July 9, 1955
This may prove to be completely illegible
due to the high wind I am combating, sitting in the sun of
the Tuileries Garden. It is a lovely Saturday and
since I got your letter today and John*
is busily writing to
Edythe and Biffle, plus working up
lecture notes for one of his classes, I thought I would be a
good girl and write immediately, especially after you have
been so wonderful about the money. Thank you
both so much and thank God for [my] bank account (I
fear and trepidation—that you meant the balance minus
the $30 withdrawn was $32.98 ???).
I unfortunately have budgeted myself to use the $30 for
passage back to England, not anything exciting. Ever
since I last wrote we have been in a period of "rigorous
economy" (John's term) as opposed to "economy"—meaning
dinner at the cafeteria three times a week and no beer or
nuttin' after theatre. John doesn't miss this luxury
since he doesn't like beer much anyway, but you can imagine
how I took it. John says he can't stand the
whining much longer. We did break the truce long
enough for one night during which I examined his color
slides (new camera) of Paris, Italy, etc. Since most
of these were overexposed, the "color" ran from a uniform
grey with splotches of halfhearted red and green, to a newer
roll which had some really excellent shots marred only by
the unexplained presence of a fat Russian peasant woman
(guess who?) figuring prominently in the foreground of many
of the photos. Anyhow, the beer was pleasant.
John says I shouldn't even mention the
weather situation to you for fear of your
unnecessarily. However, it is been around 75 or lower
(especially one cold day last week) for the daytime and in
the 50's or 40's at night. We didn't go to an outdoor
production of Molière
last night due to the chill but walked instead to the old
site of the Bastille, where they had a carnival going—just
like Fairyland on a much smaller scale. Such dirt!!
I don't remember if
I told you or not that John has a job for next year?
Naturally [he] is very bitter at least outwardly, but the
past few days [he] has busily been preparing outlines and
notes for the courses: Introduction to Theatre Directing and
Speech at [the] University of Buffalo. At least there
it is an assistant professorship basis—actually should have
been last year at KCU instead of instructor. He has
never got over the fact that he was once (?) [sic] my
teacher and secretly thinks me lazy and stupid so is plying
me with books, documents, etc. for furthering my knowledge.
I'm doing pretty well but keeping falling asleep over
articles like "The Technical Art of Manuscript Reporting,"
and drawings of elliptical spotlights. I was never
meant for education. He recently brought over a
Pogo book and a cheap popular novel.
If you happen to buy or know anyone who
does buy Time, would you please save the
of this week (July 11) issue for me? It is on the
Berlioz***** production plus photo, and John has taken ours,
since he bought it (ha).
By the by, at least in Paris I am alright
as far as opera glasses are concerned—John has a pair.
As for your guess concerning the
wooden boxes*****, well naturally I hate for Daddy to
have to give up one of his. I had originally intended
to get something for
more to her taste—English with flowers, etc., but that I
have to plan everything down to the last sou, guess there's
no help for it if you really want to do it.
I'll keep working on the Jeanette card but
it will have to be some week when I send no mail—everything
cost so much I have to be that stingy.
Ye Gods—it's getting so there are more
Americans around here than Parisiens—a huge mob just passed
with a motion picture camera!
I had allotted myself $5 to buy something
here (since I only bought those two guidebooks before) so
have bought a book on Venice with colored and black and
white pictures, mainly for you to see the gorgeous things I
didn't photograph myself—and last week bought a huge gold
ceramic mask to hang around my neck. I don't think
John likes it much, but you know how men are. That
leaves me all of 50 francs with which I am going to buy a
bottle of wine to take [to]
June's* parents in Ipswich.
Can you imagine buying a bottle of French wine for 25¢ or a
bottle of champagne for $1.50? You can here!
Events last week [at the International
Festival*****] included a production of
Oklahoma!, not very inspiring but you can't go too
far wrong with that show—John is mad about it and kept
humming tone-deafly throughout same.
Skin of Our Teeth*****—very
uneven, with some good parts—mainly Mary Martin, who was
fine. [Helen] Hayes had one good scene and Martin's
daughter "Heller" was charming, but George Abbott was
way off and
Florence Reed seemed bored to tears.
Also saw old 1932 film
If I Had a
Million, to celebrate 4th of July. Had W.C.
Fields, one of John's favorites, who nearly rolled on the
floor during that part—also
Jack Oakie (!), Gary Cooper as a
young man, etc.
Also saw Strasbourg (St.
Denis***) do a production of a Calderon play—infinitely
better than their previous
Romeo and Juliet***** show.
Also the Amsterdam production of Oedipus
Rex—very good and beautifully staged.
Interspersed with our cafeteria and
hash-house nights, we splurge
... last time had shrimp, a
vegetable salad for hors d'oeuvres, escalope of veal and
Italian spaghetti, two kinds of cheese and bottle of wine
for 500 [francs] each ($1.50). Time before I had
ravioli, two lamb chops and green beans and strawberries for
same. John is bound and determined to get an elegant
meal for Bastille Day. He resents the cafeteria and
hash-house nights even though you can get at the former
steak and French fries, huge bowl of spinach, small bottle
of wine, loaf of bread and dessert for 260 francs.
It's the atmosphere that gets him. I can't say as I
blame him there. The sound of gulping, gnashing teeth
and loud French isn't appealing.
Last night I had two eggs mayonnaise (hard
boiled), huge pork chop with curried rice, cheese, and crêpe
with jam plus wine for 500 francs—I
could barely walk and didn't digest due to [our] usual argument—this
time over a passing remark of mine which John took to be a
slur against Jews ("If
it's one thing I can't stand it's anti
semitism" [sic]) which got me mad—heated
exchange—but somehow all was ironed out and we ended the
evening convulsed in laughter and giggling whilst walking by
the Seine. Such a biz!
Half our pleasure in life is in 1) eating
2) walking around—the latter punctuated by such sillies as
"Wouldn't your mother like a genuine elephant tusk to put on
the T.V. set?" or "Why don't you take your father home one of
those lovely Parisien relics?" (nude photos)—or me urging
him to buy a pair of tartan bikini trunks.
There's always a way to solve the problem
of being broke. John has now dispensed with the idea
of going to Greece for obvious reasons and is considering
Vienna. We keep standing in long lines at
or CIT for travel information but never seem to get
Every night around midnight [a] huge
contingent of Negroes on white horses clad in gold armor and
red march down St. Germain—John calls it "The Saints
Marching In"—we think they're part of some performance
playing currently, but where else would we see it?
I took some photos on 4th of July—one of
U.S. flags on the Champs-Élysées, another of a sailboat on
the Tuileries pond, one of a
man painting in the gardens,
and one of an
old horse who pulls the carriages on the
Champs-Élysées. The remainder are to remain in secret.
Although we have it all planned out of which shots we want
Buchwald's (and my) opinion on
the nudes of Paris—he can be very clever and entertaining at
It is now 4:00 and I should be home
finishing a theatre textbook but prefer sitting here
watching the kiddies, the numerous poodles and the Americans
with their cameras.
Monday [July 11]
your darling card and second installment today—thank you.
I am beginning to feel the heat here, especially in this
small room. Somehow when it's 80°
here, it seems as warm as 90° in the States. I
remember how warm it seemed in England in the 60's—wonder
why? Got a sunburn writing to you Saturday [the 9th].
By the way, VII-e in the Paris address means 7th,
Vienna did a beautiful production of
Light and Love last night—this time last
year I could never have imagined myself getting carried away
with a play in a foreign language—now I don't seem to think
of this factor as a hindrance, if the production is good
After a night at the hash-house and last
night at the cafeteria (two more planned for next few days)
John is up in arms—claims he is going to have a good
meal on the 14th [Bastille Day] or die in the attempt—also
is planning to go to a street carnival that night—hope there
aren't any fireworks!
We're off to the
Cluny Museum to look at
medieval tapestries today, so I'll mail this on the way.
Much love, J
July 18, 1955
[handwritten in faint pencil, to her parents]
This must needs be short—no
more paper left—I was just aroused with your letter (11:15) and
since I have to go to the post office anyway, will dash off a
While walking down [a] small side street
yesterday (really staggering after visiting two churches) I
casually looked at the thermometer and shrieked to find it 31°
C (or 90° F). One reason people keep passing out
over here is no fans, no air conditioners, no ice (or little),
hence no relief at all—another reason is that they're not
used to it.
No I am not flying back to England—going
the cheapest way by channel for $18—no, no plane to Ipswich—it's
very small. And, dear Mother, bless you for your
innocence, but I haven't gotten a check from Fulbright since
May—guess they figure if you want to stay out the summer, that's
your affair, and it has been too—living on accumulated $1
bills, money from the typewriter
sold, and your generosity. The thing that really makes me
bitter is not being able to afford to have anything washed or
shoes repaired. In this heat everything is filthy and
reeking and wrinkled and, well—c'est bohemianism, and I can wash
in Ipswich. Am leaving here for London either the 28th or
29th. Hope to stay in Youth Hostel there for a couple of
days until I can get to Ipswich. There for a week, then
after that don't know.
You would have dropped your teeth at seeing
me on Bastille Day. The night before at midnight we were
fighting our way through the street [dances], rounded the corner
of St. Germain and everywhere you could see millions of people,
bands playing, chickens roasting on spits, men making cheese and
ham sandwiches, and added attraction of people throwing lighted
firecrackers out of windows. Naturally I balked and
screamed "I'll meet you somewhere but I'm not going through
that (just like Gone With the Wind, hey?). We
sidetracked and ate chocolate ice cream and a pitcherful of
icewater in our own sedate, quiet neighborhood.
Next day out to take photos—had just been
out half an hour when it poured—retreated to [a] bar for
an hour. In walking home, came across old barrel organ in
street, with several old characters dancing around it. I
took a photo, but it was awfully dark. We each splurged
and spent 1,000 francs for dinner, so exotic—egg and ham
in gelatin, 1½ inch thick filet steak in wonderful sauce,
Beaujolais wine in straw basket, lettuce salad, Gruyere cheese,
vanilla ice with burnt sugar and nuts, coffee and brandy.
Since John considers my fear of fireworks
"a childish neurosis used to dramatize" myself, I got dragged
against my will to the display on
Pont Neuf. There,
crushed against a bookseller's stall and John's back, fingers to
ears, eyes squinted, I lived through a half an hour of it and it
was gorgeous—the first thing like that I'd ever seen
really. Then we walked up Champs-Élysées to Arc de
Triomphe de l'Étoile—everyone out, fountains on, buildings
floodlit. During the time when I ran over to look in a
store window, a "young lady" approached John but he told her
innocently that he was American and didn't understand what she
had in mind. I think she got the insult since she stalked
off furiously and he was giggling. My feet really ached
that night from all the walking, but I think the U.S. could
learn a lot from the French on the way of celebrations.
All was relatively quiet—what big fireworks there were, were
police-controlled—no small children setting them off in the
streets etc. All very sensible—the French are well
I have now got through two books of Shaw's
plays, and am starting on a volume of 18th Century.
Haven't been doing much—I have a slight tan and my hair is
getting long. It is so hot in the theatres I don't enjoy
them anymore—nearly passed out last night and it was so dull:
Maria Stuart by Schiller. We only have one more to
go—Greece [on] Wednesday.
Salt of the Earth [a] few nights
ago—made about New Mexican mine workers labor troubles and
McCarthy would be after me if he had any
Must go and mail this—we are going to the
Rodin museum today, and it is after noon now. Only eleven
more days here, sob!
Love to all, Jean
All money arrived safely. "Tanks."
July 25, 1955
[handwritten, to her parents]
(Recognize the paper? What you had
wrapped around clippings.)
I'm sitting in Tuileries Garden in the
shade, enjoying a wonderful breeze. It is once more hot.
Last week on Monday we hit
thunderstorm; [temperatures] began dropping with continuing rain
day after day. It was very cool which set John off
complaining, and he has been at it ever since. Guess it's
the strain of getting packed—he will live out of the same
suitcase from Aug. 1st to Sept. 9th and is getting very agitated
I got my ticket to
London today—got the last reservation of the second class.
Will get to London 7:50 PM Friday night [July 29], probably go
to Ipswich either Monday or Tuesday [Aug. 1-2]. Address
c/o F.G. Laws /
The Poplars / 59A Henley Rd. / Ipswich, England.
Please don't send any more of your own
money! If I need it I'll write you for more of the savings
[account] and cut the stay in NYC. We no longer eat at the
cafeteria. John has taken a stand—we are currently
gobbling at sidewalk bistros on Montparnasse and going to old
movies like Ninotchka and Animal Crackers.
Finished off the International Drama Festival with Greece's
production of Oedipus with
Katina Paxinou—very elegant
and well unified. [I] do little in the daytime but window shop,
read and dream about the night's dinner—[illegible].
Mailed off (or will in a few minutes) the
B[arnett]** with accompanying jocular note. No,
I doubt if I will be compelled to work on the 15th [of
Marcia* for her very sweet letter which I so appreciated
even if it was a bit late in being posted (written July 9th!).
Sorry for condition of this mess—cheap pen
and sticky hands! Must run to the P.O. with this in order
to get ready for "Old Sour Puss" tonight. Will write in
London. Lots of love, Jean
July 31, 1955
[handwritten airmail, to her parents]
Hello from London!
Only a few highlights. After
agonizingly slow taxi ride to the station Friday, I boarded the
Paris-Calais train at 12:24. It left 12:25! Luckily,
I had no way of getting to the third class car where my
reservation was (the first [car] on the train) so I spent the three
hours in a plush first class car (the last on the train).
Crossing was fairly smooth but so crowded they had to run [a]
relief train from Dover, and I was an hour late in London.
The girl who was meeting me gave up waiting (Frankie,
the Jamaican****) and usual terrible confusion, hysterical
phone calls, etc. Finally got in this Roman Catholic Youth
Hostel at 10:30 Friday night—it
is ridiculous—the Sisters turn out all lights at 11:00
PM, you can't sit on beds, etc. etc. etc. But more of that
later—will stay here until Tuesday morning (the 2nd), am taking
the 11:30 train to Ipswich, so you can write me there (even
after the 10th, because they will have my forwarding address).
Yesterday Frankie and about five other Jamaicans and I went
stomping about and saw
Dorothy Tutin in
Lark—good, but I was so tired and had headache. Slept
the [next] morning until 11:00, so feel much better.
Tomorrow is a bank holiday, which means everything is
closed—oh, England, England!!
A few little things—will you please
before the middle of August send the rest of my savings account
in New York (in order that she can bail me off the boat and to
finance my two weeks in NYC). I don't really know the most
advantageous way of doing this, but will leave it up to your
good judgment. Tell her I'll write her as soon as
possible, about landing on the 26th, etc. Even a more
hideous development is that John is landing on the 8th [of
September] and will be in NYC the 9th too, with probably a new
car, etc., so I have to plan for that far in advance, getting
theatre tickets, etc.—oh, what a riot!
Also, Frankie sent a box full of my books
to K.C. Wednesday July 27th, so they should get to you around
Aug. 10-15 if all goes well. I could not send them before
I left Bristol due to the rail strike, so I had to leave them
with her to mail.
Today there are suspicious plans about
going rowing on the stream (or river) in Regent's Park.
Can't you just see me rowing a boat?!
It was pretty awful leaving Paris and I'm
having a rather rough time getting out of the Rue du Bac
habit—but it's easier being with a lot of people, constantly
talking, rather than being by myself. Had a lovely last
meal in Paree—omelette with herbs, tournedo (filet) with French
fries and watercress, lettuce salad,
chocolate sauce, and bottle of Beaujolais wine. Didn't do
much last week—almost died laughing at Groucho Marx in
Crackers, walked around watching TV on the Champs-Élysées,
drinking beer (finally). I bought June's parents a bottle
of rosé and the kids some cute lollipops with flowers on them,
bought myself a Scott Fitzgerald novel to read on the train—naturally
John came up with a book for a going-away present—plus a
Time, Punch, and New York Herald Tribune, so I had
plenty of reading material—ha!
It rained a lot last week in Paris—we were
constantly getting soaked, but surprisingly London is having
quite nice weather. Today the sun is out and it is balmy.
Money is holding out to date—think I can
manage okay, except for tips on the boat. Those I
haven't figured out as yet—ah, well—on to Ipswich and what is
has in store for me. Lots of love, MJS
August 4-5, 1955
[handwritten, to her parents]
August 4, 1955
Finally from Ipswich!
I am determined to answer coherently
all of your questions, so as to somewhat ease your minds from
inquiry, etc. Sorry it is so unbearable there. I am
writing this from the
Felixstowe, where the Laws
have a little hut—it
is fairly warm, although they call it "hot" (in the 70's, 80's
Erica* has been in swimming and all are sitting around in
various garbs of suntops, sneakers, etc., yours truly in a pair
of borrowed white towel shorts and long-sleeved sweater, coward
that I am—can't quite get up the nerve to completely strip.
As you have probably gathered, yes, June and the kids are here.
Rod* is still in Bristol working on the thesis. He may
go up to London next week to work at the British Museum, and she
will meet him there.
Question No. 1: Dear John is sailing
from Naples the 31st of August on the
Andrea Doria***—Italian ship, first class—arriving New
York Sept. 8th, which I shall meet. He left for Brussels
Aug. 1st—planning to go from Cologne down the Rhine to
Frankfurt, then Vienna, Italy again—Florence, Rome, Naples.
I envy him unmercifully, but he didn't much relish all those
weeks lugging around two Samsonite cases—they are so terribly
heavy, you know—[he] is going by train (American Express
tickets) all the way, I think. He is going to stay in New
York at least the 9th—wants to buy a car there (wants to get a
Hillman Minx) and try it out there before attempting to drive to
Baltimore. Not having driven for a year, he is a bit
apprehensive (per usual) but at least I may get to see Long
Island in a car this way. So, on he goes to
Baltimore to stay a couple of weeks with stepmom Douty and
sister Mary Alice**
before beginning the long-haul grind at Buffalo Sept. 19th.
No, he's not going to pick up his furniture at K.C.—if he can
find the right kind of apartment he will have the storage place
in K.C. send it on to Buffalo.
No. 2: Yes, I still have the
vaccination certificate in my wallet.
No. 3: No, John didn't get vaccinated
in Paris—why should he? He had [the] smallpox one done in
Got a doleful letter from
a couple of days ago. Says she suspects you have been out
on a protracted "jag," since she's been trying to get you on the
phone for weeks and can't get through or something.
Anyhow, if weather permitting you ever feel like calling her,
you know it will be greatly appreciated from her poor soul.
I will try to write to her.
This is paradise in comparison with the
hostel in London. I could never get used to the frenzied
rush home there at night, throwing off clothes and washing
before the electricity went off—then if we giggled in the hall,
one or the other sister would come "hushing" us all.
Actually the room itself was nice—clean and large with a double
bed and three nights I had it to myself before one of the girls
came back from the weekend. The day I wrote you (Sunday)
we did nothing but go to a movie,
East of Eden, and eat
at a Swedish place. Next day we went rowing on the
Serpentine River—really fun, although I crawled in with the
grace of a baby elephant and kept clutching the sides of the
boat, gritting my teeth horribly. Strolled about Hyde Park
(littered with people) eating all sorts of gooey
complexion-ruining messes, and went to an ice show that
afternoon late. Thoroughly dirty we staggered home and I
packed hurriedly in the "box room" as they call it, because you
can't take suitcases to your rooms. They claim it knocks
the plaster off the walls carrying them up the stairs, or some
sort of idiotic reason. It took four Jamaicans to get me
on the train to Ipswich the next day—we had to lug that enormous
suitcase all the way from Notting Hill Gate to Liverpool Street
Station on the subway, a half-hour ride (couldn't afford a
taxi). Very dirty ride of 1 hour 45 minutes and was met by
June and Mama around lunchtime Tuesday in Ipswich.
After having just finished a gin and orange
(slurp) we are preparing cold chicken sandwiches and salad.
Can you stand all of this—perhaps I am just being too cruel, eh?
One nice thing happened. I had a
letter from Cunard Line, saying that they were changing my boat
accommodation (due to a cancellation apparently) to a two-person
stateroom instead of the four-person one I was scheduled for,
which will make the trip much nicer, I daresay. Also
called Rod to say he had finally sent the trunk on to
Southampton via railway express.
One horrible thing happened.
Due to the heat, spontaneous combustion or something, the bottle
of cote d'agneau I had bought for June's parents became
uncorked (the seal broke) and gurgled all over the place,
seeping into one of the hostel's overstuffed chairs—the whole
room smelled pleasantly like a distillery. Wonder what the
"Sisters" had to say after I left? Anyhow, there was only
an inch of it left by the time I smelled it, discovered the
horrible truth, aired out the straw basket it was in (luckily)
and cushion, so we finished it off at the hostel. Too bad,
it was a beautiful wine, but after being here awhile I wonder
whether or not it wouldn't have seemed awfully prosaic.
Mr. Laws always served some sort of lovely wine at dinner, far
beyond any price I could have afforded to bring from the Rue du
Bac wine shops. Also, always a "cocktail" hour before
dinner, and a whiskey and soda before bedtime. I am
getting terribly spoiled (per usual) and used to living way
beyond my means. London next week is going to seem like
dire poverty in comparison. I think now I may try to get
up on perhaps Wednesday the 10th and stay until the 20th, the
only damnable fact being that hotels cost so much. Still,
I will not go back to that hostel and have my last days
abroad marred by it. June says that her father will lend
me some money and I need it, but I hate like heck having to go
into debt, especially not going into a job with much salary—so,
what to do? I think I will write to the
St. George Hotel** (where John and I were Xmastime) to see
if they can have me—if not, I may have to go back to the
These Jamaican girls I was with were
planning to leave the next day for a two month
hitchhiking tour of France with rucksacks and sleeping bags
strapped to their backs—can you imagine?! Made me feel
about 100 years old. Also, the hostel couldn't accommodate
them the night of the day I left, so they were planning on
sleeping in the waiting room of Victoria Station! Ach,
Diane* is playing with a springer spaniel out by the surf
(about eight feet away from where I'm sitting). I am going
to have to get up soon and go to the W.C. since I have consumed
gin, cider, two cups of black coffee, and am distinctly
"feeling" it all, shall we say?
These English are so enduring. They
say "Come in, the water's fine" (like today) when the
temperature of the sea hovers around 50°.
Freezing to me!
At "The Poplars" I have a lovely room with
bed, bedside table and lamp, two huge windows, basin, huge
chair, table, plush rug, closet, with two bathrooms
on the same floor—imagine!
Yesterday we washed out all those filthy
clothes I brought back with me from six weeks of Paris dirt.
Tonight, I am taking iron and board to my room to finish the
nasty job—actually, the worst part.
Last night we went to production of local
professional group of Noel Coward's Hay Fever—tomorrow
night dinner at the Country Club—get me!—and next night
somewhere else exotic. Ah, the life of the idle rich!
Can you imagine what I am going through and will go
through, orienting myself back to making a living? Oh!
By the way, Bonnie said
has a peptic ulcer! Said he was being very conscientious
about diet, milk, etc.
Back to the beach today. Got a
pitifully hopeless letter from Joann today, saying her
father was desperately ill, and I have been in a quandary
ever since, trying to figure out what to do with myself
after arriving in NYC. Think I will leave the ultimate
decision to the 26th when I can see how things are by then.
Certainly at this stage of the game, I couldn't think of
staying there any length of time—but, on the other hand, she
is so counting on seeing me I feel that maybe I could help
in some way to ease things and cheer her up. At any
rate I shall have to stay somewhere in NYC in order to clear
up some affairs for at least one night, so God knows what
Back to this fool's paradise—have been
madly ironing and not seeming to accomplish much—it takes so
long for each dress—still stuffing myself with food, drink
and luxury, but it all seems so useless now when I think of
poor Jo and her troubles. Mrs. Laws keeps pressing this
£20 dress she bought for June
(too big for June) on me, but I hesitate to take it—one
reason being it doesn't suit me, another that I've never had
such an expensive dress and would feel foolish.
Anyhow, have a wonderful
vacation if I don't write
before you leave. Don't worry about me.
Love to all XX MJ
August 12, 1955
[handwritten airmail to her parents, from Dean Court, 29
Cleveland Square, London]
Have intended writing you a last note
before our respective departures, but have been so frenzied and
tired taking care of absolute essentials, I find letter-writing
I left Ipswich early Wednesday (10th)
morning on the 8:45 train—rode
down with June who was meeting Rod for lunch. We took a
chance on calling a hotel for a room for me, which was running
an ad in the Telegraph and lo and behold, I got in!
Leaped in a cab and am stationed here until I leave on the 8:54
boat train Saturday the 20th for Southampton. The hotel is
definitely not luxe, especially my
garret, located seven
flights heavenwards with a naked light bulb and hard bed, but
I'll call it home. Can go and come as I please (a factor I
have learned to value above almost anything) and am, in
the rediscovery of London, finding much of the old charm and
love I once had for it. I walk around all day (feet are
killing me) and naturally am trying to see as much theatre as
possible—to date—Michael Redgrave in
Tiger at the Gates,
Emlyn Williams as Dylan Thomas,
John Gielgud and Claire Bloom in King Lear, night—Desperate
Hours. Next Tuesday Gilegud and Peggy Ashcroft in
Much Ado About Nothing, Wednesday Alfred Drake in
Living here is not
cheap, so I am having to borrow
£10 from Mr. Laws which June is bringing up Monday (am meeting
her and kids for a jaunt to Victoria and Albert Museum). I
hate going in debt, but will not spend my last week abroad
wondering where the next meal is coming from.
I have my reservation and ticket for boat
train and had Cunard call Southampton to check on my trunk which
is there, praise be.
It has been almost hot today—I sat
in the park and dashed off a note to John. Felt I should
get it off soon, since I have to send it to American Express in
Rome, and am not quite sure when he is going there. Got a
letter from him Tuesday written in Nuremburg,
evidently is having one hell of a time finding hotel rooms and
battling crowds of tourists. There are 100% more Americans
in London than I remembered, all milling about gawking.
Ipswich continued apace after I wrote
you—luscious food and drink (my face and teeth suffered).
Had a cocktail party last Sunday [Aug. 7] and Papa drove me and
June for a quick tour of Cambridge. Lovely day.
Dinners at Country Clubs, movies, TV, etc.—baths, clean clothes
and seaside, but I must confess I was not sorry to leave.
Mama is "grand dowager" of the worse sort (will
later). Guess I am really turning into the Old Maid
Schoolteacher, but I do so value my independence (shades of
Aunt Mellie) and am having a
good time by myself in the big old dirty city.
Have a wonderful vacation. I will
write in NYC, I guess—since I don't know where to reach you
before the 26th.
On to the Atlantic where the winds and the
hurricanes play. Love to all Me
August 30, 1955
[handwritten from the Stegmans's at 381 Central Park West
(Apartment 2N) in New York City, to her parents]
Just a note to welcome you home and to
inform you on present state of affairs here.
After I got back from
seeing you off Sunday
[Aug. 28], the Stegman girls arrived from the nursing home where
Papa is going to stay indefinitely on the stipulation he can
come home anytime he likes. Actually aside from some
understandable readjustment he seems to like it quite well.
He has a very nice room—far
exceeding his here, and is by himself, which was what he wanted.
Still, it's hard not having anyone to talk to, and they say he
walks about constantly in an aimless manner. He gets
lonely, poor old guy, and was in tears when we finally
got there (an hour after closing time for visitors—Jo was
talking on the phone). Last night he demanded 1) whiskey
2) a radio—both of which will be hell to acquire since 1) will
have to be smuggled in and 2) [Joann]'s so far in debt now she'll
have to buy it and charge it. Oh, God, Pat is away this
week, and it's one constant rush, rush. I sleep in the
living room with all the doors and windows shut, thus
eliminating the "bobby-pin crowd" conversation and the late-late
movie on TV (starts at 1:00 AM—God knows when it ends) so I
sleep like a top all night long. Turn on the radio first
thing in the morning and putter about by myself. It's
Yesterday I stayed home all day since
had the only extra key—but Jo had one made for me yesterday.
I did a washing, really unpacked, took labels off the luggage
and generally got oriented. Got a
Bunny*** (the Canadian at the Bristol Old Vic) welcoming me
home, which made me feel good. After much confusion, we
got to Bus Stop last night—very disappointing. I
guess I just don't vibrate with Inge's writing—I always thought
Shirley Booth was the only thing that saved Come Back, Little
Sheba from being trash. Today I have to get tickets
for Pajama Game, thus exhausting half of my remaining
funds. We're off to [cat-eared
Hot Tin Roof tonight—are having [illegible] over for
dinner since he's using Patricia's ticket, and guess who's
cooking dinner? Jo has to go see her father after work, so
I get the job. Wednesday [Aug. 31] is an all-Bach concert
at Carnegie Hall. Thursday night shopping at Macy's and
Orbach's—then the long [Labor Day] weekend. Joann keeps
suggesting all sorts of wild things to do, but I am going to try
to encourage her to stay home and take it easy for a change.
I myself am tired constantly and have little ambition to do
anything. Guess it's the reaction setting in. Also,
by the time I get through organizing things here at home [i.e.
the Stegmans's] there's practically no time to do much before
setting off back home [i.e. KCMO]. I've never known the
time to pass so quickly—shows I'm content, I guess.
Would you mind writing me those time
schedules again for my train next Saturday [Sep. 11]. I
know I leave here at 6:15 (5:15 [Central time]) but when do we
get into St. Louis—and when does the train leave for K.C. and
when does it get into K.C.? I know I could find these
things out here, but I feel ambitionless and I have to start
getting cracking with the Italian lines about the Andrea
Doria, it's all so confusing.
Do we know anyone in St. Louis I could ring
It is hot and humid today and I'm listening
to Schoenberg on the radio—can you imagine getting
music from 6:00 AM to 1:00 AM in K.C.??
Be enigmatic about my coming home to my
vulture friends there. I don't think I could take many
millings right off. Love to the
family* and if I don't write again I will see you sometime
around 7:00 the 11th. Much love, Jean
September 7, 1955
[handwritten from the Stegmans's in New York City, to her parents]
Whilst drinking a beer and having a
cigarette while my gooey cake-frosting hardens, I'll dash off a
note. The cake, by the way, is in John's honor, but I
doubt if any is left by the time he has a chance to eat it.
It's so sweet, it makes me ill to smell it—all
chocolate fudgy and ugly. (Also a Laurel & Hardy movie is
on the TV, if this letter is a trifle incoherent.)
As you will know by the time you get this,
there is a strike on at the docks, but I called the Italian
lines and they said the Andrea Doria would dock anyway at
some ungodly hour in the morning. Have received
letters from John, one from Rome, one from Gibraltar (the latter
written on the boat) which promise hilarious things to come.
I went down to the Customs House in the Battery and got a pass
to [get] inside the customs lines, and reserved him a room at the
Algonquin, but am anticipating some sort of strikebreaking riot
tomorrow with Marlon Brando types stomping about with clubs or
Have been taking things fairly slow.
Home is slight chaos always, what with the constant influx of "Archies"
(cockroaches) everywhere and a similar steady stream of
gentleman callers every night—they are all sizes and varieties
but all arrive bearing beer or buy us drinks, so I don't
complain much. I watch the Late TV Show every night until
2:00 AM and try to sleep in the mornings over phone calls
and doorbells ringing.
We took the boat trip Saturday night [Sept.
3] and it was glorious—by the time we got back it was dusk and
all the lights [of New York] were on and it was quite a sight.
Also quick trip around Chinatown on our own. Sunday we
went to the Cloisters and saw Antonio and his Spanish ballet in
a film that night Labor Day [Sept. 5] we saw the film
Am a Camera. I gave up the struggle when my one pair
of shoes started caving in at the sides, and took in a sale at
Orbach's basement—got a pair of black shell pumps for $4.99—also
bought a Spanish bullfighting poster for my room.
I sent some of my books home by parcel to
help ease the weight of that damnable suitcase—I am thinking
about checking it through to K.C. to relieve my bothering about
it during the trip home. Guess I'll take the 4:00 train
from St. Louis unless I wire you—the other one stops sixteen
times, did you know?
Jo Ann Laughlin, telling her my
problems about next week—I'll probably have to work, but she may
write or call you sometime before I arrive.
I hope there is something in the way of
clothes there that I can leap into Monday morning [Sept. 12].
Everything here is in the process of getting filthy again.
I washed both pairs of PJs but that's all. I'm even
borrowing a dress of Jo's to wear tomorrow (her brown sheath).
It sound like as much bedlam there, what
with phone calls and people-calls, as here—glad I am getting
Hope the steamer trunk isn't too much
trouble or mess (bet it is!)—I must run and see what is
happening with the cake—also must buy some chicken livers for
is fine and money manages to hold its own—$5 left for the train.
See you Sunday [Sept. 11]
Lots of love, [smiley face]