38. Paranoia?

In October 1951, while Evelyn was still wrestling with letters to Red Hook, Jigg found employment with the Free Europe Committee to establish a newsroom and be editor-in-chief of news at their new station in Munich, Radio Free Europe. In the immediate post-war climate, anti-communist propaganda was seen as extremely important and much of Radio Free Europe’s output was supported by the CIA and was aimed at countries behind the Iron Curtain. The family followed him to Munich, staying in the Hotel Regina Palast in Munich for some weeks before accommodation was found for them in late November in the little town of Grünwald in southern Bavaria, about 10 miles from Munich.

* * * * *

Charles Day1 to Evelyn Scott

Hickman, Williams & Company
Pig Iron, Ferro-Alloys, Coal, Coke
Arcade Building
St Louis 1

September 18, 1951

My dear Evelyn:

I was extremely sorry to get the news of the various troubles that you have been running into, particularly where you have not been able to satisfactorily contact Jig.  I get to New York about once a year, generally at the time of the Iron & Steel Institute Meeting which is as a rule the latter part of May in each year.  I have, therefore, taken the liberty of writing to the head of our New York Office, Norman Craig, and have asked him to look in the telephone book and see if Creighton Scott is listed in any of the several Red Hooks and particularly the one which seems to have connection with Rhinebeck, and to, if possible to find, give me the complete address.  This was done last week and I should be hearing something from him, providing he was in town at the time I wrote, before the end of this week. [remainder of letter missing]

1Charles Day was a childhood friend of Evelyn’s from Clarksville and had met Jigg some years earlier in New York City.

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

Hickman, Williams & Company
Pig Iron, Ferro-Alloys, Coal, Coke

September 18, 1951

Mr Creighton Scott
Pitcher Lane
Red Hook, Duchess County, New York

My dear Creighton:

I suppose I should say “Jig”, as that is the only name by which I have ever known you.  You probably do not remember me, but I met you one evening, I believe in 1938, when you were living on Commerce Street in New York City with your mother.  I am an old friend of your mother’s, having known her many years ago when she spent considerable time in Clarksville, Tennessee, with her Gracey relatives..  I had completely lost track of her whereabouts, but did know that she was writing.  Finally in 1938 I was able to secure her address, and [on a trip to New York] we had dinner together.  It was after dinner that you came in and that is the first and only time that I have ever met you.

I wish to apologize for this letter, as you might think that it is presumptuous, but I do not know how else to handle it.  The facts are as follows:  A few days ago I received a letter from your mother, which was the first time that I had had any communication with her since the above mentioned trip to New York.  In this letter she stated that she had not been able to contact you or get any real word from you for quite a long period of time.  She felt that the reason for her not receiving answers to her numerous letters was a combination of your not receiving the letters or she not receiving your answers.  Knowing that I occasionally went to New York, the main purpose in writing me was that I try to get in touch with you when next in New York and to please give her some word as to how you, your wife and children are getting along.  As I do not anticipate being in New York for almost another year, I am writing you this so that you will know that your mother is desperately anxious to hear from you.

In case you see fit to acknowledge receipt of this letter, I would appreciate it very much.  At the time your mother wrote me her address was 26 Belsize Crescent, Hampstead, London NW3, England.

I have many times recalled the very pleasant evening that we had in New York, and have regretted that conditions have been such that I was unable to get to know you better.

With very best regards to you and your family, which I understand now is quite sizable, I am,


* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Hickman, Williams & Company
Pig Iron, Ferro-Alloys, Coal, Coke

[September 19, 1951]

Dear Evelyn:

I wrote you yesterday, telling you that I had asked our New York Manager, Norman Craig, to endeavor to get Creighton’s address. I, this morning received a letter from Norman, advising me that he had located a Creighton Scott at Pitcher Lane, Red Hook, Duchess County, New York, and that the ‘phone number was 5391.  Norman put in a call to that number, but the line was busy.  He then later on got a report that the number did not answer.  He did not go beyond this, as he understood from me that what I wanted was the positive address.

I have, this morning, written Creighton a letter, copy of which I am enclosing.  Should I hear anything from him direct, I will certainly pass on the word immediately, but the main thing is that I sincerely trust that this letter will enable him to get in touch with you.  I sincerely hope the way I have handled this meets with your approval.  I can fully understand the strain this inability to get word has put on you.

My sincere regards.

* * * * *
To Charles Day

[Red Hook, New York]
September 25, 1951

Dear Mr Day–

Creighton is in Europe now, so I’ve taken the liberty of opening your letter to him.  It is too bad that you should have been troubled by Evelyn’s insatiable lust for news of us, in spite of our more or less regular letters to her.

You certainly needn’t apologise, however, for your letter, which is a much appreciated effort to be helpful.

If you wish, you may tell her that we are all about to go abroad to join Creighton, and that we are all well.

Paula Scott

PS.  Not to England!  But she will soon know all about it from us direct.  And thanks again for your nice letter.

* * * * *
To Paula and Creighton Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
October 1, 1951


Pavla’s letter, postmarked September 17th, was a joy to receive and the more so that she SIGNED IT PAVLA

Well, perhaps that was a “repeat”; and in a different category, as eager to help with the dismissal of confusion as to our precise identities on specific occasions, is Charles Day whose letter I hope Jig has received for I consider Charles really the “good egg” Jig first designated him in 1938.  Charles too has been doing his best to assure me that the Red Hook containing the Creighton Scotts and Pitcher Lane is where it is, and has written me that his personal friend Mr Norman Craig telephoned to Red Hook recently—the right Red Hook as you were in the phone book—and was sure it must be the Red Hook I was writing to, although the phone, busy a minute before, did not reply!—but we sometimes have such experiences because for one reason or another, we can’t answer when the phone begins.

I myself despise Rutherford after the way William Carlos Williams1 behaved—or appears to have—in not acknowledging letters as far as I know, and the reason I make a distinction between Pavla and him so marked as I do in not giving him the benefit of the doubt to the same extent is that we know the affections of Pavla and Jig are pure and they are loyal, and I would have supposed that Williams would try to see Jig whether or not I seemed to have received letters, since he knew us all when Jig was a child of six.

The asters are very much like the michaelmas daisies in our front yard, which are on a rampage of profusion this year, and almost conceal the flag-stones on the front terrace; but golden-rod I think has never been tried here, and though I think I have seen Queen Anne’s lace here by some other name, we have none.  A few white roses—little ones—bloomed, but not another rose—first time since I arrived that none here.  Is little Fredrick still among the family’s botanists  It will be further cause for rejoicing when any of them write to us of their own interests

I myself continue to be the world’s indefatigable correspondent, but this is partly circumstances and that awful handicap of distance.  I am now compiling for Margaret De Silver Alan Tate and “The National Institute of Arts and Letters” a precis of happenings since 19392, which have made it impossible, as yet for Evelyn Scott and John Metcalfe to return to the States, to which the had proposed to return with the end of the war.  And I think I do not require Jig’s permission to say of him and his wife that both are talented and I am proud of them and that they are artists and I hope they will be enabled to retrieve their appropriate milieu as we ours.  I mention Jig’s paintings and The Muscovites very especially and as my precis includes the precise documentation of my citizen status and covers Brazil in brief summary as relevant,

Duchess County is said to have lovely landscape.  How I hope we will soon all see yourselves and the surroundings and see you both and the four children surrounded again by real friends.

Give Dad your love  We love the six of you very much  We do not change toward him


Williams was a resident of Rutherford, a former lover of Evelyn’s and the paediatrician who cared for Jigg as a young child.  Evelyn had written to ask him to visit the Scotts and report on their welfare:  he did not even acknowledge her request.

This 74-page single-spaced typescript, is a detailed account of events as Evelyn saw them from 1939 until the date of its writing in late 1951. It was prompted by a suggestion from Margaret DeSilver that she might start a fund to enable Evelyn and Jack to return to the United States.

* * * * *

From John Metcalfe’s diary:

October 2, 1951: E got letters from Charles Day enclosing one to her from Paula saying Jig was in Europe.

* * * * *


In the autumn of 1951, Evelyn began the writing of what became a 74-page single-spaced typed document, setting out iin some detail the forces she felt were preventing her and Jack from seeing their family and from getting their books published.  Each page was headed by a short paragraph:  the first reads

“To those with Pride in the Preservation of the Ingegrity of American and British Artists and Art”

with each succeeding heading longer than the preceeding one until the heading on the final page reads

“Precis indicative of libel, to be read AS SOON AS POSSIBLE BY CREIGHTON AND PAVLA SCOTT BY THE PERSONAL FRIENDS OF JOHN METCALFE AND EVELYN SCOTT AND, if possible, BY CYRIL KAY SCOTT whom Evelyn Scott is convinced has been victimized with Life Is Too Short, either in mss or when rushed to the printers during Mr Kay Scott’s illness which was preceeded by illness among the Wellmans, this tampering or tinkering probably illegal because unauthorized and done without consulting Mr Kay Scott himself respecting certain facts involving Evelyn Scott with him and their son, these facts so controverted by interpolations in the text of Mr Kay Scott recognizably not his, that the result has been as damaging to him as to any concerned, though most of all to Mr Creighton Scott and his wife, who, inference, in a list of “acknowledgements”, might easily have been misconstrued as having somehow sanctioned a villification of Evelyn Scott which also cannot be Mr Kay Scott’s and is a controversion of the truth as to the life-long affection of son for Mother and of Mother for son–all these things intollerable and compelling and necessitation protest here.  This precis is the condensation of a longer precist to be completed in consistence with this one, and its aim is the restoration of the integrity of American and British Artists——“

Inserted in the front of this document is a short note in Paula’s handwriting:  “This MS contains an enormous amount of inaccuracy and I can only caution any reader to check almost any statement in it.  [signed] Paula Scott”

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

October 7, 1951

Darling Jigeroo

Please you yourself acknowledge this letter as received so there will again be more than ever an occasion here as well for celebrating on that intangible basis which is all we can yet afford though we hope and hope you and Pavla Denise Fredrick Mathew Julia and perhaps your Dad can be with you then.

We love you both–Jig and Pavla–and we love the children all four and Cyril as our friend.  And we do so wish there would be a public end made of “war spites” and hypocrisies connected therewith, which probably have in some way interfered with normal communication or acted on it dissuasively there, very unjustly

Charles Day sent me the letter Pavla wrote for you about your being “in Europe”.  If it was so, it could have been no more than very temporary, and of course I realize that, ever since 1943-44, Jig has dodged our friends–love you just same Jig darling and in some measure grasp why, I think.

Pavla, in writing to Charles, said I would soon “hear all about it”–so here’s hoping we both do soon, whatever the explanation is.  Jiggie you are good sensitive and brilliant and Pavla is as fine and rare a human as even her mother thinks her–which is rating her high as she deserves.  I know you must be just as you were intrinsically.

And as Pavla has written twice since July 6th to us both and has written to Charles, it is now time we think for Jig himself to write to us of himself and permit us to love him more expressively and adequately

We love Pavla the more because we love Jiggeroo, and is the truth as to the children and Jig’s Dad.

Very very very very AFFECTIONATELY in every good sense of the word
Evelyn Dunn Scott Metcalfe nee Elsie Dunn
to complete Jig’s own record

 * * * * *

To Frederick Scott1

November 4, 1951

Dear Freddy Scott

You’ll soon be nine.  Your mind already is so fine Denise should rightly say–“Like mine!”  Your Grandmother as poor as ever, still insisting now or never, again sends word from London town that ought to turn this paper brown, she’s so disgusted every year that she and Jack continue here when, by this time, they should be near enough to bring you birthday cake!.  Publish our books for good sense sake, is our demand each night and day!  Publish our books and see they sell, and we’ll help keep four children well, and lovingly observe them grow in cozy warmth without much snow.  We’ll call sometimes in Pitcher Lane, to make sure Daddy writes again and Mother writes like him and Mathew learns to really spell and little Julia doesn’t yell.  We’re glad that Mathew, too, ‘s at school to prove no Kay-Scott is a fool.

On days when Daddy has a rest we hope he’ll really paint with zest, draw you, Denise and Mathew’s hair, just as he did when you weren’t there.  When Mother wrote the queen anne’s lace, asters and golden-rod were all over the place.  Now leaves I guess are underfoot, the chimney’s cleaned and there’s not soot, and fires are lit in a few grates.  This winter you will NOT need skates, they say.  It won’t be cold before next may.  I hope this isn’t just a joke–if so, the jokers ought to choke!

The leaves are lying on the ground. You walk on them, they make a paper sound.  But the hydrangeas are green yet, so where you have them don’t forget we have them too, and think of you.  The rose-tree, oddly, didn’t bloom till now!  The shell-pink roses were a year ago, and this year there’s just one, bloomed in October and completely white!  How do plants alter in a night?

Last summer, I lost twenty teeth!  The dentist’s still a cause for grief!  False teeth don’t fit, so I feel bit!  I can’t buy any more just yet, so indoors I’m a prisoner yet!  It isn’t fair!  I look bizarre!  So don’t forget to brush your teeth.  They’re yours, at least–that’s some relief!

Of course you’re still collecting things, though Mother writes of healthy baseball flings.  Have you as yet tried to find shells of snails, near springs or even by old water pails?

When I think very much of someone now and then I see them anyway, and I saw Julia just as plain as plain, the other day.  At least, I thought so because Pavla too was there, combing a nice baby’s just-new hair.  Do you think it was she?  I wish you’d ever write to me!

Well, anyhow, Jack and myself both hope you have the birthday cake, and you yourself won’t have to wait on us to celebrate.  You’re nine, Denise will soon be eleven and Mathew six, and the years since I was with you all are seven and Jack has not so much as seen you yet–remember we don’t change, we love you all and don’t forget.

November could be dark as night and bright for us because you’re bright–and so are Mathew and Denise

So here’s a gift no one save you can see–it’s love the love of Jack and me

Your Grandmother Evelyn

This letter is best appreciated read aloud.

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott


November 25, 1951

Dear Darling Good Children

You will realize I am anxiously awaiting your opinion of my intention to protest on behalf of myself yourselves and with myself and yourselves and Jack’s on behalf of Cyril Kay Scott as the author, the unauthorized tinkering that must have gone on with Life Is Too Short1 when he was ill, Paul had just been ill, and the book was scheduled to go to press.

I think Jig’s Dad had written most of it in rough draft, but had omitted the Cercadinho section because of Escapade2 and that whoever got hold of it and went through it inserted some sleazy “pulp” writing which consisted in misinterpreting Cyril and myself by just reversing the truthful account of his own and my relations then and thereafter, and that this same interloper on the fine arts, being imperfectly informed as to the reason why Ambassador Morgan at the American Embassy in Rio first issued to Cyril for him and me and Jig the Emergency Passport accepting Cyril’s change of name, just concocted a stupid pulp thriller pseudo-“explanation”, which was an occasion for rumour, has steadily raised more and more unnecessary hell for all concerned every year.

The reason, as I said in the letter sent recently, for the issuance of this Passport was humane, as I had been seriously ill most of the time since Jig’s birth and had been operated on twice within a few weeks at the Presbyterian Mission Hospital in the interior of Pernambuco, where the operator was Dr Butler, a Mayo-trained surgeon who was associated with Clare Sifton’s Father, Mr Ginsburg, as I recall it—anyhow a Jewish name that is of that type, as Claire Sifton is the daughter of a converted Jew and a gentile mother.

Please also try to find some means of reading the precis of happenings since 1939 which has been sent to Margaret De Silver, who has generously tried to bestir someone to attempting the financing of our return to the States and the end of this impossible, ambiguous living in limbo, which has resulted from our penuriousness here, and which CANNOT be any further endured.

When you have read the precis please return it to Margaret who will not offer it for general circulate [sic], but will allow it to be read by a few friends who may be helpful in deciding what is to be done to counteract on our behalf an effect of the libel which has continued during eight damn bloody years.

I think the time has come to call a halt on desecrating art.  Jig’s Dad is certainly not the man who would inscribe “antic hay” on a tomb, and still more impossible would it have been to him to despoil the lives of the living he loves as he does all his children.  He could NOT have written the cheap passages in that book, and he could NOT have knowingly allowed them because of the degrading inferences that might be drawn and harm us all.  Please speak out  Mother

This is a recurring theme. Evelyn was convinced that the manuscript of Cyril’s autobiography had been tampered with at the publishers’.

Escapade also described the time in Cercadinho: her description was much different to Cyril’s.

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott

December 9, 1951


Margaret De Silver writes me she has sent you the precis I compiled as my own reference for use whenever I write my own realistic and completely authentic account of the life of an author.  I hope soon to have JIG’S OWN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT that both of you have received it.  As soon as Jig can write to my letters respecting important matters and run no risk of any interference or “economic” discouragement—due sometimes probably to communicating with a mother in England—ONE of our anxieties will considerably diminish.

Can Jig’s Dad be persuaded to give us his address and his wife’s.  I should so appreciate their advice on the matter of counteracting libel, and Cyril with his accustomed insight could probably advise me wisely on some procedure to take to stop this damn mystification about my Father’s estate, also.

Please give me both of you as soon as you can your opinion on the libel which has apparently resulted from the sort of interpolated writing in Life Is Too Short.  I KNOW CYRIL COULD NOT HAVE DONE IT HIMSELF—he is too intellectual and fastidious a man.

I hope Fredrick had a nice little birthday.  He is eight now and I like to think of the nice things one can do when eight years old—the age I was in Evansville.  Mathew is going to school earlier than I did.  We hope all our behaving and as bright as good as always, including Julia who is still competing with me on teeth.

Can Pavla write sometimes a little when just she and Julia are at home and can Jig paint or write seriously at any time whatever?

We hope the house is warm and that warm clothes are enough to more than “just get by on”.  I hope soon to go to the dentist again—thanks to Margaret and Charles Day, both having helped to eeke out.  I always wish for ten times as much for your six.  How wonderful to be again able to earn money with books.

Denise Fredrick Mathew and Julia I know love you both as we love you we love you we love you we love you PLEASE ACKNOWLEDGE and see whether we can overcome impasses about mail.

to Jig Mother

 * * * * *

From John Metcalfe’s diary:

November 5, 1951: Letter from Maggie enclosing $25.

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

December 11, 1951

Maggie darling—

I would not have supposed when Jack mailed you my letter of recent date, thanking you for the check and making for me some assurance that the precis is in the hands of both Jig and Pavla themselves, that I would be compelled, as I think I already am, to add this note.

I should think it would have become completely obvious to the veriest moron by now that Jig and Pavla do not of themselves invent situations which embarrass and distress them just as much as us, and yet this is what has happened, and is to me—my opinion—continued proof that their lives are being “directed” in some fashion or manner which just makes them serve as crook cover for whoever began libelling the Scott-Metcalfes when tampering was imposed on Cyril’s autobiography during the war, and misstatements were made so damningly disadvantageous to the author himself that it is NOT possible that he was consulted as to detail.

Something like a month ago Charles Day,whom I knew as a child and whom Jig and myself met in New York in 1938, Charles Day wrote to Jig at my request, recalling this meeting and asking for news of him and Pavla and the children to pass on to me.  I had actually asked Charles to go to Red Hook, Duchess County, to Pitcher Lane to see them both in person, because I had hoped then Charles might be going to New York and could do so without inconvenience.  But he was not able to go there as he has not been East, and as a makeshift he thought better than neglect, he asked some man who is his own friends, and an employee of the same firm, and who lives in New York, to telephone them—Jig and Pavla—at Red Hook and ask how they all were.

This friend—I have his name somewhere in letter files—ascertained they have a telephone—Creighton Scott Pitcher Lane, Red Hook, and he tried to phone and found the line busy, this, of course, suggesting someone was at home.  He repeated his phone call, but the line did not answer, and he finally gave it up, and reported this to Charles; who, also, had already written to Jig as I say.  And Charles, at about the same time he received news of his friend’s failure to connect satisfactorily with Red Hook, had a letter from Pavla in which she apologized for replying in Jig’s stead and said “Jig is abroad”.

This letter sent by Pavla to Charles Day in Saint Louis, was forwarded by Charles to me, and I had it, air mail, within a week of having already received a note from Pavla for me myself, which was the second note I have had from her since little Julia’s birth.  In fact there is every indication that she was writing to me of Red Hook and the health of the children and Jig’s commuting just when she was writing to Charles that Jig was elsewhere.

What are we to do?  It is as bad as dictator countries, to be cut of repeatedly this way from those human ties most essential to our normal lives even as are our books.

The object of the precis is to clear up every serious misunderstanding.  It is personal but its success in achieving the end we ourselves have in view would be a sign of peace here and with our own.  I don’t want to depend on Gladys, however good she has been comparatively in this respect, for an occasional very meager comment on my family even to know they still exist!

My own common sense and reason tells me they could NOT have chosen to be continually embroiled and involved in utter nonsense.  But I naturally am not cheered or assisted by allusions to Germany—the country I have never liked much—as if we were all a damn pack of “refugees” and had to go into “hiding” whenever an acquaintance phoned for an old friend.

I don’t Margaret darling know any more than you do how to be really certain Jig and Pavla themselves and not some bloody damn fake “censor” or “detective” “intelligence” holds mail up—but there we are!  Not a hand lifted yet to put a stop to pseudo “war” poppycock in the form of civil lives wrecked, and it began in 1939.

The Cyril Kay Scotts including Evelyn and John Metcalfe are NOT bloody damn criminals who must go skulking about the States, but the utter rottenness of these provocations to confusion and distress would make you think so if you did not know them.  I do NOT believe Jig is in Germany, or ever was,  And I do believe both are truthful—and that seeming inconsistencies is merely apparent.

Love—I hope you read this.  I don’t apologise, because I don’t think apologizing means a bloody thing.  But I know you must long for sense somewhere just as Jack and I do.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

December 12,1951

Dear Evelyn

The précis which I sent by registered mail by Jig in Red Hook, NY, at your request, was returned to me with a forwarding address “Hotel Regina-Palast, Maximilian Platz, Munich, Germany, and a typewritten sticker from the PO saying “return to Postmaster—domestic registered mail cannot be forwarded to a foreign country”.  So I have re-registered and mailed it to the address given.  OK?


* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

December 27, 1951

Dear Maggie:

Thank you for sending on the temporary address.  I suppose Jig must have been “economically” compelled to go to Munich in connection with jobs.  It has been so invariable as yet that, whenever I have had anything important to tell Jig and Pavla there has been some sort of fool mix-up or shenanigan about mail that I cannot say I am surprised.  It was in what has become positive anticipation of such occurrences that I asked you whether you could find anyone to hand the precis to Jig in person, and as you mailed it instead, I suppose you could not.  I would not have troubled you with it at all, however, except that I hoped to forestall precisely what has happened.

I think it is probable that Pavla is still at Red Hook with the four children, and the whole situation is sickening, as Jig should be saved NOW from being just a damn stud-horse, and Pavla is NOT a brood-mare.  To hell with the way our lives have been made to fall out—it is senseless wreckage.

I will be for Jig FIRST as long as I live, but I am naturally affectionate in my feeling for our original Pavla and I don’t know what sort of tosh and bosh has been fed her that makes her do the sort of thing she did this time, write me mentioning Jig for the first time in literal years as “commuting” when he was writing Charles Day he was in Germany, as probably he either was already or was about to be.  I think she has been senselessly alarmed by some idea that mother is an obstacle of some sort, and this is NOT so.  I just think the shibboleths that go with too much progeny must be put an end to and something allowed both that is normal to their character and innate capacities as individuals—Jig first because of his proven talent having exceeded hers in proof, but taking her individual capacities as well into consideration as this bloody blasted damn breed thing has not allowed for her development OR his since 1943

I am somewhat bitter over Jig’s being forced “economically” to take German jobs just because Germany is NOT his milieu or that of any of us and Cyril our opinions—Jig Pavla Jack self—are diametrically the opposite of everything damn hoch-de-kaiser stood for.

Jig should NOT be in Munich, ever were it the old and far more interesting Munich known to many people fifty years ago.  Jig and Pavla are both visual artists primarily and although it is JIG WHO HAS THE INTELLECT there have also been proofs of Pavla’s sensitive quality.  It should have been FRANCE where they would be welcomed, and it strikes me as muddled folly that when Jig was there in 1949 he was reduced to nincompoop level by the sort of damn fools who now govern the French; probably the very ones who, in 1926, struck us all as too damn much like “ants” to be tolerable.

This is just opinion.  Remember I cannot see anyone, having no teeth and no money and having still to be reassured about last summer and its hefts, cannot yet leave the house.  And I do think it is a criminal commentary on the entire Scott-Metcalfe situation that an American artist and creative author of Jig’s proven ability, who has, also, proven ability in those practical ways that have to matter, though things should not have come to this, has to go to a German city to pick up bloody damn crumbs in order to support a family that would never have been of its present dimensions but for just the sort of bloody alternate sex starvation and over propagation bloody religious dictation imposes.  [ . . . ]

[Typed carbon copy, not signed.  Handwritten insertions.  UTK: 511217]

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

December 28, 1951

Mr Creighton Scott
Hotel Regina-Palast
Maximilian Platz
Munich, Germany

Darling Jigeroo

I hope this can be forwarded to you as I suppose this address is merely temporary and Jack and myself would so much like to see you at least for a week or so before you go home to the USA.

I also suppose I might have known should I send any mail of real importance to yourself and Pavla something would happen, if not what has, an obstacle of some sort to your receiving it.  I have this address because the precis was sent to you at Pitcher Lane for Pavla and yourself to read and send to your Dad.  I had first sent it to Margaret De Silver with the request that, since she almost never sees you and Pavla any more, she try to find someone to give it to you in person. She mailed it instead, probably having had too much to do to look for anyone and having, apparently, more faith in circumstances than I have; and the Postmaster at Red Hook returned it to her with the above address on it as the forwarding address for you.  And she at once sent it on to that address as she never should have since it represents about two months of work for me, off and on, of course, and hotel addresses are seldom more than temporary.

I can’t be annoyed with her because she has really saved the day with the help she has given respecting many of our problems in being still stranded here “economically”, damn it, but I wish she had thought twice, and the awful anxieties I have had ever since we have been here as a result of the lack of communication with you darling Jig, has been hell.

However, I will just hope that the hotel forwards it if necessary and you will receive it and write to tell me and say something of why you are in Germany and whether or not you can visit us here briefly as we hope and have a steamer rug please bring it as blankets are our present greatest need when anyone is here.

The precis was sent especially because of my opinion, which cannot be shaken, that somebody tampered with Cyril’s autobiography at those points involving ourselves before and since our divorce, and that this tampering, just before the book was completed, when first your stepbrother had been ill and Cyril had been to his bedside, then Cyril himself had been ill, was done without consultation with him and that he has never since been in a position to publically protest the incontestable great damage done him us and yourselves because he and his wife also are under “economic” duress.

This is far more than a “merely” personal issue and as long as I live I will do everything I can to smash “silencers”. It is my conjecture that I aroused enmity by reporting an intimidating janitor, in the early stages of the war, in New York, and that some very low minion of the police department made this a pretext for meddling with the lives of moral and intellectual superiors and somehow somebody on some other pretext which, since, has been carefully “white-washed” by utter scum, tried to “get even” that way.

* * * * *

Evelyn’s continuing obsession with sending her précis to Jigg and with the “tampering” of Cyril’s book continue into the following months, Not even a plan to bring her and Jack back to the United States would temper these concerns,



32. Is life too short?

Cyril’s autobiography, Life Is Too Short, was published by Lippincott in 1943.  It detailed what he described as his six careers to date and was greeted with moderate critical approval. It included an account of his “elopement” to Brazil with Elsie Dunn, the adoption of their new names, the birth of their son Creighton (who was known by his infant nickname “Jigg” throughout his life), the years of poverty in Brazil and their return to the United States in 1919.

Evelyn did not see  this book until 1945, although she knew it had been published.  When she did finally see a copy she was angered to read what she considered to be distortions.  She could not believe that Cyril would have written some of the descriptions of her and their relationship which she considered to be libelous, and the only possible explanation she could imagine was that some one, unnamed, had altered the text between the proofing and printing stages.  That person had somehow got into the print works and  had altered the passages she objected to with libelous intent.  This suspicion, which developed in her mind into a certainty, was a central theme in her letters from then on.

[NB:  I have a copy of the original typescript and have been able to compare it to the published version.  The only small differences between the two are typographical or grammatical.]

This is important because it marks the beginning of Evelyn’s continuing and increasing conviction that she was being libeled, and this in turn fed her conviction that she was being kept from her son and grandchildren.  I am introducing it here because 1945 is the point from which Evelyn’s gradually deteriorating mental condition can be most easily dated.

In 1951 Evelyn prepared a lenthy (70 single-spaced pages) document in support of efforts by friends to raise funds for her return to the United States.   The heading on each page reads:

Précis of events indicative of libel, to be read as SOON AS POSSIBLE BY CREIGHTON AND PAVLA SCOTT AND JOHN METCALFE AND, if possible, by CYRIL KAY SCOTT WHOM EVELYN SCOTT IS CONVINCED HAS BEEN VICTIMIZED WITH HER AND THEIR SON AND DAUGHTER-IN-LAW in consequence of a tampering and tinkering with LIFE IS TOO SHORT either when it was in manuscript or was being sent to press which either was unauthorized and completely illegal or was done without consultation with the author respecting facts involving both him and Evelyn Scott and their son when a child which are misrepresented and are sometimes fantastically untrue and as much to the disadvantage of the author as to Evelyn Scott and their son and his wife–the aim of this precis, which is a condensation of a longer precis to be completed in consistence with it, the restoration of the Integrity of American and British Artists and Art.

The entire document is prefaced by the following handwritten note:  “This MS contains an enormous amount of inaccuracy and I can only caution any reader to check almost any statement in it.  Paula Scott”

* * * * *


She is NOW, in 1951, convinced that the distortions of the truth respecting her Passport Document Common Law Marriage to Cyril Kay Scott, one of the earliest of the steps taken in Brazil the registration at the American Consulate in Recife, of the birth, on October 26th 1914, of their son, then called “Seely” Scott and afterward Creighton Scott—that this legal marriage was misrepresented to and by the Church, and that this also was the case respect­ing the divorce obtained from her as Mr Kay Scott’s Common Law wife, in 1928, in Chichuaua County Mexico, where divorce and marriage Laws are consistent.

Mr Cyril Kay Scott himself registered for himself and for Evelyn Dunn Scott as his wife on their arrival in Rio de Janeiro from New York, via London, on as he says the Hamburg-American liner Blucher, in the spring of 1914, before Passports were required by the States, Britain or Brazil. And that everything concerning the steps which documented the establishment of the Common Law Marriage which was absolutely concluded in Chichuaua County1 in 1928, were, between 1939 and the present, being libellously distorted and to some extent deliberately and by intention, she has not a doubt since she re-read Mr Cyril Kay Scott’s mangled autobiography, into which have been interjected misstatements in respect to everything appertaining both to her and her son that he himself, with his innate high qualities of character, the fineness of mind proven in his paintings and his novels filled with psychological insights which could NOT have written, and which are completely at odds with many comments on life philosophy and art that are recognizable as his by everyone who ever knew him well, and are scattered throughout the book. The book, Life Is Too Short is completely veracious in regard to facts which concern his scientific career and his careers in the arts and in business, including the war industry of which he was a competent administrator though he trained himself. But there is NO emotional or personal truth in the book; and it cannot be credited that any man of Mr Kay Scott’s wisdom and good sense, who, as well, has been the most understanding Father of his son and Evelyn Scott’s could concoct a cock-and-bull story about “secret agents” and “murders” as a pseudo-explanation.of the issuance of the Emergency Passport given him for himself and Evelyn Dunn Scott and Creighton Seely Scott as the Scott family, by Ambassador Morgan, when the real reason was Evelyn Dunn Scott was in seriously bad health, physically, and NOT mentally, as other libels in this book imply.

I think Mr Cyril Kay Scott incapable of mean falsehood of a petty order such as pervades those portions of Life Is Too Short which concern the life we shared during our Common Law Marriage of Fourteen Years; and as the decree which was granted him for the “desertion of bed and board”, in 1928, in Chichuaua, was consistently sanctioned by the American State Department the decree itself signed by the American Consul then at Juarez who was Mr John Dye, there was no point whatever in such a lie, unless inserted there by those whom the war had made the enemies both of the author and our son and of Evelyn Scott and JohnMetcalfe, Evelyn Scott’s second husband; who is NOT the “Father of her son”, as she has vaguely gathered some have had it.

But just before she returned FROM Canada to Tappan, New Jersey, to await her waiver and obtain the British Passport required before she could sail as an “RAF” wife into the War Zone and which she resigned immediately on landing in Britain, Mr Paul I Wellman1 had been at death’s door. And she learned this, and that Mr Kay Scott, too, was then ill, from her son and daughter-in-law in Tappan. And as she did not as was usual after her absences see Mr Kay Scott in person, and Mr Creighton Scott expressed himself in her hearing as “not interested” in reading Life Is Too Short—he and his wife were probably repelled by gossip of its vicious attack on her, Mr Creighton Scott’s Mother, but this, then, she did not know—and she herself had no opportunity to read what had been said of her until Mr Lewis Gannett, in 1947, loaned Mr Metcalfe his copy of this book and it was brought to her to England by him and she, in turn, was so revolted by the passages that libel both that she could scarcely read it,—the full and clear comprehension of the real extent of damage which may already have been done to her and her son and her daughter-in-law, his stepfather, and Mr Kay Scott himself—awaited the re-reading of Life Is Too Short in 1951 which she has just recently completed.

In 1943, she had no money to buy the book without a sacrifice of necessities she would gladly have made, had it not been that Creighton and Pavla’s aversion to it decided her that it might be best to read it at some other time; and now that she no longer doubts that libellers must have set to work on her and her son her daughter-in-law and her present husband during the war, she is too impoverished to bring libel charges against anyone, even should she wish to; and this, she is certain, is the truth regarding all concerned.

Think of having failed to warn Mr Kay Scott, when he acknowledged minor kindly practical aid, that, by listing his own and Evelyn Scott’s son and their son’s wife as among those who had “confirmed facts” in Life Is Too Short, he was allowing for the inference that she had neglected or shown little love for her only child, though there are many, and he above them all—who can attest that her concern for Mr Creighton Scott’s happiness and talents has been unremittingly proven her life long, and that as soon as he so much as contemplated marriage it extended to his present wife as well. Think of these things, and of an mss sent on probably unread after these passages were re-done by a “proxy”—possibly “authorized” but not “specified”—and think of the dismay Mr Kay Scott must have felt on reading them himself, and discerning a baseness towards him which, by seemingly reflecting on his son Creighton Scott and Creighton Scott’s wife, was like a criminal cancellation of his own generosities of a lifetime. Slanders inception is always among congenitally de­praved types, and, doubtless, in America, that system introduced with gangsterism, which allows criminals to batten on their moral betters, and is designated “police protection”, has fostered slan­der as convenient to extortion. And even as Evelyn Scott conjectures that slanderers must have battened obliquely, probably in contexts of the war and immigration, on a defamation of herself by which it hoped to embarrass the British and American consuls of 1943 and 1944, she is as con­vinced that Mr Kay Scott, also, loving very genuinely the children of his first marriage, was as much tricked into their inclusions in “Acknowledgements” as on the score of Mr Creighton Scott and his wife; as wilful insult was, to superficial minds, even more easily attributable to the Wellmans and especially because both Mr Paul I Wellman and Mr Manly Wellman1 have been newspaper men and are inured to some extent to the hardness expected in newspaper work.

Evelyn Scott does NOT believe they would be capable of vengefulness toward her, as she likes all of them, nor that they, any more than their Father, would allow any book by Mr Kay Scott to be cheapened by the atrociousness of those passages in Life Is Too Short which are most at variance with everything else Mr Kay Scott has written. So in her estimate, all concerned are victims!

1Chihuahua, Mexico. This is typical of Evelyn’s repeated misspellings of names.

Next week — back to normal!




31. A son writes not to his mother

Now that she  was in London with Jack, Evelyn became increasingly preoccupied with the lack of news of her son, his wife and their (now three) small children.  Jigg, perhaps as the result of the unhappiness and stress caused during her stay with them in Tappan, did not wish to continue contact with his mother and did what he could to impose distance between them.  At this point Gladys Grant, a long-time friend of Evelyn’s, became the buffer between Jigg and his mother.  She had met Jigg some years earlier and was fond of him, she could see how destructive Evelyn’s possessive behaviour could be, and  she managed a delicate balance between her continuing friendship for Evelyn and her desire to protect Jigg and his family from Evelyn’s desire to control his life.

Evelyn’s preoccupation with finding Jigg increased over the years and in 1951/52 she began to annotate her earlier letters and the replies she had received.  These annotations in her inimitable spidery hand give considerable insight into her mental state at this point, and are italicised and enclosed in square brackets [ ].

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Scotch Plains, New Jersey
November 1, 1946

Dear Evelyn:

I am ashamed not to have written before, but kept putting if off in the hope of telling you more.  I’ve forwarded all your letters but my last address for Jig is also care of the radio station in Chicago.  So far as I know he is still there with apparently no prospects or likelihood of being in or near New York.  I’m always glad to forward letters but, of course, this makes for delay and sometimes uncertainty.  Of course the registered letters would have been kept at the PO but the others just lie there.  I’ve been planning to get a PO box, but there isn’t one to be had just now and it would mean daily trips to Scotch Plains.  The old mail man used to be much more careful, but I suspect I’ve lost considerable mail lately.  I’m particularly upset today as all the boxes along this route were torn off by hoodlums last night—Halloween!  So glad as I am to forward any mail for you, I think you ought to know it is not too reliable.

As to the kids—I wrote you after I saw them last.  They were fine then but I haven’t seen them since.  When Jig went to Chicago, I believe the rest went to Paula’s father1—but for how long, I don’t know.  But I’m sure I’d hear and, so would you, if anything went wrong or any of them weren’t well.  They were flourishing, the last time I saw them.  I’m sorry I can’t tell you more as I realise you must want to know. [remainder of letter missing]

Ralph Pearson, then living in Nyack, New York.

During this period Evelyn was preoccupied with preserving her US citizenship (which was never in danger) and believed that one way of doing this was to be “domiciled” in the US.  Accordingly, she asked Gladys if she could use her address as evidence of this “domicile”.  Unknown to her, Gladys had also offered to let Jigg and Paula use her address as a forwarding address as a buffer to prevent Evelyn easily finding out where they were.

Evelyn, frustrated by her inability to contact her son, turned in desperation to Paula’s family.  Some years previously she had met Ralph Pearson, Paula’s father, a talented silversmith who ran a successful design business, and contacted him.  This led to her invoking Paula’s mother, Margué Foster (who had divorced  Ralph and married artist  Joseph Foster) as well as other members of Paula’s family.

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
December 22, 1946

Darling Jig and Pavla

What has happened?  Where are you?1  I have written several letters to the business address given as Jig’s on Pavla’s July letter, and sent them registered, but have had no reply, and have merely inferred Pavla was with her father until she rejoined Jig, which she must by this time have done.

I am writing to Ralph Pearson and sending this letter with the one to him for forwarding, but his address, also, I misplaced, and I have only remembered it recently as Piermont Avenue.

As I am telling him, I had to give Jig’s address as care Gladys, when I got a new American passport and don’t know yet whether he received a check meant for Freddy’s birthday, and it is also very important that I have Jig’s correct present address2 for a British agent for The Muscovites, which there is a strong possibility of my being able to sell in Britain; and it need it similarly for the validation in the States of the Will of which he has a copy, in which he and Jack are appointed my literary executors.   Anyhow, all this goes to prove how necessary it is that we all keep in some sort of continuous contact and I don’t know how may more got where they were sent, and while that was during the bombing, there seems more than ever no reason for being left in the dark NOW.

Our love again and again and I do implore Creighton and Pavla themselves to reply NOW to this.
The very best to you two and to the children.

1At that time, Paula and the children were living in Pine Bluff, North Carolina near Cyril and his wife Louise, and Jigg was commuting from Chicago at weekends.

2Evelyn often claimed she had important practical reasons for needing Jig’s address, but these ploys never had the desired result.

3Paula’s great aunt Gertrude Brownell

* * * * *

To Ralph Pearson

26 Belsize Crescent
December 22, 1946

[Ralph replied after several letters and in 1949 I learned of experience in Chicago like experience reported in The Sun column during early part of war–similar]

Dear Ralph Pearson,

When Pavla and Jig moved from Tappan, in July, Pavla wrote me saying she would have no permanent address until she was settled with Jig, again; and Jack and myself have been much concerned about her, Creighton and the children recently, as we have had not a word since, although as Pavla, on the envelope enclosing her letter, gave Creighton’s business address as the Columbia Broadcasting Company, Chicago, and we have written several letters to him and her there.  [Other letters were not returned—there were not many two or three at most]

Her own letter was blank as to address, and it has been merely by inference that we have assumed she was with you until she joined Creighton, which by now she must surely have done; though Gladys Grant, said she thought Pavla could be reached through you.  And I would have written to you, in any case, and asked you to relieve our anxiety, and I had not misplaced your address, which I, all at once, remembered a day or two ago as Piermont Avenue.  You have lived there so long, I am sure the fact that I have not got the number won’t matter.  [June Jig had been in Army then ill]

Well, there is the situation!  Jig and Pavla have always kept us apprised of what happened and of their whereabouts, heretofore, and if I had let myself I could have been in a fine dither, by now!

I wrote Margué during the war, to the address which was hers when I visited Pavla and Creighton on my way back to Jack and have written there, again, although that is two years and a half ago, and she may have moved; but I have yet to get a reply; and as letters I sent Pavla’s Aunt Gertrude at the same time I wrote Margué, and which undoubtedly, if it arrived, went to the correct address, [1952—All requests for addresses—anyone’s—were ignored. except that he sent Harper’s ] was never acknowledged, you can’t blame me for the anxiety I shall feel until I have your answer to this and all the necessary information about Creighton and Pavla, Denise, Fredrick and Mathew, whom Jack and myself love very much and for whom we feel the greatest loyalty.  [No allusion to my books and Jacks or to Jigs has been made by Mr Pearson]

And so you will understand why I appeal to you, certain as I am of your innate kindliness!  Letters, the children’s and your own, are of first importance NOW, but the other things are also very VERY very important to us, and, ultimately, what we are able to do for ourselves is important in effect as regards them too.

Our regards to you all, and our very great appreciation,

Do you know Cyril’s address?  I had a letter sent him in my care for months, and can’t forward it because he didn’t give me any more address when he last wrote than Pavla did.  Really, if it wasn’t damnably serious, it would be funny.

* * * * *

To Ralph Pearson

26 Belsize Crescent
January 12, 1947

Dear Ralph [Took two years to get a reply to this.  He is Jig’s father-in-law]

I called you Ralph “Pearson” in the letter I mailed, or I should say Jack mailed for me, last week, and that is how it is addressed, and while I am sure it will get to you, well known as you are, I add this apology.  I think you live on Piermont Avenue?  Am I not right?  That would explain the ease with which I seem thrown into confusion about the spelling of your name, for I believe I did the same thing in writing you from Canada.  But hereafter, with Louise’s1 permission, I shall call you Ralph and let it go at that.

Feeling sure you will have the first letter by the time this arrives I won’t repeat the contents at length, but I do beg you again, please, to give me whatever news you have of the children as soon as possible.  My distress is great, and Jack, likewise, is anxious; and there are still the important reasons for having Creighton’s address, first and foremost to give the agent handling his novel for British publication, and secondly for documentary purposes, validation of will, and to append to my passport as when at the American Consulate I had to give his as Gladys Grant’s, and it shouldn’t be that everything went through her.

And there is, besides these things,my human feeling to be considered, and Jack’s also affectionate concern, and if both Creighton and Pavla, but of course especially now at once Creighton would write to us as before it would make a very great difference and make us all happier.

Thank you very much and again Jack’s and my regards and good wishes to you and our love and very great love to Creighton and Pavla and Denise and Freddy and Mathew.

Evelyn Scott Metcalfe

Ralph’s second wife

288 Piermont Avenue, Nyack [Google Street View]

To Creighton Scott

Ralph M Pearson’s Design Workshop Courses by Mail
288 Piermont Ave Nyack, NY

February 3, 1947

Dear Jigg:

This second letter came from Evelyn today; I send it on to you where it really belongs.  I have finally after much thought and after consulting Louise, decided on the letter in answer, a copy of which is enclosed [see below].  I cannot see the need of telling her lies, nor of the insult of silence; to us it seems that you should take care of the matter as you know all the answers.

Though Evelyn was distraught while staying with you, silence will only make her more so.  Can’t you see your way to set her at ease before the situation goes from bad to worse?  It would appear to be a son’s duty to do that.


* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Ralph M Pearson’s Design Workshops Courses by Mail
288 Piermont Ave Nyack, NY

February 3, 1947

Dear Evelyn:

Your letters both received, the second one came today, and both have been forwarded to Jigg.

I fear I can be of little help to you as it is obvious that this situation exists between you and Jigg.  Besides he must know all the answers to your queries.  The letters you have been sending to them certainly must have been forwarded; why he has not answered I do not know. [He did know he and Jig were both pestered by “inquirers” about Ralph’s innocuous second wife Pavla’s step-mother and calling me Margaret Jack Carlo it is just rackety politics]

So, this seems to be the best I can do.

With best wishes,

[1952 There was some constraint about the content of Life Is Too Short when I was with Jig in Tappan. He seemed happier about this in London when Jack and I both said the libels libelled the author and that it was evidently re-slanted by a ratty editor to suit low markets  1952—I think the silences I object to criminal—imposed by criminals]

* * * * *

To Ralph Pearson

26 Belsize Crescent
March 30, 1947

Dear Ralph, this is the second time I have written my objection to the tenor or your last letter; which annoyed—and more than annoyed!—and perplexed me to an extent that made me very indignant; and caused me to write again today when I had calmed down, and could be temperate. [Ralph cooked up a pseudo-explanation thinking he was being helpful as Jig didn’t want to write about a fight—explained the effect on me was disturbing. Margué always said he was cruel.]

Well, that I have done, but the reason for my indignation is as was.  There has been NO no no no NO NO “falling out” of any sort between either Creighton and myself, Jack and him, Pavla and Jack, or Pavla and me.  And why almost a year has passed since Pavla (of whom I am fond) wrote me a letter with a content distressing to me and to Jack both (in which she spoke of the difficulties of the move to Chicago, her plight in having to stay “with friends”, the financial problem of move to such a distance, her wish and Jig’s to be re-established somewhere together at once, and the birth of Mathew—whose advent had never been mentioned to us as imminent in any previous letter), and no further letter has been received here in London by either Jack or me from either of them, is a complete mystery.

And the reason your—Ralph Pearson’s (NOT to mix pronouns) letter was and is a cause for indignation, was and is because Pearsons and Fosters, apparently, are in constant touch with them and our grandchildren.  But when I ask Ralph Pearson to corroborate as Creighton’s present address, that on the envelope of Pavla’s letter (the letter was blank as far as address went), the request is ignored, and on the basis of a fool and quite false assumption.

I asked for Margué’s1 present address, as no letter to her has yet been answered from her old address (although I saw her during the war and she was very pleasant and apparently interested in both Jack and myself as well as Creighton and Pavla); and you—Ralph Pearson I mean again—chose to ignore that request, as well—why why WHY?

I would have supposed a man whose work connected him with the arts would evince some symptom of imagination considering what we have all been through during the damn war; considering that I left the States in a convoy and got here under a rain of bombs; and there has been no real peace yet, and news or information of any sort about our family (and none are nearer or more loved that Creighton and Pavla and their children)—but, no–!  There was not any of the anticipated humanity in the reply I actually got.

What is wrong?  Is there a sort of “Pearson-Foster” opposition to human relations of a natural sort, or what?  If there is an explanation to be given, then you should give it.  If anybody is offended about anything we should know who is, and why!  And in any case I hold you and Margué to a degree responsible for failing to assist in relieving whatever misapprehension, if any, is at the bottom of this rotten madness.  You are both in contact with them, and you therefore have an advantage in influence, and if you refuse to use it on behalf of normal decent human civilized contacts and normal decent human civilized relations between mother and son, son and step-father-in-law, the consequences be on your own head.  You are assuming a responsibility I should not wish to have mine in the state of the world as it is when and while the civilized and normal have a supreme value, everywhere and anywhere.

But I, AGAIN, register objection about a situation which forces me to use “go-betweens”, where there has been no quarrel.  You have merely stirred resentment, where otherwise there would be amiability.  Fifteen letters, literally, sent to the States, have been unanswered in the last two years, and all to previously good friends—again why why why WHY? (and this does not include any of the letters written Creighton and Pavla, Pavla, writing infrequently to both having given blanket answers to most

Justly protesting, I am sincerely

[They have all been unhumanly cruel to me—is it because conditions there have been unhumanly cruel?  1952 E Scott]

1 Ralph’s first wife and Paula’s mother, Margaret Hale (Margué), remarried after their divorce; her second husband was Joseph Foster.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Scotch Plains, New Jersey
April 11, 1947

Dear Evelyn: [She sent paper twice]

Your letter came yesterday and I would have answered it then, but was just taking my son to New York to return to school and had several business things I had to do there.  Last night I came back so tired that I waited to write you until morning.

I realize how you must want to hear about your grandchildren and wish I could send you details.  But I haven’t seen any of them since they left Tappan or even heard for the last month or more.  In Paula’s last letter she enclosed a nice one from Denise, very sweet and well written, mainly asking about the fish they gave me before they left.  So perhaps you know more than I do!

Love to you both as always.

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

Scotch Plains, New Jersey
May 12, 1947

Dear Jig:

This is written to you to ask what you want me to do if and when your mother comes.  May I say that I promised to give your address to no one without official permission, I’ll lie and say I don’t know, if you prefer, but I’m not a good liar and this may just make her angry and more hurt and determined.  It’s none of my business but, if you don’t want to see her, wouldn’t it be easier for both of you to cable her before she started?  If she gets to this country she is almost sure to find out somehow were you are.  I realize such a cable is hard and cruel but won’t it be much worse for all of you after she is here?

Please forgive my butting in.  I won’t mention it again.  Unless I hear to the contrary I’ll just refuse to give your address, if I’m cornered.

Excuse scrawl.  I’ll write again soon and be sure to let me know how you all are.

God bless you all

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Scotch Plains, New Jersey
June 15, 1947

[1952  This letter rather stupid in view of facts.  Jack was about to sail—arranging passage when this arrived]

Dear Evelyn:

I’m sorry I did not send the paper before, but waited for you to confirm where you were,  I am sending it herewith.

I must also tell you one very important thing.  Don’t come to this country unless you absolutely have to!  I am sure it must be much worse than England and certainly can’t be any better.  We have more material goods to be sure, but everything is terrifically expensive and the grab attitude is terrible.  I am sure you would both be utterly miserable.

I hope when you wrote “domiciled with me” you did not mean to stay here.  Not that I don’t want to see you and Jack, but there isn’t an inch of space.  You can always have mail sent to this address, if you trust the RFD, and I’ll be glad to forward it.  But there isn’t any place to sleep.

As for Jig and Paula, I haven’t heard from them for ages and can’t tell you their address.  The last letter, I believe, was the note from Denise and had none.  They are worse correspondents than I am, but I’m sure I would have heard if all was not well.  If the Chicago address is the last you have, it will undoubtedly reach him.  [1952—mail to Chicago was returned to London]

I hate to write this discouraging letter and perhaps should not send it, but I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to write again.  I’ll try to when I’m in a less depressed mood myself.

Love to you both

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

c/o DeSilver, 130 West 12th Street, NYC
August 16, 1947

Dear Jig,

Here I am back in the US and eager to see you if you care for that.  Whatever the reasons (which I am quite willing to respect) for your long silence, you and I have, I trust, always been good friends and I hope that it may be possible to contact you, preferably in person, or, failing that at any rate by letter.  I feel that a certain amount of, at least, “tentative” clarification would be of mutual help.

I don’t know what in heck the conditions or considerations which have created the present impasse (to call it that!) may be, but I am not lacking in imagination which, towards yourself, has always been and will always be, exercised in the friendliest possible way.  Please take that as a first datum anyhow.

At the same time, you, also, are a person of imagination, so you can probably guess the effect on Evelyn (and by repercussion and propinquity on myself) of a sustained silence.  I fancy, from all one may gather, that she must have been a wearing inmate of your house while she was awaiting a passage to England, and I certainly feel no “disloyalty” to her in saying so.  You and I both know her well, and indeed she herself would now readily admit that she was a trying guest.  Anything of that kind, or any faintest attempt towards a repetition thereof, can, on my personal guarantee, be ruled out.  So if any fear of her being again parked on you has been at all operative, dismiss it.

None the less, and conceding all of this, her affection for you is very deep and genuine, and to grant it some sort of vent, if only by occasional correspondence, could, as I (failing further enlightenment) see it, do you no harm.  It would not be a wedge’s thin-end towards anything you might find obtrusive, inappropriate or oppressive.

Meanwhile, however, your silence has had the effect of rendering her unresigned to life in England.  A line or two, now and then, would, as they say, have kept her happy, or reasonably so; but, as it is, the absence of a word from you has received, progressively, a wholly disproportionate emphasis until it was warped and coloured her entire outlook, and tended, of course, to aggravate those very symptoms of nervousness and all else which may, in the first instance, have played some part in prompting you to drop correspondence.

Once again, please understand, I am not, nor is she, “blaming” (oh holy Mike!) or “reproaching” (oh even holier Mike!) you for all this.  Let us leave any obfuscating so-called “moral” issues out of it.  I am merely stating, without exaggeration and as straightforwardly as I can, the sequence of cause and effect.  And naturally I do not disguise that I, as living with her, am a highly interested party.  All of this, of course, comes back to me!

So what I want to put over to you is the present actual concrete picture and no more.  At present, and rightly or wrongly, that actual concrete picture is that lack of word from you is a prime cause—I may say the prime cause—of mental disturbance generally, impeding work and destroying health.  A word from you would relieve this condition and constitute no faintest kind of “threat” to yourself.  But you can imagine the effect a continued silence will undoubtedly have upon such a nature.

This, of course, is inadequate and partial.  In particular, it fails to convey how warmly I feel towards you, yourself, as a person.  That is quite apart from anything construable as mere “sentiment”, of which, I hope, I am sufficiently adult to be absolved.

If you feel like it, I want, as I’ve said, to see you.  I, just as much as Evelyn, am feeling rather bothered and “bottled-up” by this “situation”,–which I still insist on enclosing in inverted commas.

Yrs ever,

 * * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

c/o DeSilver, 130 West 12th Street, NYC
August 20, 1947

Darling Beloved Evelyn-Chookie

This is just an interim note by air mail.  As I told you in last letter (tho’ it was not air-mail, – and this may arrive first), I saw Ralph Pearson (it’s spelt that way, I find) on Saturday, – and left a short letter for Jig, which he will forward.  Jig had asked R P not to give his address to anyone, so of course I still have not got it, and it may be a week or so before I can get any reply.

R P seemed most friendly, – but a little hurt that you hadn’t visited him as often as he (apparently) had wanted.  He begged me to understand that he was not to blame. Now he regretted the present situation, and, for his part, had asked Jig to write to us, – and had no idea why he would not.

I am sure all this will adjust itself if only you (who have, at the moment, to play infinitely the most difficult part) can hold on for a while.  I told Jig, of course, how lovingly we both felt and I delighted I wd be to see him, – but at the same time assured him that I was not, in any way, “pursuing” him.  If I did, incidentally, learn his address, what good would that really be to us unless he himself had volunteered it?—as I think he will.

All love always

* * * * *

To Cyril Kay Scott

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, Apt 12G, 130 West 12th St NYC 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.  Jack has written me he is is bringing home a copy of Life Is Too Short, and it will certainly be appreciated as both of us have been doing our best to get it and read it ever since it appeared, but when I was in the USA during the war I was advised to travel with such light baggage that I could not bring a book, besides lacking cash for buying anything not essential at the moment.  But in our estimate of literature an human beings books of the value we are sure that are essential, so it has been a great deprivation to have had to wait as long as this for one we especially want.

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”.  It is a form of “scruple” somewhat like it would have been had I adhered to Lola’s request not to get money for her from anybody, when I had been told (erroneously, but I didn’t know it) that she was dying.  I asked for money for her without consulting her, and if it didn’t save her medically, it saved her from starving, and you yourself aided with complete disdain for such inhuman “pseudo” “scrupling”.

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.

Pavla wrote the last of the two letters from her immediately after Mathew was born, said she and Jig were in a “terrible state”, did not say why, put no address on the envelope, and on the outside of the letter put the Columbia Broadcasting, Chicago, where Jack learns from Pearson he is not employed, having a better job elsewhere.  But 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.

That is why Cyril I implore you to throw any light you can on the situation and if you can exert influence with Creighton please do so, for I think we both realize by now that the idea of cutting early ties didn’t work.

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 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.

Jack has the hypothesis (first time) that some fake analyst has impinged with the “mother complex” rot; and it may be so, though I believe Jig to be too sensible to accept that blather at this late date.  And as I know you yourself Cyril have just the opinion Jack and myself have of “psycho-analysis” as the most completely invalidated lot of rotten nonsense that was ever foist by duped doctors on a duped world, I somehow feel you won’t support that stuff, and if it is an ingredient will help.

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,

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
August 3, 1948

[1952–This letter was not specifically mentioned at any time]

My very dear (and it is our very dear, for Jack feels precisely as I do about you) very dear Creighton and Pavla  [Very few specific acknowledgements]

Jig’s letter which Jack received when he arrived here, continues to distress us because of its misapprehensions.  I don’t know their source, but I do remember every smallest thing that happened during my ten months stay with you, and remember most vividly of all that Jig was alarmed, as I was, lest some slip-up about my passage leave me on his hands financially, when he was carrying every bit of financial responsibility he could shoulder.  I remember he said then, that, in order to try and assure the speeding-up of my passage arrangements at the American end, he would be obliged to invent some story which would be comprehensible to his then-boss (whom I judge to have been a complete ass), and he intended to tell him there was friction in the family caused by my presence, and he was “desperate” about it.  And this I gather Jig did, and that is why Jack received the cable1 which was so incredibly unjust as regards myself Jack Jig himself Pavla and the children.

I was never “jealous” of Pavla or of Denise and Fredrick in my life, but when I was in Tappan, I was in actual panic, every moment, lest I be stranded there as I was in New York in 1939, when Jack was over here in service, and my income on books abruptly ceased, and I could find no means of supplementing it, though I had somehow to get my mother’s hospital bills paid, and she was dying.  I was in such panic, that conscious of a constraint the war was imposing on every one of us, and that we were not speaking with the candour natural to our affections, I “leaned over backward” not to appear too grandmotherly, or mother-in-lawly, lest it be supposed I placidly accepted just staying on there indefinitely, which I didn’t.

We both deeply regret Jack did not see you both and Denise Fredrick and Mathew last year, as you were one of the chief reasons he went to the USA; as he feels as I do the continuity of one’s intimate human relations is important in contributing to a sane normal life.  But, again, we do not blame you, but conditions.  We have not yet solved our problems, and still we hope.

We love you and the three children and we feel precisely as we always have about Cyril whom we have both been accustomed to consider one of our best friends, notwithstanding a divorce, for the occasions of divorce don’t last forever, and Cyril and I as Jack appreciates have a son, the son more important than the original cause of divorce.  For Jig’s sake I hope Cyril will write to both of us as he used to do.

1Dated January 28, 1944: see blog post 28. This reference to this cable illustrates Evelyn’s lack of awareness of the effect her behaviour had on her son.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

United States Post Office
Nyack, New York

July 21, 1949

[NB August 3rd 1949 this was an inquiry about mail addressed to my son in Pearson’s care which though correctly addressed was returned. I therefore regard the Post Office at Nyack as disingenuous and evasive and as having downright refused to answer straight questions regarding a specific instance of mishandling. This inquiry was made May 27 1949 this letter arrived August 2 1949.]

Dear Madam:

Receipt is acknowledged of your letter of June 29th, 1949, all which has reference to mail which you send to your Son, his Wife and your Grandson.

You are advised that Mr Pierson [ear—my fault! ]is alive and resides at 288 Piermont Avenue, for a number of years. All mail received at this office addressed to him or other persons in his care has been delivered to that address.

Of course, it would be impossible to trace the letters you mailed during the years 1944 and 1945, however, I can assure you that if they were addressed to Mr Pierson or someone in his care they were delivered to the above mentioned address. What he might do with such mail is unknown to anyone at this office.

We have no forwarding address for your Son or any member of his family and any mail addressed to them directly would be returned to the sender marked unknown. If the mail was addressed to your Son or any member of his family in care of Mr Pierson it would be delivered to Mr Pierson’s residence for such disposition as he cared to make of it.

Trusting this explains our position in the matter,

I am
Respectfully yours,

[NB 1952 This blast of ice returned to me a letter and parcel correctly addressed to Mathew Scott my grandson and Mr Pearson’s in Mr Pearson’s care–Mr Pearson said he know nothing of it. In London, Jig said Ralph’s second wife had been called a “red” because she was once in a teacher’s union in which were some communists. The two Pearsons were once socialists.]

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Ralph M Pearson’s Design Workshop
288 Piermont Ave Nyack NY

 October 7, 1949

[Pearson is as brutal as Walter Frank–Pearson lies I think and he knows a situation so painful would naturally make it impossible for Jig to read my letter in his presence.]

Dear Evelyn:

The Nyack postmaster just showed me another letter from you about Jigg not getting your letters. Now look, Evelyn–Jigg has received every letter you sent in my care. That last long one about a month ago came to me while he happened to be here visiting for the day and I gave it to him direct from the carrier–without reading it myself. From the way he acted I doubt if he read it, altho I saw him read part of the first page. He is following a deliberate policy of not answering your letters; that is the hard fact you may as well take into account. And I suggest you stop bothering postmasters about this family matter; it is hardly fair to them to be brought in on such a thing.

The packages must have gone astray because I was not in Nyack to receive them and it is too late now to do anything about them.

But every letter you send to me will be forwarded–so you may always be assured Jigg gets them.

It is very unfortunate, this whole situation–and I regret it very much–but there is nothing I can do.

Ralph M P

[Egregious evasion–Ralph doesn’t answer during two years and not until I had embarrassed him by inquiring of the P Office about parcel ((returned))]

* * * * *

Next week Evelyn finally sees a copy of Life Is Too Short and is inspired to record her reactions to it.




28. A son writes to his mother

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

* * * * *
To Evelyn Scott

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

Dear Mother,

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott and John Metcalfe

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

Dear Mother and Jack

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

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

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

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

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

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


* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

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

Dear Mother,

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

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

Life Life[November 10, 1942]

Dear Mother:

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

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

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

Bless you all.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

[Tappan, New York]
December 9, 1942

Dear Mother,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


* * * * *

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

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

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

To Evelyn Scott

[Tappan, New York]
[August 1943]

Dear Mother,

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

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

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

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

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

God Bless, and all our best to Jack,

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

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott

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

Dear Jig and Pabli—

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

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

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

God bless you all four

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

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

[Red Hook, New York]
[November 1943]

Dear daughter—

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

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

God bless you all four

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

[Red Hook, New York]
[November 1943]

Dear Jig—

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

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

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

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

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

God bless you my dear son,

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

[Red Hook, New York]
[late 1943]

My beloved Son—

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

God bless you

* * * * *

To John Metcalfe

January 28, 1944



Telegraphese for “you and me”

* * * * *

4. A momentous meeting

Last week I left you at the threshold of Elsie’s first meeting with Dr Wellman, 40 years her senior, twice married, with four grown children—a recipe for either the dullest of dull evenings, or the start of a tumultuous (and adulterous) affair leading to who could possibly foretell what.

Let us see what happened next to the young Elsie Dunn and take up last week’s narrative.

            It was in a period when my father’s always fluctuating finances were at a temporary ebb, and he had not, I suppose, as had happened in a previous instance, asked for help from my grandfather; who was still in very good circumstances, but as I recall it had grown dubious of new ventures; which, indeed, after the Car Company, my father, as far as I know, never undertook again.  My mother was sympathetic, and we had temporarily dispensed with the cook; not difficult as my father was seldom at home then, and was depressed by my mother’s presence when he was.  I, however, agreed to cook the dinner for Dr Wellman; whom my father justly said was the one and only man of real intellectual stature whom he had encountered since he became an adult and went into business.

The evening has been written of in Life Is Too Short; the early portions of that fine book having been, apparently, less cut, over-edited, and re-written by someone external to it, than the middle portions.

I am breaking into Elsie’s narrative at this point as Life Is Too Short, Dr Wellman’s autobiography, became the focus of her angry attention some 30 years later.  More on the reasons for this in due course.

 I was enchanted to discover an adult human being to whom, though I was of the opposite sex, I could really talk about the literature, philosophy, painting and music that were beginning to be my life.  His second wife proved a vicious enemy, but I also enjoyed her piano-playing, at that time.  She had been a professional and was a pupil of Leschetitzky, her name was Edna Willis.  Dr Wellman had met her abroad, after his divorce from his first wife, Lydia Isley, to whom he was married fourteen years, and who had gone to West Africa with him as a missionary, when he had one there as mission doctor to an American mission at Benguella.

Dr Wellman and his first wife and fallen into bitter disagreement as science began, more and more, to affect his religious views.  After their divorce, she had refused to permit him to see their four children, Paul I, Fredrick Lovejoy, Alice and Manly Wade Wellman.  Their mother, I have gathered, was a very good woman according to her lights, but to deflect from orthodoxy seemed to her of the “Devil”; and she honestly feared the influence of science on the views of her children.

The second wife was a sophisticated woman; and that Dr Wellman made the mistake he did in respect to their congeniality, is very explicable when one realizes how many are the marriages based on the human predilection for antidotes for unhappiness in an antithesis.  She was not shocked by scepticism in religious matters, but she had no sympathy for him in his unhappiness over his children; and even as he had found little tenderness in her make-up, she had been disappointed in her worldly ambition for wealth when, after marrying a scientist of international reputation in several fields, she discovered he was almost poor, and that his monetary resources did not extend beyond a good salary and what he received for medical monographs and articles on medical and botanical topics.

Perhaps Elsie Dunn and Fredrick Creighton Wellman fell in love on sight, for I can still remember the comforted and elated feeling with which I went to bed that night, after our guests had partaken of the Sally Lunn mentioned in Life Is Too Short and gone home.  I thought continually of Dr Wellman from that time on until we eloped.  My father and mother were equally taken with him; both having often complained sincerely, in their disparate ways, of the lack of cultural response to cultural interests among most of the people they had met.  Edna Willis Wellman, as she then was, became, eventually, so ruthless an enemy that I could not think of her existence for years without the most bitter and righteous resentment.  But it was the first time but one I had ever had the pleasure of listening to a technically fine pianist who played some of the things I myself asked for, and that, too, I enjoyed, with no feeling of rivalry as imminent.

Dr Wellman—or Cyril Kay Scott as he became and is to me—is innately one of the most innocent-minded of men, I think.  His character is that I have referred to, one in which emotions felt simply are deep, not easily changing, and intellect, nonetheless, is of the fine type that engenders no inner conflicts.

Before I ever saw him or talked to him alone, along before in fact, he and his second wife had discussed separation and even eventual divorce.  She had told him she did not love him; but, as such discussions do in people without his detachment, she had accused him, in the usual way, of “wrecking” her life, and had spitefully declared that she would divorce him, not then, but when it should become “convenient” to her.  She had reminded him of his first divorce, and—knowing the orthodoxy then still prevalent in New Orleans and among the medical fraternity—she had spitefully assured him that she had the “whip hand”, and would settle the matter of divorce on her “own terms”, at her leisure.

It was not a situation any man with self-respect could have been expected to endure.  I think Dr Wellman would have left her, and, perhaps, returned to Africa or some other remote place, even had he not met me.  But he was at once interested in me as a “phenomenon” in that era in the South, a young woman not quite twenty-one, usually considered pretty, and entirely serious in outlook.

I was, having left off both college and art school, at loose ends; and on that first evening had admitted that my education was scientifically non-existent, as I had recoiled from every science course offered because these impinged on time given to imaginative literature, painting and music.  Dr Wellman saw my father sometimes, and my expressed wish to have at least a little more knowledge of science was mentioned.  My father, too, had, by that time, decided I was too indifferent to science and it would do me no harm to learn more.  The course at the Dramatic Academy was still pending when Dr Wellman wrote to me the first letter I ever had from him, and asked me whether I would like to take a course in laboratory technique in the laboratory where he and his assistants were engaged in some experiments.  I have already forgotten what they were trying to prove, and remember vividly only my first look at some beautifully-coloured mosquitoes through a microscope.

I was almost mawkishly “kind to animals”, and I was repelled by experiments proceeding nearby—some Dr Wellman’s own—on monkeys and small mammals.  But this time, once enrolled as Dr Wellman’s student, I had no doubt I had fallen in love.

I was very deeply and grossly insulted on his behalf as well as my own by the sort of rumour that spread about New Orleans and Memphis once we had eloped, and which concerned our relations before our elopement.  We took occasional walks together after “school hours”, but we had never so much as kissed until an afternoon when Dr Wellman asked me to stroll with him in Audubon Park, and when we were far enough from St Charles Avenue to be unlikely to encounter other people, told me of his first marriage, and his second, and said he could not go on as he was but must get back into some simpler environment where he could re-assemble a life in emotional wreckage on the basis of the detachment he felt being shattered by continual friction with a woman whose animus, apparently, was such as would stop at nothing.

It was then that he abruptly said at the end of the confession of unhappiness, that I would probably think him fantastic, or, if I did not, other people would, but that ever since he had first met me he had thought of what the primitive surroundings of his missionary days might be like with a companion such as I was.  I was startled.  I had already told him that I was not happy at home, that my parents loved me, but not each other, although my mother was impeccably loyal to my father in every outward sense.  I thought later she loved him, but her love was not requited.  I had also told Dr Wellman that my grandfather, as was true, was daily becoming more eccentric, that my grandfather had given up his career to her, and that, as a man whose life-long preoccupation had been business, he was miserable in being idle; and that notwithstanding an otherwise selfless view of me, his only grandchild, he distressed himself all the time because I did not love my grandmother as he did—something that had been beyond my father, too.

Dr Wellman then asked me whether I would like to cut loose as he would doubtless eventually do from the miseries that beset us both among people, also, miserable, whose miseries we could not mend.  He said he had thought it all out before mentioning it, and that we might go to Brazil, where the Portuguese he knew well, was spoken, and where, among strangers, we could make our own lives.  He said frankly he had little money, and he knew I had none, but if I agreed I was not to worry for he would take the responsibility for everything involved.  We discussed the Amazon—for I agreed at once—and other places in Brazil; and when we parted before evening, he had said he would resign from the Boston Club, of which he was a member in high standing, and would pay his dues to me, as he second wife had access to his bank account, and was watchful of expenditures.  He also decided then to sell a very fine high-power microscope that was his personal property and to bank what he received for it—he sold it for a thousand dollars—and keep it safe until we left.

Dr Wellman and I exchanged our first kiss at the end of this conversation at Audubon Park.  It was to me, as I think it was to him, like the sealing of a pact we had made to fight together for some purer joy in life.  We agreed that we could not meet often, again, until we were ready to elope; as to be seen together might attract attention to our interest in each other.  It was also decided between us, although this was at his suggestion, that the most feasible time for leaving New Orleans would be at Christmas, when college was closed and everyone was on vacation.  He, later, wrote his second wife a letter she was at liberty to show anyone in which he said whatever was pertinent to “bear hunting” somewhere in the South.  He also wrote to her as we were leaving telling her he had decided to cut the Gordian knot, and saying—as was the truth—that he was taking nothing with him but a suitcase containing a few clothes, and that the money in the bank still untouched and anything that might accrue as due him was hers, but that she was not to say anything about what he was doing until he was far from New Orleans, because once the newspapers got hold of the facts, there would be scandal; unjust to my parents and grandparents I add—Dr Wellman did not mention either me or them.

I was most distressed about my mother, and I tried to confide in her, thinking to make her see the future as a temporary separation.  But I got no further than saying Dr Wellman and myself were in love, and I would gladly marry him whenever this became feasible, and he felt the same; for at that point my mother rushed for the revolver my father had given me when wishing me to learn to shoot, and threaten to kill herself.

This experience, used in combination with the fictions in The Narrow House, resulted in a temporary congealing of emotion toward her.  I had thought some revision of our plan might be made in adaptation to her wishes, as she continually lamented the fact that I was continually lamented the fact that I was considered brilliant and had no opportunity to meet any men fit to “tie my shoestring”.  I felt, after that, that I must leave home no matter what, to bring my mother to her normal senses.

Dr Wellman and myself left New Orleans on December 26th, 1913.