Am having a hilarious
nothing as is my wont on these occasions—sitting
in the library, staring at the pile of books and
half-finished paper on pantomime staring me in the face,
looking forward to getting away from them to go to a
theatrical exhibit in a half-an-hour with the Old Vic
students. Sat for an hour in the sun with
Bob (Chremes)*** and others talking about the Left Bank and other
lazy things. Tonight am treating myself to a steak,
June* and I are going to see
Last night we sobbed through
Is Born, which
kept me from any sound sleep last night—I
keep identifying with people in movies—got all torn up
inside after seeing
A Country Girl. Saturday I
yesterday for June while she was
rehearsing—both Diane and
me with hacking coughs and running noses didn't help each
other much—threw together some soup and sandwiches and the
kitchen was in a mess when
came home unexpectedly for lunch. Ah, the rigors of
being a housewife! Stayed for dinner also—the
usual turbulent situation, and staggered to the movie.
Today June and Rod gave me a pair of hose and Mrs.
R.* five shillings, and I was interrupted from this
morning's dressing by
outside my door playing a musical birthday card (you know,
the kind that winds up) which he had received last week on
Your cards were absolutely darling
and I so appreciated them and the money, even if they all
did come a week early—the
money is so needed since it will probably serve as
five days rent in Paris. Naturally, the whole prospect
of living for three months or at least two with no money is
a bit disconcerting, but I at least have enough to sustain
me for one and am planning to stay at June's parents's for a
week which helps. Enough of this!
Now that I'm about
to leave it (aside from living conditions) Bristol is
beginning to manifest its charm—am frantically involved in
the paper and a seven-page report in triplicate to
U.S. State Department, plus going to rehearsals for
Miss Julie, babysitting, going to movies, giving
interviews, etc. I had an interview last Friday with a
very nice young newspaper man from London, who has
affiliations with doing writeups for certain U.S.
newspapers—one being the K.C. Star—since I was from
K.C. and a Fulbright (his main specialty) he is doing an
article on me—don't know when it will be run there, but keep
your fingers crossed!
had a party at his place Sunday night with me officiating as
cook and hostess—cooked
baked potatoes along with gobs of salad, cold cuts, five
loaves of bread, three bottles of wine, two bottles of
Scotch for ten people—ach Gott! It must have been a
success since it lasted from 7:30 to 2:15 AM, but I don't
think I could stand a steady diet of it. We had enough
left over for two meals Monday—did that salami stink!
baby has still not arrived and poor Glynne is looking rather
frazzled and with
George Brandt** in bed with boils,
George Rowell* has to carry a heavy load these days, so
none of us is going up to London tomorrow for the Fulbright
I, in turn, have heard nothing from KCU—wrote
and told her I was leaving Bristol after the first week in
June and could not be reached after that, so something
better start cracking one way or the other soon, or I'm
going to say "to hell" with the whole thing. I see no
necessity in having to wait any longer on this and wish you
would convey the message to the proper channels if possible.
Sorry I have to write this inadequately,
but it's impossible to do more under my current schedule.
I heard from
who had been in the hospital for
nearly two months with glandular fever! Also poor
"hardhead" [John Douty*]in Paris has
written twice, so I must answer him soon.
Wonder what has happened to you, haven't
heard from you lately—maybe
my last letter and the photos overwhelmed you, eh?
I'm not really doing much of interest to
you of late, unless you'd like to her me spout about
Grimaldi and the mime tradition, so I'll close this mess for
now. Much love, "Birthday Child"
May 16-17, 1955
[faintly typewritten airmail, to her parents]
Sorry I have to keep using the bloody
[airmail] forms when you write such lovely long letters, but it
helps the money situation some . . . appreciated so hearing so
completely . . . today, and got hysterically elated about
the news about experimental [theatre] job from McIlrath until I realized I
mustn't get my hopes up, and am now trying to forget you ever
told me (it's exactly what I want). I'll wait patiently
for three more weeks and then things better start happening!
First things first (sorry, I could have
sworn I gave you all the
is American, June is Americanized . . . he met her while he was
in the Air Force in England . . . married her here;
was born here . . . then [they] went to the States and had
Diane, which means that when she is eighteen Erica will have the
opportunity of deciding which nationality she will assume, being
half and half. June's parents live in Ipswich and are very
rich, and I will definitely spend at least a week there in
August (probably more if I come back to England looking too
gaunt). They have rented a little cabin near their place
on the ocean, where we can jaunt out to every once in awhile,
Have decided to stick it out at [the]
Reades—rather than even suggesting staying with the Browns—until
at least June 13th . . . I've not mentioned the Reades since
letters here are supposed to be lighthearted and gay.
Explanation: I like privacy and certainly never get a
of it here.
I don't see what the furor over not having
money was about . . . I myself was just mad about the whole
affair, never frightened, in London. This summer disturbs
me somewhat, but if things start looking too rough, I'll ask you
to send part of the bank account.
John never went back to the Sorbonne after
that first dreadful experience . . . but it was something to put
down on his Alien Registration form to keep the police off his
neck . . . most of his letters back from the Universities have
been rejections—only one he asked for more money deliberately
because he didn't want it. He's a drifter by nature, or
didn't you guess?
[handwritten in first page's bottom
[second page, to the right of the first,
is typed upside-down]
Only I do long for his brain sometimes.
No, I never take meals at [the] Reades . .
. I have too high a regard for my stomach and nerves.
I think school term ends officially July
7th, in order that people can get in late papers, etc., but most
people are gone by the middle of June. Exams start around
Funny about that sweater, guess it was the
gold filagree, but it was about £1-5 cheaper than yours.
Rod is not a Fulbright . . . he's 35 years
old and working on his PhD on Strindberg and O'Neill in
connection with the department. Georgie Brandt is sort of
his tutor; they [the Browns] will live here until he finishes,
probably the summer of '56.
I was sick about Doc [John
Newfield] and [his first wife] Inga . . . she is positively
his crutch in life, but I always wondered how two such caustic,
dynamic personalities ever got along without some blowup or
other . . . maybe it will all work out . . . I knew he was
unhappy at K.U.
Glad everyone is well (except poor
Mildred); seems like all I eat in Bristol is fattening stuff,
but somehow I can now get into my spring suit fine.
June and I are giving me a home perm this
week, fortified with ale and giggles . . . all of my December
curl is now gone and I'm straight again.
We had a three-hour run through of Miss
Julie yesterday and took time off to "re-see" Humphrey
Bogart and his "Baby" in
The Big Sleep, remember it?
About eight years old . . . really sort of awful, one of those
complicated plots where the poor audience is left completely
Jim**** just kept groaning through the whole affair .
. . I wonder why I even bother with men? I went home with
June for coffee and almost missed the last bus (10:45 on
Sundays, gawd!) home.
Am now staggering through the last few
bitter pages of the first rough draft of my pantomime paper.
I told George Brandt over many giggles in the library today
(amidst glares from those studying) that if he hears a
thud coming from his office tomorrow, it's George Rowell when he
reads my nasty comments on his beloved form of entertainment.
Well, at least I'm honest.
A messy package is now wending its slow way
probably arrive the last week of June. It's the dregs of
the Italian trip, undervaluated of course! [page three:]
I hate spoiling the surprise, but I'd better tell you what I
intend for whom. Most of the things are
bought in Florence (much to John's laughter). The red and
gold ones (the largest one and a smaller matching one) are for
Daddy, to use as he so desires for cigarettes or cufflinks, etc.
John says "all men like red," so I hope you're like all men,
cherie. There is an opening-out Catholic-type picture
which no one but me would value, but you can stick it on my
bookcase until I get back. The blue and pink one [is] for
since I thought it would harmonize with their decor, and the box
inside it is for Marcia [Nash], as belated graduation present.
The little green and gold box and the string of beads are for
and I would so appreciate it if you could put them in a larger
box and send them to NYC addressed to "The Stegmans" so Patricia
will feel included. Mother, you will have to wait, I fear
. . . couldn't pack yours but wanted to get rid of some of the
bulk. Besides, those beads are real amber and valued above
£6, so I might have had trouble getting them out of the country.
Hope you won't have to pay any duty, but kind of doubt it.
Did I tell you
Drucilla sent me $2?
Also [received] a card from the
bless them . . . think I got around twelve [birthday] cards in all.
Have begun planning out the mess in the
have had cause to regret saving everything . . . took the
greater part of two nights to throw away stuff, but still have
seashells collected from the Venetian Lido (how cold and sandy I
was that day!), and other such stupid things I hadn't the heart
I have a tutorial with George [Rowell]
tomorrow, so guess I'd better start cracking on this mess of a
paper. Must get this typewriter ribbon changed. Much
The scarf and belt arrived today—what a
positively gorgeous scarf, I'm almost afraid to wear such
a luxurious thing. But thank you. [Got] another
letter from JTD [John Templeman Douty]—what has happened
to him this month—[he] sent mostly clippings and [a]
the International Theatre Festival—I'll have to ask him to get
me tickets for June 14 or [end of page three; page four is
the mailing and return address only]
May 27, 1955
[still faintly typewritten, to her parents]
Just a note to tell you that I shall be on
your hands again next year, since I heard from
today to tell me that I got the fellowship, she said not
definitely but practically that it will be Director of
Ex[perimental] Theatre, three productions a year, and that
had said they will accept six hours credit of work done here
(provided Glynne [Wickham] ever
evaluates them) so God, is that
Of course, aside from the greatest thing of
finally getting to direct and finally finishing my master's is
the fact that I CAN HAVE MY OWN ROOM, I repeat in other terms A
ROOM OF MY OWN and PRIVACY. It has got so bad here that I
begged June for a key to their place (today she took the
children to her parents for Whitsun holiday for a week) so I
could spend at least an hour's running to myself without
constant interruption, noise, questions, complaining, dirt, and
the sound of Reade shuffling around the floor. Why did I
ever stay, you ask? One thing, the lack of strength to get
completely packed, have the steamer trunk loaded, getting a new
place, and then having to do it all over again when I left
Bristol. Another reason, I guess inherited from my
social worker mother, is horrid
fascination: how far can it go, how can people live like
this—etc., and then every once in awhile the whole thing strikes
me as funny. Oh well, I still have breakfast in bed.
Every night after I go to bed, I think of my own room and how I
will fix it up again, with a table so I can throw books around,
work and type, and rearranging furniture. I can't leave a
thing out here . . . it gets picked up, examined, put away
someplace where I never find it ([Mrs. Reade] "tidies up") and then all I
get is "the amount of these things I find on the floor . . . why
can't you pick them up?" Bobby pins, you know. I'm
really not bellyaching to you, just trying to prepare you for
what is to come. That room is going to be my castle, and
when it's dirty that's all well and good. I'll clean it up
when I want to and not when someone else tells me to. This
sort of tirade is what John calls me "exhausting my spleen," but
it has just gone too far for sanity.
So now I am planning three glorious days of
running in and out of the Browns, working upstairs in Diane's
room so as not to disturb Rod, and eating when I want to . . .
it seems like heaven on earth.
You sounded just like a character from a
Nancy Drew mystery story when asking about John's encounter at
the Sorbonne, as if expecting all sorts of gruesome details, so
to give you a laugh am enclosing part of one of his first
letters* (that was when he used to write long letters, pages and
pages like the enclosed) in order that you can get it first
hand. His experience was very typical, I have been told .
. . the French are great ones for maddening secrecy and details.
Since John was okay as far as the police were concerned, since
he "officially had a reason" for being in Paris, he just never
went back. You can see why.
Other questions: I don't know how long I
will be in Paris . . . I want to stay for a month, but I have
next to no money . . . I have found it impossible to really make
plans or be decisive . . . sorry it's so confusing to you.
All I know now is I will leave (provided no rail or dock strike)
around the 14th and stay as long as I can, then either take a
tour somewhere around Europe (already having booked it in
England with pounds) or do something else. Am definitely
going to Ipswich somewhere around the first of August.
That is absolutely all I know, and I can't plan anymore without
losing my mind what with this paper, packing, State Department
forms, Miss Julie, and writing letters to boot.
Ipswich is just north of London, where one can get a boat-train
to Southampton. No chance of Ireland, I don't think . . .
it's £9 return to Dublin plus
living expenses, and I just don't have the money. No, the
Browns don't have a car and, like me, can hardly afford the bus.
Sorry I had to mail the Italian boxes, but
I just don't have room for everything. Am having to ship
my books home separate also (probably next week). And as I
told you, the reporter who was doing the article on me is
a foreign reporter for the K.C. Star, so you'll be sure
to see it.
The enclosed clipping is from the
Tribune*** from John—all
of both of the vacations I have been longing to get a shot of a
Mobilgas**** station with some sort of incongruous
background, and this beats all—you're
famous, Pete [Nash]!
I sold my old green coat to a girl for
£4, and am now looking around for
other things. Am very much afraid one of them has to be
this typewriter, if I can get a good enough price for it, since
I need the money and might have trouble packing it and getting
it out of the country without paying duty.
Have been doing the usual frenzied round of
activities. Monday night Jack and I went up in
Lav's* station wagon with Lav and his wife and a friend to
see "the world premiere" of
Wild Thyme, out of town
opening, in Bath, on which
has been working for a couple of months. Well, I doubt if
it ever opens in London, since it stank, but I had a wonderful
time. Since we had a beer each intermission, each
succeeding act seemed funnier, spiced up by the fact that we met
all sorts of people there, including
the movement teacher from Bristol Old Vic School. Went to
a pub afterwards and listened while Gerry spouted steam for
fifteen minutes, then he left and we drove back (cramped) since
Rudy was now added to the group, and went to the espresso
place for coffee and talk.
Diane, Rod and June's youngest had her
eighth birthday last week, this time only a party of
eight, so we weren't so exhausted as the trip to the
Miss Julie rehearsals get more tense
each time (thank heaven June will be gone for some days),
usually ending with one or the other of us not speaking to the
other, or June in (concealed) tears. If we can only get
through the 9th and 10th without mayhem.
I went over to Rudy's night before last and
was struck dumb by his huge collection of priceless books, made
me green with envy, and such a gorgeous room!
Glynne's baby came last week, named
Stephen Glynne (he was ecstatic), for whom I bought a tiny felt toy lamb
in baby blue. June and I are planning to go over to see
him and the mother [Hesel] after they get home from the
hospital. They keep mothers in for two weeks here.
It is amazing since England is so northern
that it is still light at 10:00 at night, and is the same at
4:00 AM (I get the latter information from John, since I've
never been up at that hour). The Brown children go to bed
with the sun shining.
We had one day of sunshine two days ago . .
. everyone flipped their lids, put on sundresses (only about
60-65 [degrees] at the most temperature), sat out in the gardens
and had hysterics. I sat in the grass for hours myself.
Sure enough, the next day it was cold and rainy.
My hair (after the home permanent) turned
out quite well, although it is growing with the usual fastness,
and will soon have to get cut again, if I get anywhere where
it's hot. Certainly not Paris . . . John says it is
I guess that's all the information . . .
went to a sherry party yesterday in honor of
Heffner*, who is leaving next Tuesday, funnily enough I only
caught a fleeting glimpse of him across "a crowded room" (sorry,
I'm just too tired to type decently) but not to speak to . . .
went out for several beers afterwards, which livened up
night, which was dismal and rainy. Mr. Reade is of course
an unhappy man today, being a Labourite from way back.
Among the movies last week was
Holiday (delightful) and
Bad Day at Black Rock—Spencer
Tracy, very good I thought. I'm seeing more movies this
year then since my
Oak Park days.
Have finally finished my
pantomime, and am presently staggering through the State
Department forms, then two weeks for rehearsals, packing, etc.
Hope all are well, at this rate, I'm going
to book a Cook's** tour consisting of just lying in the sun for
two weeks. What ever happened to that thing we call sun,
anyway? Hope all are well . . . Love, Jean
May 31, 1955
[handwritten-in-pencil airmail, to her parents]
Pen went bad again—that'll
learn me for buying cheap things. Just a line to tell you
a few new things and to ask your opinion on another. One,
is that we are surviving
rail and dock strikes with typical
British fortitude. They seem to be settling in with a
vengeance, and [it] is very annoying. We can't send
anything through the mail weighing over eight ounces, meaning
that I can't send John's books to him, or pack my own to send
home. Am going to have to find someplace here to store my
trunk (if they haven't lifted the ban by then) since I can't
ship it anywhere. Anyway, I took care of getting myself
out of here, by booking flight from Bristol to Paris the morning
of the 15th—have to catch a bus to the airport at 8:40 AM, plane
leaves airport at 9:50, gets to Paris airport at 11:50, and to
center of town by 12:30. I alerted
John today to be
prepared to get up early that day to meet me. I may not be
staying at the
this time, since it's so high and I'm so low (in cash), but I
have the names of some other cheaper hotels nearby—so we should
be able to work something out.
I'm sorry I can't be more specific and that
I tend to ramble. I think I am finally beginning to wear
out, but good. Although all sorts of places on the
Continent sound inviting and I would love to see everything,
even if I had the money I don't know how long I could face it.
These kids that tour miles and miles of the world by hiking have
it all over me. I'm worn out by trains these days—imagine
it will be that much worse after packing my entire set of
belongings and customs list [is] made out. All I can tell
you is I'll be in Paris June 15th—how long I'll stay or where
after that, I don't know.
What I wanted to ask you was, do you think
you could draw $10 or $20 (preferably the latter) out of my
savings account and get it to me by the 15th? I don't know
how long these letters take to get anywhere these days but if
you think you can, please don't mail it in a letter weighing
more than eight ounces, or I'll never get it. Probably no
letter would weigh that much because I mailed the State
Department forms back today and they numbered 22 pages. I
would greatly appreciate it if you could and so would my
stomach, and so will the French. They love American money.
How many times have I heard "Hey buddy—want to change some
Bristol is currently going mad in a heat
wave—everyone is wearing sundresses, shorts or going swimming.
Many have suntans already, after only 2½ days. Guess what
the "high" was yesterday—63°
!!! I also love it—sat in the sun for hours
yesterday in the ruins of an old Victorian church and
graveyard—sounds gruesome, but it was lovely, with flowering
fruit trees and with a gorgeous view—just like Genoa. Rod
and I are, between us, making [a] shambles out of the Brown
house, especially the kitchen. At last Mom I can
appreciate your task. I've given up trying to be original
and slam together cheese, toast, eggs, and gulp milk—but at
least I'm filled up enough not to have to eat out much.
Read Babbitt and Return of the
Native and theatre notes by
in three days plus finishing State Department forms and just
collapsing on Diane's bed. Saw
too terrific, but some wonderful dance numbers—plus bagpipes!
Hope the money doesn't cause you any trouble. Love, Jean
June 11, 1955
[handwritten-in-pencil airmail, to her parents]
June 11, 1955
I am sitting on the floor of Frankie's room
Jamaican girl**** I met on the way to London last trip)
eating cookies, drinking milk, and trying to sort out my
thoughts and get my head cleared after the cast party last night—amidst
the intermittent screams of witches and Alec Guinness in a
recording of Macbeth.
With luck and the grace
of God, I should get off alright Wednesday morning [June 15].
Funnily enough, all the mail is coming through quickly from the
States (still four days) but evidently the congestion is still
bad within England itself, especially the London area.
Therefore your past two letters have arrived in good time, and
how can I thank you for the money? Also the savings money—I
think that it, combined with English pounds, will hold me for a
good while—I hope until I can get
back to Ipswich.
Latest dispatch from "General Douty" reports that I am booked up
with tickets for the Festival until the end of June, but to date
no message about a room (the Lindberg, we have agreed, is out—both
of rooms, and my price range). At ant rate, the [Festival]
sounds exciting—the 15th, Stockholm and Miss Julie; next,
Judith Anderson in Medea; Berlin with Brecht's
Caucasian Chalk Circle; Norway, Portugal, Canada;
of Romeo and Juliet (what they were rehearsing when we
Strasbourg***); and USA (Mary Martin, Helen Hayes, George
Skin of Our Teeth)—plus
a Picasso exhibit, a U.S. theatre exhibit, and the "David to
Toulouse-Lautrec" [exhibit] that I did not get to last time,
plus another American couple to wine and dine for three days
next weekend. The couple is
Knox and Suzie (the Fulbrights
I met in
Scotland). Luckily, they are wonderful kids, but
I haven't told John about them coming over yet (I told them he
would find them hotel rooms!) so don't know what the reaction
will be—as if he had any choice!
Miss Julie is finally over, with a
general sigh of relief but let down also—everyone said "a
very fine attempt" which was a compliment really, since
Strindberg is so hard to do. We went through the usual
routine of staying up half the night after dress rehearsal,
sloshing paint on flats and giggling—reinforced with
beer—everyone joined in, including Glynne in his good blue suit,
and it was a lot of fun. June had several days of severe
nerves, but we all managed to survive the ordeal.
Heard from Patty McIlrath today and
week—had to fill in another fellowship form (about the
sixth or seventh I've done to date) so that takes care of
As feeling slightly "insincere" due to an
impromptu cast party last night at the Browns—there weren't many
there, but we managed to kill two cases of beer (quarts) and
June and I sat up after everyone left (I stayed there last
night) cleaning up, etc. until 4:00, when the birds started
chirping and it was light. First time I've been up that
late for a year.
Knox and Suzie were down for the play and
we went to see the Japanese film
Seven Samurai yesterday—terrific.
Tomorrow Jack and I are invited to the
Brandts for the evening. Monday June is helping me pack
and Tuesday night we're going to see Bristol Old Vic's
Confidential Clerk for a farewell outing. Everyone has
been so sweet and kind lately. I'm afraid it is really
going to be painful to leave it all so soon—however . . .
Did the broken Italian boxes ever get there? Write me in
care of John, and don't worry. Much love—Jean
June 17-18, 1955
[handwritten-in-faint-pencil letter, to her parents]
June 17, '55
At last I'm warm! It has been
comfortably hot since I landed and all of the cottons that June
and I, with fear and trepidation, packed are coming in handy.
I'm so overcome with the idea of actually wearing cotton clothes
that I put on new outfits twice a day—will
probably end up with everything dirty and mussed, but have I
ever enjoyed the process.
If the past few
days are any indication, this will be
the best Continental trip yet. I have been having the most
glorious time imaginable! The plane trip itself was a
mistake (although providing several hilarious situations):
1. Because the rail strike ended the
day I left.
2. Because we had a low fog and the
plane was delayed.
3. Because I got involved with an
American girl and her nagging mother who reminded me for all the
Having obtained Mr. Reade's alarm clock
(which he, nearsighted as he is, thought he had set for 7:30 AM
and went off at 7:00 instead) I arose slightly bilious from the
night before, when June had taken me out to dinner of Italian
food and to see The Confidential Clerk and then several
beers afterwards. I managed to get things into the
semblance of being packed and throw together some breakfast.
At 8:15, Barry (an Old Vic student) came by to carry my suitcase
on the bus down to the Center, where we were to catch another
bus to the airport. After a twenty minute wait, the "bus"
arrived (a taxi) and June went to the airport with me and all of
the other passengers. After arriving there, I had the
strange feeling of apprehension and sure enough, we learned the
plane was slow from Cardiff. To make a long story short—instead
of leaving at 9:50, we got off sometime after 1:30 or later, not
getting into Paris proper until 4:30. Poor John, who had
waited from 12:30 to 3:00, had gone home and by this time, I was
more than slightly tipsy from having whiled away the time sharing
a bottle of Scotch with the aforementioned American girl.
I managed to have the clerk at the air terminal call the
Lindberg and soon John came and poured me into a cab and got me
to a hotel to sleep it off for a couple of hours. Ate
usual elegant dinner and saw the Stockholm production of Miss
Julie that night. It was some day, with too many
hilarious undertones to mention in this letter and my limited
time, except that our plane was called "The Dove" and I am sure
that a real dove would have outweighed it!
Yesterday we went to one of the film
festival attractions, a Swedish film of Miss Julie (with
the sane stars as in the [stage] production), scenes from Erich
Dance of Death, and last night saw Judith
Anderson in Medea—generally quite disappointing. We
kept laughing at all the wrong parts but it was so uneven, all
the minor parts being taken by well-known stars (like
Charles Nolte) and done
on the whole inadequately, and Judith herself was just too
histrionic for words. But it was interesting to see
Had our usual beer at
Flore**** afterwards, and you should see St. Germain these
days! The sidewalk cafés take up literally the whole
sidewalk and pedestrians have their choice of walking in the
street or pushing their way through the tables. Everyone
is louder, gayer and more in evidence in the warm weather,
including the peanut vendors and the North Africans selling the
fur rugs. There are huge carts of cherries on the streets
also, and an American behind every tree. But my, is it fun!
Today we devoted to buying more theatre
tickets and wandering around the Champs-Élysées. Tonight I
think we are seeing a Norwegian production. Tomorrow Knox
and Suzie are supposed to arrive (the Fulbrights from Scotland)
so we left tomorrow night open. Seeing some Cocteau films
in the afternoon. Then, next week things like the Chinese
opera, Oklahoma!, Chaplin films, exhibits, and [the]
It is all so nice to be here I'd forgotten
what charm could exist in a city, especially after Bristol that
closes up at 11:00 PM. I have no plans for leaving.
John now thinks he will stay until the 1st of August (he may
have a job at Buffalo next year) so who knows when I will leave?
Obviously, when the money runs out.
hotel room I have is at the junction of
Rue St. Germain, Rue du Bac, and Rue Raispail—about three blocks
from the Lindberg. It is tiny, but serviceable and costs
(with breakfast in my room) thirty francs cheaper a night than
the Lindberg. Thirty francs is next to nothing, but I had
to go out for my breakfast there. This room overlooks Rue
du Bac and is very noisy, but I love it—the hotel is in between
a billiard room and an ice cream parlor—I took a
photo of it,
but seriously doubt if any of this roll will come out, due to
the fact that I took all of the shots in semi-darkness and
complicated matters by dropping the camera on the floor before
The enclosed is a
pic of me taken by
Frankie in front of the
Café* in Bristol. In reflection in glass you can see a
bus approaching (center) and part of art gallery (upper right).
Also added attraction of the
straw basket**. I look like I'm about to enter a
minstrel show with the white gloves and grin—Minerva*
looks slightly dejected. The other enclosed is article by
John Crosby—when "damn mad" at
[Arthur] Godfrey—very good, I
I am so hungry I could eat a bear, and
still a half an hour to go. John is taking one of his
usual baths—suppose I should do a washing and write to June.
Poor dear, I just left her with taking care of my dirty
work—like helping send the steamer trunk (along with Mr. Reade)
The last day in Bristol was as I had
expected, painful—with everyone sitting around looking doleful
or else terribly bright—but now that I'm finally gone, I can't
say that I'm took broken up. Bristol was just too slow and
sleepy—in spite of the wonderful Drama Department and
This is all I can think of for now.
I'm booked up with theatre tickets until July 13th so you can
take it from there! On to dinner. Much love, Jean.
Saturday [June 18th]
Naturally, didn't get around to mailing
this so must tell you about last night. We ate in a
poor man's bistro near Rue de Rivoli where we each had a
five-course dinner both for 650 francs (about $1.75)—an
hilarious place, which you would have loved—everyone
shoveling it in with a vengeance. Afterwards over to
the Hébertot for the Norwegian production which turned out
to be a "one woman show," or as John said the
Noralee Benedict*** of Norway—doing
everything from speaking all the parts in
Anouilh's*** Medea to reciting a poem with piano
accompaniment. Naturally, we had to stifle the
giggles. Afterwards, went to what we call the Stage
Door Canteen or theatre bar, a darling place—which during
the two hours spent there featured a quite heated argument
between two men, one of whom had intimated that the other
was German ("them's fighting words!"), the other who allowed
he was as French as the next man and the other could bloody
well shut his vile mouth, etc. A French soldier kept
quietly standing between the two and all was punctuated by a
British colonel type gentleman who alternated between
speaking loud English and loud French, illustrating all with
loud whistles. He turned out to be some famous
aeronautical engineer or something and wanted to accompany
us home. Also featured was John trying to explain what
a pretzel was to the barmaid, an elegant lady of easy
virtue, a young man obviously a dancer at the Folies Bergère,
a taxi driver and a stumble bum. All was especially
funny being translated by John, although I usually grasped
the situation if not the conversation. The only
drawback of this bar is that it is in Montmartre and takes a
good hour and a half to walk home from it. C'est
Paris, really more like Damon Runyon.
Shades of England—it is now raining and the
flower seller across the street is barricading herself in.
Hope I eventually get around to mailing this.
Got your letter just now. Thank you!
June 28-30, 1955
[handwritten-in-slightly-darker-pencil letter, to her parents]
I will get a head start on this now, and
finish it later—when,
heaven knows. I think my last letter was dated around the
18th and since I keep a skeletal account of everyday happenings
it is fairly easy to give you some of the highlights.
The 18th we went to see
(in the original language) in the weirdest movie house you've
ever seen—all tarnished gold and garish Oriental painting—called
"The Pagode." Since that was a Saturday, next we had to
fight the French for seats, the consequence being that we sat in
the second row!! Found ourselves with stiff necks, burning
and perpetually upturned eyes for the rest of the evening.
Earlier that day we walked to the outskirts of town—never
have my feet ached so much.
Sunday (19th) we parted our separate
ways—did laundries, read etc.—that night saw a provincial French
group do a Pirandello play. Fair.
Next afternoon (20th) to Film Festival of
Cocteau films and readings with added attraction of personal
appearance of Cocteau himself—thrill, thrill—and
Jean Marais (you may not have heard of him—he is famous as one of
France's great stage and screen stars—for being very
handsome—and for being very charming with Cocteau).
Cocteau was very energetic and youthful for [a] 78 year [old].
[John and I] spent that evening (since the films and talks
lasted 3½ hours) eating Italian food and walking (ouch) around.
Next night (21st) saw an excellent
production of Brecht's Chalk Circle—interesting
staging by the Berlin Ensemble—had an unfortunate meeting with
Jack (now on his way to Greece) and other Americans. I was
not in a sociable mood, and parting was cool.
Next day [22nd], more films—one of
Barrault's***. Saw the Portuguese production that
night. Even though we arrived an hour late, the
performance went on for 2½ more hours. The Spanish,
Portuguese, and Greeks don't start night activities until 10:45
The 23rd we saw the Chinese opera, which is
quite the rage of Paris these days and rightly so—everything
from the Marx Brothers slapstick to the most exquisite of
movement, all with such gorgeous costumes.
The 24th we went to the USA's "Salute to
France" exhibit of "David to Toulouse-Lautrec"—quite good
showing of French canvases from American museums. That
night, saw Canada (Montreal) group do three short farces of
Molière—very funny, main comedian reminds me of Jackie
Saturday [25th] we messed around the
reference room of the American Library due to an argument over
which American playwright got run over by a tractor—turned out
to be Sidney Howard, but we must have pulled out 25 volumes to
find the information. That night John dragged me to a
fireworks display on the banks of the Seine—turned out that at
the end of three hours they passed out tiny sparklers and
they were the fireworks. The French are always
anticipating trouble, so consequently had out a contingent of
fire engines and police. Also that evening: folk dances,
acrobatics, bonfires, and huge milling crowds of people.
Sunday [26th], our mutual days of rest from
each other. I was ambitious and set out early—went to
Notre Dame Cathedral and sight-saw, walked down Rue de la
Huchette (have never got over
Elliot Paul's Last Time I Saw
Paris), went to the Louvre again and sat in Tuileries Garden
by the pond and watched the kids sail their boats. That
night we had 700 francs between us, so went to the cafeteria for
dinner for 300 francs apiece (about 40¢), walked around (oh, my
bleeding feet) and blew the rest on cups of black coffee—that
evening ended miserably at 11:00.
Yesterdat [27th] we went to the bank (ha)
and walked around again (my heels are like hard granite)—that
night went to
Michel Saint-Denis's*** production of
Romeo and Juliet.
Aside from imaginative costumes, the production was inferior and
really poor in relation to what I had learned to expect of him.
John nodded and burped champignons à la grecque
(mushrooms Greek style with garlic) while I fidgeted. I
carried this nervy mood over to tonight. Today I was
supposed to accompany John to Cook's where he is worrying over
travel arrangements, but I got so irritable waiting to leave I
pinned a nasty note to the door and I went off by myself to
brood. Got home to soak my feet and he had slipped the
full of clippings** you sent under the door, so I had an
interesting afternoon with all the tidbits. Most
surprising was to learn that Fran and Jan had finally come to
the fatal decision (must find them a card) to get married.
Tonight I'm all dressed up in pink garb to
go eat at the hash house and see the outdoor opera in the
courtyard of the Louvre—Berlioz's Romeo and Juliet with
ballet. Tickets were 1000 francs reserved ($3.00), 500
francs unreserved—guess which we got? We may never
see the opera.
Have nothing planned for next two
nights—probably an outdoor production of Molière. Tomorrow
hope to go to Sartre Day at the Film Festival. Friday
night is Oklahoma!
Had my film roll
developed: all but
one (the one with Rudy in it) turned out
fine—I had my
thumb in the way again. I think I won't send
them from here—too expensive; probably from England, if I ever
get back there.
Have received two letters from June (one
more expected tomorrow), two from Joann, and two (three with
[the] clippings one) from you since arriving—such luxury.
Let me explain to you the problem of the
rest of my savings account. It seems as though I have
around $63 left. Is that right? But isn't part of
that yours personally that you deposited into it this year?
Anyhow, I had planned to use (if it is $63) $30 of it in
NYC ($25 at a minimum) and $30 here or in England, leaving $3.00
in it to keep it open. Does that arrangement seem at all
plausible? By the time I pay my rent here and go through
my funds now with me—I figure I will still have ten days to two
weeks when I could really use the $30. Please don't get
the idea that we are throwing away money like mad—the 500
[francs for] the opera tonight is rare—most of the time we pay
220 francs for theatre tickets apiece (30¢) and only eat one
meal a day, plus the coffee and rolls at 11:00 which comes with
the rent. We never pay more than 700 for dinner and
usually 350-450 which doesn't seem extravagant. The rest
of the money is generally divided among from two or three beers
after the theatre, 100-200 for Film Fest or exhibitions, and I
usually pick Sundays to go to the Louvre since it's free then.
Every once in awhile (once a day—ha) we get
into big planning hassles, armed with papers and pencils for
close budgeting of money—or, what is worse—arguing about it.
But, in the long run, it never seems worth it. We know how
how much we have to spend, and should silently try to
live within it. I figure I won't get back to Paris for
awhile, and why not enjoy myself while I'm here? Heaven
knows England has little to offer in comparison.
Mellie's* letter on my breakfast tray this morning.
It was so welcome and I enjoyed it so.
It seems that while I was brooding my way
around the Rue de la Paix (rhymes!) yesterday, John was
causing a scene at Cook's—walked off in a huff after
standing in line for an hour with eager Frenchman (friends
of the clerk) getting at the head of the line once too
often. John is going through one of these periods of
"Oh whither hath my lost youth fled?," is worried about his
growing irritability, balding temples, etc.
The opera was very impressive. We
didn't finish dinner until 8:50, but got seats anyway.
Just like a Hollywood premiere—all the people in evening
dress, flash cameras flashing, the President (M. Coty) even
attended. They floodlit the facade of the Louvre,
played "The Marseillaise" and it was all terribly dramatic.
Aside from the usual mosquitoes and hard benches, 'twas very
inspiring evening—the man who danced Romeo was especially
Got a long letter from June and one from
Joann today—how can I keep up this correspondence!
John wants me to ask you this: we noticed
in the clippings that
Mr. Breuninger was appointed [the] new
Business Manager and Bursar of KCU—what happened to the old
one, Mr. Bokelman? John says he is relying on you to
obtain necessary data—he suggests
Dr. Barnett** for information source—ha!
It has been cooler and rainy [the] past two
days. We saw Sartre's No Exit yesterday at
films—found it boring—are trying out a Mexican film today,
and eating at my favorite restaurant tonight—just around the
corner from the Opera, called—Chez Jean!
Since Joann is determined to buy theatre
tickets herself, I think I can get by with less money in New
York than I had originally planned—especially in light of
the fact that I figured out a budget last night and ends
won't meet unless you send me at least $30.00 by July 15th.
John is staying in Paris until the 1st of August, so I hope
(at least present plan) to hang on until around July 25th in
order to see the Greek production of Oedipus.
Oh, I hate planning so. It will be a relief just to
get settled somewhere for longer than two months at a time,
or what is worse—the one week jaunts or even worse—the
living out of a suitcase for more than a month.
Oh well, try to bear with me—I have to get
ready to go to the bank (again) with John today before the
cinema. Big argument last night, so the weather may
not be the only thing that's cool today—ha!
Lots of love, Jean