48. Carmel and desperation

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

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* * * * *

To Paula Scott

The Benjamin Franklin Hotel
February 25th, 1960

Darling Paula,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lovingly to the Scotts

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

March 1, 1960

Dear Evelyn—

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

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

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

Love to Jack, and to you.
Paula

 * * * * *


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

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

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

March 30, 1960

Dear Mrs Metcalfe:

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

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

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

Sincerely yours,
Spiro B Rafalovich
Postal Installations Manager

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

Dr F C Wellman Is Dead; Distinguished in 3 Fields

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

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

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

Studied, Explored

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

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

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

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

Discovered Insect Species

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

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

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

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

September 14, 1960

Darling Creighton Seeley Scott, my good son,

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

Our love all the time, darling son Jigg,
Mother

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

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

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

October 5, 1960

Dear Mr Scott:

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

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

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

Sincerely yours
RICHARD G WEST,
City Editor

* * * * *

To Richard West

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

October 9, 1960

Dear Mr West,

This is in answer to your letter of October 5.

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

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

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

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

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

Very truly yours,
Creighton Scott

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

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

October 12, 1960

Dear Mr Scott:

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

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

Sincerely yours
RICHARD G WEST,
City Editor

* * * * *

To Fred Strong

Mr Fred Strong,
Postmaster,
Carmel, California

December 8, 1960

Dear Mr Strong,

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely yours,
Creighton Scott

* * * * *

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

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

* * * * *

To May Mayers

December 9, 1960

Dear May Mayers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,
Jigg Scott

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

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

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

December 12, 1960

Dear Jig:

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

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

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

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

My best to you and your family.
As ever May

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

* * * * *

To May Mayers

December 15, 1960

Dear May Mayers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,
C Scott

* * * * *

To Paula and Creighton Scott

December 26, 1960

Dear Jig and Paula:

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

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

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

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

My best to you both
May

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

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

December 30, 1960

Dear Margaret

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

December 31, 1960

Dear Mother,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good-bye.
Your son

* * * * *

To Jack Metcalfe

December 31, 1960

Dear Jack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sorry. Good luck to you.
Your stepson,

* * * * *

To May Mayers

December 31, 1960

Dear May Mayers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

January 6, 1961

Dear Paula,

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

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

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

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

So here’s hoping
Jack

1 This letter has not survived.

* * * * *

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

47. Onslaught

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

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

 * * * * *

To Paula Scott

The Benjamin Franklin Hotel
March 30, 1958

Darling Paula

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

November 15, 1958

DARLING SON JIGG,

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

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

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

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

November 15, 1958

DARLING PAULA,

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

April 18, 1959

DARLING SON JIGG,

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

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

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

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

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

Lovingly, LOVINGLY,
Mother

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

June 7th, 1959

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

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

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

Mother

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

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

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

June 7, 1959

DARLING PAULA,

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

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

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

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

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

LOVE,Evelyn

* * * * *

To Deputy Personnel Officer, ICA

July 19, 1959

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

Dear Sir,

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

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

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

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

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

Respectfully Yours,

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

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

* * * * *

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

 

 * * * * *

 To Evelyn Scott

July 23, 1959

Dear Evelyn—

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

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

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

Love to Jack
Love
Paula

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

* * * * *

To Jean Hermann, ICA

July 26, 1959

Dear Madam,

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

August 5, 1959

Darling Paula

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

To Ronald Pearson

August 5, 1959

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

Dear Ronald

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Evelyn Dunn Scott Metcalfe

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott

August 9, 1959

Darling Jigg and Paula,

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

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

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

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

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

LOVINGLY,
Evelyn–to Jigg Mother

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

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

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

* * * * *

To Virigina Hale1

August 27th, 1959

Dear Virginia Hale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

August 29, 1959

DARLING PAULA,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ALL LOVE TO YOU AND JIGG AND THE FIVE KIDS,

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

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

September 6, 1959

Dear Maggie,

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

Charles R Soll
Counsellor at Law
86 Main Street
Nyack NY

September 11, 1959

Dear Mrs Scott:

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

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

Very truly yours,
Charles R Soll

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

United States Post Office
Carmel, California
September 19, 1959

Dear Mrs Metcalfe:

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

Sincerely,
Fred G Strong
Postmaster

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

September 25, 1959

Dear Evelyn—

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

Love to both,
P

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

September 26, 1959

Darling Paula,

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

To US Passport Office

[October, 1959]1

Old Fashioned STRAIGHT CREIGHTON SEELEY SCOTT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

From Howard Ross

International Cooperation Administration
Washington 25, DC
October 8, 1959

Dear Mrs Metcalfe:

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

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

Sincerely,
Howard F Ross, Chief
Employee Relations Office

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

October 10th, 1959

Darling Paula,

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

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

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

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

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

Our Love,
Evelyn

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

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott and Jack Metcalfe

October 13, 1959

Dear Evelyn and Jack—

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

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

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

Love to you both,
Paula

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

October 19, 1959

Dear Evelyn—

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

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

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

Love,
Paula

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

October 24, 1959

Darling Paula

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 * * * * *

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

* * * * *

To Jack Metcalfe

November 12, 1959

Dear Jack—

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

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

Love
P

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

December 1959

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

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

Love,
Paula

* * * * *

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

45. Ships that pass. . . .

Having two narrative streams running concurrently is perhaps an inevitable recipe for confusion, but a necessary one.  Last week we caught up on events in Jigg’s life while Evelyn and Jack were concentrating on their return to the United States, believing (largely because Jigg had told them as little as possible about events in his life) that they would be reunited with him and his family on their return.  This selection of letters highlights Evelyn’s disappointment at discovering Jigg was not in New York, and her continuing attempts to get news of him.

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
November 28, 1952

Darling Jig and Pavla-Paula:

In Pavla’s letter of April she spoke somewhat sardonically of her “bi-annual” letter, and alluded to your finances as preclusive of that visit to Jack and myself here for which we had hopedbefore we go home.  However, as I myself continued to write frequently, and to inquire as to the receipt of the parcels sent to you both and the children and—like those sent to you at Grünwald, unacknowledged until I pressed to have news of them—I did not suppose even the “bi-annual” letter would fail me.

Nonetheless, it apparently did, and either was never written or was not delivered here; and my natural anxiety on behalf of you both and of the four children was so increased by this apparent silence that, a little over a week ago, I wrote to the American Consul in Munich, explaining that I am Mr Creighton Scott’s mother and that I have reason to wonder whether or not you have changed your address and informed me of it in some letter that has not yet got to me.

I asked the Consul to assist me as the American citizen I am to reach my son and daughter-in-law and four grandchildren.  And I think it would be inhuman to refuse my request in view of the actual conditions against which we are all struggling and especially would it be inhuman because Jack and myself will probably have landed in New York within six weeks or a little over.  I hope, therefore, that should the American Consul put me with Jack again in touch with my family, that you will not have been embarrassed by any misconstruction of what has happened about mail, for I also explained to the Consul that one of the three parcels sent since April was the carton of slightly worn clothing often mentioned by me in letters and mailed to you both August 1952 from Hamstead London NW3.

We hope to learn soon that you are all to return to the USA, and when.  The clothes are of enough value to make a stink about if anything was done amiss respecting to the parcel, but Jig’s own personal communication with Pavla’s is the one thing that will relieve both Jack and myself of the feeling of downright oppression in having thus had communication either discouraged or deliberately interfered with there.

Please darlings do whatever you can on your side to assist us to be in touch with each other and in one country—the USA.  Margaret De Silver has been the finest of real friends to us and, as she herself said, still wishes Jig and Harry De Silver could see more of each other.  And a few others, as well, have helped Margaret to help by contributing to my “fund”.  We will have to go on to the Huntington Hertford1 a few weeks after landing, but honestly I myself will be incapable of making full use of their generous and sustained offer of six months of free board and lodging at their California Colony unless our minds can be relieved in some measure by news of Jigl.  Down and out with every bloody tote and dictator in the world.  There we stood in the war and there we will always stand.

From Armies or any Government Department daring to direct individual human lives.  It is a crime to attempt such things.  And among the tools of totes is “economy”.  So I herewith implore you both to be as candid as I am especially where money figured.  [Remainder of letter missing]

After some effort, Jack had been offered 6 months’ visiting fellowship at the Huntington Hertford Foundation, founded by the eponymous heir to a major supermarket hortune.

* * * * *

The following letter was one of a number, discovered after Paula died, that had never been opened.

To Creighton Scott

February 4, 1953

Mr Creighton Scott
care Mrs Gladys Grant

For forwarding if necessary. 

Darlings please answer. The American Consul in Munich gave your forwarding address to relieve my distress when the parcels then there were unacknowledged. He wrote me a very good letter. We think of you six and Dad and Louise all the time so anxiously. My mss is still where it was there, unread—why doesn’t Gladys write, we wonder, too. We will let you know when we know precisely when we will arrive. Love Mother

Darling Jig:

Two letters to you and Paula-Pavla and one letter to your Dad have been sent to Gladys’ address since you all six returned home, with the request to her that if you were not stopping at her house, these be forwarded. The letters before this one went early in January, and when sending them I, also, wrote to her at some length. But there has been no reply so far, and I am very naturally somewhat distressed as I would like to know your precise whereabouts, how you and your Dad are when we arrive home again.

I said in the other letters that we were to sail on February 15th in the boat that would take about a week. This was the Ryndam, old Holland-Dutch Line. But we were counting on the letting of this re-furbished flat to complete the financing of our move; and as it is not rented yet and we have no cash for our train-fare to Southampton, for baggage mended and a little bought, for socks, stockings, warm undervests, an overcoat for Jack that will be presentable among social equals—he still has just his re-made service coat, recognizable as such and worn badlyand for baggage transport, porters’ tips, and the alteration of the second coatsuit sent to me, etc, etc—as all these items are lacking yet, we cannot sail until either the flat is rented and paid in advance to supply these needs, or somebody with some money helps again with two to three hundred dollars. Two hundred would do it, but three would allow less skimping.

The reason I write you again without waiting on an answer is that I do not wish you to be alarmed, as you well might be with all these floods and a Dutch boat arriving without us in it. We are still hoping for some cancellation that will permit us to transfer to the Veendam of the same Line, or to some larger boat tourist. But the larger boat will require slightly more fare, hence the hope of the three hundred, which—and I implore it—you and Paula are not to worry about even to the extent of regretting that, as I know, you can do nothing.

Our steamer fares at the lower rate are paid. On December 1st, 1952, Jack secured his quota entrance—or re-entry as his eighteen years prior residence there counted preferentially—and the health certificates required as to his normality in every way. And thinking then we would soon be out of the woods, expected by the school to give notice of his voluntary resignation, when the Christmas holidays came, he resigned his job, as, in any case, also, he would have had to do to see tenants with whom I cannot discuss the business aspects of tentative offers.

The renovation of the flat has been achieved in a very niggling way, as he had to pay in most of the help we have had, in the Fund Margaret set up for me, to clear up tax arrears and maintenance bulls; and the entire situation has been atrocious in that every delay has meant a re-accumulation of heating bills, small or large repairs, and, of course, taxes, also, mounting; and the sums at Jack’s disposal have been, as far as renovation went, too small to do everything at once, as we would have thought best. In December he secured the permission—maybe it was before December—of the Bank of England to reckon anything accruing on this house once the flat is rented as a transferable asset. He in this way satisfied the American Consular stipulations as to his finances; though had he been justly dealt with as the great author he actually is, he could have referred to his publishers there and here in proof of his comparative solvency.

But Jack MUST be in New York before April 9th, when his visa expires. Otherwise everything would have to be done again; there would be as much to clear up as before; and—beside—we are now without any source of income, and to take up a school jobherewould be a complete defeat.

I am, therefore, writing again to the few people I can think of who might know someone able to supply two to three hundred dollars more, so that we can GO HOME NOW without waiting on the rental of the flat. Jack has applied to the Admiralty about the Coronation, but they advertise only short period rentals for the Coronation proper. He has applied to the American Embassy’s Consulate and find they do not advertise flats except for Army Officers, and it is against regulations for these to pay more than a month in advance, though in Britain people often pay a quarter’s rent or six months when they have the funds and it is mutually convenient. A few people have looked at the flat, but left undecided and did not return; and yet there is a big demand for flats and this is comfortable with the central heat, plenty of hot water, three bedrooms, one large, one moderate and one small, a now largish hall dining-room, a large living room, a pretty bath and re-done lavatory, and a garden that—though not much cultivated now—can be made very nice. The furnishing is complete except for the dining room chairs to be bought with the rent. Once we have all travel expenses we can leave renting to the real estate agent. The rent is not in excess of other flats, and we have dropped a guinea a week off because a Frigidaire will have to be installed and rented, too, by those who feel they cannot do without one. It is our need for rent in advance at once that handicaps us. So we do implore “the gods” to supply what is lacking for travel independent of the flat as it will undoubtedly be taken with time. [Remainder of letter missing]

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

March 27, 1953

Dear Jigg:–

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

Anyway, cheerio
MDeS

* * * * *

To Ralph Pearson

The Huntington Hartford Foundation
2000 Rustic Canyon Road, Pacific Palisades, California
April 6, 1953

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

Dear Ralph:

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

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

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

I had, as their forwarding address, the address of Mrs Gladys Edgerton Grant, RFD1, Scotch Plains; and sent a letter to her in which I mentioned what was then a hope–that we might be in New York by early January. We were unable to leave when we had thought we woud, and the very letter in which I first told the date of our sailing–that it would be March 1st, and our passages were certain–was the first letter returned unopened of course  to Mrs Grant by Free Europe New York office; to which she had been asked to forward Jig’s mail and Pavla’s.

I telephoned the Free Europe Radio Service in NY twice; and realize now I should have gone there. But their pleasant promise to do everything possible to locate him again in the USA put me off, so to speak. I know Jig’s job was not “hushy” and was ordinary civilian radio. Free Europe assures me he is in the USA, was seen on his return, had been “in the office” but is not there now. They also said he had stayed at the Chelsea Hotel on 23rd Street with his family on landing last autumn–September probably1. I don’t know what you think of the fact that we communicated when I was in London with Jack and Jig and Pavla were in Germany, yet are cut out of context with them the moment we set foot on the soil of the country of which I am native, but we regard such a contretemps as sheer barbarity–and not on Jig’s part or Pavla’s.

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

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

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

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

Jigg and his family returned to the US in August 1952

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

April 20, 1953

Dear Jigg

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

Huntington-Hartford Foundation
2000 Rustic Canyon Road
Pacific Palisades, Calif

Best wishes to you!
Faithfully
Margaret DeS

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

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

[Chelsea Hotel]
April 24 [?1953]

Dear Margaret

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

As you say, my mother was a bit of a witch hunter in her time. I can remember when she approached the (then) Dies Committee1 with considerable zest. Everybody who knew her at the time realises that she went quite overboard on the idea that there was a terrible conspiracy afoot to repress True Art, and that the super patriots, as represented by the Hearst Press, the un-American Activities Committee, etc. were natural allies against such a conspiracy. The logic of this did then, and still does, escape me altogether.

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

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

This is merely by way of illustrating the point things had reached ten years ago: they were plenty bad before that. I recall suggesting to various people that she might not be all there, and all I got was a sweet, sceptical smile—the smile one accords to someone who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. As a result, I tend to laugh a little bit sardonically, which I think I am entitled to do, because I have lived in a sweat for a good many years, with nobody to give me any advice.

Here is something else which will give him some intimation of what may—or may not—happen. One day I was called up on the mat by the President of the National Broadcasting Company, of which I was a rather humble employee. He had received a letter which was not easy for him to understand, from my mother. The gist of the intelligible parts was that NBC must be exerting some malignant influence over me, otherwise I would write more often (in those days I still wrote occasionally). I apologized to him and shortly thereafter found it convenient to find a job elsewhere, with ABC.

At ABC two things happened. Firstly, I found that my mother had a reputation among persons of more or less liberal complexion as their sworn enemy, and that it was assumed that I was her staunch supporter in this. My rather timid intimations that this was not so got me nowhere. The second thing that happened was that my boss at ABC goat the inevitable letter from my mother, asking, indirectly, that some kind of beat be put on me to make me a better correspondent, and suggesting that ABC was preventing me from writing. You can imagine what a difficult thing it was to explain to the foresaid boss. He is a pretty decent guy in many ways, but not subtle.

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

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

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

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

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

Jigg

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

1A predecessor of the House Un-American Activities Committee

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

April 24, 1953

Dear Jigg;-

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

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

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

It was very sweet of Paula to write me a few lines. I did not know Margaret1 was so ill, and feel rather guilty because I did not answer a letter she wrote me about Foster’s book. Evelyn had also assailed Margaret as to your whereabouts and she had answered she did not know where you were. Knowing how Margaret has always felt about Evelyn, I was surprised that Evelyn would communicate with her. Dr Mayers, by the way, seems to have remained discretely loyal to you. She also told me that Paula is a beauty.

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

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

Margaret DeSilver

1 Margué Foster, Paula’s mother.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico
May 24, 1953

Dear Evelyn:

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

So please do not come to see us at any time. I hope all goes well with you.

I have had no word from Pavli for months.

Yours sincerely,
Margué

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

Ranchos
September 6, 1953

Dearest Paula:

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

This is on a subject I have held off writing you about since last March. Evelyn has written Frieda LawrenceD H 1 Ravagli a six-page letter like all her others to me trying to get her to get your address from me. It gives her father’s date of death and name and all his jobs, her mother’s etc. The exact words of her wire to me and may answer that I didn’t have your address.

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

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

So no more of this. I’ll write soon.

Love to you, all of you,

Margué

1 D H Lawrence and his wife Frieda lived in Taos during the 1930s and in this small community would have known Margué and her husband.

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott

The Benjamin Franklin Hotel
222 West 77th Street
NYC 24, NY

March 31, 1954

Creighton and Paula Scott
care Mrs Gladys E Grant

Darlings:

We have arrived in New York again and will be here at shortest a week, at longest a month to six or seven weeks1, all depending on what is done for our financing, beginning today with Jack’s trying to connect with teaching posts, some for tutoring higher mat here as well as permanent for next autumn.

I have applied to other Foundations and am hopeful, as the responses have been kind cordial and remembering of everything we have done and will do soon with enough to complete our books own—nominally to me but actually saving two authors at once.

Ever since the letter each—one Jig’s and one Paula’s—in December and January we have been awaiting your address so we can stop this damnable nonsense of having to ask Gladys to forward all our letters to you. She is good about it but it makes no sense to us, and when we have every so often to admit to others this is the case, it makes no sense to them either. Give Jig’s Dad our love—on this we insist and will always insist as it DOES MAKE SENSE TO DO SO.

If there is any way at all that we can see you or you us as soon as we have any money to go anywyere for a day with you all and to see the five grands we will save for this really GREAT EVENT. Think how nice it will be for us all and for JACK TO MEET HIS STEP-GRANDCHILDREN.

I have not yet seen Mathew, Julia or Robert—please darlings let’s end a situation that is senseless and is bound to be equivocally interpreted by poison-minds—it just makes no sense and never will. We are all so lovingly well disposed—you, us and your Dad I am sure.

We are concerned as to your health, prospects and as to the mutual preservation of the dearest of our human contacts—one of the chief reasons we were so distressed that it took so long to finance our return from England.

I am naturally going to go on telling every body until we actually have your addresses—but we don’t want candour exploited either.

Jack may get a job near Chicago for next fall, though whether this is the best place or not we dont know until we know where you are—NOW NOW NOW tout de suite.

Remember your health and your prospects are one with ours to us because affection does just that—human attachments are at least half the value of every life.

We hope to see Gladys but she is Mrs Sherlock Holmes where any of you are concerned. I suppose that to her is loyalty. I don’t agree with it, because it implies you have “chosen” where I know damn well you cannot have “chosen” as you have far too much real sense to have done anything so stupid about addresses.

We left The Huntington Hertford Foundation in good standing and on an amiable footing with the Director Dr John Vincent;, his wife, his son and daughter—children—the Assistant Director Mr Proctor Stafford, and all the present Fellows. We have really liked a number, and most of the incomprehensions we first encountered were due to foreignness and poor English. Dr Vincent is tops as a classical composer.

We have been told several people were “dead” who have turned out to be still among the living. Once you hear that, you are in a spot as to saying the wrong thing. It is a lousy rumour unless well verified.

WE AIN’T LICKED YOU AIN’T LICKED CYRIL AIN’T LICKED.

Love love love love love love love
to Paula Evelyn—to Jigg Mother
Love from Jack

1 Despite this hopeful statement, they remained in the Benjamin Franklin Hotel until late 1963.

* * * * *

[The first pages of the following letter were torn up by Gladys, but the parts that remain are worth recording as they express her feelings, perhaps more forcibly than the undamaged letter would have done.]

To Evelyn Scott

June 28, 1954

I am answering at last after tearing …
us answers because I love you and …
of everything, hard as you may find …
Can’t you realize how much easier …
me to give you the old and probably …
that I have instead of keeping …
You have a right to feel that …
not to accuse me of injustice …
matter. I have forwarded you …

…itten appeals of my own to Jig and
… se were either never received or
… s for your other accusations and
… s ironic that you accuse me of
… ing a letter when I did so almost

The letter arrived late Monday …
was out and did not get home until …
but I answered first thing on …
Your postcard arrived here on

.. ng. Neither I nor the PO could
… answer to you in that short time.
…uch impossible demands on your other .
.. en scold them, no wonder you get no
…You are quite right that I avoid
… about Jig and Paula.

It is not that I don’t want to, but because you ask impossibly intimate questions that I have no way of answering and then accuse me of lying or concealing. For instance I have no possible way of knowing about Jig’s health. Even on the few past occasions when I visited them, I could only tell you what I saw or they volunteered. Evidently Jig told you much more when he saw you in London and this was only natural.I can’t possibly remember how many times I saw Jig or the family since 1941. Not many and we did not discuss you or Jack or any of them. And all you wrote abut 22 years ago was completely new to me. I was either selfishly absorbed in my own first love affair and did not know what was going on or was away in Darien. Both probably.

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

Love to you both—
Always
Gladys

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

Brooklyn Hospital
July 5, 1954

Dearest Pavli—

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

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

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

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

Love to you all
Aunt Kitty

* * * * *

[The following two letters are linked:  Margué included the handwritten postcard from Evelyn in her letter to Paula.]

To Margaret Foster

August 1, 1954

Dear Margué:

I am still hoping, as Jack does, that you may, by now, have the address of Paula and Jig, Denise, Fredrick, Mathew, Julia and Robert, and will send it on to use for the sake of our love for themall. We havent been able to locate Ralph and family either. Evelyn.

To Paula Scott

August 19, 1954

Dearest P,

I’m so sorry for the delay in sending this card. I was up to my ears in work and forgot it!  I’m so glad you are better. But sorry you had pneumonia! Even mildly.  I’m feeling a little better since the cooler weather. And since all this work gets me more active.  But, alas, I must stop and get this off.

Best love to you all,
Margué

* * * * *

[It is not clear who the Herman Rappaport of this letter is, although it appears from the letter that another of a similar name helped Evelyn during the 1940s. This letter and the following give an insight into life at the Benjamin Franklin Hotel.[

To Herman Rappaport

November 14, 1954

Mr Herman Rappaport
125 Eastern Parkway
Brooklyn 17, NY

Dear Mr Rappaport:

I trust the misleadingly “businesslike” look of this typewritten letter, will still allow me to say convincingly that my husband and myself both continue to be touched by your kindness, and that we are already thinking of you as someone we hope to meet in person in the spirit that can develop long-range acquaintance into friendliness on the firmer foundation of mutual personal knowledge.

I write on the typewriter because I always allow my personal mail to accumulate to be answered on Sunday, as the one way to get on with a novel that has suffered an infinitude of set-backs. But I ask you to believe, as it is the fact, that your gift to me of my first novel, The Narrow House, has been in my mind ever since it was delivered at the hotel on Tuesday or Wednesday, with the cheering effect you, in your generosity, of course, intended.

As it would have been natural to do so, I hope you read the letter that was missent, and for our very good old friends, the Rappoports, with your initials: Mr Harry Rappoport our lawyer of other days and, again, now, as we have recovered the contact. And the reason I especially hope you read it is that it conveyed something of our difficulties after 1945; which have been very little ameliorated since we came home.

So you see the real extent of your kindness! Here at the hotel we are still in one room, and as it is of moderate size and has just one table fit to type on, you can, I am sure, imaging the problem for two writers. That I have had the advantage of the table during much of the time is, by no means, a cause for congratulation on all scores, as John Metcalfe’s teaching job takes all his time from between 7.30 am, when he leaves here, and after six when he returns—this including those “descents into the maelstrom” that describe subway travel today, in New York. And on Saturdays and Sundays, he is usually too tired to do much more than correct pupil exercise books.

This is a state of affairs for which we are trying to find some solution in publication and revivals—our new books the main issue at stake at present—and in saving pennies so as to be sure of enough to live on next summer. That this particular aspect of artist-predicament is not peculiar to ourselves we well realize. I am an American citizen and have been continuously so all my life, and after Mr Metcalfe’s long familiarity with the country of eighteen years pre-war residence he was as shocked as I am to see how much the cultural scene had deteriorated since “planned living” became the rule. But we just don’t “give up the ship”.

We take this to be so of you, also, as of our other Rappoport friends; who, like you, staunchly support cultural values—or so I trust we rightly gather in view of your specific kindnesses to us. And knowing, because of your mention of it, that your interest in serious writing has weathered the illness to which you referred, we will, indeed, look forward to the long-deferred breathing-spell for us that will include an opportunity for us to come together in person at tea or over drinks. I trust this is not taking too much for granted. We, on our part, should like to know more of you.

I thought I would write, this time, one of my periodic long letters that really is intended for Mr Herman A Rappoport, to whom we are now both sincerely indebted for copies of our books.

With every appreciation and good wish, in which John Metcalfe joins me,

Evelyn Scott

* * * * *

To Herman Rappaport

December 4, 1954

Dear Mr Rappaport:

We have read with interest, as my postcard, I hope, indicated, your sympathetic account of our own difficulties of so many years in finding satisfactory quarters in which to make a home. It was just a usual run of “bad luck” that put me to bed temporarily just when we might have been meeting you and Mrs Rappaport. You are both generous again to proffer your hospitality in that full measure which includes cooking a dinner; especially when all we could—and it really is could—offer was eventual drinks in our room or near. This one of those ambiguous hotels that have the part privilege of an apartment-house, in that those who have no kitchenette in their rooms are at liberty to use the “community” kitchens on each floor. But we were in such a spot for a means to live during the summer, before my husband’s job began, that we have not yet invested in anything but some crude Woolworth cups and exactly two plates, and knives and forks; and haven’t even a saucepan other than one very small one.

This is a state of affairs we had vaguely assumed would be ended with the autumn, but there have been—as I suppose every one finds—drains on salary that have caused us to postpone the purchase of our kitchen equipment while we make sure—if we can—that next summer’s school vacation does not land us just where we were when we came back from the year at The Huntington Hartford Foundation that began our experiences since we came home.

This is all very elaborate explanation; but having been touched by the books, I feel niggardly and almost “mean”, in being unable—both of us—to respond with the hospitality that would be as “symbolic” as your gifts of our books.

However, indeed we do accept, as perhaps I have already made clear. But still we cannot set dates as John Metcalfe has about a week to do everything he should in respect to seeing people about the publication of new novels by him and the revival of old; and as a matter of diplomacy we have to leave it to others to decide first on convenient meetings.

Can you descent [sic] to my use of postcards, and sometime drop us a line indicating how many days notice you and Mrs Rappaport should have beforehand not to conflict with your own engagements, which may be complicated by Christmas, when everybody asks everybody somewhere, it still seems.

I don’t say telephone me because the public telephone is outside my door and has no box around it, and I am developing an anti-telephone phobia, the constant chatter of voluble ladies is so obstructing to my writing. I can hear everything they say, try NOT to though I do. This is nothing to sit on–they stand an hour at a time, like cows.

Your library, as you describe it, has a sound or look of healing. I used to be like Mrs Rappaport and say once I had absorbed the content of a book ownership mattered little. But I have become now, as John Metcalfe always was, like you; and as the good books published become fewer, have returned to that prizing view of my adolescence when my own—very own—carefully chosen small library was the most precious of my personal possessions. The horrible atrocious paper books with horrible atrocious bindings have tended to encourage the discarding of all books, after readings as cursory as the make-up. Even libraries can’t stock—public libraries—paper books until they are re-bound, hence often just don’t.

You write in the civilized way with a pen, and I don’t—so please don’t again feel you have ever to tax your strength—which I gather is not much—by replying in kind, unless you deeply wish to.

I write letters on Sundays, but this, too, is my substitute, a good part of the time, for conversation.

With sincerity, and many thanks to Mrs Rappaport too—from us both.

Evelyn Scott

Of course telephoning is not tabooed—just we don’t prefer it. The number is Endicott 2-1100, and by all means use it if it would save you inconvenience, but phoning is best around five pm.

* * * * *

 

 

40. The house at Number 26.

The finances of Jack Metcalfe’s property at 26 Belsize Crescent were the main reason for the poverty experienced by Evelyn and Jack in not only their day-to-day spending but in financing their return to the United States. This brief summary of the relevant aspects of British housing tenure will make these more intelligible to an American audience.

Broadly speaking, there are two categories of property ownership in England: “freehold”, where ownership is of the building and the land upon which it stands; and “leasehold”, where the owner has title to the building, but not the land:  the land is leased from a landowner and on which an annual rent (ground rent) is paid. Leasehold has its origins in feudal land ownership: the 17th century saw reforms to this system, and the wealthy institutions of the time, the Crown, the Church of England and the colleges of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge acquired much of the land. The Church and the University Colleges in particular owned large tracts in London and as this land was developed into housing, the ground rents payable by the eventual owners (“leaseholders”) of these dwellings provided the landowners with significant income.

26 Belsize Crescent was a leasehold property, and the ground rent was payable to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for England (the “Church Commissioners”). However, Jack not only owned the building but, as a landlord, had certain statutory responsibilities to his tenants, mainly keeping their flats in good repair. Further, because of the severe housing shortage during and after the war, the Rent Restrictions Act was brought in to protect the rights of tenants, including restrictions on the circumstances under which rents could be increased. Broadly, it was not possible under the Rent Restrictions Act for Jack to increase his tenants’ rents, even with rising costs and the need to pay for repairs to bomb damage.

When Jack bought the property with the intention of converting it into four flats and using the rental income from the flats on the three upper floors to subsidise their living expenses, he made a major error in installing gas central heating and hot water throughout the property. It was normal at that time for there to be individual coin-operated meters (“shilling meters”) in flats, calibrated to not only recover the cost of the gas used but also an element of profit for the landlord. Jack did not install these separate meters. At that time, central heating was an expensive novelty, and inclusive central heating and hot water in a rented flat almost unheard of: the tenants must have enjoyed this luxury at Jack;s expense. Because of the Rent Restrictions Act, he could not recoup the rising cost of this luxury by raising the rents.

Evelyn refers on a number of occasions to the threat of eviction from their home. Jack’s debts could have resulted in his being taken to court. If a court had found that he was liable to pay, and his creditors were not willing make any arrangement for payment over time, it is possible that the court could order the house be sold and the debts paid from the proceeds of the sale. This is not the same as being evicted, and although the Metcalfes could have stayed in their home until such time as a sale went through, the end result, of losing their home, would have been the same.

This story begins as the Evelyn Scott Fund has been opened, and Jack has secured a 6-month residency at the Huntington Hartford Foundation in Pacific Palisades, California.

26 belsize cres
Jack standing in front of 26 Belsize Crescent, London NW3

To Margaret DeSilver

26 Belsize Crescent
June 8, 1952

My Dear Maggie,

Further to my last, I still see no exit from an indefinite impasse (I hope not too prolonged) until we can get just straight enough here, on this side, to flit.  This has always, unfortunately, been an integral and unavoidable part of my attempted return to the States, and the necessitarian order (read backwardly as it were from effect to cause) is as follows:-

(i) To return I must get a fresh visa.

(ii) To get a fresh visa I must satisfy the consul more fully, he says, about “means”.

(iii) To satisfy him I must have the flat in what I should call (to you, not to him) a “minimum lettable” condition; and, also, pay off income tax and all non-postponable debts.1

Some debts I could, by guile, run away from temporarily and settle later, out of rent from the flat etc.  Others I could not.  For instance our move could not be carried out so nocturnally and stealthily that it would not be observed, for instance, by the builder who repaired the wall, and by another who has recently repaired part of the roof; and literal fisticuffs on the doorstep might ensue.  The gas bill of £170, if I had not to wait for, possibly, a further six weeks or so for the crediting to my account of the Carnegie money could just be met by that; but by the time it is credited a further quarter’s gas bill will have come in.  Tenants’ rents are absorbed by Rates (over £200 a year) and mortgage (also over £200) and by water rate, electricity, insurance, etc.

I plan to evade (temporarily) as much as I possibly can (while still presenting some sort of show to the consul) and make a get-away as soon as my visa is granted; and as soon as I can be in a position to give reasonable notice at the school (I can’t just run out on them because I must have a good testimonial; otherwise the chance of teaching jobs in US is killed).  The consul, as preliminary to the further consideration of my application for a fresh visa, will no doubt want to know the amount which Evelyn has in the Fund;—but even if it were a million I should still have to make some sort of minimum and, as I say, guileful settlement here in order to make the first physical steps towards a move.

The minimum boat fare, I have found out, is £57 each for just the passage; but what the fare from New York to Pacific Palisades is I have yet to ascertain.  One stipulation of the Huntingdon Hartford’s granting of the Fellowships was that we should each be medically examined; and this would be done in New York.

At the moment (and thanks entirely to the Rent Restrictions Act) we are completely hamstrung financially.  I have tried for three years to sell the house and had no offer

I hope these difficulties may be surmounted.  I feel that, so to speak, we are, thanks to your really noble help dear Maggie, three quarters of the way there;—but the remaining quarter of the way (actually the first quarter) has these problems, which, indeed, I am not exaggerating.

Very much love, from
Jack

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

June 9, 1952

Please, oh, please read this with Jack’s letter of today, carefully as soon as you have it—there really are reasons!

Maggie darling: 1952 Now November 7 months since sent

Will you please believe that the factual letters like this in which explicitness is requested are not “nagger’s” letters and are implicitly as filled with the signs of gratitude as the letters we went before this which were just the registering of our emotional out-going!

We are not made of dough, putty, or india rubber; and we can’t at one and the same moment be kicked in the arse as author: and congratulated on our distinguished “pasts”.  I couldn’t go west to Pacific Palisades with everything of greatest importance up in the air and accomplish anything whatever.  To suggest it seems to be defeating every generosity to us.

The other thing about California is that I would rather—again—drop dead in my tracks where I am, than put six thousand miles between myself and every human I love most bar Jack himself, except temporarily. 1952 November—return East must be guaranteed or aim lost

Jig and Paula have moved to otilostrasse 22, Graefelfing bei Munich  Jig and Pavla have no money to come here from Munich.  I had hoped on their arrival some means would be found for allowing us to meet again here.  But the few hundred miles between us here, will already—as far as boat fares go—be three thousand when we land in New York.  And in California, unless one is fully guaranteed—job in the East, lectures for Jack, or any comparable method—the return fare to the East, one is likely—very likely my dear Mag and this really is a most serious problem—to repeat, in California, a marooning such as we have endured here, and with Jack’s house and his tenure on it such as it is, six thousand miles further off.

Any lacks in this letter please blame on the fact that the day the good news came I had to go to bed with an attack of combined “grippe” and bladder irritation.  I had the last similar experience soon after I arrived in London in 1932.  The aches and pains were so persistent that Jack’s medical uncle called in a consultant who specialized in such things.  But he was a good doctor in my view as he just said go to bed and stay on a light diet for a while—and that was all.  But that cost five pounds so I am now preferring to utilize the same advice, as that was twenty years ago and I never had any serious recurrence of any such complaint since.

We hope to arrive very well again and present NO problems in health or—with books—no serious problems in money.

Love Evelyn

Marion is trying to help again with second-hand clothes.  Still have not had money to alter coat—sent 3 years ago—so just hope. What to do to make flat habitable is some problem. We also have to buy trunks—mine collapsed completely, and I also have not even a change-purse and need bag for Passports.  And again shoes as these cannot be mended.

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

[June 29, 1952]

[First two pages missing] I am bothered to know what to do know what can be done by way of finding us a roof should we arrive in the autumn when people are just returning to town.   I would prefer to be anywhere we were most likely to see Jig and Pavla. But we will have to ask Pacific Palisades for a postponement it now seems, anyhow, and we don’t yet know when Jig and Pavla are likely to return home.  Everything is still up in the air, so that decision at our end is slow, as we know it must be at yours.

Some of the details might be worked out on our arrival in New York were we sure of a roof for some weeks, and—first of all, of course—sure of enough money to cover the situation as it is by then.  We can’t move from here, however, until the most essential things are done and the renting of the flat arranged-for.  We would like American tenants if there are any.  Because we hope to rent the flat vultures all trying to peck, as Jack says

But if you don’t lose interest in us Maggie darling we will keep our dander or pecker of what-you-will up and won’t succumb to discouragements that CAN be overcome.   This business of not allowing us to earn anything by normal methods has to be stopped somehow or we can’t win.  I do think we deserve to win out and with Jig and Pavla, and that the winning will be the victory of Margaret De Silver and her generous real heart and imagination is the truth.

Your really loving and grateful
Evelyn for Jack

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

July 4, 1952

Maggie darling:

I hope you don’t blench at the sight of a letter from me!  But everything has been left so vague and “in the air” as to the fund that we would appreciate any specific clarification. And though Jack calls you “Mrs Atlas” and we both know you can do just so much, I think it is necessary that you and fund contributors have the full complete truth, so that no one need be under any misapprehensions as to why we dont sail as soon as asked.

I mentioned a rotten despoilation of carpets by mould and fungi.  These were good carpets intact, of better quality than can be bought now and in any case would cost a fortune to replace.  But we thought that our troubles were ended when we removed these, and I sandpapered the unpainted boards, covered them with dryer and stained them.  And has it not been that wainscot required mending we would have remained in ignorance of the catastrophic fact that was revealed when the boards—one or two at first, then others—were taken up.  The two rooms attacked were devasted [sic] underneath.  Although the flooring superficially appeared okay, this horrible white paddy stuff—it grew fungi here and there on top—had destroyed the undersides of half the boards in one room and all in the other; half the wainscot in one room and all in the other, and half a window-frame.2

It now eventuates that this same thing has attacked about ninety percent of all the houses in Hamstead, and is most commonly encountered in those with gardens.  Apparently it was unknown before the war: and though I twice before heard the word “dry-rot” mentioned by workmen, no one elucidated it as a serious danger or said that this single type of mould produced it in this serious degree.  The joints under the rotted boards, also, have rotten in part, and two articles of furniture and two pieces of baggage—all saved we hope and think by creosote treatments and dryer—also had slight touches of it.  It really is shameful that the house-owners have not had public information and warnings on this subject.  As there has been so much of it there should be brochures circulating telling people, and informing them of safeguards.  As it spreads rapidly when neglected, had we known the danger-signals a few months ago we might possibly have saved most of the lumber, instead of a smallish part. The floor was wrongly constructed in the small room, as concrete was laid on most of it and the boards over that, and the circulation of air is death to this fungi and mould.  And this has figures, also, in the room in which the lodger was, and where there should have been ventilation bricks underneath on the side where the mould started

This may make dull reading, Maggie my dear, but you will realize its practical import to us.  Four pounds went on dryer and stain wasted by me, in my ignorance, on those rotten boards.   As we had no money to do everything at once we had hoped to have a tenant in or arranged for before we were put to heavy expense.  The common sense of the very excellent builder who is working here and is the most decent one we have met here in Hamstead has suggested the [air raid] shelter brick can be used to concrete the rotten portions of the other floor and so save money by combining the jobs.  He is really scrupulous in this respect and we are grateful to him for actually concerning himself with this aspect of our situation.  But when we will be able to get everything straight enough to leave the house we haven’t so far any idea.  There are the debts Jack has mentioned to clear up and they will be more slowly paid off because of this.

Of course I suppose—considering the retrospects of hardships—we might have known it.  A crisis was due as soon as we had any hope of renting at last and getting out and possibly home.  I still say possibly—!  Jack was almost in despair about it a few nights ago, but feels a little better now there is a very moderate estimate and the small pieces of luggage attacked seem likely to be saved.  But it has been a hard blow.

He also has to go to the dentist’s to “celebrate” the Fourth of July, and this is like an ultra bit of cruelty in view of the number of problems pending.  Of course we wish some of the fund money could be applied to this—but of course there must be enough to cover going home if it is to help us in our objective.  But in any event, I feel you and Waldo and Lewis and Hal Smith or anyone who is helping should know we are stuck and why and won’t be able to leave until Jack has more money from some source.

All we can ever say is that our gratitude is genuine and profound.

Everyone who knows of the fund is full of praise for you.  We will never be able to offer any return except as authors, and so to me the fund itself makes it the more essential that we find publishers and some method of continuing to write here.  This is the sort of happier life we would like to have Jig and Pavla with Cyril and his present wife share—our being there helping them too.

Our love Evelyn for Jack too

* * * * *

From John Metcalfe’s diary:
July 17, 1952: Letter from Maggie to say $500 being sent.

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver


July 18, 1952

Maggie my dear:

I hope you have had some restorative rest from all worries already, because I cannot possibly avoid pressing you for help and even positive information as to the fund for me, and what we are to expect in regard to money and going home.

Tooth-pulling coincided!—Jack’s!—Do you wonder I say life for us is still hell! Waldo should be ashamed not to have acknowledged Jack’s letter about “Island in the Atlantic”!

Perhaps, because you have done so much already, you feel, at moments, the one way you can safeguard your peace of mind is to temporarily ignore everyone’s distress.  But we are—also temporarily I hope—in worse chaos than ever before; income tax arrears are pressing Jack again rather frighteningly; the house down in the flat is still torn to bits by the removal of the floors and shelter and work left half-finished; we have, within a week or two at most, to write to the Huntington Hartford Foundation something definite as to when or whether we are to utilize their invitation and what to say about the request for postponing it; we can’t make any Consular moves about Jack’s re-entry permit and his re-application for it, until we know how much money will be available for me and so of possible use for both when we arrive until you and the contributors to the fund are willing to be candid.  I suppose it isn’t much, but I really meant that we must know positively or it remains like waste as far as I go.

I hope you read my letter before this describing bloody fungi which attacked the floor boards in rooms that had insufficient ventilation in the under bricks, and been made worse by my dread of trespassers which has become such that I often keep windows shut when they would be better open, because I could almost scream at the recurrent sight of any Hamstead’s rotten, ratty, nuisance-making riff-raff.

This fungi causes dry-rot in wood and carpets.  When the two good carpets and underfelts were attacked and thrown away, some wainscot attacked was torn out and the truth discovered.  The removal of two floors necessitated rubble and to save money the builder tore down the shelter.  This has left the reception hall open at last—seventeen by ten added to the house.

This 17 by 10 space, when you saw the place last year, was blocked.  Now the entrance to the flat is airy and spacious and there is room for a dining table—we have an old second-hand bought for a guinea before the war, but no chairs—and one also has perspectives of the rooms and can see their arrangement on entering.

This would greatly assist rentals.  But of course mid-way in work that showers the whole flat with cement dust—it began two weeks ago—something happened about arrangements to get it done rapidly, and it drags on yet.  And we cannot yet pay for re-doing the walls which are damaged by the shelter’s removal, and were already damaged in the smaller room re-floored with cement and have been damaged decidedly by the work in the larger room cemented.

Our idea is to do what we can and see whether any renter would pay some in advance to complete the job and deduct it from the rent—but it would have to be slow as the rent must pay the gas heat.

WE WOULD NOT HAVE BEGUN THE RE-FLOORING BUT THAT fungii spreads quickly—we saw that on the carpets—and it was endangering the house.  It has—as I wrote you—attacked ninety percent of Hamstead’s flats with gardens where ventilation was imperfect.  Trespassers have compelled me to do precisely the opposite of what is normal to me; work with closed windows and artificial light.  Jack likes artificial light but I never in a closed room in my life before.

If we had ever been able to buy sash curtains and replace at least some of the iron bars that were removed from the windows by Hamstead borough when the front gate went, on the basis of “free exits during bomb hits”, many of the dilapidations, including the fungii, might not have occurred: nuisances contributed more to this even than worry.  I have written clearly before in my life when worried, but I cannot write where nuisances persist.

We will clear out the house somehow if we can just pay the most pressing bills and KNOW where we stand in respect to going home. Then—as Jack has said—send small sums here as we can to keep up maintenance until it can be sold and not just taken away at a total loss, as has heretofore been the case.

Poor darling Maggie I don’t want to ask more but WHAT are we to do?

Love and gratitude prevail—Cyril will agree yes, darling Maggie, I don’t want to ask more—but what in hell’s name are we to do?  Our lives and the lives of Jig Pavla Denise Fredrick Mathew Julia are actually economically at stake.  Evelyn

* * * * *
To Margaret DeSilver

July 18, 1952

Darling Maggie-Margretta-Margaret-Maggie:

I have just written the letter that I send with this, and the fund money is now announced.  Your letter respecting it was in the afternoon mail.  But on reflecting on the value of full, clear information on every situation and circumstances whenever it is possible to provide it, I have decided to send on the account of the work on the house which can now be concluded no doubt, and have re-emphasized the matter of the guarantees as to the job for Jack and some guarantees as to publishing us both which will make our livings certain before we sail.  It must be both—it requires both more than ever in these days to make authorship a go practically when people are as serious as we are.

Yes we have to land as authors, even with the teaching job secured in advance.  We can’t go on miscast in limbo.

You are superlatively fine about everything Maggie darling.  If I can find any way to make very public our specific great indebtedness to our courageous, loyal, generous, perspicacious and most, most genuine friend, Margaret De Silver, I will certainly do so.  Jack with me will enjoy doing so when we can.

Yes, positively some small hotel—private hotel—is, as you say, the best we could do for a temporary sojourn in NY to clear up some of the incomprehension as to the publishing situation, the mangling of that 1948 mss, and so on.  The sooner we are able to go the better once the repair work goes far enough to guarantee decent rent, as when we get out the gas bill will be helped by rental and while we are here we are, so to speak, a liability to ourselves.

Marion Sheffield’s box of second-hands arrived today, too, and she, just as you and Anne did, has gone to considerable trouble.  Everything is nicely cleaned and was beautifully packed and very sensibly chosen with a limited selection.  The clothes are not very warm, but one or two may be with a coat the further money will I hope NOW allow me to have the coat suit sent nearly three years—or about three years ago altered.  I think every one of our old friends who know anything whatever of our plight have been good and generous according to the extent of their resources; and we are really much moved by these things.  I begin to wonder again how we can ever make it plain that we are touched and yet not embarrass everybody and ourselves.  As I say, we have our books to offer if we are allowed to.  It is cruel to deny us the one reason for being that we feel justifies us in accepting help—so for publishers we do “pray”.

Jack is feeling some better tonight after his day mostly in bed.  But of course there are many uncertainties yet, and his books have got to be re-stressed somehow to same him and give him heart again to struggle there after his eight years of struggle and hardship and self-immolation here.

Your very loving and positively weepy with sentiment Evelyn for all of us
Evelyn

When the time comes to arrange for our passage we do so hope to avoid what I call dickerings and dockerings and just go—pronto in good spirits and ready to make any return we can to those who are being so good—you first.

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

July 27, 1952

Darling Maggie,

You will have got Evelyn’s last letter, – and this is to add my thanks to hers.  I cannot tell you how grateful we are.  I do tell you, – but feel the best way of showing gratitude for your year’s self-denying labour, and for your own personal generosity, is for us to make it all worth while, – to you and to us.  I do intend to do this.

The money ($550, – not $500 as you had said in your letter) is here, and is now in my bank.  Bless you a million times.

It may be difficult, from your end, to realise the causes of delay on ours, – but such delay as there may be is quite unavoidable.  It results from the necessity of paying off a minimum of debts here (which I can now do) and from the necessity of getting the flat in a minimum lettable condition (which I can now also do), – and using the flat as an additional lever with the consul in applying for a fresh visa.

I take it, from your previous letter, that enough money (earmarked for transport) remains in the Fund to cover our boat and rail fares, – and also that it will be possible, once our sailing-date is fixed, for the boat-fares to be paid on our behalf as it were, to the shipping-company, by you at your end? – I suggest this, tentatively, because otherwise it would mean your sending another cheque to me here for the boat-fares.  This would be all right, and of course you would have our promise to spend it on nothing but boat-fares, – but it struck me it would be more agreeable for you vis-à-vis the subscribers to the Fund, to be able to prove to them without question that the earmarked portion had been spent only upon transport.

Once again, dearest Maggie, – I just can’t tell you how we feel about your kindness.  As I say, it’s now up to us to make it worth while.

Blessings be upon you!
Jack

* * * * *

That August, David Lawson, husband of Evelyn’s close friend Lola Ridge, wrote to Evelyn and observed that

I don’t know whether you appreciate the housing shortage that New York (and elsewhere) has been up against but it has been terrific and I have no suggestion at this time. As a land owner living off London tenants, I suppose you have lost the common touch and may have gotten away from the American way of democratic life.  I wish you both success. Regards to both, Davy

The following is Evelyn’s response to these comments.

* * * * *

To David Lawson

August 26, 1952

Please read this—I think you cant have read all my letter even if all were received.  That is why misunderstanding.

Dear Davy:

Who incited the libelling of me contained in your letter just arrived:  I call it libel to say I “own” and “apartment house” in London—what you actually wrote—NOT because it would be anything wrong or wicket if I did, but because it is completely false; and whoever put such an idea into your head must have wished to obstruct Margaret De Silver’s fine generosity in attempting to interest people who remember our books—my own and Jack’s—in contributing to an Evelyn Scott fund to finance our travel back to the USA.

I don’t own a stick or stone in London.  I WISH I did.  London is full of European and some Oriental refugees who do own homes here; and why should not I, who am British by marriage only and an American citizen yet, but as a dual national have a British-born husband.

My dear old Davy, your comment on what you seem to take for granted as affluence, was the last thing I would ever have thought would be said to me by an old friend and to a friend who is still as loyal to Lola’s memory as you are, and who, as well, in not becoming immediately indignant, now, should prove she is personally still loyal to you, pending comprehension on your part when we meet again.

It is JACK’S house nominally.  It is an old residence which he had made into flats with the last of his British Aunt Mary’s smallish bequest.  There are three flats above and this flat in the basement which was very unsatisfactory to us because we both could not repair it, and because the large brick war-shelter shelter just torn down with a presentable flat resulting!

Would you call an old house such as Cyril Jig and myself lived in on Barrow Street in 1920 an “apartment house”?  It is just the same size as to flats, though the ceilings are higher and some of the rooms are larger.  It was converted or remodelled, as we say at home, just as that Barrow Street house and the one next it were after 1914-18.  It is more conspicuous looking because it has a small garden front and back: the land on which it was built before 1914 being Church of England owned, and leased.  It is potentially pleasanter both for this reason and because the land is on a hill near Hamstead Heath and in the top floors, which have always been let as I say, there are views over London in fine days.

When Jack invested the small sum he did in this house, he had to convert it into flats to make it pay; and when the refugee tenants were accepted there was no intimation to anyone that rent would be forced to remain as when rented while costs soared.  It is an unjust ruling.  As I say, I own nothing here or anywhere as yet but I naturally am with Jack whom I love as we both love Jig, in everything that concerns him; and the results of this concern us both.  And the fact is that frozen occupancy in combination with the frozen rents, made it impossible to do the one thing we might have done to help to keep pace with costs:  furnish the fats ourselves on time-payments and then Jack re-rent them for considerably more.

As Jack and myself computed between us an “average” of our earnings on published books at the time this house was being remodelled just before the war, we felt safe in respect to it, as the rentals were to have paid a far larger part of upkeep than was ever possible, after the war began.  We thought if there were any drains on us at intervals these would not be large; and that we would be guaranteed living quarters suitable for writing on periodic visits to London, such as we had already made together.  We expected to rent this flat for several years at a time; and that Jack, after having lost our Walberswick cottage—it was sold at a loss—reinvested here again was due to two factors:  the small sum he first invested was British money and went further here, even before the war, than at home; The sum was too small to yield an income when invested.  We were already thinking prudently of the future and we had been having a terrible time in New York and its environs trying to find any place we could live in and have quiet for our books.  The original investment here was a few thousand and for that amount in New York or near New York we would have had to pay three or four times as much for a house this size.  Jack wished to have a cottage without tenants, but that we had three times hunted for in Santa Fe, and in New York and Connecticut; and we never found anything worth buying that was not exorbitant.

He stumbled on 26 Belsize Crescent by chance.  It was going cheap because largish old-fashioned single houses were then a drug on the market here.  And he was truthfully assured that if he made four flats of the three stories and basement, he could count on tenants the moment the decorator stepped out.  He borrowed to complete the conversion, paid the loan almost at once and took a mortgage out; and this twenty-year mortgage is now paid up for all but six years.  Naturally we don’t want to be left with nothing to show for the worst years of our lives economically.  There have been many occasions when London has been as cruel to myself and Jack and Cercadinho was to myself Cyril and Jig.  We have barely kept afloat.  We have been too poor to see anyone—or rather as soon as rumours of our acute poverty reached the outer world those cads who in large part comprise aforesaid world, began to leave us strictly alone.  We have been almost without clothes, for long periods without teeth, and have had no smallest diversion of any sort—not even walks because clothes were lacking, the war Government confiscated the metal bars on our basement window and thieves entered here more than once.

It is labour extremism that makes the most mischief here.  We believe in private ownership and especially in private property.  And if you will please reflect my dear Davy, you will realize that most of your own and Lola’s friends must have shared this view as a number either owned homes then or since, and abhorred that trespassing of which we are victims, here, with an abhorrence as great as ours.

That we believed in private property should have been evident from our experiences in Brazil, where Cyril tried to acquire our fifteen-hundred acres permanently, though my illness made the hard life impossible for both us and Jig.  Again there was the Scottage in Bermuda, which Swinburne Hale gave Cyril and me outright, but which the Garlands saw fit to take back because Swinburne’s health broke down before he died and Marie appears to have taken a ruthless view of everything and everybody he ever liked.  Then there was Cyril’s house which he owned in Santa Fe and to which Phyllis contributed a little money and I also contributed thirteen-hundred as a future investment for Jig to whom I hoped it would be bequeathed.  Then came Walberswick, and crises which obliged me to return home, and decided Jack he would sell it as we could not endure separation.  And now there is 26 Belsize Crescent.  So that we struggle for a home of our own that, also, may some day mean something to Jig and Pavla and our affection for them and their children, should not surprise anyone, or provoke bitter remarks.  I have FOUR little grandchildren, Davy.  Surely you do not condemn me, as Communists undoubtedly would, for hoping to do something to SAVE THEM from penury and that abominable slaver to State into which “Socialism”, applied in a dictator world, easily develops because of a fallacious implicit assumption that those who control States must be individually “better” than Capitalists!—which they are NOT.  Socialism is absolute political power and we know it living through some isolated socialist measures are good.

You know we value your friendship, Davy, or I wouldn’t give pages to re-explaining about the house.  Don’t insult us, for both our sakes.

* * * * *

To Charles Chaplin

September 23, 1952

Mr Charles Chaplin
Savoy Hotel
London

1952—November.  Jack telegraphed an offer of our flat to the Savoy the day after they landed.  It was delivered within an hour and his secretary phoned at once to say “nuttin’ doin’” as to flats.  Shabby remembering Cyril  Evelyn Scott

Dear Mr Chaplin:

Your secretary, with a promptitude in every sense considerate, has just telephoned that the telegraphed offer of the flat myself and my husband are trying to rent speedily in order to complete arrangements to return home to the USA, was not apropos.  However, I think some explanation as to why the appeal to you and Mrs Chaplin was made, is due; as I, also, requested your secretary to be good enough to say that should you hear of anyone who is an American and in need of a flat of fair dimensions, we will appreciate the mention of this one as availableI think she was probably—your nice secretary—somewhat taken aback when I said to her that the renting of this flat is essential to financing our return; as we have been financially stranded here ever since my husband—John Metcalfe, the British novelist and short story writer—was demobilized from “RAF” service in 1946.  .  I arrived here 1944 and have never relinquished American citizenship.  But we have been doing our best to go home every year, and have encountered so much obstructionism of an “economic” sort, that our return has been cruelly postponed again and again, though I am American native of many generations and have an American son and John Metcalfe was a quota resident for 18 years.

You and Mrs Chaplin do not know me personally, but Mr Chaplin may recall his own impromptu appearance at the studio—the tiny studio on Fourteenth Street—of my first husband Mr Cyril Kay Scott, in the nineteen-twenties.  It was a delightful experience as recounted to me and our son, Creighton by Mr Scott, from whom I am divorced, but who is esteemed by both myself and Mr Metcalfe.  Waldo Frank, who is now, also generously trying to help us to re-establish ourselves again at home as authors—though we have been virtually banned since the war—had just told you of our Scott experiences in Brazil; and it was Mr Frank to whom I alluded to your secretary just now.  [Typed letter ends here]

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

 October 19, 1952

Maggie my dear Maggie:

We don’t know whether we are on the verge of the real end of this damnable exile, or are in some Gethsemane of tragedy.

Jack is writing again the plea that must seem interminable for help from somewhere—anywhere—to provide the three hundred essential to making the flat rentable enough to allow us to go home to face and solve all the vital issues that have accumulated during thirteen years—our two brief sojourns since 1941 having been such as permitted of no solutions.

The crux of our lives, like Jig’s, Pavla’s, and Cyril’s is this matter of our resumed publication.  Waldo should be able to be of genuine help in getting some action about books.  But to read the mss of more than nine-hundred pages takes time, and the one reassurance I would like now is to know he has begun—the money to make the move home possible has to come soon, for all the reasons you are now so well aware of, bless you.

These have been pretty intolerable weeks—these last.  They have added tantalization to our other miseries.  I, today, re-cleaned the woodwork in the room first renovated, when the floors were removed and the shelter; suddenly realizing it has been three months since then, and my first cleaning in preparation for new occupants, had to be repeated.

It has been a question of not even the cash to buy a tin of paint; and of course trying to keep enough for the Consular fee ready.  All the details I enumerated as yet necessary, as a preliminary to renting furnished, still are necessary.  We look to some advance rent to finish everything, even with the three hundred dollars more achieved.  But this should allow for asking what others do for furnished apartments in good condition, and will save the house until eventually it can be sold.  The essentials have to be here to rent for enough to save the house.

I will exhaust you, Maggie darling—you know it all so well.  We are trying not to despair.  We WONT despair.  But to have the solution of the problems of eight years anyhow almost ours, and then just sit waiting, is harrowing.

I feel we owe you something that not even a fortune, were it ours, could ever repay.  But poor Jack is even eager to incur an obligation—in the form of a debt and promise to pay it, rather than just collapse as we are.  I dont want him to incur any debt if there is any other way, however—more than the moral debts to you and our friends—because he works so hard and should have strains eased and not added to, if possible.

You know how we feel in loving Jig and Pavla and the four children and in being unshakable in affectionate friendship for Cyril.  And that no letter further has yet arrived from Munich is anguish, at times.  Do I feel bitter when there is prattle for the “American regard” for the “American mother”?—YES—what about this one, Evelyn Scott.

Love Maggie darling love
Evelyn

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

December 14, 1952

Darling Maggie,

I have GOT IT (visa), thank goodness!  It is a great relief, as the hold-up on the medical side was worrying in several ways.  But all’s well that. . .etc.  It arrived by registered mail yesterday morning.

I then went at once to enquire re passages and fares, to the US Lines, Cook’s, etc.  It appears that the earliest date on which there might be any accommodation within our financial compass would not be before mid-January and might be as late as early February.  This is later than we wanted, but almost everything at a reasonable price is booked up till about then;—and of course I could not make even the first gesture about it till I had got my visa. rival at the Foundation.  I shall be writing to him, of course, about this.

The tourist fare for a double cabin would be from £68 to £71 each (i.e. from $190.40 to $190.80 each, – a total of from $380.80 to $397.60 for the two of us).  There might be something slightly cheaper obtainable by waiting longer, – but hotel or lodging expenses in England meanwhile would more than negative this gain, and it will pay us to get away as soon as possible after we move out of this flat around Jan 1st.

The rail fares from London to Southampton will add a bit more, say $10 for the two of us, and there will be at least some lodging expenses in England between the time this flat is let and the time we sail.  Also some unavoidable renovation of baggage:—though I do not know how far such expenses could properly [be] regarded as “travel” or “transport” expenses to come out of the Fund.  We should also have to spend a little (as little as possible!) on small tips on the boat, and I am not sure either how far these (say a further 5 to 10 dollars) are includable.

But altogether, if possible, we should like $430 (four hundred and thirty dollars) now from the Fund.  If you could send this please the way you sent the last money so that it is immediately cashable I should be able to instruct Cook’s to clinch the earliest sailing (within the money-limit) that offers.

This $430, from the $1100, would leave $670.  I see that the return fare (valid 6 months) from New York to Los Angeles (fairly near the Foundation) is $202.43.  That is $404.86 for the two of us, apart from meals etc.  So that (subtracted from $670) would leave (again if permissible) some $260 for meals on train, for a brief stay in New York en route (for E to enquire re her novel etc) and for paper, type-ribbon etc while at the Foundation.

Darling Maggie, I cannot tell you how we both feel to you about all this.  As I said before, all we can do is to make it worth while.  I can get a job I’m quite sure, and shall then of course repay the last $250 loan for a start.  All these months the thing has persisted in appearing still too dreamlike (against reason!) but now that at last I really have my visa (my chief anxiety) I am really getting quite excited.  Bless you and bless you!  See you SOON now, I hope!

Much much love from
Jack. Evelyn adds her very much love with mine

* * * * *

Lt Commander and Mrs Saint-Pierre1

March 1, 1953

Dear Mr and Mrs Saint-Pierre:

I do not know where to put the blankets and linen until Mr Paget2 and yourselves have agreed on the inventory.  I gather he will come here when you are moved in or just before, and until we had our nice evening conversation I had not realized it unlikely that you yourselves will need to use the blankets, so I am leaving all of them—two lots, the greater portion in good condition but a few patched—on the bed in the small room.

Should you wish to use any that require dry cleaning, please ask Match and Company if it will be okay with them to deduct the expense incurred from the future rent.  Davis, the cleaner, just to the left of Belsize Circus, cleans very well and for a moderate price.

Three of the pillow tickings also look very dingy and can be cleaned by Davis for six shillings each.  And this we would have had done but that with both of us under the weather we were using all the pillows until today.

Our cash shortage—temporary we hope—obliges me to leave this to you on the same basis, in the belief that it will be alright to charge up these comparatively small sums to rental to be deducted at the appropriate time.  We are both very sorry to have to request anything that may seem a bother.

Three soiled pillowslips, one bath towel and two or three kitchen towels, as well, have not been washed, and perhaps you will be good enough to let Mr Marsh know that I have neither time to wash them nor any way of sending them to be laundered with no one in the flat yet.

These are the most troubling last-minute items.  I really don’t know how it is managed as to linen when moves are in process and one has to use a little for the most make-shift final night.

Should you come in briefly during the next few days, please don’t be unduly perturbed if all the discards of the move—empty paint tins, discarded clothing, etc—have not every one been put in the dust bins.  These are at the foot of the stairs you pass as you walk along the path to the door of this flat, but the trash collection is usually on Tuesdays and I daren’t fill the tins any more today as others as well as ourselves seem to have been throwing things away and some place has to be left until Tuesday, when I trust Mr Coleman, as a real favour, may come by and put the remainder of the debris in the bins.  As a rule the space for trash is adequate, but there is now and again an overflow when anyone is moving in or out.

I don’t know whether “hints” on the housework will sound like those of the Suffolk landlady who awed me with superfluous “directions” years ago, but give you some anyhow to be followed or not as you incline.

Unless you already have experience with painted concrete floors, you will not know that the red-painted floors in two of the rooms and the toilet cannot be washed, but are easily freshened with “Cardinal Polish”, which can be bought at almost any hardware store, some groceries, and at the tobacconists adjacent to Meade’s green grocery to the left of the first turning at the bottom of Belsize Crescent.  These shops can also be reached by going down the “snicket” behind the house and turning right at bottom.

When dust accumulates along the tops of wainscots it is better, I find, to brush it off with a small dry brush, as you then don’t have to be so careful about the tinted walls, or, for that matter, the wall paper.  I use a damp cloth on the painted wainscots just occasionally, and in the first bed-room at the front just on the painted wood.  The one drawback of “Cardinal Polish” is that when it gets on paint or walls it is hard to get off—ditto as to hands and clothes.  But though it can be smeared when fresh, once it hardens—say an hour after it is used—it will not come off further as far as I know.

There is a good brush for cleaning radiators that was not put on the inventory, ad it was bought to re-paint them and by the time Mr Paget and I got to the kitchen cupboards I was too all-in to explain or say whether it should or shouldn’t be listed.  But I now point it out because of the convenient shape and handle.  It cost something but does not need to be replaced if it wears out.  It is in the bottom left kitchen cupboard with the scouring brushes—also not new, and not itemized or mentioned.  It doesn’t matter about these things except as they may help.

If the two oldest frying-pans in front kitchen cupboard are too much in the way and you wish to discard them, you are free to do so with the proviso that Match is informed either now or when you leave.  I think the inventory is probably of mutual benefit but being still ill the day it was made I almost gave up.

There are some floor cloths—two—one unused and one used but still good and when in use these can be dried on the rod on the under-end of the kitchen table nearest the stove.

The furniture and the wooden floors have all been treated with o’cedar and this had been satisfactory to us as it keeps down dust.  This naturally is for you to decide—I just hope to be helpful, for we are much indebted to you in respect to the storing of the pictures on the top shelf of the cupboard (or wherever you like).

There are a number of small photographs framed and unframed with these, and some small hooks.  These did not go on the inventory because we had hoped to pack them and had no room when the baggage was filled.  We do feel apologetic, and I suppose whenever you leave Match should know of the extra photographs and a few books having been put with the other things, though I DON’T MEAN re-do inventory.

The Gas Company’s phone is Hamstead 1133 for most calls, but on Sundays, holidays and other times of emergency the Gas Company can also be reached at Willesden 1272, their emergency phone.

The best of good wishes to you both again.  We think we are fortunate in having found such nice tenants for the flat, and we do implore the gods to permit it to be a satisfactory habitat for yourselves and the dogs, too.  Thank you again for allowing the personal articles to be stored in the cupboard.

1 The Saint Pierres rented the flat that had been occupied by Jack and Evelyn.

2 Mr Paget worked for Match and Company, the agents handling the letting of 26 Belsize Crescent.

* * * * *

This letter documents Jack and Evelyn’s final departure from Number 26.  Not everything went according to plan. . . .

 

39. The Evelyn Scott Fund

In 1951 Margaret DeSilver, a wealthy and well-connected Manhattan socialite and a loyal friend of both Jack and Evelyn, decided to create a fund to clear their debts (the next chapter will include more information about these)  and bring them back to the United States. Evelyn welcomed this initiative, but she insisted on it being on her own terms.  These included, but were not limited to, the publication of two novels on which she was then working but which were never published:  Escape from Living and Before Cock Crow.  She was also determined (or maybe it was because of her increasingly obvious self-obsession) that potential donors were made aware of her difficulties in becoming united with her son and his family.

Evelyn also makes constant reference to a “precis” which was briefly referred to in my previous post (No 38).  This 74-page single-spaced document, headed “a precis of events indicative of libel”, conflated incidents in Evelyn’s life during the 1930s and 40s with her inability to restore contact with Jigg and his family.  It was her wish that this be circulated to potential donors who would, she assumed, would have a better understanding of her situation and would therefore be more likely to  contribute to the Fund.

Many of Evelyn’s letters are to literary figures with whom Evelyn had had relationships:  Waldo Frank was a novelist and early member of the Communist Part with whom Evelyn had an affair during the 1920s;  Allen Tate was a poet and essayist and a professor at Princeton University;  William Carlos Williams was a poet and doctor with whom Evelyn had had an affair during the 1920s.  These letters are lengthy and sometimes verging on the incoherent, and I have heavily edited them to improve readability.  What remains, I hope, gives an insight into the chaotic thought processes which possessed her at the time.

(Sadly, Margaret DeSilver’s original letter, which prompted the replies below, has not survived.)

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

Truro, Massachusetts
July 10, [1951]

Dear Margaret,

What a damn shame about Evelyn!  Of course, your idea is excellent. I’ll be glad to lend my name and help a little—how much depends on my own finances measured by my many great responsibilities. I should think the signers of the letter should include a number of our outstanding novelists who most admire E’s work—such as Dos Passos and Faulkner; and a few more critics—for instance Van Wyck Brooks and Lewis Mumford. I really don’t understand E’s utter neglect!  She is certainly one of the important American novelists of our generation!

When are you coming to the Cape? Do phone us and come and see us.

Always (hurriedly),
Waldo [Frank]

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

[Rutherford, New Jersey]
August 6, 1951

My dear Margaret DeSilver:

I shall be glad to read at any benefit you plan for Evelyn Scott, but I do not want my name used on your letter head.  Under such circumstances you may not want me to participate in the effort at all but it is all I am willing to do.

Sincerely yours,
William Carlos Williams

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

Princeton, New Jersey
August 7, 1951

 Dear Mrs DeSilver

I returned only last night from the Middle East to find your disturbing letter about Evelyn Scott.  You may certainly use my name in a campaign for her relief. I will try tomorrow to see the Secretary of the National Institute of Arts and Letters.1  If anything can be done there, it will be done at once.  I am at a loss to think of any other source of immediate relief, but I am sure that, given a little time, we can rally people to the support of the campaign. I will write to you again in the next day or two.

 Yours sincerely,
Allen Tate

1 This Institute (now the American Academy of Arts and Letters) was modelled on the Academie Française and included in its membership a large number of authors and critics. The Institute awarded grants to worthy individuals on the recommendation of its members.

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

26 Belsize Crescent
August 8, 1951

My Dear Maggie

I can’t tell you how much I thank you for your letter—enclosing check for $100 and how grateful we both are.  It really just about saves our lives.  And I’m the more appreciative since I do realise that you have many many calls upon your native generosity,-and many problems of your own.

I do think that, if you are so kind and unselfish in time, labour, and some incidental vexation (probably) as to undertake the organisation of an Evelyn Scott Fund, as you suggest might be possible, it would be a splendid thing.  I believe that Evelyn is of the same opinion, – providing, of course, that any funds resulting were not regarded as implying a cessation to writing, but rather as a help to further writing.  We know of course that there is no doubt about your regarding it in this manner, but a few others possibly might misconceive the object of such a Fund.  However, a suitable wording of the appeal would be adequate protection against this, I should say.  In any case we could certainly think of no one so fitted as yourself, in every way, to conduct the matter.  I myself, I may say right away, am unreservedly enthusiastic about the idea, and more than ever grateful to your for advancing it.  Even if the appear were only very moderately “successful” (and I should allow myself no higher hopes) it would be a godsend.

I won’t add more just now as I want to air-mail this off, – but I just can’t express my personal relief, and my gratitude to yourself.

Bless you, dear Maggie,
Jack

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Eastham, Massachusetts
August 14, 1951

Dear Evelyn:-

I’m pleased you and Jack are pleased with the idea of the Fund, but it is ticklish to keep it, as you so sensibly pointed out, from being just a substitute for real recognition and continued publication.  So later on I will write you in greater detail about so far rather vague outlines, and get your approval on any public letter before making a move.  I have had interested responses to the idea from Waldo Frank, Edmund Wilson, Lewis Gannett, Allen Tate.  I do not want to seem to be putting it up to others what I might be able to swing myself, at any risk to your basic welfare and to your proper pride.  But I feel you do also need more actual cash than I can manage.  But it must all be done JUST RIGHT.

Much love to you and thanks again for writing.  I’ll write you at greater length a little later.

Margaret

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

August 20, 1951

Margaret my dear

Not pressing for reply—not until there are some positive developments.  We hope Eastham Massachusetts is nice and you enjoy it–know your letters are forwarded

I don’t ask you yourself to do more than you have or anything that makes you shrink because you too have had your sensibilities hurt and can’t bear “foisting” yourself and must be re-assured.  But do please remember that I am a stickler for accuracy and that I cannot do other than conclude from the facts I myself know that, ever since the experiences of which I told you here, both Jig and Pavla and probably Margaret Hale Foster and Cyril, have been intimidated by rumour about me and—I think—about themselves and all my friends; and that, in consequence, they have been isolated over and over whenever they moved to any new address, and that Pitcher Lane1 has yet to prove different from Rutherford in this respect.

Mag my dear—the cable you sent has just arrived as I say on page one of my letter with this and Jack and myself are full of the utmost gratitude again and hope you will thank Allen as I will myself shortly as soon as you see him.  You are restoring my belief in humans and Allen is contributing to the revival of our optimism so genuinely that we will not forget this proof of his own sustained character of pure artist and will always remember his generosity as we do yours.  And this, of course, I will myself tell him when I write to him.

We are fed to the gills with guff so I cannot say I “pray” you may be rewarded for your goodness, but if I could “pray” in a world such as we have, I would insist Margaret De Silver among the first bloody old “God” should save.  My “blasphemies” have their justification, and are considerably less than those to which politicians are too readily inured.

 

1 At this time Evelyn was writing numerous letters to try to establish which of the three places named “Red Hook” her son and his family had moved to: she knew they lived on a road called Pitcher Lane. .

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

August 24, 1951

To be forwarded to Eastham Massachusetts.  Government gas1 took the whole of that other draught and I literally never saw a penny, once it was banked—but it isn’t Jack’s fault they are blood-suckers, he is supporting me and is in terrible difficulties YET we have to pay or be sunk

Maggie darling—

You cannot over-estimate the good it does Jack as well as myself to know you are being sustained in your generous and lovely effort to really get us home.  I can see Jack improving in spirits already and in health with this, and I have now written to Allen Tate and hope he will show you the letter, as William Rose Benet approached “The Institute for Arts and Letters” on our behalf in 1948, and he succeeded in obtaining five hundred dollars for me, which is the sole help anybody in the States has given us since years before the war, with exception of yourself and of the two or three checks Lenore has, also, sent.

When “The Institute’s” cheque arrived here with a “promissory note”, I refused to sign it, as I knew by then we could not re-pay as we had first hoped when Jack originally appealed to you.  And I was in a dither until, after an air-mail letter from me, Benet cabled that I would not be required to sign anything; adding subsequently, in his own letter that it was a formality which did not really apply to me as I am not a member.

However, the experience especially re-impressed me with the fact that we must save in the States in order to return home there, because the five hundred dollars—like most of your help—went bang into the house, almost to the final penny.  Nor was there any alternative for us.  And this five hundred will have to go into the house, too.  We will be jailed for debts otherwise so I am told.  We are in arrears with everything, including “income tax” on this property based on a theoretic “income” although we have been losing two hundred pounds a year on it during some years.

Would you be willing to become the official “Trustee” of my “Fund”?—I have suggested to Allen Tate that I hope you will because you grasp the situation completely now I think—you will respecting Jig Pavla and Cyril too when you have my letter mailed yesterday—and you and Jack can consult as to the minimum we can peg on with here once anything is accumulated.  It is the one way of getting out of reach of tyrannical extremists who—as I have often seen indicated—bitterly resent one’s normal determination to resume the life normal to one’s self and to see one’s family in person.

This is the Truth again.  We’ve loved you for so long it’s not “new” to say we do now, but you are certainly re-endearing yourself to us Maggie dear more than ever.

One of the causes of Jack’s indebtedness was the escalating bill for gas for heating the house. He was not permitted by law to raise the rent to cover these increased charges.

 

* * * * *

To Allen Tate

August 24, 1951

Dear Allen Tate:

I know Margaret De Silver will have passed on to you the burgeoning appreciation elicited by her cabled news that you are especially exerting yourself so generously on behalf of Jack and myself; and as her cable was preceded by an air mail letter in which she mentioned, as well, the generous interest in our predicament evinced, also, by Edmund Wilson, Waldo Frank and Lewis Gannett, we are cheered, indeed.

Margaret De Silver has proved she is the friend in a million every human being would most like to have.  And Lenore Marshall, too, has twice helped in our rescue from imminent eviction from this house and a literal threat of starvation; and Dr May Mayers of New York, though unable to do anything financially, has shown a concern for our re-establishment as authors which is indisputably genuine.

I hope Margaret will accept the trusteeship of any funds accumulated toward our return, sending on whenever available just enough for us to peg along on here.

Jack and I are so grateful to you and to all our genuine friends.  Most most sincerely

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

August 25, 1951

Maggie darling—

Would you be willing to become the “trustee” of any fund accumulated in the bank there for our return?  I hope so because your grasp of our financial plight is I think complete like Jig’s when here, and your grasp of our situation will probably be even better when you have the letter respecting Jig Cyril and Pavla which I mailed to you day before yesterday, and which had to do explicitly with badgerings endured in the South by everybody not moronic.

We are both so grateful—I don’t want to tire you with reiterating it, but it gives us a fresh sense of moving toward the end, and not just stagnating in poverty.

I am more than obliged to Waldo for offering to draw up a letter to be circulated on our behalf—on mine especially as an American but Jack should be included as artist and as the quota resident he was for so many years.  And to re-assure those whom gossip may have boggled as to my standing the cable sent Allen was signed with my Passport Signature in full—Evelyn Dunn Scott Metcalfe—and the American Embassy clerk has seen my birth certificate with my baptismal name of Elsie on it and the names of both my parents in full and my place of birth and affidavits as to my identity, some still such as can be checked on, though the wife of the doctor who attended my mother is one and she has, since, died.

I will be very appreciative if you will yourself read Waldo’s draught of a letter and will let me see a copy.  I thought that letter circulated about Patchen1 was not good—and sometimes people with the best intentions don’t realize possible angles of the impression likely to be created by the manner of presentation.  I would like to be assured that by no possibility can anything said on my behalf reflect on Jack Jig Pavla or Cyril.  Jack has supported me here at some sacrifice to himself and Jig and Pavla have done no more because they just couldn’t, though Jig’s visit proves his real concern and we know Cyril’s character so well we have never doubted he, too, would have assisted our return had not conditions there been made as hard for him as ours for us here.

We always love you but you endear yourself again

1 Margaret DeSilver had suggested a funding letter based on that of a similar fundraising campaign for Kenneth Patchen, an American writer who became poverty-stricken due to a spinal injury.

* * * * *

To Allen Tate

August 25, 1951

Dear Allen Tate—

Margaret has proven she is the friend-in-a-million every human and especially every creative human, would like.  And as she writes Jack and myself that Waldo Frank, Lewis Gannett, and Edmund Wilson have, also, generously offered to do anything they can toward our return to the States, I think it likely she has by this recounted to you the hellish conditions which have kept us as we are yet; though we did have one bit of help—good in intention—in nineteen-forty-eight, when the late William Rose Benet, on his own initiative, obtained five hundred dollars for us from “The Institute” as a gift.

It was, however, immediately swallowed by this house, and the truth is that neither Jack nor I had the use of more than a few pounds of the draught once it was cashed:  my reason for suggesting to Margaret that it would be better if possible to accumulate something in a bank in New York which would finance our return and our sojourn there pending the full solution of our problems; which, like those of Creighton Scott, my, son, by my first marriage to Cyril Kay-Scott, can—like his father’s—only be really solved with re-establishment in the arts.

Margaret De Silver, however, has, also, at times, come to the rescue in assisting us to just peg along when eviction was staring us in the face.

Again our gratitude to you personally, our cordial good wishes to the Tate family, our genuine thanks to the “Committee” should it decide to supply any further aid.

Most most sincerely yours

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Princeton, New Jersey
August 28, 1951

1952—What about John Metcalfe’s art—he is British born

Dear Evelyn:

I am of course glad to get your letter but distressed by the news it brings.

I am sure that Mrs DeSilver will succeed in getting up a fund to bring you back to this country, but as you know such a campaign takes time; and we are of course anxious about your immediate plight.  If any other resource suddenly appears I will take advantage of it on your behalf.  Meanwhile I am joining Mrs DeSilver’s campaign.

You are quite right about the more fundamental need of getting home where you can participate again in the literary world.  It is almost impossible to do this abroad, where one’s connections, however god, are never quite adequate.  The British publishers quite naturally feel little obligation to do well by us unless they are certain of getting a lot of money out of the connection.

I can scarcely believe that this $100.00 will go very far.  I can only hope that you can old out until more effective aid can be organized.  Please give my regards to Jack.  Caroline joins me in warm regards to you both.

Sincerely yours,
Allen Tate

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

Princeton, New Jersey
August 29, 1951

Dear Mrs DeSilver:

I am at a loss to know what else to do at present, but I shall be glad to join you in any concerted effort on her behalf.  A long letter from her, received yesterday, tells a very sad tale.  I can well understand her desire to come back to this country, and I think she would be better off here.  At the same time one must remember that she has been away so long, she has not published a book here in so many years, she has been virtually forgotten:  the public and the publishers have a very short memory.  It is by no means certain that a publisher would undertake the task of rehabilitating her as a writer; and even if this could be managed, there would still be, as in England, the problem of a steady livelihood  Very few writers make a living out of their books, even if they have a best-seller or two from time to time.

Sincerely yours,
Allen Tate

* * * * *

To Allen Tate

[September 1951]

Dear Allen:

We have the utmost confidence in Margaret De Silver, and once having promised to attempt to arouse greater interest in our plight here and in the accumulation of funds to admit of our return to the States to see Creighton and his wife and children and Creighton’s father and to re-establish ourselves in our normal milieu among the literate, I know she will adhere to her word as given.  And this is as true of yourself and, I am sure, others who are our friends, we are hopeful of solutions.

I do thank you especially again and again.  And because I know the value of friendships in these days, I add to the more personal content of the communication a sort of precis of the most serious aspects of our predicament, which relate to the books we have ready to publish and sell NOW, and to possibly libellous misinterpretations of an absence from the States which has been made “economically compulsory” both by the abrupt and also compulsory stoppage of our literary earnings since 1939, and by the war against private property ownership which has been remorseless here since 1945, and has largely immolated Jack.

Margaret De Silver knows these things, but she may not yet have every detail, and as the death of my parents during the war has resulted—possibly because they were divorced and my father had re-married—in a degree of senseless mystification regarding my father’s last years and the disposition of his estate, I shall include data on Cyril’s change of name from Wellman to Scott and on the conceded legality of my continued fight to claim as an American citizen aid from American Foundations should any evince an inclination to help.

A copy of my precis, which here follows, goes to “The National Institute of Art and Letters” for the Committee, as well; as I wish no one to be in doubt as to the facts which have driven us to appeal for assistance which would have been superfluous had we been allowed to publish and sell normally during these twelve years since 1939, and Jack to maintain his house here, rent this flat, and go back with me to the States, as was our original intention.

Everything good to you and Caroline,

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

Personal
September 9, 1951

Maggie darling

I sent yesterday letters of thanks to Allen Tate for his appeal to “The National Institute of Art and Letters” on my behalf, and, also, a letter to Committee who granted me the gift of a hundred dollars, but I realize you are the benign instigator of Allen’s move to assist and my gratitude and Jack’s goes to you again.

I am still awaiting Jig’s and Pavla’s further letters and some idea as to their health and whether Pitcher Lane is in one of the Red Hooks in Dutchess County—or is it Duchess?—near Rhinebeck.  I am very worried about them and wonder whether you contacted Margaret Hale Foster1.

You know our history of our poverty and the clothes!  I was not out of the house more than a few times last summer, 1950, and this year had hoped for an improvement; but my teeth are still raising hell plates won’t stay in and gag and I am as penned as ever and except for the visit to Ewell just before we saw you in June, I have not left the house, again, except during my seven weeks of dentistry, so it looks as though even that “pleasure” was taken advantage of.

So please swear for me!—even though I don’t yet know at whom to swear!  In 1949 I lost a carbon of my book of children’s verse, which, this summer, I have re-typed, so that I NOW have THREE copies.  However, today, Jack went through every book in the flat, and as I did the same yesterday, he agrees with me that these three books were swiped since May; and that they could have been swiped at no time except when I was at the dentist’s, unless a nasty electrician who was very offensive when working in the study where they were, and who boasted that he had been employed by Agatha Christie, took them in spite, because I admitted to him I had no tip for him and could not afford any.

There have been Jig’s Cyril’s Merton’s and other water-colours, the original mss of my French Revolution novel, the carbon of the children’s book, and now these three valuable and necessary books—and as all these thefts have an important bearing on our careers and restoration to publication, I call it crime.  And when Jig was here he said he had nothing—not one thing to show for the fifteen years he has given to painting or the several years in which he was writing three novels of which “Scribner’s” published one.

I think the time has come to demand Governments that do not allow scoundrels of any persuasion—call them “right” or “left”—to meddle with personal property and I know you will agree, too.

So when you are discussing me I hope more than ever you will tell people there all these things and mention Jig and Pavla, who should NOT be left at the mercy of crooked “policemen” of the sort who protect crooks and allow thefts. They had begun in Tappan. I would like to see thieves who take such things as paintings and mss electrocuted—and I am not by nature fierce.

Our love and our gratitude, for any help.

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

October 11, 1951

Maggie darling

Will you be good enough to hand the letter in this envelope to Waldo or mail it to him as convenient to yourself—first reading it, as it is about the precis of events which I may one day include in a memoir of New York and of the war, as I have yet to write in the first person of the literary world.

The precis is to be regarded as AUTHOR COPYRIGHTED just in case—for I do not wish and WON’T HAVE good book material spoiled by any newspaper distortion.

We just must put an end to the idea that no body should think, and that original inferential comment on contemporary happenings has to be in those political terms extorted by military dolts.

Please go on helping where you can Maggie darling for you are one of the few good fighters I know

We love you—everything lately has been hell again, but probably bloody politics has been figuring more than ever, and what we should like would be what I call PINK CONSERVATISM— by which I mean a CHANGE better minds more intellect and MORE TRUTH, and an end to hocus-pocus fears about jobs, which just keep political scoundrels in the saddle to eternity.

Everybody should know by now that bureaucracy has victims in its own ranks and that vast numbers of unemployed can’t be afforded so it is good sense to restore competition gradually and work out the means of removing a fair number of Government employees into other local occupations, little by little.  People don’t want directing they will RAISE HELL as long as control goes on.  This Government is a combination of feeble well-meaning and brute power.  And something just MUST BE DONE with America backing.

Our own fortunes reflect what goes on publically and we should love to be SAVED AS AUTHORS and go home to the States and help to restore Jig and Cyril and other artists of high type to the ARTS

We love you for everything you do and are doing.

 * * * * *

To Waldo Frank

October 11, 1951

Sent to Mrs Margaret De Silver 130 West 12th Street, Apt G, New York City with the request to pass it on to Mr Frank.  Love to Maggie.  Please see people read precis when it gets to you don’t just glance.  Grateful  Evelyn

Dear Waldo,

Margaret De Silver has certainly proven herself again the fine friend we always knew her to be.  Jack and I are both so grateful to her for trying to get somebody interested in financing our return home, either by means of publication resumed with conditions that are a guarantee against “token” handling such as killed every possibility of sales when The Shadow of the Hawk and The Muscovites—my book and Jig’s1—were published by Scribner’s during the war.

The appreciation goes to you here unreservedly, but as we have not had the letter yet, it occurs to me you—and perhaps Margaret and Allen Tate and Edmund Wilson—may have been waiting at your end for what I referred to as a precis of events since 1939, which I propose sending in original to Margaret and in carbon to Allen to be read privately by Margaret and yourself and anyone whom any of you know who can be guaranteed to read it without political bias and to neither “hush” me up about things I object to in the current scene because these are destructive of pure art value, nor let us in for the sort of libellous misconstruction on the happenings set forth which is an invariable result of journalistic intrusion on the art world. I disapprove of cuts and won’t stand them again and am adamant against editing.  I did not want it known I had tried cutting but I did once—it is hopelessly wrong!

The precis—a carbon is to go to “The National Institute of Arts and Letters” too —the precis, as I have been going over the material of the mangled preface and elaborating it, seems to be to be that of a potential further volume of memoirs to be written in the end about the art careers of the Scott-Metcalfes and their friends and acquaintances in the art world, and so I also wish to have the content accepted as already copyrighted by Evelyn Scott and NOT for the public prints until the time arrives to re-write it at leisure and incorporate it with experiences which long antedated the war, here covered and including Britain but unconnected with any damn “war secrets” as I know nothing of them, thought I was with Jack during all his 1939-46 service with the “RAF”, in Canada and here, and wasn’t in Scotland where he was the first year because I was economically trapped as a “neutral” in New York and he couldn’t send me any money.  This precis will be ready in two or three weeks but meanwhile we are pretty desperate again.  So please please pester anyone you can—I think Allen could show my precis to Mr Epstein as I have “altercated” with him about art. Anyhow we won’t despair.

1Jig’s only novel, The Muscovites, was published in 1941.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott and John Metcalfe

Eastham, Massachusetts
October 12, 1951

Dear Evelyn and Jack:

My “Evelyn Scott Fund” is turning out to be far more complicated that I realized.  First of all, to have it NOT have a PUBLIC and OFFICIAL look involves a good deal of very delicate planning.  Waldo has been most fine and generous about ideas and suggestions, and one was that each of the four persons whom I first approached and who responded warmly and eagerly, make up a list of people to whom each of them might write a personal letter.  This will take time, as these people are all busy people and also because it is very difficult for any one person, judging by my own experience, to think up a likely list of people who have not already been appealed to for this that and the other project many times over.  Secondly, I myself feel that coming to the States would be an impossibly large and expensive undertaking unless Jack FIRST had a job lined up here, and unless you sold your Hampstead house, or leased for a long term.  Living here may not involve quite as much red tape as England, but it is actually more expensive, as to rent, food and clothing (partly, of course, because we do not have any regulations).  Then, too, the publishing business here is even more cautious and wary than in England, in spite of the fact that we do not have your crippling paper shortage.  Instead, we have inflation, which makes everything very expensive.  Also I would say that the mood of America is at the moment far from adventurous, intellectually speaking.  In plain language, dear people, I think when you get here you are going to be as angry and troubled about conditions in general as you are in England, and I am afraid the struggle to heat will be about the same.  On the other hand, the market is certainly here, and also family and friends.  That I know is your crucial consideration.  But I just feel the raising of enough money to get you here and launch you, so to speak, is going to be difficult and slow.

Later  Waldo corrects this somewhat by saying he had in mind a form letter that would not look like a form letter, which each of us would sign and send off to a small list of prospects.  Or else that a list could be bought or borrowed, such as the Patchen list, but still signed individually.  Well, we will try to work out some sound and respectable method.  In the meantime, much love—

Maggie DeS

* * * * *

From John Metcalfe’s diary:

October 16, 1951: Letter from Maggie re ES Fund, – not altogether satisfactory

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

Truro, Massachusetts
October 29, 1951

Dear Margaret

Herewith Jack’s letter, and a rough draft of the Fund letter, for which you asked me.  I have no doubt it can be improved.  I suggest that you and Lewis Gannett whip it into shape—or discard it altogether if you think proper  You see, I have stressed E’s need to get home. This necessitated focussing on her alone; one can hardly appeal to Americans to help an Englishman get away from home.  Of course, if she gets here, as Jack suggests, nothing more natural than that her husband should follow her.

As usual, I have difficulty in learning exactly what E in her letter to me is talking about.  Dimly, I descry that there is a finished novel—all typed and ready to be read.  What publisher has seen it?

I’m enclosing a small check to you, which you can turn into money to send to her—from a “friend” — please don’t mention my name.  Perhaps it will help pay a gas bill or something.  It’s not much but it’s really more than I can afford at present.  I hate to think of Evelyn worried in that dark enveloping London winter.  If we get her out of this, she may write the best book of her life.

Waldo Frank

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott and John Metcalfe

130 West 12th Street, NYC
[November 1951]

Dear Evelyn and Jack:-

I enclose a copy of an appeal letter drafted by Waldo Frank.  Will you let me know what you think of it?  If you approve of it, I shall try to get in touch with Julien Cornell,1 who engineered the Kenneth Patchen Fund, to see if he will let me use that list.  If he will, I’ll undertake to weed it out and to plan to whom the three or four people who helped me start this project will each write or rather sign this letter.

Winter is here.  I expect you folks are pleased with the Conservative victory.  Well, Winnie is a character and may get more generous cooperation from those in power in this country, which would be a blessing.

Much love to you both—
Maggie DeS

American lawyer and pacifist who refused to serve in the military during World War II

* * * * *

Evelyn Scott comments on Waldo Frank draft letter

Hotel Continental
Bogotá, Columbia
Waldo Frank
Truro, Mass

[November 1951]

See final page of this and precis sent with more details later on.  Please Waldo use the facts—they are EXACT Evelyn

The purpose of this letter is to win your interest in the plight of Evelyn Scott,—one of the small company of truly distinguished writers of our time.  During the 20s and 30s, Evelyn Scott’s novels were widely known and greatly admired, although their uncompromising character kept them (with one or two exceptions) from the best-seller lists.  Their fate was that of so many important books within a few years of publication:  they went out of print.  Most good writers circumvent this common event by publishing new books—or by dying, in which the date of the “rediscovery” of their work becomes unimportant to them.

I have visited England many times on my American Passport— British by marriage, but chose to retain citizenship as native-born in 1930.  Stop this token discretion!

Miss Scott, having married the English novelist John Metcalfe in 1930, he was a quota resident US & then moved to England during the last War.  this about “last war” and second marriage ambiguous, married twice, second 1939—“RAF” service brought us here 1943-44 I travelled British as an “RAF” wife—passport resigned on landing—families should NOT be separated by fools, is Evelyn Scott’s opinion.  The unfortunate effect of this was to put her out of touch with American publishers.  She feels strongly—we believe correctly—that if she could return to her own country with second husband, she could place her new work and resume her position as a producing American novelist. why the hell should it!  But penury keeps her in England, and both published in USA as before 1937 would end her worst penury and his he has books to publish 

We do not ask for charity for Evelyn Scott (she would probably be too proud to take it).  We wish to raise a Fund of money which will enable her to come home and to find living and working and publishing conditions at home.

Please bear in mind that Evelyn Scott’s situation is not intrinsically rare.  What would have become of Henry James, after his early successes, without a private income?  And what did become of Herman Melville, when his books stopped selling?  Evelyn Scott’s need to get home is, we are convinced, the intuition bleak eventual need for justice of a creative artist who—if again in touch with the milieu of her work—should have good years of work before her.  In a sense, both psychologically and economically, she and John Metcalfe are is “marooned” in the unsustaining world of post-War England, which has yet to be culturally restored

We in the US today, who are concerned with the cultural health of our country surely should feel that our good fortune places many responsibilities upon us.  The practical hand held out at this hour to Evelyn Scott, in order to help her return home would hearten her and would give a new hold on life and work to a significant American artist.

Please press for our resumed publication—the antidote for “charity” is to SELL US—they can sell us if politics can be made to stand aside—and give art a chance.

Thanks for letting me see the rough draft of your letter. 1942—which began the near-debacle of onslaughts—read precis—long and short when these arrive.

WBBM_20180722_0002.jpg
Scanned photocopy of first page of Evelyn’s annotations to Waldo Frank draft appeal letter.

* * * * *


From John Metcalfe’s diary:November 5, 1951: Letter from Maggie enclosing $25.
November 8, 1951: Letter from Maggie enclosing draft letter re fund by Waldo Frank

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

November 12, 1951

Maggie darling

The check or cheque for twenty-five dollars adds to the sum of gratitude both to yourself and the donor, who probably thought I might be embarrassed should I be told who he or she was—so do please, you think them for me in all sincerity.  And as we thank whoever gave it we thank you again even more.  I don’t see how anyone could have been a better friend to us both than you have, and while it is difficult to receive money at times it is very difficult to ask for it also as I KNOW—so bless you.  In the long precis of events, as I call it, which I shall soon complete and is in sum as regards legalities and war conflicts,  I have mentioned the possibility of including the material in a future autobiography which will be my own entirely in respect to literary struggles.  And whenever I do that book everybody who has given or will give anything toward this fund which we hope book publication will make superfluous in the end, will have the TRUTHFUL PICTURE of the situation of the emotions of Evelyn Scott and John Metcalfe both as she sees them.  Not everybody will be fatuously “complimented” but I think most of them will be “able to take it” if they really like our books and the sort of candours that pervade my own writing.  It is the one way I can show appreciation, and I am not ignorant of what is being done so I think the public gesture will eventually be due.

I thought Waldo’s letter well expressed and full of good intentions, but NOT SPECIFIC ENOUGH—and as I write with this to thank him too, perhaps he will grasp my explanation, which has to do with the WAR.  He mentions in it that I married Jack and was stranded in England, as if I had never been there or as if Jack was to be disassociated in going to the States and it isn’t POSSIBLE NO DO EITHER OF US WISH IT.

MUST BE EMPHASIS ON BOOKS READY FOR PUBLICATION NOW EMPHASIS MUST BE ON THAT FIRST—why NOT charity  Everything public except libel stemming from “ghost” passages in Life Is Too Short—consult Jig and Pavla or Cyril and Pavla as Cyril himself delay here.

Dear Maggie—The front page and the above should be the FACTS PUBLIC NOW WHEN APPEALING FOR HELP FOR US I THINK—it is much more interesting as the Truth than generalized as Waldo had it though his belief in me is appreciated.  It must also be KNOWN that Jack and myself return together and have NO INTENTION of parting and that the fact that he was British-born and still a British subject though an American quota resident has been “used against” him and me should at least be implied I think.  You will grasp why when you read the precis.

WE STAND FOR PURE ART DETACHED FROM POLITICS AS MUCH AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE, but beside all the general handicaps which now afflict pure artists, we are a SPECIFIC INSTANCE OF WAR ABUSES.  It will I consider be a more effective appeal if the FACTS IN THIS LETTER ARE PUBLICIZED FREELY.

But my problem is about the libel.  I want that combated and will go on fighting it where I can.  That is why I document as reference Common Law Marriage and Divorce, for these involve the real legality of Scott as our name Jig’s name Pavla’s name the names of Denise Fredrick Mathew and Julia, and actually, Jack and I were married as William John Metcalfe and Evelyn D Scott legally in Tierra Amarillo in 1930 when I elected to retain my citizenship.

Tell our friends we surmise his FC Wellman copyright ruse of false rumour by Pavla and Cyril too.
Love Evelyn

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

Truro, Massachusetts
November 16, 1951

Dear Margaret,

The enclosed1, just received, makes it clear, I’m afraid, how hard it is going to be to help Evelyn.  I don’t know what truth there is in her charge that Cyril’s book was tampered with, but these points are clear:

1.  To put any such statement into a general letter would be libellous unless legally proved in advance, and even Cyril’s statement would not be legal proof.

2.  It is very dubious that even if the book was slanderous, this has the slightest relation with Evelyn’s present condition—the book was read by very few, and those few certainly would not on that account have “plotted” against Evelyn.

3.  To bring such matter into an appeal, in any case, would I think frighten people off, rather than make them open their  purses.

Personally, I refuse to get embroiled in this sad personal quarrel. I found Cyril’s book disgusting, but I am certainly not ready to get involved in why it was so—and it all seems irrelevant to the simple wish of friends to get E back to the USA since she wants to come.

Do what you want about this; but if the letter is to be amended to include these “personal” matters, someone besides me—who know nothing and am in no position to sift the facts—will have to do it. Moreover, such an amended letter might readily be one I simply could not sign, not knowing the facts, first hand.

What think you?  Is there a “plot” or is all this Evelyn’s obsession?

Waldo

Evelyn’s revisions to his earlier draft of the appeal letter.

* * * * *

 

To Margaret DeSilver

November 18, 1951

Dear Margaret:

Waldo’s letter was generous and very good but it was so much too generalized that it conveyed a wrong impression as to why we have been stranded here so long.  And I therefore have asked Jack to bind with the precis a sort of summary more pertinent to precisely the situation ours, which, in the main, is we both consider the result of the war—after all Jack and I have been married twenty-one years and we never got stranded in Britain when conditions were those of times less ridden by politics.

Love and gratitude and hope.  We are very desperate at this moment, gas, rates, etc again.

Evelyn

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

130 West 12th Street, NYC
November 20, 1951

Dear Evelyn:-

You certainly have every right to object to the form of appeal letter presented to you and to prefer your own approach.  But as a person on the receiving end, who am on every known list, I can tell you that most of the appeals I receive go straight into the scrapbasket unopened and the art of getting letters opened by the recipient is quite a fine one.  And Brevity and Simplicity is of the essence.  So that I have to say that I could not undertake any such letter as you propose, for purely practical reasons.  Besides this, I myself feel that Cyril and Jig are not in the least concerned with this specific problem.  Jack, of course, is, and the only reason he was not brought in was that it was thought it would be easier to appeal for just one person, the American writer, and that if enough money was forthcoming of course Jack could be included in the deal.  And of course, harsh as it sounds, you are the American Novelist in this case, and not Evelyn Scott the human being.  Of course actually the two are inseparable, but artificial divisions sometimes have to be set up in the practical world.  As to the Kenneth Patchen list, my only idea was to get ahold of it or the Authors League list, and weed out likely names for each signer to send the appeal letter to, some for Waldo, some for Lewis, some for Bunny, etc, etc.  Kenneth Patchen’s virtues or Bollingen politics has nothing to do with it.  It was just my idea of a way to get ahold of some names.

So, Evelyn dear, I guess I’ll have to go back to sending you money when I can and asking other people to do so when I see them.

Love to you both—
Margaret

1952—November 24th, London.  I think Jig is concerned with every publically circulated word about his mother. Evelyn Scott

* * * * *

To Waldo Frank

December 4, 1951

Please remember we can’t wait on dickerings of foundations, and this shouldn’t be regarded as replacing anything else anybody is willing to do—we are just hanging on from week to week.

Dear Waldo:

I don’t like burdening our friends with letters, but as we are determinedly making a stand for our survival as living authors and for our living human relations, I don’t know how to avoid a correspondence relevant to sustaining us.

Perhaps Margaret has sent you by now the letter you first wrote for me with such real generosity but without, apparently, having taken stock of some aspects that might have been misinterpreted, and which I, therefore, tentatively altered, with the proviso that you see it and pass on using any part of yours before it was sent it.  Should it be that you disapprove, then probably someone else can paraphrase its content and retain those statements of fact respecting myself and Jack, which, though not many, I insist on because of the legalities involved, which are all legal legalities, documented on file and correct, but must be recognised as existent or the entire business of trying to help me will result in a humiliation which I think you yourself would not tolerate and I cannot.

Best regards

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

130 West 12th Street
[December 6, 1951]

Dear Evelyn

I have received the “precis” which I have forwarded to Jig at Red Hook, NY as you requested.  I also got your amendments to Waldo’s letter, which I will communicate with Waldo about as soon as possible. Maybe eventually we’ll get this business straightened out!

Maggie

This note on December 6th 1951—I have precise facts, irrefutable facts in respect to criminal interference received here December 8 1951

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Truro, Massachusetts
December 28, 1951

Dear Evelyn,

I have just yesterday received your letter of Dec 4.  I enclose a copy of my word to the Foundation:  good luck to it!  I should have loved to say something for Jack, but how could I conscientiously, since I have never read any of his books?

Last week M deS sent me your revised version of the letter.  I returned it, saying I had no objection but that I thought Allen T and Gannett should compare the two versions and possibly make up a third.  I entirely disagree with your notion that personal details should go into this letter.  To begin with, these matters which loom so large in your mind and heart are not known and even less cared about by practically anyone.  These controversies and data are irrelevant, and to throw them into the consciousness of persons appealed to can in my judgement only confuse and deter.  The appeal for you should be made upon clear simple cultural facts; your marriages, your relation with Cyril, the state of your teeth and even of your mss is of no importance, from the standpoint of presenting a persuasive objective picture.  Even your “insistence” that it MUST be stated that you both have books ready for publication is in my judgement an error of objective view.  If such an item had any effect at all on readers it would be to deter them from helping, for they would say—“Well then, if she has a book ready why not send it to a publisher and get an advance?”  I think dear Evelyn, you would be wiser if you simply let Margaret and her friends handle this matter as they (we) judge best.

May 1952 be good—a better one for you both.

God be with you,
ever affectionately your friend,
Waldo

* * * * *

From Margaret DeSilver

THE EVELYN SCOTT FUND
Margaret DeSilver, Treas
130 West 12th Street
New York 11, NY

[February 1952]

The purpose of this letter is to win your interest in the plight of Evelyn Scott—one of the small company of genuinely distinguished American writers of our time.  During the 1920s and 1930s, Evelyn Scott’s novels were widely known and greatly admired, although their uncompromising character kept them, with a few exceptions, off the “best seller” lists.  Their fate was that of a number of important books; within a few years of publications they were allowed to lapse from print.  This is a common calamity.  Most writers circumvent its effects by publishing new books, some, gain, die, thus rendering the date of their “rediscovery” unimportant to them.

Evelyn Scott is the wife of the English author John Metcalfe, and as a result of his “RAF” service which took them to Britain during the war, they have been stranded there ever since, and Evelyn Scott is under such economic duress that she feels strongly it is essential she return home and recover her American contacts.  She was victimized during the war, and requires practical help in a re-beginning that financially is from rock bottom.  We wish to raise a fund of money for her which will tide her over to a fresh start in her own country.  This is not proposed as a “charity” but as restitution for a form of neglect Americans cannot afford.  If offered as “charity” our aid will be spurned and rightly.  She has many books in her yet to be written.  What would have become of Henry James, after his early successes, without a private income?  What became of Melville when his books stopped selling?  That the creative suffer most in the aftermaths of wars is in the nature of things, but to save wherever we can those whose cultural outlook is unique and can never be duplicated is to the advantage of al who realize intrinsic values in art must be revived and preserved for the cultural health of the country.

Waldo Frank
Dawn Powell
Allen Tate
Lewis Gannett
John Dos Passos
Edmund Wilson

[Duplicated typed letter with signatures duplicated. The typed slip below was included with these letters:]

Recently both Miss Scott and Mr Metcalfe have been granted Six Months Fellowships at the Huntington-Hartford Foundation in Pacific Palisades, California to take effect October 1st.  Their immediate need, therefore, is for clothing, transportation and enough money to tide them over the intervening months.  Please help us.

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

The Saturday Review of Literature
45 West 45th Street
New York 19, NY

February 4, 1952

Miss Margaret DeSilver
130 West 12th Street Apt 12-G
New York 11, New York

Dear Miss DeSilver:

I am heartily in sympathy with the idea of aiding Evelyn Scott in her time of trouble.  Last year I received several letters from her which distressed me.  They were not incoherent, but they betrayed what I thought was a mild, or perhaps a serious case of persecution complex.

I would be willing to sign the letter you suggest and am sending you a small check to start with.

Sincerely yours,
Harrison Smith

* * * * *

To John McGovern, Carnegie Fund

[130 West 12th Street, NYC]
[Late April 1952]

Dear Mr McGovern

I forwarded your questionnaire to Evelyn Scott in London, and she has filled it out, as you will observe, in elaborate detail.  Under the circumstances, her own troubles have naturally become something of an obsession with her, and she added to the explanation on the back of the questionnaire several pages of further notes which I am inclined to spare you but will gladly forward if you care to see them.

Of course you will in any case disregard Miss Scott’s request that you forward any possible sums through me.  Doubtless she hoped thus to facilitate the transfer, and did not understand, as I did from your letter to me, that your grant, if made, should be sent direct to her in London.

* * * * * 

To Evelyn Scott

Carnegie Fund of the Authors’ Club

May 6, 1952

Mrs Evelyn Scott
26 Belsize Crescent
London WW2 [sic]

Dear Mrs Scott:

Inclosed is cheque to your order for $500.00.

The trustees wish you to be informed that this Fund is not part of any group.  It is an independent Fund set up to relieve temporarily competent and experienced authors who are in emergency distress.

This cheque to you is greater than I had thought the trustees would approve since it is about 10% of the entire annual income of the Fund.

The grants usually run from $100 to $250.00.

Please sign and return the inclosed receipt.

Yours cordially,
John T McGovern
Chairman

* * * * *

From John Metcalfe’s diary:

June 3, 1952: Letter from Maggie to say Fund established and most of the money in.

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

215 East 18th Street
January 26, 1953

Dear Mrs DeSilver

In the process of distributing to some of my friends the letters you sent me re Evelyn Scott’s fund, I somehow slipped up on making my own contribution—small as it is.  You will find ck for $25.00 which I hope will help a wee bit, added to what you now have.  I wish I could make it larger.

Unfortunately, the letters I sent out met with no response.  It is too bad.

You sure are a good Samaritan to have made it possible for Evelyn and Jack to return to their family here.  I shall see, them, of course, and if there is anything I can do to help, I shall do my best.

Sincerely yours,
[Dr] May R Mayers

* * * * *

List of Contributors to the Evelyn Scott Fund
(compiled by Margaret DeSilver)

May R Mayers, MD
John K Kutchens, Book Reviewer, New York Herald Tribune
Katherine Dunlap
Lewis Gannett
Witter Bynner
Allen Tate
William Carlos Williams (did not want name used)
Jean K Nevius
Sophie Kerr Underwood
David Davidson
A R Wylie
Henry Steele Commager
Van Wyck Brooks
Jerome Weidman
Elmer Rice
John Robert Coughlan
Max & Gladys Eastman
David & Jean Lerner
T S Matthews
Alice Port Tabor
Julian Gumperz, (Pres., Hillaire Foundation)
Irving Stone
Mrs W Murray Crane
Berry Fleming
Rita & Werner Cohn
Frances E Blum
Jane Hudson Davis
Rita Halle Kleeman
Dr Sol Wiener Ginsburg
Laura Wood Roper
Marjorie Griesser
Alfred E Cohn, MD
Vincent McHugh
Robert K Hass (Vice-President, Random House)
C Kempton (sent snide letter!!)
Inez Haynes Irwin
Harrison Smith (Saturday Review of Lit)
Louise Bogan
Luise M Sillcox (Author’s League of America)
Mrs James H Scheuer
Lewis Mumford
Lewis Galantiere
John Dos Passos
Dawn Powell
Waldo Frank
Edmund Wilson

* * * * *

Next week I will share details of the problems (and debts) associated with Jack’s ownership of his house at 26 Belsize Crescent in Hampstead, in London.