20. Woodstock to Felixstowe

Cyril had been in Santa Fe for some months when Evelyn and Jigg returned to New York from Montreal.  During this period Evelyn’s finances were even more precarious than usual, as the following sequence of letters illustrates.  [It is very possible that Evelyn wrote to friends whose letters have not made it into this collection, and equally possible that any such letters have been lost or destroyed.]

* * * * *

To David Lawson

[c/o Mrs Kate Russell, Woodstock, New York]
Saturday [August 1928]

Dearest Davy:

I am coming in with Jig on Wednesday instead of Thursday of next week.  Can you put us both up?  Will arrive on six oclock evening boat at Debrosses1 and go to you unless you phone Woodstock 5! [illeg] to say you can’t have us.  If I don’t hear I will think you expect us. I have decided to go to England if Margaret2 will pay my fare.  I don’t know that she will because I find after second letter from her that she meant to pay Jig’s fare if I should want him to join me.  I misunderstood her.  however I have asked her for mine and will begin negotiations anyway.

Jack seems in a state about quota and life in general. Tell you all about it.

dearest love you and lola.  evelyn

1The terminal for Hudson River ferries at Debrosses Street, then operating between Manhattan and points on the Hudson, including Woodstock.
Margaret DeSilver, wealthy New York socialite and loyal friend of Evelyn and Jack. She gave them significant material aid in a number of ways on more than one occasion.

* * * * *

To David Lawson

[Woodstock, New York]
August 9, 1928

Dear Davy:

I expected to come back to town this week:  but Cyril has written about Santa Fe and a new plan has developed.  Cyril hopes to have the fare for Jig in a couple of more week.  Or at least, he says, by September first.  I’m going to try to arrange with Hazel1 for some place to stay.  But if that fails, and Lola is improving, could Jig and I spend three days with you?  I would have to collect his clothes and attend to the removal of his tooth braces, and finally send him off.  Then, if I have no further plans regarding Jack and England, I’ll come up here again.  It’s cheaper than living in town of course, and will be much better for writing when vacations are waning—next month I guess.

It is nice here. At the present moment there is rather more “social life” than I had bargained for; but I will say it for the usage here, that people respect one’s writing hours.  That writing is truly acknowledged “business” is at least an accepted thing.

We miss you and Lola daily.  That’s the only waste of this arrangement.  As far away as Montreal you two were beyond regrets.  Here it is a bit distressing to feel that the boat goes to NY in a few hours every day and we don’t know anything.  As a matter of fact, the schedule is bad.  It leaves Kingtown everyday at one and does not arrive at Debrosses Street until six in the evening.  And the train journey is dearer and not much quicker—takes four hours.

Our very, very, very much love Davy from both of us
evelyn

Hazel Abrams was a friend with whom Evelyn often stayed while in New York. She had a flat in Greenwich Village.

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

[Woodstock, New York]
August 9 [1928]

Lovely girl:  I can telephone on a party line from out here; but there are twenty-one phones on the same line and the connection is terrible—and costs eighty-five cents.  That is why I have requested the aid of various unknown aides, who may annoy Davy with their telephone calls from town; but I am sure he will forgive me if he realizes what a relief it is to establish even that approximation of direct connection with what is going on.

My eyes are still wabbly; and if I ever get settled near an occulist I can trust, I’m going to take desperate measures.  As long as I don’t write I’m splendid; but I’m afraid that, even aside from economic pressure, I have forgotten how to enjoy literal idleness.

Cyril writes that he has Jig’s fare to Santa Fe—or will have it in a few weeks.  And when it appears I will have to come to town to send him off.  As he can’t prolong his treatments at the dentist anyway, I expect to bring him in a day or two ahead to pack and have the bridges off.  Hazel may be able to find some place for me to stay, but if she doesn’t maybe I will call on Davy’s charity again, if you are feeling better then.  I’m afraid I would have to allow at least three days for dentistry and packing.  Then, in the interval of uncertain plans, I guess I’ll come up here again.

Anyway—I love you (the only platitude I can’t withhold) dear, dear, dear, dear lovely thing.  evelyn

* * * * *

To David Lawson

[Woodstock, New York]
August 16 [1928]

Dear absolute brick Davy:  I was very much touched by all your generous alarm on my behalf.  You are a sweetie.  But it would not do much good for me to run away in a fashion that would prevent my knowing what happened.  You see my denial of mother is an intellectual matter, and while to have her with me permanently in one ménage would, as I know from past experience, end work and happiness; I have that subconscious affiliation with her than can not be eliminated by the mandates of reason.  When Cyril took charge of her letters he was doing his reasonable best for me; but it didn’t work.  I had subconscious horrors about her all the time.  To give you an example, while I adore Cyril so completely as a human that I could never resent his interference on my behalf, I never forgave Alfred Kreymborg1 for being rude to mother2.  This will show you that my personal pride as well as infantile affection is still identified with mother.  If it comes to the point of taking her on, the home must be found because, even discounting other reasons, I literally can not support her.  But it wouldn’t solve it for me to leave future history a blank.

I wrote Margaret DeSilver about the last news—which is that the Graceys3 are going to begin an action against my father.  If it works some money may be gotten for mother, tho I doubt it will be enough to solve things.  Anyway I believe they won’t ship her here until that is settled.  This gives me a few months leeway, I gather.  In the meantime, if there looms up, as I fear, the alarming possibility of me being involved as witness in the lawsuit against my father, Margaret says she will pay my fare to England, which would be a more effectual escape than hiding in New York. But I am also waiting to find out what comes of that.

However, the immediate favor I would like to ask is this.

Jig’s tooth straightening has been left in a mess, and he must have another visit to the dentist.  If I send him down to NY next Thursday on the boat, landing him at Debrosses street at six pm, can he spend Thursday night and Friday night in your place?  He would go to the dentists on Friday and return on Saturday morning with Hazel Abrams who is coming up here then.

I would be grateful if you could meet him at the boat; but if that is inconvenient, would you be in at six and have the outer door unlocked?

Dear Davy, again thank you from me heart for the real and beautiful friendship you so constantly show.  I will be in town in September when I bring Jig in, as I said, and will be very humbly receptive to advice.  I have been so worried and upset that I have done almost no writing, and would like to concentrate on finishing something before I bike off to England or somewhere else.

If I sent a small check by Jig—ten or fifteen dollars—could you cash it?  It is hard to cash checks here.

Best love of Jig to me and to you and her,
evelyn

American poet, novelist, playwright, literary editor and anthologist. In the 1920s he was associated with the same publications as Lola.
The letters do not include any information about this incident.
The Graceys were cousins of Maude Dunn, with whom she had been staying ever since her return from Brazil., The action against Seely Dunn was presumably for financial support for Maude, possibly to enable her to be financially independent of the Graceys.

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

[Woodstock, New York]
August 28 [1928]

Beloved:

Jack telephoned from Montreal last night and said he had got no job yet and his money was getting so low he thought he would have to return to England while he had the fare.  He was evidently pretty overwrought, and I have decided to leave for Montreal tomorrow night so that I can at least see him before he goes—or maybe we can fix a plan between us about coming here.

with apologies—no I won’t keep this up—and so much love
from evelyn

* * * * *

To David Lawson

611 Madison Street, Clarksville, Tennessee
September 8, 1928

Dear Mr Lawson:

I am enclosing a letter to Cyril, in the same envelope with this note to you, because I think it a better plan not to send a letter through the Clarksville Post Office addressed in his name.1  As you will see I have put his name on the envelope, leaving space for you to add the address, below, and forward to him.  The same plan ought to be followed with any letter he may send through you.

Thanking you for this courtesy.
Very truly yours,
Mrs M T Dunn

1vThe relationship between Cyril and Maude broke down entirely while they were in Brazil. It is possible that this ruse was adopted as her Gracey cousins would have welcomed learning Cyril’s address and pursuing him for maintenance for Maude.

* * * * *

Some time between late September and early October 1928, Evelyn and Jack returned to England and Jigg joined his father in Santa Fe, although the correspondence relating to this decision and their journey appears to have been lost. Evelyn and Jack appear to have stayed with Jack’s long-time friend C Thompson-Walker at his home in Kent; they later moved on to Felixstowe in Suffolk, staying in what had been Jack’s childhood home.

* * * * *

To David Lawson

care C F Thompson-Walker
Winsley, Red Hill, Chislehurst, Kent]
September 25 [1928]

Dearest Davy:

My time since arrival has been spent mostly in bed—throat chest eyes (due to unheated houses).  It is quite cold.

I am on edge about the mother thing.  Is she writing to Cyril via you?  Has anything happened?  I don’t want to be cut off from news.  I’ll just worry more.

Will you send me Cyril’s El Paso address as soon as you get it?  I want to cable him re Jack and I and job and don’t know where to.

Dear Davy, this has been an odd experience (the visit) which I will narrate for you and Lola’s delection some day.  It is seeing England for sure.

And no friends in the world were ever what you and Lola are and have always been to me.  I just relapse into weeping mistiness when I try to express it.  I love you both very deeply (and Pete knows I ought).  But you both know all that.

Darn if you are so good to me.  Wish I could ever be half.

England, my England
Of cold meat pie
Of raddled cheek
And haughty eye,
Of Indian Colonel,
Roman dame,
I sometimes wonder why I came!

(But I don’t—Jack is a good reason.)  Love, blessings, thanks to you and Lola from both

* * * * *

To David Lawson

[Chislehurst, Kent]
[October 9 [1928]

Dear Davy:

If Jack and I can raise the $500 to flash at the government we will sail Dec 14 or a little earlier—say 7th if Jack’s writing allows.  Will your 2nd studio be occupied or could you let it to us for four or five days?  We hope to be able to go to NO1 by freight boat almost at once but could find no sailings from her to NO that fitted in.  Anyhow if we get to NY Jack is in.

If that happens and you can take us in, I would ask you to leave your key with Lola and we could go from boat by her place, if she is well enough to give it us.

I’m kind of homesick and longing for you all.  I enclose a note to Lola [reproduced below] as I don’t know whether she is using Cox or house.

With very much love always
Evelyn

New Orleans

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

[Chislehurst, Kent]
October 9 [1928]

Beloved:

How I wish I could break down the doubt unplanted now of ever finding an ear for what gives me the word of poetry.  It makes my pen halt and refuse to write it.  If it were not for that, I could give you an adequate sense of a scene meant for you when, yesterday, walking over Westminster Bridge just as rain came over sun and sun burst faintly or the shivered rain again, we looked East along the solid low enormous ramparts of Somerset House, and below them to the embankment, faintly with scurrying red busses and then further to some grey shape of commerce that was probably a Brewery between us and London Bridge; and the gulls were whirling—like little rotating white machines—childrens inventions, I thought, and the barges at the South Bank—the dingy bank—lay stranded in a bramble bus of schooner masts, and the soiled Thames water tuned murkily a half-blue, as if peace had shone upon it an instant in passing on.

The other way the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Spire took that sonorous contour that fog and evening gives to everything here—and there was the intimation of sunset too reserved to flame forth.

Afterward Jack and I walked up the Strand and down to Temple Gardens where the flowers do credit—as it old English gardens—to that timid poetry too doubtfully expressed in other places.  The dahlias were a whole city up and down the wall—sulphur pale, end of a red that I wanted to call Charlotte Corday, if allowed to give them a name.

There was a little sunken garden, a nursery for baby asters, with a minute pool like a fairy’s sea, and a minute bronze cherub riding on top of it.

All of London I get thru the eyes, I love.  Its bulk, which is orchestral, and is always softened and liquefied by the gentle darkness of mists in sun.

Of the people I have a mood of weariness, due to meeting too many relatives.1  They make me like better to think of raucous New York and all our screaming rather ugly youth, where this is a at least no dry-rot niceness yet.

Love, Beloved, and anxious hopes to hear good of you,

Love from Jack too to you and Davy,
Evelyn

1Evelyn is probably referring to Jack’s maiden aunts.

* * * * *

To David Lawson

801 Austin Street, El Paso, Texas
October 14, 1928

Dear Davy:

Thank you for your letters and for forwarding Mrs Dunn’s letters and for everything.  I’ve been in a whirl.  Everything is going fine and I’d like to see you and Lola.  Please give her my dearest love, bless her—one of the dearest and most wonderful people who ever lived.  I enclose a letter, which please forward, as my address is a secret from the lady in question.

Jig is well and talks about you lots.

I’ll write later at greater length—just now am working day and night.

Best love to you and to beautiful Lola—the world is more bearable because she is in it.

Always affy and gratefully
Cyril

PS:  Please put the enclosed in an envelope and address it in your own hand to—Mrs M T Dunn, 611 Madison St, Clarksville, Tenn.  Cyril

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

Chislehurst, Kent
October 18, 1928

Sweetheart, I know you will be glad that I have recovered the use of a typewriter.  It at least eliminates for the time one of the lesser tests of our friendship for me.  As for the other way round, however, I am really so improving in capacity to decipher that it is a sort of a pleasure of sanity to peruse one of your distinguished flourishes.1

I love you and Cyril as I love some books, some pictures, some landscapes—because you represent in the organisation of your human life the kind of harmonies that, usually, are only wrung from the fact on paper or on canvas by the great especial effort of art.  Most people, even most artists, are only for moments as good as their best work.  Both of you I have seen for the space of years consistent with your own best achievement and with all the beauty that ever was designed to be eternal in such eternity as art allow.

It hurts me conscience that he paid for that garret longer with that vague intention on accommodating me.  I wish I could square it, but of course he wouldn’t.  I don’t even know the cost of taxi cab when he took my trunk—which makes it worse my asking other things.  I have had no word yet from Sophie, or from Cyril about mother, and wondering if it will all be hung up just as high when we get back.

No news on Wave. Jack and I hope to reach New York by mid December, depending on possession of the five hundred needed to show customs.  His passage has been advanced on condition he has three quarters of his new novel done before we sail.  I have mine.

Cyril has hopes of a job in west by Jan 1st.  There the remains problem of a week in New York.  For Gawds sake don’t let Davy rerent that place even if he can, but will you both inquire when it comes up if there is any place available to rent for a week at that time?  I’m leery of landing there with no place decided on if I can help it.  Shall write to the Waverly Hotel, in Waverly Place if there is no other way.  Scarcely heard from anybody.

felixstowe.PNG
Felixstowe Suffolk [www.oldukphotos.com]
And, oh, I forgot to tell you we have lodging at Felixstowe in a house where Jack lived in childhood—it was then his home not lodgings.  This is where the German Empress used to summer, but nothing remains but a mouldy dwelling, modestly regal, now hotel.  We face the North Sea and empty atrocities occupied by summer trippers but now abandoned to the gales.  It is like a locust shell that has been shed, this town in winter—all new and a perfect husk, but lifeless after summer.  Except that the sea stays cold and alive and yesterday was stormy with the sun brazening sulphur brown clouds and the gulls mewing, and a few nursemaids with prams running to escape the rain on the elegant promenade beach where nobody walks after Sept 1st.  It is all new here, with an after war newness that makes England the lame counterpart of Douglas Long Island, but it is very cheap at this season.  Love and love to you from us and to dear Davy

1 A reference to Lola’s unique handwriting.

* * * * *

To David Lawson

Chislehurst, Kent
October 27 [1928]

Dear Davy:

I am so sorry I have had to trouble you—or rather have troubled you so much.  I don’t know what has happened to Cyril unless it is he is just dotty with responsibilities and the effort to make things go for all of us.  I have had a cable of his address—801 Austin Street, El Paso, Texas—but have not had a line from him, Phyllis or Jig written since my departure.

One reason he may be extra harassed I found out today.  This mornings post brought me, ironically, as a birthday present for poor Jig, another letter from Marie [Tudor Garland], saying that, My marriage to Jack which she had just heard of making it “easier” for her to do it, she would have to permanently discontinue my income (and it is implied Cyril’s too) after December.  So I have two months of grace at my twenty-five a week.

Thank the Lord Margaret gave me enough for my fare home, or I would be in hell.  I suppose I will have to give up my frantic resistance to the sacrifice of writing and get whatever job I can.  If Cyril succeeds in finding Jack a job out west and can help us out there, I would rather work in Texas than in NY’s climate (been having chronic bronchitis here).  But in case he can’t then I must settle down to whatever brass tacks I can command there.  I wish I could get a literary job, but suppose I had better resign myself to waitressing or sumpin like.

The gods bless you and love from me and Jack to you and Lola.  I’ll be home first part December whether Jack can come or not.

kiss lola.  evelyn

* * * * *

To David Lawson

Felixstowe, Suffolk
November 30 [1928]

Dearest Davy:

Wondering in the major way how Lola is, I am also in the minor way asking you more favors.

It is pretty fierce to continue to trouble you, Davy dear, and none of these things matter compared to major worries; yet if anything can be done I will be obliged, as the loss of the clothes means the purchase of more and we are so hard up.  I thank you and do so apologise.

Jack and I are sailing on December 14th.  On the American Banker—American Merchant Line.  Jack is not allowed to buy a tourist third ticket when we goes as an emigrant, so we had to take a one class boat.  This is the same line I came over on.  We will get in on Xmas Eve if our journey is a lucky one; but more likely on Xmas day or the day after.  The weather has been terrible and nothing but wrecks off this coast, so I don’t feel very happy about it.  Vestris1 wreck impressed my imagination unduly.

Now Davy dear, the ever resourceful landlady, Hazel, had found a way to put us up in her place, so, thank god, we won’t have to camp on you.  You must want to poison me by now with all the changes of plan.  But it is so much better you don’t have to sleep with Lola, and selfishly, Hazel has steam heat.  My teeth chatter daily here.

Lots of love from us to you and her, dear davy.
evelyn

The SS Vestris sank on 12th November 1928. There was an outcry about her generally lax safety and as a result new laws regarding safety on merchant shipping were introduced..

* * * * *

To David Lawson

[Felixstowe, Suffolk]
December 4 [1928]

Dearest Davy:

Guess we all seem world’s worst pills in making so many demands on friendship and, technically, standpoint of letters, returning to little.  You see in one way you have kept far more independence than anybody ever does who tries to put over a business.  In America that is done, as you know, entirely and exclusively by bluff.  Virtue counts very little.  I only know because I have seen it what Cyril puts into starting these new enterprises that are to save us all from starvation—and that’s what his art school idea is intended for.  Just one year ago and the specialist Cyril had in New York said that his nerves were in a condition, with his heart, that would either kill him or land him in invalidism for life (this is confidential) and yet he is still going and having persuaded the unutterably hyde bound citizens of El Paso to send at least a fair number of their daughters to him, besides bucking the troubles that came when he and Phyllis went away from NY.  So, dear Davy, while there ain’t a leg to stand on in one way, please be forgiving.  Indeed I see you are.

Believe I wrote you last week that we are sailing on Dec 14 on The American Banker—due in with luck Xmas Eve.  Then to decide whether we go to El Paso or get jobs in New York.

Jesus bless you both as he would and do lots for you if he had more power on Olympus. Hope to see you and Lola Xmas day.  blessings again, evelyn

PS  I have finished the first draft of a 450 page novel1 in three weeks and four days, so if I get a job I can work on it Sundays.

1 Published in 1929 as The Wave.

* * * * *

To Otto Theis and Louise Morgan

c/o Abrams, 66 Perry Street, NYC
January 16, 1929

Sweet Peoples,

Evelyn maybe has told you I got job as captain of a coal-barge in East River, held the job 10 days and then got run-into by a tug or something one night1.  Three of us barges tied up abreast.  Tug hit outer boat and shock caused my lines to the dock to part, so we were all three carried upstream to Hellgate.  Were picked off by police launch just in time.  2 minutes later the barges hit rock and sank.  I lost my clothes and bedding but saved the novel.  Got back same night to E in Hudson St to find her ill with flue.  Now much worse, so she’s in hospital at New York Infirmary.  Don’t know what next.  Am using spare time in writing but may get another barge job if vacancy occurs.

How are you all then?  Write to us.  Forgive haste.  E sends bestest love and hugs to you both.   So do I.

Yrs ever,
John

Lots of nice free publicity for John Metcalfe in all the papers as result of barge mix-up.  Headlines “Two Saved from Hellgate” etc etc

1Hell’s Gate is a narrow tidal stretch in New York City’s East River, and is known to be dangerous to navigation. A search of online New York City newspaper archives for this date has not yielded any information about this incident.

* * * * *

To David Lawson

Cyril Kay-Scott School of Painting
East Yandell Boulevard at Austin Street
El Paso, Texas

January 23, 1929

Dear Davy:

Why haven’t I written?  Davy I’ve been up against it.  One is ashamed to write when things are bad.  Marie didn’t like Phyllis (she wouldn’t like any woman I married) and took my “income” away and left me heavily in debt and without a red cent.  I’ve paid off $2000 in notes and have only $200 more to pay, but it looks as if we were going to get through all right now.

I want to ask another favor from you.  There is a movement on foot to put my school on an official footing here.  Would you send me a letter addressed “to whom it may concern” saying nice things about me as a person, abut my prominence as a painter and my ability to talk sound principles of art?  Do you know anyone with a letter head who would vouch for me similarly?  As a matter of fact I am as reliable financially as the most conventional man in the US.

How are you Davy and how is dear Lola.  I think of you both so often even if I don’t write.  You know how one feels when one is with one’s back to the wall and don’t want to have even his truest friends feel sorry for him.

Don’t feel bad toward me because I’ve not written.  I consider you one of the few steadfast friends I have.  You’ve stuck to me all these years and my feeling for you is something few people have gained.

I’m nearly all in from overwork, but if this thing goes through, things will be easier on me.

Best love to you both
Affy
Cyril

All this is confidential

* * * * *

To Louise Morgan

449½ Hudson Street, NYC
February 10 [1929]

Dear Kiddie:

Lord deliver us,  don’t reproach yourself about writing.  As a matter of strict etiquette I should have written.  But life has been exhaustingly full since we got here and my inclinations, if I had the temperament would be to pass out like Merton in some sort of collapse that made it impossible I be supposed to think.  Now you have had your share of the same kind of reflections, so we ought to understand each other.  It is illness and money.

First there was the barge.  Today Jack is in bed with flu.  I had flue and went to hospital as you know, but which it was revealed that I have a tumour in the uterus (a small and tame one they say however) inflammation of the uterus (not due to tumour but to a hurt acquired in Montreal) diabetes (not advanced) an inflamed appendix, and a derangement of the liver probably due to the sluggish effects of my general prolapsis.  Also anaemia.  I’m taking iron injections and diabetic diet, but the real cure would be total irresponsibility—and for Jack as well.  You know all about it.

Cheerio and lots of ‘em, in other words as true but less nostalgic of Blighty—or thee—our best beloved love to you and very much adored Otto,

evelyn

* * * * *

To Otto Theis and Louise Morgan

449½ Hudson Street, NYC
April 7, 1929

Dear Peoples,

Excuse scrawl and great haste.  Evelyn now in hospital after operation (successful) and therefore unable to answer your nice, nice letters, – says she sends bushels and oceans of love, and will write when able.  Expects to be out of hospital in 10 days.  Then we hope spend a month in country—but this address will always find us.

Blessings to you all three, and I do hope things soon get cheerier.  You’re having a hell of a time just now I know.

E’s operation consisted in a complete remodelling of the vaginal landscape, general refitting and spring cleaning.  Involved great pain for a week afterwards, catheterizing only every 6 hours and of course, in rebellion, she wet her sheets all the time.  And more even than that.  Formidable and tumultuous movement of bowels while I was visiting her, – also in sheets.  Nurses dashing around with pallid smirks.  But enough of this—

Love and hugs to you all three,
Yrs ever,
John

* * * * *

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6. Escapade . . . and a child is born

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

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

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

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

We now take up Elsie’s account.

* * * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

More images0002

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

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

* * * * *

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

Baby book

 

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

Jigg aged 2.JPG

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

Lamarao station.JPG

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

From New Orleans Picayune, January 13, 1914

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

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

THE OFFICIAL NOTICE

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

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

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

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

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

RUMORS OF FRICTION

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

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

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

WIFE STILL HERE

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

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