49. The story unravels

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

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

January 7, 1961

Dear Jigg,

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

Carmel, California
January 9, 1961

Dear Margaret

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

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

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

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

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

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

C Scott

* * * * *

To Lewis Gannett

January 13, 1961

Dear Lewis

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

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

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

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

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

C Scott

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

January 13, 1961

Dear Margaret,

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

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

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

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

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

C Scott

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

70 East 10th Street, NYC
January 17, 1961

Dear Jigg,

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

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

Yours,
Margaret

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

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

January 19, 1961

Dear Jig:

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

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

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

Best of good luck to you both.
Sincerely
May

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

January 21, 1961

Dear Margaret

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

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

The very best
Jigg

* * * * *

To Robert Welker1

August 25, 1961

Dear Bob,

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

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

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

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

Love from us both,
Yrs ever,
Jack

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

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

 

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

From Jack Metcalfe’s diary:

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

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott

March 28th, 1962

Darling Jig and Paula,

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

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

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

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

  • * * * * *

From Jack Metcalfe’s diary:

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

* * * * *

To Love Lyle1

April 13, 1962

Dear Love,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gratefully, Evelyn.

1 Love Lyle, a Clarksville cousin

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

From Jack Metcalfe’s diary:

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

 

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott and Jack Metcalfe

[June 30, 1962]

Dear Mother and jack,

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

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

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

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

Affectionately,
Jigg

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

* * * * *

From Jack Metcalfe’s diary:

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

* * * * *

To Louise Morgan1

January 19, 1963

Dear Louise,

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

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

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

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

Love,
John

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

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

* * * * *

From Jack Metcalfe’s diary:

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

* * * * *

To John Gawsworth1

March 18, 1963

Dear John,

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

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

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

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

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

Love, Jack.

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

* * * * *

From Jack Metcalfe’s diary:

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

* * * * *

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

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

* * * * *

To Jack Metcalfe

May 3, 1963

Dear Jack,

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

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

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

Affectionately,
Jigg

* * * * *

From Jack Metcalfe’s diary: 

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

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

May 19, 1963

My Dear Jigg,

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

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

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

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

Evelyn sends her love.
Affectionately,
Jack

* * * * *

From Jack Metcalfe’s diary:

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

* * * * *

To Jack Metcalfe

May 24, 1963

Dear Jack,

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

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

Affectionately,
Jigg

* * * * *

From Jack Metcalfe’s diary:

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

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

June 9, 1963

Dear Jigg,

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

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

Evelyn sends love to all.
Affectionately,
Jack

* * * * *

To John Gawsworth

June 9, 1963

Dear John,

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

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

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

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

Love from both to both
Jack

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

June 15, 1963

Dear Jigg,

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

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

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

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

I could not contemplate being without her.

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

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

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

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

Affectionately,
Jack

* * * * *

From Jack  Metcalfe’s diary: 

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

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

 June 22, 1963

My Dear Jigg,

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

June 23,1963

Darling Jigg,

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

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

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

Mother

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

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

June 23, 1963

Dear Paula

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

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

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

Love,
Jack

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

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott

July 1, 1963

Dear Jigg and Paula,

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

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

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

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

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

Much love,
Jack

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

* * * * *

From Jack Metcalfe’s diary:

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

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

July 9, 1963

Dear Jigg,

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

From Jack Metcalfe’s diary: 

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

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

July 14, 1963

Dear Jigg,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

July 16, 1963

Dear Jigg,

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

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

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

Forgive more now,
Love to you all,
Jack

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

July 20, 1963

Dear Jigg,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love
Jack

* * * * *

From Jack Metcalfe’s diary:

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

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

August 4, 1963

Dear Jigg,

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

I cannot write more now.

Love to all,
Jack

* * * * *

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Evelyn Scott and Jack Metcalfe

Nov 4, 1961

Dear Mother and Jack,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Affectionately,

Jigg

 

 

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. . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

47. Onslaught

The family returned to Saigon in November 1957 after 3 months’ home leave and resumed their domestic routine.  The children’s schooling was provided under the auspices of the United States Army for the children of the many Americans working in Saigon at the time.  Jigg made a number of Vietnamese friends as well as friends from the American and British ex-pat communities and the family’s life assumed a sort of normality.

During this time Evelyn and Jack continued their life of desperate poverty in the Benjamin Franklin Hotel.  Jack had secured poorly paid employment as a tutor in a small private “crammer” while Evelyn’s time was largely occupied with her correspondence.  During 1958 and 1959 Evelyn, by her own account, wrote weekly letters to  Paula, often including another to be forwarded to Jigg: a few examples are quoted below.   The themes were always the same:  Evelyn’s distress at not hearing from her family; her certainty that malign political forces were preventing her son from writing to her; her certainty that the same malign forces were keeping the family apart; the effect this was having on her (admittedly) poor health; and requests for suggestions for the chilren’s various birthday presents which she hoped would prompt letters from Paula.  She also wrote to the children (these letters were not passed on) asking them to request either Paula or Jigg to write to her.

 * * * * *

To Paula Scott

The Benjamin Franklin Hotel
March 30, 1958

Darling Paula

I think we shall soon be obliged to write to Washington, again, unless it has already become possible for Creighton to write to his parents. The more I think of the four years since any of Jigg’s family have had a line, the more deeply indignant I become at the sort of monstrous conditions imposed on a US citizen, who is himself an author and painter of the first water.

The hotel had a nice new entrance in harmony with its architecture–now replaced by imitation “marble” [illeg] called it “public house” “marble” by Jack–the concealed new lighting giving an effect of sunlight in the dark end of the lobby is good, however

Evasion in these matters is in its final phase. We cannot be governed by other countries with ideas and laws not ours, and WE WONT BE ANY LONGER. There is a farcical aspect to everything that has been going on in recent years. United Nations should have been a “clearing house” for objection to international interference, or national interference now announced by a declaration of war, and all we have is patter about entirely minor matters, while a good many of the best and finest Americans and British STILL are contending at home and abroad against some of the worst aspects of dictations NONE OF US WILL EVER ACCEPT AS AFFECTING OURSELVES. We just can’t stand evasion and equivocation any more. We are all culturally persecuted, there are no two ways about that.

I suppose, in the weather you depicted, their clothing is still sketchy. I asked about the type of building description as well as name for they do lessons in. Don’t forget I asked about a book for Bobby1. We are already thinking of Jigg’s next birthday, too. What would he like? When Jack is free in the summer maybe we can go downtown to have a look about for them, and for whatever Mathew would like for January 1923 [sic]. I don’t go distances alone after all the “peruna” ailments I have had. Better in the main, however. [remainder of letter missing]

1 Robert, the fifth child, was then 6 years old.

* * * * *

There are significant gaps in the correspondence:  it is unlikely that these were caused by Evelyn’s silence; but far more likely to be the result of Jack’s destruction of many of her papers after she died.

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

November 15, 1958

DARLING SON JIGG,

We are still eagerly awaiting the snapshots of you and the family, with the glimpses of your surroundings that are of such interest, and which will we think not cease to interest when you are near enough for us to see you all.

Jack and I are now indebted to Maggie again, for a loan that will help to see us through until Jack has a better job. But the various crises we have been through since we came home, will all be worthwhile if we have personal contact, again, with the sweetest family in the world, and can rescue all our arts and re-appear in published form as we all did before the war.

I hope you have read over what I said about retirement pensions. They are not of the use they should be in their present form, which allows such minute “free earnings” to people in the sixties, that, if they are professional people like Jack, there is no form of earning that pays little enough not to result in forfeiting the pension with any free earnings at all. Teachers are not employable by the day, as a manual labourer might be. The further I go in examining every Law passed in the USA by the democrats—the others haven’t started it yet, that I can see—the more mistakenly we discernat other common denominator alone is considered.

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

November 15, 1958

DARLING PAULA,

So you now have a SIXTEEN YEAR OLD SON1 and a big boy who is good and studious and is SIX YEARS OLD, as well as a nearly EIGHTEEN-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER, a nearly THIRTEEN YEAR OLD SON, and a DAUGHTER OF SEVEN WHO PAINTS PICTURES. WE ALL GOOD—YOU BET!

I am worrying about the return of damnable summer. You should all be here at home to be REFRESHED BY CHANGED SEASONS AN PROBABLY ESPECIALLY JIGG WHO HAS NOT BEEN HOME AWAY FROM HEAT SINCE YOU WENT OUT THERE, and WAS NOT IN GOOD HEALTH WHEN HE WENT THERE. But I am worrying most about JIGG’S HEALTH as the SNAPSHOTS WERE TO BE PROOF OF HIS IMPROVEMENT AND THEY HAVE NOT YET COME.

Your own letter is overdue, too, darling, and I hope it will arrive soon and shatter this ritual of worry—a round-and-round sort of lousiness.

1 This paragraph refers to Frederick, Robert, Denise, Matthew and Julia, in that order.

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

April 18, 1959

DARLING SON JIGG,

Here we are, again, still waiting to know HOW YOU AND PAULA AND THE CHILDREN ARE–BLESS YOU!

PAULA’S NOTE OF MARCH 5th IS STILL BEING TREASURED AND REREAD WITH THE HOPE THAT THE LONGER LETTER AND THE SNAPSHOTS THEN ALREADY DEVELOPED WILL SOON BE HERE, WITH NEWS OF HOW YOU ARE AND COMMENTS ON THE VARIOUS CONTENTS OF LETTERS NOT YET SPECIFICALLY ACKNOWLEDGED.

When the space between letters is too great it gives one a rather flat and empty feeling in writing one’s self. One’s small items of personal news begin to seem too unimportant to be worthy of conveyance in a letter, especially when we NEED TO RE ASSURED AGAIN YOU HAVE ALL CONTINUED WELL since the upset of Christmas.

If you come home, later, to a job, we will be very grateful if we are kept conversant with your moves–YOURS MIND YOU, AS WELL AS DARLING PAULA’S AND THE CHILDREN’S. THIS TIME YOU MUST BE PERMITTED TO RETURN HOME TOGETHER TO JOB.

DARLING, TO SENSE YOU SEVEN DRAWING NEARER GIVES US MORE SPIRIT AND STRENGTH FOR WINNING OUT!

Lovingly, LOVINGLY,
Mother

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

June 7th, 1959

JACK LOOKS FORWARD TO YOUR LETTER, LONG OR SHORT. IT WILL BE SO NICE TO FEEL OURSELVES IN NATURAL COMMUNICATION EVEN FOR THE SPACE OF A LETTER. AND WE WILL THINK OF THE END OF SO MUCH GHASTLY INTERFERENCE, WITH ALL OUR GOOD AFFECTIONATE LIFES–THE BEST OF ALL ENDS WHEN YOU AND PAULA BRING YOURSELVES AND THE CHILDREN HOME TO YOUR JOB HERE.

WE, ARE, AGAIN, NOT FULL OF NEWS, YET ARE CONTINUALLY BUSY, JUST I SUPPOSE AS YOU AND PAULA ARE. Last week, or is it already two weeks!–we went to the country, and had I been permitted to feel up to snuff all the time, we would have had a very nice afternoon. And even as it was it was refreshing to see the country once more after two years in town. They are at that school Gladys had a friend at for a while–maybe there yet–and are beyond Stamford [Connecticut]. And it was lovely to have a glimpse of water and boats farther out beyond their inlet of the sound.

WE ARE RATHER WORRIED ABOUT THE INDEFINITE PROSPECTS. OUR DECISIONS CONTINUE CONTINGENT ON YOURS AND DAD’S ARE SURE TO BE AFFECTED BY THEM. AND YOUR FOUR YEARS THERE WILL SOON BE UP. PLEASE DARLING WRITE AND TELL US HOW YOU, PAULA, AND THE CHILDREN ARE IN HEALTH AND GIVE US SOME INKLING AS TO PLANS. YOU SHOULD NONE OF YOU STAY THERE. THIS SHOULD BE YOUR YEAR TO COME HOME TOGETHER. YOU CAN’T SEND DENISE HERE ALONE YOU SHOULD PUT HER IN COLLEGE. BLESS, BLESS, BLESS–WE LOVE YOU SO, and REALLY ADORE YOU ALL. PAULA IS VERY NEAR TO US IN OUTLOOK WE TRUST.

Mother

[Jigg, well aware of his mother’s obsessive writing of letters which were both excessively long and full of details which were not strictly accurate, had started sending these to Margaret DeSilver for safekeeping. This pencilled note was in the margin of the front page of the above letter]1

Dear Margaret– Just a specimen from among many–I have some that are a lot worse, which I keep, just in case. Jigg

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

June 7, 1959

DARLING PAULA,

PLEASE DON’T DON’T SIGN UP FOR ANOTHER YEAR IN SAIGON, FOR GOD’S SAKE. WE WILL BE RE-EMBITTERED ABOUT EVERYTHING WRONG ALREADY DONE TO OUR FAMILIES IF THERE IS ANY SUCH MOVE AS THAT FORCED ON POOR JIGG—with ten years of separation already, the grandchildren never seen, and Dad and ourselves now pretty old, Dad’s health and mine poorish, and poor good Jack holding all his own plans in abeyance in the hope of AT LAST SEEING OUR SCOTTS USA.

I feel alternately frantic and almost warlike against such friends who have devised such practises and have kept them up. SEVENTEEN YEARS OF HELL–WE DO NOT KNOW OF ANY OTHER FAMILY EITHER AMERICAN OR BRITISH THAT HAS EVER BEEN PUT THROUGH WHAT WE HAVE IN SEPARATIONS THAT ARE AGAINST OUR INCLINATIONS, OBSTRUCTIVE OF MUTUAL HELP.

DARLING, THIS IS NOT A HATE LETTER, BUT A LOVE LOVE LETTER. We just cannot endure these false situations and false judgements any more.

WE SHALL CONSIDER IT THE SIGN OF GENUINE PATRIOTISM IN THOSE WHO ARRANGE PROGRAMS IF YOU AND JIGG AND THE CHILDREN ARE ALLOWED HOME NOW TO JOB FOR HIM AND NORMAL HUMAN CONTACTS.

TELL US WHAT WE CAN DO TO HELP JIGG HOME TO JOB. WE ARE ALL BITTERLY OPPOSED TO TOTAL SYSTEMS OF RULE AND THOSE WHO ARE MERIT EVERY PREFERENTIAL TREATMEJNT. THEY ARE NEEDED HERE AT HOME AS GOOD AMERICAN NATIVES.

LOVE,Evelyn

* * * * *

To Deputy Personnel Officer, ICA

July 19, 1959

Personal
Deputy Personnel Officer for the Far East
International Cooperation Agency
811 Vermont Avenue
Washington, DC

Dear Sir,

I shall be indeed grateful if you have been able to give your attention to my letter of June 27th, 1959, substantiating an earlier petition1 from my daughter-in-law, Paula P Scott, USOM, PROGRAM SUPPORT, SAIGON, for advice and any assistance you care to offer to expedite the return of her husband (my son, Creighton Seeley Scott, USOM, PROGRAM SUPPORT), with her and their family of five children, to the US and permanent employment here at home.

The letter referred to above and forwarded to you as a kind favourto me by Mr Robert D Johnson, Acting Director, US Passport Office, Washington, arrived in his hands with my request for information as to whom to address my plea on behalf of my son; who has this month completed, with his family, four years in Saigon. I wrote in the spring to Miss Jean Hermann, who was the Personnel Officer (Employee Relations), whose signature was appended to a letter I had when they first went to Saigon, in which I was notified that their first address, APO, had been changed to Navy 150, FPO. However, Miss Hermann2 has not replied as yet to my request to her, also, to be given at least an inkling as to when the Scotts are likely to be back at home.

I add, in conclusion, that my daughter-in-law has, since, advised me in a brief note that the Navy address is not longer theirs and I am write to them, USOM, Box 32, Program Support, APO 143. Her notification to that effect is dated June 23rd, 1959.

In my letter now in your hands, I allude to the various difficulties both myself and my son and his wife have had about mail, both foreign and domestic; of which a good many letters of recent years have never been acknowledged or traced.

I shall hope to have some advice about my son soon.

Respectfully Yours,

1 This petition was entirely Evelyn’s initiative and nothing to do with Jigg..

2 Jean Hermann had left her post some months previously, and with her departure went Jigg’s protection from his mother’s correspondence.

* * * * *

In the summer of 1959 Jigg was recalled to Washington to appear before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to answer questions about the progress and management of the ICA’s involvement in Vietnam at that time.  He was also required to respond to specific points raised by his mother in her correspondence to the ICA.  It has not been possible to see any of this correspondence in spite of a Freedom of Information request, but it is a good guess that the tone was similar to the tone of her other letters.

 

 * * * * *

 To Evelyn Scott

July 23, 1959

Dear Evelyn—

We just arrived in Carmel1, and Jigg is in Washington. If you wonder “why so sudden” it’s because the whole situation in Saigon is difficult and we were called home, so that Jigg could do his part in helping to get at the facts. There are too many people who try to distort the facts—including even the peers.

I still can’t answer my huge accumulation of your letters—the last few weeks in Saigon were spent in frenetic packing. Now we are home, but I still have very little time—the house is full of kids and their friends.

I’ve said this before, but I will write again soon. Write me: c/o Martinez-Dean, Route 2-Box 412, Carmel, Cal

Love to Jack
Love
Paula

With no home base in the US, Paula had no choice but once again to call upon help from her maternal relatives, whose small house and outbuilding just about accommodated Paula and the 5 children.

* * * * *

To Jean Hermann, ICA

July 26, 1959

Dear Madam,

I have addressed several letters to you since the spring, in which I have requested any information you were able to give me respecting the time of the return of my son, Mr Creighton Seely Scott, his wife, Paula P Scott, and their children, Denise, Fredrick, Matthew, Julia and Robert Scott, to the USA, their home, from Saigon.

As none of my letters—three or four—were acknowledged, I thought it possible that I had made my request in some unaccustomed quarters and with that in mind I wrote, again, for information, and with reminders of my own poor health and the ten years that elapsed since I or any of my son’s relatives have seen him, and sent this letter to the USA State Department; expressing, to them, my hope that, if it were necessary, they could set me right as to the quarter in which to appeal in such circumstances, for a USOM employee.

Mr Robert D Johnson, Deputy Director of the Passport Office, was given my letter to read, and forwarded it to the Deputy Personnel Officer for the Far East, International Cooperation Agency, 811 Vermont Avenue, Washington, DC; writing me, at the same time, that he had done so.

As I have not heard from that office, either, I think it best to let you know of the further letter there.

Of course, the truth remains that I do not know whether this letter or any other to the ICAwill ever reachits destination. And I cannot forebear saying, again, as I did three years ago when writing to your office, that the apparent contempt of our Military Government for the mothers and the fathers of the older generation of Americans, strikes me as worthy of the very worst dictations. Mail still figures domestically, also, in the long record I have of experiences relative to communication and personal contact with family and friends since 1945, that are genuinely disgraceful.

Very Truly Yours,
(Mrs W J) Evelyn Dunn Scott Metcalfe

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

August 5, 1959

Darling Paula

We have, all along, just as during our eight and a half years in England, looked forward to the decent end of this imposed policy from somewhere that is keeping us apart even in correspondence; our first reasonable expectation having been that it would end when we reached New York from London; and our expectation during the four years you have been in the Far East, having been that Creighton would write to us himself as soon as he got home so that we could welcome him with you and the children with all the deep affection we feel.

Naturally we do not know what has been done and is being done, to convey an impression to the best of good sons and husbands that he dare not communicate with his American mother, his American father, and his British stepfather. But that something has or is continuing an illegal interference we do not doubt.

Unless Jigg soon writes to us naturally at least to the extent of a note, I shall consult any lawyers who are willing to help me as to the step essential in pinning down those in the Government or outside it who are criminally responsible for a situation that has changed me from a woman in moderate health to a nervous wreck with every indication of being fifteen years older than I am.

Does the FBI abstract my mail to the Personnel Office, I wonder. I have written four letters since spring that would certainly have received notice from anyone less than a monster of brutality, and no notice is taken. And I had my unforgettable experience of slipshod inquiry in 1940, when I reported an intimidator of communist views.

Of course we saw in the papers about the inquiry into the value of the American base in Saigon, and we take it for granted that all the people who are home from the East are in Washington offering their views when asked. But hushiness that interferes with normal family relations is NOT American Defence but Enemy Action.

WE ARE THE ONLY FAMILY OF AMERICANS WHO HAS EVER, AS FAR AS WE CAN ASCERTAIN, BEEN SUBJECTED TO CONDITIONS THAT HAVE MADE IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR FIFTEEN YEARS TO SEE AN ONLY AND MUCH LOVED SON OR, IN FACT, ANY MEMBER OF HIS FAMILY OR OTHER RELATION. The book suppressions and painting suppressions connect. And hostile accts toward me as an author had their genesis, with certainty, in my first PUBLIC COMPLAINTS ABOUT COMMUNISM’S EFFECT ON AMERICAN LITERATURE.

Economic warfare is warfare just as bomb warfare is. When are we to have LEADERS TO DEFEND LOYAL AMERICANS AND LOYAL FREE COLLABORATORS BRITISH IN OUR CASE, AGAINST A TOTAL RACKET that is degrading and debasing not us alone but the country!

DARLING YOU CAN’T ANSWER, BUT THOSE RESPONSIBLE CAN AND MUST, THE CITIZENS HAVE THE RIGHT TO DEMAND STRAIGHT NATIONAL DEFENCE AND COMPLETE REDRESS FOR THE MANY WRONGS DONE EACH IN PERSON.

WE LOVE YOU AND JIGG AND THE KIDS!! SAY SOMETHING TO US.
Evelyn

* * * * *

To Ronald Pearson

August 5, 1959

Mr Ronald Hays Pearson
Metal Design Workshop
Victory (near Rochester), NY

Dear Ronald

Paula has written us of her arrival with the children care Martinez-Dean, Route 2—Box 412, Carmel California; where she was two years ago, in general locality.

I have written to his Personnel Officer—or rather Employee Relations Officer, Personnel Office, ICA, Washington 25, several times—four in all—since the spring, mentioning the fact that I know his agreement to remain in Saigon would end in July, and that I would appreciate, as his mother, help in re-establishing our correspondence and contacts, which have been next to none in Saigon, bar the goodness of Paula who has literally saved my life, and almost none since Jigg was in London to see us in November 1949.

I never had any acknowledgment of these letters, nor any indication that they were ever received. And more recently I wrote the same letter in gist and sent it to the US State Department, saying that it might be I had not addressed the correct official and that I would, therefore, be grateful if the State Department would forward my letter to whoever could most fittingly read it.

Mr Robert D Johnson, Deputy Director of the US Passport Office (I forget to say I addressed it to the Passport Dept as they are bound to know Jigg’s whereabouts abroad)—Mr Johnson wrote me a nice note in reply and said he had forwarded my letter to THE DEPUTY Personnel Officer for the Far East, ICA, 811 Vermont Ave, Washington, DC. The forwarded letter, written June 27th, 1959, has, also, never been acknowledged as yet.

Can you enlighten me about Jigg’s address? If you can, my dear Ronald, you should, for I personally think he is being forced to keep silent by some means he has not divulged, which may have to do with the hocus pocus of “war” hush, or may not.

Personally I have a hunch that communists put rackets up to calling people communists when they were haters of communists. I HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN PAULA’S NOTE ABOUT SOME MAN IN A NEWSPAPER CLIPPING WHO WAS SMEARED IN A PROBE, NOR THAT MY LETTERS TO SPRING VALLEY WHICH ARRIVED AFTER SHE SAILED WERE HELD NINETEEN MONTHS BEFORE THEY WERE RETURNED TO THE ADDRESSEE, and two registered parcels for the children were returned opened, with no explanation.

We know you read with comprehension of the human and I am so grateful. May your metal design be always better known and sell more and more at the prices appropriate for fine work.

Evelyn Dunn Scott Metcalfe

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott

August 9, 1959

Darling Jigg and Paula,

I have already written a good many letters to Paula at Carmel and to Jigg two care Paula, but I do not yet know whether my letters are received.

Other and undoubtedly unfriendly people seem to tie so many strings on our normal procedures and both your own, that I am getting where I no longer know what to write to you about and how to begin.

But you see how I am talking in the third person–the result of a reversion to no specific comments of any sort from anybody in several months. When will we be allowed to join hands against damnable conditions? There is a great wave of justifiable dissatisfaction sweeping the USA and we share it. We ARE SURE YOU AGREE IN FUNDAMENTAL WAYS AND A PROOF OF CONSTANT MISHANDLING OF SUPERIOR AMERICANS AND SUPERIOR BRITISH IS THE REPEATED DIFFICULTY WE HAVE IN PICKING EACH OTHER UP AND STRENGTHENING ONE ANOTHER AND THE INDIVIDUAL FREEDOMS OF THE COUNTRY.

Somewhere in the back of a persecution about this that began soon after my father’s death in 1944 are guilty men, there is every proof. And the fact that that they have the temerity to libel and obstruct normal and decent procedures and human signs of affection, shows the need for GENUINE AMERICAN DEFENSE, which CANNOT BE CONTINGENT ON UNO AND OTHER NATIONS,

TO WHOM DOES ONE APPEAL FOR HELP IN WASHINGTON? WE SHOULD WIN AIDED AGAINST TOTALITARIAN METHODS. WHERE THE ARMY IS LOYAL IT IS BOUND TO AGREE.

LOVINGLY,
Evelyn–to Jigg Mother

We DO LOVE YOU, OUR SWEETS. IT IS POLITICS WE JUSTLY QUESTION.

WILL PAULA WRITE MORE ABOUT JIGG IF HE ISN’T PERMITTED UNTIL THE IMPASSE ABOUT ANTI-COMMUNIST VIETNAM IS SETTLED?

I SHOULD LIKE A COURT EXAMINATION OF THOSE CRIMINALS–YES CRIMINALS–WHO FORBID PARENTS TO COMMUNICATE DIRECTLY WITH THEIR SON. FOREIGNERS RESIDING IN ANOTHER MAN’S COUNTRY ARE ALSO IGNORANT OF IDENTITIES AND RECORDS OF BOTH NATIVES AND THE BEST OF THE FREE COUNTRIES.

* * * * *

To Virigina Hale1

August 27th, 1959

Dear Virginia Hale

Will you please, as a very needed human kindness, let me know how Paula and the children are today, and, if you possibly can, how my son Creighton is, and whether or not he still in Washington, DC?

We know you are a good and sweet aunt to Paula and the Children, and the best of friends to Jigg, as well, but Paula has been sweet and loyal to us, too, and the disturbing thing now is that we don’t hear from her after she volunteers long letters to follow notes. We had a few lines when she landed, and she told us Jigg was in Washington, but we have had no real letters from her or anyone since February, 1959, when she promised to write again, and did not.

We are very sure Paula and Jigg have suffered interference with mail and communications many times since 1944; for not alone have they testified to this fact when they could to us, but there is much evidence on my side: all here at home. But as we came back from England not only to publish, but expressly to see Jigg and Paula and the children, the fact that they have yet to be assisted to meet us in person, after we have spent six years back home, makes us both very concerned to see that home contacts in this instance really include Jigg’s family as well as darling Paula’s.

Can you advise me in any way? Everyone knows that my health has suffered greatly since we came home, and to ignore the elder generation of parents completely is something of which neither Jigg nor Paula are capable—all the elder generation I am sure is behind them in friendship.

In one of the letters Paula has not acknowledged, which went to Carmel three weeks ago, I asked her if you would be willing to give me your address. It is our opinion that every related family context should be revived and preserved. I felt the same way when writing to Margué, who did not reply but once in a note of a few lines. However, please believe me there is no ill will. I have heard of her poor health, and just regret that misunderstandings are always definitely fostered by whoever and whatever keeps naturally friendly persons from ever having a chance to see one another in person.

Hopefully, but with very real anxiety,
Sincerely,
Evelyn Dunn Scott Metcalfe

Virginia, or “Aunt Naya” was a sister of Paula’s mother, Margué. There is no information about how Evelyn learned of her existence.

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

August 29, 1959

DARLING PAULA,

IF WE COULD ONLY PUT OUR ARMS AROUND YOU AND JIGG’S AND THE FIVE DARLING CHILDREN!

WE ARE BOTH PERPLEXED AS TO WHAT TO DO TO RESUME EVEN THE FAIRLY SATISFACTORY CONTACT BY MAIL WE HAD WITH YOU IN SAIGON, AND EVEN WITH DARLING JIGG who AT LEAST GOT TWO BRIEF NOTES TO US FROM THERE.

WE ARE SENDING THIS REGISTERED AS YOU SEE BECAUSE AT PRESENT WE HAVE REASON TO DOUBT THAT YOU HAVE RECEIVED THE MAIL WE HAVE SENT YOU AND JIGG TO CARMEL since we HAD YOUR GOOD SWEET NOTE OF JULY “3rd” (SO STAMPED).

I PERSONALLY THINK THE CRIMINALS WHO HAVE SO ARRANGED OUR EXISTENCES AND YOURS AND JIGG’S, DURING ALL THE YEARS SINCE 1944, SHOULD BE JAILED. NOT A STEP IN ANY OF OUR LIVES EXCEPT MARRIAGES AND YOUR CHILDREN HAS BEEN CHOSEN AS IT WOULD HAVE BEEN IN THE COURSE OF AMERICAN AND OLD BRITISH INDEPENDENCE. THE STATUS QUO IS GRADUALLY MURDERING ME, AND THE FACT OF NOTHING DONE TO BRING ALL INTO NORMAL CONTACT AFTER YOURS AND JIGG’S FOUR YEARS ABSENCE IN SAIGON, IS TO MY MIND INDICATIVE OF WAR AGGRESSION WHICH REQUIRED DEFENCE RETALIATION ON MONSTERS.

I HAVE WRITTEN TO “NADJA1” IN THE CARE OF YOUR REAL ESTATE AGENT AND YOU WILL KNOW WHETHER SHE HAS IT OR NOT. I ASKED FOR HER ADDRESS IN A LETTER TO YOU WHICH HAS NOT BEEN ACKNOWLEDGED.

WE HAVE A BIG DAMAGE CLAIM AGAINST WHATEVER ENEMIES HAVE DIRECTED ALL OUR LIVES AMISS. WE THINK IT WOULD BE SENSIBLE IF YOU AND JIGG COMPLAINED AGAINST THOSE WHO HAVE OVER AND OVER STOPPED OUR CORRESPONDENCE AND PREVENTED OUR PERSONAL MEETING.

THE PERONNEL OFFICE OF THE ICA IS EITHER INHUMAN ALTIGETHERM [sic] OR CRIMINALS TAKE LETTERS FROM THEIR MAIL. THE VILENESS OF AN ATTITUDE THAT IGNORES WELL-FOUNDED PROTESTS BASED ON HUMAN DISTRESS THAT IS OFTEN AGONY AND HAS BEEN IMPOSED ON US BEFORE AND SINCE JIGG CAME TO LONDON TO SEE US FOR FIVE DAYS IN 1949, AND IS DESTROYING HEALTH AND LIVELIHOOD, MUST SOMEHOW BE EXPOSED, IT IS TO THE SHAME OF THE USA THAT I HAVE NOT BEEN ALLOWED TO KNOW ANYTHING OF WHAT IS HAPPENING TO MY SON, since that newspaper write-up of Aug 12th, which gave no personal information, naturally.

WERE I A MAN IN THE AMERICAN SERVICE I WOULD LONG AGO HAVE SPOTTED ENEMIES WHO MOLEST AND INTERFERE WITH THE CIVIL RIGHTS OF AMERICANS AND THE CONSTITUTION WHICH IS STILL RESPECTED DESPITE UNO. I WOULD NOT TOLERATE AN AMERICAN OR BRITISH SERVICE UNABLE TO ACT IN DEFENCE OF INDIVIDUAL VICTIMS OF TOTALITARIANS.

ALL LOVE TO YOU AND JIGG AND THE FIVE KIDS,

“Naya”, or Virginia Hale. There is no information regarding how Evelyn came to know of this family nickname.

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

September 6, 1959

Dear Maggie,

You may wonder I never take up the phone and call you, but the reasons continue to be given, and today, when I actually thought I would do so, I am shut up in our room and would have to dress to go downstairs.

Did you read in The World Telegram of August 12th, that Creighton is back? I am still trying to find Americans with the human approach and imagination required to remove whoever and whatever it is that has prevented him from communicating directly with his mother and father and Jack. When you have the details in black and white you can see very plainly that it has never been of choice that he left Paula to be the correspondent. Both are still determined to see us normally we are sure, but Paula is at Carmel and the usual things have happened about mail not received.

I began writing about once a month or several times to the ICA Personnel Office, in the spring, asking to be put into direct person to person contact with Jigg as soon as he got home, as I knew he was due in July, 1959. None of my letters has ever been acknowledged.

Some day do ask George Richards if he has any ideas on ways of moving the ICA to humane action on behalf of grandparents and children who have been cruelly kept apart when the mid-generation is as distressed as we are that it should be so.

Damn total rule! As a health elixir I still repeat my refrain of 1943,
DOWN AND OUT WITH THE TOTALITARIANS.
BE WELL, OUR LOVE
Evelyn

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

Charles R Soll
Counsellor at Law
86 Main Street
Nyack NY

September 11, 1959

Dear Mrs Scott:

I am in receipt of a letter from Mrs William J Metcalfe c/o Benjamin Franklin, 222 West 77th Street, New York City dated September 6, 1959.

She expresses anxiety because she has not received any communication from her son Creighton or yourself and has asked that I communicate with you and forward her personal request that you write to her.

Very truly yours,
Charles R Soll

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

United States Post Office
Carmel, California
September 19, 1959

Dear Mrs Metcalfe:

All mail addressed to Mrs Scott at Rt 2, Box 412, Carmel, California is being delivered to her at that address.

Sincerely,
Fred G Strong
Postmaster

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

September 25, 1959

Dear Evelyn—

We’re all OK and very busy. I’ll write soon but this will let you know we’re still here in Carmel and probably will be for quite a while. The schools here are excellent and the kids are all enjoying it.

Love to both,
P

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

September 26, 1959

Darling Paula,

I wonder very often who got hold of my several letters addressed to the Employee Relations Officer, ICA, and whether or not Jigg had those I addressed in their care to him. They have not dealt fairly or respectfully with a mother, father and affectionate step-father who have endured conditions NEITHER YOU NOR JIGG WISH FOR FIFTEEN YEARS BAR FIVE DAYS.

I have thought of drawing up a petition for the White House in respect to Jigg’s first need to be with you and the children, and his also very normal essential human and practical need to sometimes SEE AND TALK TO HIS PARENTS AND STEPFATHER.

Can you tell me what you would think of my doing this? WE HAVE EVERY LEGAL RIGHT TO PUNISH BY LAW ANY WHO INTERFERE WITH NORMAL AMERICAN AND BRITISH LIVES AND RELATIONS.

YOU HAVE A NICE POSTMASTER. HE WROTE ME AT ONCE THAT MRS SCOTT’S LETTERS ARE BEING DELIVERED at HER CARMEL ADDRESS. I SHALL THANK HIM.

LOVINGLY LOVINGLY DARLING—JIGG AND YOU EAST[sic]
Evelyn

* * * * *

To US Passport Office

[October, 1959]1

Old Fashioned STRAIGHT CREIGHTON SEELEY SCOTT

NB Mr Robert D Johnson
Acting Director US Passport Office
Washington DC

In the letter I sent you I asked that my son be helped if possible to place near his mother and step-father with his wife and children, and so be near enough to hope to see his father. Mother, father, step-father have not seen him or his family for ten years.

At once this letter was mailed, my son CREIGHTON SEELEY SCOTT was posted to San Francisco, THREE HUNDRED MILES FROM HIS WIFE AND CHILDREN SO THAT HE CANNOT COMMUTE. THEY ARE A DEVOTED COUPLE AND BOTH LOVE THEIR KIDS.

In the letter I mailed to Mr Robert D Johnson asking him again how I could help my son to settle nearer the elders, I said CREIGHTON SEELEY SCOTT IS NEITHER COMMUNIST NOR FASCIST, HE IS AN AMERICAN IN THE TRADITIONAL SENSE.

At once this letter was mailed he was posted to San Francisco, which according to news is a LABOUR CITY—he has and still does avoid labour disputes and unions. IT WAS CRUEL TO IGNORE THAT LETTER—maybe our visitors looked over my shoulder?

In the letter above I pled to have the eldest daughter home in time to enter the college2 she had selected. She HAS NOT DONE SO, as the SCOTT FAMILY IS IN AN UNSETTLED STATE, AS THEY CERTAINLY DID NOT EXPECT MR and MRS SCOTT TO BE APART.

CREIGHTON SEELEY SCOTT HAD TO GO TO WASHINGTON TO TESTIFY ABOUT CONDITIONS ABROAD WHERE HE WAS. HE COULD NOT TAKE HIS WIFE THER WITH FIVE CHILDREN AS HE IS NOT WEALTHY.

SHE HAS TO STAY IN CARMEL FOR THE PRESENT, RENT SETTLED. THEY DO NOT WISH TO SETTLE IN CALIFORNIA.

NOW I SUGGEST THAT CONTINUED SPITE-PURVEYORS BE KICKED OUT OF THE REGULAR AMERICAN ARMY FOR GOOD. PLEASE HELP STRAIGHT NATIONAL DEFENCE

REMEMBER FIVE DAYS IN FIFTEEN YEARS ONLY HAVE I SEEN MY SON. THE REASONS ALL RELATE TO TOTAL ENEMY ACTIONS

THREE OF OUR FIVE GRANDCHILDREN I HAVE NEVER SEEN IN THE FLESH

WHERE IS THE ICA—IT SEEMS TO DESPISE HUMAN LOVE BOTH YOUNG AND OLD OURS LOVE

1 This letter was not dated: date deduced from contents.

2 Denise did go to her chosen college as planned. This statement is another of many examples of Evelyn putting her words into the mouths of others who would probably not agree with the sentiments.

* * * * *

From Howard Ross

International Cooperation Administration
Washington 25, DC
October 8, 1959

Dear Mrs Metcalfe:

Your two letters addressed to your son Creighton Scott c/o Personnel Division, ICA Washington have been forwarded to him in California. The address Mr Scott left with us was Route 2, Box 412, Carmel, California.

Since your son is no longer working with the Agency, may we suggest that you direct your letters to him in Carmel.

Sincerely,
Howard F Ross, Chief
Employee Relations Office

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

October 10th, 1959

Darling Paula,

What are we to do to obtain your letter, sweet girl? Is Jigg able to come home to you often enough to help you both and to keep up with the children?

My heart has begun to act up just in the last few days. In some strange manner a nerve under my left breast has begun to hurt and the heart is just under it. I tell you because May1 still insists it is all “psychosomatic”, hence if I could see you and Jigg I would cease to be troubled. And I don’t know but what I would gain immensely in general strength if I did–it is to be expected.

On the other hand, however, all these nerve exacerbations are so localized in symptoms that I sense them more as bodily hurts than the results of my distress.

My theory is that money and health have been the exploited bludgeons used by our enemies to keep us all apart; and that if we actually re-established our personal contacts WE WOULD ALL BECOME STRONGER TOGETHER AND IN COMPLETE HEALTH.

We live among those whose interests are almost unrelated to our, and moral and physical strengthening would result if we supplied one another with friendly DEFENCE CONTACTS.

Our Love,
Evelyn

1 May Mayers, physician and a long-time friend of Evelyn’s.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott and Jack Metcalfe

October 13, 1959

Dear Evelyn and Jack—

After promising to write in detail, I’ve been putting it off simply for lack of time. It will take me hours to go through the accumulated letters from you, and I simply don’t have that much time. Anyway, the main thing is that we are all well and there is nothing for you to worry about. When I don’t write it is only because I don’t have time. Remember that I have a large family to take care of—it means a lot of sweeping cooking dinners, washing, ironing, dishes, beds, sewing, mending, etc, etc. The day is only so long. For instance, every single day I have to do a big washing and ironing to keep all five kids clean and neat for school. So please don’t get frantic when you don’t hear for a while, especially as time slips by and I sometimes don’t realize how long it’s been since I wrote last.

The kids are all doing well in school and most of them like it. The exceptions are Fred and Matthew who, being boys, would much rather spend all their time on the beach or the rocks or in the hills. They consider school an inexcusable imposition. Suzy is still a straight A student and is carrying a heavy load of extra-curricular activities. July and Bobby can walk to school and they both love it. It’s a nice little school, only through fourth grade, and they both like their teachers.

This is all I have time for now—there is work to do. I’ll try to write sooner next time. But remember not to worry.

Love to you both,
Paula

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

October 19, 1959

Dear Evelyn—

We heard from Gladys that you are very ill—please take care of yourself and do what your Doctor says. If you could possibly get back to England you would get better medical care and hospitalization if you need it. We’re too far away to see you or help you and there is nothing we can do about it. Jigg’s testimony is finished and he won’t be back in Washington again. When he was there it was impossible to get to New York. There was neither the time nor the money.

You would be better off with good medical care. New York is a dismal place to be sick in. I wish we could help! Will you—if you can—and Jack, please, keep us posted on how you are—Jack too—and what you are doing to take care of you?

And Jack—are you all right? Can you drop a few words about Evelyn and yourself?

Love,
Paula

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

October 24, 1959

Darling Paula

I wrote you of my health last week and hope you now have my letter. I have coronary heart disease, and has been going on some time, probably, as when May suspended her treatment of patients in order to write, I had a dose of “psychosomatic” converts who actually refused to diagnose, and one alone offered any treatment. Naturally when they gave no advice I tried to go on per usual, and that was a mistake. However, it is perfectly true that when patients of this sort guard themselves with a great deal of complete rest, they may live a long time.

As to Gladys, when we were coming to New York, she wrote me to London “don’t come back”. And we had scarcely got here before she began in a youth movement jargon to tell me I must “relinquish” Jigg and leave him to his “own generation”.

When we went to The Huntington Hartford Foundation, she again wrote me “don’t come back to New York”. And when I got here and saw her twice she said she “would not talk about Jigg”. I was angry that anyone should forbid me to mention my own son and his family.

I could not comprehend her. She had no explanation of her “advice” to offer.

She then wrote me that she “could not see me unless I promised not to refer to my family”. I wrote her that we would not meet again until she agreed that I could be as natural in speech about my family as anyone in the world.

That was four-and-one-half years ago, and she has not communicated with me since.

May saw her recently must be how she knew I was ill. I suppose you wrote to her, is how she had your address.

I have tried to write without emotion. Need we say what all this signifies to Jack and me: I have often been made to feel, since our return, that enemies were trying to boot me out of my native native country where most of them were before Bunker Hill and the Southern lot before Virginia was a state. Jack is frankly bitter about what has happened but especially about what has been done to me. He is loyal to you and Jigg and Cyril, but he, too, thinks we would all be happier for explanation–and of course meetings. Wish Jigg and you weren’t on the West Coast. But I suppose as to war it seems all the same to you. LOVE, Evelyn

 * * * * *

During this period Jack had been in correspondence with Match and Co, the managing agents for 26 Belsize Crescent.  These letters contained considerable detail about the finances of the property and Jack reluctantly decided that he had no option but to sell the house.  After taking advice, he accepted an offer of £2500 (approximately £56,000 in today’s money) nowhere near enough to buy the hoped-for cottage in the country.

* * * * *

To Jack Metcalfe

November 12, 1959

Dear Jack—

Thank you so much for the detailed and candid account of your circumstances. I see the point, now, and agree that you would do best to stay in the States. It’s a shame that you are unlikely to realize the true value of the Hampstead house. Your account of socialized medicine is chilling. I had no idea it was so bad. I hate to think of what would—or could—happen to a person in a sudden medical emergency if they were not already in hospital. Here one can get quick help.

I haven’t time for much this morning if I’m to catch the mail. Will you please tell Evelyn that I’ll write to her next and soon, and that all the books arrived on Fred’s birthday. He is particularly pleased with his Darwin and Julia loves hers with Kay Boyle’s personal inscription. Please thank her for us all. All the books were happy choices.

Love
P

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

December 1959

I hope this reaches you in time for Christmas—with our love and blessings. We are deep in preparations, of course—we put up the tree this afternoon because the kids pestered so much that I gave in. It does look pretty.

We’re not sending any cards this year, so this note is to take its place. We’re all well and of course the kids are in a heaven of anticipation. I hope you both have a good Christmas—even if simple.

Love,
Paula

* * * * *

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

42. Isolation (2)

Very little correspondence has been found for the period after their return to the US and their 6-month stay at the Hartington Hertford Foundation has been found, possibly because after her death in 1963 a grief-stricken Jack destroyed many of her papers as he could not, he explained, bear to see her handwriting.  From the letters that remain it appears they left California in 1954 and found what was probably the only accommodation they could afford, a two-room serviced apartment in a rather run-down residential hotel, the Benjamin Franklin Hotel on Manhattan’s upper West Side.  There they lived until Evelyn died in 1963.

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

Bonnie Burn Road, Scotch Plains, NJ
March 24, 1953

Dear Paula:

Hope this may help a little.  Wish it could be more!  But it brings with it all my love.

In case you don’t know Evelyn is leaving tomorrow morning for Calif.  I talked to her on the telephone and she said they could not possibly stay longer.  However tomorrow afternoon or Thursday morning I’ll call the hotel to be absolutely positive.  Unless you hear from me you’ll know the coast is clear.  Hope to see you soon.

Love to all
Glads
God bless you!

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

130 West 12th Street, New York City
March 27, 1953

Dear Jigg:–

Your mother presumably left for California at 3PM on Wed Mar 25—in all that downpour!  I saw her several times and she does talk more reasonably than she writes, altho rather buttonholing type of talk like the Ancient Mariner, and after 2 hrs the conversation gets more paranoid.  However, she seemed pretty well and calm—but will it last!?  She told me Miss Allen had told her you were at the Chelsea, and she went there and they were very vague as to when you had left and where you had gone. . .[1]  I began to feel pretty low and horrible when she talked lovingly about “my son” and about The Muscovites and how she was using your agent Russell.  However, I’m sure I did right.  She saw Charlotte Wilder and May Mayers—who seems to be a good egg– and Dawn was hospitable and helpful.  Jack got an agent, too, and registered at several teachers agencies, so here’s hoping!

Anyway, cheerio
MDeS

[1]Jig and his family were still at the Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan, then a cheap residential hotel, where they had been for over a year since their return from Germany.  He had presumably asked the desk not to give out any details to anyone who enquired.

* * * * *

To Ralph Pearson

The Huntington Hartford Foundation,
Pacific Palisades, California
April 6, 1953

Mr Ralph Pearson
Lecturer on Art
The University of New Mexico Arizona or New Mexico
Phoenix or Albuquerque–we don’t know which

Dear Ralph:

Jack and I have been assisted by some generous friends, of whom Margaret De Silver, is the chief, to return home.  We sailed from Southampton, on March 1st, on the Holland-American Liner Veendam, and were in New York just under two weeks, at the Hotel Earl off Washington Square, in Waverley Place.

Can you, if this reaches us [sic], send Jig’s address to his mother?  If so Jack and I both will take it to be a human and kindly act.

 After that period in which I sent letters to Jig in your care, at 288 Piermont Avenue, Nyack, our contact was re-established; and both in Rutherford–at both their addresses, Hawthorne and Ridge Streets–and in Red Hook, at their Pitcher Lane address, we corresponded at intervals.  And we continued to correspond when Jig and Pavla went to Munich, while they were both at Grunwald and at Grafelfing; Pavla writing most of the letters but Jig signing some with her.

It was after Jig returned home with his family that the American Consulate in Munich informed me, in replying to a letter I sent them about a letter of some value that, apparently, when mailed to them from London, was lost, that Jig’s job in Munich had been with the Free Europe Radio Service and that it had then–some while before last Christmas–been concluded, and he and Pavla, Denise, Fredrick, Mathew and Julia had sailed already for their home in the USA.

I telephoned the Free Europe Radio Service in NY twice; and realize now I should have gone there.  But their pleasant promise to do everything possible to locate him again in the USA put me off, so to speak.  I know Jig’s job was not “hushy” and was ordinary civilian radio.  Free Europe assures me he is in the USA, was seen on his return, had been “in the office” but is not there now.  They also said he had stayed at the Chelsea Hotel on 23rd Street with his family on landing last autumn–September probably.  I don’t know what you think of the fact that we communicated when I was in London with Jack and Jig and Pavla were in Germany, yet are cut out of context with them the moment we set foot on the soil of the country of which I am native, but we regard such a contretemps as sheer barbarity–and not on Jig’s part or Pavla’s.

If you can help me, and care to take a human view, we shall be more than obliged.

I phoned Nyack information to ask whether you were still listed in the Nyack phone book, and she told you were not; so perhaps the Design Workshop has been permanently transported to Albuquerque Arizona.

We have Fellowships here, but no money whatever; and will return to New York in the late summer, as our fares back are guaranteed and Jack must have a school-job and is the one of us best qualified by experience and degree.

I have no reason to suppose you feel any longer any interest whatever in us; but–again–I appeal to you on the basis of human feeling.  I think the fact that we have four grandchildren–all American born–in common, should be enough to suggest loyalty to us as Jig’s near family as the most normal attitude.  But goodness knows what anybody thinks of anything, since a disastrous metamorphosis has been wrought in so many of the country’s views.  I am just hoping.

Sincerely yours,
Evelyn Dunn Scott Metcalfe (Mrs John or Mrs WJ)

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

April 20, 1953

Dear Jigg

I enclose a letter [missing] from your mother  which I hope you’ll read.  I’d like to suggest that if and when you get yourself a far distant post office address, you write her a small non-committal letter telling her you’re alive and well.  It is going to be increasingly difficult for me to keep my up-to-now successful dead-pan front when they come back in the Fall.  Her address is:– Huntington-Hartford Foundation, 2000 Rustic Canyon Road, Pacific Palisades, Calif.

Best wishes to you!
Faithfully
Margaret DeS

How is Paula?  I regret that it is impractical for us to meet.

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

Hotel Chelsea
223 West 23rd St, New York City
April 24 [1953]

Dear Margaret

Sorry my letter threw you, as it appears to have done, and which I didn’t intend.  Your letters have never bored me, although I admit they have scared me at times.  I don’t think it’s correct to say that you have been stupid about bringing E Scott and Jack to the ‘States.  What I do contend is that you, and the others involved, have failed to take into consideration that she is, in the strictly clinical sense, insane.

As you say, my mother was a bit of a witch hunter in her time.  Everybody who knew her at the time realises that she went quite overboard on the idea that there was a terrible conspiracy afoot to repress True Art, and that the super patriots, as represented by the Hearst Press, the un-American Activities Committee, etc. were natural allies against such a conspiracy.  The logic of this did then, and still does, escape me altogether.

As I say, everyone knew, or suspected, that she was doing a bit of witch hunting.  What nobody knew, and what the people I told have steadfastly refused to believe up this moment, is that she was nuts.

At the time in question, for example, I spent many hours trying to convince her that she was wrong in supposing that there was in existence a machine (a kind of telepathic radio) which enabled malignant influences (at that time communist, but today God knows what) to tune in on one’s thoughts.  A little later, I tried to talk her out of the notion that this same device had been improved to the point where it could not only be tuned in on one’s thoughts, but used to twist, pervert and direct them as well.  In 1943, at a time when she was considered to be quite sane, and when my own rationality was called into question for suggesting that she was not, she was urging me to get rid of my wife (Paula), by poison if necessary, because, she claimed, Paula was a robot under the influence of this contraption.  It was later perfected, as she took pains to inform me, to the point where it could make people ill (How’s your arthritis?).  Not only that, but it soon transpired, as she made clear, that there was no such thing as a germ or a virus, or what have you.  All diseases, mechanical fractures of the bone possibly excepted, were induced by this super-gadget.  There was, however, a counteragent.  If you thought “right” thoughts, and repeated the word “Peruna” frequently enough, you could outwit the gadget.  To prove the point (she was living with me at the time) she deliberately infected my son Frederick (then a baby) with the flu, from which he nearly died.

This is merely by way of illustrating the point things had reached ten years ago:  they were plenty bad before that.  I recall suggesting to various people that she might not be all there, and all I got was a sweet, sceptical smile—the smile one accords to someone who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

At ABC two things happened.  Firstly, I found that my mother had a reputation among persons of more or less liberal complexion as their sworn enemy, and that it was assumed that I was her staunch supporter in this.  My rather timid intimations that this was not so got me nowhere.  The last person with whom I had an argument on this score happens to have been Whittaker Chambers (he wasn’t famous yet) who offered me a job at Time.  After that I just shut up and played my cards close to my chest.  The second thing that happened was that my boss at ABC got the inevitable letter from my mother, asking, indirectly, that some kind of heat be put on me to make me a better correspondent, and suggesting that ABC was preventing me from writing.  You can imagine what a difficult thing it was to explain to the foresaid boss when I mention that he is now in the publicity department of the NAM, where he longed to be.  He is a pretty decent guy in many ways, but not subtle.

From ABC I moved to CBS.  Ed Murrow is probably still puzzled by the letter he got from my mother trying to enlist his help in making me a more dutiful son.  My mail was opened in Germany by the CIA, and I have often tried to imagine what General Walter Bedell Smith, or whoever my mother’s letters (forwarded from the ‘States) finally reached thought about their contents.

As far as I know she is still a confirmed letter writer.

Now I realize that the foregoing may sound completely incredible to you, or anyone else.  Nevertheless it is true.  However, about the only thing I have ever asked anybody to do about it is (1) kindly not hold me responsible for what my parents did—the sins of the fathers may be visited upon the sons in the bible, but this is supposed to be a non-biblical age; and (2) that someone look into the matter, with the aid of competent and qualified medical men, without automatically assuming that it couldn’t be true because it was I who said so.  If I am wrong, I shall be happy to abide by the decision of an unbiased judge, but I’m afraid I’m right.  I have been for fifteen years, and the fact that I spent 25 of my 38 years dancing attendance on my mother and father gives my opinion some weight.

So much for that.  You now have the main facts in fairly comprehensible form.  Sorry to bother you with it all, but it seems easier to state the whole case in one lump that to try to explain it piecemeal.

I’m very grateful to you for what you are trying to do for my mother, and I’ll do anything I can to help.  Frankly, however, it presents certain problems.  But don’t let it get you down.  Best of luck from Paula and myself.

Jigg

Incidentally, you are the second person who asked me to write my mother in a week.  Gladys Grant was the other.  The letter is in the works.

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

April 24, 1953

Dear Jigg;-

Your letter just received so horrifies and fascinates me that I hasten to answer it, even tho a letter from me must always scare and bore you!  What fascinates me is the revelation of my own stupidity, and what horrifies me are the implications involved in E’s remarks to which I scarcely paid any attention!

First let me hasten to say that my arthritis—the present—was only mentioned to Evelyn because I was bored with hearing of her complaints and thought I’d just stick in one of my own.  But I see that that is dangerous as, like other mentally ill people I know, Evelyn never forgets a damn thing.  I have always assumed it was Evelyn’s enormous vanity that made her unable to admit that you of your own free will wish NOT to communicate with her, but had not the heart to come right out and say so—she would not have accepted it anyway.  BUT I did NOT know she was so thoroughly au courant as to your ideas and intentions.

Plenty of people DID warn me against trying to bring Evelyn here and plenty are hiding out in fear and trembling, all of which makes me feel an utter ass, softy, simpleminded “Do-Gooder”—such always mess things up for all concerned.  But I did somehow think that if E got out of that hideous environment she might be able to do

It was very sweet of Paula to write me a few lines.  I did not know Margaret was so ill, and feel rather guilty because I did not answer a letter she wrote me about Foster’s book.  Evelyn had also assailed Margaret as to your whereabouts and she had answered she did not know where you were.  Knowing how Margaret has always felt about Evelyn, I was surprised that Evelyn would communicate with her.  Dr Mayers, by the way, seems to have remained discretely loyal to you.  She also told me that Paula is a beauty.

Yes, Cyril and E both sure have outsized egos but I sort of assumed that was a disease of artists—that they had to have egos to buck all sorts of things.  But I must say when they get top-heavy, one certainly ceases to function and instead does only endless damage.

Well, that’s enough.  Good luck to you both.  And thank you for writing Evelyn.

Margaret DeSilver

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico
May 24, 1953

Dear Evelyn:

As I wired you, it is absolutely impossible for me to see you at any time.  This I explained in my wire.  Joe1 also feels as I do that there is no use in post mortems.

So please do not come to see us at any time.

I hope all goes well with you.

I have had no word from Pavli for months.

Yours sincerely,
Margué

1Joe Foster was Margué’s second husband and Paula’s step-father

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico
September 6, 1953

Dearest Paula:

This is not an answer to your and Bumpy’s wonderful letters.  That will come later.

This is on a subject I have held off writing you about since last March.  Evelyn has written Frieda Lawrence Ravagli1 a six-page letter like all her others to me trying to get her to get your address from me.  It gives her father’s date of death and name and all his jobs, her mother’s etc.  The exact words of her wire to me and may answer that I didn’t have your address.  All about Cyril and her divorce.  The names of Paul and Frederick Wellman and their occupations.  Etc.  Etc.

So I am sending you her address and perhaps you can just write her you and Jigg are well and the children.  You need not send your address but you could get her off our backs.

Frieda sent me the letter and said she could not make head or tail of it and what should she do.  I’m sorry she has been bothered.

So no more of this.  I’ll write soon.

Love to you, all of you,
Margué

1One-time wife of D H Lawrence. The Lawrences were living in Taos at that time.

From Jack Metcalfe’s diary:

December 25, 1953: Went over to Community House for Christmas celebrations 5.30. Drinks. Dinner.  Distribution of presents,–John Vincent being Santa Claus.  I got tie, Evelyn stockings.  We also had gifts of chocolate, nuts, etc. Before going over to dinner, I opened packet of railroad post-cards from R Wylie, and found it also contained $10! January 7, 1954: In evening got $125 from Derlett, also unpleasant letter from Maggie.  January 9, 1954: Letter from Pavla to E.
January 21, 1954: Matthew’s birthday, – today or tomorrow!
February 12, 1954: E and I had interview with Dr V1 after breakfast
March 8, 1954: In evening E had letter from Charles Day enclosing $50.
March 24, 1954: Day spent in preparations for departure.
March 25, 1954: Did odd jobs connected with our departure.  In afternoon, after nap, made some notes from encyclopedia. Dinner in “our honour”.  Usual awful business afterwards of packing and locking bulging trunks.
March 26, 1954: In morning went in to Los Angeles with John and Sal and heavy luggage, which I checked through to NYC.
March 27, 1954: Left Huntington Hartford Foundation at 11.15,- being driven in to LA by Sal.  Left LA at 1.30.  Dinner at about six or six-thirty.  Poorish night, as expected.
March 28, 1954: All day on train.
March 29, 1954: Reached Chicago 7.15 am.  Snowing.  Taxi from Dearborn to  LaSalle.  Martin Sheffield turned up at 9.15 and took us to Bismark Hotel, where we engaged a room and chatted.  Lunch at the hotel, – oyster stew for E and self.  Martin presented us with $30.  Left hotel at 2.15 by taxi to LaSalle depot and got aboard train “The Pacemaker” at 2.35.  Left at 3.  Dinner rather early, – about 5.30.
March 30, 1954: Reached New York at 8.45, and, after much telephoning etc, fixed up at the Benjamin Franklin hotel.  Had lunch out.  I made two journeys, for heavy and then for lighter luggage, to Grand Central.  Nap.  We had dinner out, at Rudley’s. Had hair cut today.
March 31, 1954: Breakfasted at Rudley’s at 9. Rang St Bernards,- Mr Westgate away.  Went PO on 83rd ST,- fill in and posted card to Immigration notifying new address.  Cashed a traveller’s cheque at bank.  Returned to hotel and rang St Bernards again, – success, – finally arranging to ring Mr Fry between 6.30 and 7.30 tonight. Did so. E and I had dinner. Bed.

1Dr Vincent, then director of the Huntington Hartford Foundation.

* * * * *

have met several people this year

* * * * *

From John Metcalfe’s diary:

April 1, 1954: E and I passed v disturbed night with diarrhoea.  I went out and got coffee in containers, and buns, for our breakfast. Beatrice (cleaner) did our room at 10.45 while we had more coffee out. Lunch at Rudley’s. Nap. I went out and bought brown hat, and then on to Village with idea of seeing Fanny,- but did not do so.  Looked in vain for place to get hat blocked and cleaned. Back to hotel by 6.30. E and I had dinner at Waldorf. Later went out and bought brioches and croissants from DuBarry’s at corner.

April 2, 1954: Interview with Mr Westgate at St Bernards School in morning, – satisfactory save for rather low salary. Lunch. Nap. Remembered must have funds over week-end so cashed withdrew further $20 traveller’s cheque. Resumed nap,- but then Mr Fles rang up.  Again resumed nap. At 5.30 telephoned Craven (had already done so after lunch and found Mr French left), – saying would ring again Monday.

April 3, 1954: Breakfast at Rudley’s.  On return found letters from McDowell, Derleth and Guggenheim,- the last being a durn-damn. Derleth set me my jacket for The Feasting Dead.  I rang Davison, and then rang Mr Westgate in definite acceptance of post at St Bernards.  Wrote and posted letters to Gannett and Derleth.  Bought percolator and crockery, and later coffee and condensed milk and brioches. Had lunch “at home”, using community kitchen for boiling water.  Before this had opened a trunk in store-room and extracted letter-files.  Nap from 3 to 4.  Went out and bought coffee pot etc.  Dinner at 7 at Waldorf.

April 4, 1954: Breakfast “at home” of coffee and brioches etc.

April 5, 1954: Shopped in morning,- tobacco, cooking utensils etc.  Strained heart while buying lemon meringue pie.  Lunch at “home” of bacon and pie.  Had rung Mrs Aronson in morning.  Nap.  More shopping etc.  E and I had dinner at Waldorf.  Bed. Posted letters to Maggie, Walter, French, Inglis, Pleasantville and Putney.

April 9, 1954: Gladys came unexpectedly. Went bank etc. Lunched at Waldorf, with Gladys.

April 15, 1954: Went to Searing Tutorial School and left testimonials etc. Pay only $2 per hr.

April 18, 1954: Easter, and very dull. E thought valuables lost at 10 am. Found again at 4 pm. No dinner.

May 14, 1954: Back at hotel and found Maggie had sent us whisky, brandy, tea and coffee. Sampled the whiskey before supper.

May 25, 1954: Gladys and Edgerton visited us in evening and took us to supper at Waldorf Cafeteria.

June 2, 1954: Back at hotel about 6.15 and found Maggie there. She left about 7.30, – giving us present of cheese and a book.

June 5, 1954: This morning E and I had stroll to yacht basin by Riverside Dr while maid was cleaning our room.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Scotch Plains, NJ
June 28, 1954

[First page missing]

You are quite right that I avoid writing about Jig and Paula. It is not that I don’t want to, but because you ask impossibly intimate questions that I have no way of answering and then accuse me of lying or concealing. For instance I have no possible way of knowing about Jig’s health. Even on the few past occasions when I visited them, I could only tell you what I saw or they volunteered. Evidently Jig told you much more when he saw you in London and this was only natural.

I can’t possibly remember how many times I saw Jig or the family since 1941. Not many and we did not discuss you or Jack or any of them. And all you wrote abut 22 years ago was completely new to me. I was either selfishly absorbed in my own first love affair and did not know what was going on or was away in Darien. Both probably.

Please forgive the tone of this letter. I am no longer angry, but still deeply hurt. I do realize that you and Jack have been and are still going through terrible times and wish I could help. Yet you have your work and you have each other which is so much much much more than many of the rest of us. It is tragic that your work is not appreciated, but isn’t that always the fate of true artists? Not that that makes it any easier!

But you have Jack’s love and I still know and have always known that love is the greatest thing in the world!

Love to you both–Always

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

Brooklyn Hospital
July 5, 1954

Dearest Pavli—

No news is good news I trust, in this case, on your part.

Perhaps you already know the following—that Evelyn Scott has placed a notice in the NY Times asking anybody informed of it—to let her have the address of her son—someone sent the clipping to Gertrude—who I think mislaid it—Does Creighton know her address?

I am still here, you see—but improving—beginning practicing walking.  I still have to push a chair before me—and have a nurse beside me—but the time is near when I shall be able to go home.

I save clippings for the children without being sure that they care for them.

Love to you all
Aunt Kitty¹

1 “Aunt Kitty” (Gertrude Brownell) was Paula’s great-aunt on her mother’s side.

* * * * *

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

35. London and second-hand clothing

Margaret DeSilver, a well-connected and wealthy Manhattan socialite, would soon be a major player in the lives of Evelyn and Jack. None of the letters in the collection gives any indication as to how they met, possibly in the 1930s or  early 1940s, but it is clear from the letters that have been found that their relationship had been in existence for some time and that it was close.  It becomes more and more important, as will be seen in later chapters.

The start of this sequence finds Jack visiting New York in order to maintain his right to residency in the United States.  He is also using the opportunity to seek employment, while Evelyn is taking advantage of his visit to try to gain information about Jigg’s whereabouts.

* * * * *

To Cyril Kay Scott

For Jack to send on to Cyril please
26 Belsize Crescent
August 30, 1947

My dear Cyril,

I am asking this to be sent by Jack who is now in New York, at Margaret De Silver’s, and who I know would like very much to see you herself for his own pleasure and because the affectionate regard of us both is the same as ever.

The object of this letter, however, is to implore you–and I mean implore–to relieve my distress and the distress Jack feels on my behalf and as one genuinely fond of Jig regarding his strange treatment of both of us, who have written to him repeatedly in the three years since I stayed with him and Pavla at their express invitation to do so; and had, except for the atmosphere imposed by war, a good visit and when I left took a most affectionate farewell of them and their children, anticipating that we would always be the good friends we have been throughout our lives.

I have been here three years and a few months, and for the first two years I wrote to Jig regularly every week (not very interesting letters, perhaps, but that was the war), and no reply did I ever have, except two brief notes from Pavla, which acknowledged by inference that my letters were being received in Tappan.

Jig and Pavla both know very well that my feeling for their three children is the normal affectionately interested one of any grandmother, and while Jack is, as he would say, “just a step-gran’pappy”, he also is interested in them and would enjoy meeting them and getting acquainted.

Knowing that every day during this long interval I have spoken of Jig and every day have thought of him and almost every day have asked aloud why Jig didn’t write, when Jack left the first thing he promised was to ascertain Jig’s address which has never been given us since they left Tappan and see Jig if he could in any case write to Jig there and get a reply which would clear the air of what has become a miasma of mystification and very positive unhappiness, which is the proof of my normality as a mother.

I have been, during all this last year, reduced to sending any mail I wanted to reach Jig to Ralph Pearson, who refuses to give Jig’s address, and offers no explanation whatever as to why, merely says he was “asked not to”.

I cannot force Jig to conduct himself like himself humanly generously decently scrupulously.  During his entire life he has always been good honest responsive sensitive and civilized, but to remember the evidence as we both do of that makes the present situation the less tolerable the more completely incomprehensible.  What suggestions have been made to him?  Who is inducing an attitude so at odds with what he humanly is.  And explanation of any sort would be a godsend.

I have been humiliated by having sent letters to the Broadcasting Company, registered which advertise to the public that my son for some good damn phoney suggested fool no-reason acts as if I were dead WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY.  We have never quarrelled, we have had a few “spats” that never lasted but we have never quarrelled.  Therefore Creighton, who has also experienced the war–this last war–not the other–cannot with his intellect possibly believe he can “lose himself” in that way.  There are all the ties he has to some extent chosen, in marrying Pavla, in the responsibilities resultant; but additionally he is in continual contact, whether he prefers it or not, with Pearsons, Hales, Brownells1 and Fosters, who, whether or not well-meaning (it remains to be proved that they are, except as regards Pavla) do not appreciate Jig, have NOT the brains the taste the perspicacity the insights into art and living that his father and his step-father and his mother have why the hell and in the name of all common sense then, should Jig be a sort of domestic martyr, to every sort of imposed family tie, and be cut off from the one assortment relatives with whom he has things actually in common. I resent the situation on Jig’s behalf just as much on my own.  Pavla is a good sensible girl, she has an average good mind but she is not profound, she is not extraordinary and she is in many ways lacking in perspicacity as regards the things in which Jig’s interest is most vital. [1952–Pavla intellect cannot be assessed as she was too young and immature at marriage for judgements–This was provoked by her then apparent exclusion of me–circumstantial only I hope]

This is not a mother-in-law’s opinion–I was very fond of Pavla and I will be easily fond of her again in a normal atmosphere with normal behaviour on her part towards ourselves.  But I have and do resent (with reservations, for the letter seemed so unlike herself that I have interpreted it in the light of various possible excuses or justifications of the moment, as she saw things, how wrongly–and certainly it was wrongly) the fact that I was sent a letter with such a content (I hadn’t known before the baby was expected) and with no address, and have been left in the period mental torment resultant from such a hiatus in communication.

If I could think of it as deliberate it would be hard to forgive but I think we have every one of us been so controlled and manipulated by every sort of force and influence during the war, that my view of what has happened is based on that, any my judgement of it is a continent one.

You can always assure Jig (though he should know it anyhow) that I will never be a “clinging” mother and that Jack any myself have our own careers work and interests and do not “batten” psychologically, or otherwise But normal human affection has its demands, too, and in a world all but ruined by the rotten putrid totes (and may they meet their annihilation), no one who values his or her integrity of individuality can afford to slight normal human feelings.

So let’s abolish “mystification”.

With the affection best wishes I know Jack shares I am as we both are again
Your very admiringly,

A reference to Paula’s maternal aunts, and particularly her great aunt Gertrude Brownell

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Eastham, Massachusetts
September 6 [1947]

Dear Evelyn:-

I hope you got the $50 in time.  The mails are so slow and your letter had to also be forwarded from NY.

The reason I seem so unresponsive and do not answer your letters is because I am anyway rather confused politically and of course do not know the situation in England at first hand as you do, but my sympathies, as you must surely know by know, are with the Labor Party in general, and here in USA with the Socialist Party, so there really is not much that I can say.  As for the world of arts and letters, I certainly agree with you that it is in a woeful state, but I do not know what I, as a Philistine, can do about it except to buy the books and the paintings that I like and to protest that this and that are not published or exhibited.  My protests are, of course, entirely futile, as I am not a figure or a force in those worlds and have absolutely no chance of appearing authoritative, natch.

As for Jig, that is a personal matter about which I am also entirely incompetent, as I do not even know where he lives, and letters I have written to him in the past, merely friendly, neighborly letters, have gone unacknowledged.  Harrison1 has clear and friendly recollections of Jig and frequently says he would like to get in touch with him but it appears to be quite impossible. [She knows why I ceased to see them and I should think someone could have relieved my anxiety about taking “sides”.  Margaret is included in all I say of Jig—details different that’s all why guess]

Anyway, as you know, I love and admire you and Jack and do wish things were not so rotten for you.  But I think it unfair of you to make your friends responsible for all your troubles.  People really DO still protest, but the forces are such that their voices simply are smothered.

Margaret DeS

[They should have some sense about Jig.  These silences cannot be an advantage to him, they are a painful embarrassment  Jig is fine of spirit I say, and certainly they cannot deny he has intellect—his book]

This may well be Harrison, or Hal, Smith, who had previously published a number of Evelyn’s books.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

I AM OFFICALLY EVELYN SCOTT AS WELL AS MRS W J METCALFE

Reynolds, Richards & McCutcheon
Attorneys and Counsellors at Law
68 William Street
New York 5, NY

September 22, 1947

[1952—London they were at first reluctant to cash anything for Evelyn Scott legal professional signature as author—Evelyn Scott Evelyn D S Metcalfe was Margaret’s gift I was here alone and literally without a cent Jack was trying to get job in the States]

Dear Madam:

Herewith, draft No D-14306 for $50 drawn on the Central Hanover Bank & Trust Company, 7 Princes Street, London, England, to the order of Evelyn Scott, which is sent at the request of Mrs Margaret DeSilver.

Very truly yours,
REYNOLDS RICHARDS & McCUTCHEON

Cc:  Mrs Margaret DeSilver

[1952 The Bank here has since cashed checks to Evelyn Scott but Jack had left me access to his account with the signature Evelyn D S Metcalfe.  Everything, in 1947, was a bloody mess.]

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

[October 8, 1947]

EVELYN METCALFE 26 BELSIZE CRESCENT HAMPSTEAD LONDON NW3

SAILING OCTOBER 8 ARRIVING OCTOBER 17 POST OBTAINED LONDON CORRESPONDENT OF NEWYORK PERIODICAL  DEAREST LOVE.  JACK

[They went back on this offer letting Jack work at it 6 weeks pallid also racket]

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

[October 10, 1947]

EVELYN METCALfE 26 BELSIZE CRESCENT HAMPSTEAD LDN NW3

NOW SAILING ON QUEEN MARY ARRIVING SIXTEENTH OR EARLY SEVENTEENTH LOVE. JACK

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

October 11, 1947

My dear Mag,

The Reynolds, Richards McCutcheon letter with your gift was received by me just a few days after you wrote yourself you were sending it, and is now with the bank, having arrived in the nick of time, when, again, due to “this and that” (and god rot this and that) I had just two pounds cash left to draw on.  [1952—I had not a cent left in the house–literal]

Yes it was the first time (barring five dollars sent once, which insulted me) that I have received any money whatsoever since I have been in England this time.  When I was here as a Guggenheim Fellow1 I cashed checks here of fund money, and when Jack had enough, in Suffolk, he opened an account for me so that whether the money was for my books or his I would not have to consult him about what I spent for personal necessities.

Mag darling, I told you, I would write you more about what’s wrong with “this and that”, and I am doing so.  And my situation as it has been so far is especially unjust as regards Jack himself, on whom has devolved the responsibility for maintaining us both, which he has done impeccably; but it has been often by “odd jobs” which sacrificed the time he requires for creative work; and as normally I earned as much as he did (sometimes one more sometimes the other) also at creative work, there was never a more senseless and inexcusable waste of two talents.

I will go to the Bank again to make sure the gift has been cleared (I went there on Thursday and they thought so, but I didn’t try to do anything as to drawing on it), and if it is and I am pretty sure it must be, I will mail this then with my very great and continued affection, because the most important thing to say here really is that you have again done something generous and genuinely good that is just Margaret and thank you very much.

Evelyn

Evelyn had received a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation in 1932 and, exceptionally, a further grant a year later. These were intended as financial support to enable her to write, and did not carry any duties with them.

* * * * *

 To O  C Reynolds

October 11, 1947

Mr Oliver C Reynolds
Reynolds, Richards and McCutcheon
Attorneys and Counselors at Law
68 William Street, New York City USA

Dear Sir,

Mrs Margaret De Silver has just written me enclosing the carbon of your original letter of September 22nd, 47, containing draft No D-14306 for $50 dollars drawn on the Central Hanover Bank and Trust Company, 7 Princes Street London, England, at the request of Mrs Margaret De Silver and made out to myself Evelyn Scott

Your letter and the draft would have been acknowledged earlier, but I did not receive it until about eight days ago and the Bank, when I last called there, on Thursday (this is Saturday) had not yet cleared it, but were sure it was all right and will be cleared when I go there to draw on it or before.  As a gift I am sure it is all right, but the longer time it has taken to clear it may have been due to its having been sent to me in my professional name which was my legal name when married to Cyril Kay Scott, and which is still my legal name as regards books contracts and anything of a business nature appertaining to my literary career, but which, incredibly, I have not used officially since I arrived here during the bombing phase of the war, as the literary careers of myself and my husband have been very much interrupted until recently.

However, we are beginning to re-establish ourselves normally, and while Mrs De Silver has apologized for having sent the draft that way, she need not have done so, as after all, the preservation of my continuity as a writer in an official as well as unofficial way is important to me, and especially as my son Creighton is also a Scott.

The draft was deposited in the account of my present husband W J Metcalfe, who is John Metcalfe the British author and publishes in the USA.

Thanking you for having sent Mrs De Silver’s generous and appreciated gift.

Very truly yours

I am very explicit, because I dislike “pokers, pryers and snoopers”, and if it is actually true, as is published in the papers, that the Government reads your mail, I just think it best to tell everything relevant.

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

October 17, 1947

Margaret my dear

Jack arrived yesterday evening full of good news of yourself as the best friend ever was.  I did not know you had again helped out about the Queen Mary and my gratitude is reintensified.  These have been a very long two months and a half, and when Jack cabled about the change of boats, I was relieved for his sake and my own that he was not obliged to put up with the terrible accommodations of the previous voyage.  But I did not know it was entirely due to you yourself that he was able to arrange the transfer and actually, as your air mail saying he was “on his way” arrived last Tuesday or Wednesday, and I thought the Queen Mary took just four days, I didn’t believe Jack was here until he was at the front door.  And my delight was all the greater, and I have been wishing all day I knew what I could do for Margaret De Silver that was half as good as what she has been doing for us both.

He feels very much encouraged about things as a result of this renewed contact with USA friends and so do I, and the one thing yet to be solved in personal relations is how to re-establish normal communication with Jig, but I am certain that it will be re-established and we will be all three good friends and able to express what is our fundamentally affectionate attitude given a little time.  I have my own idea as to how a situation as a-typical of ourselves has come about, and of course while I won’t blame anybody until I am quite sure about blame, I think it probable Pavla has been stuffed with absurd suggestions, which may or may not have been absorbed.  She is herself honest, but is susceptible to suggestion, an she may have been jealous because of misinterpreting various things due entirely to the war.  She may have actually told Jig a whopper, also as a result of her excitability, and I think the difficulty probably is just that, as it explains by inference some comments Jig made while I was there that I did not understand. But he himself is so completely honest, that, as she was originally, I hope it will clear up.  (Margué may be the nigger in the wood pile, as she is ridden by fake theories of behaviour, and was continually inventing “complexes”, just fool in my opinion.)

I wish I could, I say again, do half as much for you as you for us.

1The preface to Life Is Too Short was written by Cyril’s eldest son, Paul I Wellman

* * * * *

From John Metcalfe’s diary

Jack earned his modest living as a teacher in a series of private prep schools or “crammers”, teaching mainly algebra and Latin.  He kept a diary for many years, recording in his neat schoolmasterly hand each day’s events in a kind of staccato narrative. His life was ordered and orderly, and this was reflected in the diary entries, often brief and very similar from one day to the next.  Sometimes they varied .  .  .

December 25, 1947: Breakfast. Work. Coffee. Work. Lunch. Felt mouldy and went to bed. Got up again and had tea. Supper of steak. More work at Maths. Cake and bed.
January 28, 1948: Gladys has sent a box of typewriter paper, very welcome; – and the paper is excellent quality.
March 12, 1948: E’s teeth troubling her greatly of late.
April 18, 1948: E still very poorly with jaw-ache.
May 10, 1948: Letter to E from B Baumgarten asking E to employ another agent.
June 25, 1948: Letter from Gladys with $50 arrived just as I was leaving for school.
July 12, 1948: Posted letter to Maggie, also letters (3) from E to possible agents

* * * * *

No letters from or to  Otto Theis or his wife Louise Morgan for the 20 or so years prior to this letter were found during the search for Evelyn’s correspondence.  This does not mean that there were none:  it is clear from the tone of the letters that were found that the relationship continued and was warm. 

* * * * *

To Louise Morgan

August 13, 1948

[First page(s) missing]  Standing as regards clothes any one of these acceptable and every one needed.  I have a pair of slacks and some old blouses for wear indoors.  I have a coat ten years old and somewhat out of style for very cold weather (worn but usable if not smart)

I have not a pair of shoes—brown or black or both very acceptable, size five-and-a-half c last, for highish heel dress, five d last for a tennis or heelless shoe (and in espadrilles I wore four and a half d—I like low or moderate heels (very high, tire) wear sandals indoors when I have them, and though having no dressy shoes, would still find good black grey or brown evening shoes second-hand acceptable, as of possible use with all future dress (have an old blue dressing gown and no slippers, by the way).

I have no moderate weight or light coat, nothing for moderate winter weather or coolish summer fall or spring; and either a sports coat or a dressy coat (or of course both) would be most welcome—size thirty-six bust gives a good coat shoulder (the best jacket shoulder is thirty-four, but usually the skirt measures don’t g, being larger in waist, and longer in skirt than a misses size)—and as becomingness is as important as warmth, I may say, that I can wear to advantage brown black sage green medium green (can’t wear acid green or bottle green) tan, beige, fawn, and any subdued mixture of tan or beige with green or blue or yellow or orange, or any very small pin-stripe on a tan or brown or fawn base, also russet and deep wine (not bluish) and navy blue, but don’t like, and I can’t wear (beside bottle and acid green) black-and white (hideous), white (horrors), very pale fawn (terrible) and though I can wear navy blue, it is not really becoming, just passable, and lacks interest when you have few clothes as it is more difficult than brown black and beige to combine with various other colours, can’t wear grey (atrocious).

I have no suit except one bought in 1938 and darned, as well as démodé, the skirt conspicuously short.  So a coat suit would be very very very acceptable; and the range of colour is about the same as for coats, although the matter of combining other colours with it figures more importantly than as regards coats, and I can wear yellow blouses with brown, green blouses with brown, pink and cherry blouses with brown navy blue and black, and pale blue blouses with all three; and, as well, especially with black blouses in any interesting floral strip or check if it is small, the more colours combined in one textile subduedly the more interesting the effect with a plain suit.

I have no dresses whatever; neither for hot or cold weather sports or afternoon or evening, so every sort of dress is a fine fine fine if in style, with a close-fitting blouse or top and a longish, flaring skirt.  A black dress with subduedly vivid colour touches, or a black dress with cream (can’t wear white touches, hideous), or a dress in a very small and intricate floral pattern on a black brown or green base.

I have not any stockings, I have no underwear nor rags, especially step-ins and bras (a few frayed, 6 slips, all much too short to be of any use now); my stocking size is eight and a half, step-ins with elastic 28 waist without elastic 29, brassieres 34 bust.

I also greatly appreciate elastic step-in girdles without bones but with hose-supporters, price new one dollar and a half, 28 waist, like the step-ins, slips 34 bust.

I have not a hat of any sort, but hats are something you have to buy yourself, in most instances, though sometimes toques or tie-on turbans or comprise headgear can be used second-hand.

Well there is the situation and of course blouses in any of the colours mentioned as becoming would be gratefully received—thirty-four or thirty-six (thirty-four not washable, thirty-six washable).

Slacks eighteen year size (I have a pair, but just one) twenty-nine waist, brown black blue dark (not bottle) green, pin stripes in same, and any material including corduroy which I like very much in most colours.

I don’t expect any one source to supply all these, nor do I anticipate a full supply from every available source combined, but it does seem possible some could be acquired and sent over, if I do not over-tax, the generosity of those to whom I appeal.

I didn’t mention the evening dress, but if any are going and in the mode, all the better; but I cannot wear a real decolette now, having got too “old and skinny”; and I actually cannot stand the temperature indoors here well enough to wear thin clothes without an evening jacket—so that ingredient is more complicated.

A black brown or green dress, or a black dress with touches of interesting colour, just decolette enough to not to be mistaken for a “day dress” is what I would buy if I could buy one and with it, either as part of a costume, or as combinable with the dress, a short wrap of the jackety order, with a touch of trimming in colour if it were black, or perhaps if the dress were black the jacket could be one of the becoming colours subdued but contrasting. [remainder of letter missing]

* * * * *

To Louise Morgan and Otto Theis

Personal
August 15, 1948

My dear Louise and Otto

I have written to both Lenore Marshall  and to Margaret de Silver and shall write to some others, asking them to try and locate friends who will donate me some second-hand clothes in good style, so I can make a front here and get about some.  But we cannot pay duty and I can get no assurance that any clothes will reach me really free, and I am therefore trying to find somebody who is coming to England to visit and could bring a few things second-hand with her own clothes (a woman, it would have to be).  And as you two have mentioned seeing Americans, and brought the California girl here, I have wondered if yourselves or perhaps Sophie and Ruth might not know somebody who was about to visit England who would be willing to include such gifts for me with their belongings and deliver them on arrival.

It is a favour I dislike asking, but the situation fully justifies it I think; otherwise, I might as well be in prison.  I haven’t even marketed since May.  Not a step can I stir from the house under these conditions.

Perhaps Sophie and Ruth themselves might know somebody who had something used but not worn and in good style and though I know this is chance, I include with this a list of needs of measurements to send on to them if you yourselves consider it fitting.

I stress style because I want to put up a good front, and I don’t want just “kivver”1, as per charlady, as that would defeats the real purpose of being decently dressed again, but though it is a lot to ask, I know Sophie is already au courrant with some of the charitable wealthy and as I have written Margaret, Marie Garland supplied me with half a wardrobe of very expensive good quality clothes which were not entirely satisfactory only because I had to have them altered; which I couldn’t now afford and which seems about the hardest thing to get done in London there is, judging by our previous experiences in that line.

So if Sophie or Ruth know anybody with clothes to contribute and also know somebody who is soon to arrive in England that would be splendid.  And if they know somebody who would bring clothes and would be good enough to communicate with Lenore Marshall (better post than phone) and with Margaret in case they have anything to contribute—then that will again be good and whatever we do eventually get on books will not have drains on it, to the same extent, for to solve the problem, we actually require several thousand dollars (house repairs, painting, etc, a good sale, not a sacrifice, taxes, and things including clothes and dentist needed by Jack too.

And so I throw myself on your generosity, for the time—if you can do anything, as I say, well and good and whether you can or not it is very much to be appreciated that I can discuss things with you both with complete candour.

our love
Evelyn

1Cod-Cockney for “cover” or clothing.

* * * * *

To Louise Morgan

September 13, 1948

My dear Louise

I am glad you did not phone, again.  Often here, too, the phone rings, just as Jack is about to call somebody for me—I do so less often), and we have also been treated to hocus-pocus, by way of tangled wires, on so many occasions, a few weeks ago, we had to leave the phone off the hook overnight and a good deal of the day, until whatever flim-flam corrected it was summoned, to have any peace whatever.  This has occurred so many times, in the last four years, if a normal telephone service were not a great convenience, in emergencies, I would get rid of it.  But of course normally it can be useful, and I just wish, too, the public knew what shenanigan went on to produce, repeatedly, such silly business.

I am obliged for suggestions about where to get clothes cheap, and hope these not utility1, for as I said, when dressed at all, I want to be dressed as suits myself and not as the government dictates, or anybody dictates.  We haven’t got six pounds.  We have under five a week, and most of it goes on the house so we just can buy food and some smokes. But when we make some money I can apply to the place you mention.

But I admit fit is the second-hand problem, though it is difficult to believe Sophie would be anything but willing to inquire of the millionaires she knows when opportune.

And again this brings us back to the vital issue, and the sensible view abut publishing and selling enough in both Britain and America to render charity to authors superfluous.  If it weren’t for racket controlling, I think every one of us be already without the necessity to ask the favours.

Everything good to yourselves to Jack’s book my book and the book about which I am eager to have clear facts—here’s hoping we soon have true facts about public matters, too, and give up huge plans, and a power war which is affecting us everyday, largely because the public is ignorant of the techniques and methods by which it is promulgated, and electorates can’t yet and should demand responsibility of irresponsible governments and forces.

Evelyn with love

During and for some years after the war, clothing was rationed and what was available met standards designed to reduce the use of fabric: these “utility” standards sometimes but not always affected their stylishness. Evelyn clearly thought them not stylish.

* * * * *

From John Metcalfe’s diary:

September 13, 1948: Letter from Gladys enclosing $25.
September 24, 1948: E got cheque for $50 from Maggie, which I paid into bank (it was made out to me)
October 14, 1948: Went into town and bought children’s book for Denise at Foyles. E got first parcel of clothes from Maggie today.
October 15, 1948: Bought more children’s books at Foyles.
October 16: 1948: Further parcel of clothes came for her today from Maggie
October 29, 1948: E got another parcel of clothes from Maggie.
November 26, 1948: . . . also packet of typewriting paper from Gladys.
December 25, 1948: At home all day, working mainly on Scilly novel. Removed teeth after tea, as very sore. Supper of steak. Work. Bed.March 14, 1949: Got letter from Margaret with $100
April 4, 1949: In evening found out we had run out of American-size typewriter paper, – and E accordingly depressed.

* * * * *

In November 1949, Jigg decided to try to find employment in Europe, and sailed to London en route to Paris. He had been given some small commissions in England and hoped to find work at the BBC or, failing that, a post in Paris, for which he felt he was well qualified with his fluent French and his extensive experience in radio journalism. The family had moved to Rutherford, New Jersey, where they lived at three different addresses during the following 18 months, including the period Jigg was in Europe.

 

* * * * *

From John Metcalfe’s diary:

November 17, 1949: Found E had opened in error letter for me from Pavla to say Jig coming to London.
November 20, 1949: Jig rang up from Regent Palace Hotel and arrived soon afterwards, bringing whisky. He stayed the night, company retiring, after coffee, at about 1.30

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

Regent Palace Hotel, London
Monday, November 21, 1949

Dearest baby—

I had a very severe shock a while ago.  The telephone in my room rang and when I answered it, it was my mother.  The letter you sent care of Jack was the means by which she knew I was coming; and they found out where I was by the simple expedient of calling up the Cunard line every day and asking where I would stay until the right ship came in.  Naturally I had to go out there, which I did last evening.

It was awful.  E Scott is much better—in fact, she is quite changed.  But they are both living in a state which I can only describe as near-destitution.  The house is up for sale.  For a while they hoped to live on some money the government allotted them to repair bomb damage; but that was not allowed.  Jack is very sick with the same thing Dad had—an infected prostate, but he can’t have it out because he does not dare give up the occasional tutoring jobs by which they keep body and soul together and take the time to be operated on.  They are both almost emaciated and so shabby they are quite ragged.  The rent from the house is no longer enough even to keep the house going, and the price of fuel and repairs, etc, has skyrocketed in the last few months so that they are heavily in the red.  Lately they have been unable to pay for the gas which heats the house, and the tenants are threatening to leave.  If that happened, they would have to leave themselves, with no place to go.  Jack has been trying to look for a job, but he can’t because he has no decent clothes, and all he has been able to get is a few kids to tutor.

I went out last night and stayed until midnight, then found that the underground closes and that there are no cabs late at night, so I slept on the couch.  But they no longer have even enough blankets to keep warm, and I slept under a coat.

I couldn’t stand it.  The upshot is that I lent them fifty dollars, mostly to pay the gas bill, buy a few clothes, and get something to eat.  They will also be able to fix up one of their 4 rooms so that they can take a lodger.

I’m sorry, baby.  It is really appalling.  Nobody asked me for anything but I just couldn’t stand it.  Blood is a little thicker than water, and it’s hard to watch anybody living on oatmeal.  I am sending out some of the grub I brought with me.

If you can raise the missing fifty I will be all right.  My room here is paid for until Wednesday—that is, Thursday morning, when I shall be able to go to a pension and live much more cheaply.  However, I find I can’t do that until they give me my ration books, which won’t be until Wednesday.

Try to raise it from two sources, on the grounds that my going to work is delayed by red tape.  It seems to me that Glads and Julia could do that between them.  I shall be in a frightful jam if I don’t get it, but I will do the best I can.  You should get a bank draft and send it to me here, or wire it here (to this hotel).  Even if I have moved, I can always get mail from the hall porter after I have left.

I am terribly sorry, baby.  The letter care of Jack was a mistake, and I should not have gone out there, but I didn’t know what I was getting into.  And I just simply couldn’t take it all in my stride.

I have told them that I am leaving for the continent on Wednesday, so they don’t expect to see me again excepting perhaps for a brief visit, which I can’t refuse.  I have between 35 and 40 dollars left, and that will do the trick if I can get the other fifty.  I would think up any reason but the real one, if I were you.  Tell them I have to pay for a laboring permit—anything you decide is propitious. I will avoid pitfalls hereafter.

The other thing I am in a hurry about is the letter to the Newsweek man in Paris.  I want to start planning to do something about that if life here seems too rough.  Paris is, I am told, quite comfortable, and we may be happier there.

I have a terrible pip at the moment, and I am sorry to afflict you with this dismal letter.  By the time I have seen BBC and so forth, I will feel better.  I have to get started pretty soon.  I intend to take a nap and then start on my rounds—I didn’t sleep at all last night.  I’ll let you know what I find out pronto.

When you send money or the letter to Jess Jones, send it airmail, or if you find it cheap enough, wire to me.  Perhaps you can send money with the message.

Once again my humble apologies.

I read your beautiful letter, and the letters from Freddy and Bumpy, and they made me break down.  Don’t give up hope or anything—it’s not that bad by any means.  And the 50 will put us back where we were before, so that nothing will really be changed.  Perhaps you can raise it in small chunks—I think the cost of a labor permit is the best excuse.  50 dollars is 15 pounds fifteen shillings, an enormous sum in England at the moment, the minimum wage being 6 pounds a week.  It represents a month’s wages to quite a few.

God bless you, baby.  I love you better than anything in the world.  I’ll write you again later, when I am more myself.

Your devoted husband,
Jigg

* * * * *

From John Metcalfe’s diary:

November 21, 1949: Jig left after breakfast, I putting him on right track for a taxi.
November 24, 1949: School–and lunched there. Tea. Nap. Jig arrived.
November 25, 1949: School as usual. Tea, Work. Nap. Supper of corned beef. Read stories etc to Jig. Bed.

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

Rutherford, New Jersey
Saturday November 26 [1949]

Dearest Angel—

Today I got your letter about your mother and Jack.  I put a PS on the letter I was about to mail to you—about it–but this is the real answer.  And yet I don’t know what to say—except that until we have some money of our own we can’t help them any more—after than perhaps we can—at least enough for Jack to have his operation.  I was sorry to learn that they are so terribly up against it.  But we can do no more now, so please don’t get into anything more.  I have enough for myself and the kids with Julia’s and Gladys’ help, but if I have to send you more (not counting the other twenty you’ll get next week) before the normal need for more arises, if it does before you can get things started for us, the kids and I will be up against it.  So stretch it, will you, honey?  I’m dying to know how the BBC thing works out.  It’s the limit that your letters take so long to get here, but I suppose that regular mail would be 10 days instead of five.

I told [Deo1] and Aunt G that you had to pay 50 bucks for a labor permit.  They helped out, but we can expect no more from them for quite a while.  Julia and Glads are doing their best.

Dorothy McNamara, Paula’s maternal aunt.  This passage makes it clear just how dependent Jigg and Paula were on financial support from Paula’s family.

* * * * *

From John Metcalfe’s diary:

November 26, 1949: Walked home, and all three had lunch of soup, – no, mistake, – Jig didn’t want any! Nap.
November 27, 1949: Work most of day. After supper read aloud to E and Jig from This Emergent and from 1926 diary. Bed.
November 28, 1949: Morning school. Jig just leaving when I came home for lunch.
December 25, 1949: Spent all day quietly at home. After tea read E’s MS to p 515. Steak and Christmas-pudding for supper. Work. Bed.

* * * * *

In spite of some had seemed positive interviews in England and in France, Jigg did not secure employment in Europe and returned to the United States some weeks later. Evelyn had been very hopeful of his success in finding employment in Europe as she saw this as bringing her son and his family within easy reach of London and Jigg, realising this, did not tell his mother that he had returned to the United States jobless.

* * * * *

 

 

 

 

 

30. Home again

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

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

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

Darlingest Dear,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

RAF Station Cosford
November 12, 1944

Darlingest Dear,

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

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

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

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

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

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

All dearest love from your own,
Dickie

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

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Royal Air Force Station
Staverton Near Gloucester
July 1, 1945

Darlingest Dear,

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

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

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

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

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

All love and blessings, ever your own
Dickie

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

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

* * * * *

26 belsize cres
Jack in front of 26 Belsize Crescent

To John Metcalfe

26 Belsize Crescent
July 10, 1945

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

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

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

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

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

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

Evelyn

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

* * * * *

To John Metcalfe

July 10 [1945]

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

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

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

Bless you, Evelyn

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

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

RAF Staverton1
July 24,1945

Darlingest Dear,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott and John Metcalfe

Tappan, New York
April 10, 1946

Dear Evelyn and Jack,

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott and John Metcalfe

[Scotch Plains, New Jersey]
May 9, 1946

Dear Evelyn & Jack:

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

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

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

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

Love
Glads

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

* * * * *

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

WBBM
From “WBBM Listening Guide”, June 1946

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

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

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

At this time, Evelyn writes on a number of occasions that the family went to Lumberton, North Carolina, about 200 miles from Pine Bluff,, to live rent-free on a farm owned by a Negro in return for labour. There is no evidence for this unlikely scenario:  neither of the two eldest Scott children has any memory of this, though both would have been old enough to remember it. However, years after his death, large detailed maps of Lumberton were found in Jigg’s papers: he may have considered this course of action, and never actually gone.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

RAF Staverton
July 3, 1946

Darling Dear,

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

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

Down and out with all totes!

Dearest love always from your OWN
Dickie

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

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

RAF Staverton
July 3, 1946

Darlingest Dear

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

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

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

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

All dearest love and blessings from
Your own
Dickie

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott and three children

July 4, 1946

Dear Creighton Pavla Denise Freddy Mathew

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

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

Further political mummery is simply ruin anywhere and everywhere!

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

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

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

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

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

Affectionately

This appears to be a reference to the newly-created United Nations Organisation. Evelyn clearly disapproves.
Evelyn had just discovered that her father died three years previously. The letters relating to her search for information about his death and his will will be presented in a future instalment of this blog.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

RAF Staverton
July 5, 1946

Darling Dear,

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

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

[Pine Bluff, North Carolina]
July 11, 1946

Dear Evelyn,

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

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

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

Paula

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

RAF Staverton
August 21, 1946

Darlingest Dear,

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

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

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

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

Bless you and bless you
All love darling
Dickie

* * * * *

Cyril’s autobiography, Life Is Too Short, was published in 1943, but for a number of reasons Evelyn did not see a copy until 1946.  When she did finally read it, she was incensed by what she saw as Cyril’s defamation of her character, and she wrote numerous letters in protest.  Some of her letters offered her own (highly unlikely) explanation of how the manuscript might have been altered.  Next week all will be revealed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

27. Recovery, two deaths and a granddaughter

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

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

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

* * * * *

Will of Maude Thomas Dunn

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

Maude Thomas Dunn

April 6, 1937
Clarksville, Tennessee

MTD will

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

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

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

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

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

 * * * * *

To Louise Morgan

28 Craven Terrace, London W2
September 23, 1937

My Dear Louise,

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

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

Love, – see you soon,
John

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

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

Dear Lola,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is the first reference to the house in London, 26 Belsize Crescent.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

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

Darling Dear,

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

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

State of New Mexico
County of Rio Arriba

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

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

17th March 1930

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

And on back is “Marriage Licence”—No 4478

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

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

All all love
from your
Dickie1

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

1  Evelyn’s pet name for Jack

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Claygate, Surrey
October 15, 1939

Darlingest Dear,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 * * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Claygate,Surrey
October 19, 1939

Darlingest Dear,

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

Muscovites.jpg

Before his marriage, Jigg had been working on his first and only novel, The Muscovites, published by Charles Scribner and Sons in 1940. Although it was well reviewed, it sold very few copies.  His mother, perhaps naturally, considered it to be a work of great artistic merit.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Claygate, Surrey
March 11, 1940

Darlingest Dear,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Claygate, Surrey
April 1, 1940

Darlingest Dear,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours
Dickie (W J Metcalfe)

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

* * * * *

Louise Gracey1 to Evelyn Scott

April 21, 1940

MISS EVELYN SCOTT 18 GROVE ST NYC.  MOTHER PASSED AWAY EARLY THIS MORNING FUNERAL MONDAY MORNING.  LOUISE.

1 A Clarksville cousin of Evelyn’s

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

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

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

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

god bless, evelyn

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

NEWYORK NY FEB 10 857P

MRS W J METCALFE 150 REGENT ST SG

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

DSF West Union_20180325_0001.jpg

To Evelyn Scott

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

Dear Mother,

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

ES and DSF.jpg

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

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

Your affec son,
Jigg

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

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

DSF announcement_20180325_0001
Engraved announcement, by Jigg

 * * * * *

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

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Scotch Plains, New Jersey
May 25, 1941

Dear Evelyn:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,
Glads

* * * * *

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

26. A cottage by the sea

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

 * * * * *

To Lola Ridge

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

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

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

 evelyn

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

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge and David Lawson

Scotch Plains, New Jersey
September 29 [1934]

Lola and Davy dear:

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

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

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

Evelyn’s acronym for Breathe Upon These Slain

* * * * *

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

DSCF3812
Jove Cottage today [photo: DSF]

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


* * * * *

To David Lawson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

evelyn

* * * * *

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

To MRG1

Walberswick, Suffolk
July 4, 1935

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

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

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

He sends his love and I send barrels.  Evelyn.

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

* * * * *

To Louise Morgan

Walberswick, Suffolk
August 4 [1935]

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

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

We wanna see you both SO.  LOVE!
evelyn

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

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

Walberswick, Suffolk
August 12 [1935]

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

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

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

Walberswick, Suffolk
October 20, 1935

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

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

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

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

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

1Background in Tennessee, published in 1937.

 old w'wick

To MRG

Walberswick, Suffolk
November 10, 1935

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

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

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

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

Walberswick, Suffolk
December 29 [1935]

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

To Otto Theis

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heaps of love, evelyn

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

 * * * *

To Otto Theis

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

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

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

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

evelyn

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

* * * * *

To Otto Theis

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

Otto dear:

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

To Maude Dunn

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

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

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

Love, love, love, Evelyn

* * * * *

To Otto Theis

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

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

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

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

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

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

.* * * * *


To Otto Theis and Louise Morgan

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

Dearest Otto and Louise:

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

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

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

dearest love, evelyn

1 A psychiatric clinic in New York City.
2
Owen Merton had suffered from a brain tumour which caused his eventual death.

* * * * *

To Louise Morgan

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

My Dear Louise.

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

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

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

Much love to all
John

* * * * *

To Otto Theis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

25. Farewell to Yaddo

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

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

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge and David Lawson

[Yaddo]
May 15, 1933

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

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

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

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

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

American literary critic and academic. He was very much part of the Greenwich Village group of avant-garde writers.
Two guests later became part of Evelyn’s life: Carl Carmer was an American writer whose most famous book was Stars Fell on Alabama and was later involved with The Artists League. Louis Adamic was born in Slovenia and emigrated to the US where he was educated and became a prolific writer and editor of a number of different publications.

* * * * *

To Maude Dunn

[Yaddo]
June 8 [1933]

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

IMG_20180311_0006
Maude Dunn in front of Gracey Mansion c 1930s

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

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

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

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

Love again.  elsie

* * * * *

 

To Lola Ridge

Yaddo
June 12, 1933

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

[Yaddo]
[July 1933]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yaddo guests

Love all around and around you and Davy both, evelyn

Mount Sinai was one of the larger New York hospitals: it appears that Lola was again in hospital.
May Mayers, friend of Evelyn and Jack and their doctor when needed
Ichthyol was the brand name of Ammonium bituminosulfonate, distilled from rich shale oil and used for the relief of skin conditions including eczema and psoriasis.
4 There was an active and continuing debate at Yaddo during the 1930s about Communism. There is an account of this in McGee’s book about Yaddo, from which this photo is taken..

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

Yaddo
July 3, 1933

Beloved dear:

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

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

F Nuhn portrait

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

Yaddo
July 12 [1933]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lovingly, evelyn

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

[Yaddo]
July 28, 1933

Darling Lola, Dear.

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

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

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

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

Lovingly to you both from us, Evelyn

* * * * *

To David Lawson

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

Darling old Davy:

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

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

Heaps, heaps of love to you both,
Evelyn

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

Yaddo
August 27 [1933]

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

To David Lawson

[Yaddo]
December 31 [1933]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

evelyn

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

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

Yaddo
February 3, 1934

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

21. A writers’ retreat and the Wild West

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

Yaddo post card.PNG

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

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

* * * * *

To Maude Dunn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

To Otto Theis

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

Otto, dear:

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

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

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

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

Despite the Santa Fe return address, this letter was written from Yaddo.

* * * * *

To David Lawson

Santa Fe, New Mexico
July 28 [1929]

Davy, dear:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Santa Fe, New Mexico
late July 1929]

Lola, lovely and dear:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jack was at Yaddo, with Lola, while Evelyn was in Santa Fe with Cyril and Jig.
Cyril had opened his first school of art in El Paso the previous year.

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

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

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

* * * * *

To Otto Theis

Santa Fe, New Mexico
September 5 [1929]

Dearest Otto:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

To Maude Dunn

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

Dear Vava,1

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

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

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

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

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

Much love from;
Jig

Jigg’s childhood name for his grandmother

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

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

Sweet, sweet, sweet:

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

From your nostalgic and loving,
evelyn

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

Selma Hite, then Cyril’s secretary, was 7 years older than Jig. They eloped the following June and moved to Greenwich Village, where Selma later ran off with a man her own age. Evelyn and Cyril managed to get the marriage annulled.
American reviewer for New York Times and previously a lecturer at University of California

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

[Santa Fe, New Mexico]
[early 1930]

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

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

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

[Santa Fe, New Mexico]
[February 1930]

Beautiful love;

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

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

Santa fe courthouse.PNG

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

Blessings and love forever.  evelyn

Cyril was 59 at the time.
The influential American photographer Alfred Stieglitz was said to have praised Cyril’s paintings

* * * * *

Marraige cert.PNG

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

* * * * *

To David Lawson

Santa Fe, New Mexico
July 23, 1930

Darling Davy:

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

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

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

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

my love dear Davy as always,
evelyn

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

449½ Hudson Street, NYC
August 5, 1930

Dearest Lola,

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

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

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

Very much love, and kisses from
Jack.

PS Please remember me affectionately to Mrs Ames.

* * * * *

To Otto Theis and Louise Morgan

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

August 24, 1930

Dear Peoples,

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

Jack (“John”)
and Evelyn

* * * * *

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

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Continue reading “21. A writers’ retreat and the Wild West”