48. Carmel and desperation

Paula and Jigg and the five children remained in Carmel for about 2 years, from their return to the US in July 1959 until August 1961 when they moved to Vermont.  Throughout this period Evelyn bombarded them with weekly letters on a recurrent theme:  why did neither Paula nor Jigg reply to her letters; why did they not acknowledge gifts of books for the children; and why did they not keep her updated with the children’s health, schooling and academic successes? Paula responded every few weeks, citing her busy family life as a reason for not writing more often and assuring Evelyn that everyone was healthy and well:  the following exchange is typical of the hundreds of letters during this period.  The image below is typical of letters during this period, with the limitations of the typewriter keyboard augmented with red ink.

590926

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

The Benjamin Franklin Hotel
February 25th, 1960

Darling Paula,

Please darling give us an inkling of what is the matter that we have as yet no news of you and Jigg and the children for such a time!

We worry about the health of all concerned. Every sort of silence has that effect.

We know Jigg must have a better BETTER JOB where he can have you and the children with him and ENOUGH REAL SALARY FOR ALL YOU SEVEN.

California must abolish a medical stipulation, as it is a form of quackery to insist on it, and is almost sure to prove a cover for ailments caused by war weapons. I don’t say this without having thought it over for a long time. In the present unfortunate condition of the country, no doctor is ever able to do much for a patient unless both doctor and patient have a similar political view, and commercial medicine is more risk than aid.

I don’t know why I have the urge to say this now, but I have and as a general proposal I am sure I am right. SO DON’T ALLOW ANYONE TO BE PESTERED IN THIS WAY, LEAST OF ALL DARLING JIGG WHOM THE US SERVICE DOCTOR CURED ON THE BASIS OF A DIAGNOSIS OF AILMENTS AS DUE TO quackery at home.

May it be that this warning is SUPERFLUOUS, but it is a reminder for you and Jigg that cannot be amiss in the general picture of things.

I wrote you as I had asked the Carmel Postmaster whether you were receiving you mail, and I now have his reply–just arrived. He says to the best of his knowledge you are as mail goes on being delivered to the same address and he hasn’t been advised as to any change. His name his Mr Strong and he has really been quite nice to me, as a stranger. But don’t fail to let me know specifically as soon as you can of any letters or parcels that have not come yet–beginning with Siegel’s poetry and the two books for you and Jigg at Xmas, as soon as you can, darling Paula. The letters about the archives are, also, very important. The Postmaster naturally can’t keep tab on what is sent at my end unless advised, so we must depend on you to help clear that part of it up.

We speak of you and Jigg and the need of the job with better pay where all can be together whenever we can, and meanwhile just hope others are helping too, somehow.

Lovingly to the Scotts

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

March 1, 1960

Dear Evelyn—

You really mustn’t worry when I don’t write—I never was and never will be a good correspondent and a silence only means that I’ve been busy, and nothing more.

The poems arrived, long ago, and the Proust and it seems to be many more books besides which I can’t think of at the moment. I’m in a hurry now, to catch the mailman. I’ll be more detailed next time.

We’re all well and the sea and the hills continue beautiful. It’s spring here and flowers are everywhere. The hills normally black-green with sere slopes are now emerald and black-green.

Love to Jack, and to you.
Paula

 * * * * *


During these months Evelyn, unable to comprehend that someone might choose not to reply to any letter from her, continued to press the Post Office for reassurances that her letters were being delivered.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Post Office Department
San Francisco Regional Office
79 New Montgomery Street
San Francisco 5, Calif

March 30, 1960

Dear Mrs Metcalfe:

This refers to our letter of March 14, 1960, and your communications of March 16 and March 19 regarding the delivery of mail to Mr and Mrs Creighton S Scott at Route 2, Box 412, Carmel, California.

The Postmaster at Carmel has again contacted Mrs Scott, who stated that she believes that all mail you have sent her has been received. The postmaster is of the opinion that apparently they have not had time to answer their mail.

In the future, if you believe that a particular piece of mail has not been received, it is suggested that you file a tracer Form 1510 at your local post office.

Sincerely yours,
Spiro B Rafalovich
Postal Installations Manager

* * * * *

Evelyn had another reason to berate others when Cyril died in September 1960, and the New York Herald Tribune published an obituary which referred only to his original name and made no reference to his relationship with Evelyn or his change of name to Cyril Kay Scott.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, the obituary prompted an outburst from Evelyn over perceived inaccuracies and, perhaps deliberately, involved Jigg.

* * * * *

Dr F C Wellman Is Dead; Distinguished in 3 Fields

Chapel Hill, NC, Sept (AP):  Dr Frederick Creighton Wellman, ninety, father of two authors and himself distinguished in medicine, literature and art, will be buried here after an Episcopal funeral service tomorrow.  Dr Wellman died yesterday in Memorial Hospital after an illness of several weeks.

Born near Independence, Mo, he received his medical degree at Kansas City Medical Hospital and went to Portuguese West Africa as a medical missionary with his wife and infant son Paul.

Years later, Paul Wellman wrote a number of best-selling novels.  The other author-son is Manly Wade Wellman, of Chapel Hill.

Studied, Explored

In his thirteen years in Africa, Dr Wellman established two hospitals, explored then little-known parts of the African interior and made extensive studies of tropical diseases, flowers and insects.

Returning to this country, he held the chair of tropical medicine at Tulane University, New Orleans, and then went to Brazil for further exploration and research.

Returning to the States, he wrote numerous short stories and four novels.  Later he became distinguished in art, particularly as a water colorist.  He won several prizes in French exhibitions.

He established schools of art in El Paso, Tex; Santa Fe, NM; and Denver, Colo, and became dean of the College of Fine Arts at Denver University.

Discovered Insect Species

As a medical man he announced two new clinical entities in tropical diseases and discovered numerous new species of insects and other causative agents of diseases.  He contributed more than 150 brochures and articles to medical literature.

His autobiography, Life is Too Short, published in 1941, told much of his diverse and adventurous life.

Surviving, besides Paul I and Manly Wade Wellman, are two other sons, Dr Frederick J Wellman and Creighton Wellman, a daughter, Mrs Alice Wellman Harris, eight grand-children and eight great-grand-children.

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

September 14, 1960

Darling Creighton Seeley Scott, my good son,

I wrote to the Herald-Tribune a letter I ask to have published, correcting the reference to you in Cyril’s obituary as “Creighton Wellman” and explaining that Fredrick Creighton Wellman’s change of name to Cyril Kay Scott which began his art careers of novelist and painter was legal and permanent, having been effected by recorded documented usage. Both your father’s major interests represent, as you know, achievement, and that was conceded in the obituary. But we cant have any more misconstructions about the legality of the name Scott. There are many examples of such changes accepted under American Law Constitutional, and the two examples we all know are James Marshall’s celebrated ancestor and Charles Madison, the author, who was once and for years Holt’s textbook editor. Dad’s completed years and years ago.

Our love all the time, darling son Jigg,
Mother

Cyril had achieved more in science as Fredrick Creighton Wellman than the paper gave him credit for. His degrees, as you may remember, were several medical and scientific and he was a member of the Linnaean Society.

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

New York Herald Tribune
230 West 41st Street, New York 36

October 5, 1960

Dear Mr Scott:

In the Associated Press account of the death of your father, Dr Frederick C Wellman, printed in the Herald Tribune and other newspapers on September 6, your name was listed among other surviving members of the family as Creighton Wellman.

Your mother, Mrs Evelyn Scott, has written to say that your legal name is Creighton Seeley Scott, and that it should have been listed so. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, all newspapers use Associated Press copy as received, in good faith.

If the name as printed actually was erroneous and its appearance in the obituary in that form was embarrassing to you, we would consider setting the record straight. I would like to point out, however, that the story appeared a month ago.

Sincerely yours
RICHARD G WEST,
City Editor

* * * * *

To Richard West

Mr Richard West
City Editor, The HERALD-TRIBUNE
New York City

October 9, 1960

Dear Mr West,

This is in answer to your letter of October 5.

I have no idea what Evelyn Scott wrote you, but she did not do so with my knowledge. She has been of unsound mind for years, and the fact is notorious.

I read the Associated Press obituary about my father, Dr F C Wellman, carefully It seemed clear and well-written as obituaries go, and the errors it contained were too trivial to mention and probably not the fault of AP.

If I had found it objectionable, I would have objected, which I have not done and don’t intend to do. I make no complaints, require no retractions or corrections from the Herald-Tribune or anybody else, or that the record be put straight, as you offer to do, in any way. I am content with things as they are.

It’s a pity you were inconvenienced, for you must be a busy man, but you should know that I decline absolutely all responsibility for what Evelyn Scott does or says, or attributes to me.

If she continues to write to you, as seems likely, the best person to get in touch with is her husband, Mr John Metcalfe, who may or may not be able to make her stop. There is nothing I can do.

Very truly yours,
Creighton Scott

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

New York Herald Tribune
230 West 41st Street, New York 36

October 12, 1960

Dear Mr Scott:

Thank you for your courteous letter. I was sorry to trouble you, for I had supposed that you had seen the obituary and would have been the first to object if an error had been committed. But Evelyn Scott was becoming rather importunate, and it seemed best to have the matter settled by the person most concerned.

We shall take your advice if any more letters are received.

Sincerely yours
RICHARD G WEST,
City Editor

* * * * *

To Fred Strong

Mr Fred Strong,
Postmaster,
Carmel, California

December 8, 1960

Dear Mr Strong,

This letter is intended to save you embarrassment and annoyance if possible, and to make it easier for you to explain matters to your superiors should my mother, Evelyn Scott, harass you as she did once before and carry her complaints to the Postmaster General again.

Unhappily she has been of unsound mind for the past twenty years or so, and her mania consists of believing that I should abandon my wife and my children, of which there are five—one in college, one of military age and a third in high school, the other two in grade school.

She has suggested at various times how they could be disposed of and my step-father, the responsible person in her case, will not or cannot keep her quiet. While I was in Indo-China with the State Department she wrote about a letter a week to my various chiefs, to the Ambassador to Vietnam, and finally to John Foster Duller, Eisenhower, and various others.

You will certainly hear from her and, when you cannot do what she asks, from whichever higher authority she decides to appeal to. In answering their inquiries or criticism you may feel free to use this letter in any way you think fit.

I apologise for the embarrassment you were caused once before, which I could not prevent, and I hope you will be spared any more. However, this letter should make it easy to explain.

Sincerely yours,
Creighton Scott

* * * * *

During the months after their return from Saigon Jigg was taking stock of the damage to his life inflicted by his mother, and considering ways of silencing her letter-writing and restoring some self-respect by once again finding gainful employment.  His years of achievement in radio news should have stood him in good stead but, as the following letters describe, Evelyn had maligned his character and politics to such an extent that anyone who enquired into his background felt he was too risky a prospect.

Jigg’s campaign to resstore his  reputation involved two long-standing and loyal friends of his mother’s:  May Mayers, her physician and Margaret DeSilver, who had, in spite of misgivings, organised the Evelyn Scott Fund to bring Evelyn and Jack back to the United States. 

* * * * *

To May Mayers

December 9, 1960

Dear May Mayers

As you still seem to feel a concern for my mother, and as I shall be forced to take steps concerning her, I solicit your suggestions, if you care to make any.

During the war, when she stayed briefly with us in New Jersey, she had a sort of psychic explosion which expressed itself in squeezing open the mouth of my baby son and spitting into it because she had the ‘flu and she wanted him to have it too; smashing various things around the house; waking me up every half hour so I would be too tired to go to work, in the hope, she said, that I would lose my job and my present marriage would founder economically. This was just the preliminary, and as I refused to have anything to do with her since then, except for an unwise forty-eight hour visit in London in 1949, she has taken to writing letters for lack of anything better.

The letter writing has been going on since 1944. She wrote when I was working at NBC, high officials of ABC when I was there, to my chiefs at CBS and WOR, and to the powers that be at Radio Free Europe when I was in Munich, to John Foster Dulles, Hollister, and even Eisenhower when I was in Saigon; and latterly she has been carrying on a long correspondence with the Postmaster General and various others to try and discover where I am now working. During the four years I was in Indo-China she wrote letters, all plausible, to various persons she believed to hold some kind of authority over me, including several who owed their position to the late Senator McCarthy, at the rate of about 60 per year.

All these letters, since 1944 have said the same thing: (a) that I am so high strung and effeminate the work I am doing, whatever it is, is too much for me and (b) that I am under the influence of nameless, sinister political forces, which have alienated me from her. Last year abut forty of these were produced as evidence of my unreliability before a sub-committee of the House Foreign Relations Committee, in an effort to offset evidence I had given concerning the failure of a foreign aid project, by attempting to prove that (a) I was mentally deranged and (b) that I probably have un-American tendencies. She also writes to the FBI, and I have been continually under investigation by this agency since 1945.

In addition to stressing my frailty and my thrall to nameless un-American influences, she plays on the Forsaken Mom theme in the most disgusting way I have ever heard of; and of the 128 letters she wrote to the State Department about me between 1955 and 1957, the four I was allowed to see in part all ended with requests that I should not be allowed to read them for fear it might “upset” me.

I discovered that I was fired from Radio Free Europe as a political risk because of her, and from the International Cooperation Administration for a similar reason. She managed to suggest to him by the ambiguity of her words that I had Negro blood which had gotten into the family strain during my father’s residence in Africa. I know this doesn’t make sense, but sense is not necessary to bigots. In letters to one of my chiefs in Saigon she stated as a matter of known fact that my wife (Paula Pearson, whom you must remember) was a former prostitute, which became current throughout the Foreign Aid organization within a matter of weeks, without my being able to discover the source until more than two years later.

Quite apart from that, in this age of organizational fanaticism, when every personnel department maintains a species of Gestapo, in constant liaison with others all over the country, I find it impossible to get a job. I have not worked for more than a year, since I left the ICA in Washington; and although there have been many promising overtures, all prospects fade as soon as my references are checked by a prospective employer. Eighteen years with the four major radio networks and several more in responsible positions overseas are thus made nugatory by my mother’s selfish mania. In 1949, in London, I protested to my mother about what she had already done in the way of writing letters, or tried to, but she replied that I merely did not understand, and that it was all for my own good. She also counselled me to ditch my wife and children as unworthy of me, because they hampered my literary career. I should not have to point out that I have had no literary career.

Where she is sane or not she is ruthless, and I have had enough. The question that bothers me is this: she is supposed to have some kind of heart disease (so do I, with cholesterol deposits around my eyes and electrocardiograms that I have to hush up to keep my jobs) and she says she will drop dead from the shock if my wife discontinues writing or withholds various information I don’t think she should be trusted with.

Is this true? I personally doubt it. What I propose to do is not merely cut off all communication, but apply through the courts eventually, when I can afford it, to have her locked up.

As you are a doctor, and very wise besides, I would be grateful for any light you can cast on the subject. I apologise for bothering you.

Sincerely,
Jigg Scott

I’d prefer for the time being that Jack be kept out of this.

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

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

December 12, 1960

Dear Jig:

Your letter arrived this morning together with a great blizzard here in NY and that was a proper setting for it. Yours is the most distressing news I have heard in I don’t know how long. So I am answering at once.

I have been in close touch with your mother ever since she and Jack arrived in New York. She has lost most of her friends, as I understand, and succeeds in antagonizing everyone. Because of my intimate knowledge of her medical state, and for old times sake, I have refused to be offended with anything she says, and I have been able to keep her heart more or less stabilized with appropriate medication. As far as her heart is concerned, I advise you not to worry about it. Her attacks of hypertension and angina come on as a response to emotional stress, primarily–tho she cannot, of course, go in for any amount of physical exertion either.

I have given a lot of serious thought to your letter since it arrived, and to the highly complex problems which you raise. I have only one possible suggestion as to how I might possibly be of any assistance to you in the matter–and, in all probability, this suggestion may be quite futile. If you have any suggestions, please do not hesitate to tell me. If there is anything whatever that I can do, I would want to do it.

My thought is to write you a letter on my medical stationery, telling of my long years of friendship with your mother; of the fact that I have been taking care of her medical problems since she has been in New York, and that I understand her mental condition very well indeed; that no one should be influenced by anything she writes–something along those lines.  A medical letter along those general lines might be of no use to you. On the other hand, it might be worth a try.

My best to you and your family.
As ever May

PS: I want to add that I remember Paula very well indeed, and that I was so impressed with her, I have often held her up as an example of an unusually charming, and capable, person.

* * * * *

To May Mayers

December 15, 1960

Dear May Mayers,

I realize I must have distressed you unnecessarily by being abrupt, for which I apologize, all the more so because I have been reading about the blizzard, one of the few things that has reconciled me to California, a mad place as you may have heard.

I gratefully accept your offer to write a letter that would make it easier to explain my predicament, but I prefer to leave its composition to you, for I would not know how to begin it. If you will just state the medical facts as you see them, and address it to me, I can have it photostated if necessary.

I don’t think, however, that such a document can do much to retrieve my affairs after the seventeen or eighteen years of my mother’s letter writing now past and all the confusion, suspicion and misunderstanding she has brought about; and what I am trying to think of, is some way of preventing her from doing any more. One difficulty is that I don’t know how many she has written, or to whom. I have given the local postmaster a letter of my own, explaining the case, because he has to be able to defend himself and she complained very strongly about his dilatoriness in answering her to the Postmaster General of the United States. It almost got the poor man fired, when all he said was that the letters she had written probably had reached their destination. She was sure that he, too, was the subject of malign influences, because he wouldn’t do anything to make me write, or move from California.

I only get occasional clues, like the ones I mentioned. One was a letter from George West, the City Editor of the New York “Herald Tribune”, to whom she had written saying that the Associated Press obituary of my father wrongly gave my name as Wellman instead of Scott, and that I complained. West was very civil and offered to publish a correction, and I had to write him and say that in my opinion she was out of her head and that I did not require any correction. The relevant fact here is that she said nothing about her own objections, it was I on whose behalf she was writing.

Another clue I have is a letter I never saw, written to the Hon Elbridge Durbrow, the US Ambassador to Vietnam, in which she appears to have said that I was very unhappy in Saigon but did not dare to say so, and that she was therefore interceding to have me transferred to a suitable climate. Apart from the fact that I was anything but unhappy and had not written her for years, we all enjoyed being there and my wife told her so repeatedly. As I say, I never saw the letter, but Durbrow asked me why I felt I had to be so devious when I wanted a transfer, and obviously didn’t believe me which I said I didn’t. He also read me a little lecture on (a) my filial duty and (b) my patriotic obligations, from which I infer that the letter cast doubts on my sincerity in both.

I know that the material in the ones read by my Washington superior to the congressional sub-committee I mentioned had such an effect the chairman ordered them eliminated from the printed record, which notes this fact. However, I still don’t know what the letters contain.

The truth of the matter is that I don’t know where I stand–it’s like one of those bomb scares they have in New York, you never know where or when the next one will go off.

The few friends I have mentioned my problems to all say she obviously doesn’t know how much harm she is doing, but I wonder. The letters must be very plausible, or they would not make such a bad impression. She started writing them long ago, when she was obviously much more herself than she is now. And though I used to protest, she has always taken the position that my opinions in the matter need not be considered. At first this was because I didn’t really mean what I said–it wasn’t the “real me” speaking–and later it was because of these intangible malevolent influences she thinks are abroad.

What it boils down to is that she will not concede anybody’s right to live his own life, and never has. Psychiatrists must have a word for it. If somebody were to tell me they wanted no more to do with me, that would be the end of that, and it has happened. But apparently nobody can keep my mother from meddling. I don’t know just why or how God bestowed on her this special authority over fellow humans, or some of them, but it seems to amount to a sort of divine right and always has.

One of the puzzles to me is Jack, whose predicament must have been a nightmare for years, and who has been compelled, one after the other, to give up his friends, his ambitions, his hopes and his peace of mind. When I last saw him in London he was hopelessly dejected and more pessimistic that I had ever expected to find him, and I can only guess what he feels like now.

I don’t suppose all this is relevant to anything, but it’s a relief to get it off my chest. As far as practical matters go, my mother has overplayed her hand. Up to the present she has been able to blackmail me–or rather, Paula–into keeping up some kind of correspondence, by the implied threat of even more fluent letter writing than usual, with more fascinating innuendo in each letter, for all that I know. Now that I am subsisting more or less from day to day, thanks to the charity of a few and the beneficence of a paternal government, there is absolutely nothing she can do she hasn’t done already, and so I planned to end the correspondence once and for all. If it drives her over the edge, it will be regrettable, but better than driving one of my children over the edge. She already has the name of my daughter’s college, and I suppose she could find out who my son’s commanding officer was if she tried hard enough, but maybe it won’t go that far.

I apologize very humbly for burdening you with all this, May; and I must say we admire your forbearance and good sense more than we can say. I hope I shall have friends as faithful and disinterested as you have been to my mother, without many thanks that I remember hearing about. If it’s any consolation we think you are a trump and Paula thinks so too.

If the costs and complications are not huge, I might be able to borrow the money sooner than I could earn it–it would be worth going into debt to breathe more easily. I may sound heartless, but I feel desperate.

Please accept my thanks and Paula’s, which are sincere. The kids would be grateful too, if they knew what was at stake; but we try to keep them from being troubled by such matters.

Sincerely,
C Scott

* * * * *

To Paula and Creighton Scott

December 26, 1960

Dear Jig and Paula:

I will try to answer both your letters together. I agree that the matter which is most urgent, at the moment, is to protect your children. You certainly must be proud of the wonderful record being made by Denise. Actually, Evelyn has told me with great pride about Denise, her scholarship etc. She is–at least outwardly–as far as I can see, most anxious to keep the flimsy thread of communication open between you. I believe that it would be a strategic error to discontinue writing to her. That would in all probability, in my opinion, upset her so much more than at present, that one would merely increase the unpleasant things she might do. I do not think anyone can stop her letter writing, not even I. But I believe that it should be possible to write her without disclosing in any way where the children are of what they are doing. It is too bad that she knows where Denise is at college. She had better not learn anything more.

As to your proposal to try to commit Evelyn, I can assure you that she is far too lucid in conversation to make such a thing possible–quite regardless of expense. I have seen people try to commit persons many times, and I can assure you that it would never work in Evelyn’s case. It takes two psychiatrists to form an opinion in such a matter, and I have seen persons far less lucid than Evelyn, and actually incoherent, fail to meet with psychiatrists’ concepts of grounds for commitment. As you must realize, every precaution surrounds a matter such as this. Otherwise all kinds of people would find themselves committed, with lack of personal liberty, just because someone with money or influence wants to get rid of them. There is no use your borrowing money or using your own to this end. You will not succeed.

I have tried to formulate a letter, such as I suggested, which you can show, indicating that one must not believe everything Evelyn writes. But beyond saying this to you her, there is nothing I can write on my medical stationery which would not be disclosing what is regarded as confidential medical information between doctor and patient. And, anyway, as you say such a letter would not be of much use to you. So I have decided to do nothing more on that score.

I believe that the best of many unsatisfactory alternatives, is for Paula to continue writing–providing no information whatever about the whereabouts of any of the children–and perhaps, threatening to discontinue writing if any more letters are written by Evelyn that come to your attention. I know she does not want Paula to discontinue her letters. So this is something of a handle. I wish there was something further that I could suggest.

My best to you both
May

Incidentally, Jack and Evelyn seem to be getting on very well these days. He has a tutoring job which keeps him very busy, and they have social security.

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

December 30, 1960

Dear Margaret

The accompanying carbon of my letter to Dr Mayers will explain itself and help clarify what I write below, but before I go on, I request most urgently that you refuse any request from my mother for money to travel out here. If she were to turn up in California, I would have no choice but to petition the State Lunacy Commission to lock her up, which Dr Mayers says is not legally feasible. I would have to try, anyway, using as evidence letters I have in which my mother tells of a powerful electronic device that is being used to brainwash me; and the mess would be calamitous.

As will see from the carbon, I was in bad company in Saigon, which was crammed with the kind of men the State Department preferred after Dulles and McCarthy put their stamp on it. Nobody who has not lived in the atmosphere these men created can imagine what it was like, and the fact is that the Americans in Indo-China were so busy suspecting each other of something nameless they had no time for their work.

Ever since I left the foreign aid organization Winfield (the man my mother wrote to in Washington—see carbon) has had all requests from my prospective employers for information on my background referred to him; and the result has been that my name has become mud. Time and again I have been on the verge of going to work only to have the job fall through at the last moment, and in several cases I know it to be because of a bad reference from Winfield.

Believe me, my testimony to the congressmen had nothing to do with my being fired. All I complained abut was four years of delay that put us in the ill graces of the Vietnamese, but the other witnesses—and the damned newspapers—put so much stress on the waste of money you would have thought that was the only consideration. I was fired before I came home, and my mother’s letters were the reason, plus the fact that my opinions are on the liberal side. I was not even allowed to stay in Saigon an extra week to help my family pack, and they came home after me.

The result is that my wife, my children and I are as close to starvation as we are ever likely to be, and getting closer daily, despite the affluence of the society we live in. Since I have no boss my mother can write to, I am taking advantage of my temporary immunity from her attentions to cut the tie with her for once and for all. In her answer to my letter, Dr Mayer said that my mother’s heart ailment is not serious; and this has so far been the only thing holding me back from a final break.

Although I do not have a college degree or even a high school diploma, I am literate and published one (bad) novel. I am bilingual in French and English, and have a smattering of Spanish and Portuguese.

You must know someone who could give me a hand., All the jobs I have had in the past I got without any influence or intercession of anyone, on the basis of my own record—not an easy matter for a man with no education. I am as near to being desperate as I will ever be, and even the rather meagre bounty of the social workers will be running out one of these days.

I can come to New York by ‘bus if necessary; which will mean selling my typewriter and a few other things. But the job need be neither lavish nor important. Just so long as it keeps us all alive.

Please, if you know of anyone who might help me, give me an introduction. Above all, don’t mention this to my mother or give her the money to come out here.

Sincerely

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

December 31, 1960

Dear Mother,

I have your last letter, suggesting I send you my working address, so that you can write to me there.

I have no such address, I have no job, and if I did I would not tell you anything about it, because the experience of the past fifteen years has taught me that sooner or later you would write to my employer with the object of having me fired, as you have done hundreds of times in the past.

I remember vividly the promise you made to me in Tappan, during the war, that you would do everything you could to make sure my marriage and my family would founder economically, so that I could come back to you, like a pet poodle dangling on the end of an umbilical cord instead of a leash. A good many of those to whom you wrote believed, as you presumably intended, that they had been warned by a patriotic mother about the treasonable tendencies of a wayward son; and this sort of innuendo has cost me job after job, year after year. Thanks mainly to you, I find myself in middle age without work, without prospects, and an object of suspicion to everyone who might hire me.

Because of your perseverance in blackening my name, we are poor. The education I might have given my children is beyond my reach, and I have no doubt whatever that you would do whatever you could to revenge yourself on them as the opportunity arose. But then I remember very well how–during that same wartime visit to Tappan–you spat into my baby son Frederick’s mouth because, you said, you had the ‘flu and you hoped he would get it and die.

The one bright spot in the situation, as I see it, is that you have overplayed your hand. Hitherto we have been at the mercy of whatever slander about us you thought fit to spread, and Paula has kept up with a correspondence she finds nauseating solely in the hope of preventing you from writing worse things about us to even greater numbers of strangers. It never worked; and now that you have done your worst, there is nobody left to whom you can malign me, no method of coercion you can use, nothing whatever you can do to force either one of us to write or do anything you ask.

The only namely sinister influence in our lives has been you, and you know it. I have gone to the bestially unfilial extreme of refusing to abandon a wife and five children, not because I am being brainwashed by some mysterious electronic device, as you insist, but simply because I see no reason to make six people wretched merely to please your diseased vanity. There is no such device, as you know perfectly well, and my troubles arise mainly from your refusal to admit that I have a right to live my own life without placing your engorged ego before all other considerations.

This is the last time any of us will write, except to notify you of a death in the family.

Good-bye.
Your son

* * * * *

To Jack Metcalfe

December 31, 1960

Dear Jack

I have written to my mother terminating the correspondence once and for all. I appreciate that this makes things difficult for you, and that the brunt of whatever hysterics I bring about will fall on you. I am sorry, but I have had enough.

What you probably do not realize, although she undoubtedly does, is that the letters she has been writing to my superiors and employers for the last 15 years or so inevitably have cost me my jobs, and that the cumulative effect is now such that nobody will hire me. I know there have been hundreds of such letters, and the ones I have been permitted to see all said I was the helpless tool of nameless, sinister influences–a sort of zombie who could not be trusted with any responsible job.

The result at present is that I am without a job, on the brink of starvation, and that my family must undergo severe hardships–all because of my mother’s letter writing. Nobody will hire me because her letters are still in the personnel files of every company I have ever worked for.

I used to think she was merely irresponsible, but having thought it over I have decided this is not correct. I believe her motives are nothing more than vengeful jealousy toward my wife and my children, which she took no trouble to conceal when she visited us in Tappan, during the war, and demanded that I abandon them altogether and at once as unworthy of me.

I have now fallen so low there is absolutely nothing whatever she can do to me, and so I am taking full advantage of my (at least temporary) invulnerability to coercion to break things off once and for all.

I have written her the most brutally forthright letter I was able to compose, in the hope that it will penetrate the thick layers of complacency, and absolute contempt for the opinions and welfare of everybody else in the world, that protect her from her own conscience and my reproaches.

As far as I can see her present frame of mind is the result of a life-long belief that nothing whatever matters excepting the means of gratifying her own ego. Her attitude toward my wife and my family is absolutely ruthless and what she has done would not be tolerated at the hands of any stranger. Not only will Paula not write again, but neither will I; and these two letters, one to you and one to her, are the last communications to be expected from any of us.

If she will not listen to any explanations, you might point out to her that things might not have gone this far if she had been willing to abstain from slandering me to my employers, in the hope of depriving me and mine of our bread and butter–as she obviously intended. However, the thing has gone too far, a point of no return has been reached; and there is no appeal.

If she were to have the bad taste to come here, to expostulate with me in person, I would have her locked up in the State Insane Asylum at Napa; I would have no other choice, and some of her letters (saved with the possible need in mind) would, I think, convince even the most sceptical she is dangerous. Paula and I would be prepared to testify that she showed herself to be violent and malevolent toward the children.

Sorry. Good luck to you.
Your stepson,

* * * * *

To May Mayers

December 31, 1960

Dear May Mayers,

I have your letter of the 26th December, and we see the force of your arguments up to a point. What you advise, however, means submitting indefinitely to the same kind of misery, as long as my mother feels inclined to hound us.

Your letter did one thing to clear up my own ideas, however; and after reading it carefully I realize that any woman who is not sick enough to be restrained must also be in good enough health to stop meddling in other people’s lives. If she can write such plausible letters and converse—as you point out—so coherently, then she is obviously of sufficiently sound mind to face the facts of the case. I realize that this is not what you said, but it is what I infer from the facts as a whole: please don’t think I am trying to give your words an interpretation you did not mean.

As I interpret your statement of the case, there is no help to be expected from any quarter, and the sole prospect of obtaining any peace lies in precipitating the worst crisis I can devise. I most certainly decline to go on this way for the rest of her life, and my children should not be asked to sacrifice their own interests to please the vanity of an egomaniac—as she is certain to require of them, sooner or later.

Accordingly I have written her the most brutally candid letter I could phrase, in the hope that it will penetrate the veneer that protects her from her own conscience and any other consideration except having things her own way. Now that I know that her heart condition is not serious, she can threaten to drop dead as much as she likes without my being disturbed., Apart from being unwilling to be the cause of heart failure I have no feelings about her except dislike; and I am convinced that vengeful jealousy toward Paula and my children underlies all she does, in spite of what she says in her letters to Paula.

I am sorry I got you into this, May, even to this slight extent. I realize that your position as an old friend of my mother’s must tie your hands in many ways, and Paula and I are grateful for your good will. My mother’s most recent letter, in reply to one from Paula saying the correspondence was over, mentions that she may write to my daughter’s college and wants my business address. As I told you, I am out of work and in straits; and I propose to take advantage of the fact that no more harm can be done to me, to start the crisis straight away. I have taken precautions to warn the college.

Many thanks for your interest in the matter, and good luck to you.
Sincerely

 

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

January 6, 1961

Dear Paula,

You will see the letter1 I have written Jigg. Do know that whenever you both feel like writing again we would be delighted.

We hope you will all think better of the situation. With us, you two and the children mean much. I have never seen you, or them, and hoped to do so some time.

The idea of Evelyn as an intentional destroyer of what does mean so much to her is ludicrous. What nightmare has afflicted you?

My interest in you-all is natural and unborrowed. I would quite spit on any profession of amiability that didn’t spring of itself.

So here’s hoping
Jack

1 This letter has not survived.

* * * * *

Sadly for Jigg, the story does not end here. . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

29. An exercise in red tape

In 1943, while on secondment to the Canadian Royal Air Force, 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 serving officers to have members of their immediate families repatriated to the UK, at the expense of the officer concerned. Evelyn decided she wished to return to England to be with Jack and he 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

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

 * * * * *

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

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.

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

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

* * * * *

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.

* * * * *

 

19. Interlude: A blog is born

I make no bones about it:  blogging does not come naturally to me.  Earlier I composed this piece as a crie de coeur, hoping that my experience might strike a chord with other “unnatural” bloggers.  If your experience is similar:  my sympathies.  If you have any thoughts that might help, please get in touch.

* * * * *

This is about my blog about my grandmother Evelyn Scott, a controversial modernist (and feminist 30 years before her time) American writer in the 1920s, ‘30s and ‘40s.

Ten years ago (!) I embarked on what I never dreamed would consume so much of my time and energy:  collecting as many of her letters as I could and turning them into her biography.  I have struggled with the vastness of the collection and the seeming impossibility of creating any sort of narrative from them.  [Skipping over about 8 years’ struggle], I was eventually persuaded that it would be difficult to get the result of my labours published by a conventional publisher, and that the key to getting anything published was SOCIAL MEDIA!

My book needed a presence on social media before any publisher would even glance at it.

In May last year, I decided to give a paper about my grandmother at the annual conference of the American Literature Association in Boston.  Deep breath: I paid my fee and bought a plane ticket, and then collapsed in panic.

Somehow I produced a PowerPoint summarising her life.  The discipline of a 20-minute slot focussed my mind, and eventually I summarised her life and letters in 40 minutes of hard-won distillation.  It went down well with the select audience.  And suddenly, I realised what I had to do to prepare for the publication of my life’s work (well, the last 10 years or so).  Distil it all into a much longer PowerPoint, which could serve as a first draft.  Enough to interest (or not) a possible publisher.  At least I would have something I could show.  Reflection persuaded me that PowerPoint might not be the best medium.  And how to share it amongst the audience I hoped would be interested?

Friendly advice prompted me to try a blog.  A what?  A bit of research persuaded me that WordPress was the one to use.  I bought a generously-illustrated “introduction”, complete with CD, and parted with £10.

If that was an introduction, I wonder what the advanced-level book would be like.  The pictures matched, more or less, what came up on my screen, but the words could have been mystic incantations.

“Only 5 easy clicks to get your new blog online!”

Yes, the easy clicks weren’t the problem.  It was the difficult ones leading up to them.

I am not a newcomer to IT.  Long ago, I even wrote in machine code!  However, WordPress does not understand machine code and insisted on terms like “plugin” and “widget” and, for the really advanced, “page jump”, also known as “infinite scroll”.

After a certain amount of screaming, tearing of hair, and kicking the cat, I produced my first post.  And posted it.  But how to make people aware that it was out there?  It would have to be the dreaded social media.

Now, I have a visceral objection to placing information about myself, however trivial, in cyberspace, and have studiously avoided anything to do with it. Facebook does not appeal to me, but I dutifully went out and bought the latest Dummies guide.  A gripping read it is not, but I did glean that you could turn on numerous “privacy” settings which would hide anything you posted from everyone. There seemed little point in that, so I carefully set my privacy to allow my next-door neighbour and my daughter to see what I was up to.

When I opened my new Facebook account I was invited to reveal “what’s on your mind?”  All I wanted to disclose was the fact that I had posted something on a blog.  What blog?  I entered the web address and, magically, an image of my blog’s title appeared!  Wow!

ALIL

I rashly clicked “post now” and “public” and waited.  Several days later I got a notification:  someone had liked my blog!  I was well on the way to publication!

Heady with excitement, it occurred to me to let my grandmother in on the act.  She died in 1963, and she was a bit of a troglodyte where matters literary were concerned, but she might just have been intrigued by the possibilities offered by social media.  I thought she might like her own Facebook account.

She could write from beyond the grave.

And indeed she does.  Each time I post a new instalment of her letters, she has something to say about what I have done.  She is not always happy, either.  She can be very critical of my selection from her letters.  (Did I mention that I have over 2000 of them?  And that some of them are very lengthy?  And repetitive?)

That, I thought, is that.  But not for Facebook.  How do you think they make those huge profits?

That is where the concept of “boosting” comes in. It is another word for paying them to make sure lots of people see what I have done. Or, more precisely, what Evelyn has written about what I have done.

Like WordPress, FB can use words in mystifying ways.  A few ill-judged clicks and I discovered I had almost committed myself to paying £790 to “boost” my post to over 1,000,000 potential “likes” in sub-Saharan Africa.  It was only because I had to go find my bank details that I was saved from making that payment.

Some careful clicking through the various options, and I have discovered that I can decide with whom to share Evelyn’s FB posts.  Everyone aged 18 to 65 seemed like a good start.  Interests?  Certainly not “celebrities” or “classic cars” or “eating out”.  Maybe “reading” would cover it. Geographic area? Tricky, but settled on England and a few US states.  I could always add to the list.

I have been “boosting” by paying small amounts for a few days’ boosts at a time.  FB helpfully sends me a daily summary of my measly statistics.  Bit by bit, I am getting more “likes”.  Now they send me regular reminders:  “You have 7 likes so far.  You could have 27 likes tomorrow if you pay us £xxx every day in perpetuity.”

As they say, every little helps.

I only wish I knew how many “likes” a publisher would consider sufficient interest.

The plan, dear friends, is to post Evelyn’s entire collection (edited just a bit) by the end of next summer.  That done, I can start thinking about how to get the material into print.  And to help, I (or more precisely, Evelyn) need “likes” and “shares”.  Lots of them.

* * * * *

6. Escapade . . . and a child is born

In 1956 Elsie prepared a lengthy account of her early life, to be given to her son on her death, and I have used this as the foundation for this account of her early years.  Last week I shared with you photos,  including images of her mother Maude Thomas Dunn and her father Seely Dunn, from the album her mother kept during her babyhood which I hope helped you to visualise, literally, where Elsie Dunn came from,.

We have been introduced to Dr Frederick Creighton Wellman, the dashing older, twice-married friend of her father’s who was about to travel to Brazil and who wished not to travel alone.  His wife in Kansas had refused to accompany him, and young Elsie was passionate and more than willing to escape from what she found the stultifying atmosphere of conventional Southern society.  What follows is her description of the start of their adventure which she later wrote about in her autobiographical novel Escapade.

I have not found any letters from their years in Brazil. Evelyn did, however provide a lengthy, if slightly fictionalised, account of those years in her autobiographical novel, Escapade.    This work, published in 1923 and still in print, was a literary sensation, attracting opprobrium and praise in equal measure—but more on that later.  Similarly, Cyril wrote extensively of his time in Brazil in his autobiography, Life Is Too Short.

[NB:  Escapade is easily available via Amazon or AbeBooks, and a translation by Graca Salgado into Portuguese will be published later this year by Versal Publishing in Rio de Janeiro.  Life Is Too Short (Lippincott, 1943) is now out of print and copies are difficult to fnd.  If a copy can be found it is an engaging account of Cyril’s six careers prior to its publication.]

We now take up Elsie’s account.

* * * * *

Dr Wellman and myself left New Orleans on December 26th, 1913.  But we did not leave together.  I told my parents I would like to spend the Christmas holidays at Pass Christian, where I had spent two summers with the maiden ladies, the Misses Sutter, aunts of the late Fanny Heaslip Lea[1], Mrs Agee, the magazine writer.  Heart-strings were torn on my side, too, when I said goodbye to my mother.  My father took me to the train and bought my ticket to Pass Christian.  Dr Wellman—knowing he would be struck from the medical register, as he was, though, later, he was professionally forgiven in several quarters—had taken an earlier train to Gulfport.  He boarded my train there, and we both alighted at Pass Christian, and took a streetcar to Biloxi.  From Biloxi we went to Mobile, and at Mobile we spent the night, I as literally virginal as ever, and having bought my own ticket, though I had just the money needed for a vacation and the Boston Club dues handed over to me by Dr Wellman.

At Mobile we bought tickets for New York, via Washington, DC.  All went well as to our arrangements, but one of the Tulane professors, we discovered, at Washington, had been on the train.  We changed at Washington, and as we alighted on the platform, we encountered him and I was introduced as Miss Foster, a friend.

We went to New York and were in New York several days; at first at a hotel I think I have since identified as the Prince George, but before we sailed, as we had to begin to count our money, at a rooming-house somewhere in the forties.  I wrote to my parents from New York City, telling them what we were doing but saying I could not give our destination as yet, though I would write again soon.  We called on my childhood friend, Ruth Whitfield, of  Clarksville, Tenn and New Orleans; who was then at a Catholic boarding-house for office-workers on 14th St.  She was called to the telephone as we sat in the parlour, and when she returned to us, said she had talked to my father, but had not said we were there and we had just asked her to say nothing until we were aboard our steamer.

I discovered, later, that the second Mrs Wellman had found out that I, too, was not to be located, when a young doctor who was working on mosquitoes under Dr Wellman and who was one of her friends and sometimes took her out, had phoned me at my home to ask whether he could take me to a Christmas dance; my mother had said I was at the Sutters’ in Pass Christian; he had phoned Pass Christian and put the Sutters in a flutter.  They had phoned my parents.  By that time, Edna Willis, as she was at first, had read Dr Wellman’s letter, and had decided for herself—as far as we know—that we had eloped.  She first insulted my distracted mother by phone, by insulting me; then called in the newspapers.[2]  Of the newspaper scandal we knew nothing until we reached Brazil.  My grandfather, temperate by nature, and with unusual poise of manner, went to the editor of one of them to try by every means to put a stop to sensation that was entirely libel except in respect to the elopement itself.

Dr Wellman and I had not yet decided what name to take, though we had discussed the inadvisability of travelling under the names ours hitherto, and I had definitely decided to drop Elsie and become Evelyn, not merely for practical reasons, but because I had a strong dislike of my baptismal name.  At the steam-ship office we asked first for tickets to Rio, direct, but there was no boat sailing for sometime; and we were offered, as a bargain, tickets to Southampton, a stay of seven or eight weeks in England, and the tickets from Southampton to Rio as one fare; and as Dr Wellman was fond of England, was a graduate of London University’s College of Tropical Diseases and Preventitive [sic] Medicine—he had gone there when fully trained medically in the USA—and was indebted to Sir Patrick Manson for his appointment as medical director or supervisor for the Portuguese Crown when laying out the first railway in Loanda[3], he was eager to show me London, and there we went first, en route to Brazil.  This was January 1914.

No Passports were required in January 1914 either for England or Brazil.  We sailed for Southampton from Hoboken—where my father was to be stationed when in the US Army in the war—on the President Grant, of the Hamburg American Line.  We had called ourselves, for a few days, in New York, Mr and Mrs Watt; but we did not like this impromptu name, and when the steamer-tickets were being signed for in New York, Dr Wellman was drawn aside by me with the plea not to be Mr and Mrs Watt any longer.  I suggested Scott as better.  Cyril came as a matter of association, though we did not consciously remember Cyril Scott the composer until it was too late to retract.  The Kay was inserted then by Cyril Kay Scott himself, for ever after our afternoon of decision in Audubon Park, I had called him Kay, after the Kay of Hans Anderson’s Snow Queen.

The President Grant was more than half empty; such passengers as there were beside ourselves, mostly German.  It impressed me deeply with the sting of bitter winds, salty rails, etc; for it was my first crossing.  But the deck-space was ample, though we were second-class.  Plymouth, or rather the Cornish coast, offered me my first view of surf, as there is no surf on the Gulf Coast.  My first glimpse of London was of Trafalgar Square in rain, as Cyril Kay Scott and Evelyn Dunn Scott emerged from the tube in coming from the station, where we left our baggage for collection.  We found a bed-sitting-room in Torrington Square, not far from the boarding-house in which Cyril, before his change of name, had resided for a time with his first wife and their son, Paul I Wellman, the novelist, near the College of Tropical and Preventitive Medicine and the British Museum.

We began to sign our names as above in New York City and have continued to do so ever since.  My twenty-first birthday was celebrated in mid-ocean; and on ship-board we discussed alternately possible marriage should the second-wife divorce her husband, or, if she refused to for some interminable time in spite, whether or not we could defend our relationship with a Common Law Marriage in Brazil.  We were resolved on a life-long association as we were, whether we were approved of or not, and were then of half a mind—indeed it was taken for granted at first—that we would never return from Brazil to those who had no sense of real values.

In London, we went to Richmond Park and Cyril Kay Scott carved the initials CKS and EDS intertwined within a heart on a tree that may yet be standing.  We went to Kew Gardens and on some pretext asked for the catalogue of their botanical specimens, and I read with much pride the listing of several Wellmanii.  I had read in New Orleans as much as I could of some two hundred medical and botanical monographs by Fredrick Creighton Wellman.

In London, we went to Covent Garden to hear Tristan and Isolde and Siegfried.  We saw Granville Barker’s production of The Wild Duck and of The Death of Tintaigille—spelling seems correct!  We ate at very cheap places, and I never had enough, nor did Cyril Kay Scott probably, though he never said so, in various languages.

It was plain to me that his disassociation from his children had been the most painful aspect of his life; and to myself—no doubt “Freudianly”—as a reader of Shaw, Russell and Ellen Key, that justified continuing to take the attitude of the married even as to children; and Creighton’s—registered first Seely, after my father—Seely Scott—at the American Consulate in Recife, when an infant—Creighton’s birth, October 25th, 1914, in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, followed naturally.  We ourselves were very happy in our relationship of that time.  I dare to speak for Cyril Kay Scott, for his attitude throughout to me was perfect.

We sailed from Southampton for Rio, on the Blucher, of the Hamburg American Line, sometime in March.  We had as yet no presage of the approaching war that was to intern this ship but the Germans aboard, unlike the amiable Germans of the President Grant, were an aggressive and unpleasant lot.  There were heavy storms, one in the Bay of Biscay, went over the bridge in great waves.  I saw Lisbon on a day at shore, even then more the old Lisbon Dr Fredrick Creighton Wellman had known when working for the Portuguese Crown and presented with a decoration—the Order of Jesus, I think it was called, by Queen Amalie, than the Lisbon seen later by my son and his, myself and my present husband William John Metcalfe, when we were travelling together years afterward.

Cyril Kay Scott and myself arrived in Rio with no arrangements for our livelihood beyond one with Janson, the naturalist, behind the British Museum—or in front of it—who had agreed to handle insect specimens for us if we were able to obtain those in demand.  Our arrival in Rio, in hot weather, in the season of the temperate zone’s spring, is alluded to, and described in part in my Escapade.

Cyril Kay Scott went at once to the American Embassy Consulate and we registered there as Cyril Kay Scott and Evelyn D Scott.  We had been told of names changed by documented usage in the USA, and of Common Law Marriages established by consistent agreement between the man and woman to their status as that of man and wife in Common Law.  But we were not well-informed as yet and merely did what seemed to us logical in view of our resolve to remain united, and to exact from others respect for our status.

* * * * *

[NB:  I have researched common-law marriages and have not been able to find any reference to their having legal status at that time in any of the jurisdictions that might have applied to Evelyn and Cyril:  Louisiana, Tennessee, Kansas or Brazil.  Nevertheless, it was widely believed that these relationships had legal validity, and Evelyn clearly believed it to be so.]

The end-papers of Life Is Too Short comprise maps showing Cyril’s travels around Africa (before he took up his post at Tulane University) and South America.  This map of his South American travels may be helpful in following the narrative of their 5 years in Brazil.

More images0002

We were in Brazil from the spring of 1914, to August 1919.  I think our landing was in April, but it may have been May 1st.  We of course signed everything that required signing by the names which were legally becoming ours.  Cyril Kay Scott, for instance, was bonded by the Singer Sewing Machine Company, when he went to work for them as an unknown new employee, first a bookkeeper, then travelling auditor.  He was with them over two years.  In Escapade I tried to telescope events to preserve a story form.  Time intervals in it are possibly less exact than here, though the facts in it were actually the facts, and when the war broke we began to be troubled indeed by the fact that we were there without Passports and that the time-period we had gathered to be essential in American Law both for changes of name and Common Law Marriages was possibly far from sufficient yet.

I wrote to my parents from London three or four times, but it was not until my mother was invited by myself and Cyril Kay Scott to visit us in Natal and see Creighton—Seely as yet but Creighton added when we returned to the USA in 1919—that we had the full account of what my parents and grandparents had been put through in persecution and horror; reporters besieging them, and when they would not be interviewed, inventing lies defamatory to our characters.

* * * * *

Evelyn was pregnant when they arrived in Brazil.  The couple had very little money and they lived first in a poor district of Natal, to the north of Rio.  Evelyn sketched their home in the “baby book” she kept of their child’s first year: vivid evidence of their straitened circumstances.

Baby book

 

The birth of their child was difficult and left Evelyn with gynaecological problems which troubled her for the rest of her life.  The baby boy, however, was healthy.  He was named Creighton (after Cyril’s original middle name) Seely (after Evelyn’s father) Scott.  The baby was soon known as “Jigg”: as a baby he played in the garden of their home with the family’s maid-of-all-work/nursemaid, Stephania, and became infested with a locally common insect. chigger.  From this he acquired the nickname “Chiggeroo”, often shorted to “Jigg”, and he was known as Jigg for the rest of his life.

Jigg aged 2.JPG

My mother landed in Brazil at Recife, Cyril Kay Scott had gone there from Natal to meet her, and it was then, when she, too, registered herself—Mrs Seely Dunn of New Orleans—that the birth of our son was registered.

Before proceeding North from Rio for the Singer Company, we had rented a room for a few weeks at the home, in Cascadura, of two American Vice-Consuls, Mr Heubner and Mr Momsen, and as they were decent agreeable young men, it was the suppressed private wish of us both to be frank—but of course at that stage we did not dare trust to comprehension, though we may have had some later.

When I did not recover from the aftermath of my son’s birth, I went with my first husband, to the Presbyterian Mission Hospital in the interior of Pernambuco for a needed repair operation, and was operated on by the Mission Head, Dr Butler, who had come there from South Carolina, and was a student of the Mayos.  We were, again, of course, Mr and Mrs Cyril Kay Scott; and our names so registered and sometimes signed by both must have been scattered over all the North of Brazil between Rio and Natal.  As for Cyril Kay Scott himself, he was constantly engaged in work that required his signature.  When, even after being operated on, my health remained bad, and he decided to resign from Singer employment and invest in a ranch he had heard of in the interior of Bahia, about a hundred miles from Minas Geraes, he, so that he could be with me and Creighton all the time, he had the thousand acres of Government land we eventually acquired to the extent of having it surveyed and paying something down, registered as his in the name of Cyril Kay Scott.

* * * * *

Cercadinho was about 6 miles from the town of Lamarao, in the heart of Bahia province to the southwest of Rio.  The area was isolated, rural, and poor, as illustrated by this undated photo of the railway station.  Both Evelyn and Cyril describe it in their respective books, and Jigg later referred to it as “a healed volcanic pustule, the ridge walling it around notched where a river drained weepings from the surrounding bluffs plushy with hanging forest”.  The enterprise was not a success, and the family endured increasing poverty as their crops failed and the livestock died from lack of food.

Lamarao station.JPG

When the ranch life proved too precarious a livelihood for a man with a semi-invalid wife, a child and a mother-in-law to support–for my mother never went back, or rather did not until we did, return to the USA—Cyril Kay Scott obtained employment with the E J Lavino Company, owners of manganese and copper mines in Brazil, who had opened an office at Villa Nova da Rainha; a town about thirty-five miles from the ranch; and there, again, he was Cyril Kay Scott, and re-affirmed his change of name with every business signature.

He was first employed as an office assistant by Mr William Staver, who directed the mining of Lavino in that part of Brazil.  Mr Staver, already dissatisfied, but liking Mr Scott and finding him unusually competent—though he was just beginning to learn the ins and outs of mining—resigned after less than a year and recommended Cyril Kay Scott as his successor.  Cyril Kay Scott was, in due course, promoted to an office in Sao Salvador, Bahia’s chief and coastal city, and had charge of all the manganese mined by E J Lavino, which, either just before, or just after this promotion, merged with W R Grace and became the International Ore Corporation.  As their representative, his signature of Cyril Kay Scott must have become well-known, not only in Bahia and Rio, but in the USA, as manganese mining was an asset in winning the 1914-18 war.

From the ranch, Cercadinho—a very beautiful place—I had written to Miss Jane Addams,[4] whom I had seen only once in my life, at the Era Club in New Orleans, where the Gordon sisters presided—and asked her to help us to ascertain whether or not Cyril Kay Scott’s second wife had divorced him.  I had written to other people the same question, and could get no reply.  My father, in my mother’s absence, had divorced her on grounds of desertion, and she communicated with no one in New Orleans, except her old friend Mrs Richard Hyams and her daughter, Mary Ianthe Hyams, who, shortly, left there, as Mr Richard Hyams died.  The Hyams did not know what had been done by the second Mrs Wellman; but Miss Addams was good enough to have a Hull House lawyer inquire into the situation; and had written us, or me, that the second Mrs Wellman had threatened to invoke the Mann Act[5], to have her former husband extradited, etc and though it was also said—to quote the lawyer—that the second Mrs Wellman was, since, herself contemplating a re-marriage and had sued for divorce, it was, it seemed, in some other state than Louisiana, and while the facts were uncorroborated, we were advised to take nothing for granted.

In 1919, the doctor of the Presbyterian Mission of Sao Salvador, having agreed with Cyril Kay Scott himself that Evelyn Dunn Scott was unlikely ever to recover her health in a tropical climate in a place where medical and surgical facilities were still very poor, signed a certificate to the effect that she must go back to the USA for medical reasons.  This certificate was presented by Cyril Kay Scott at the American Embassy Consulate in Rio, where he was now known as the chief representative of the International Ore Corporation, and an emergency Passport was issued to the three original Scotts, Cyril Kay, Evelyn Dunn, and Seely Scott.  We returned to New York in August on a Lamport and Holt boat, I think it was the Van Dyke—it was not the Vestris.

[1] American novelist and poet.  She studied at the Sophie Newcomb School at the same time as Evelyn.
[2] An article from the New Orleans Picayune is reproduced below.  It has not been possible to locate any other  newspaper items about this “scandal”
[3] Now known as Luanda, the capital of Angola.
[4] Jane Addams founded the first social settlement, Hull House, in Chicago.  As both women were in public life, it is likely that she and Mrs Wellman had shared contacts.
[5] The Mann Act of 1910 made it a Federal crime to transport a woman over a state line for “immoral purposes”.

* * * * *

From New Orleans Picayune, January 13, 1914

DR WELLMAN QUITS TULANE MEDICAL
Resigns as Tropical Medicine School Head, Giving Ill Health As Reason
IS STRANGELY ABSENT
Unusual Manner of Withdrawal Starts Rumours, But Regret General

Sickness is given as the cause of Dr Creighton Wellman’s resignation, as head of the School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine,of the Medical College of Tulane University, but added to Dr Wellman’s sudden resignation is the fact that he is rather strangely absent from the city, and last night the rumours which had been whispered in certain circles became loud of voice, and it was said that the eminent scientist, in leaving, had neglected to settle certain debts owed to gentlemen of this profession and others.

THE OFFICIAL NOTICE

The official notice of the doctor’s departure, given by Tulane University, last night, read as follows:

“Owing to protracted illness, Dr Creighton Wellman has found it impossible to continue longer the arduous duties of his position in Tulane University.  He has, accordingly, tendered his resignation, which has been accepted with much regret.

“Dr Wellman has contributed services of great value to the university, through his aid and counsel in the organization of the school of hygiene and tropical medicine, in the establishment of an infirmary for sick students and in many other activities.

“His department will, for the present, be conducted by Dean Dyer of the School of Medicine.”

Dr Robert Sharp, present of the [missing text] Dr Wellman.  Dr Dyer stated that there would positively be no interruption in the school and that the lectures and laboratory work would be continued as usual.

RUMORS OF FRICTION

One of the rumours heard was to the effect that Dr Howard King, prominent because of his work and research in tropical diseases, had resigned from Tulane because of friction with Dr Wellman, friction which had brought abut open hostility from the medical teaching staff.  Dr King was seen after much difficulty at his residence in St Andrew Street, by a Picayune representative last night and interrogated as to his connection with Dr Wellman.  Dr King very emphatically refused to throw light upon the affair, and when asked if Dr Wellman had borrowed any money of him, said, with some show of heat, “That’s nobody’s business.”  The doctor’s refusal to say anything further was peremptorily, even surlily, put.

Another rumour that some had heard last night was that Dr Wellman had contracted several debts with personal friends in the profession Christmas Eve day.  He told a few acquaintances that he was going for a little rest, and even mentioned that he would visit Covington to hunt bears. As bears are never seen in Covington or its vicinity outside of a circus tent, the statement was taken as being facetiously put.  Dr Wellman, it is said, has been in failing health for some time past, and was granted a leave of absence by Tulane shortly before Christmas.  He stated at the time he would be in need of a rest, and would be back in a few weeks, ready for the late winter’s work preceding preparations for the student examinations in the spring.  It was not known that Dr Wellman was in the East until the letter containing his resignation was received.

Dr Wellman and his wife reside at Mrs Gomilla’s fashionable apartment house, Prytania and Philip Street, and a call by a newspaper man at the house late last night established the fact that while Dr Wellman was absent from the city, his wife was still here.  The lady who answered the summons at the door said, however, that Mrs Wellman was not at home.

WIFE STILL HERE

Dr Wellman is from Kansas City and a graduate of the University of Kansas Medical School.  He had two years’ valuable experience in Portuguese East Africa, where he studied beri-beri and the sleeping sickness, and returning to the states became well known as an entomologist.  He was in charge of the school of tropical medicine at the University of California, and came to Tulane from that university in 1910.  He was a brilliant speaker, and with Mrs Wellman, who is an accomplished musician, was popular in society.  He was at work on a textbook, took the lead in teaching hygiene in the Normal School, and was very active in every department of medical education.

* * * * *

Save

Save

Save