Sep. 12, 1954
[typewritten in New York City, to the
Nashes in Blue Springs MO]
TO WHOM IT MAY
CONCERN, Greetings and KUDOS, and all that sort of rot,
Felt that I should write now before all
sorts of ghastly things start happening, like sailing, etc.
First things first, the trip on the train
was not exactly smooth, shall we say, rather inclined to hump
itself into oblivion, and rather long, but nothing really
horrible happened, except that St. Louis station is a mess,
badly organized, discourteously staffed. A nasty red-cap
took my bag and promptly disappeared, leaving me alone, angry,
and wondering where the h--- I was supposed to be, wandered
around the whole place and finally located a gate with the
proper identification, stood with all my stuff for fifteen
minutes, then rammed my way through with fifteen thousand other
people and after much more wandering around (NO red-cap, porter,
or etc. in sight). Dragged my way aboard, some unseemly
red cap pointed vaguely forward and I staggered to the proper
cabin or stateroom or what they laughingly call a "room-ette."
I was just as happy that I didn't have to tip the red-cap (who
had disappeared, though my bag was there) or the porter due to
the fact that I was quite bitter at the moment . . . too much
time spent directing people and expecting others to follow me
around, I guess. Made directly for the diner—had a $2.25
fillet of haddock, too strong, but tasted good to me, sat with a
lovely little old motherly type of lady to whom I poured out my
heart (Fulbright data et al), we staggered back together,
and I showed off (?) my roomette to her . . . my, what a
charming (I use the word loosely) little world in its own a
roomette is. Still, I could have committed mayhem on one
John Douty, who, for all of his careful instructions, neglected
to tell me about NOT letting down the bed with the door
closed—result, I almost ruined my profile, so to speak, dear
brother-in-law. It was a frightening experience.
Went to bed and read Morton's fraud stories until about 11:00,
managed to be the only one still asleep and in that particular
car until 9:30 (10:30 train time) the next morn . . . went
forward for scrambled eggs to the tune of $1.35—got to eat
looking out at the marvelous scenery of
Horseshoe Curve . .
. the superintendent of the diner and I exchanging friendly comments.
Went back to roomette and entertained a darling porter from
another car for some 45 minutes until the conductor entered and
gave nasty looks at said porter—we both, by the way, are the
same way, politically speaking, if not the same color.
Read for the rest of the trip. Somewhere out of
Philadelphia my porter friend came back to say goodbye, but true
to form, Little Mila Jean tried to force her way out of the
train at Newark, and had to be forcibly detained by two porters.
After that, both of them kept coming back at two second intervals
to tell me how much longer it would be, to ask why I was so
eager to get off, etc. After disembarking all went well, I
found the escalator,
Joann and Patricia, and my bag waiting at
the top. We giggled, and descended on
the big city.
So much for the train—from here on it
really gets hysterical. Managed to locate a taxi and get
to Central Park West—just like something out of Street Scene,
with rickety elevator, peep hole in door,
bugs named Archie, a
dumb waiter manned by an easygoing [operator?] named LeRoy who hates
to pull it up and down so simply yells, "Jess throw it right
down" and down go bottles, trash, all (I thought at first on
LeRoy, but have since found out that LeRoy stands aside while
the stuff goes past him). We dragged bags in and prepared
curried chicken, drank some lovely white wine, changed to my
black peddle pushers, and just began to relax when . . . the
phone rang! (The only time so far.) Patricia
went to answer it and came back looking astonished, saying it
was for ME and it was a man! My word, who else knew the
number but John Douty? And of course it was—he was in the
lobby of the Astor and to quote him, said, "I just wanted to
find out if there was anything your mother should know" as if he
were my lord protector or something—of course, he meant WHAT had
I done with travelling salesmen, etc. I was a trifle tired
and tipsy and kept giggling and he was on his way in to see a
show, so I told him to come over at 11:00, even though he was
supposed to leave for Baltimore at midnight. It was all so
absurd, and like home that I couldn't get over it. Joann
and I took a walk down Broadway, bought a fifth and some ice
cubes and got home in time to greet the good Dr. I had
prepared the girls by telling them how nasty he could get, how
antisocial, how bitter and sarcastic, etc. . . . Naturally, he
was in one of his most social, giggly frames of mind, so we all
had a good time although it was warm and humid. John
departed for the subway (I trust) about 3:00 AM after he and I
had killed the fifth between us. It seemed that he and his
stepmother had had words about his going to Paris, or
something, and he had come up to New York to escape. He is
taking all three of [us] to see
[Bankhead] the night of the 16th
. . . we have seats in the fourth row balcony . . . it may be
lousy, but I'm very excited about getting all dressed up and
seeing her finally. We're compromising by having him to
dinner that night.
Next day I felt rather whoozy, but Joann
and I set off—got English money changed, [went to the] top of Empire State,
going through stores, got theatre tickets and wandered down
through Theatre Row (I also got a ticket for myself for
Tea and Sympathy for Wednesday matinee since Jo will be going to
school by then)—then a frantic ride home, dinner, dishes, then
to Greenwich Village that night until midnight—all fabulous.
Next day Staten Island ferry, Wall Street,
Old Trinity church and its wonderful graveyard in back with
Alexander Hamilton, Gramercy Park, 14th Street park where the
Communists hold their cell meetings, wandered around near
Brooklyn, saw Washington Irving's old home. That night we
were near death and
Hurricane Edna threatened so we stayed home
and watched the TV, cut and washed my hair.
Yesterday slept until 1:00 during which
Edna shrunk and we didn't even know it—ate and went to a show
which contained four old Chaplin movies and an Andersen fairy
tale, a Russian film. Came home and didn't get through
with dinner until after 11:00. Read Fulbright stuff and
gabbed until 3:00 AM.
Slept until 11:00 . . . one of Edna's
manifestations was that she flooded the basement, so we had no
hot water for two days and had to keep heating enormous pans of
it. After three spit baths we managed to tear off (Patricia
and I, Jo had to work) to the New York City Ballet at 2:30—was
marvelous, every seat in the house filled (K.C. should look
sharp). Patricia & I wandered down Fifth Ave window
shopping, came home and ate and she is now reading the NY
Times while I type. Jo should be home soon, we will
play some 20's records, eat (again) and retire.
Tomorrow I must go shopping, see all the
museums, try to pass on John's card at the Museum of Modern Art,
Coney Island, Bronx Zoo, call the Consult here 'cause Mr. Douty
feels that I should to check some matters, such as visas, etc.,
all unnecessary I'm sure. Try to buy a camera, etc.
Tuesday everything I didn't do before.
Wednesday I'm on my own—Tea and Sympathy—want to see
Teahouse, too. Do a washing. Thursday
I'm staying home, will pack in the morning, cook up some exotic
messes for John, then the theatre that evening.
Friday is it: providing no more Ednas show
This place is fascinating, made up of the
weirdest incongruities imaginable, utter wealth side by side
with utter poverty, the most gorgeous things in the world, the
loveliest looking people side by side with the ugliest, most
sordid, dirty, depressing things imaginable. The things to
do are innumerable—all kinds of wonderful things to see,
culture, plus . . . yet also filth and nasty, discourteous
people. It's also the noisiest place alive, the subways
are deafening but useful since you can get from Greenwich
Village to here in some thirty minutes—terrific speed. Most of
the people look jaded, pale and sick to death of things, yet
I've never encountered at the same time such excitement and zest
for life and art than in certain places here.
Naturally I adore the theatres, the
graveyard with all those fabulously old gravestones (Alexander
Hamilton's wife was from 1730-1825 or something), Fifth Ave,
Gramercy Park, and all the night spots that reek of Scott
Fitzgerald. Also love parts of Greenwich Village.
Am getting used to the subways, but like the buses better 'cause
I can see where I'm going, at least part of the time at that 90
mile an hour rate.
All in all, I love the place with
limitations, and am looking forward to Europe. I'm
determined I won't get [sea]sick, and will still get there (the ship)
on time . . . yet, I must admit I'm glad John will be around,
since this Father Confessor gimmick is useful at times,
especially when he trundles me around, me wide-eyed and
innocent. So-O-oh, yes, Father, the train was on time at
ALL points. Mother, all was well, even found an ivory
comb, old or new? One horrible thing—the mirror in the
little case broke right off the bat—yet, when would I use it?
Life is great, I was getting in a
terrible rut, please tell everyone that it is next to impossible
for me to write, even postcards . . . this little letter alone
took an hour and a half and I won't have even that later on.
Hope all and everyone is well—please
forward this letter to my wandering travelling
Love to all from roving reporter M.J.
(Smith, that is!)
Sep. 17-20, 1954
United States Lines stationery, to her parents]
[Sep. 17] 10:00 PM
After two hours sleep last night, a
frenzied packing spree punctuated by falling into the suitcases,
etc., Jo and I staggered out with luggage at 9:30 this morn,
boarded with absolutely no trouble (except for John who
overslept again per usual, arriving frenzied & sans
his required cup of coffee & [with] red-rimmed eyes at
10:30). This [ship] is a microcosm of the whole world—everything—elevators,
cocktail lounges, even the tourist class is in utmost splendor.
The food is enough to fill Pete Nash 24 hours a day—each meal
lasts for at least an hour & a half, usually two. Anything
& everything you could possibly want: entreés, soup, salad, main
course, millions of rolls throughout, drink & exotic desserts
all in one meal. My table partners are wonderful—better
than I could have hoped for. The gentleman on my left
George—around 45-50, handsome, an administrator
of hospitals who is going to Denmark & Scandinavian countries to
visit the hospitals—cultured, charming, gracious. The
gentleman across [is] handsome—around 25, a Fulbright law
student going to London. The lady on my left an intense
Education Fulbright studying at Birmingham.
They show movies everyday—today
of the Night in French—marvelous, with Gina Lollobrigida.
Hobson's Choice with Charles Laughton, for
which they are charging $1.85 in New York.
My cabin mates are all very nice, although
I see little of them since none of us is ever there.
Cabins are lovely—don't even miss the "facilities." We're
rather crowded since one girl has
something like five suitcases. Oi!
Last night after an agonizing day (I will
explain at a later date all about it), not being able to
locate John until he called at 6:00, we had a hysterical dinner
during which time John opened the wine [with] the cork zooming
to the ceiling, the wine spewing over—Joann running out for
whipping cream at the last minute, etc. We were lapping up
coffee at 8:20, dashed out for the subway & made it at 8:45,
just were seated as the curtain rose. Tallulah was
fabulous, of course—the play lousy & trite but fun. We
wandered through the pouring rain to the Algonquin (John's
hotel) for drinks & eats. Then walked 15 blocks to my
favorite F. Scott Fitzgerald hotel where I kicked & screamed &
stamped my feet in the puddles until I got to ride in the horse
drawn carriage through Central Park (to the tune of $10).
The little man sits up front in a high top hat. I was
blissfully happy, John was petulant, Joann giggly (Patricia went
home since she had to work). After that we wandered down Fifth Avenue &
took the subway home. Had a drink & talked while Joann did
counterpoint in the kitchen. John went home & I packed.
Joann stayed up until 5:15 AM doing homework. Had a
Jane Davis, by the way—very sweet.
Today was complete madness, of course.
Please be thankful you did not come [to see me off]—for many reasons. By
the time the ship slipped neatly out, Jo Ann [sic] was looking weepy,
John was carefully averting his eyes & staring off into the wild
blue yonder & I felt horrible. The band was playing
America, flags waving. I got to stand very near where
they were, but the one heartening thing that happened was that
John screamed "See you in Paris" & it sounded so terribly
continental & reassuring I couldn't feel too badly—sob!
We had lifeboat drill shortly after
sailing—all very silly but necessary with all of us standing
around looking ridiculous in our
Mae Wests. In my
stateroom was a card from
Bill, with a dollar, saying "Have a
drink on me." I needed the dollar desperately, since I
really exhausted my supply of money. Will use it for a
deck chair. Jo Ann & Patricia gave me a gorgeous necklace
& bracelet imported from Venice—black & gold, quite lovely.
I felt ashamed, though, they are awfully bad off financially.
Papa Stegman was fine & very talkative the whole
time. Jo Ann took millions of pictures, so you should be
satisfied. She says she will write as soon as she has the
strength. Right now she's prostrate.
No seasickness yet. I took my
dramamine on deck without water behind John's back—don't know
whether it helped or not. Other people have been sick, I
noticed uncomfortably, but I just keep on eating & eating.
I just went out on deck & was bent double in the terrific wind.
It is extremely cold & wet & foggy.
Skipping around in subjects, I enjoyed
Tea & Sympathy a great deal—very much the director's show (Elia
Kazan) beautifully paced & blocked. Joan Fontaine was
acceptable if not ideal, the play weak in spots. We rode
on the carousel in Central Park, shopped—got a pair of black
calf opera pumps for good, a $3.95 Brownie evening veil, etc.
The trip to the United Nations was most fascinating & only cost
us 50¢ (for students). A tremendous building of almost
outrageously modern & ostantasious (spelling?) [sic]
decor, but interesting to see.
They tell me that the first night in London
you have your choice between an Old Vic production or
Right now the combo is playing "Three Coins
in the Fountain" & "My Wonderful One"—I think I shall have [it]
since it always makes me nostalgic.
I now find my way around the tourist part
pretty well, hopping on & off elevators at will.
John & I got lost for 20 minutes today in
the first class section!!
Thanks loads for letter, clippings &
Think I will go down to old "B" deck & turn
in. Bye for now.
Sept. 20th, noon
This is the day when every good voyager
stays in bed—blustery, rocky—everyone is either sick or dull
looking. I slept until a half an hour ago, feeling it
would be useless to get up just for breakfast & then have to sit
inside for three hours staring at nothing. They won't let
you go outside. I'm in the second settings for eating:
9:15, 1:30 & 7:30—which usually don't start until 9:30, 1:45 &
7:45. Today the movie is
Sabrina with Audrey
Hepburn & Bill Holden, which I hope to see. Yesterday it
Egyptian excavation with Robert Taylor of which I only
saw 15 minutes. Saturday night my table mates & I went
"up" for a drink & to see Hobson's Choice, dragging to
bed at 2:00 AM. No matter what time you get in it's bound
to be late, since we put up [i.e. put forward] the clocks one hour &
fifteen minutes every night & you never feel as if you are getting
enough sleep. Saturday my roommate & I also sat on deck
all day with a group of Fulbrighters & sang folk songs & had
beer, very charming. Yesterday was lovely, sunny with the
sea so calm & blue, & we sat on deck all day in deck chairs,
getting burned & sleeping. After only 3½ days I've gotten
rather sick of being in one place so much, even though it is so
large one has the feeling of confinement. It will be fun
to get in London & wander around to the point of exhaustion,
rather than just sleep because you've eaten too much or because
there is nothing better to do. We Fulbrighters have a
special train to London, which leaves some two hours after the
other & doesn't get to London until 9:20. I imagine we
will be dead by then.
Until the next stage of my journey—Love,
circa Sep. 20, 1954
[postcard of S.S. United States,
to her parents]
I'm sending these little epistles
to everyone. I've written you a letter which you should
get sometime before I get back, I hope. Aren't I being the
dutiful daughter & writing often? Sometime soon your luck
is bound to change for the worst. Have a feeling we will
be rushed from now on. Love, MJS
Sep. 27, 1954
[telegram to the Nashes in Blue
ARRIVED SAFE FULL HAPPY WONDERFUL
VOYAGE GIVE PARENTS LOVE JEAN
Sep. 27, 1954
[airmail from "Drama D., University of Bristol," to
I must apologize for not having submitted a
more detailed report than that hurried telegram to Mellie.
I didn't know whether or not you were home yet—hence, the letter
to her—also cablegram. My letters & postcards will
undoubtedly be coming at odd intervals, probably the first one I
wrote on the boat arriving last. This one will
cover the London portion of my jaunt. This morning I am
leaving for two days in Bristol, to see what sort of
accommodations I can manage. The whole prospect is rather
frightening, being alone and still unsure of myself monetarily.
However, it must be done—and how else can I expect to do
anything—especially get to the Continent if I'm weak-livered?
Sept. 29-Oct. 4 is the siege of Grantley Hall in the North
Country. Then finally school begins somewhere
around the 10th. I am writing this small epistle in my
freezing garret room in
Bedford College for Women, a part of the
U. of London where half of us have stayed for
the past 4½ days.
The first day in we received our first paychecks, and due to the
expected but unprepared-for
(my table-mate on the ship, who has been my constant companion
here) and I ran downtown and bought twin sweater sets.
Mine is robin's egg blue cashmere—gorgeous! but expensive for
here, not for the U.S. Ours legs & feet ache constantly
since we've been on the "go" since arriving. Yesterday
made a much too brief tour of Canterbury Cathedral (Canterbury
is about 66 miles from here). I can tell you this will be
a "weepy" year. I can't seem to gaze at all these
traditional beautiful things without being touched.
Saturday night we covered Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square,
Big Ben, Buckingham Palace. I'm glad we went at night—much
more lovely. I played it very stupidly on the
Theatre & only went to see one bad one—Pal Joey, a
usually cute show but wretchedly staged.
May I say that the most impressive thing
about England is the people who—without exception so far—are the
most charming, cheerful, accommodating folk alive—especially
when you consider what they've been through. They smile
almost constantly. Secondly, it has the most beautiful
grass & flowers imaginable. Our college is in Regent's
Park which has a stream with sailboats, ducks, swans sailing
over—and flowers surrounding. Canterbury, with its old
Elizabethan houses, was most charming. Naturally I've
committed every error possible in the way of money (someday I
will write you about the railway station) but how else does one
learn? By the way, the food is almost as bad as I
expected! Hope you are all well. More later.
Sep. 28, 1954
"c/o Mrs. Reade,
3 Oakland Road, Bristol
to her parents]
Just realized that I dated a letter to John last night "Sept.
17th." What a laugh he'll get out of that: the day I last
saw him. Well!
Bristol is very charming, with old
winding streets, hills, and a lot of local color. It was
terrifically bombed, I take it—they're still building up the
center. I got here under the protection of a motherly
lady, who sat opposite me on the train (which, by the way, was
very fast & efficient). She got me in a lovely hotel
next door to the University, where I have a huge
double bed—sorry tonight's my last [there]—[she] also took charge of
getting my steamer trunk, loading it on a taxi & on here to the
hotel. I repacked my suitcase with heavy tweed
suit, long socks, heavy gloves & every sweater I own for
Grantley Hall. Went to the University Accommodations
Office—got the names & addresses of two places—walked to the
first place and took it. As far as luxurious living is
concerned, the room would take last place, but Mrs. Reade says I
can do anything with it I want, so I hope to buy a paisley
spread (like mine at home), cushions, & knick-knacks to liven it
up. They [the Reades] both are gracious, charming folk who
were completely ruined by the blitz. She is deaf & smokes
hand-rolled cigarettes in a holder, laughs all the time.
He is handsome, is in the Consulate, member of the Labo[u]r
party—both in their 60's. My room is done in varying
shades of beige—get the picture?—ha! I would appreciate it
if you would look up my prints of Paris that I had up in the
sleeping porch (now in my bookcase) & send them or anything else
colorful you find so's I can start fixing up the place. It
is dirt cheap, plus all meals!! Hope to rent a
typewriter when I get back. Opened my account at the bank
today—very charming manager—I'm invited for tea the first Sunday
I get back. My steamer trunk is now unpacked at Mrs.
Reade's (more about that episode later). I leave
tomorrow morning on the 8:45 train—have to change trains
twice! Ach! Get in Ripon at 5:32. Please
write soon—I expect to be back the 4th or 5th. Then
to work! Love, MJS
Sep. 30, 1954
Haworth Moor, captioned "There is a spell in purple heath
too wildly, sadly dear"—Emily Brontë]
This was Wuthering Heights
come true—kept expecting Heathcliff to come bounding over the
moors at any moment! The
Hall is a gorgeous Georgian relic
and the food more than ample and good. We
are having one tremendous time—are spending all day tomorrow in
York, which dates back to Pre-Roman times. Went through
Brontë house (much too commercialized) &
gasped at the wild beauty of the "blasted heath." It is
cold! I wear tweed suit, long socks, sweater & coat
Oct. 5, 1954
[typewritten, to her parents]
At last the opportunity to sit and breathe
and deeply at that, to relax and be lazy at good old Bristol.
I am still not used to this typewriter
since I just bought it several hours ago—don't scream. It
cost £20 to rent one for ten months, and only £25 to buy one, so
I did the terrible deed. It's a darling thing, only
weighing 8 pounds, with its own travelling case, cover, etc.—a
British make of the Italian "Olivetti," supposedly the best in
the business of portable typewriters. I put £10 down, and
will pay the next installments during the next two months—hence,
second extravagant buy—the first being of exotic blue-green
cashmere set. I seem to be the type to throw money around,
although I must admit I'm being overly prudent these days,
thinking that the first month will probably be the gauge by
which I will plan other month's
Arrived here last night from the North,
after some eight or so grueling hours on the train—having to change
twice, with layovers of 20-30 minutes each time. The train
to Bristol arrived at least 20 minutes late, it was cold and
drizzling and I felt rather lost, but was taken in hand by a
student representative from the U. who had been in Grantley
Hall. Got a taxi, staggered up the dirt path to Mrs.
Reade's, expecting, no doubt, a deserted flat etc., only to be
greeted by a warm couple, a tasty dinner, and a letter from John
on my mantel-piece! To say the least I was elated.
Spent the rest of the night unpacking, reassured by the fact
that it would be the last unpacking for at least two months; had
cocoa and read in the Reades' sitting room and so to bed.
Since I had contracted a cold due to an ill-advised jaunt up a
mountain top near Scotland, Mrs. Reade insisted on serving me
breakfast in bed, overriding my negative protestations, and it
was rather nice to say the least. Finally got up
around 9:00, dressed, went to the bank and got my checkbook and
£20, to the typewriter shop, over to the University to see the
ill-fated Dr. Wickham who naturally was not there, saw his
assistant prof in the department who, by the way, is very
attractive. He stated that "Glynne" would probably see us
Fulbrighters tomorrow, which promises to be a horrible session.
Said Handsome: "Oh, you're the young lady who's interested in
children"—I felt like saying "only impersonally," but merely
smiled vaguely. If Wickham has me working directly with
children I shall perish on the spot!
Bought an India print for a double-sized
bed, and took it apart (you know, they can be dealt with that
way if you want curtains out of them) and put half on my bed,
and half on the steamer trunk, which is now a kind of
window-seat, like we planned, remember? The large
window is directly opposite the door, next on the right as you
come in is a small table, which serves as a desk, upon which are
enthroned a lamp (slightly the worse for wear, with an askew
shade upon which are drawn prints from Bambi), the box which we
packed jewelry in which now contains stationery, a gold candy
box which I got in York (full of candy, but now sadly empty of
its original contents) when we went through a chocolate
factory—which now contains pencils, pencil sharpener and my one
letter received so far from
Sir Douty. Next we have about
a four foot fireplace which holds a small electric heater and
upon which I have standing my two beanbag clowns, next is a
small bookcase with four shelves, next a towel rack, next a wall
upon which rests a huge cream-colored wardrobe big enough to
contain all my dresses, skirts, etc., and beneath a huge drawer
into which I have placed my shoes (a fact which Mrs. Reade finds
hilarious for some reason). Then the door. On the
left wall is a big cream-colored dresser which contains the
usual things, upon which I have placed: 1) my lovely alarm
clock, 2) my lovely thermos bottle. I must admit they look
rather lost in all that space. Next is the bed, which is
very comfortable, looks somewhat better with the print on it,
the print being gold, blue & orange. Then comes the
dresser, which has a mirror (this, in order to differentiate it
from the other, is more like a dressing table), four small
drawers in the top, and two larger ones below. Here I have
all cosmetics and jewelry. And so back to the window.
The walls are light green, the carpeting faded beige. All
in all, it is most satisfactory, being quite large, with a lot
of space for clothes. It has a somewhat uncomfortable
chair and a smaller one for the desk. I hope to get
another lamp, a cushion or two and some other do-dads to liven
it up more, especially pictures and what have you, but basically
it's all very nice. The food is good and plentiful.
Also, every night she gives me a hot water-bottle, which makes
it nigh perfect.
On with today—I met Margaret, the girl who
was up at Grantley, for lunch and she showed me around the
Student Union and the University. It rained constantly and
my umbrella, sadly oh sadly, fell apart for some reason, so that
means a repair job or a new one. These Britishers are
queer for dances—one tonight, one tomorrow night and on
Saturday. I cannot take tonight's, being wet, tired, and "coldy," but
may indulge later in the week. Also got a ticket for a
student production of School for Scandal Thursday night
and am going with Mr. Reade to see a collection of Viennese
costumes shown by the Swiss ambassador Thursday afternoon.
The University itself—my part at least—is all in one building
University Tower, obviously as its name implies a
tower, with nice ceilings, rather High Gothic with enormously
high scaffoldings, and rather austere dark, cold hallways.
It's actually not much visually, but I dare say I'll get along
in it alright. The students, the few I've met, are quite
nice, cheerful and friendly, but all seem so much younger than
I, maybe, perhaps, because they are! Actual course work
does not begin until Monday, but I don't even know if I'll go to
classes. Oh, Wickham,
where art thou! I've been told he's
one of the handsomest men in Bristol---!
siege of Grantley Hall was probably the
most marvelous five-day period of my life. I went all the
way from Bristol to Ripon, almost the entire length of the
country by myself (NOTE) with[out] a hitch, everyone being most
helpful and friendly—arrived dogged-tired [sic], but
triumphant. We stayed in rooms with app[roximately] four
or five girls to a room with little curtained cubicles, all very
clean, containing a bed, wardrobe, mirror, etc. with the
"Facilities" down the hall. This supposed inconvenience by
the way does not bother me in the least, surprisingly. I
am disgustingly regular, manage to get a bath in at least every
other night, and do not deplore anything except the
toilet paper ([sample] enclosed) which is a damned nuisance and
unsatisfactory. Anyhow, the food was really very good,
although it is without question maddeningly monotonous in range
and scope, extremely starchy (three kinds of potatoes every
meal, and custard sauce on every dessert). Almost a
complete absence of milk, fresh fruits, and salads—I try to get
them on my own, by buying fruit from vendors, milk instead of
tea, etc. The English do not know how to cook or season
food, and are extremely unimaginative, but do have marvelous
pastries, and roast beef (when it's cooked properly). They
fed us extraordinarily well there, probably much better than
they eat normally there.
Grantley Hall, by the way, is an
18th Century Country Home, renovated as an adult education
college. As its assistant warden they have probably one of
the most delightful men on earth, called Jack Lightfoot—a homely
little gnome of a man who knows everything there is to know
about art, architecture, music, enjoyment of life, and
laughter—more than anyone I've ever met. He was a source
of constant fun for all of us—one night we all went up to his
room and listened to records, sang, etc. He always squired
us on the tours, explained the Gleisande glass in windows, how
you can tell English Gothic from French Gothic windows, the
original architecture of the place, etc. We were on the go
constantly—had lectures on all sorts of things, none
boring—visited York, all sorts of Cathedrals, quaint old
streets, the Brontë house, the moors, an old Georgian house with
all sorts of fascinating relics in it which the owner is now
opening up due to lack of funds on his part. For instance,
he had a tiny silver tea set owned by Marie Antoinette,
supposedly the plaything of the little Dauphin, a piece of
jewelry of Charles Stuart—all things acquired by members of his
family throughout the generations. It was displayed in the
original settings of the lower rooms of the home, quite nice
settings actually, but much too cluttered, and the whole idea of
his having to show off the family relics rather struck me as
lamentable. The run through the chocolate factory also
depressed me, seeing near-children working nine hours a day
doing such hideously mechanical work that would drive me crazy
in one hour. One of the nicest things for me of the whole
trip was a run through an old Georgian theatre in a small old
town of Richmond. We would never get home from these
jaunts until 7:00 or after, then a huge meal, then a talk, a
trip to Lightfoot's room or a cold walk to the pub much too far
away for comfort.
(Slight break for dinner, consisting of
scrambled eggs and peas and toast, and a bath, very hot and
good. Mrs. R. just knocked on my door and presented me
with a banana . . . and so it goes . . . ha! By the by,
the address is: in care of Mrs. Reade, 3, Oakland Rd., Redland,
Bristol 6, England. I was slightly confused before,
thinking the Redland 6 was the phone. It's not.)
The Fulbrighters on the whole were a quite
wonderful bunch of people, not without the usual dull tools,
unaware group, dilletantes, etc.—but mostly nice, bright kids
full of intelligence (not intellectuals), enthusiasm,
very much conscious of the wonder of Europe and their
responsibility to live up to it—they seemed to want not to abuse
the privileges involved in this adventure; most, like me, seemed
unsure of just what they were to do, but quite willing to work
like the very devil to get the most out of everything. All
were cheerful about the inconveniences, like five [or six] girls to a
bathroom, one of them in the tub, three washing undies in the
bowls, one on pot, one kibitzing—most of them had nice senses of
humor—to the extent that I was darned sorry upon leaving
Grantley Hall. Hope to get up to some of the other cities
to see Muriel and Harriet and another girl named Donette in
London on weekends.
The others coming to Bristol are the
oddest assortment of individuals you'd ever hope to meet: Mr.
and Mrs. Bill Cannon doing rehabilitation work for the blind—he
is partly blind, ugly, rather unaware, Southern, in [his] 30's;
she is rather pretty, fat, all "oh's and ah's," Southern—both
rather pleasant, but not my type. As for the Drama group!
Jerry Lieder [sic] is
[pushy?], the Les Vogel type, obnoxious, on the
whole probably the worst in the group, typical Pal Joey type,
wise-cracking, probably talented in his field: musical comedy.
Marcie is small, blonde, kittenish, mad for any man in pants,
helpless, superficial—wants to write plays.
is the best of the group: tall, dark, handsome, seemingly very
intelligent and mature for his age: 21, subject: Elizabethan
staging. Unfortunately, none of them and I seem to vibrate
at all—maybe it's better that way.
As for Xmas presents, that's all.
According to customs officials, I would have to pay so much in
duty that it would break me up if you sent anything, and
likewise with you, so I'm planning on picking up all sorts of
delightful things in my jaunts over Europe, and take them
through, duty-free, with my $500 exemptions coming back for
you-all. We can have Christmas in August, and won't it be
fun? Tell everyone that the nicest things I could hope for
would be letters from them, nice fat ones, or perhaps you could
save the money and help me through my Fall semester next year,
for I certainly won't have a cent. I must confess I am
darned glad I will be with John at Xmas, since that time is
probably the worst of the lonely periods. He is getting
along okay—no place to live as yet, but he said he would write
either yesterday or today. He's so funny and odd, said he
didn't speak to a soul on the boat, and gets terribly mixed up
and flustered with his French. Mother, he said Og (your
"almost" dog—part hound, part husky) got run over by a car and
died, poor little tyke. I must finish this letter to you
and get on with him.
It is so hard to get used to thinking in
terms of Pre-Roman times, saw the Roman walls and walked on them
at York, and couldn't quite comprehend that they were actually
patrolled by Roman huskies some 2,000 years ago. I think
we're going to have to wait with the scrapbook and do it
together, I already have a huge stack of stuff which I couldn't
possibly send, and I think my explanation and chronology would
have to be present at any pasting-in process. I get
guide-books for everything and postcards to save, also muddlers,
coupons, and camera shots. I'm a bit wary of the three
rolls of film I took, I do such stupid things that I'm expecting
them all to come out white or all black or some such mess.
I'll take them in to be developed tomorrow.
Until next installment, Cheerio, as we say.
Give everyone my love and save lots for yourselves. XXX,
[attached: a sample of British toilet
paper, stamped "W.R.C.C.—Please Wash Your Hands," with the
handwritten postscript "(as if we wouldn't)"]
Oct. 10-13, 1954
[typewritten, to her parents]
Whilst waiting for my first Sunday supper
with the Reades I shall attempt to fill in the gaps, as it were,
since my writing has been sporadic, and will probably be more so
from now on. I'm going to hold this letter until Tuesday
when the enlarged photos come back from being developed.
Wouldn't you know that I, of all people, would turn out
tremendously good pictures, after committing every possible
error? I recently read my book on the Brownie camera and
found that I had been using it all wrong, and even then
every last picture was good. I think it would probably be
a good idea if I number each pic, then give a description of it
in the letter, then you could start a separate scrapbook
of pictures I have taken, and therefore get that out of the way
before we start on the big one.
I think that between us, Joann and I have
told you enough about the sailing: I will never do it that way
again, if I have the chance to sail again, that is! It is
infinitely better to say a brief farewell, then depart for the
other side of the ship or go down to the cabin. There is
something about standing for some 45 minutes on deck staring
down at your friends and them staring back, and then slipping
away from them (not fast, but excruciatingly slow) that is
painful even, I dare say, if you hated the people who were
seeing you off, let alone dear friends. I told you about
the ship and what incredibly wonderful table partners I had.
By the way, George (the older man) is going to be in Paris next
week and will see John, I hope. Also I listed the movies,
the wonderful food, the smooth voyage, but neglected to say it
all got rather dull, being confined after that many days.
The day we hit land or could see it in the distance was almost
frighteningly exciting. I kept jumping up and down,
screaming, taking pictures, etc. Naturally, during the
most thrilling part they dragged us downstairs for immigration
proceedings, but luckily I went through it with George and
instead of sad-sacking it, we laughed and all was fine.
Actually was nothing but sitting down, saying your name, giving
the man your passport, answering some questions and leaving, but
of course, the waiting amounted to some two hours. The Fulbrights had a special boat-train from the rest of the
passengers departing at Southampton, consequently had different
sittings for dinner, so we had to bid a reluctant farewell to
George. Being a bon vivante (as John says) I wanted to
make the most of my last meal and was calmly eating cheesecake
with my waiter (who was absolutely mad and French—he was
eating caviar) when the porter ran in and said that everyone had
gone ashore—[I] made a mad dash to the cabin (which had been
vacated), grabbed all the stuff in sight (deducing that it was
all mine, since everyone else had left) and ran down the
gangplank. PAUSE TO THINK OF A SIMILAR SIGHT. Do you
remember that scene in Gone With the Wind when Scarlett
rounds the corner of Peach Tree Street and sees the millions of
men lying on the railroad as far as the eye could see?
Well, that's the way I felt. Noise, confusion, milling
people wherever you looked. I decided that rather than
panic I would take my time, since no one obviously was going
anywhere for hours, and enjoy it. You could never see a
similar sight in the States: little, tiny, wizened men in suits,
shirts, ties, who were porters, dragging large carts full of
steamer trunks, two suitcases, and clothes at ONE TIME!
Smiling and good-natured, all of them. Naturally never
believing the Government I decided that my stuff would not be
under the letter "S" and it wasn't. Took greater part of
thirty minutes to find all of it. After that episode in NYC I
was sure my trunk had never got on, but eventually found it.
Managed to drag all the gear together in a semblance of order
and wondered vaguely how and where to find a porter.
Finally, one of the boys informed me that the trick was to walk
all the way up to the gate and catch the porters as they came
back from the train. Of course, the walk to the gate was
some distance comparable to Central Library, but I did, and
grabbed one unsuspecting soul. By the time we had stomped
back I had a time finding my stuff in all the jumble, then it
had to go through customs, a process amounting to nothing: "Any
intoxicants, cigarettes, etc.?" "Okay." Then
wheeling the whole mess back up to the gate, sending my
trunk through to Bristol, losing the porter, carrying all the
rest of the stuff through the gate, wondering what to do with
the big suitcase. Finally at one dark unidentifiable door
an equally dark face peered out, and I peered back—a hand took
my suitcase and a voice said: "Don't worry, lass, we'll get ya
there alright"—my first introduction to British charm. The trip
up to London was naturally terribly tiring. I sat with
Charles (the other table partner) who had waited for me all
during the grueling process and who swore I was the last one
through, and another charming couple who were going up to
Edinburgh to study the ministry. It was cold and drafty,
got off the train (which was late) and got on a bus to Bedford
College, where part of us stayed. Naturally the trip there
consisted of "oh's and ah's" over Big Ben, all the sights, etc.
The first jaunt through Bedford was enough to make all of us
want to go home: it was 10:00 PM in the 40's I'm sure, and every
window in the place was down, with the wind whipping through the
damp halls. Of course, all of us wanted to go to the jonny,
and that was the second big shock—little wooden stalls with the
paper like I showed you. We were crushed (or is that the
right term? Ha) and ready to give up. Also the bed
mattresses must have been made of straw because they crunched
when you sat on them and also collapsed in the middle with
either side engulfing you in a suffocating, uncomfortable
manner. Nevertheless, we slept like logs, only to be
awakened by a sound which can only be described as a bullfrog
during mating season at 7:30 the next morn. It was agony
to get up, not only because we were so tired, but because the
floor was like ice and you could see your breath. To make
matters even funnier the house was being painted all the week we
were there and little men kept peering in the rooms.
Quote, "Hey Frank—look, there's a gull (girl) in there" but not
unkindly or insultingly, just "funnily." Muriel was in the
bath once luckily only washing her teeth when a foot descended,
then a body, then a face (the windows, remember, were always
open . . . if we closed them, they miraculously opened again)
and he said, "Do you mind?" She said she didn't but left
rather hurriedly and ran giggling into my room to report the
news. During that venture we had our own rooms, consisting
of said bed, a table and chair, another chair and towel rack.
Next day commenced meetings and receptions, interspersed with
sight-seeings: so hilarious to arrive at the
reception and have
the liveried butler stomp a staff several times and announce in
golden-throated tones: "Miss Mila Jean Smith"—I never got over
the notion that everyone would suddenly kneel at my feet the way
they do in movies; first reception I got rather high on sherry,
not having had any dinner. It rained that night, we tried
to call George and didn't succeed, and walked rather lost in the
rain for some minutes before finding a ghastly hotel restaurant
in which to eat: what I mean to say is it was plush in their
standards, but served horrible food and was rather nasty.
Next reception (at the American ambassador's) I got rather high
on OldFashions [sic], the one and only time I've had my
precious Bourbon in England, and got cornered by a funny little
professor of Cambridge—that night we went to see the lousy
production of Pal Joey and wandered around Piccadilly
Circus. Had several hilarious experiences on buses, never
knowing exactly where we wanted to get off, running after one
speeding away with Charles leaping on at the last minute and
Muriel and myself standing on the street corner yelling for him
to get off. Also as I said the understandable problems
with money (which I have more or less down now). Then,
every morning the everlasting frog's blast and up we'd be for
another round of activities . . . the food there was pretty much
the way it is here at [the] Reades: hard, hard, toast, lukewarm
milk-coffee, one dish at dinner. The food at Grantley Hall
was a dream in comparison. London is a fascinating place
and held much too much to see for only five days, most of which
time was utilized in getting acclimated into the ways and means
of British school system, political parties, Fulbright
procedure, etc. So I'm quite eager to get back for more
Told you about my trip (first trip) to
Bristol and meeting the Reades, who continue to remind me more
and more of John and myself: he so very neat and clean and
correct, very intelligent and rather quiet but precise in what
he says, and dignified; she rather casually dressed (to say the
least), inclined to be more than rather vague, absent-minded but
laughingly so, sort of shuffling around and muttering to herself
. . . yet she is really quite dictatorial with him in her own
way and it's terribly funny. Getting the steamer trunk
over here was a riot: having the midget of a taxi-driver and a
painter who happened to be working at the hotel at the time
staggering out with the trunk and roping it on the back, then
the driver and myself literally dragging it up the dirt path to
the Reades' and heaving it up the steps, just us two . . . what
an ordeal! The things were surprisingly unmussed seeing
how I packed that awful morning of the sailing in [the] Stegmans'
apartment at 7:00 AM after 3½ hours sleep, really a mess.
Now I'm through with the meal (lamb with a
lot of fat, undercooked potatoes, peas, orange jello and cider)
and have a half an hour before I'm off to an Overseas Student
Meeting. Had a date with a man who's a dead ringer for
Leslie Howard last night . . . he is representative of the
"manly British" type, the other being the "carefree, boyish"
type, not that he's not carefree, but older, member of the
rowing team, President of Will's Hall, the men's dorm, and more
dignified, where the others are always cutting up (really puts
American male colleagues to shame in the energy department),
mugging, laughing, and yelling most of the time. We were
supposed to go to the annual Coming Up Dance, which isn't really
a dance but an occasion where everybody goes and stands in a
cocktail party like stance while the crowds mill around you . .
. instead we went to the digs of another girl in drama and sat
around and talked for some four hours . . . they're really quite
pleasant and entertaining (I haven't laughed so hard in weeks .
. . one little boy is named Gus and could be a double for
Morris, he's such a comic) and also well-informed. Walked
home in the rain at 12:30 to be confronted by Alderman Reade
preparing his bath. Preparing for the bath is a great feat
in this home . . . you turn on the hot water tap and leave for
some twenty minutes while it runs . . . of course Mrs. R. is
always forgetting it's on, and I have to run in right at the
crucial moment and turn off the taps before it runs over the
top. Oi, yoi! After the reception today Margaret
(the girl who came up to Grantley) is having us Americans over
for eats. So far the only thing I've left out telling you
is the meeting and schedule outlined by Wickham which is much
too overwhelming to go into right now, when I have to get
dressed . . . I'll finish it tonight when I get back . . . also
have to drop a line to George in Paris to get in touch with John.
John is already supposed to have written George, but I don't trust
him. He'll do most everything I ask him to, but not
gracefully. Have also written to Joann and Bill, suppose I
should to Jane Davis and maybe
Bonnie, but it's really
impossible, so apologize if you should run into any of them.
Your letter was waiting for me in the Drama
Department when I got there Wednesday morning (the 6th); got
such a kick out of it . . . read it in a snack shop and kept
whooping with laughter until I had to apologize to the staring
girl across from me . . . what about
Connie by now? And
sorry about Virg . . . there was an elevator operator on the
ship who reminded me exactly of dear Mr. LeBeau; I'm also eager
for news about KCU and especially the theatre. Know
To make matters worse, my electric heater
and lamp have blown a fuse or something and it's very cold in
here in today . . . probably much warmer outside, which is often
the case in England. They're right when they say it is the
dampness which is penetrating and not the actual temperature.
Enclosed pictures, numbered in
chronological order (I hope):
1 — That's (l. to r.) Charles Niehaus,
Muriel Tetreault, and George Laycock, my dearly beloved table
partners and constant companions, on deck the noon of the 22nd
2 — Muriel, myself, and George
3 — view of English coast and a
4 — tugboat and gunwhales [sic]
of [the United States]
5 — a Norwegian ship in English
waters, near shore
6 — first view of Bedford College
from across stream in Regent's Park
7 — bridge over Regent's Park, over
stream where sailboats and swans sail
8 — long view of Bedford College
9 — view of entrance of where we
10 — long view of Canterbury Cathedral the
way you first see it, looming up against the dark houses and
11 — long view of Cathedral and grounds
12 — side view of front in detail, shown in
relation to dark, small houses
13 — part of Tudor architecture in
Canterbury . . . the Boots are drugstores (chemists)
14 — long view of entrance to an old
monastery in Canterbury
15 — long view of Grantley Hall (good,
16 — view of the York Minster from the top
of the Roman Walls
17 — The Shambles, an old representative
street of York, famous for its butchers
18 — Bolton Abbey ruins—gorgeous waterfall
(not shown) on right of them
19 — this is Jerry standing on the moors
near the Brontë home
20 — the Brontë home and the moors
21 — Fountains Abbey ruins, very near
22 — an old castle fortress, in Richmond
23 — darned if I know . . . think it's part
of the architecture of York, one of the many tremendous gates,
but which one I've forgotten.
One I didn't have enlarged of a little boat
we saw in English waters called the "Calshot Spit" . . . took
the pic for the heck of it, for the funny name, and to amuse
George. He'd been over before and got a big kick out of me
and our initial excitement over our first voyage, first view of
I find it very difficult to get a nice
enough day here in Bristol to take any pictures, the sun is out
today, but is sporadic and I hate lugging the camera around to a
reception. It was so funny when I declared it at customs
and they asked how much it had cost . . . it gave everyone a big
laugh when my little $3.98 was put down next to all the $50-$100
[ones] before it . . . it would have given them even a bigger
laugh if I'd told them I'd gotten it on sale for $2.98! It
is almost 3:00 now, so I must be organizing myself to go to one
more special function. They're having two more receptions
during the next two weeks and a Thanksgiving dinner for us—also
Sir Winston (Churchill, that is, who is our Chancellor) will be
here the next day (after Thanksgiving). Such excitement.
To be continued later . . .
Oct. 11 . . . 9:00 PM
Ah, yes . . . didn't finish it last night
did I? Didn't get it till rather late, and was cold and
tired, so read some and went to bed . . . Honestly, it's really
elegant getting a different letter every day . . . I got the one
from Mellie this morning, and enjoyed it so . . . what, in
heaven's name, did Joann write? Frankly, I can't remember
how and where we took all the pictures . . . seems like every
time I looked up, there she was with the camera.
Yesterday's reception was rather grim, I'm afraid . . . all the
foreign students just sort of standing around staring at each
other. I trapped a poor little Fresher from Rhodesia and
yakked the whole time . . . also the session at Margaret's would
not take first prize in hilarious social events, but I met a few
new people. Once I got outside of the house, it was
perfectly charming weather, all sunny and mild . . . was lovely
walking down the boulevard watching all the strolling Sunday
couples and the mothers pushing prams . . . by the way, all the
English babies should provide ready stimulus for painters:
they're so chubby and rosy and healthy-looking. Also the
cats, which are constantly in evidence, are all fat and
complacent, and superior. (Pause, Mrs. R. just came in
with a pear: at least I'm getting plenty of fruit now).
Ah, let me see: oh yes, Wickham. Went
for a meeting last Wednesday morning and met the good Doctor . .
. he's actually not as attractive as I thought (at least not at
first, he grows on you), fairly small or middle-sized, fair, and
English looking. I'm told that all the little Fresher
girls fall madly in love with him, you know, like
. . . he has a maddening habit of addressing most of his remarks
to the ceiling over your head and a nervous one of "uhhhhh"-ing
between sentences, which nearly drove me mad at first until I
got used to it. However, I like his attitude towards
things: very practical and down to earth while being
intelligent. He outlined a schedule for us to follow at
least through the month of October and possibly November until
we get acclimated and interested enough in one particular field
to follow it through on our own . . . involves one course in
Elizabethan drama (which I went to today . . .
very elementary remarks, but pleasant fellow). Greek drama
from the head of the Greek department . . .
Prof. Kitto, very
charming, fairly elementary, doing The Antigone this
week, a play-writing course from
Heffner (from U.S., the friend
of McIlrath), two in acting at the University (elementary voice
and movement) and one at the professional Old Vic school,
seminars on the Theatre
Royall [sic] performances and
talks on English professional, educational, children's theatre,
a course in Shakespeare, and later a course [or] rather seminar
in Elizabethan drama from Heffner, which I'll probably like
better. Supplementing these are attending all possible
performances here: like all the Theatre Royall shows (going to
one tomorrow night called
Marching Song, I've heard it's
a kind of Chekhovian thing, then in chronological order until
Xmas; Much Ado About Nothing, The Crucible, and a new
Ustinov thing called
No Time for the Dove or something);
also the popular junk running at the Hippodrome (the boys and I
went [to the] Saturday matinee to see
Sinbad the Sailor on
Ice and laughed hysterically through all of it—really
lousy), going to performances at the London Old Vic, The
Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford, the Birmingham rep, the
Citizens Theatre in Glasgow, and touring with the local amateur
societies (there are 150, so not all) through the "mud
and slime" of the provinces, as Wickham says. Actually it
sounds much more exacting than it will actually be . . . it's
just to give it a working idea of all phases of theatrical
activity here: academic, professional, educational, and amateur
. . . we don't have to follow through on all or any of
them if we don't want to, but we're all keeping a notebook of
the things we observe for future reference. I must admit I
was a bit overwhelmed over doing so many things, while being
terribly elated at actually getting to see so much, when I had
pictured myself stuck in a moldy old library all year . . .
actually, it's going to a class for some 45 or 50 minutes, then
over to the Berkeley Cafe for an hour of whoop-de-do, then a
class or talk or discussion, then an hour's lunch, and so
forth. Almost every hour over here is broken for coffee
break or tea break of something . . . life really goes at a
leisurely pace . . . how they ever manage to get a production
going is beyond me. Jerry already has the proverbial
"ants" in his pants, and every once in a while my thyroid begins
to itch and I wish I could "Get going" as it were, but actually
it's rather pleasant taking it so God-awful easy. Wickham
says he will give us introductions to theatres in France and
Germany during holidays so that should be fascinating—I trust
J.D. [John Douty] will have some money left to tour . . . I don't fancy the
idea of stomping around all alone on the Continent.
Haven't heard from him and it's been a week—have terrible
visions of him on a park bench or something, probably fearfully
Have gotten in with a nice crowd, all
pleasant and hilarious, most of them to be found in the Berkeley
90 per cent of the time, or in the bar of the Student Union,
Have I told you about my shopping, aside
from the typewriter, that is? Bought John a lovely thick
woolly oatmeal colored wool scarf for Xmas (thought I'd better
buy a little at a time), thought if I could get my way clear I'd
indulge in a sleeveless pullover sweater also; bought myself
some imported cheese and crackers for munching at midnight and a
pair of evening sandals, don't ask me why, but they were so
cheap, also a couple of things I can't mention since I'm
bringing them home as belated Xmas presents, and a straw basket
for the dresser.
Was elated to hear about Marcia [Nash]'s new
achievement . . . will experience her [cheerleading] adventures with her
vicariously. Reminds me of a comment of John's over a
suggested game at a party called "Pinchey-winchey"; said he:
"Sounds too physical for me"—similarly, the aforementioned
I would like to throttle the ill-informed
person who assured us and kept reminding me of the famous
"reserve" of the English people. My God, they would put
Americans to shame. I'm exhausted after every social
The Austrian Ambassador's exhibition was
interesting but not especially inspiring; I loved meeting all
the dignitaries and was impressed with some of the artists'
works, but most of it was rather conventional, and I kept
thinking of how much better some of
Morton's work is. We
were shown around the Lab theatre today by the tech director, a
little pudgy nice man named
Mr. Lavender; they actually have a
wonderful set-up and easily convertible.
Jerry now has acquired a flat, actually
quite nice, a big sitting room with large fireplace, bedroom,
small kitchenette and bath. We've already got it planned
that I will come over once or twice a week for a bath (since
every extra one over here costs me 6d
[sixpence]) with my typewriter
so he can type letters, papers, etc. He and I get along
alright with a kind of grudging respect—he's probably the most
talented among our group, but drives me mad with his [pushy?]
drive and outspokenness. I anticipate a few "flareups"
between us. Jack had turned out to be a lamb, and
everything is fine in that department. Marcie has acquired
a very handsome chap of the "manly" variety, who squires her
around everywhere. (Mrs. R. is now "listening" to a loud
version of "I Love Paris" . . . wonder if I will?).
The sun was out this morning, a lovely day
really . . . so I ran out with my camera and took a picture of
3, Oakland Road . . . left the door ajar, knowing that Mrs. R.
would take it that I had left for good and lock it. She
showed me a very nice series of photos of her family when all of
them were young . . . I remarked (rather shouted) on what a
handsome group they made. Said she, "Oh, do you think so?
I think he (pointing to one brother) looks rather like an ape!"
They got the heater and lamp fixed, by the way, so I washed my
hair tonight for a treat, and read my Time which I still
buy faithfully every week to see how the Democrats are
The English pronounce aluminum "al-yew-mín-i-um,"
controversy "con-trá-va-sy," schedule "shed-ual," issue "iss-ue,"
laboratory "lab-ór-a-try," etc.
What with the photos and all, this letter
is going to cost a fabulous postal price, so I will stop for
now. What do you want to bet there will be another letter
tomorrow for me to answer? Stop, I'm not
Love and Kisses, Jean
Oct. 13, 9:30 AM
Sorry I had to hold this for so long, but
they kept putting me off about the pictures and also I forgot to
turn one of the negatives in (No. 18) so will send that later.
Went to my first Theatre Royall production last night and ate
spaghetti afterwards at an Italian cafe, spaghetti tasteless,
but at least it was a wonderful change! The play (script)
was incredibly bad, had nothing to work with at all, so I won't
condemn the production so much. Also bought a winter coat
yesterday—all I do is spend money—the color is grey (EVERYTHING
HERE is short on me) fleecy stuff, nothing exciting, but heavy
and plenty large, but the style and cut of the thing is much
better than most English things, a huge, intricate collar,
straight lines but with a cut which allows some swing, and a
double row of buttons down the front. All the pretty
tweeds were nothing more than skimpy on me in styles that do not
allow for suits underneath, etc. I like this one much
better and the color will be good for years . . . Will send this
in a couple of hours. Ta ta.
[handwritten on an Air Letter aerogramme, to her parents]
Sunday, Oct. 17th, 9:15 PM
Simply can't concentrate since Mrs. R. has
the radio on so loud—am actually interested in a book for the
first time in five weeks (haven't been able to concentrate)—it's
the sociological report I bought in K.C.—The Lonely Crowd.
The reason I am writing is to point out a lamentable fact which
will probably cost you more money, but will be more helpful in
the long run. I think it would be best if henceforth you
send all letters air mail—the prints, of course, would naturally
be too much. Still, after much complaining & stewing
around about how three of your letters were obviously lost in
the mail, a little girl of my acquaintance informed me that
letters going regular mail take anywhere from two to six
weeks to get here! I received your first big letter to the
drama department, the thin one to Mrs. Reade's (both sent air
mail) & Mellie's letter within four or five days of the date
sent from K.C. I have not as yet received anything
else. I cannot conceive of why they take so long
otherwise, but it's a known fact over here that you'd might as
well not send them than send anything regular. I think
they strap carriers on the backs of donkeys or oxcarts & go that
I slept until 10:45 this morn, had
breakfast, did a washing, ate lunch & went back to bed until
6:00—I was completely exhausted after my first week—especially
since we (Jerry, Jack & another American:
Rod Brown, who is
older, married with two kids, & has an English driver's license)
rented a car yesterday & drove first to Bath (went through the
Roman baths, through the Theatre Royall & ate at a quaint old
Georgian-type inn), then to Salisbury for a local rep production
of Richard II (which wasn't worth the fifty minute
drive). It was a completely hilarious day, ending up at
Prof. Kitto's (the local Greek prof who is a world-known
beer & eats—dragged home about 1:30 AM & collapsed.
This coming week is going to be almost as bad. I want to
talk to Wickham tomorrow about going to Birmingham to see a
local man doing work in Creative Dramatics. By the way
I've found a place within walking distance which serves
perfectly marvelous rare steaks! Got a letter from Joann
yesterday—hurrah—still no word from JTD—hope that park
bench is hard! It rained all day yesterday but I took my
camera anyway—this will be the final test! Have you ever
taken pictures in a steam bath? That's the way it was in
the Roman baths yesterday. What about Connie??!
These voice & movement classes are riotous—the movement teacher
is like a
Billy De Wolfe take-off on a ballet teacher—
Oct. 18, 9:00 AM
Got two letters from you today—mailed [on
Oct.] 4th (exactly two weeks so that's not bad). How many
more are loose? Did my letter from the boat ever
get there? Must run & get my shoes repaired. Love,
Oct. 26-28, 1954
[typewritten, to her parents]
Hurrah, Huzzah, and Felicitades!
The prints arrived this morning, can you
imagine such a thing? They are now up, pinned, but none
the less up, reinforced by a Van Gogh reproduction of the
Montparnasse restaurant and an Utrillo postcard print of another
street in Mont Parnesse [sic], so's the room really has
that Parisian atmosphere, veddy Bohemian, don't you know?
There is one nail in the wall over the fireplace so I hope to
buy some incredibly loud Picasso in a frame to hang there . . .
it just isn't worth it to buy frames and nails for the other
eight. Also have that horrible thing of JTD and friend
pinned up in a dark corner to glance at occasionally and chuckle
at . . . by the way, don't be silly, of course he'd love to hear
from you. He always liked you better than me, anyway.
Our letters are taking on the same argumentative tinge as our
conversations do, as for example they never open in a
conventional sense, but rather: "Don't blame me! You got
yourself into it." Answer: "I did not! I distinctly
remember one spring day—" Answer: "Your memory fails you
on that point," etc. etc. I'm looking forward to fighting
my way through Christmas vacation. His latest included an
incredibly funny account of
how he takes a bath in the local "middleclassed"
hotel where he is residing (permanently) to which I shrieked so
loudly that even Mrs. Reade heard me.
On that point I thought I had told you
about the Reades and their children, but guess that was John I
told. They had two, the boy Bob was killed in the war,
only 21, had been in less than six months, the other is a girl
named Nell, I think, is married with children. We live in
a five room flat which is part of a large old Victorian
building, with about three or four other flats, we are on the
street level, with one above, one next sort of down under, and
another above that.
Upstairs is a nice family except that the
youngest child, a boy, has his room above mine, and begins every
morning at 7, clump, bang, boom overhead . . . it just brings
back fond memories of Central Park West and the little boy next
door with his ball, running back and forth, so I go back to
sleep. Since Mr. R. is ill with bladder trouble the Mrs.
and I oversleep every morning, this morn it was 9:30, luckily
I'm not going in due to the fact that ONCE MORE INTO BREACH?
DEAR FRIENDS—six of us are going to Stratford-on-Avon this
afternoon on the train, spend the night, see Troilus and
Cressida, and go through the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre
Wednesday . . . marvelous? but expensive . . . So I stayed at
home, wrapped a gift for little
Kathleen (am I glad the ordeal
is over—bet Corinne is too) . . . I resisted the desire to buy
extravagant little stuffed rabbits dressed in velvet suits,
knowing that Connie would stash them away somewhere and never
use them—and was hideously practical and bought a long, bright
wooden rattle with a suction cup end, which you can plunk
anywhere and it will stay, and a tiny rubber toy, a little bear,
that she can teeth on, play with in a bath, or sleep with . . .
you know, practical? Well, after much agony I got these
wrapped and am going to the PO to mail them . . . Also had to
pack my overnite bag. Gerry [i.e. Jerry], Jack, Marcie, Glynne and Mrs.
Wickham are going, by the way.
The clippings are so wonderful, makes me
feel closer to the tide of KC life, as it were. I
immediately mailed some applicable ones to John, but left out
the one on the tortoises—I am going to mail it separately
sometime when he gets depressed, because for some reason to me
that was one of the funniest things I've read in a long time.
Hope Daddy is feeling alright by now . . .
of course it sounded like virus, but it's amazing what nerves
can do . . . I had a bad case last week and went around snapping
people's heads off, but all is rosy this week. By the way,
I got a very belated letter from
Dr. Frank Loos. Mailed
from Illinois at the end of September, and I just got it from
Joann last night.
I've been buying things again—eight books
this time, seven of them were very cheap, the eighth was an
enormous gorgeous thing on stage machinery which
referred us to—by
Richard Southern, one of the leading technicians
and designers here, who designed our studio theatre, result of
twenty years research . . . I had originally intended that I
would buy this one (its cover was slightly soiled since it had
been on the shelf for ages, since no one could afford to buy it
undoubtedly) and buy another for John for Xmas, since his PhD
thesis was on stage machinery & lighting, but after glancing
quickly through the book, I erased the thumb prints and encased
it in a plastic bag (they are God-sends) to save for him . . .
it (most of it) is way over my head, replete with 300 plates of
grooving Georgian shutter-flats and stage traps, etc. I'm
sure he will love it, but Ooh, la, la! for me, no.
The rest of the books were either
applicable to my project or things which Wickham recommended on
the British theatre today and educational system (the latter
book centering around Bristol U.).
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
Yes, the prints arrived . . . No, no duty.
Yes, all my cabin mates were Fulbrights,
all nice . . . one in social work—forgot where she went.
Two in English Lit, one to Liverpool, good friend of mine, one
Meals (ugh) consist mostly of breakfast:
cold cereal & milk, two pieces hard toast (my gums have
started bleeding), tepid milk/coffee (called coffee), egg
occasionally (boiled always, usually undercooked which makes me
sick, so I've eliminated it), and dinner when I'm home: one
dish, two pieces toast and coffee. They are really
awful—if I can get home for tea time (4:15-5:30) it is nice: tea
and cookies or cake. Lunch out (I can't manage to get all
the way home and back in time). The English do not know
how to cook: that is all there is to it. Had Sunday dinner
at a couple of boys' flat, and theirs was not bad at
all—especially a sherry-cake with strawberries dessert which was
lovely. They, by the way, have the most luxurious flat
I've seen in all of England, all modern and slick with a clean,
white WC (an unheard of phenomenon here), elegant bath with
shower and tub, enormous sitting room with couches that convert
and fireplace with gorgeous blue thick rug covering all the
floor, a dining room with a kitchen running along the back which
can be closed off by a lovely curtain , , , oh, luxury! I
go over when things get too bad here (like Sunday nite when the
apartment above leaked down into our hall and we had to swim out
the front door) and just drool.
John's address is: M. (you know for
Monsieur) John Douty,
Hotel Lindberg (oi!), 5, Rue Chomel,
Paris, VII, France.
Among my adventures last week was a lovely
production of Much Ado About Nothing from the Theatre
Royall (the set was out of this world . . . arches constructed
of rope with tremendous costuming), and a performance of the
London Philharmonic . . . I was so starved for music I thought
it was wonderful, but in retrospect I think it was probably
wanting in many respects . . .trumpets blaring . . . flamboyant,
etc. By the way, Mr. R. gave me the tickets for the
latter. He is on many committees which send him free
tickets. Did I tell you the Theatre Royall was doing
The Crucible? I'm going to get tickets for every night
if it's good, although I don't see how it can be, it's so
difficult to do even in America.
I am going to hold this until Wednesday
when and if I get back—I have some photos being developed, some
of Bristol, some in the Roman Baths. I'm also going to
take my camera today although per usual it's cloudy. With
the exception of TWO days, it has rained all the time I've been
Mrs. R. is presently crashing our lunch
together—I'm having it in, since I won't be going out until 2:00
or so. Why don't you call Morton about tickets for
Pygmalion? I am going to have to write someone in
order to find out what goes on in the theatre department.
Guess Jane D[avis] would be the best, since she is probably the only
one who would write back.
Cheerio for now.
Thursday 28th 2:30
Upon arriving home, found three of the
prints had fallen, straight pins being what they are; will try
thumb tacks next, then resort to frames when all else fails.
Before embarking on the telling of our "adventures" will make
some usual description of photos:
No. 18 was the one I left out before, and
should be put in [the] scrapbook in that order. It is, as
I said earlier, Bolton's Abbey, 12th Century (near Haworth,
where the Brontës lived).
No. 1 of second set is my humble abode,
Number 3 Oakland Road (yes, Redland—rather, no, Redland
is not a suburb, but sort of another type of zoning system, I
take it). X marks the spot; immediately to the right, the
Victorian set of three windows is the "drawing room." The
building is rather a yellow color, and as you can see, quite
large. Our doorway is to the left of my window, up some
hellish steps. (Notice all the windows [are] open.)
No. 2 is top view of the art gallery on the
left, and the University Tower where most of the classrooms,
including the theatre department, are—this building is halfway
between Reades' and the Centre (the main part of town).
The art gallery appears to be leaning in towards the Tower . . .
the fault is mind, not the architect's.
No. 3 is the Victoria Rooms, our Student
Union building far cry from the Roost, eh?). Those are
fountains in front with a statue of Edward II . . . inside are
all sorts of rooms for meetings, an auditorium, about three
floors or so, and a bar . . . all antiquated and rather morbid.
No. 4 [is] a hideous misty (I think
it was raining at the time) view of the Cathedral, part of it
dates to the 12th Century, but most of it has been redone during
No. 5 [begins] the shots done in Bath.
5 itself is a view as you come in[to the] Roman baths (it was
raining, so pardon). This is the main bathing room, the
pool, which is fed from natural warm springs, is twenty feet
deep, open air. The structure surrounding it is the
original Roman, the building in back [is] provincial English
No. 6 is the opposite view from 5, with the
added attraction of Jack reading his guide book. The
pillars, I believe, were originally twice the height of these .
. . evidently the cornices were added to the remains of them.
No. 7 is a tantalizing view of my three
angels, who accompanied me that fateful day: Gerry, Jack, and
Brown in his motoring cap—so British, don't you know.
By the way, Rod's wife is a girl he met in England during the
No. 8 is a shot of the Theatre Royall in
Bath—which we were shown through . . . only dates back
(the inside) to the 19th Century.
So-o-o, there we are until next week when
then Stratford pictures will be done.
When I rolled out of bed this morning, my
feet refused to hold me and I sat back down . . . they are
blistered and pulpy messes or masses. How can I in words
express the inexpressible? For sheer heaven and hell I
will never experience the like of the past few days, so I won't
burden you with too many details. POURED Tuesday when we
left—I went to the drama department to find out when the train
left, who was going when—Wickham is usual uncommunicative mood.
(I'm glad I've had experience with John or I could learn to hate
Wickham, but [I] like him for some strange reason). So, I
calmly went to class at 3:00, Jack finally ambled in, class
started fifteen minutes late; at 3:45 I muttered, "Don't you
think we'd better leave?" Out we went (it was seminar
style in a circle with only about eight, nine people present)
with suitcase, stole,
Minerva, umbrella, two overcoats, scarf.
Down dropped stole, Minerva, glasses case, umbrella.
"Excuse us," etc. Outside the office we said to Wickham,
having found out the train was to leave at 4:08, "How do we get
to the station from here?" "Oh, ummmuhhh, well, you just
take a bus, outside." "Which one?" "Oh, ummuhh, any
one—let me see, either No. 1, or 20, or 22 or 18." "Where
do we get it?" "Oh, well—right outside somewhere."
Out Jack & I charged in the COLDEST,
WETTEST rain I've ever felt . . . stood in the rain and piled on
the bus. Even the collector (i.e. the one who collects the
tickets) forgot to yell out
Temple Meads station, so we got off
a stop late, RAN (in the wet, cold rain), grabbed tickets, RAN
to the train, and got on, only to meet Marcie (God knows where
she came from) getting on.
Where were Wickham, Mrs. Wickham, and
THEY were driving up that night in the car!
This will give you a good indication of how
the whole trip went: arrived in Stratford in the cold, wet rain
in the darkness, knowing not where to go. And only had
thirty minutes to get accommodations for the night and to get to
the theatre. Needless to say, we got to a
nice, but expensive) right across from the Theatre, through the
help of the one taxi driver in town, whom we got to know quite
well, after engaging him three times in 24 hours. Went to
see Troilus and Cressida that night—I do not care for the
play—it is cynical, jaded, long (three hours fifteen minutes)
and unpoetic, and the production did nothing to improve on the
script of Shakespeare at his most bitter, shall we say.
The singing was absolutely incredible, beautifully executed, the
set out of this world; the acting on the other hand was very
Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, but nevertheless it
was so much better than anything I had ever seen that I was
impressed. One thing dimmed the evening's glamour: we had
had nothing to eat for something like ten hours, and I had a
sherry to warm me up and got awfully dizzy. We realized we
HAD to eat (at 11:00) so spent too much at the Theatre
Restaurant that night. It was very elegant, however,
dining in that wonderful place. To fill in, the Wickhams
and Gerry arrived a half an hour late after running into a lorry
and a stream (neither serious, I am sure both were
exaggerated) and left after the performance, leaving Jack,
Marcie and me to fend for ourselves. We collapsed that
night . . . it was cold, wet, and rainy, and [we] slept until
almost 9:00. Next day, lo, the sun was out, the birds
chirping, and one could see why Stratford is considered so
beautiful. Marcie's and my room overlooked a lovely garden
. . . [we] had a good breakfast, and after much mess over paying the
bill, trying to figure out time tables back we went out to
get shown around. The Avon is one of the
loveliest sights I've ever seen with
swans soaring over it.
Watching a flock of them swimming the water is really something.
Surrounding it are walks with green grass and rose gardens
flanking it. The theatre is ultra-modern, second only to
the U.N.—inside a circular staircase to the dress circle with a
green marble railing. Below a huge fountain . . . well,
you can see better when the photos come back. We took
pictures like mad, then started the trek to
cottage (by the way, Stratford is, as you can imagine, very much
commercialized . . . everything is Will's Coffee House,
Shakespeare's Men store, and that sort of thing). Told by
two little old ladies that it was only a five minute walk
through the fields, we set out. A half an hour later we
were still trekking through the fields . . . FINALLY got there,
only to glance at it (I was the only one who could afford to go
through and then for only five minutes) because the cab we
called arrived and we had to go back to meet an actor friend of
Wickham's. He turned out to be very nice, bought us a
drink, and showed us around the theatre—what facilities the
place has! It is enormous and beautifully built—he had to
go and get ready for the matinee. We had lunch, sent a
telegram to the Cannons saying we would be an hour late to a
reception in Bristol that night, and woefully decided that in
order to make the 5:05 train we would have to leave without
seeing the last act of the play. By this time (oh yes—we
had accidentally gotten tickets for the night's performance and
had to have them changed for that afternoon at the last minute)
my nerves were in shreds. We saw Taming of the Shrew.
If Shakespeare didn't plan the play that way, which I'm sure he
did, he should have. It was undoubtedly the best
performance of Shrew, and probably of any Shakespeare I
have ever seen, or ever hope to see. I never conceived of
that much being made out of one small play—the funniest,
liveliest, prettiest show imaginable! Every line, every
gesture was sidesplitting . . . the set was indescribable, the
acting so good that you didn't think of it at all except that
these were real people and you were living it with them.
It was one of those rare experiences which transcended even
saying, "This couldn't be" because you were so wrapped up in it,
you didn't think of anything but what was happening. To
conclude the rhapsodizing—it was so good that you never in your
wildest dreams could imagine anything like it being possible.
Of course we missed something like twenty minutes of it, and we
were sick, but what could we do? Arriving five minutes
before the train was to leave, after RUNNING from the theatre to
the hotel where our trusty taxi was waiting and throwing the
bags in, we found to our horror that the tickets were 4s [four shillings] more than we had, and they wouldn't accept a
check. THIS WAS A TENSE MOMENT.
(pause for effect)
We paid off the rest in
The trip back was marked by three changes
of trains, having to walk over a bridge and ¾ of a mile on a
footpath over railroad yards to get to another station, a twenty
minute conversation with two switchmen (very nice), and walking
all the way from the Bristol station to the place where the
reception was, a 45 minute walk . . . we arrived, looking like
three bums, two hours late, and ate everything they put before
us like hungry dogs. Ended up at Gerry's flat for coffee
at 11:00 and Jack and I walked home from there at midnight.
! ! ! It was quite a day !
Today I was awakened at 8:45 by Mrs. R.
with a cup of hot tea, your Halloween card, and a letter from
Jo, so all is right with the world now. Today I bought one
of the most gorgeous skirts I've ever seen (about £16),
incredibly heavy wool (about five times the thickness of ordinary
skirts), heavier than felt, kind of black and white design giving
the effect of grey . . . very full with huge patch pockets.
It is strictly for Switzerland (if and when I get there in
December) for evening wear. Also ordered a dress, fleecy
wool in luscious plum shade with high neck, very straight skirt,
empire waist. Also for holidays. It is so beautiful
while still being practical that I feel lucky to have found it.
That is all the buying I will do, with the exception of
fur-lined boots and a heavy turtlenecked [sic] sweater, until spring.
We're invited to Norman's and John's (the
fellows with the lovely apartment) for an apple-dunking party
for Halloween Saturday night and out to listen to records Sunday
night—the rest of the time are
Down in the Valley
rehearsals from now until the second week in December.
Yes, please save the Theatre Arts,
and if it wouldn't be too much trouble could you look up the one
with The Crucible in it (last October or November) and
send it? I want to look at the script before I go, we're
invited to a rehearsal for such advice as we could give from the
American viewpoint. I don't think it will cost much to
send, will it? If so, don't.
Guy Fawkes Day is coming November 4th [sic]—their
4th of July and you should hear it already, Daddy.
you are far away.
I have no idea where Dr. Adams is—I though
he was travelling around; he did mention Germany once to
but nothing definite.
Sorry about Morton and the tickets but you
can expect that sort of thing from him—I hope you went anyway so
you can tell me about it.
I think I've said about everything that can
be said in one letter—so will close for now. Hope all are
well. Much love, Jean
P.S. Did I tell you that I went through every pair of hose
I owned (bar one, which I am saving). I am presently
wearing a darling schoolteacherish pair of "heavyweights," very
sexy, I assure you, sort of like those Mrs. Roberts wears when
she is out weeding the yard.
[click on the > at
the end of each Note to return to its source above]
● The Fulbright
Program, created in 1946, was proposed by
Senator J. William Fulbright to forgo the war debts of
foreign countries by funding an international educational
exchange with government grants. Mila Jean received an
"Information from Great Britain" Fulbright brochure predicting
that "you will, perhaps, be overly conscious of yourself at
first as an American abroad, but will soon come to feel a
proprietary interest in the British community, be it academic or
otherwise.... Ultimately you will return to America
understanding Anglo-American relations at an immediate and
personal level and, one might guess, surprised to have
discovered that the peoples of two countries could be at the
same time so alike and yet so different.... Much of this
can only be learned as all other Americans who have come to this
country have learned it—by trial and error."
● John Templeman Douty
was born in Baltimore MD on Mar. 27, 1920, the son of James
Frederick and Mary Furlong Douty. He graduated from Forest Park
High School in 1938 and earned his bachelor's degree from
Western Maryland College in 1942. The Aloha
yearbook described him as "Aesthetic, breezy, sophisticated and
full of casual disdain. A devotee of the stage, as
spectator or actor. Is now in the service of Uncle Sam,
Inc."—having enlisted as a warrant officer. For "a brief
time in the early 1940s" John was married to Mary Elinor Moore,
a chemist at Johns Hopkins and ardent Baltimore Orioles fan (as
per her 2006 obituary; she retained his surname post-divorce).
John himself attended Johns Hopkins at one point, but earned his
M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Denver; his 1950 master's
thesis was "A Study of the Factors Governing Scenic Design in
Fifty-two Community Theaters," and his 1953 doctoral thesis was
titled Scenic Styles in the Modern American Theatre.
Charles Moore as Assistant Director of the KCU Playhouse,
with Mila Jean as his assistant. In 1953-54 he
staged The Taming of the Shrew, Daniel Boone
(with Mary Jane Davis as Mrs. Appleby), and Arthur
and His Magic Sword. >
● The Nashes were Mila Jean's
older sister Mellie Agnes aka Mildred Aileen (1918-2017), her husband
William Henry "Pete" (1918-1985) and their daughter Marcia Ann (who,
being less than ten years younger than Jeanie, was both her
niece and surrogate kid sister). In Oct. 1953 they moved
twenty miles east of KCMO to Blue Springs, then still a fairly
rural community; sixty years later it would be the tenth largest
city in Missouri. >
● Horseshoe Curve is a
five-mile railway bend west of Altoona PA; in 1942 it was
unsuccessfully targeted by German saboteurs. During 1954
it celebrated the centennial of its opening.
● Mila Jean began a lifelong
(later Soulier) in 1951 when both were members of the A Cappella
Choir at KCU. Patricia was Joann's older sister; like their
father Ignace, she was a professional artist.
● In his New York Evening Sun
Don Marquis wrote of a cockroach named Archy who typewrote
poetry (all in lowercase, being unable to operate the shift key)
when no humans were in the newspaper office.
Tallulah Bankhead, who worked long and hard to be the most
flamboyant libertine of her generation, starred as Dolores in
Dear Charles, which opened at Broadway's Morosco Theatre on
Sep. 15, 1954, the night before Mila Jean saw it. The
production ran for 155 performances, closing on Jan. 29, 1955.
● Robert Anderson's
Tea and Sympathy ("Years from now, when you speak of this,
and you will, be kind") had opened on Broadway in Oct. 1953,
starring Deborah Kerr and John Kerr; they were succeeded in
their roles by Joan Fontaine and Anthony Perkins.
● On Sep. 11, 1954,
Hurricane Edna caused the heaviest day of rainfall in New York
City since 1909. >
● Like Tea and Sympathy,
John Patrick's The Teahouse of the August Moon opened
on Broadway in Oct. 1953 and had an even longer run, starring
John Forsythe, David Wayne, and Paul Ford.
● Elizabeth Schuyler
Hamilton lived from 1757 to 1854; after husband Alexander's
death in the duel with Aaron Burr, she co-founded New York's
first Orphan Asylum Society, and in her nineties helped Dolley
Madison raise funds to build the Washington Monument.
● Mila Jean's parents at
3908 College in KCMO were
Francis See "Frank" Smith (1896-1973) and
Ada Louise Ludeke Smith
a famous pen pal, so it's regrettable we don't have her letters
to Jeanie in Europe. >
● The S.S.
United States was built in 1952, the largest ocean liner
constructed in its namesake nation, and the fastest to cross the
Atlantic. It provided passenger service till 1969, then
followed the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth into
retirement. A bird's eye view of the ship can be seen
during the opening sequence of West Side Story.
● George Wallace Laycock
(1909-1992), a Virginia native, was business manager of the
Conway Hospital in eastern South Carolina. A snapshot of
him with Mila Jean on the S.S. United States can be seen
● Les Belles
de nuit (Beauties of the Night) was a 1952 René Clair
film starring Gérard Philipe and Marline Carol as well as Gina
Lollobrigida. It received a Golden Lion nomination at the
Venice Film Festival.
● Hobson's Choice,
directed by David Lean and starring John Mills along with
Charles Laughton, had been released in June in the United
States; it would win the British Academy Film Award for Best
British Film of 1954.
● The "Information from Great Britain" Fulbright
brochure suggested that "it is wise to keep your
baggage to a minimum; shortages of general commodities are no
longer acute in the United Kingdom. Normal consumer goods
and food are not so short as is generally believed in America
and it is certainly a handicap to have too large a quantity of
luggage to fit into your rooms when you arrive." (Postwar
rationing in Great Britain had in some ways been stricter than
during the war; it did not formally end until July 1954, less
than three months before Mila Jean's arrival.)
Jane Davis (later Dodds, eventually Carter) was another
lifelong friend found by Mila Jean during college days at the
KCU Playhouse. >
● The inflatable life
preserver, invented in 1928, took its nickname from Mae West's
hourglass shape. >
● In the
1930s William (Bill) McGehee (1924-2013) starred with
his brother Dick in WHB radio's KC Kiddies Review.
Following naval duty in World War II he attended KCU,
graduating in 1950 with a degree in botany but also
serving as photographer for the Playhouse and
Kangaroo yearbook, writing skits for the Bounders
fraternity, and directing a Fall Frolic and
Burly-Q-Ball. Bill later founded and was CEO of
the stage-outfitting Allied Theater Crafts. (Mila
Jean tended to spell his surname "McGeehee.")
Wells derives its name from the mineral water springs on
property owned by Richard Sadler, who in 1683 opened a "musick
house" in Islington. A series of theatres (some
notorious for drunkenness and debauchery) were built on
the same site during the 18th and 19th Centuries.
The fifth Sadler's Wells opened in 1931, including a
repertory ballet company and school.
● Billy Wilder's Sabrina,
starring Humphrey Bogart, William Holden, and Audrey Hepburn in
the title role, was a brand-new release in Sep. 1954.
● The "Egyptian
excavation" was Valley of the Kings, a 1954 adventure
film starring Robert Taylor and Eleanor Parker.
● "The question remains of course of your residence
in Bristol," the University of Bristol's Assistant Registrar had written
Mila Jean on June 25th. "I am actually glad to hear that
you are not anxious to live in one of our women's Halls of
Residence as I had already approached the wardens on your behalf
and they have not a vacancy for next year which they can offer
you.... Some Fulbright students in the past have asked
[the University Accommodation Officer] to fix them up with a
room in a small hotel for a couple of weeks until they
themselves have had time to look around Bristol and choose their
own accommodation for the year."
● As Geoffrey Watt, Deputy Secretary of the United States Educational Commission
"USEDCOM") wrote Mila Jean on Aug. 26th,
the Fulbright Scholars would be given a special five-day
introduction to life at British universities:
of this program is two-fold. Firstly, it is to give
you an understanding of and an interest in the part of
Britain and type of institution to which you are going, and
an appreciation of the special advantages and privileges
available to you there. Secondly, because you will be
located some distance from London you will find it more
difficult than the students at Oxford, Cambridge and London,
to share in some of the activities planned by the Commission
throughout the year in London. This special program is
designed, therefore, to compensate you in some measure for
this loss.... The Commission urges you most strongly
to take advantage of the program at Grantley Hall[,]
believing it will contribute immensely to the success of
your year in Britain. We will expect you to attend, in
fact, unless you have some pressing reason for not doing so.
Geoffrey Watt informed "Dear Miss Smith" that
"if you are married, your wife is welcome to attend and the
Commission will pay her maintenance too"—which was either an
unusually broadminded offer for 1954, or evidence of insufficient proofreading.
College, founded in 1849, was the first institution for women's
higher education in the United Kingdom. In 1900 it became
one of the University of London's constituent schools.
● "You are coming to a country where the climate
never becomes extremely hot or extremely cold, but where a
chilly dampness is usual during the autumn and winter months,"
predicted the "Information from Great Britain" Fulbright
brochure. "Most Americans find that woollen underwear,
warm socks, warm pyjamas, woollen sweaters, etc., are essential.
Equally essential is rainwear—raincoats and heavy shoes—and
women having [i.e. who have] lined snowboots should bring them."
● Muriel Therese
Tetreault (1926-1981) was born in Providence RI, graduated from
Brown University in 1953, and lived in Pawtucket in 1954.
A year later she married fellow Brown alumnus Philip Mercier
PhD, with whom she had five children. After Muriel's
death, her sister Dr. Alice Teatreault married Philip and they
moved to South Carolina. A snapshot of Muriel with Mila
Jean on the S.S. United States can be seen
● Pal Joey, a
1940 Rodgers & Hart musical with book by John O'Hara, had its
first West End production in 1954. Its cast included Lou
Jacobi, Arthur Lowe (later Captain Mainwaring on Dad's Army)
and Carol Bruce (later Mr. Carlson's mother on WKRP in
● Bristol is in southwest
England, a port city at the confluence of the Rivers Frome and
Avon, originally called Brycgstow or Brigstowe—"the place
at the bridge" spanning the Avon. It gained prominence as
an embarkation point for voyages to the New World, becoming a
major shipping and manufacturing center; but as such, it was
frequently targeted during World War II and heavily damaged by
the Luftwaffe. >
● Robert Francis St. John
Reade, born in Middlesex in 1889, was a teacher at Bristol's
Clifton College in 1936 when he set up the Bristol and District
Labour Association of Consituency Parties, despite disapproval
from Labour Party HQ at Transport House. His bitterness
against party leadership's obstructionism "made him at times an
embarrassing ally" (as per Ben Pimlott's Labour and the Left
in the 1930s, viewable at Google Books). Even so, St.
John would be a prominent member of the Provisional Committee of
Consituency Parties chaired by Stafford Cripps, then MP for
Bristol East, later Ambassador to the Soviet Union and member of
Clement Attlee's Cabinet. In the 1950s, St. John served as
a Bristol alderman and chair of a committee advocating
comprehensive education. He married Helen Gourlay Harvey
(1887-1962) and they had two children, Nell and Robert.
St. John died in 1965 and a hostel built in 1968 for students of
the Redland Teaching College and Bristol Polytechnic was named
in his honor. (Mila Jean would demonstrate the British
pronunciation of "St. John" by imitating Mr. Reade answering the
telephone: "Sinn-Jinn Reade here!")
● In the days
before air conditioning, houses often included a screened-in
sleeping porch for summer use. This was true for the Smith
family house at 3908 College in KCMO; also for the Ehrlichs's at
5505 Holmes when we moved there in 1962, though ours would be
enclosed a few years later.
● Grantley Hall, described by USEDCOM's Geoffrey Watt as "a lovely
18th Century country house near Ripon in the West Riding of
Yorkshire," belonged to Fletcher Norton the 1st Baron Grantley,
Speaker of the House of Commons from 1770 to 1780 and known to
satirists as "Sir Bullface Doublefee." Grantley Hall was
used as a convalescent home during World War II, then by the West Riding County Council as an adult residential
● Haworth Parsonage in
the West Riding of Yorkshire was the Brontë sisters's home after
their father Patrick became parson of St. Michael and All
Angels's Church. Most of the Brontë novels were written
there, and the Brontë Society turned the parsonage into a museum
● Bolton Abbey was founded
in the 12th Century as an Augustinian monastery, and though left
in ruins after Henry VIII's Dissolution, it remains a working
● The "incidental expense allowance" from Mila Jean's
Fulbright grant was to cover essential books, library subscription
fees, charges for typing and photostating, and travel expenses
incurred within the United Kingdom in connection with her
project. Items not covered were insurance, newspapers,
periodicals, personal stationery (as opposed to notepaper),
postages, and "purchase of typewriters, cameras, fountain pens
and items of a personal nature such as academic gowns."
The incidental expense allowance was for
£36, to be paid in two lump sums; "when you have exhausted [the
first] £18 you should submit a claim for the second instalment."
William Gladstone Wickham (1922-2004), great-grandson of
William Ewart Gladstone, was appointed in 1948 to the University of
Bristol's Drama Department, first of its kind in the United
Kingdom, and innovative in treating drama as a laboratory
subject (using a converted squash court as studio space; Harold
Pinter's first play would premiere there in 1957). An eminent scholar in his field, Wickham
published several works on theater history, presided for many
years over the American Society for Theater Research, and was
consulted about the modern recreation of Shakespeare's Globe.
● After seeing Mila
Jean off on Sep. 17th, John Douty embarked a day later for Le
Havre on the S.S. Ile de France; its passenger manifest
shows a Baltimore address and "Indefinite" for "Length of time
passenger intends to remain abroad." Planning to enroll at
the Sorbonne, he wrote Mila Jean on Oct. 1st from Paris's Hotel
des Saints Pères:
traveler, raconteuse, and bon vivant—Salud! or whatever the
appropriate greeting may be—Good to know that you have
weathered the first part of your adventure and are settled
with people who deserve you.... It sounds like you are
having fun—but my diagnosis of your convulsion at Henry IV's
tomb is that you had your kings mixed up and confused him
with Laurence the Olivier.... [The Ile de
France was] much less pretentious than the
United States—like me, a little worn and old-timey—but
quite pleasant and comfortable. My inside cabin gave
me a sheltered in the womb feeling to which I surrendered,
going out only for such absolute necessities as going to the
dining room or the bar.... Since I early resolved to
speak to no one on the ship, my two table mates—a vivacious
Swiss young lady returning after two years in the USA, and a
stiff necked young lady from New Orleans—must have
thought me rude, but I rationalized that they had to
entertain the French Air Force between meals and should be
happy for an hour's respite twice a day.... Since
being in Paris, have done nothing but walk—down boulevards
and up narrow twisting streets. I daresay I have seen
more of Paris than most Parisians see in a lifetime.
Have been in nothing but by everything—national
monuments, tawdry nightclubs, respectable middle class
houses and shops of all descriptions. And, of course,
the history of Paris (and, by implication, the world) is
written on placards on the walls. These—and the menus
posted in every restaurant window—are my reading material.
I have been dining in small restaurants on side streets and
have yet to hit a blooper.... These Parisiennes—unaccustomed
been friendly, considerate and helpful when I have trouble
with the language—and when I am tired it leaves me
completely—they patiently mime their impression of what I am
trying to say—miming again and again, until we manage to
The only real difficulty is that I have not yet found
permanent quarters. Partly this is because Paris is
terribly overcrowded and one does not just pick a room out
of the classified section of the paper. And partly it
is because the return to the womb experienced on the ship
(the fact that we were in fog the whole way across helped)
has not yet left me and I find it more than usually
difficult to be decisive. Have set a deadline for
Monday to get out of this hotel and into something
cheaper—and counting on finances to take control....
● On Oct. 5th (the same
day that Mila Jean asked "Oh, Wickham, where art thou!")
Professor Wickham wrote:
Smith, I am sorry I was not in the department this morning
to welcome you. Would it be convenient for you to come
& see me at 10 a.m. on Thursday? I am asking Mr.
Sommers (from Minnesota) & Mr. Leider (from Syracuse) to
come in then, so that I may discuss your programmes with
you. I can appreciate your anxiety to get to grips
with a schedule as soon as possible. If you would care
to come around on the off-chance of finding me unoccupied
tomorrow, please do so; but I cannot promise to give you
much exclusive attention. I look forward greatly to
making your acquaintance & hope that the programme we are
arranging for you will meet your wishes. Yours
sincerely, Glynne Wickham
● Gerald J. Leider (called
both Jerry and Gerry by Mila Jean; "Jerry" in his online
biographies) was born in Camden NJ in 1931 and graduated from
Syracuse University. IMDB.com acknowledges he "was a
Fulbright Scholar in Drama at Bristol University."
Afterward Leider went on to a stellar career as a television,
film and stage producer; program executive at CBS; senior
partner in a New York talent agency; president of Warner Bros.
Television; and CEO of ITC Entertainment.
● Marcelline (Marcie)
Krafchick graduated from Beaver College (now called Arcadia
University) in Glenside PA in 1954. Following her
Fulbright year abroad, she earned her MA in Comparative
Literature and Drama from the University of North Carolina;
taught at San Francisco State and Santa Clara University; then
spent over thirty years in the English Department at California
State University, Hayward (now East Bay), receiving her PhD in
● John J. (Jack) Sommers
was born in Duluth MN in 1933. Graduating Phi Beta Kappa
from Carleton College in 1954, he later earned his master's
degree from Amherst and his PhD from Iowa State. While
teaching English at Brandeis he became involved in public
television, producing at Boston's WGBH-TV and winning seven
local Emmys at WTTW-TV in Chicago. In 1973 he became
manager of Pittsburgh's new NPR station, WQED-FM, producing and
narrating Pittsburgh Symphony broadcasts. He died of a
heart attack in 1977, aged only 44, and was succeeded three
years later as WQED manager by his widow Ceci O'Riley Sommers.
● Charles R. Niehaus,
an Indiana native, graduated Magna Cum Laude from Butler
University in 1949, then earned his MA in History from Harvard
and went on to teach humanities at MIT. His 1954 Fulbright
scholarship was to study the history of English at the
University of London. Receiving his PhD from Harvard in
1958, Dr. Niehaus became director of cultural heritage at
Maine's Bates College in 1962.
"golden-throated" reception to welcome the newly-arrived
Fulbrighters was held at Dartmouth House in Berkeley Square, and
was hosted by the Countess Alexander of Tunis (born Lady
Margaret Bingham; her nephew Lord Lucan disappeared in 1974
after allegedly bludgeoning his children's nanny to death, a
case that fascinated Mila Jean).
Morris was a classically trained Shakespearean actor who
co-starred on Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows and is best
remembered for his portrayal of Ernest T. Bass on The Andy
• Bonnie may have been Bonnie
Jean Royer (born 1931) who played Mrs. Tancred in
Juno and the Paycock
and was stage manager of
she and Mila Jean were members of the KCU Cap and Gown honor
society in 1951-52. Her family lived in the Smiths's old
neighborhood near Northeast High School (the Royers at 412 North
Lawn; the Smiths had lived at 412 South Lawn). Bonnie
earned her master's at the University of Kansas, where
Newfield directed her in a 1952 production of The Morning
Star (penned by Henry C. Haskell, editor of the Kansas City
Star), and where she herself directed three one-act plays in
1953. She was associate director of the Monticello College preparatory school
in Alton IL when she married J. Robert Madden in 1958.
● Connie was Mila Jean's middle
sister Corinne Doris Frisby (1924-2016), who at this time was approaching her due
date to deliver her fourth child.
● Bertram L. Joseph
(1915-1981) was an authority on Elizabethan Acting (as he titled
a scholarly book published in 1951 and revised in 1964). A
native of Wales, he went from the University of Bristol to the
University of Washington in Seattle, and then founded the Queens
College drama and theater department in 1970, becoming an
American citizen in 1979. An "Award for Achievement in
Shakespeare Production in America" was named in his honor.
Kitto (1897-1982), a classical scholar, taught Greek at the
University of Glasgow from 1920 to 1944, then at the University
of Bristol until retirement. In 1954 he was Chairman of
the Consultative Committee for the Drama Department, which Mila
Jean remarked made him the department's "titular head."
Dr. Kitto's 1952 survey of Greek culture (titled simply The
Greeks) became a standard textbook.
● Hubert C. Heffner
(1901-1985), born in North Carolina, was Professor of Dramatic
Literature at Northwestern from 1930 to 1939, then head of the
Department of Speech and Drama at Stanford from 1939 to 1954.
He served as a Fulbright Lecturer at the University of Bristol
in 1954-55, then went on to Indiana University where he remained
till retirement in 1971.
Patricia McIlrath (1917-1999) took over the KCU Playhouse in 1954.
During Mila Jean's Fulbright Year abroad, correspondence was
exchanged (some startlingly
signed "Patty McIlrath"); upon Jeanie's return, Doctor Mac
became a beloved mentor throughout her tenure at KCU/UMKC and
the Missouri Repertory Theatre, of which Doctor Mac was artistic
director from its founding in 1964 till her retirement in 1985.
● Bristol's Theatre Royal
was built in the 1760s; new management after World War II
created the Bristol Old Vic company to staff it. Mila
Jean's references to the "Theatre Royall" may have been in
tribute (conscious or sub-) to Dr. Norman N. Royall Jr.
(1908-1983), mathematics professor at KCU/UMKC and dean of its
College of Arts & Sciences from 1947 till the 1953 "Revolution."
(I myself took Dr. Royall's introductory physical science class
in my first semester of college, which was his next-to-last
semester before retirement.)
● Marching Song
was a 1953 play by John Whiting; the Encyclopedia Britannica
found it "too literary for audiences."
● No Sign
of the Dove was Peter Ustinov's 1953 reworking of the Noah
story; it did not succeed with critics or at the box office.
● A Skating Corps de
Ballet production of Sinbad the Sailor on Ice was
broadcast by BBC Television on Feb. 7, 1954.
● The Berkeley,
according to Google, is a "large pub with a stained-glass dome
and a small whispering gallery in a former shopping arcade."
● Texas-born J. Morton Walker
(1920-2002) was Technical Director at the KCU Playhouse, and with John Douty
had encouraged ("forced!") Mila Jean to apply for her Fulbright
Scholarship; he later co-founded the Kansas City Lyric Opera and
Missouri Repertory Theatre.
● John Lavender was one
of the "four musketeers" assembled by Glynne Wickham to staff
the University of Bristol's pioneering Drama Department; the
other two were
George Brandt and
An obituary Brandt wrote for Wickham in the Guardian
called Lavender an "omnicompetent technician," and
was established in Lavender's name for the Bristol drama
graduate with "significant off-stage and off-screen [i.e.
technical] contributions." In Dec. 1954 he produced Hello
Out There and Down in the Valley for the department's
Green Room Society, with Mila Jean as his assistant. >
● By inserting a
coin, "bathroom geysers" provided hot water for bathing.
● The Lonely Crowd,
an analysis of three different cultural types (inner-directed,
other-directed, tradition-directed), was published in 1950.
● Ronald Martin
("Rod") Brown was born in Kansas in 1920, the son of a Methodist
minister. He attended Southwestern College in Winfield KS,
where he was president of the Campus Players and member of a
trumpet quartet. Graduating in 1942, he promptly enlisted
and flew as a bombadier-navigator during World War II, receiving
the Distinguished Flying Cross and a Presidential Citation.
Rod also met and married June E. Laws (born 1925 in Ipswich,
daughter of Frederick G. and Evelyn Barker Laws),
who with many other war brides (and infant daughter Erica, born
in England in Mar. 1946) sailed to the United States on the USAT
Henry Gibbins, arriving in May 1946. Rod returned
to Winfield KS, where daughter Diane was born in 1947, and then
took his family to Colorado, where he received his first
master's degree from Denver University. The Browns were
living in Denver in Apr. 1949 when June, Erica and Diane
embarked for a five-month visit to England on the Queen Mary.
Before earning his second master's degree from Bristol
University, Rod joined the speech and dramatic art faculty at
Alfred University in western New York in 1949, serving as
department chairman and theater director in the 1970s; "his
research interests have included an analysis of conflict in the
plays of Strindberg and O'Neill, and a study of dialects in
Western New York" (as per the Dec. 19, 1974 Wellsville Daily
Reporter). June, who'd received her bachelor's degree
from Leicester College of the Arts and her master's from State
University of New York, worked as an Alfred University librarian
and was active with theater productions and the Wee Playhouse.
Rod Brown died in 1980, just short of his 60th birthday, and was
buried at Alfred Rural Cemetery; June joined him there in 2009;
their daughters both married and were living in Brooklyn and
(The Browns resisted my detection for
many months, due to "Rod" actually being Ronald. It was
not until I found Erica and Diane on the 1949 Queen Mary
if traveling alone at ages three and two, due to being
American citizens while their "alien" mother June was entered
separately—that I gained the Winfield KS key. Thanks to
the scanner[s] of the 1940s Southwestern Moundbuilder
yearbooks for revealing Rod's full name.)
● On Oct. 13th,
Professor Kitto wrote Mila Jean to say, "My wife and I should be
very glad if you could help us drink beer (or something
equivalent) on Saturday evening next, any time between 8:30 and
midnight. It will be more or less an American party."
● John Douty
had in fact written from Paris's Hotel Lindberg on Oct. 16th:
poupée [Listen, doll]—Don't blame me! The
children's theatre gimmick was your idea. I distinctly
remember coming into the [KCU Playhouse] office early one
afternoon to find you furiously attacking the typewriter and
muttering obscenities to the effect that no one would help
you and that you no longer cared what happened. But I
suppose you have this straightened out by now. The
obligatory scene with Mr. Wyecliff [sic] has taken
place and the poor man has retreated, shattered, to his
bottle.... I am probably settled for the rest of my
days in Paris (inertia being what it is) but not exactly as
I planned.... I went to the University [of Paris, i.e.
the Sorbonne] to try to find out what I have gotten myself
into. I knew in advance that I would get no real
information (I learned on the Ile de France that the
French believe in guarding their secrets and this trait
asserted itself even more strongly as I wandered around town
trying to find out where an alien goes to register) but as a
confirmed head-banger-against-the-wall, I tried. The
Secretariat seemed pleased that my papers were in order.
Beyond that we did not get. When did one register?
Between October 30 and November 30. What courses were
being offered? One would discover this when one
registered. Was there someone who advised foreign
students? One would discover this when one registered.
Was there, perhaps, a calendar of the University? One
would discover this when one registered. And so far
into the afternoon.... It leaves me in a peculiar
legal position. The French government is willing to
admit that I am here (I finally found where an alien goes to
register) and that I am probably here to stay, but it won't
make it legal until I produce a student ID card. So I
am running around with a piece of tissue paper with a horrid
picture of myself attached. No policeman will admit
ever having seen such a paper before and every time I go to
register my change of address (and this always involves at
least two trips after I have found the proper place) there
is a committee meeting while the police decide whether my
paper is in order, whether I should go someplace else to get
it in order, whether I should be here at all (this involves
a lengthy autobiography on my part) and finally a reluctant
acceptance of the fact that I am here and it is better to
have my name on the books than for me to be going around
● Billy de Wolfe
was a character actor who specialized in playing
pencil-mustached fussbudgets on stage, screen, and television.
● John Douty's
account of bathing at the Hotel Lindberg:
Each bath is
a supplement, as you know, but this does not worry me nearly
so much as the production involved. I must go all the
way down to the desk ... and tell Madame that the time has
come for a bath. She presses a button and a bell
rings, audible throughout the building. In a few
minutes, the femme de chambre calls down from
whichever floor she is working. Madame then instructs
her—in a voice also audible throughout the building—"Un
bain pour numéro onze." Then I race up to my room,
grab my towel, washcloths and soap and make my way down to
the 2nd (3rd) floor where I find the femme de chambre
in the bathroom, running the water and offering additional
towels. After a short conversation, it is possible to
proceed normally, but it is somehow unnerving to have ones
state of cleanliness a matter for public proclamation.
● Kathleen Ann,
fourth child of Connie and Carl Frisby and Mila Jean's third
niece, was born on Oct. 16th.
● While serving in the Army
Air Corps during World War II, Frank M. Loos of KCMO met and
married his wife Mary in England, where they returned for
several years after he earned his postwar bachelor's degree at
the University of Kansas. Dr. Loos was later dean of
students at Lincoln College in Illinois, and then professor of
psychology at Northeastern Illinois University.
George Rignall Rowell (1923-2001) taught at Bristol
University from 1951 to 1987, and was one of the "four
musketeers" who developed its Drama Department. An expert
on Victorian theater and
melodrama, he wrote and edited many books on these subjects.
● Besides extensive
work as a stage designer,
Richard Southern devoted himself to research into historical
theater construction. In 1951 he designed the Studio
Theatre for the University of Bristol, where he lectured for
● Usually spelled
"Lindbergh" by Mila Jean (which I have silently corrected, since
John Douty who lived there usually left off the final H), the
Hotel Lindberg at 5 Rue Chomel in Paris is today the Hôtel
Signature Saint Germain des Près. "In a traditional
Haussmann-era building ... this family-run boutique hotel is a
2-minute walk from Sèvres-Babylone metro station and 14 minutes
from the Musée d'Orsay (art museum)."
● "Minerva" was Mila
Jean's shoulder bag, though not positively identified as
such until June 1955. >
● Temple Meads is
the largest railway station in Bristol and also the oldest,
opening in 1840 as the terminus of the Great Western Railway
● The Arden Hotel, still in
highly-rated business across the street from the Royal
Shakespeare Theatre, has been leased to the Royal Shakespeare Company
since 1965. Its main house dates from the 17th Century.
Shakespeare Memorial Theatre opened in 1932, replacing a
previous one of that name that had burned down in 1926. It
was renamed the Royal Shakespeare in 1961.
Wickham had provided "Miss M.C. Smith — University of Kansas" [sic]
and "Mr. J. Summers" [also sic] with a letter of
introduction to the Theatre manager, Mr. D. [actually George]
Hume. "I am sending them to see the performance of
Troilus and Cressida, and am hoping that it will be possible
for them to see the stage and its machinery during the course of
tomorrow morning. If you could kindly arrange for them to
be shown around it, I should be very grateful."
● Down in the
Valley, a one-act folk opera with music by Kurt Weill
and libretto by Arnold Sungaard, was conceived as a radio
production in 1945 and revised for the Indiana University
School of Music stage in 1948. Tony Randall directed a
Provincetown Playhouse version in 1952.
● Frank Smith's
ears were unusually sensitive to explosive noises, which made it
extra fortunate that he was not called up to serve in World War
I (as had seemed likely in Fall 1918, despite his having a
wife and baby daughter and a severe bout with influenza earlier
that year). >
Oct. 30th John Douty wrote to the "Face on the Barroom Floor":
Your faculty does sound good ... perhaps better in contrast
to the UKC faculty. Is your little Mr. Joseph the
author of a slight book with the imaginative title,
Acting, published about three or four years ago? I
remember being impressed with it as an excellent example of
"leave-no-stone-unturned" scholarship—both in its erudition
and its aridity. It is quite good that you should have
contact with Mr. Heffner ... he is one of the better men in
the second generation of educational theatre. He
claims to be quite good at dramatic criticism but is best
known at Stanford (on the few occasions when he is there) as
a raconteur.... I still had your earlier letter
stuffed in an old duffle bag and was able—using standard
scholarly procedures—to identify the persons mentioned in
your latest. That is, I have succeeded in identifying
them all if Jerry and Gerry are (is) the same person.
Albeit, you seem to have integrated into the group very
I went to
THE opera to see Gounod's Faust. It was opera
in the grand fashion. Full symphony orchestra in the
pit, augmented with pipe organ backstage and brass band
onstage for the Soldier's Chorus. The sets were
composed of acres of realistically painted, flabby flats
which, judging from their style and condition, had been
painted just before impressionism came in. Musically,
the performance was not up to the Met, Faust and the Devil
being good, Marguerite sounding like Jane Davis, and the
chorus being ragged. And stage direction!—"how the
Newfield haunts this Playhouse"... apparently the
only direction given the supers was to stay out of the way
of the singers and dancers. So—they alternately
huddled in the upstage corners or wandered aimlessly about
the stage, flirting, quarreling and discussing their chances
in the national lottery.... The shifts were incredibly
noisy—including hammering. All in all, it was an
amazingly sloppy performance and, in a collegiate set-up,
would have started all the old biddies muttering about
amateurism. But this was THE opera so we sat back,
relaxed and enjoyed the ride....
refused to recognize my visa and issue a carte de sejour
[residence permit] until I would present a student ID
card providing that was actually registered in a
school. (They've met my type before!) So one day
I walked over to the University to register. In a
matter of hours, I had gathered my registration materials
and discovered that one registered first and then decided
for which examinations one would prepare. I bravely
went with the mob to a desk which seemed to be the proper
one and presented my credentials. The grande-dame
behind the desk brushed me aside muttering something to the
effect that she was registering masters candidates and I had
doctors credentials. I pushed my way back to the desk
and demanded that she tell me where to go. She stifled
her first reaction and directed me to another office which
was in charge of the doctors. I went there and found
it closed on the flimsy excuse that the secretary was
presiding at an examination. I returned to the
grand-dame. She repeated that she would have nothing
to do with me and pushed me aside again.
wanderings around the University I had several times passed
an open door behind which sat a seedy little man with
apparently nothing to do. He was aloof from the
activity of the University but interested so I made my way
back to that office, forced my way [in] and explained my
problem to him. He was sympathetic but felt it had
nothing to do with him.... I collapsed completely.
The little man panicked and took me into an inner office to
speak to his boss. His boss—obviously
faculty—spoke fluent English and I repeated my story to him.
He felt that my problem was primar[il]y language and
assigned little man to get me registered. Little man
took me back to grande-dame (after rudely pushing the other
would-be registrants out of the way) and once again we heard
her story. Then he took me to the doctor's office and,
using his boss's official position, found out where the
secretary was. He took me through several "Public Keep
Out" doors to talk to her. She told us we should
register with grande-dame. Back we went and, this
time, little man had two sets of authority behind him and
refused to give in. Grande-dame finally capitulated
and confessed that she was the last stop in the procedure.
We then went to another office where little man turned me
over to a Rabelaisian giant who made up for the lack of hair
on his head with what he had on his chin. Little man
and I parted with many courtly bows, and giant gathered me
up in his arms and practically carried me past the other
would-be registrants to the head of the line. He
turned my credentials over to the first clerk and left me
with repeated assurances that all would be well. I
moved quickly from one rubber stamp to the next until I
again faced grande-dame. This time she accepted me and
I scrawled my signature in a great book, thereby becoming
another cog in the great Faculty of Letters of the
University of Paris. If nothing else, I am now legally
an alien in Paris and have access to the University