuda, Banyuls, Bou Saada, London, Canada, etc, but not the last letters for which I was looking. I keep letters sporadically, and I may have thrown away the last ones in a mood of hopelessness. (Back in the 1920s I thought her potentially the greatest writer in America, and I still remember her books of those days.)

Glancing through the fat file my eye caught an odd phrase in February 1934: “I have had a mild persecution complex for a long time” (it goes on, “on the subject of my abstractions.”) The last letter, October 28, 1956, remarks “I have been ill a good part of the time. . . ‘psychosomatic’ heart, it is said, for my heart is intact, and though I will not accept ‘psychosomatic’ as it is a cover-all for quacks, but prefer to leave strain as reliably old-fashioned.”

I may have replied to that that I too had a heart condition, and the only way to live was to forget it, and I think I received a round condemnation in reply. And then–I would think also in 1956 or thereabouts, I returned to her a stout manuscript, every paragraph of which was carefully moulded into a single sentence, as was the 100-odd page autobiographical introduction, which I had kept for her, at her request, some eight years. She had always referred to it as being in a “safe” in my office, and, after returning it, I think I replied that I had kept it safe but felt I ought to tell here that I had never had a safe–the word was hers–and that the Mss had sat on a shelf all that time. Whereupon I received another round condemnation as a liar and a deceiver of helpless women, and that’s the letter for which I sought and didn’t find, for, as I recall it, it could conceivably have been evidence of derangement.

Perhaps it is better so, for I’d hate to be involved in a court controversy over a person for whom I once had both affection and respect, and it wouldn’t do any good anyway. I can understand your total exasperation, for you have been deeply and constantly involved with her since birth, and everyone who has been even slightly involved with her has in the end been exasperated and come to feel that any attempt to help was hopeless, and things have only become worse year after year. (You must know that, although I have never done anything of any consequence to help her myself, I have been variously involved in various attempts to help her, dating back to her introduction to the Garland-Hales in, I’d think, 1921, and even back of that, and again and again since.) I’ve also watched at close quarters a couple of other attempts to get what seemed to me obviously insane persons put away, seen them come up with something like triumphant serenity in court and fool the judge or judges, and seen the aftermath of futility and increased bitterness. Don’t do it, Jigg; don’t try that desperate route. As your friend (?) Dr Mayers, whom I don’t know, seems to have told you, it just wouldn’t work. I feel sure of that. I’ve seen Evelyn, I think, just once in the last ten years, and that–it was at Margaret’s–amazed me. After I’d read years of hysterical letters, she preserved an outer appearance of charm and calm; she’d do it again in court, and confound you, and I have no faith whatever in court-appointed psychiatrists.

Anyway, here’s old-time affection for you, whatever that may mean.
As ever,
Lewis Gannet

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

Carmel, California
January 9, 1961

Dear Margaret

Your answer to my letter, which was written in desperation after being out of touch with everyone for more than a year, came as a relief. I have never known where I stood with my mother’s friends, and for about twenty-five years I have wondered how you or anyone else could put up with her. It is a consolation to know that you don’t have much more patience with her than I do. I still don’t understand why you did so much for her, unless it was regard for Jack; but that is your business. Jack is a decent fellow, but as far as I can see his life has been absolutely ruined by my mother, and how he stands the present state of things I don’t know.

It’s all very wll to say that my mother is mad, but her present outlook is merely a caricature of the point of view she has had ever since I first remember, which is simply the mystical conviction that her preferences and opinions are of cosmic importance, and what the rest of mankind thinks is too trivial to consider. Somewhere along the line, when she was about twenty, the Lord God Jehovah Himself bestowed upon her the right to superintend the lives of others, especially myself and my late father.

My mother is not only ruthless about wanting her way, but loathsomely unfastidious. What she has been doing for more than fifteen years, is writing to men whose names she didn’t even know but who she thought could put some kind of economic squeeze on me, and playing the forsaken mother act with numerous allusions to the sinister influences—sometimes “alien influences”—that are supposed to have me in thrall. If she had gone on and added a few words about the brainwashing machine, it wouldn’t have been too bad. But in her letters to strangers she omits that part. I have a splendid collection of her letters, with details of this device, but it isn’t often that I get to use them. While Helen Prior was chief of personnel in ICA I got a fair shake and all the letters—except the ones that filtered down from big-shots like Dulles—were quietly destroyed.

It’s a relief to get this off my chest. So far you are the only person I have known who didn’t seem to consider my mother’s literary accomplishments made her sacred.

For most of my life I have tried to keep the eccentricities of my parents decently hushed up, but it’s no good. It never paid off, and the result has been absolute disaster. My mother seems to have estranged me from everyone I knew, including my father, who was no mean egotist himself; and lately she has shown every sign of being possessive about, and wanting to get her hooks into, my children; if we don’t all starve to death first.

If you really think Lewis could help, please, please pitch it strong to him on my behalf. I can also send a complete curriculum vitae at any time. I have no literary or artistic ambitions, and am just a working stiff—at present with no work. Thanks and please let me hear from someone soon, if you can arrange it. I’m at my wit’s end.

C Scott

* * * * *

To Lewis Gannett

January 13, 1961

Dear Lewis

It was nice to hear from you. I have never known exactly where I stood vis-a-vis friends of E Scott, and it is consoling to know that one as old as you shares my opinion that she is not responsible. Her early books, as you say, may have been full of promise. I am no judge because I could never bring myself to read any of them.

You mention Bou-Saada, and apropos that particular and somewhat Godforsaken spot, I can remember an unholy tantrum she had because it snowed one winter and she had not foreseen that it might snow in Africa. There was ranting, and there were tears and great gobs of self-pity because of the discomforts not only she but all the rest of us had to endure. If there is anything I hold against her more than the rest it’s the way she has been sitting around lamenting how ill-used she has been by the world, every time something happened that did not suit her taste or convenience. Her whole attitude, from the start, has been summed up by the phrase, “Oh, isn’t if awful that this should happen to me!”

As for the exasperation, you can only imagine how complete it is in my case. For as long as I can remember she has assumed, without any doubts or hesitations, that my thoughts and opinions would be cast in a mould identical with her own. I not only never had any education to speak of, I was never intended to have any. I was dragged out of school twice that I remember because I liked it there. I have the best reasons for thinking that about four-fifths of the letters she has been writing to strangers for the last fifteen years contain lengthy explanations of what I feel and what I think or wish to do. She has never considered it necessary to consult me about such things. One letter I have, in which she announces her decision that I must leave Indo-China at once, has a date corresponding very closely with the time I was summoned by the US Ambassador to Vietnam, who told me she had asked for my immediate transfer, because I was embarrassed to do so myself. He wanted to know why I hadn’t gone to my ordinary superiors and why I felt I had to be so devious about the whole thing. He also read me a lecture on my patriotic obligations, which suggested that she had included the usual drivel about sinister alien influences.

I very much appreciate your good will, Lewis, but I was disappointed that you could suggest no line of enquiry I could follow that might lead to a job. Isn’t there someone to whom I could write, who might give me a line on something: I realize you don’t know much about what I have done in the last twenty years, but my record is a good one, and I would undertake to try and do my own persuading. All I need is a foot inside the door, not a sweeping endorsement.

Anyway, if there is any angle you can think of I will be grateful indeed. There are seven of us, including the children, and we are more nearly desperate than I would have thought possible. I am estranged from nearly everyone I ever knew, and it gets worse all the time. Thanks for the reassurances though. It’s nice to know that my mother’s aberrations aren’t considered sacrosanct. Good luck to you,

C Scott

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

January 13, 1961

Dear Margaret,

I got a very nice letter from Lewis Gannet today, from which I gather that some of his correspondence with my mother rivals the specimen letters I keep in case I ever need desperately to prove she isn’t rational. Anyway, it cheered me up to know there is one more person besides myself (and now you) who has doubts about how responsible E Scott is, and Lewis’ feelings are very generous. Like Dr Mayers he also advised against trying to get my mother committed, citing a very illuminating case he knew of, on which the courts didn’t back up the psychiatrist who studied the case. At least he didn’t, like Mayers, suggest that the best course would be to keep the old, filial tie intact, and what he says makes more sense than what the doctor said. With Jack opposing the move, I suppose it would be hopeless.

As I told you, I wrote to my mother and Jack telling them I was through, and that since I had no boss there was nobody my mother could get me in trouble with. Jack’s reply sounds to me as though he is slipping, too. Just why she should write letters to John Foster Dulles because, as he says, she didn’t get answers from my father is beyond me.  Except for short periods when I was in transit she always had an address, but she never approved of it; and in fact she raised hell with the postmaster here, and then complained about him to the postmaster general of the US, because I have a rural route address. Jack knows these things as well as I, and although he is a nice guy, I think her influence has destroyed his sense of proportion.

We haven’t heard directly from her so far–my letter didn’t leave her much to say–but you can bet she’ll start writing to somebody again, God only knows who. Maybe Kennedy.

Lewis’ reply was very kind, but I was awfully disappointed he had no suggestions, because we are at the stage where we are grasping at straws–ineligible for any kind of relief, which we need, and absolutely at the end of our resources. The brunt falls mainly on my wife and kids, and I have ransacked the state of California as thoroughly as my finances allow, for anything and everything–even a milk route, or example, without any luck for more than a year.  One of the things that has been brought up, for example, is that since she was such a staunch anti-Communist, then I must be on the other side if I don’t get along with her. But I haven’t gotten along with her since I was a kid and she used to drive me wild with her fits of tragic despair whenever something happened in the world that didn’t fit with her ideals.

The only thing I ask is an introduction to someone who will listen to the story of my plight without dismissing it as pure invention, intending to cover up something sinister, and then pass me on to whoever has a job I might fill.  I’m not asking for a blanket endorsement, but a foot in the door. My own record will stand on its own merits, I think; and I can be investigated until the cows come home.

C Scott

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

70 East 10th Street, NYC
January 17, 1961

Dear Jigg,

I’m returning herewith [missing] your mother’s and Jack’s letters. Your mother’s letter is pretty smooth, + Jack’s rather pathetic. Of course he now has to stand by Evelyn, having made that commitment many years ago—not without considerable struggle in his soul, I imagine! PLEASE, JIGG, do not mention to either Jack or Evelyn anything I have said or suggested, or even that you have been in touch with me, ever, in any way. I have a hard enough time as it is being berated by Evelyn for not writing the Herald Tribune, the Attny Genl, + goodness knows who all.

It would be disastrous if Jack ever found out that I let on that he was worried about Evelyn’s sanity, because Jack is an OK guy, + trusted my discretion.

Yours,
Margaret

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

May R Mayers, MD
214 East 18th Street
New York 3, NY

January 19, 1961

Dear Jig:

I waited until I could see your mother before answering your last letter. Despite your recent letters to her, she seemed to me exactly the same as at any other of my visits. My relations with her, however, are on a very superficial basis. I call on her once in several months; take her out to a long chatty lunch, and sometimes get a few minutes with Jack when he returns from work carrying the food he has picked up on the way home, from which Evelyn will prepare dinner in the communal kitchen of their hotel. Evelyn does not tell me—not really—what she is doing or thinking, and I ask no questions. Our conversation is on current events and other impersonal matters, but I do get to give her morale a lift, and to help her medically. So, if there was no apparent difference in her general status, when I saw her, it does not necessarily mean that your letters have had no effect. I doubt very much that she has any serious intention of going to California. I doubt that Jack would supply the funds for such an expedition.

So, we come back to the children. I still think it should be possible for you to completely conceal their whereabouts, when they begin leaving home. I am glad you, yourself, are now free from injury.

If I have gone beyond proper bounds in writing the above, please forgive me. I do not ordinarily give advice, unasked. But your frank and friendly letters have made me feel that I would not be intruding. In any event, I want you to know that if I can be of assistance to your or Paula at any time, please do not hesitate to call on me. On the other hand, I do not wish to be reporting on Evelyn to you, behind her back; and I certainly do not wish to have her learn of any correspondence between us purely by accident. So, I shall consider this my last letter unless you write to me again. I was glad to learn, when I saw her that she had no inkling of our correspondence. For her to learn of it—however accidentally would eliminate my usefulness to her, which would be too bad.

Best of good luck to you both.
Sincerely
May

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

January 21, 1961

Dear Margaret

I have just finished reassuring Dr Mayers (again) to the effect that I will not mention her advising me to my mother, and once again I promise you that I will endeavor to surpass myself in discretion where you are concerned. I don’t intend ever to write E Scott gain.

I don’t feel any special rancour against either my mother or Jack, I just want to be out from under. Jack is, as you say, a decent fellow, and deserves every consideration for making Job seem half-hearted.

The very best
Jigg

* * * * *

To Robert Welker1

August 25, 1961

Dear Bob,

Just a hurried line to tell you that Evelyn had a cerebral attack (slight but alarming) a few days ago. She has partially lost the power of speech and can say only short sentences. I feared she wd have to be hospitalized but her doctor has decided she wd be better just to stay where she is. The condition will, we hope, improve slowly with time, as the clot is absorbed. Meanwhile she has to have complete rest, and not try to force the pace by trying to talk, read or write. “Be a vegetable” is the doctor’s order.

I write this to let you know why she will not be able to write to you for an indefinite time.

Naturally I was, and am, v worried, but, as the doctor says, it might have been v much worse, – and there is hope of eventual recovery.

Forgive more just now. Hope all is well with you, – and that Mrs Gower is better.

Love from us both,
Yrs ever,
Jack

PS If you write, don’t refer to the specific character of the attack, – of which she is only partially aware.

1 Robert Welker was an academic who had written his PhD on the subject of Evelyn’s novels. He was an admirer Evelyn and became a fast friend of both Evelyn and Jack.

 

* * * * *

The Scott family left Carmel in August 1961 for a rented farmhouse in the tiny historic (founded 1776) village of Peacham in Vermont. It had always been a dream of Jigg’s one day to settle down on a farm in Vermont, and it is likely that this dream influenced the decision to move to Vermont.  Denise had started university and the other children settled into their new life and Jigg was desperately trying to find work in spite of  the effects his mother’s letter writing had had on his  life.  And, true to form, Evelyn continued to try and trace them to their new address and new life, in spite of her poor health.

* * * * *

From Jack Metcalfe’s diary:

11 March 1962:  Wrote (i.e. finished writing) letter to Jigg, to which  E added some more.
12 March 1962:  Went Grand Central PO and sent letter, registered, return-receipt, to Jigg.
17 March 1962:  Our wedding anniversary–bless us.
19 March 1962:  Came home and found that my letter to Jigg had been returned, marked “Moved–left no address” . . . Composed draft of letter from E to Principal of High School Carmel.
28 March 1962:  Came home.  Letter from Principal of Carmel  High School giving Jigg’s address as “General Delivery, St Johnsbury, Vermont”.  E wrote letter to him (Jigg).

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott

March 28th, 1962

Darling Jig and Paula,

We both hope for better things already! You will see that Jack wrote to you on 11th Mch for me but the letter was returned here. But Mr W W Edwards, the high School principal, has kindly informed to me to your present address and the five children. He mentioned three of the kids, but I had named the five.

We love you, seven of you, grown and young! How is Paula able to us? Jig (I like Jig as I wrote it) I will be well only if we know of you all. To whom, shall I, too, wrote to you?

Lovingly to you both! So much affection to you, Paul, and to Jig before my life always of you!
Mother

[This letter was returned with the envelope stamped “Unclaimed” by post office.]

  • * * * * *

From Jack Metcalfe’s diary:

29 March 1962:  Mailed letter to Jigg (St Johnsbury Vt) Registered, return receipt, on way to school. . .  Came home.  Marketed and mailed letter from E, thanking Principal of Carmel High School. . .  Letter to Jigg included previous letter + envelope as well as fresh note from E.
13 April 1962:  Came home + found E had had our letter to Jigg returned “Unclaimed”.

* * * * *

To Love Lyle1

April 13, 1962

Dear Love,

Your letter has, again, revived my memories, with the spring flowers and the Cumberland, the flood having been a dramatic phase.

I wish Jig and Paula and our five young could have been with Jack and I in Clarksville for a holiday. Soon, after I wrote you, I received a mail receipt from Carmel with the return of a letter just sent by me to Jig and Paula. I did not know to do, but decided to write again to Carmel’s High School to ask where my grandchildren were, as Paula wrote of the school about two years of them. The school’s authority replied to me (I rewritten, too, having been answered the Scott grandmother) that three Scotts were originally in the school, but that Mr and Mrs Creighton Scott could be their now address in St Johnsbury3, Vermont, General Delivery. The fact that my grandchildrens are five instead of just three, I found uneasy.

However, Jack mailed both my unreceived letters (one within of Jack for me), and I awaited replied!—to St Johnsbury.

A horrid interval, a week ago in the hotel, I discover that, when I was in a bathroom, a spy snook into my room, where my letters of Carmel’s school and a telegram of years ago that I had preserved of Scotts’ address for Rt Road and 410 Box. These two things had been there open, as I consulted of the school letter for the number of the street. Well, anyhow, I wanted to hear about St Johnsbury’s PO. And now today, April 13, I received the returned registered Jack mailed to Jig and Paula—my own letter and Jack’s own scratched against Jig’s and Paula’s address.

I dont know what to do—again! I didn’t think St Johnsbury, Vermont was adequately the Scotts’ residence!

I wish I knew more about US Army views of mails! Does Renee’s major knows about mails? We never strange makes in NY before the war or none! Now strange ordinary letters didn’t interfere in London.

Will you write Renee’s husband’s name, who has no responsibility [illeg] is, but I might someday answer of any of them of him about mails of California. love, Evelyn.

Rt 2 Road, 410 Box, I remember of Carmel—though Rt 2 Road may be error. Do any of Clarksville friends know Carmel? And please the Major’s name, he too knew London.

Gratefully, Evelyn.

1 Love Lyle, a Clarksville cousin

Peacham is a tiny village; St Johnsbury was the nearest large town.

From Jack Metcalfe’s diary:

18 April 1962:  School.  On there posted E’s letter to Department of State.  On my return Gladys was having tea with E.
10 May 1962:  School.  Letter from Dept of State to Evelyn.
17 May 1962:  E wrote to Principal Carmel High School some 8 or 9 days ago.
18 May 1962:  Came home and found letter from Mr Edwards, Principal of Carmel High School giving Frerick’s address as Peacham Academy, Peacham, Vermont.
31 May 1962:  Letter to E from Dept of State saying they will write later after looking up file.
2 June 1962:  Letter from Dept of State.  Quite unsatisfactory. . . Telegram came announcing Maggie (DeSilver’s] death and giving time + place of memorial service on Monday.

 

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott and Jack Metcalfe

[June 30, 1962]

Dear Mother and jack,

This is to let you know we are all right. I haven’t found a job yet and we are hard up, but our health is pretty good; there have been no serious illnesses, and I don’t want you to worry about it.

We manage to get along and hope you do, too. The job problem is serious. A man of my age, with not even a grade school diploma and a record he can’t refer to has a hard time, but by pulling together we manage. We hope you are better, mother, and that you are okay, too, jack. Take care of yourselves.

There is no point in trying to answer this. We are constantly on the move, and mother’s habit of writing to anybody she might know of who might know me is too dangerous to encourage. Registered letters with receipts I have to sign to show you where I am won’t work, and neither will writing to postmasters. For the moment we have no address.

However, we don’t want you to wear yourselves out fretting about us. We wonder about you, but as there is nothing we can do, we don’t ask how you are. But we hope for the best.

Affectionately,
Jigg

I was in Montreal for a while last winter and looked at Dorchester Street West. It hasn’t changed much. It was very cold. We are now back on the West Coast.

* * * * *

From Jack Metcalfe’s diary:

2 July 1962:  Heard from Jigg,–envelope post-marked “San Jose” California
1 August 1962: Cataract removed.
10 August 1962:  Gladys ‘phoned at about 1.45 and said she would be here in about an hour.  Which did.
16 August 1962:  E’s foot bad.
17 August 1962.  E’s foot still bad.  E’s foot was too painful for her to go out, so I did marketing alone, bying new Pyrex dish to serve as ash-tray . . .Evelyn kept awake with retching cough.
18 August 1962:  E’s chest pains etc bad, + I marketed (2 trips. . .  Mr Seavy carried in supper for E, who couldn’t manage it.
19 August 1962:  E still poorly.
31 August 1962:  Eye still troublesome. . .Gladys rang up, – and came here about 3.30.  She and E had tea while I had “lunch”.  G left about 5.30.
2 December 1962:  Breakfast about ten.  E poorly still.
25 December 1962.  Worked as normal.  Lunch.  Nap.  Gave $10 tip to Sam.  Work.  Supper of beek, onions and plum-putting.  Bed.

* * * * *

To Louise Morgan1

January 19, 1963

Dear Louise,

Thank you for your sweet letter which warmed my heart. Yes, if the worst happened I suppose I should still come to England, and the first people I should see there would be you and Otto.

But, at least momentarily, the news of Evelyn seems better. They took a needle biopsy of the mass, and it proves to consist of a type of cell amenable to radiotherapy. Dr Cohen (her own “family” doctor) even anticipates that after a course of treatment (a month or so) at the hospital, she may be able to return here, – and then just go on having less frequent treatment as an out-patient.

That would be wonderful, and I pray for it. We should then continue to plan for England in early 1964.

I visited E early this morning, – she looking so terribly ethereal, and in pain. I signed the sanction for the radio treatment. The previous evening, yesterday. Bernice was there too, with me.

Love,
John

We should hope to carry our US pension with us, and buy some little place just out of London. Lew Mayers (an ex professor-of-law, and husband of an old friend Dr May Mayers) looked up everything for me, and assures me we could do this. Anyhow, of course, I have, in my English bank the proceeds of the sale of No 26 Belsize Crescent.

Louise Morgan was the wife of Otto Theis,; both good friends of Evelyns during the period before she met and married Jack.

* * * * *

From Jack Metcalfe’s diary:

27 January 1963:  Went out to chemists to buy E cough lozenges and roll of cotton.
26 February 1963.  Evelyn poorly.  Mrs Seavy recommended her Doctor Cohen.  I ‘phoned him and he will come tomorrow afternoon.
27 Februrary 1963:  Obtained permission to leave school at 11.50.  Came home.  Dr Cohen arrived soon after 2 o’clock, examined E, +prescribed Diuril [diuretetic  to treat hypertension].
7 March 1963:  Came home and ‘phoned Dr Cohen.  E to take only one diuril tablet a day, – and I to phone Dr Cohen next Monday.
13 March 1963.  Last day at school for a while . . . got home after three to find Dr Cohen already with Evelyn. He had given her an injection + said I should not go to school for several days.

* * * * *

To John Gawsworth1

March 18, 1963

Dear John,

For God’s sake write. If ever I needed a friend it is now, to save me from final despair. Write, for pete’s sake, but do not refer to this letter. I have bad medical news of Evelyn, and am near to a breakdown myself. It is a dreadful situation. My heart is breaking,–yet how can I tell her, fully, the reason, though she must guess it. I am seeing a psychiatrist Wednesday, + may he be a miracle-worker, since miracles are needed. I cannot sleep or anything. I have had to give up my teaching job “temporarily” as don’t know if I could ever hold it again. But my only ray of hope is tht we should lay our bones in England,—and you are my only real understanding friend there If, somehow, I can pluck courage out of a hat, I could stay over here perhaps another year, saving money (if I can hold job again) + then come over, with her She agreed to this this morning. It is the one hope I cling to. To know that you are there, would be there whenever we came, wd be a comfort.

If the psychiatrist recommends a spell in a sanatorium,–what can I do? There’s no money, + anyhow what would poor E do? She can’t look after herself + now when I should help her I am collapsing.

My only hope is to come with her I hope to England.

No more now. I am writing this on the sly in a “pub”. I must hear from you. Forgive selfishness, but I’m v unwell trying for the last 15 days, to bear an insupportable strain.

Do write, just an ordinary letter,–(I may find, later, an accommodation-address to which you could write me without restraint).

Love, Jack.

1 John Gawsworth was a friend of Jack’s from university days, and one of the few friends he kept up with.

* * * * *

From Jack Metcalfe’s diary:

19 March 1963:  Dr Cohen came.
27 March 1963:  Dr Cohen had not arrived as arranged at 3, soran him also.  Will come this evening at 8.30. . . Dr Cohen arrived at 8.30 and prescribed sleeping-tablets for E.  Paid him $7.  I went out + got prescription filled.
8 April 1963:  Letter from Gladys with $50, which I  deposited in bnk at about 2.30.  Light lunch + nap. . .  Rang Gladys to thank her.

* * * * *

In the autumn of 1962, after 15 months in Vermont, the decision was made to leave the United States for Canada:  as the possibility of conflict in Vietnam loomed and Frederick and Matthew were of an age to be drafted, it was thought they would be safe in Canada. And perhaps more significantly, Jigg hoped that by becoming, with Jack’s help, a Canadian citizen he would have more opportunities for employment than during the previous three yours.  The aging Volkswagen bus that had brought the family from California broke down shortly after crossing the Canadian border and the family found themselves in the sleepy town of Chester, Nova Scotia, about 40 miles from Halifax, where they spent the first winter in a caravan on the grounds of the drive-in theatre before they were able to move more permanent accommodation in the town.

The three Scott sons still live in the Halifax area.  Jigg died of a heart attack in the summer of 1965 and Paula died of a stroke in 2016.  Both are buried in Chester cemetery.

* * * * *

To Jack Metcalfe

May 3, 1963

Dear Jack,

This is for you personally, with regards to Mother. I am settling in Canada and have mentioned that you were the first to bring me here. If you hear from the Canadian Immigration I hope you will answer them for us.

Life in the States got to be just too much and I ended up with a coronary that almost did for me last July in Vermont. Here the pressures are relived. We’ve been here all winter, and a rugged one it was.

I’ll write from time to time hereafter, but for Pete’s sake please stem the flow and don’t let anyone start writing to postmasters and officials, except you, if they ask.

Affectionately,
Jigg

* * * * *

From Jack Metcalfe’s diary: 

8 May 1963: I returned from [eye] hospital and was astonished to find letter from Jigg awaiting me.  The family are now in Nova Scotia!  Upper denture finally broke and I went to Dr Foster.
14 May 1963:  I ‘phoned Dr Cohen but could get no reply.  Phoned an hour later, still to no avail.  But a third attempt was fruitful, – + he is to be here tomorrow at 2 o’clock.

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

May 19, 1963

My Dear Jigg,

I found your welcome letter awaiting me on my recent return from hospital, and this is to wish all of you the greatest possible success and happiness in the new country. We were distressed to hear of your coronary trouble. May it speedily be relieved and health be completely restored!

Yes, I well remember our sojourn in Montreal,–the Hollywood Apartments, and Mr Britten’s school,–and snow, snow, snow. . . I imagine that the Nova Scotian winter must be at least as severe, though reassured by you saying pressures are relieved. If the Canadian Immigration write about you I will answer any questions they may ask.

Our own healths have been nothing to boast of latterly. I, as I say, have been in hospital and Evelyn’s cardiac condition been very worrying. I am at present convalescing at “home” but expect to be back at my school job shortly.

We do hope that Paula and the rest of the family are thriving and the children doing well at school and college. Their careers are a matter of deep concern to us.

Evelyn sends her love.
Affectionately,
Jack

* * * * *

From Jack Metcalfe’s diary:

21 May 1963:  Rang Dr Cohen who will come this afternoon at 3. . . Dr Cohen came aat three.  I went out to chemists again for Taractan [an antipsychotic] and Buta Perinide [betaperimide, for chronic diarrhea] capsules.  The latter will not be ready till tomorrow.

* * * * *

To Jack Metcalfe

May 24, 1963

Dear Jack,

I’m very distressed to hear that you’ve been ill. I hope it wasn’t anything very serious. Your courage and steadfastness where others wouldn’t hold out has always awed me a little. I hope Mother is all right. Perhaps it will help a little bit if you give her my love, good wishes, and tell her that we are all well though somewhat ragged after almost three and a half years without a job, plus my coronary. That’s healed by now and if I take care of myself it will be OK from now on.

I certainly wish you the best, as we all do. I hope you will both forgive my past evil tempber. I’ll write from time to time and tell you how we are.

Affectionately,
Jigg

* * * * *

From Jack Metcalfe’s diary:

25 May 1963:  E sick all night and through the day in consequence of too much diruil.
27 May 1963:  Returned to school.  Came home to find letter from Jigg.  Marketed.  Rang Dr Cohen, – who will visit E at 3 tomorrow.
28 May 1963:  Dr Cohen had visited 3 at 3 and prescribed Coroas Tymcaps, twice daily.
30 May 1963:  E had pain in right side.
1 June 1963:  Rang Dr Cohen at 8.40 and made appointment for 3 today. . . Dr Cohen came at 2.50 and left new prescription.
3 June 1963:  ‘Phoned Dr Cohen.  E’s side painful + we had a very disturbed night.
4 June 1963:  Dr Cohen visited E + then E + I went to DR Schechtz for E’s X-raying.  Home again about 5.
5 June 1963.  DID NOT GO TO SCHOOL.  ‘Phoned Cohen at 12.30 and got worrying report.  He visited E at 3 and said we shouldn’t worry too much.  He will contact specialist and I am to ring him tomorrow at 6.
6 June 1963:  DID NOT GO TO SCHOOL.  Dr Cohen rang at 5 and asked me to  come to his office, which I did.  He gave me the X-ray plates.  E to be at Francis Delafield Hospital at 9 am tomorrow.  Came home.  Went out again and bought nightgowns for E.  Also marketed.
7 June 1963:  DID NOT GO TO SCHOOL.  E + I arrived much too early at the hospital + waited what seemed like an interminable time.  The business of her registering + of my being interviewed by the “investigator” re finance took till after twelve.  I then said goodbye to her.  Floor 2.

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

June 9, 1963

Dear Jigg,

Thanks for your last letter, and Evelyn greatly appreciated your message to her. I grieve to say that she is now in hospital with a tumor on the lung. The doctors hold out hope that it may respond to radiation. The hospital is “Frances Delafield Hospital 99 Fort Washington Avenue, New York 32”. I am trying perforce to hold on to my job, but of course it is very difficult. I shall know more of the prospects in a week or so’s time when further tests have been made.

We do hope you are all fairly well, and that circumstances are improving.

Evelyn sends love to all.
Affectionately,
Jack

* * * * *

To John Gawsworth

June 9, 1963

Dear John,

Evelyn is in hospital with a tumour of the lung. Surgery is to avoided if possible because of her cardiac condition, so radiation will be tried.

And we had, actually, been planning to resettle in England next spring!

If the worst happens I do not see myself surviving her, because, with all its ups and downs, this has been such a deep + permeating affection.

At the moment, from minute to minute, I hardly know what to do do, or how to go through the ordinary motions of living.

Love from both to both
Jack

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

June 15, 1963

Dear Jigg,

I am grateful for your letter, and it should buck Evelyn up, when I visit her today and give her its messages.

I have just spoken to her “old” doctor—Cohen—that is, the one who has just been visiting her here for the last few months, and who got her into the hospital where she is. He tells me that he has been in contact with the doctors at the Delafield who have Evelyn in their care, – that they are top-specialists in this line and that, anyhow, she could not be in better hands. They are going, Cohen says, to try radiation, which, they hope, will arrest and localise the tumor and, perhaps, render an ultimate extirpation feasible.

I myself am of course most unhappy and the carrying-on, so far, with my job is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I have that hellish endowment of imagination and pessimistic anticipation that squeezes each ounce of misery from any situation. I can only trust that, if the worst should happen, this will prove, in some degree, a sort of pre-digestion of agony.

But Cohen was not too pessimistic himself, – and, as you say, we’ll all hope, and pull for her.

I could not contemplate being without her.

I am so happy (and so will she be) to hear your own health has improved.

I wish to God you were all here because, like you, I have no friends. This hotel room at night is hell.

All the few friends we have are out of town or on the point of leaving. May Mayers, whom I have never needed so much, has gone, – and there’s no one.

Love to Paula and children, – and Evelyn of course sends love to all.

Affectionately,
Jack

* * * * *

From Jack  Metcalfe’s diary: 

21 June 1963:  Gave E letter to her from Jigg.

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

 June 22, 1963

My Dear Jigg,

This is no more than a hurried line to thank you very much for your last letter,–enclose the letter to Evelyn,–which I handed to her yesterday when I visited her, and with which she was rejoiced.

She has started the early radiation treatments, and, since the biopsy was encouraging, the doctors are hopeful.

Evelyn sends much love to all,–and same from me.
Affectionately
Jack

Best of good luck to you all. So glad your health is improving.  Chins up!  Am keeping, of course, your whereabouts most strictly to myself.

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

June 23,1963

Darling Jigg,

I am glad to know you have written to me. Your letter is helped top me, but we most wish that you will be against coronaries. You need friends who will prove your health again. I think of you, Paula, Denise, Fredrick, Mathew, Julia and Robert, and your strength shall be now.

Friends, I hope! We should have seen many friends long ago about your health.

I can’t yet express natural intentions. Bless you. Jack will give your letter when I am better, too I will write myself and to friends.

Mother

I am accepted to Radio Therapy and it does help. Our Jewish doctor helps

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

June 23, 1963

Dear Paula

Thank you very much indeed for your sympathetic letter. I did not show it to E, but, of course, passed on to her, when I visited her yesterday, the letters to her from you and from Frederick, both of which delighted her. And I should like you now, from me, particularly to thank Frederick for having written to her. I was a gesture that I very greatly appreciate.

When I reached her bedside she had already written the note to Jigg which I herewith enclose in answer to his recent letter to her. Please pass it on to him,–and do not fear a deluge of such missives. And I again assure you that your whereabouts will be kept strictly to myself.

The radio-therapy was begun three days ago. As I think I told Jigg, the biopsy was fairly encouraging showing the mass to consist of a type of a cell responsive to radiation. So we hope for good results.

Love,
Jack

Love also to the children and my affectionate wishes of course to Jigg. I do pray that your own problems will be solved, and matters mend for you!

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott

July 1, 1963

Dear Jigg and Paula,

A very brief bulletin, – and thanks for your letter.

Evelyn is responding very slowly to the X-ray. I spoke this evening to Dr Cohen, the very best of eggs, who had been on the wire to here physicians, up there at 14 Delafield, and they said, despite her complaints of constant pain, that they thought it was beginning to ease-up just a little. It is going slowly, – and she may have to stay there several weeks yet before becoming an out-patient.

Don’t worry, Jigg and Paula, about any disclosure of your whereabouts. Whatever the necessity, I agree to it, – and you can tell me the story whenever you care, if we’re alone.

From now on, if she comes back and writes silly letters (actually, I don’t think she will) I shan’t mail them. Very, very sorrowfully, at this point I have to relinquish her as an equal. I have tried, these years, to consider her, humanly, and equal, but things have got past it now.

I still love her, – she is still the marrow of all my being,–but that’s the only way to treat her now.

Much love,
Jack

I am all right up a point with TERACTAN anti-depressant, but Cohen is worried about my loss of weight. Now only 131 lbs – a loss of nearly 20 lbs in 1 month or of 30 lbs in 2 months.

* * * * *

From Jack Metcalfe’s diary:

6 July 1063:  Visited E around 3 and was astonished to hear from her that she had had her last X-raying + would be home next week.  Could get no explanation on this.

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

July 9, 1963

Dear Jigg,

Thank you + Paula so much for letters,–and most especially for the letters from Matthew + from Julia, which Evelyn was delighted to have.

She has completed her first “curse” of radiation now, having taken as much as she can stand for the moment (there comes a point where it has to be intermitted or do actual harm),–and I expect her home here in a few days now.

I am looking forward to that, as you may imagine. I think the treatments, so far, have done her good. She will renew them later in the summer or in the fall, they say.

No more now, as I am past tired out.
Love to all,
Jack

* * * * *

From Jack Metcalfe’s diary: 

11 July 1963: Taxi’d to hospital where found E with right side of her back painted red + strapped + plastered.

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

July 14, 1963

Dear Jigg,

Just a hasty bulletin.  The pain has now ceased, and apparently her first “course” of X-ray has done good.

She will be returning here in about a week or 10 days from now,–so you cannot write quite as freely to me as you have been doing. I appreciate your concern for her,–while I do indeed understand your side of the matter. All list to later if you + I ever get together. At the moment, she is just coming home + you can’t write freely.

She will go up to the hospital about every 3 weeks for check up, and then, probably undergo a further “course” of radio-therapy in later summer or fall.

Alas, Dr Cohen is away on vacation, but will be back before too long, I hope.

She will just come back here in 10 days or less,–and I suppose one shall try to mimic “life as usual”. She does not fully appreciate what is the matter with her, which is all to the good.

If the X-ray doesn’t work she will have to face an operation,–but of course I do hoe the X-ray does work. The operation chances are 4 to 1 against.

Love to you all, and I wish I knew you better, because I may be a very lonely man.

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

July 16, 1963

Dear Jigg,

Thanks for letters, – which Evelyn was cheered to have. I do hope you’re better now.

I myself am none too well, – Evelyn is better, and comes home again in about a week, – and that is the main, great thing, but the continued strain has pretty well worn me out, and I sort of fainted at school, – and had to be put in a cab. I got home OK, – and say nothing of it to E.

Her pain, thank heaven, has almost gone, so don’t worry about that. She is greatly looking forward to returning here to the hotel. She will then visit the hospital’s clinic periodically (about once every month or 3 weeks) till treatment is renewed in late summer or fall.

Forgive more now,
Love to you all,
Jack

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

July 20, 1963

Dear Jigg,

Yours just received, – and I will write anything you want in support of your application. Let me know in greater detail as the occasion arises, – and good luck in to Frederick in the Canadian Black Watch!

The great news is that the hospital is sending Evelyn home here again.

She will be here the day-after-tomorrow, – Monday the 22nd, – so bear this in mind in anything you write.

It need not at all interfere with your going on speaking w/ wishing to become Canadian citizens.—She would welcome that.

As to the “desperate odds”, – I may have made myself insufficiently plain. The 5-1 against odds referred to an operation, – if X-raying failed. We hope that mayn’t be necessary.

There is a possibility, according to the last thing Cohen said, that X-raying may cure this thing entirely. At least, he said, it could prolong her life 5-6 years. Then, if the worst came to the worst, I suppose she wd have to be operated on, – but I, naturally, cling to the hope that X-rays will do the trick. They can do things now, with malignancies, that they couldn’t do even only 10 yrs ago.

Today, I have been getting in groceries etc in anticipation. I myself, since she’s been away, have eaten little, – no breakfast or lunch and only a bite for supper.

Dear Jigg and Paula, I do so appreciate your concern, – and the concern of you all. Let us all hope and pray that there will be light, somehow, at the end of this dark tunnel.

Love
Jack

* * * * *

From Jack Metcalfe’s diary:

27 July 1963:  E Returned Home ‘Phoned Gladys  after much difficulty + exasperation + loss of money.  Bought tobacco, coffee and liquor. . .  Visited E. Was leaving + then decided to return, – + Dr Bell rang up the ward + said E might leave right away!  Waited while her clothers wre procured, – + then went home with her in cab.  Reached hotel about 8.45.
29 July 1963:  E + I taxied to + from hospital & got her property back.  Home by about10.30.
31 July 1963:  E collapses + fell to floor at breakfast. . . Confirmed that Dr  Cohen was still on vacation, and filled May’s second prescription.  E depressed.
3 August 1963.  Evelyn died.  Gladys + May here.

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

August 4, 1963

Dear Jigg,

This carries the saddest news for us all. Evelyn passed away yesterday, Saturday, in her sleep. it was in the morning, some time, I can’t be sure, – any time between 8 and 12, – because I thought she was just still sleeping. Then at 12 I became apprehensive and found her cold. She will be buried, probably on Tuesday.

I cannot write more now.

Love to all,
Jack

* * * * *

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Evelyn Scott and Jack Metcalfe

Nov 4, 1961

Dear Mother and Jack,

I finally got Jack’s last letter after many delays, and I am glad to hear you will be able to get along without too much grief, because I am in no position to be of help. I keep looking, but the prospects grow slimmer all the time, and I don’t seem to have any friends in the world. However, we have managed to survive so far, and we will continue to make out in one way or another.

I hope mother feels better—heave knows I’m sorry to hear of all these disasters. I can appreciate the burden is on you, Jack, to keep going; and I am more than a little surprised both of you don’t head back for England.

This country doesn’t seem to have any fortitude in the face of uncertainty, and all I see everywhere is the decay of civil order. It’s hard to find anyone with even the most rudimentary principles, and the very mediocre standard of conduct one used to take for granted is now something rare and unexpected. I shouldn’t think things would have gone quite that far in England yet—anyway, if I had my choice I’d rather take my chances abroad than here, unless the whole nation pulls up its socks in a hurry.

It seems preposterously unlikely that there should ever be an atomic war and we’ll all live to be a hundred unless we starve to death or something of the sort. Paula sends her best and the kids are all well. Don’t worry about us—things are difficult but we’ll make out somehow.

If it’s any use, I mention you both in my prayers, which is about all I can do. It’s been a funny existence, and the funniest part is the waste of all our energies. All the sturm and drang and the frenzies and exertions of the last fifty years have accomplished exactly nothing, and all our time would have been better spent planting cabbages. I’d like nothing better than to be a competent plumber, or something of the sort.

Anyway, best wishes, and I’ll write again now and then. let me know how you are faring.

Affectionately,

Jigg

 

 

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