Late Dec. 1954
(undated, postmark illegible)
[picture postcard of Amsterdam's
Montelbaanstoren: handwritten, to her parents]
Intriguing place—we're living above a cosy [sic] bar
where libation & merriment reign until all hours of the morning.
People so friendly & gay. On to Cologne tomorrow aft[ernoon]! Luv MJS
Jan. 1-2, 1955
[handwritten, to her parents]
Munich (or München)
Jan. 1, 1955
Whilst waiting for John (God knows where he
is—two hours ago he said he would be ready in half an hour and
he's not yet appeared) who is probably basking in the four feet
of water in the elegant tub in this luxurious
hotel, I shall
dash off a few lines.
I suddenly realized that you might have got
the wrong idea from my last card—we weren't living over a bar in
the American sense of the term, more in the old beer garden type
sense, the kind one takes one's children to. However this
one in Amsterdam was the greatest, peopled with hilarious
friendly folks of Ludeke
proportions. It is true that I keep recognizing my
relations throughout Germany—facial and body structure, don't you
know? I've seen Ed Ludeke
many times. Actually it is strange to realize the fact
that we fought these happy, "aware" people twice, and the last
time only ten years ago.
Arrived here last night around 6:45 and
spent two hours hunting for a hotel (interspersed with my
picking up two 6'6" American soldiers and Indian businessmen,
and a German youth with skis in the attempt to use a
Ended up in this one right across the street from the station.
We have done that three times now. John feels that we have
a "getaway" complex—necessitating our living near the train
Spent the night before last in
(by the way—both Munich and Frankfurt are bases for American
Army, so you can imagine the results—everywhere one looks,
Americans). Didn't see too much of Frankfurt but liked
what I saw, although awfully international air about it: big
modern buildings, etc.
Cologne—we spent two days [here—]frightfully
bombed—still half in ruins—the people seemed more belligerent.
John says perhaps because it was British occupation
territory—hard to tell what caused their antagonism; more people
seeming to refuse to learn any semblance of English. We
went to a performance of
Mathis der Maler there.
Saw Charlie Chaplin film in Frankfurt.
Last night we ate goose, turtle soup, white
wine and parfaits until it came out of our ears. This
(from what I've seen of it) is a marvelous city—sort of what one
thinks of in Vienna—strolling violinists, etc.
(I just found John—more later)
Lord, what a crazy, mixed-up mess that
last page was.
Awfully hard to pick out highlights of any
one place on this trip so far—everything is rather hurried,
rushing for trains, eating, drinking, walking miles, theatres,
reading and sleeping on trains.
John slept all the way to Munich last
night—claimed he was "just resting his eyes" (where, oh where
have I heard that before?) but I asserted that most
people don't make such a production of resting their eyes (with
reference to an occasional snore). Said he: "I've never
snored in my life." And so life goes on———
After our 45 mark dinner of last night we
are reduced to the frankfurters and beer stage, I fear. We
have tickets for A Midsummer Night's Dream tonight, and
are trying to figure out how we can afford to eat beforehand.
Off tomorrow for Zurich—a six hour train
ride, which goes through Austria, Germany and Switzerland, which
means a hell of a lot of custom proceedings at each border.
My passport is getting terribly attractive with all of the
stamps in the back. So far no actual searching through
baggage—just a lot of questions. The German officials were
the worst, and immediately took offense to me after finding out,
as John said, "that I wasn't responsible for you." I assume
that the man asked John if I was traveling on his passport—since
the answer was a terse "God, no!" from John, or something to
that effect, the official immediately became suspicious of me,
kept asking me if I was sure I had no "prasants"
(presents), but so far so good.
We found that everyone in Amsterdam spoke
English. Our entrance in the
hotel there (the one with the
bar) was so dramatic. We've been getting hotel names from
the tourist offices in the railway stations, so upon arrival at
this place there was the sounds of a piano, laughing, and
general community singing. In we went smashing into the
glassware, dodging the waiter, etc. The entrance to the
hotel was through the bar. In fact everything in the hotel
was through the bar, including our rooms. We got terribly
chummy with the clientele there—they were buying us drinks, John
struck up an acquaintance with the French poodle, the proprietor
was always shaking hands, and I've never seen people eat like
that in my whole life! Anything is an excuse to gorge—and
such huge helpings! We spent most of our two days there
just walking up and down the old winding streets [by] all the
canals. Finally an hour before we left we found
Rembrandt's house. We missed one train by two minutes;
consequently had a few more hours to stomp around. A
lovely, intimate town if one needs a rest—but definitely not the
type place of inexhaustible possibilities.
Cologne was old, German—the
turned out to be my nemesis—it is quite the most enormous thing
imaginable which looms over everything: high Gothic, black,
indomitable. Inside, gorgeous mosaic floor, but cold—also
huge. We got lost one night in the fog, but managed to
trace back to the hotel through following those towering
steeples. John's big theory about traveling is: get lost
in walking and you'll get the feel of a city—which is quite
true. We've gotten lost in every city we've been in, and
have probably seen more than most tourists on their guided
We went out for a walk today in the snow
(which has stopped now) but it was so cold that after an hour or
two we staggered in to a little espresso shop for coffee and
pastries, then back to the hotel. This city was also
shockingly bombed—so much of the city is done in Byzantine
architecture, I can't understand it. One moment it looks
like a reasonable facsimile of the U.N. building plan, the next
an Italian colonnade, the next Oriental.
I hear John stirring around next door, so
will close once again. I found him this morning when I
last terminated this letter, washing socks and humming
contentedly—like I always say—utilize every minute of worthwhile
1:30 AM [Jan. 2]
I must finish this now to get it posted by
the time we leave tomorrow. We're down to our last ten
marks, so must cash more traveler's checks. Our plan is to
buy a mess of salami sandwiches, cheese etc. and a small bottle
of wine for the train trip tomorrow. Lunch and dinner on
the diners are expensive as you know (including service charge),
however I doubt if the other people in the car will appreciate
the stink. We're going second class all the way, which is
quite elegant. The trains in Europe are very fast,
efficient, and generally very clean and modern.
The Shakespeare tonight was quite
good—didn't notice the German dialogue as an obstacle at all—the
low comedy scenes were just as funny as ever, although the main
plot was overdone. Afterwards we stomped through the
streets window-shopping and ended up drinking beer at a
wonderful restaurant which caters to the U.S. soldiers (which we
found out too late).
From now on: Zurich tomorrow night (arrive
7:30), Monday, Tuesday, then Freiburg and Strasbourg, Wednesday,
Thursday—getting in Paris Friday before the banks close, so John
can get his check cashed. He incidentally has been the
epitome of kindness. I would have been completely lost
without him. He humors me to the point of indulgence, and
no fights at all to speak of—only one or two minor
tiffs—one unfortunately on Xmas Eve which ended up with his
slamming out to the local bar—so by the time I got there he was
[In] London we saw
The Consul, the
Sadler's Wells* ballet, Bea Lillie,
Margaret Rutherford—completely charming. Hedda Gabler
with Peggy Ashcroft, The Boyfriend on Xmas Eve,
have loved it—the '20's you know. Taming of the Shrew—Old
Vic, the new Thornton Wilder show Teahouse of the August
Moon, I Am a Camera,
The Little Glass Clock (matinées).
Went through the British Museum and Tower
of London. Walked through the old streets of Bloomsbury
and old London—in fact all over London, since we got lost
Had an enormous five course meal Xmas
Day—even the turkey seemed good after all the preliminaries and
the fixings. Next day up at (ugh!) 7:30—a hasty trip to
the station and on the Dutch ship for Amsterdam. My one
Xmas gift (from John) was a disgracefully large pair of aqua and
gold ceramic earrings from Paris (actually made in Italy).
They are as large as silver dollars, but suit me to a T, and I
We get the New York Herald Tribune
every day (European edition) and I see you've been having snow
and sleet—is it very bad?
I hear the old boy next door finally
turning in so guess I will too. We left a call for 9:00
which means an earlier getting up. We're reading Grapes
of Wrath, which is slowly driving us nuts (at least me).
I will try to get something lighter next time.
You would die laughing at the straw basket
loaded with magazines, newspapers, food, John's pipe tobacco, my
red hat, travel literature and various lumps of paper-wrapped
sugar, old coins, cigarette butts thrown in by mistake, and
anything else we happen to collect.
Hope all are well and that you had a
wonderful Xmas. More later. With much love, Jean
P.S. Forgot to tell you—one
lunch in Holland we had onion soup, six kinds of cheese,
and milk. Aren't you envious?
Jan. 10, 1955
[handwritten, to her parents]
Jan. 10th '55 2:00 PM
This being the morning (or one of the
mornings) that John apparently refuses to get up, I will dash
off a few lines to you in hopes that I can eventually get it off
to a post office.
By the time we hit Paris we were both
staggering around from pure fatigue! We got the express
train from Strasbourg to Paris Friday morning [Jan. 7th]
(boarded it at 7:00 AM after arising at 6:30). Both
slept all the trip. The "arising" was hilarious and I must
tell you about it in detail sometime, but for an appetizer
suffice it to say that in his meticulous care to pack everything
John locked away all of his money, all of his handkerchiefs, and
said later he was lucky to have come through the ordeal with his
"removable" [dental bridge] intact!
After I last wrote we spent a couple of
days in Zurich—rather expensive but the most picturesque place I
have ever seen—tiny winding streets, Swiss type little houses in
pastel shades—marvelous food. We ate a whole meal of a
dish called fondue—a boiling mixture of cheese cooked with
garlic and onions. You eat it by swishing bits of bread on
a fork into it. Sound good? I never got to see the
Alps, let alone mountains—there was some gorgeous scenery just
before we left Germany—snow capped hills and lakes.
It was almost unbearably cold in
Switzerland—we no sooner got out than we wanted to get back to
the hotel. The latter was a riot. John called it the
"Ladies Aid Society"—practically the only non-alcoholic hotel in
Zurich, therefore cheaper and not filled up (Zurich is a big
tourist town)—with little old women frequenting the lobby all
We went to a performance of Giraudoux's
Electra there, which was completely unfathomable—I slept
through most of it.
Oh, by the way—we did take along our
sandwiches (being about ten slices of salami, two hard rolls),
two apples, and a huge chocolate bar and ate them on the train
to Zurich, crowded amongst all the skiers gazing on hungrily.
We passed through Austria that day and all of us not getting off
were moved to a locked car—God knows why—poor John and I never
got back to our comfortable coach, but spent the rest of the
journey in a passageway outside the WC between two cars with our
three bags, the straw basket, the umbrella and a pair of
After Zurich we went through Basel,
Freiburg (Germany again!) and on to Strasbourg. Stayed
there three nights at the
Bristol Hotel! The next morning
John had that unmistakable "you go on out and play" attitude he
gets with me every once in awhile, so I went off to hunt up
M. St. Denis, director of the theatre school there.
En route I met
of all people, who was leaving that night, so we went
sightseeing together—went through the lovely cathedral and the
theatre school. He ate with us that night and hurried back
to catch his train while we went to the theatre (a
which had nothing to recommend it but one hit tune of many years
back, "Yours is My Heart Alone"). When we got back at
midnight, the night clerk at our hotel explained in broken
English that the "gentleman had missed his train" and was taking
a later one at 12:15, so off we went running over to the station
(right across the street, of course) and sure enough
there was poor Jack calmly reading. We saw the train go
off finally so he should be safely in Berlin by now.
We saw a static comedy called Helene—the
French love long harangues of dialogue—and ate and ate, per
usual. Then on to Paris—so far I have been here three and
a half days and seen very little of what all the other tourists
see—like Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe—but have seen much of the
Left Bank, Boulevard St. Germain, the Seine, the book sellers,
the Louvre (from the outside). This is a fascinating place
(how redundant can one be?). Have seen
Hamlet, Tales of Hoffman, The Magic Flute and L'Alouette—the
French adore stage machinery, are great ones for huge
transformation scenes—like the Queen of the Night being let down
on an enormous swing while mountains disappear in the background
and clouds ascend. The only trouble is that the machinery
rarely works without a hitch—and the results are hilarious.
Reminds me of so many of my past experiences—the feeling that
life (at least on the stage) is collapsing around you.
Barrault was magnificent in a tight controlled graceful
I hear John stirring, so with luck we should be
out and about at least by 3:30. What a life! We eat
hot dogs (a great French delicacy) at 3:00 AM at a darling joint
reeking with atmosphere (if that could be termed the right word
at this point) called Le Royal on the Left Bank, or sipping
Coca-Cola (typical French drink) at one of the sidewalk cafés
(they have them glassed in with heat during the winter).
Love the shops and the hysterical people. We're off to
to make a reservation to Bristol Sunday. Love, J.
Jan. 18, 1955
[typewritten, to her parents]
Hope you won't be too angry with me for not
writing sooner, but I trust you assume by now that all is well
unless you hear otherwise—this will be a short one
unfortunately, since I have no more paper, and am almost
completely broke until the next check comes in Friday. I
should have eaten enough in the past month to hold me for a
Arrived in Bristol 1:30 AM yesterday
morning, dead tired. Spent yesterday in seminars, yakking
with everyone, taking a bath, seeing a movie since I was still
so terribly jumpy, unpacking, getting my thoughts collected, and
few shreds of money together.
In an hour I'm due at
Heffner's* class in
playwriting—yes, still! This next term is really going to
be a humdinger—even busier, with two essays due, two
productions, even slicing off a week of our spring vacation.
Therefore, my problem. I had thirty letters waiting for me
when I got in: all wonderful. I have received money from
your dad, and
Aunt Mame—the picture from
Mrs. Glogau, letter[s] from
Mary Jo, two from
Bonnie*, and others. I lived off
of John for four days, so naturally have to write to him: I am
an investment. What in the name of God can I do about it?
I am so busy now with a proposed
article for a magazine due the
1st of Feb., I barely have time to write you the mere
essentials, and each week will be a little bit worse.
Therefore I guess everyone is going to have to think me
ungrateful and nasty, because I simply cannot write.
Loved your letters and laughed myself sick
at 2:00 AM over some passages and dear Lillian's picture
We had (in colloquial language) one hell of
a good time on the holiday, and after hearing about other
people's fights and complainings, got along amazingly well.
I don't know why you felt required to keep up the
my being with John, but it was thoughtful anyhow.
certainly knew about it, since I wrote him. After I wrote
you from Paris, we tramped all over the city: messy weather,
rain every day, wet snow one day when I dragged John to a puppet
show. He was bitter and I nagged him. Went to a
wonderful production of Lorca's
Opéra, Opéra-Comique, Barrault's Hamlet
and The Cherry Orchard, The Crucible, Molière's Don
Les Amants Magnifiques, and the
Folies Bergère. The latter was a riot: John had already
seen it before (as a matter of fact, he had seen everything
before except The Crucible and Don Juan) but
faithfully went anyway. We screamed with laughter, it was
so horrible, and the women were such cows, the singing so awful,
the scenery so garish. By the time it was over, the tears
were running down our cheeks, then we got into a fight [over]
who had had the opera glasses last, I lost my program, and we
awakened with our chatter a gentleman (?) in back of us who had
peacefully slept through the whole affair. Outside we were
tagged for a block by a little man selling dirty pictures,
us giggling in a silly unsophisticated fashion, and I almost ran
down a streetwalker in running to show John a pair of shoes I
wanted in a window. By this time, we were emitting great
whoops of laughter.
We ate like pigs: tournedos (filet
mignons), endives (like green celery cooked), crêpes (pancakes
with jelly) for dessert, and WINE. One meal I had ravioli
as an hors d'oeuvre, two lamb chops, green beans, cheese, salad,
pastry, coffee and a carafe of red wine for $1.00. We did
not throw the money away on food: one big meal a day—separate
breakfasts (we hate each other in the morning) and hot chocolate
or aperitif in late afternoon.
Walked all around: got to the Louvre, the
Opera Museum, got my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower in
semi-dusk in a gentle rain with all the buildings in back when I
rounded a corner and there it was right in front of me—saw the
Arc de Triomphe from a distance in late afternoon down the
Champs-Elysees—a beautiful, wonderful city.
Every day: up at noon, leisurely
breakfasted alone, reading yesterday's Herald Tribune
(John always got today's first), back to hotel to dress (usually
wore slacks and boots in the daytime), John up by 1:30 (he
always read until 4:00 AM), out by 2:00 or 2:15—walking or
subway to Cook's or getting theatre tickets or just walking.
The puppet theatre day was awful—we nearly got into a bad
argument, but he succumbed since that day I had the money and
threatened that he wouldn't get any dinner—so off we trudged to
Luxembourg Garden and got mashed in with about a hundred wet
children—John complaining, me also feeling cold and wet, but
loath to admit it.
We were usually home by 5:00 or 6:00—an
hour to rest and dress, then off for dinner from 7:00 to 8:30.
Most theatres don't start until 9:30. Out between 11:45
and 12:15—always walked home, no matter how far away we were
from St. Germain. Then a sandwich, beer, cognac, or
Dubonnet until 2:00—one night I had a headache and we went right
The night before I left we drank Dubonnet
until 2:30, had a "planning-out" session, as we term it, till
the next day and went home. I got up at 10:00, had
breakfast, packed, periodically pounding on his door, he was up
by 11:00, breakfast—I paid my bill—Madam was charging me as
permanent guest at John's rate and I only paid 5,000 francs for
nine nights (approximately $15), and John will pay for the maid
and my bath on his monthly rate. Off in a cab—we got my
reserved seat on the train found (reserved a week before due to
John's prodding and was I glad)—he bought me a chocolate bar,
two magazines and finally got off and stood outside. Very
painful for me to leave, though I'm sure he was relieved.
Even more I hated leaving Paris—all the noise, hysteria,
confusion. (The French people and I are soul-mates), the
food, the good wine, the theatres, the Dutch soldiers in the
Lindberg* hotel, the cat who loves John and kept trying to get
in my room at 2:00 in the morning, the late hours morning and
night, and of course J.D., with his snide comments and giggles,
his innumerable stinking cheap cigarettes and constant
companionship. I felt like I had lost an arm or something.
The channel crossing was rough, many people
sick, but actually not too rough . . . no trouble in customs or
anywhere, but train to London was almost two hours late, very
crowded, had to wait for late train to Bristol—also very slow .
. . everything slow, antiquated, mannerly, and dull after the
Continent, especially after Paris, which was balmy and gay when
I left. The food [here is] as wretched as ever.
One nice thing: a new electric heater which
is bigger and warmer, but which to date has gone out twice due
to the fact that when other electric fixtures are on, the juice
or current is overworked . . . right now it's off, and I doubt
if I ever shall be warm again.
Everyone fine here, albeit with colds—Wickham*,
as I said before, has a mad schedule set up, and I doubt if
[I'll] live through it, but like to be busy, so will probably
enjoy it. Everything I own is filthy, my shoes are in
shreds, I have four rolls of film to develop, I have about fifty
thousand programs lying around and I'm going mad. It's
nice to be back somewhere where I can at least unpack, but I do
so miss the drunks in Le Snack and the tramps sleeping on the
subway gratings at night, and the arguments in the middle of the
street, and all of the crazy, wonderful things that can only
happen in Paris. Well, being away for several months will
only make it more fun next time, and what is nicer than April in
Yes, I was there when John received
Morton's wedding invitation and also when he got your card—much
laughter. We were both surprised, and I must say
noncommittal. John has his own opinion on marriage, no
matter who is involved, so we didn't discuss it at great
length—although we allowed as how we were happy if he is.
I will be late to class so must run and
mail this. More later . . . hope all is well, and
apologize to everyone for me, will you?
Much love from your exhausted Jean
Jan. 20-21, 1955
[typewritten, to her parents]
Jan. 20, 1955
I have a few minutes to kill before
Marcie*, Jack and I go to Bath tonight to see the pantomime
there—it has been quite cold here but dry, which I vastly
appreciated—however, as I type I hear the inevitable sound of
pounding rain, and think, My God, here we go again! [handwritten:]
Wish I could remember all the funny things
I had to tell you—we did so many silly things which we laughed
ourselves sick about at the time, which would probably appeal
more to you than a resume of the theatrical activities which
comprised so much of our time. Besides, I have to include
that in my essay, and hate to be repetitive.
Amsterdam—mostly I remember the food—huge
gobs of it, always about five courses and plenty of it—the
drinking always at night in our hotel with the laughing,
singing, friendly people toasting us, singing "It's a Long Way
to Tipperary," buying us John's beloved whiskey, telling (clean)
jokes first in Dutch then in English for our benefit—the piano
player who knew all "the old songs" and banged them away in a
semi-barroom, semi-cocktail lounge style at all hours of the day
or night. In the morning whilst we had breakfast the
wireless was on playing anything from bebop to Schoenberg.
I remember all of the bicycles, the eternal lovely canals, the
water, the happy workers laying a length of pipeline by hand
down in all of the wet mud. That with all of the food and
unexpected drink, I slept peacefully during nearly all of the
one show we saw, so couldn't relate a thing about it. John
got terribly excited when they let a drawbridge up to let a boat
get through, since he is mad for boats and water, just as I am.
Cologne—the somewhat veiled antagonism at
first—the violent change from everyone speaking English
(Amsterdam) to no-one speaking it (Cologne); the nasty dayclerk
at the hotel who got quite bitter at me for carrying
(unwittingly) my key out of the building; the nice man at Cook's
who got theatre tickets for us at the opera; the incredible
wreckage, and slow building up of nearly every building; the
good food and wonderful beer; the group of crazy Germans who
bought us beers with gin chasers or vice-versa; the everlasting,
indomitable Cathedral which haunted the entire town; the night
we got lost in [a] ratty section of town surrounded by a bunch
of young toughs and only found our way back by the distant sight
of the Cathedral spires
[switch from a clear dark typewriter
ribbon to a faint light one]
(to continue at home at 10:30 AM Friday
morning [Jan. 21]—the check didn't come today so I'm really
broke, including [i.e. as are] all of the Fulbrights)
We were always drinking beer (in Germany
and Switzerland) or wine (in France) along with the meals, which
necessitated the necessary calls during the intermissions of
everything we saw—there was always a hurried conference of
"Where is the men's?" "I saw one down three flights of
stairs to your right" "Can you lend me 10 francs for the
tip?" etc. At the Folies it was a riot, since everything
is sky-high and we didn't know how much to tip, so I was sent
into the ladies' room with 20 francs (all we had but 15) to see
how much they were tipping the lav attendants there—since John
figured the Gentleman's would be cheaper because as he said "we
utilize less machinery than you." Unfortunately, it took
the whole 20, so we had to pool all of the small change both of
us had for him—I think it included Swiss francs and German marks
I hinted vaguely in another letter about
the time we got in the locked car in Austria. We luckily
had finished our salami and rolls when the usual "Ach tung!"
procedure occurred—all of the moving was rather casual. We
had settled back to enjoy the scenery, etc. when a little man
across the aisle from me finally screamed something in French,
started gathering everything together and leaving. We had
expected that somewhere along the line we would be moved, but no
one told us—the little man by this time was indicating that we
should come along too. John said he would go along ahead
to see if there was any room (at this time people were hanging
out of the baggage rack, complete with skis, but I guess he
meant to be helpful). He was carrying one big bag, leaving
me with my big one, his coat, my coat, my overnight case, and
the straw basket and umbrella. Luckily the little man
across the aisle was helpful—got down the bag, helped me with my
coat, and down we started after John, lurching back and forth
with him screaming something about "coat"—two cars later I
realized he meant John's coat, so back he plunged for it.
By this time John was back saying it was even worse up
ahead—that is when we got settled between the cars outside the
WC (which door was stuck and John had to keep yanking it open
for people). I kept worrying about when to get off but
John said "Why worry, when 6:40 comes, we'll get off the
train"—(the time it was due in Zurich). So I went on
reading "The Life of Liberace" in Coronet, and he went on
examining a pair of skis which were propped up over my legs.
At 6:35 up we went with four bags, pushing people, struggling,
forcing our way out. Finally, with a breath of relief we
were out of the train in a station small and unpretentious for
Zurich. I immediately felt apprehension, but at that
moment I lost the crystal in my watch, bent down to get it, and
the straw basket upset, spilling all the contents, plus pipe
tobacco hither and yon. As a native bent down to help me I
yelled: "Zurich?" "Nein" says he, and pointed up the way
the train was heading. At the same time John had asked
another native, unfortunately pointing to a sign which said
Zurich with an arrow on it. The native evidently thought
he asked if Zurich was in that direction and nodded and beamed.
"Yah" says he, which began an argument between us whether or not
it was Zurich. I got mad and couldn't think of anything
nasty enough to say so sufficed with "And the crystal fell out
of my watch!" His remark was untranslatable, but
nevertheless we screamed in mangled German "Let us back on!" and
with the combined efforts of natives, conductor and unwilling
passengers we squeezed back on and rode the remaining thirty
minutes to Zurich.
Getting out of Zurich was equally as
eventful—since it was one of those days when John was supposed
to be up early, cashing traveler's checks, paying our bill,
buying two Swiss handkerchiefs, getting a cab, etc.
Naturally he overslept, and to compensate accomplished all of
this in a mere fifteen minutes or so. I had unfortunately
taken this opportunity to take a bath (which we never paid for,
since I was taking it while he was paying our bill) . . . I had
just gotten out, got clothes on and was shuffling around in the
pretence of packing when the door was pounded on—John stomped
in, said "The taxi's here" and variations on a theme of "Why
aren't you ready?" I allowed as how it was because he was
some 10-15 minutes earlier than the agreed time, but he said my
watch was wrong—I said it couldn't be, since
Church's watch-dial [i.e. clock face] was right outside my window and I couldn't
help but know what time it was—all the while frantically
throwing clothes [in]—couldn't get the bag shut and screamed,
"You do it, you with all your hurrying, etc." With a
mighty scrunch the bag was shut, and not until that night did I
know what had been broken—the strap on the tag on the grip—and
off [John] went with the bags leaving me makeupless, hatless,
and temperless. The trip in the cab was cool and silent.
I made up my face in the station, put on my boots on the
platform, and recovered my temper on the train. He said
that the dear little old ladies of our
WCTU hotel [had] called
the cab long before he'd asked them to, and that this hurried
treatment was the only way he could think of to get me out quick
The morning we left Strasbourg for
Paris—getting up at 6:30 AM was the worst, for even the "best
laid plans go awry." I was to pack the night before,
leaving out only my PJ's, up at 6:30 call, PJ's in, bag placed
outside door, John to run by, pick up bag, down in elevator (we
had paid the night before), over [switch to scrap of thin
paper] to eating place for coffee, on to train by 7:15.
Well, the getting up and getting bag out in hall was OK . . . I
heard this stumbling coming down the hall, a terrific bang, more
unidentified bangs getting the two sets of elevator doors open,
then silence. "Well," I thought with a sigh of relief, "at
least he's got that far" . . . I got dressed, dropping things
all over the place, when a feeble knock occurred on the door,
and there was John with hand outstretched, muttering "Money,
money." I gave him a thousand francs and off he went.
After he had slept five hours on the train,
he managed to tell me that he, in his excitement the night
before, had packed all of his money—and in stumbling down the
hall with the two huge bags [had] slammed one of them plumb into
the door next to mine—the door was opened tentatively by a
frightened little man in his underwear, but John hurried on.
There were other varied occurrences like us
blissfully going down a flight of steps in London, thinking it
the subway, and coming right up on the other side, it being
[the] passageway for public conveniences. Also my putting
a number "1" under Number of Passport—thinking it meant how many
I had ever had. Our yelling at each other in the middle of
a tiny movie house in Paris where we were seeing Yerma—Him:
"I'd hate to be as helpless as you are" and Me: "I'd hate to be
as mean as you are." And New Year's Eve in Munich with the two
American soldiers. And the time I couldn't cut my tournado
in Paris, and John did it for me, which fractured the patrons
with laughing. And that
Theatre in which
every board creaks with a vengeance punctuated by the French
hushing everyone, "shush" and "assi" being "down in front" type
exclamation—quite a dynamic audience.
I only bought that one enamel ashtray [in]
Amsterdam and John got two Swiss handkerchiefs (small white with
black lace), one for
his sister**—the rest of the money I fear was
utilized as living expenses. Cologne had lovely things,
but I never actually had much time to look at anything, all of
it being used to hunt for the University (we finally got a
taxi), seeing [the] Cathedral, looking down the Rhine from the
bridge (the bridge being a bit unsteady when huge buses passed
over), hunting for some Roman mosaic we could never find,
getting lost in the rubble, and attending the opera. We
were in Frankfurt during the night, so couldn't buy much
then—next day walked around, but once more got lost, almost
missing the train after finally locating Goethe's house—in
Munich we were there on holidays, so nothing was open—Strasbourg
had nothing I could see that I would have wanted to buy.
Of course, Paris was the greatest temptation of all, but by that
time I had run out of money, so I was never confronted by the
dilemma of what to buy—maybe next time?
Horrible experience at the [Paris] Opera—we
had gone our separate ways to the WC and supposedly I guess he
meant to meet downstairs (five flights) in the incredibly
gorgeous promenade with twisting, winding halls mirror-laden all
in gold—well, I went down gaping at all the beautiful gowns and
people, but gradually there must have been a thousand milling
around, I got claustrophobia, couldn't find John and staggered
back upstairs to my little jump seat (we must have sat on at
least five jump seats in Paris—very uncomfortable but cheap).
After the intermission was over, John came up with "Where have
you been?"s etc., "I was going to buy you a glass of champagne"
etc., but seeing me looking tearful he dropped the subject.
Such a neurotic child I am!
The baths I had (when we could afford them)
were wonderful—deep, hot, with huge bath towels. The tub
at the Lindberg has a "corrugated bottom" as John puts it,
which gradually does the same to one's own bottom, but the 200
francs they charge there is cheaper than most. And bidet
washing isn't exactly satisfactory. And frankly, if I were
coming to Europe again, I doubt if I would carry any advanced
supply of cosmetics, medicine, soap, or anything: they
have nearly everything American you could ever hope to have all
over Europe. England is almost behind them in this
respect. Everyone is terribly American-conscious.
The chocolates were Danish—sort of
chocolate covered cherries with a flair—I'm taking them easy,
since they are rich, but nice to come home to.
to even smaller scrap of thin paper] (I promise I'll
buy some paper today.)
Back in Bristol we are currently revising a
script to go into production Feb. 5th—I as the go-between
between the people who are revising it (including, alas, myself)
and the Old Vic School who is producing it—have to answer all
questions and complaints, etc. Also this article on
European theatre—went to the pantomime in Bath last night (ugh,
but I suppose good for pantomime) and one Saturday. All in
all a pretty busy schedule.
Forgot to tell you about the cat at the
Lindberg. Siamese with blue eyes and determined
expression . . . John adored her. He's been trying to
appease her ever since one night when he stepped on her coming
up the stairs in the dark. One night we pressed the
buzzer, Madam released door magnet or whatever it is that lets
the door open, and in we went to be confronted by the cat . . .
John cooing and ahhing . . . naturally the cat followed us up
the stairs . . . not to be daunted by "I told you about coming up here" etc. Well, she got to scraping against my
legs and John ran on up to his room . . . leaving me stuck with
the cat . . . I tried to outrace her to the room, threatening
and all—after fifteen minutes of this I got in the room with
plaintive little meows outside for awhile, until she gave up for
the radiator downstairs. Yes, every place we were in had
central heating, of course excepting bonny old England.
John made a perfect ass out of himself screaming "Oh, my feet,
my feet!" shivering, etc. all over Europe, even in Paris [handwritten:]
but we were never actually uncomfortable.
I'm trying vainly to figure out what to do
about next year, but it's not coming easily,
so I won't burden you with nasty details. For now, I hope
this suffices. I bought some air mail forms and am trying
to write people on them late at night, but keep falling asleep.
Thanks once more for the money (Mellie and
Pete* included) and try to notify others who have been as nice
also. It isn't that I didn't appreciate the thoughts and
contributions you understand—in fact, the sum total will
probably help me to live later on in the year. Must run.
Much love, J
Photos to be developed Monday—hope some turned out, and that I
can afford them!
Jan. 24-25, 1955
[handwritten—in very light pencil—to her parents]
Got your funny letter this morning.
Here are the photos for all they are worth. Most of them
are mediocre since I took them either at dusk, in cloudy
weather, or—as it is my wont to do—with my thumb over the
shutter. Also, I have trouble remembering just which is
which and where chronologically—
1st batch in London, 1 through 7
1. Big Ben
and my thumb
3. views of the
Hammersmith Theatre: very old and charming—we saw Margaret
Rutherford in Time Remembered here—my favorite theatre
here, junky neighborhood
4. view of Tower of London from
an observation place
6. London Bridge, 6 with
thumb and part of waterfront. Both taken from grounds of
Tower of London
7. docks, ships on Thames
2nd batch—Amsterdam, 8 through 15
municipal building in center of town, typical of all the
architecture in Amsterdam. The post office was just like
10. across a canal and
11. (things that struck me during our
six hour walk) newspaper seller in wooden shoes
12. usual excavation work—notice old
machinery, two children with parked bicycles, newspaper seller,
box and unidentified observer [John Douty]
13. view down a typical street—notice
bridge in distance
14. John's favorite horse—he had the
look of utter dejection (the horse, not John—at least this
15. another square—look at all the
bicycles lined up all down the street
16. Frankfurt—war damage and
some more old rubble, [John] who was just turning around to say "What
on earth are you doing?"
3rd batch—Zurich, 17 through 23
17. typical long flight of stone
steps up one of the many hills for walking
18. the elevated going right through
a house—people live above it and there is a store beneath—notice
trolley just coming up
19. typical example of painting the
sides of houses—these buildings were shades of pink, green,
20. dark view of a street. I
love the crowding and feeling of their being built on top of
21. view of St. Peter's church and
watch-dial [clock face]—we lived in back of it
22. overlooking Zurich sea—absolutely
gorgeous view of other side, but misty and dusk when I took
this—notice birds on rail
23. closer view of same
24. Paris—I had one left on roll so
just took a shot out of top of Lindberg window—gives a sort of
top of building effect one might get living in an artist's
garret or something. Across from us (down below this)
there was a school and the children would really raise hell
every day about 11:30, leaving for lunch—which always was my
signal for awaking.
Sorry, these could have been better, but we
never actually had terrifically bright sunshine and most of
these were done on the run—as it were—since J.D. walked ahead
for a couple of blocks from me. Sound familiar?
However, the one in Zurich of the elevated—we waited patiently
in the freezing cold until the train came through.
pictures were fairly good, I
thought—got a big laugh out of some of them, especially the one
of Lady. Thought
Marcia* looked so pretty and all the folks
here were shocked on finding out she was only thirteen—thought
she was at least fifteen or sixteen. You did well with
your first experience at flash cameras.
I've been eating well since back—over at
Marcie's new place most of the time, cooking over a small gas
ring—hilarious! We have to cook one dish at a time—have
had steak, lamb chops, all kinds of vegetables, sherry and no
Took two huge baskets
of laundry to the cleaner—laundry today and bought two new pairs
of hose. Thank God I can get rid of those miserable shreds
I wore for five weeks.
I just realized it wasn't my thumb that got
in the way of the shutter—it was the two middle fingers.
John caught me at it one day and I was careful after that.
I started this in the library [at] midnight
but had to stop since we had a seminar with
[today, Jan. 25].
Marcie and I were planning on having liver
and onions tonight but it seems that all the butcher shops are
closed on Mondays, so we had chicken soup and crackers, an
omelet, green beans and oranges. No—I repeat—[no] potatoes.
Also I got so brainwashed in Paris that I can't stand tea in any
form anymore, so I've eliminated that from our early morning
R.* still brings in breakfast though between 9:15 and
9:30. Which helps since I get a sudden burst of energy
about 1:00 AM and take baths, wash lingerie, clean and sort
things—then settle down to read. I was still absorbed in Molière's Don Juan at 2:30 this morning.
Tomorrow begins the "agonizing reappraisal"
of the play—script we have to rewrite by Feb. 5th—then three
weeks of rehearsal on it, then performances—oh!
If you have any questions to ask me, fire
away! I have quite a time remembering all the details.
The Seine was way over its banks when I left Paris and I hear
it's flooding now.
I couldn't have cared less about the
"little booths" [public lavatories] in Paris—I had got so used to them by that time.
I do remember my first experience with seeing them, though, in
Amsterdam. We were lounging around a bridge looking at the
river and boats (just for a change) when a small fishing boat
motored up and a little man had a terrifically hard time getting
the rope thrown around the post [to] anchor it, then lifting a
big board from the bottom of the boat and securing it against
land to walk on. I soon lost interest but after awhile
heard John let out a roar and he said, "All that trouble just to
use the public convenience!" Of course the little
fisherman was going onshore anyhow, but it was the first time I
realized what the little huts were. I called them "lazy susans" for some reason—heaven knows why—except they were round
and used casually.
We did pick a spot practically on top of
the house in Paris to have an argument about where we were going
to eat—but one soon loses any sense of modesty in Europe.
The Coca-Cola is just like home—yes—like
the Lux and Palmolive and Tide and Surf and hot dogs and
hamburgers and all the lounging Americans and the Lucky Strikes,
Chesterfields, Kents, Camels, Pall Mall and Philip Morris—and
I had mixed feelings upon hearing about
mostly that she is finally out of the pain, dear little
soul—what will Lillian do now?
It is (finally) quite mild here, so I have
renewed energy and wander about opening windows, etc.! Am
now eating a banana.
Have spent half of my last check already
and only got it two days ago. Well—c'est la vie!
You should see the things I have accumulated. John
said I would be a perfect curator of a museum with my passion
for saving things—he's a thrower-outer himself—sound familiar?
Am supposed to go over to
tomorrow night—wonder if I have the strength? He's a
combination John Newfield and Chico Marx type.
Two more choice ones from Paris:
We were walking down the Rue de la Paix one
afternoon, when a little man walked up and said in English,
"Need any dollars changed, buddy?" John asked me, "Is it
that noticeable?" I guess Americans are unmistakable and
suckers for that type of thing. Also, upstairs in the
Lindberg two little boys were building something. Every
morning and every night they would mount the steps with enormous
planks, saws, etc. and pound, pound, pound! John
said he suspected they were constructing another ark for use
when the Seine overflows.
I have two shots of the
Seine in another
roll of film but have six more to take before developing.
Also, it's d——d [sic] expensive! Love, MJS
Feb. 7, 1955
[typewritten, to her parents]
Feb. 7—11:00 PM
Was so glad to get your letter today—had
had an especially depressing last few days and today began the
trend back up fortunately. For over two weeks (except for
two lines from the Cunard Line saying—after a nasty letter from
me—that I do have a reservation on the Aug. 20th sailing of the
Gauloise cigarette from John) I
had received NO MAIL, and felt, after awhile, positively
desolate . . . added to this was the terrific pace I was going
at, entering into writing my essay, editing scripts, and
generally feeling [so] sorry for myself and persecuted that it was
nauseous. After emerging with twelve pages (ten of which I
revised after a tutorial with George Rowell) [I] discovered that
the magazine Glynne was proposing to send it to was a scant 6"
by 5" running only articles of some two pages . . . that was the
last straw. After five nights of the Amateur Drama
Festival and one horrible night of running for a local
performance of an operetta downtown to the ADF, I about gave up
and thought to hell with all of it, nothing is worth worrying
this much about, so I spent yesterday over at Marcie's, cooking
myself ham and eggs, smoking and eating cheese and reading Tom
Wolfe. Glynne is now an expectant father which adds to the
general confusion and hysteria which continues to reign in the
drama department. Also today
John Lavender* was building
one of his everlasting autos and something exploded or hit him
in the face, and he is bedfast—someone told me he is lucky to
have kept from being decapitated—charming thought, eh? So,
this morning after making breakfast (oh yes,
Mrs. R.* fell and
strained her back Saturday), being buoyant over your letter, I
calmly drifted out of the house, deliberately skipping rehearsal
for the new play, and bought myself a Valentine present: a pink
(don't scream, it's not pale pink) cotton (again don't scream,
it's not for England) dress, very plain, with a low neck and
elegant lines. The saleslady said "It suits you—artistic,
you know." Ha! But it fit perfectly and was so much
more stylish than most English options (all the Lane Bryant
types) that I got it, since I have so few here. Maybe
later I'll have to ask you to send some more of my cotton
clothes, if, after June, I live away from England, but we'll
tend to that later. And yes! Of late I've been
getting that "let-down" feeling, if you know what I mean . . .
the bras are just not doing what they should at all; a few of
them are frayed and falling apart—if you could buy a couple and
wash them or swush them around in some mud and send as "used
clothing" I would greatly appreciate it.
Father** three English newspapers: one
the left Socialist paper leaning towards Communism, saying just
what they think of Americans in no uncertain terms (4" caps),
the other two of the better variety—liberal, plain spoken prose.
They weren't wrapped much, so may be there at any time in any
What do you want me to do with the old
green coat? If anyone there needs it, I'll drag it home
with me, if not I'll donate it to someone here.
Minerva* collapsed last week in the midst of
the usual rain—she just gave up the struggle and lay there on
the wet pavement, looking helpless. Actually the strap
just broke, so I'm wearing her literally tied together until I
can get her to the shoepatcher. John and I used to call
her "That thing"! Also the heels I bought in New York
developed two holes in the sole and the one heel collapsed.
My shoepatcher fixed them up like new—but for $1.50!
Also could you please send the rest of the
traveler's checks no later than the first few days of the second
week in March? We go down to
Dartington Hall** the 13th
until Apr. 1st, and I want to leave for the Continent on the
latter date. Will be a ticklish job balancing the budget
from now on, but I'll manage. Last check from the
government in May—!
Hope to stay with Jo [in New York] for about the same
length of time as last summer before coming home, provided of
course she's there and I have money.
Sorry I missed and forgot about the
Anniversary—my, my—how many times it's been, eh?
Thanks for Jackie's card—voice out of the
past, eh—she asked if I were still working for the
I did write a letter to
Old Paint**, but
he is so busy I doubt if I ever hear back, at least in the next
month. My work here counts for absolutely nothing in the
States—and [I] really haven't a clue what to do [regarding the
next school year], but hate to
stew about it; besides I haven't time: have to write another
article on "The Aims and Standards of English Amateur Drama in
Contrast to Continuity and Educational Theatre in the States,"
Went to dress rehearsal of a new play the
Old Vic is currently doing—I hated it, very slow paced and
dreary, with them missing lines and business all over the
place—besides, the English are so damned well-mannered . . . I
miss the volatile French, except for the fact that I'm bitter
with them right now for defeating my beloved
One thing I forgot to tell you is that all
over Paris they have large marble plaques on the various walls
and buildings with something like "Here lies Henri Blanchard who
died in the defense of Paris, August 25, 1945" with flowers
still periodically laid there—there are not just a few, but
literally thousands . . . we guessed it was the resistance
movement rather than any major battle, but God, are the French
bitter—they hate Germans like poison.
That picture of Bobby Wakefield and crew is
hilarious—I can't wait for John to see it.
The thing that
George (my boat companion)*
predicted is coming true . . . he said that once one gets
traveling in one's blood, you're never satisfied sticking to one
place again . . . I guess I'm
Aunt Mellie** all over again . . .
I've really got the itch to go again—and I'm also getting so
aggressively independent (John would disprove this with a nasty
laugh) so you may hate to have me around after this year.
It's midnight and I have a play to read and
a bed to change before turning in . . . Luv, J
Feb. 20, 1955
[typewritten, to her parents]
Feb. 20, 1955
First real snow I've seen in England—there
was some on the ground when I got back from vacation, and [it]
snowed a little down at Somerset last week, but this is the
first protracted snowfall I've seen since Munich on New Year's
Day. Has been very cold here, but luckily with the sun
shining, so I haven't minded it . . . it's just that everlasting
rain I cannot stand. Right now am toasty warm in front of
my electric fire, sitting in my falling-apart slacks and
buttonless sweater (three buttons fell off of it in the past few
weeks). My poor umbrella (after lugging it unused through
five countries!) my first week back in Bristol, my black wool
scarf the next week, my black cotton gloves the next, and
yesterday one of my fur-lined ones—Careless Hanna, they call me.
Also have thoroughly scorched my housecoat all along the bottom
and sides from this damned fire—if the English had as much sense
as 90 percent of the world's population they would get central
heating and eliminate all of this nonsense. All of us
Americans have had similar occurrences, most of them
worse—Marcie scorched her pantie girdle she was drying so badly
she had to throw it out, and Jack nearly burnt up a pair of
shorts—seems like you're either freezing or burning up,
depending upon how you're facing the fire—ha!
Yes, fortunately I am feeling much better
now, except for the fact that
John is going through one of his
"pets" which I detest (remember last year when it happened he
hibernated to the TV set and bourbon bottle?). He
punctuates the long silences [with] lots of interesting
clippings, a letter from Bonnie, the
valentine you sent him, and
a few choice words, the sarcasm of which is unrivaled since the
days of Swift. I try to disregard the latter, knowing he
doesn't mean half of it—wish he would limit the mailings to the
clippings. The prospect of next year is too much for all
of us, it seems. Says he is going to start a society for
the Salvation of the Hag-Ridden Male—don't know if he means his
Edythe, me—or all three.
Loved and appreciated all of your long
letters—got two from Joann and one from Patricia, and yesterday
one from Jane Davis, so things are looking up in the mail
department. Jo told me the sad tale of Orlando and the
ringworm infested cats, got hysterical about my coming in August
and is beginning preparations already, which is comforting.
Jane D.'s usual informative letter, being bitter about not
getting Juliet in Mort's production (but I knew she wouldn't).
I loved the photo [penciled arrow pointing to "Mort" on the
line above] by the way and sent it on to John . . . if that
doesn't make him laugh nothing will! Jane said Mort had
told her Old Paint was nosing around the Theatre Department,
asking for recommendations for me. That's all she said.
What he is up to is slightly ambiguous at this point, since I
didn't actually apply for a fellowship, just asked him what the
general situation was to date—ah, well: people always
misunderstand me. I wanted him to answer right away, so's
I could make up my mind whether or not I could stand it there
another year. Naturally John thinks it's a complete
mistake to go back and says with Heffner's help and Wickham's
recommendation I could get a scholarship in any of the good
drama departments in the country, which is probably true—but I'm
just too lazy at this point to start from scratch again on my
Barnett** figured he would go ahead with the
deal—who knows, maybe the board won't pass it, after that
confusion of last year . . . one thing in my favor:
Hyatt** is on
sabbatical and would probably voice the only dissenting vote in
the matter—not that he would actually object, but I have no
doubt he would bring up
last year's mess and my part in it.
Having the Dean behind me is always helpful, of course, if it
came to a test of strength.
About the bras—it just occurred to me that
if you put "Unsolicited gift—contents worth less than $10.00,"
it goes through duty-free, if you had any trouble with the used
clothing end of it. I shall write later concerning the
cotton clothing—right now it seems silly to even talk about
it—yes, I probably will have need of the striped dress for
theatre-going in Paree, if nothing else . . . that is, if John
and I are still speaking by summer.
I have been wearing the green coat most of
the time since [I got] back, because it is heavier and Bristol
is hardly worth the effort of the grey one's newness.
Still don't know what to do with it, but will think of
something. Had my cashmere set washed last time, since
English cleaners do not live up to their title, and they came
out gorgeous—which brings up your problem. Actually, I had
anticipated your earlier requests about buying a sweater, since
I knew how much you wanted one, and just hesitated answering
because of the gloomy results. In Bristol the only powder
blue cashmere cardigan is seven guineas (approximately $22.00)
[and] is an ugly greyish color and rather shapeless—IT IS THE
ONLY ONE—talked to one buyer who laughed and said that it was
much easier to get cashmere in the States since their entire
output is exported—and the few that were sold were slanted
toward foreigners (hence the most of them are in London), since
local folks can't afford them with so much tax. However,
there is a much brighter side: I know in London at Selfridges or
where I bought mine they are cheaper, prettier, and in August I
can get one tax-free, which will eliminate the staggering total.
And don't worry about the money—as long as it's England I can
afford it . . . if you'd asked for a lace mantilla from Spain it
would be a different matter.
The china I will have to look up in London
also—once, during Xmas when John was buying something, I loafed
around a china department, and saw some lovely stuff, so it
shouldn't be too hard a task.
One more point of clarification about
Bristol U. and KCU: English Universities are run on an entirely
different system: there are no credits or hourly basis, so it
would hardly be transferable.
Was awfully sorry to hear about the
Elizabeth Walker deal (Bonnie did not mention it in either of
[her] letters). Once, when I was being aggressively morose
about my own situation, Mort told me a little of her past
experiences which, added to this latest occurrence, is enough to
fell anyone . . . was too bad it had to happen just before
Morton's marriage to boot. Do you know—is she still at the
apartment on Main Street or if she has a job yet?
Was glad to hear everything with you and
the Nashes is proceeding on an even keel. Am going to
attempt, now that I have the time, to give you a brief account
of what we are doing and are likely to do up to May, in case I
make future hasty reference to things you have no idea about.
Told you about revising the American script submitted by the
American Educational annual playwriting project. The poor
author originally titled it "Crown of Choice"—and [it] is a kind
of Charles Holtish type of sophisticated takeoff on the
legend . . . it was awfully diffuse and erratic so we transposed
some scenes, rewrote some dialogue and cut some pages, also
decided to retitle it "God in the Garden" with reference to the
fact that it begins with Apollo disguised as a gardener in the
home of Alcestis. To date, the programs are being printed
with the title "God on the Roof" for some unknown reason,
probably some doings of crazy Glynne (or the Great White Father
to be), and Gerry is up at arms. G.W. [Glynne Wickham] is leaving for
Glasgow tomorrow, so it will be a miracle if the programs can be
changed by next Monday when the play opens. Even at that,
all the invitations read with the latter title, which should
make the confusion complete. We've had many hilarious
sessions of rewriting the thing (the author would never
recognize it) over at Heffner's—yesterday was especially nice,
since I had been drinking cider with some Germans beforehand,
and Heffner served numerous glasses of sherry, and what with the
roaring open fire and good company, I was torn between giggling
and sleep. Ended up with Heffner reminiscing about his
undergraduate days with "Tom" Wolfe, "Shep" Strudwick, "Paul"
Green and others. He is a
namedropper of the worst sort,
but I loved hearing about all of Wolfe's activities, especially
about some details of his death, which I never realized before.
The play is directed by Gerry, performed by
the Old Vic School in the University Drama Studio next Monday,
Tuesday, [and] Wednesday nights—should be very good, although
things are a trifle frantic at present.
Rod and June* last week, while
they dined with [the] Wickhams—had a lovely time, eating cold
chicken sandwiches, drinking cider and listening to the radio
(even got the U.S. disc jockeys). Took a cab home à la
Noralee Benedict about 1:00 AM after giggling with the Browns
for an hour or so. Tuesday we are celebrating (don't know
what) with some already prepared dry-martini mix and supper . .
. June and I are planning to take the kids to the zoo to
celebrate their liberation from the measles (which, praise God,
I never got) and lunch downtown, big thrill for the kiddies.
June asked me to stay with them during June or July sometime
after my term of office is up—almost feel like taking them up on
it, since we get along so well, and I'll be wanting to get away
from the Reades by then.
Had a tutorial with Glynne (also with
George R.), more of a "gab-fest" than anything. Seems that
I have no obligation except for the pantomime paper, after March
1st—even to go down to Dartington in March, but after much
to-do, decided the following: "Crown of Choice—God in the
Garden—God on the Roof" plays Feb. 28th, Mar. 1st and 2nd.
Three days in Glasgow to see the
Citizen's Theatre there
sometime after the 4th—probably March 7-10. Dartington
from Mar. 14th to Apr. 2nd—don't know what I'll be doing, maybe
will be in the crowd scenes of the play they (the Old Vic
students) are doing:
Anouilh's Point of Departure.
Apr. 4th to May 2nd—spring vacation, Heaven knows where; I want
very much to go to Italy, but do not want to go alone. I
am the type of person who needs someone else to travel with—fear
that John will be inflexible, since he's planning on leaving
from Naples, thus covering Italy in August, and besides [he] was
there during the wartime occupation. He doesn't want to go
to Spain, so that kills that. I refuse to spend the entire
three weeks with Marcie, since we drive each other nuts during
any long period of time . . . more later on this question.
May 2-31 includes Stratford (Olivier's doing Twelfth Night,
directed by Gielgud) and Birmingham stints, and writing
[the] pantomime paper.
All of the preceding: definite. The
following is arbitrary: June perhaps still in Bristol with the
Browns . . . John was hoping to come over sometime then for
Stratford, so shall probably go up again. Might do
a weekend in Dublin with Marcie; and clear up last details in
Bristol, packing trunk, etc. Would like to get it out of
my way as soon as possible . . . July: whatever my purse allows,
hope either Spain or Italy depending upon what I missed before,
or Scandinavian countries, and a few weeks in Paris.
August—trying to live on no money until the ship sails.
Aug. 26th to Sep. 10th—New York and home.
Well, that's it generally—am writing it
down now since from March 1st on, it will be rather a rat-race
until May 1st.
Finally finished the essay on English and
American Amateur Drama, and George R. thinks I should submit it
to Heffner (he's the editor) for the American Educational
Journal . . . I hesitate, since it is not comprehensive and
[I] would rather people in KC would not read it, even if it were
good enough (which it isn't) to make the Journal.
Some more mundane
matters: you, I trust, are taking care of the traveler's checks
matter—also, how much have I in the bank account? Want to
save it, if possible, for New York and getting back to KC, but
may need it if things get tough here. Found out I only
have $37 in cash, when I thought I had more. If I get a
fellowship 'twill take care of itself, since the money will be
coming in—if not: well—
Also, your views, please, on my typewriter
at home . . . I would prefer, if possible, to keep this one, but
could probably sell it if I needed to. Would it be
possible to run an ad in the paper in KC for my old one, or
don't you think it's good enough? Seems silly to have two.
Had a hilarious evening last week with the
Somerset Rotary Club—[we] were driven down in individual cars.
I pulled "Rotarian Rodway" whom I pictured as large and hearty .
. . turned out to be his son who drove us down from Bristol, but
"Dad" took over in
Winscombe getting us to the hotel where the
dinner was to be, and I feared for my life. "Dad" turned
out to be exactly what I had pictured, being large, hearty,
incomprehensible since he roared in Somerset dialect, and
completely incompetent in the car-driving sense. Kept
grinding gears, backing into parked cars, and laughing in a
Mr. Magoo manner which left me gasping for breath from laughter.
When we got there the Rotarians were scraping knives and forks
together in the most menacing manner, signifying they were ready
to eat. What June and I wanted was a drink. Got
sherry and the giggles and a Rotarian on both sides of me . . .
all went well (especially since the[ir] wives weren't along), being
noisy for Englishmen and rather prehistoric. I made the
error of the evening by sticking a cigarette in my mouth, to be
greeted by gasps of "don't" enough to frighten Marlon Brando.
I tremblingly removed said cigarette, to be informed that no one
smokes before the toast to our lady, the Queen. Was
terribly funny, all arising, solemnly raising glasses after an
ear-shattering bong of the bell, and boomed "To the QUEEN!" and
crashed back to our seats, punctuated by a smothered squeal from
me, who had just been goosed by Rod who was sitting in back of
After numerous sherries and ciders, all the
Americans were asked to give five minute speeches—all hilarious
. . . the evening was just getting to the point of a
free-for-all when the chairman bonged the bell—several Rotarians
rose, bundled us Americans out at a pace to rival the
long-distance runners in order that we could make the last bus
(get this: 9:00 o'clock!). As we giggled our way out of
Somerset county we all agreed it had been one of the quickest,
rowdiest, short-lived evenings of our lives, and who said the
English were reserved? Ended the evening at an
espresso-coffee place à la Greenwich Villageish (only place in
Bristol open after 10:00 PM) where all the young intellectuals
hang out—almost stepped in a pail of whitewash, since they work
at all hours here.
Yes, the employment in England is shocking
. . . saw little children working in the chocolate factory in
York anywhere from twelve years [old] upwards . . . you'll find
them that young working at almost any task.
One more thing: my old red flannel pj's
literally fell to pieces, so I threw them out: what is it with
me that everything collapses around me?
On that happy note, I think I shall close .
. . believe I have covered everything sufficiently. Shall
of course inform you if anything turns up concerning Barnett . .
. also wrote
Patty McIlrath* last week to speed things up . . . I
have so much of my father in me, you know.
Saw Anouilh's Antigone last night in
French, presented by the University French department , , ,
never realized how much like Donald Duck the French sound . . .
so much throat grinding. Also saw a performance of a
Kaiser play in German presented by a group of German players in
our studio . . . was terribly intense, except that I got there
too late to get a program and hadn't a clue of what was going
on—reminded me of my vacation Xmas theatre-going.
Have met up (ugh, what an expression) with
a group of Germans. The most interest-ed, not interest-ing
if you know what I mean, whose name is Bernard, is in the
manufacturing business and consequently has something to do with
the Bristol shipping concerns . . . (haven't been down to the
docks myself in several weeks). They are fairly jolly and
enjoy drinking more than the English, but I am just as happy
Bernard is leaving for Stuttgart this week. There seem to
be two general physical types in German men: the one is sort of
like Granddad, with beautiful eyes with dark brows and lashes
and nice dynamic facial bones, etc., usually well built with
brown or dark hair; the other is more the type one associates
with the Germans: blond, pale, Siegfried or Nazi type. The
former type is also what so many of the handsome Dutch men
resemble . . . that was the most pleasant surprise of all.
I had thought they would all have round chubby faces, straight
blond hair, with pale blue eyes, but not so! If the
Italian and Greek men are the most beautiful, the Dutch are the
So much for that little digression . . .
Keep well, and write more of those lovely letters . . . Much
Feb. 26—Mar. 2, 1955
[typewritten, to her parents]
Feb. 26—5:30 PM
Such busy little bees you have been!
Was so grateful for all the trouble you've
been going to on my account . . . the traveler's checks arrived
plus dollar—on envelolpe was written "no merchandise
included"—guess they thought all sorts of things were tucked
inside—I feel so secure having U.S. currency around . . . will
remember the Derby (pronounced Darby over here) come May,
I was going to begin this letter now, since
the play opens Monday, and I'll probably just have time to put
down some finishing touches before mailing. An hour from
now Jack and I are off for a cocktail party (each for moral
support and easy-get-away, since he wants to leave early to go
to a movie and I to get home to do some work . . . shall
probably end up at the movie also) so your daughter is encased
in her jersey off-the-shoulder blouse and wool skirt in the
attempt to be halfway glamorous, but with a heavy cardigan on
top of it which I probably won't get off in the course of the
evening . . . it is bloody cold here, has been for a week, since
I last wrote, but today seems even more so.
It has been a fairly nice week, except for
my internal dilemma about what to do with myself over the next
few months . . . Rod and I went to a news theatre movie
Monday—saw all sorts of weird things, like a film on the Miss
Universe contest, a film on the African Bushmen, a documentary,
a film on doll-making, etc.[—]"Tweety" cartoon too. It was
just crazy enough to suit our mood, since neither of us were in
the mood for work or for serious philosophizing . . . next day I
worked on pantomime research, bought three books on sale (one on
Emily Dickinson, one on Thoreau, one by
Lifar on Classical
Ballet) and a fairytale book for the children (Rod's and June's,
not mine)—one of the new kind that are constructed like
settings, sort of 3-D, consisting of six scenes with the written
narrative underneath (this one was Sleeping Beauty).
That night I went over to Rod's and June's for dinner, bearing
my offering of a shakerful of prepared dry martinis, and Rod
went down to the main library to study and us "ladies" turned on
the shortwave, and giggled through the different stations
(getting NYC and Russian stations—and Spain!), and I staggered
home. By the way, I have now added to my list of
correspondence Connie and family and Don and Harriet Davis
(since I got a letter from Bill this week, saying that the
latter wanted so badly to hear from me) so I am gradually
getting all answered.
Last night June and I got tickets for the
film society to see Buster Keaton in The Great [sic]
Navigator, but after waiting for thirty minutes the poor
little president came running in, saying that the film hadn't
arrived, so there we were. Instead we wended our way
downtown, and got in an involved conversation with a friendly
bobby (whom we had originally asked directions from) who kept us
for hours freezing in the cold, pointing out the various
landmarks of Bristol, for instance: "Right where we're standing
now, this same spot is about where Cabot sailed to the New
World." Appropriate squeal of admiration from us.
"Yes, sir—this is all water underneath us here." Cold
squeal from us, etc. etc. We stomped on frozen feet to
Marco's, the local Majestic, and got red wine and something
called caneolli (even better than ravioli)—and two more wines
and giggled—at closing hour (10!) up to the espresso place for
coffee and home. June was ecstatic since it was the first
time she'd got away from the children in something like three
weeks, adding flirting with a bobby to boot!
Sat through three hours of rehearsal this
morning, and went home with
Eileen** for lunch—what a bohemian
place they have, reminds me of [the]
Litter and garbage all over the floor, stuff stacked in the
Langley Collyer fashion, and is so cold even with the gas fire on
you can see your breath! Tomorrow is our premiere
performance for Old Vic staff—it is going very well and Glynne
is impressed—I even was told on the QT they are hoping to take
it to Parma, Italy in April, won't that be sonething? I am
currently madly in love with a character (in the play) called Chremes—couldn't care less about
the fellow offstage, but on he
is terrific, completely despicable (that type always appeals to
me), all full of sarcasm and pride, kind of a Greek Communist
type . . . I sit through nights and nights of rehearsal just for
that one part.
Bought another cotton dress (have more
money now than ever will again), you will love it.
Underneath it is a sundress, very full skirt, almost backless
and low in front with string ties over the shoulders in yellow
and white tiny stripes (more an acid yellow than yellow-yellow).
Instead of a bolero it has a kind of little vest of plain gold
material which is reversible, the other side being striped.
Also it has a plain yellow little scarf for the neck, or to use
on the skirt as added motif. Fits perfectly, but in this
weather [I] keep wondering when I will ever get to wear it . . .
I tell people majestically that it's for the Riviera, then laugh
sorrowfully to myself . . . oh, well—there's always New York in
In going over in my mind all of my cottons
I made a list of things I hope I can use, which I hope you can
save up the money to send by the end of April: the remaining
cotton skirt and the two low-necked blouses I wore with them
(the black might be too scroungy, no?), the black sheath dress
and jacket with the wooden peg buttons (I must have something to
lounge about in), the least horrible looking pair of shorts
(just in case, and they won't take up much room), my beige straw
hat with the flowers, and FOOTLETS, if you can pick up a pair.
I thought of that black and white striped dress, but it would
just be added bulk, and is about three inches too long anyway,
so dispensed with the idea. Perhaps I am anticipating more
warmth than I will get, but doubt it, especially if I go to
Spain in the summer, I would die in English clothes. Poor
John only has one summer suit with him since the "white linen
suit" got thrown out after
Summer and Smoke, so he
doesn't know what to do . . . men don't have nearly as much
trouble as women in this respect, however. Actually I
don't think those things will take up much space, do you? or
do you?—thought if you mailed it around late middle or end
of April I would be home by the time it arrived—c'est la vie!
In answer to your
questions—yes, Bristol had a Western Daily Press morning
paper, and Bristol Evening Post evening, terribly small-townish,
so I will send one for an example. [I] see by Time
that finally [the] KC Star is getting an
thrown at them after all this time by the government, about time
says I . . . I would know next to nothing about happenings in
America if it weren't for that sometimes irritating
magazine . . . seems like I knew more about U.S. affairs while
in Europe (especially Paris) from the Herald Tribune than
here in England, where I get most of it from the Sunday
Gauloises are the
cheapest cigarettes in Paris, so naturally everyone except the
very rich smokes them, including John's forty a day. They are
the most godawful things you have ever smelled, like some unholy
combination of cheap cigars and dung, are very thick, and have a
tendency to suddenly go out for no apparent reason . . . John is
terribly funny about them, especially around me (I insist upon
calling them "Goldblatz"), he says there is another brand of
Gauloises, White Label or something which are more expensive,
and are distinguished from the others by having tobacco in them.
I had written John that I was so lonesome for Paree I even
missed the Goldblatz so he sent me one . . . I even smoked it
one night in desperation, having run out of my own brand.
It was awful, and I swore never again.
Dartington Hall is that adult-education
college I went down to in November to get costumes for our
plays—remember the place in South Devon during the floods: now
they are snowbound, so it should be some jaunt, especially after
Scotland. I am still debating whether or not to stay down
there the whole three weeks, since there are so many pressing
things to do in Bristol at the end of March.
Sunday [Feb. 27]
Was never so cold in my life [as] last
night . . . the evening was undistinguished otherwise except for
the fact that the host mixed the most divine dry martinis I have
ever had since John's hotel in New York, and I had about four,
being so happy with them, and trying to combat the cold . . .
Jack picked up some little babe and excused himself early, since
they decided to go out to a dance, so old spinster Smith was
stuck with the local crowd, who frankly bore me stiff . . . I
got a ride home and sat shivering on top of the fire for an hour
or so, did a washing, sewing, finished Emily Dickinson and read
Time . . . sounds dull? Not nearly so much as those
English coeds. Do I begin to sound like
tell me frankly? I don't feel like her whilst in Paris,
just in Bristol. Maybe I'll begin looking up those
interesting points of interest the bobby enumerated someday, and
get a new slant on this town. But it is so damnably small-townish
for a big city, and you know how I hate small towns.
Am now all dressed up in my grey jumper and
pink blouse and black petticoat with the pink ruffles . . . I
don't know why all the fuss just to go to dress rehearsal, but
the sun is out for once, and it seemed appropriate . . . also
the prospect of seeing Chremes again is exciting. Life is
so simple at times.
So, I have heard nothing more (or even
anything except what you told me) about Elizabeth . . . if Bonn
calls again, would you kind of suggest that she write me, and
especially about Elizabeth . . . don't know why any of us have a
right to pry into her private affairs, but the whole mess rather
worried me, so naturally I would like to hear how it all turned
I did tell you I heard from Bill?
Usual uninhibited letter, punctuated by all sorts of doleful
news about the gang at home, how the Dragon Inn is a morgue, how
no one exciting is around anymore, how dull everything and
everyone is . . . well, as far as I am concerned I don't want it
ever to be the same again. I wouldn't have gone back to
the Dragon anyway, and I'm glad most of the old gang is
elsewhere—there would be too many memories lurking around every
corner—the Playhouse itself is going to be uncomfortable for
awhile in itself. No word, by the way, from Barnett.
The alumni magazine and clippings were a riot—it's interesting
to hear that I am doing research on my Master's!—heaven knows
that is the only thing I'm not doing. Must get
myself collected and off to the U. More later—
Almost March 2nd
(meaning sometime around midnight)
Suddenly realized that I should finish
this, and it off to you, before it gets too big to mail.
Things are going mad—Glynne gave us next week's itinerary which
should keep us on the frantic move almost constantly . . . leave
here Saturday [Mar. 5], go to Oxford, to Glasgow Monday [Mar.
7], attend courses at
College of Dramatic Art and performances
of Citizen's Theatre, on to Dundee or somewhere like that, back
to Glasgow, back to Bristol next Saturday [Mar. 12], leave for
Dartington next Sunday [Mar. 13] . . . of course, now there is
the new development that they are not taking God in the
Garden to Italy in April, but instead a performance of
Hello Out There** and
A Phoenix Too Frequent, which
means Gerry and Jack may have to stay here to rehearse instead
of going to Dartington. What I shall do is also a mystery,
so don't be surprised when you get a postcard from some
unexpected place in the next month or so. The show has
been going quite well, no press notices since the Old Vic
opened tonight and they naturally had to cover that. I sat
out front for our show both dress rehearsal and opening night,
so stayed backstage tonight, generally making a nuisance out of
myself in trying to help . . . was standing on Bob's robe (Chremes)
just as he was about to make a sweeping entrance, got
greasepaint in his hair in [an] attempt to arrange it, etc. but
it was wonderful fun being in the thick of things again . . . I
do so hate to sit out in front during a show. Went over to
Patsey's house for supper Sunday (she is an Old Vic student),
listened to all sorts of wonderful records of U.S. musical
comedies for hours, and we walked home around midnight, looking
at the boats in the harbor . . . actually the main attraction of
Bristol for me.
Tomorrow night Rod and June are coming to
the show which should give it added zest. Thursday I'm going to
see Merchant of Venice at the Old Vic, Friday [I will]
pack, and leave Saturday . . . please don't worry about all the
reports about Scotland's weather . . . the English make so much
out of a little snow, which is actually not much worse than our
average winter snow and weather. I don't mind it nearly as
much as I do the rain.
My usual 5-6 hours a day on the pantomimes
. . . am just finishing up notes on two more books, which I must
return before I leave. Don't stop writing . . . if I go to
Dartington, I'll have my mail forwarded. This seems to be
the off week, since I have yet got no mail at all . . . tomorrow
letter is due, but I'm not banking on
it, considering his present mood. Wish I knew what the h——
[sic] he was planning on doing. Still no word from
KCU . . . it is getting to the point where I'm going to ask you
Mrs. Reinhardt and get the dope . . . it is getting
late and I must finish my chapter on grand jete by Lifar
. . . really don't understand choreography, but the sketches
help my feeble brain.
Lots Luv, J
[Enclosure: "The world's
worst looking program!" for A God in the Garden. "What?"
is handwritten beside "Script Supervisor —
Mila Jean Smith," with three exclamation points plus an
underscore for "! Chremes, the Spartan
ambassador — ! Robert Lang !"—but
no commentary or extra punctuation for the bottommost member of the
Cast in Order of Appearance: "Death —