Mar. 6-7, 1955
[handwritten airmail, to her parents]
March 6—10:00 PM
Somewhere halfway to
Here we are sitting before
an electric fire in soft easy chairs in a sitting room of a
hotel in North
[sic] (I think)—warm
as toast (I might add for the first time since bed last night
with a red-hot water bottle). Had a rather grueling day of
driving from 2:00 to 7:00, after walking around Oxford for four
hours. It was snowing in a blizzard fashion this morning
when we got up, [then] changed to rain and then stopped,
remaining only ice cold and nasty. We left Bristol about
2:00 yesterday in a rented car (rented from a friend of ours who
has a car of reliable condition).
got a license and is doing all the driving,
is "navigator" studying road maps and signs like mad and I am
"keeper of the
take it you know what I mean: food) and "cleaner-upper."
Helena, Gerry's girlfriend, came along as far as Oxford and
back to Bristol this afternoon. We had a marvelous meal in
Oxford and went to see the
Hippolytus by the Oxford Players—they
did it original Greek fashion, with masks in the
Divinity School—which dates, I should judge, back to
at least 13th-14th Century—all
was down for it, in fact we ran into him today while we were
sightseeing (I have my camera along). Oxford has all sorts
of interesting buildings, but it was so damned cold I lost
interest in most of it after so long a time. My traveling
costume is an especially fetching garb—long
green socks, slacks, short-sleeved sweater, cable-knit cardigan,
June's*** skiing jacket (with hood!) which must have
cost a fortune, green coat, boots. I can hardly drag
around with all the weight, but it keeps me fairly warm.
No heat in the rooms here.
Speaking of warmth—got a
John* before I left—usual bitter tone slightly
subdued—says he appreciates your notes, but wishes you didn't
expect him to write back—it really is an effort for him,
so don't be too bitter. Says he swore he would never go
traveling again since it's so wearing, but in the next breath
said he thought a trip to Italy would be "mildly exciting," and
proceeded to outline [a] course of travel which staggered even
me—Geneva, Venice, Florence, Milan, Genoa, Rome, Cannes and
about five other places. So off we go again, it seems.
I was pretty sure all along he would succumb, but didn't mention
The bar downstairs is now dispersing,
sounding like the
place in Amsterdam***. We still have about 200 miles
to go tomorrow, but it will be a bit easier and prettier—all
through the Lake District and Scotland—the only trouble is that
we are sure to run out of money, but I daresay the National
Provincial Bank will see us through. Appreciated your very
cute and clever card and recent letters—the packages will
probably arrive in Bristol while I am gone, but guess the
will take care of them. We got into a hilarious situation
in this town in trying to ask for "The
Head Hotel in the Street"—there is also in town "The King's
We asked for the "Queen's Arms in King's Street"—what a
mess! Jack said, "Hell—why not the Princess's Elbow?"
March 7th, midnight
Finally in Glasgow—dirtiest
city in the world, but full of jolly, accommodating people—and
living in a boarding-house type hotel—a renovated Victorian
home, about five shillings cheaper than any other in town—very
nice and friendly—had a nice dinner, several whiskies and saw a
movie tonight—tomorrow hope to see the Covent Garden—pardon, the
Sadler's Wells Opera* do Troilus and Cressida.
Car is still in shape, but so dirty—we are same.
Mar. 13, 1955
[typewritten, to her parents]
March 13, 1955
And a happy heather to you, too!
This one will have to be short, giving you
the essentials to be filled in later. We dragged in [to
Bristol] last night just before midnight, after traveling 450
miles since 8:00 that morning, and were we dead! After
eating, reading my letters, unpacking, taking a bath, and
organizing things (like
See*) I finally got to bed around 2:45 AM . . . up at 10:15
feeling like every bone in my body had tramped each mile by
itself, had breakfast in bed (bless
puttered about achingly, read the paper, ate lunch, washed hair,
and went over to
Rod and June's* for the rest of the day which relaxed me no
end, except for the one dim view which darkened the proceedings
in that Rod is now beginning to give birth to a little ulcer,
unhappy thought, eh
Had lovely dinner and sat around gabbing until I had to catch
the last bus home (imagine: 10:30!).
I couldn't face the prospect of throwing
things back in the suitcase and hopping the train for
South Devon** today, probably not tomorrow either since I
have to get more money and do numerous errands, plus meeting
June for lunch, so shall probably drag down Tuesday—will
probably be ready to travel again by then. Hope to be back
in Bristol by the 22nd or 23rd, more shopping, booking tickets,
having a haircut and wave with June, leaving around the 30th, in
Paris by 31st . . . ach, Gott! Got crazy, mad
letter from John, all gay and cheerful and witty, so guess
he is back to good spirits again . . . is busily running around
for current itinerary:
The only trouble is at present he has no money . . . ha,
ha—ain't we got fun? But that is in the distant future . .
. now for relation of past and present . . .
First: start saving your money for duty,
'cause you are soon to receive all sorts of things from
Scotland, which may cost you something, sorry but the
opportunity was too great to withstand.
Got trapped in an export department of one
of the nicest stores in Glasgow and flipped my lid:
First, about the 1st of April you should be
receiving two yards of tartan (they never say plaid in
Scotland) material. I looked up on the chart for the
Burns clan which listed
"Campbell" tartan for the family, so being a true granddaughter
of Mila Burns, I got one
nice variation of the pattern: blue, purple with tiny gold
stripe. We can figure out what to do with it later . . .
'tis enough for a jacket or skirt . . .is lovely material and
worth much more than I paid for it.
With a check dated the 22nd (time of next
paycheck) I bought a few more things, since they were sans
tax, therefore pounds cheaper. About the 12th of April
you, Mother, should be receiving your belated
birthday gift (you'll never guess what)—the most expensive
of the lot, but approximately $12 cheaper than you'd get it in
KC. The salesgirl says that when they send these things
out to the States they declare the cost of the things much
cheaper in order to get around customs, so hope you won't have
to pay much [duty]. It was much easier for me to buy the
things now, since I doubt if I['ll] have much money at all after
this next paycheck. Lastly, about the 12th of May (or
earlier) you'll be receiving my birthday present to myself.
I had them send it a month or so later since packages should not
be sent to the same address near the same time. This
package is a brown cashmere with gold braid (ostentatious but
nice); too cheap to pass up. Of course, after I pay Cook's
for my European tour that takes care of that paycheck, but how I
loved doing it! I am reserving Daddy's big present until
later; however am sending him a
present, which should arrive near Mother's birthday . . . such a
business! They had such gorgeous things at this place . .
. Gerry spent all
of £22 for gifts for everyone he
knows, but I couldn't manage it. The bagpipes were
tempting, though. Also bought myself an incomplete copy of
a Sir Walter Scott novel (1898 edition) in a secondhand
bookstore in Edinburgh, and a book on costuming in Glasgow.
Scotland turned out to be very nice, and we had a terrific time,
but what really hit me was the Lake District driving back . . .
it really puts Switzerland to shame . . . such mountains, green
green green and vividly blue water. "Ah, Wordsworth, thou
should'st be living at this hour!" Naturally, we had a
deadline to meet but kept stopping the car and screaming "Look,
look" every few miles, even went past an arrow pointing up a
hill, saying "Wordsworth's Cottage," but we simply did not have
the time to stop anymore . . . got some postcards at a lovely
little town where we ate, and took a couple of [snap]shots
myself, though . . . even drove with the top down (you know old
English cars have a top which slides back . . . ours was a
by the way).
Thursday we drove to Edinburgh . . . a
lovely sunny day, went through the Castle . . . saw a show:
Moliere's The Miser redone in Scots dialect . . . a
darling idea, and very well done. Approaching the castle I
thought of you, for just outside the wing where Mary, Queen of
Scots was once imprisoned, we could hear bagpipes being played
inside . . . terribly atmospheric. I liked Edinburgh much
better than Glasgow, it is much cleaner and prettier.
Glasgow, I've since found out, has a tremendously bad
reputation, and one of the worst slum districts in the whole
British Isles, called
the Gorbals .
. . standard byword: "Can your Mother sew?—well"
(producing razor) "tell her to stitch this up!" ripping the
recipient down the cheek . . . they have huge gangs of young
toughs who lurk around the dark streets in the smog (the
smoggiest town in the world) and Billy Graham is due next week
determined to clean up Glasgow . . . that is, if it doesn't
clean him up for good first.
We stayed in an old Victorian house
renovated for 13/6 a
night (very cheap), was really a steal: all the breakfast we
could eat, and a nice landlord. Located another American
couple (he a Fulbright)
living there and chummed around with them a lot . . . had dinner
there, and two sessions of drinking . . . they are wonderful and
affiliated with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art there, where
we spent the good part of two days, lounging around classes and
talking to the director,
Colin Chandler, a big man in the Edinburgh Festival every
year, very nice. Went around to the University there also,
looks like a baronial mansion, and were shown about.
Saw three shows in Glasgow, one a
pantomime, but nicely staged; one a very cheap, crude piece of
dramaturgy; and the other the Covent Garden Opera production of
Troilus and Cressida . . . perfectly gorgeous, both
musically and scenically, although the tenor was a trifle
Colditz Story the first night there, with
Portman, what a man . . . am now determined to see him in
something other than a movie. Found Glasgow on the whole
quite unbearably dirty, industrial, busy, and lively. No
vacant streets at 11:00 PM like Bristol . . . of course, Glasgow
is the third largest city in England [sic] . . . loved
the Scots dialect . . . had little trouble in really
communicating, but rarely caught every word they were saying.
Oops, forgot—saw the second
year students of the Academy do The Sea Gull our last
night in town, and very nicely too—directed
by Chandler (a friend of Wickham's).
Gerry turned out to be an excellent
. . . wouldn't have asked for a better one . . . the car stood
up amazingly well, but after we went to Edinburgh [we] had to
have it lubricated. It was making so much noise we could
hardly talk over the rattle . . . also it seemed to lap up the
gas . . . about twenty miles to the gallon and climbing all
those hills didn't help matters. Gas is about 4/6 to 4/8 a
gallon, literally twice the price of that in the States . . .
hear it is even more expensive on the Continent . . .
everywhere! We probably spent much more money than if we'd
gone on the train, but oh, we would have missed so much more and
having it to trek around the city in [and] to lug our friends
about helped also. We three got along very well,
considering our close proximity and far-apart personalities . .
. only a few minor tiffs with Gerry, but was I sick of his loud
mouth by last night!
Thanks oh so much for your letters, did so
love hearing from
. . . maybe I can get caught up at
(that is, if I can afford to get down there).
More later—must run and make an errand
Aunt Mame is better by
now. Much love, Jean
[handwritten postscript:] One bra
package yet to be seen.
Mar. 16-17, 1955
[handwritten airmail from Dartington, to her sister Mellie]
Am writing to you since I actually owe you
I reckon you can share this with the folks in case they wonder
where and how I am. This is a fairytale place on
earth—[we] are living in a ballet school, a house of modern
glass and chrome with central heating, hot water,
and modern decor. Each of us has a room with bed, dresser,
book shelves, chair, basin and a glorious view out of
semi-French windows [at] the Devon countryside. Actually
my window opens out onto a roof—rather like the United Nations
building. The second level where one can walk or sun
oneself—wonderful sunny, reasonably warm weather, gorgeous
trees, incredibly green grass, purple crocuses, old stone
buildings. We eat constantly—first meal about 8:45, tea at
10:45, lunch at 1:00, tea at 4:00, supper at 7:00—and "goodies"
in our rooms after the bar closes—the "bar" is like an oak
paneled cocktail lounge right off the dining room in the main
building. Rehearsals are 9:30-1:00, 4:30-7:00,
8:00-9:30—with usually messing around in costumes or props in
between. So far I have prompted, turned up a hem on a
dress and taken out a sleeve on a jacket—tough work, eh?
All of us wander about in a carefree manner, going up at
frequent intervals to the little store (on campus) for candy
bars and fruit—not being able to contain ourselves until the
next meal! I love the play,
Point of Departure—practically the first real urge I've
had to direct in months. Have just come up from
downstairs, where Jack, Gerry,
Douglas (another American) and I had a gabfest. The
boys are all living downstairs, the girls upstairs. I keep
taking baths—so wonderful to be warm and cozy again while
Am reading two books on bullfighting and
one called Boxing for Beginners—such scholarly research,
Got my ticket for the
a couple of days ago—plus
all sorts of confusing data which Daddy would lap up, but which
merely irritates me. Shall show it to John for advice—am
trying to learn Italian phraseology now to no avail. Hope
he remembers some.
By the way—Dartington costs less than $5 a
week for all meals and board—God, why am I leaving, but
how long can paradise last, I ask you?
Am dead tired—from eating, of course, so
will close. Hope all are well. Love, Jean
[P.S.] By the way. we also sing in a
choir every other day—sang Bach's St. Matthew Passion
today! Most of this college is a permanent music
institute, so the whole place has the air of a summer music
institute or a summer stock company.
Happy St. Pat's to you—about to go to
breakfast—getting up so early is the worst feature here, but it
is less deadly when the sun is out and the birds [are] chirping
madly away—where was Spring all this time in England?
Mar. 23, 1955
[typewritten, to her parents]
And exhausted greetings to you too!
Dragged in yesterday noon, after leaving
Dartington around 9:00 AM in the rain, in Gerry's current
battered car, skidding our way down to catch the train.
Went to the bank, read letters, got things out of hock, did
errands, and went to a movie (Demetrius
and the Gladiators,
lousy) last night. Today to Thomas Cook & Son with June;
she put a new zipper in my black pedal pushers for me and fed me
lunch, etc. I am now owing Cook's £40 by next Monday . . .
booked the itinerary I outlined in last letter, plus the night
BEA flight from London to Paris next Wednesday night, the 30th.
When I think of all I have to do before then! Tomorrow
more shopping with June, we are both currently involved in
ninth birthday Saturday. They're having in twelve little
monsters for hot dogs (imported from the States) and to the zoo
. . . they bought her a used bike, and June is making her a (get
this) ballet skirt out of white and lilac tulle . . . even I am
involved with all of this, even to the extent of ruffling lilac
material. Am also officiating at the party. Have
been madly throwing together all sorts of crazy little gifts for
John's birthday Sunday [Mar. 27th] (his 35th), things like:
cheap cigarette holder, corkscrew, pipe cleaners, each one done
in tissue paper and bright ribbon . . . is all I can afford, and
feel like maybe he's at the stage where silly things like that
Ironed all my things tonight, and dread the
thought of packing (again!) . . . hope I can pour myself into my
spring suit after all of that food at Dartington . . . it is
absolute agony trying to decide on what clothes to take . . . it
is cold in London, Paris, Geneva . . . warm in Italy, so a happy
(?) balance must be set.
June and I [went] for haircuts and waves
Monday, perming ourselves Tuesday and packing. ORDERED
John to meet me in Paris Wednesday evening, but can just imagine
him blithely sitting in a theatre somewhere while I stew,
waiting for him.
Dartington remains like a dream of
remembered beauty . . . get me! Seriously, 'twas fun while
it lasted, gorgeous scenery, nice people, good food (but too
much too often) but I was glad when I left . . . the country
life is not for me, at least for any length of time. We
all packed a picnic lunch and walked to
and took a bus to
Saturday. The ride down was divine . . . all of the earth
down there is blood red (like Tara in Gone With the Wind).
We laid [sic] on the sand and looked at the sea, which,
along with the sky, was as blue as you could possibly imagine.
Drank beer and slept . . . and collected sea shells (also pussy
willows on the way back, at the risk of ripped trousers on
barbed wire fences by one poor browbeaten male whom I ordered to
Met an odd old woman who teaches down at
Dartington, who repairs musical instruments and makes her own,
including an exquisite mahogany clavichord . . . I went to her
house one day and thought of you the whole time . . . all the
old antiques, the African relics her uncle, a missionary, had
brought back; an old spinning wheel with which she makes her own
thread, a set of Georgian silver, hand-loomed material, each
more lovely than the other . . . and I thought that the age of
Walden Pond had passed forever. Guess I was wrong. I
suspect she even breeds her own cattle, since I spied some right
outside her window.
Took eight shots of Dartington and the
chaps, which are being developed, so will send these on now, am
rather proud of some of them, others not so hot:
Bank of Paris, the Seine, note the eternal fisherman at left . .
. they never catch anything, but it doesn't daunt them in the
least. This was just before the river rose so alarmingly.
Seine . . . see the very dim outline of the Eiffel Tower in the
background, to the right of the clock-tower? It was very
misty that day.
Oxford . . . those white pellets are snow . . . 'twas a blizzard
. . . this is a Roman Catholic monastery, where we thought Jack
was attending services . . . turned out he wasn't.
4. Old gate
in Oxford . . . don't know which one.
Helena, Gerry, Jack in Oxford.
Building in Oxford . . . don't know what. Note I was
holding finger over lens again.
, note twisted columns of smoke.
Edinburgh . . . one of main streets
Sir Walter Scott monument . . . gorgeous green grass . . .
that's Jack in the foreground sporting new mustache.
11. Old building they are painting on
grounds of Edinburgh castle.
12. View of what they called "The
Royal Mile," Edinburgh, in front of castle
Took this out of a parapet window, Edinburgh
Gerry, Jack, Suzie, with castle in background. Note they
are refinishing pavement in preparation for summer festival, no
Lake District, just outside Keswick
16. Ditto: awful, ain't it?
Don't know what I was trying to get
It only goes to prove what a $2.98 camera
Met Glynne fleetingly today . . . he said
that the magazine Act
thought my article on European drama too long, but that they
were going to use excerpts. So he says, whether they will
or not remains to be seen.
Amazing about your weather . . . we feel so
lucky to have the sun. John signs his "The
Cold One," really must be cold in
I made that discovery about the Wedgwood
about the same time you did . . . and they did have such a
lovely little cup and saucer set here . . . sure you wouldn't
like to start a new set?
Thanks loads for buying those shorts and
things and for the eventual sending of them . . . Hate to put
you to so much trouble, though. They sound lovely anyhow,
although we're all waiting with bated breath to see the black
sox, can't imagine them, somehow. Yes, June will have a
sewing machine by that time, so any alterations can be made
Your description of the hat sale was
hilarious . . . can just imagine it . . . by the way, both
packages arrived safely . . . thanks . . . the bras were
wonderful. No duty . . . last letter from John he was so
bitter because he had to pay 1000 francs on a package from his
sister, evaluated at half the price!
Did I tell you that Rod now has an ulcer
too? I'm beginning to think it's my influence, since no
one seems to get them until they meet me.
Should close soon, to begin repairs on my
clothes, and to trim a hat . . . bought some grey veiling to use
on my white hat (feel I should have one for church wear), which
ties it up to the grey suit, have new pair of Degas shoes with
gunmetal trim, a gold colored scarf, and gold string gloves.
Am so exciting about my first plane trip. Naturally,
John will feel I am being a traitor to the cause of SHIPS FIRST
ALWAYS, but I did want to try a plane once for the hell of it.
Want to get to Versailles either this trip
to Paris or the next one, and also to Chartres Cathedral.
Oh, I do get so frenzied planning things—I
shall throw myself instead into plans for the birthday party
Hope all are well, and try not to collapse
when the things from Scotland start arriving.
Much love, Jean
Mar. 27-29, 1955
[typewritten, to her parents]
At the beginning of a fateful week:
If this trip doesn't wreck me mentally, I
don't know what will; am presently beginning a fifteen day
treatment of a new Rexall product called "Tranquilex"
for ragged nerves, etc.—since
I have all the symptoms they list on the box, I felt it might do
some good. Just discovered on top of everything else that
the handle on my big suitcase is beginning to come off . . . now
wouldn't that be a great thing to happen in the middle of an
Italian railway station . . . John would never forgive me . . .
guess I will have to lug it around tomorrow to see if someone
can repair it, they don't have luggage handles (no Samsonite)
like it over here, and can just hear them saying "Well it will
probably take at least a fortnight" (that's what they always
say) and me leaving Wednesday morning! Also, [the] skirt
of my spring suit is so tight I can't sit down in it (June can't
repair it since she doesn't have her sewing machine yet), I am
still unbooked for getting over to Paris (excursion flights from
London booked solid), will have to send John a telegram to meet
me in the morning if I can get on the early flight from
Bristol (there is one from Bristol to Paris once a day) which
means probably that I won't get met and will have to get to the
hotel by myself, and a few other little things . . . aside from
them all is fine. Actually, disregard all my crabbiness, I
am just looking for things to complain about, since the prospect
of traveling (even to Italy) again for a month is a bit much
after the past few weeks, but I'm sure once I get there and
start having fun all will be forgotten.
Another thing to dim the radiance was a
Barnett**, which was anything but encouraging about the
future . . . 'twas very nice, but he sounded kind of tired and
bewildered (as we all get), and things about KCU sound as
confused as ever. He says they have to cut down on the
budget, the most obvious place being the fellowships, and
although he is trying to push some in theatre, doubts if they
will go through. Also, if I want to get my MA in theatre,
it will be a matter of practically starting from scratch, so why
not some place else, I say. He says that
is going to write me soon, etc. etc. but all in all, it was
rather depressing, and I dread showing it to John and getting
into one of those everlasting arguments about not going back to
KCU . . . guess I shall wait until McIlrath's letter before
making any decision and writing back to Old Paint [Dr. Barnett].
Had a hilarious day yesterday at Erica's
birthday party . . . went over to the house around 11:00 to be
greeted by chaos, June nearly at her wit's end, the children
getting wildly hysterical (Erica and [her younger sister] Diane,
no guests arrived until noon), Rod bleary eyed, having just
gotten up . . . we frantically arranged the house, made
hamburgers and hot dogs, orange and lemon squash, etc. etc.
Luckily I had brought along a pint of gin and when the going got
too rough made stiff ones, and plodded on. By the time the
party had got [in]to full swing, so had we and gaily served the
refreshments with a minimum of accidents and a maximum of fun.
They were typical little English children, being terribly
reserved and well-mannered at first, gradually warming up, and
in the end, yelling and screaming and eating and drinking
alarming amounts of punch (the most popular room in the house
was the WC for hours) with the best of them. By this time
it was raining (good old Bristol—every day since I've been back)
but on we went to the zoo, dragged the
twelve children behind—had to change buses twice, ach, Gott!
The zoo is beautiful though, all green and well laid out with
the swan and duck pond being unfenced so that they are walking
all over the place along with the human beings . . . saw the
seals being fed, I
do love them so, the ape house, monkey aquarium, flower
aquarium, snake house, bears, and Rosie, a thirty year old
elephant who plays a mouth organ (and unfortunately at this time
the power of suggestion got too much for Rosie, [who] punctuated
the music by doing her duty at the same time). [After] an
hour and a half we were all thoroughly soaked [handwritten
insert: from the rain!] but Erica was in heaven and all the
little brats seemed to be enjoying themselves. Back on the
bus, getting them all home (except two or three of the
inevitable hangers-on who came back to the house with us until
their "daddys" came after them). We collapsed in front of
the fire for awhile, then cleaned up the deluge—and didn't move
for an hour afterwards. Had another drink, and finally got
around to eating ourselves—then sat around for the rest of the
evening in various positions of collapse, drinking cider and
getting sentimental about how hard it will be to say goodbye in
August, etc. etc.
Today, I had a hard time even getting out
of bed. Cleaned up and tried to organize things, do
repairs on what I should pack (provided I have a suitcase),
reading Tom Wolfe (again), etc. Tomorrow to Cook's to see
how much I have to pay on tickets (should take every cent of
British money I've got), the hair appointment, seeing a
rehearsal [by] the Old Vic first years of Our Town,
seeing Glynne, part of dress rehearsal [by] the Old Vic Theatre
(remember? KCU did
it in 1952 with all those children I was in charge of) and
Brandt's** tomorrow evening. Tuesday: chaos, packing,
etc. Wednesday, leave (we hope).
Sat in on a rehearsal of the Old Vic first
years doing 1939, a very interesting exercise, but
terribly funny . . . all cinemagraphic in mime, with narration
done over a loudspeaker.
(the one who played Chremes in
the Garden***) is once more the hero and is doing his
usual good job . . . must describe it all to you sometime with
gestures, it's too funny, especially the Battle of Dunkirk.
Afterwards, I did my shopping
(£5 worth) since this is the
period when all my staples are running out, and went to dinner
Sonia Fraser's**, the girl who played the lead in
Hello, Out There**.
The newest batch of pictures are
described as follows. By the way I hope the last set made
it, since I couldn't afford to send them first class.
long view of the main building of Dartington in the sun
Front view of the same, through the big door and to the left was
where we ate: you can see how old it is
Lav's* homemade car, and from left to right Jim
Douglas (the other American), Gerry,
Patrick Blackwell (Old Vic student). The car was down
in the lot outside of where we lived
Picture of a cat (I meant for John but decided to send it on
with the others). She was lovely golden color and lying
under an enormous tree . . . those little spots about her are
purple, yellow and white crocuses
"The Gang"[:] crouching is
Baldwin, [then] from left to right: Patrick,
Eileen** (with apple in mouth) and
background[:] building which runs to the right of the main
Another one: old stone steps going up to the place where we had
choir. Left to right Mary, Jim, Patrick, Jack (being
petulant), Gerry, Eileen, Gina, and Sylvia
7. This is where we lived,
with Eileen in doorway . . . my room is upper bank on the left,
fourth window down, window opened out onto roof where we
8. This is what George Brandt calls
my "surrealistic shot"—unfortunately didn't turn out, but was
[a] picture of Paignton and the sea with the gang in front.
From the looks of this, they just got hit by an enormous wave
(actually, think it must have been light in the camera).
Now have three more rolls of film for
Italy—someone told me it had been snowing in Venice, oh, no!
Think I'll close for now and get back to
Look Homeward Angel . . . will wait until after tomorrow to
mail this. Ta, ta
As far as I know now—am booked on the 5:30
plane from London [to] Paris—will get to the Left Bank by 8:45.
From now on you can write me in care of John if you need to.
Am beginning to get good and healthily excited. Is now
1:00 AM—have spent the night at Brandt's gabbing and seeing one
act of the dress rehearsal of The Enchanted.
Tomorrow, dinner at Rod and June's and pack.
The Wayfaring Stranger
Mar. 30—Apr. 29, 1955
[handwritten itinerary recap]
March 30th Left London,
arrived Paris 8:45—Dinner
in Latin Quarter
Cook's—window shopping—The Beggar's Opera—Le
Printemps store show—Merchant of Venice
The Pearl Fisher—Opera Comique
zoo, Seine, Amahl and The Medium
Left Paris for Geneva, arrived 4:30, fondue
Lake Leman, Geneva—Of Mice and Men
Left Geneva for Lausanne, arrived Milan 9:30
Milan sightseeing—La Scala—La
Easter—St. Mark's—The Lido—No Business Like Show Business
Venice [to] Florence
Le Duomo, Giotto's Bell Tower, Basilica, Gina Lollobrigida movie
Bread Love and Jealousy
Florence [to] Rome,
Spanish Steps, Victor Emmanuel, Colosseum,
Genoa, Municipal Opera, Rosenkavalier
Genoa [to] Nice, Spanish Dancers
Nice [to] Marseilles, bouillabaisse
Marseilles [to] Paris
Bank, Montmartre, Harlequin Through the Ages, V.Columbia
Opera Comique, Spanish, Ravel
Casino de Paris revue
Amants de Venise
boat ride—Intermezzo, Barrault
Versailles, [illegible] on Seine, [illegible], pantomime
Paris—London, Old Vic, Henry IV Part II
Apr. 2, 1955
[handwritten, to her parents]
Since I can't remember when last I wrote
(although I'm sure it was early this week), felt I should drop
you a few lines to let you know I arrived safely and to wish
you, Mother, a very joyeux birthday. It is now
about 1:30 in the afternoon of a beautiful sunny day (though
still not warm)—I just finished my coffee and rolls in the
Biard, where some of the patrons were taking advantage of the
"almost-springlike" weather in sitting outside in the sun to
enjoy their wine. The little flower seller across the
street had put up his bright-colored umbrella and all the French
were beginning to get terribly intense (also more verbal) in
their excitement over the advent of Spring. Hope it is
decent weather in KC. Per usual, John is not up yet but
I'm just as happy since I've been feeling a bit "rocky"
yesterday and today. That damnable flu bug had been going
around Bristol before I left, naturally hitting the Brown
children right off the bat—this type was the "achy" kind plus
runny nose and eyes—the latter complicated by some sort of nasty
When I got to Paris, John had just
recovered from intestinal flu. Now comes the
not-so-funny part. I have contracted a mild case of
both types—neither of which are pleasant. Luckily it
(or they) hit in Paris when I can stay in bed, but it did make
me so mad that it would have to wait until my "big" holiday.
I still manage to stagger around, although 'twas a bit difficult
last night—however I always manage to throw things like this off
after a couple of days and I daresay this will be gone soon.
The airplane flight was absolutely
wonderful and à la
Cinemascope technicolor movies. Did all of my packing
in one case of June's parents which expands and is of
lightweight stuff (also stuck books etc. in straw basket).
The packing was hellish to say the least, since I had to keep
within the limits of 44 lbs. Left home around 11:00 AM
(luckily I could carry my own suitcase) and took a bus to the
station—met two girls on the bus,
one from Jamaica, one from Sweden, and got to talking—so we
rode to London together; they went along with me on the subway
to the air terminal—ate lunch there (very swish and American)
and from there got the bus to the airport. By the way the
girls accompanied [switch from pen to pencil] me out of
the goodness of their hearts—they were just spending the weekend
in London. Said goodbye as the bus left and got involved
with a little old German lady on it—lovely ride through London,
by the way. Short wait at airport—no customs problems.
On to the plane (Air France), took off, were served tea and
cakes and by the time we'd finished we were landing at Paris
Airport. Another short customs, on to bus, a forty minute
drive, and there we were at
d'Orsay on the Left Bank, with John waiting—claimed baggage
and walked the few blocks to the
Lindberg*. Deposited suitcase and ate enormous meal,
walked around and gabbed. Next day we went to the
exhibition at a department store (just like Macy's), to Cook's
and window shopped—saw Beggar's Opera that night—not too
good—hero looked like the
Great Gildersleeve. Yesterday more window shopping and
to bookstore, saw Merchant of Venice
last night—fair. Tonight we're seeing the
Love, the Magician by de Falla and
of Bizet. Tomorrow
Powers (Broadway) [in] Menotti's
The Medium, and
Monday at 8:10 AM ! we leave for
Geneva, arriving there at 4:00 PM—will probably stay overnight
and sightsee—stopping next at Milan. Pray we have good
weather. Don't know where we'll be Easter, probably
Florence—certainly not Rome, since the tourist trade must be
overwhelming at that time. [handwriting starts to slant
down page] Sorry this has been a bit incoherent, but
my right eye is half-closed at present, and what with the pen
breaking down, makes it a bit difficult writing.
Hope you have a perfectly marvelous
birthday—wish I could be there to spend it with you. Much
love to all, Jean
Apr. 9, 1955
[handwritten (very faintly) to her parents]
April 9th, 2:00 AM
Have been intending to write for ever so
many days, but the constant strain of packing and repacking have
taken their toll and, as you can see even now I have to write
during stolen moments. We're now in
about 4:45, a fairytale city which it is impossible to
describe—all gingerbread and mosaic architecture (although I
myself prefer the more simple classic style),
with millions of gondolas and motorboats, blue skies and
the everlasting chatter of the Italians. Even now they are
screaming, laughing, and arguing under my window. We have
apparently the only remaining rooms in Venice—it being so
near Easter. Huge double rooms in a flat up four flights
of stairs off of a main street just around the corner from
Cathedral. They are very expensive and luxurious and
John is getting very intense about trying to find others, but I
am basking in the enormity of it all—especially the bed with its
length and width of at least six feet—French windows
the main noisy street, et. al.
We arrived at the Piazza [San] Marco via
ferryboat—naturally no cars, cabs, or anything—just water.
We have not taken advantage of numerous offers for gondola
riding (they seem awfully precarious) but may take a motorboat
to the Lido beach tomorrow. Is not very warm here but was
almost hot in Milan (although more northern).
Last Sunday [Apr. 3rd] (after I last wrote)
we took a walk by the Seine and went to the Zoo in Paris—was a
gorgeous warm day and everyone was out. Saw Marie Powers
that night in The Medium, magnificent woman. Got up
next morning at 6:30, usual agonizing mess, but all went
smoothly for us—horrible mixup about being on a car that
only went halfway to Geneva, but eventually got on another in
the midst of some rugged scenery in Switzerland. Geneva
was positively beautiful. we lived in a very nice
for two days just down from the Lake, where we spent most of the
time—incredible blue. Still love Switzerland's winding
streets and hills—had fondue again and saw a production in
French of Of Mice and Men.
By this time I had recovered from my eye
trouble and flu, but John felt awful. To complicate
matters I twisted my ankle and have been limping ever since.
Such a biz!
Took train from Geneva to Milan Wednesday
[Apr. 6th]—spent two hours in Lausanne sightseeing.
was disappointing somehow—probably because neither of us was
feeling particularly spry and consequently took it out by
scrapping with each other. It was warm, but more of an
industrial town—had gorgeous clothes. Went to La Scala
Opera last night and left this morning for (rather yesterday—I
keep forgetting what time it is) Venice. The food of
course is delicious and we stuff ourselves. The one meal a
day we eat together. Breakfast and (for me) the early part
of the day is spent alone. John is slowly but surely
getting to the point where he hates to get out of bed at all—I
don't believe he is at all hardy, shall we say? But in
spite of the various illnesses, quarrels, and discomfort of
being always on the go, we're having a fabulous time.
Will probably stay here for Easter Sunday
[i.e. the next day, Apr. 10th]—on to Florence either late Sunday
or early Monday. Wednesday [Apr. 13th] to Rome—that's all
I know for now.
Hope you are all peachy. We think of
you and talk about you all the time. Will try to write
more later. Much love, Jean
circa Apr. 15, 1955
[picture postcard of the Roman Colosseum: handwritten, to
Happy Birthday Poppa!
After three days here I hate to leave—absolutely
gorgeous. On tomorrow for Genoa, then Avignon and to Paris
by Wed (the 20th). Easter was lovely and sunny in Venice.
Florence nice but didn't get to see all I wanted to. To
opera tonight, Cyrano. Sightseeing town this
morning—my last—I don't work well in crowds.
Luv—more details later.
Apr. 17, 1955
[handwritten, to her parents]
Sorry I had no time to locate a more
appropriate card in honor of your birthday, Daddy, but as you
can well imagine things were going fast and furious at that
point and it was only by a few stolen moments and a frenzied
rush that we got the postcard mailed—John
wanted to send a telegram but I felt that the shock would lessen
rather than heighten your birthday spirits, so we settled on the
Colosseum to pacify you. Hope you are having a wonderful
day—bought your birthday present in Florence but found it
impossible to mail then and there—even at that after ten minutes
of searching I found John waiting bitterly at the
in the rain. It seems I had been in the store for thirty
minutes. Due to my delay we missed getting into the
Gallery—for which I was sick, but there's always the next
time. If Italy hasn't taught me another thing, it's
convinced me that one lone trip is less than adequate, and most
awfully frustrating. You can't even hit the high points.
Especially when you're tired and need to sleep in the mornings.
I indulged in a sightseeing tour one morning in Rome (had to get
up at 8:00!) and convinced me that I don't mix well with
crowds—was like so much cattle being herded around—after three
hours of it I staggered back to the hotel where John had just
got back from breakfast and was "raring to go"—so off once more,
this time on foot and with a vengeance! On the sightseeing
tour I met a family who is going to live in KC next year!
Very dull and typical unaesthetic American types but nice
enough—young son of some eight years developed a crush on me and
I had to drag him along hand in hand all through the Borghese
City. Get me! I and an acquired
metal got blessed by the
Pope that morning in
his usual mass ceremony in
Peter's Square—the crowd collects and at 12:30 he appears at
the window and blesses them and their holy relics—I acquired the
latter in case some Catholic friend should want it—it seems this
is the epitome of holiness for Catholics to possess a metal or
rosary blessed by the Pope. My main miss in Rome was the
Sistine Chapel, which was closed both times I was in the
Vatican. Oh well—next time.
Have just read over the preceding mess and
it occurred to me that it is relatively futile for me to attempt
to write letters of any intelligence en route—I am either
too tired or hurried to make any sense at all, so from now on,
will pinpoint highlights and viewpoints.
Easter in Venice, gorgeous—got up late and
went (alone) to the last half hour of services at
frustrating—thousands of milling tourists wandering through the
church constantly during services—tourists, mostly Americans and
Germans. Went to see
No Biz Like Show Business that night, dubbed in Italian.
Loved eating scampi (large shrimps) and ravioli in the narrow
winding streets or having an aperitif alongside the
For the sheer spectacular there was Venice. Florence was
much less prepossessing in appearance, but chock full of
Right smack in one of the main squares in
David. What a
shock to see it
standing casually there unguarded and matter-of-fact.
First night there I was ill again with flu—ach! Next day
Giotto's Bell Tower (I was standing way up on top taking a
when the wind whipped my scarf off of my neck and carried it
away—I hated to lose it but how dramatic) and Basilica,
Ponte Vecchio, and shopping. Ate charcoal broiled
T-bone steaks and tortellini and lived in an absolutely mad
pensione where we communicated with the concierge
by sign language and where I accidentally locked John inside all
one morning. Countryside around Florence was gorgeous.
Rome—well, what can one say? It is
all anyone could hope to say good about a city—gorgeous
buildings alongside ruins, lovely weather, beautiful gardens,
and a huge bevy of the American social set, which seems
permanently settled there—all snobs but pleasant. Lived in
hotel where all spoke English and I had a little beflowered
room that overlooked a Greenwich Village type
where pandemonium reigned. NOTE: the Italians are
emotional, sentimental grownup children and are very noisy.
Would make Ruby and
Gladys Johnson sound like cat-footed cherubs in comparison.
The last night we were there (as I told you) we had tickets for
the opera and got all dressed up in taffeta and good blue suit
respectively, but turned out the opera was postponed for no
apparent reason, so we sauntered over to the
Parkway of Rome and drank cognac for the rest of the
evening—I saw just enough of the tourist attractions and sensed
enough of the environment to realize this is one city that could
well take a lifetime to appreciate properly, and during which
time you would never be tired of. It is perfect. I
was even slob enough the throw a coin in the
Trevi Fountain (which is about to be closed for repairs) and
dragged John around the Pantheon and Forum. Left with much
misgivings yesterday and got to Genoa at dusk—got into a very
cheap pensione, had a luscious dinner, spaghetti with
seafood dressing, scampi, green salad, strawberries, wine, and
saw the Opera's production of Rosenkavalier—good singing
but dull staging. We were both so tired we kept nodding
through the whole last act which began at 11:45 and [was]
finally over at 1:00 AM. Last show: at Italian cinemas are
usually anywhere from 11:30-12:00, isn't that a riot? And
the whole rest of the night they wander through the streets
singing, talking and laughing.
Today we went to Genoa's great tourist
cemetery, and down to the bay. Also got involved in a
political demonstration. Are steak, ravioli, salad and
went to an evening of Disney cartoons since we were in a
hysterical mood. The Italians loved them. Genoa is
very friendly: gay, but still damaged badly.
Tomorrow morning we're off to Nice, which
means leaving Italy (sigh!) but the prospect of Paris is
heartening, except we figured out it's about twice as expensive.
Along with its other virtues, Italy is very cheap. Women's
clothes (especially in Milan and Rome) are the best I've seen
anywhere in Europe—displays artistic—food incredible.
Forgot to say that Easter we also went over
to the Lido by boat—was chilly but damned if there weren't some
people swimming in the Adriatic.
Tuesday we hope to go to Avignon, but we
never plan more than a day in advance, so who knows? Is
now 2:30, so believe I'll close and pray I can get this to a
post during the rush tomorrow. Much love, Jean
[P.S.] Write to the Lindberg if you
want to tell me anything We'll be there the 20th.
Apr. 25, 1955
[handwritten (again very faintly) to her parents]
Just a note
To tell you that we arrived gratefully back
in gay Paree the 20th and [I] have been trying to rest up to
face the ordeal of going back to Bristol, which I dread—to
postpone it even further am planning on staying in London for
several days after I fly back [on] the noon flight Thursday (the
28th). Had to write Rod and June to send me several pounds
(broke again) in care of the
St. George Hotel** so I could pay the bill there and to see
several shows—will probably get back to Bristol Saturday, God
From Genoa (where I last wrote from) we
went to Nice.
By the way we spent a lovely day in Genoa taking baths, going to
the cemetery and eating—ha!
was gorgeous and sunny and surprisingly cheap for my idea of the
Riviera. Incredible colors in the sea and sky, usual
resort fashion, and many crazy people running around the
themselves in bikinis while we froze to death in sweaters.
Well, I had myself one glorious time in Nice—we had a wonderful
meal that night and went to see
and his group of Spanish dancers—John was nonplused but I was
ecstatic—wandered around an art exhibition in the same building
and gaped at the gambling casino—had a drink across from the
sea, where you could hear the breakers pounding away.
Next stop was Marseilles—which was pretty
much as I had expected—rather dirty and dingy—walked around the
old part and ate at a waterfront café. With John's
encouragement and always wanting to try the specialty of each
city, I had bouillabaisse—seafood soup with huge chunks
of clams, mussels, etc. floating in it. 'Twas awful—and I
was already full after starting off with a heaping portion of
what we call "little rascals"—tiny little fish fried
We left the next day for Paris on a packed
train. Got on the wrong one at first and John had to run
and get the baggage off while I stayed on the right one.
The wrong one sped away and after fifteen minutes of no John I
was convinced that he hadn't been able to get off—and was
frantically wondering what I would do in the Paris station with
no money when he finally came up. We sat on baggage for
four hours outside the WC in the passageway when we finally
fought our way to seats. Believe me, you have to fight!
Spent the next five hours eating
salami sandwiches and beer in the compartment.
Paris looked wonderful—I am to the point
where its glamour has worn off—I merely love it now.
Madame and your letter were waiting [at the Hotel Lindberg]—we
ran out and gorged ourselves with food and mail. Thanks so
fear—the new medicine was abandoned the first day—glad you
liked the photos.
We've seen some quite interesting theatre,
ranging from the history of Harlequin to the Casino de Paris.
Tonight Grand Guignol (horror theatre)—tomorrow
Barrault***. Are planning a trip to Versailles
Wednesday. Also went to the American Art Exhibition
yesterday. Rest of the time is devoted to sleeping and
John sends his regards and thanks for the
card and I send
All my love, Jean
[P.S.] Hate to see the travelers
30—May 2, 1955
[typewritten to her parents]
Almost May 1st, 1955
Back home again in Bristol:
Before I get too bogged down, I arrived
here on the 11:15 AM train from London (getting in Bristol about
1:45) Friday (yesterday) with something like two shillings in my
pocket and very bitter about the whole thing. Monday, the
day I wrote you from Paris, I also (on John's instigation) wrote
Rod and June asking them to send me a couple of pounds to the
St. George Hotel for me, to get to me no later than Friday
morning. It seems that June, being the overactive thyroid
type, sent a registered letter to the hotel the moment she got
my letter, and IT arrived before my letter to the St. George, so
they sent it back to BRISTOL upon receiving it—hence,
old Mila J. lived in London with next to no money and left with
same, after shelling out enough to get to the Old Vic Thursday
night—promised the hotel that I would send them their money when
I got to the bank in Bristol.
Thursday is still too painful for me to
relate at this point, but I'm sure after several days I will be
able to tell all with a laugh. Suffice it to say I left
Paris, all sunny and gay, after a hysterical morning at the
Lindberg, begun when John knocked on my door at 10:30 with some
bitter comment about the femme de chambre having to get
my room cleaned up by the time she left for lunch at 11:30—seems
she had wakened him to tell him all of this and you know how he
can be in the morning. I managed to pack completely and
stagger out to the Biard for breakfast—got back and seems she
had moved all my stuff upstairs to John's room. In paying,
found out Madame had had to charge me for two extra days in
retaining the room before we got back on the 20th or I wouldn't
have been able to get the room—THIS was a terrible shock and
took every cent of French money I had, including 1000 francs I
had been saving to convert into British money and 300 for the
bus from Gare D'Orsay to the Airport. At this point (I was
still groggy from sleep) I stormed into Numero 16 saying in a
Francis Smith tone: "Now we're REALLY in trouble" but
surprisingly enough John was perfectly calm and even laughed at
me. Luckily, usually when one of us gets hysterical the
other immediately becomes calm. NOTE: Not always!
Between us we had 200 francs in small change and John [was]
laughing—out he went and borrowed back 100 francs from the
femme de chambre of what I had already tipped her.
Chuckled he: "Get me, wealthy American tourist, borrowing from
the femme de chambre." At this point I laughed also
and went into the "closet" as John calls it and washed my teeth.
Then after much stipulation about whether my luggage weighed 44
lbs or not we walked over to the station (on the Left Bank), I
got checked in (baggage only weighed 36 lbs) and sat on the wall
by the Seine for a half hour. He saw me off on the bus and
I, per usual, felt wretched leaving Paris. Nice plane trip
(but never again, too expensive), had lunch on it: cold chicken
and ham, oeuf mayonnaise (hard boiled egg), some sort of
cold salad, hard roll, cheese, devil's food cake and small
bottle of wine (for which I had to pay 100 francs extra. I
was VERY bitter about this). NATURALLY, it was raining in
London. Everyone has been telling me since I got back that
they had lovely weather for a month in England but I don't
Well, you can imagine how it was lugging
that heavy suitcase and straw basket around in the subway
stations, but who could afford a taxi? Arrived at the St.
George when they informed me about the letter they had sent
back, frantic trip to post office to see what had happened to
it, frantic call to Bristol to Rod and June (also hysterical)
telling them to HOLD the letter when it was sent back because I
was giving up the ghost and going back to Bristol. Frantic
call to the Old Vic, once more on subway to Waterloo, getting
lost hunting for theatre, arriving at 7:00. Luckily, there
were a few seats left, in the slums of the gallery but only 1/6
and the show was terrific even if I was hungry. Did,
however, buy a coke and sandwich and ten cigarettes. The
cast got an ovation and about a dozen curtain calls so it was
well worth the effort, it was Henry IV, Part II by the
way. Back to the St. George and a hot bath, my first in
God knows when, and to bed. Next morning, usual big
breakfast in bed from the little French maid, a few trips across
Paddington to check on trains and finally leaving, saying good
riddance. Got all of your charming letters, including one
from my bank, saying I was overdrawn
£8 but all is well (?) [sic]
Went over to the Browns yesterday
afternoon, had dinner and distributed my little gifts to the
various members of the family and promptly got involved in a
current scheme of Jack's of directing Strindberg's
to be performed June 10th with JUNE in the title role. She
used to act, you know, but now is terrified about doing it
again. I am once more stage manager. Well, at least
it keeps me from this dreadful loneliness I keep drifting into.
I don't know why it is, because half the time with John we're
arguing about something, but after four weeks one gets awfully
used to it and misses the other person, even to fight with.
Tonight, I went to see a
movie with Kirk Douglas in it, with Jack and Jim Douglas.
Let's see, think I wrote Monday, right?
That night we saw Grand Guignol—rotten, just like
American B movies with added excitement of pouring gasoline on a
man, dragging him outside, and setting fire to him . . . great
Paris tradition, ha. Walked around the
bumping into prostitutes, staring at the Moulin Rouge
fascinated, but John, the puritan, dragged us into the subway
and we went back to Montparnasse for our drink. I now
This may not mean anything to you, but is significant to me
since everyone in Hemingway always drinks them . . . just like
concentrated licorice and non-potent.
Next day we took a boat trip (two hours)
down the Seine, unfortunately was raining, but I liked it.
That night we had our expensive "exotic" dinner. I had
snails for an hors d'ouevre with white wine, then lobster
and mushroom baked in a dish sprinkled with breadcrumbs and
melted cheese, lettuce salad with oil and vinegar dressing, some
sort of strong cheese with poppy seeds, ending up with a cassata
(Italian ice cream with fruit), and coffee . . . all glorious,
including the snails which John had to teach me to eat (everyone
in the cafe thought it so sweet, and at my age)—they are strong
(flavored with garlic) and "muscular" as John says. The
various foods kept fighting [me?] rhythmically all during
Barrault's production of The Enchanted that night . . . a
completely misproduced show. Had beer that night at our
Le Flore, on St. Germain.
Next day we went to Versailles, about a
thirty minute train ride out of Montparnasse station . . . we
walked so much that day that John said all of the fluid had
drained out if his knees and ankles and we could only stomp
back, getting lost on the way back to the station . . . must
have walked a dozen miles. Most tourists use the bus
service but not we! Natch, Versailles was overwhelming,
any kind of architecture you'd want from Baroque to
Rococo—parts, like the Hall of Mirrors, just too too much for my
taste. Preferred the more delicate style of Marie
Antoinette's boudoir and her "country place" the Trianon, but
about a mile from the main Chateau. More about this later.
We arrived back exhausted, and took thirty minutes to pull
ourselves together, then out to dinner. Our
show that night was on a barge on the Seine, done by a group
of Belgian actors who floated down to Paris . . . really
excellent and so enjoyable . . . did a Sartre farce and a
pantomime of a post office clerk who joins a circus.
That night it was warm so all of Paris was
out in force (Wednesday night is BIG night out) spilling out so
far in the sidewalk cafes as to prevent people from walking at
all. We went to the Flore for Dubonnet for a couple of
hours. This session started out happily enough with us
giggling about all of the funny things that had happened on the
trip, but eventually got around to next year and the inevitable
arguments and terse silences.
Which brings me up to date with you, I
believe. Have laughed so over all the letters, and am glad
you got to talk to
Pat*. Got a
letter from the latter, very kind but natch no decision yet
. . . supposedly Monday. I'm about to say evil words . . .
etc. Plum's letter was his MARRIAGE ANNOUNCEMENT early
April in Carnegie Hall—why send an invite to me, says I?
Enjoyed your letter, Papa, and glad you liked the pic.
Have a few more birthday things for you I'll send on later.
Received both boxes happily . . . so
grateful you packed them so well, shall just zip an iron over
them . . . think the new ensemble is lovely . . . am still
wondering about black socks but will probably wow them on the
Dread the summer since the traveler's
checks are gone . . . have $41 in American cash and John is
going to pay me about $20 for books, but that's hardly enough
for three months . . . and poor dear, I am such a financial
drain on him when I'm in Paris—bet I owe him near to $15 by now,
but he sighs and says he's resigned to his fate. Guess
you'll have to send some of the money in my bank account,
provided there is any. Don't know where I'll go except for
Paris for as long as I can live for the Theatre festival . . .
certainly not England. I just don't vibrate with it, I'm
By the way, in case Bonnie or anyone
broaches the subject again you can inform them firmly (and I
don't know where they ever got the idea) that John has no
intention of returning to KC, and never had it . . . I thought
that was made clear from the beginning. As a matter of
fact, he may not come back to the States until Xmas—since all
job offers have been rejections, and as he says "If I'm going to
be poor I might as well be in Europe" . . . Rome is certainly
cheaper than Baltimore. This is another point of violent
argument so I won't go into it further.
Also, I'm going to inform McIlrath (by the
time you get this probably the fellowship will not have
gone through) I will be dubious if not downright opposed to
accepting a fellowship with the costuming again. It is not
my field and I simply could not stand it. By the way,
McIlrath told me that
Dinges** was in the hospital with pneumonia, no details.
Everything is as mad as ever here . . .
Jack and Gerry hitchhiked to and through Spain over Easter,
evidently had a good if tiring time. They too had diarrhea
from food. Gerry is now in London doing some work.
The Wickham baby is due next week, God. You'd never know
it to talk to him, he's busier than ever and calm for him.
George Brandt has boils but more enthusiastic by the moment (not
about the boils)—Rowell*,
Two of my friends from Bristol Old Vic
School made the touring Old Vic London Company—eighteen month
contracts, six months of it touring the U.S.!
All but one of my photos (aside from the
roll I exposed accidentally) came out, mostly fairly well, some
not so good. Have (or had) thirty-one done in Paris, and
eight more in the shop here now to be done Wednesday—will send
them on when they're ready.
Will fill in with some more news and views
tomorrow before I go to rehearsal, but am terribly tired now and
think I will turn in. Cheers.
Sunday [May 1st]—noon
You'll never guess what the weather is
doing out—of course, it's been raining the three days I've been
back . . . no, I don't like England.
Before I go on, the enclosed clipping [not
preserved] is one John selected from the New York Herald
Tribune—he thinks it's riotous and a perfect illustration of
me, which I think is nasty of him.
Well, I'm still too involved in unpacking,
paying bills, calming nerves, and sifting through all of the
past experiences to make coherent sense—I remember last time it
took me awhile to get oriented again, so I imagine my subsequent
letters will be of more interest to you than this rather wild,
Our first day out of the trip from Paris
[to] Geneva was nice, traveled with a very pleasant French
couple. (By the way, we had to get up to catch the 8:30
train) but somewhere along the line we had to change trains
which caused me no end of worrying and nagging John, but we
eventually completed the change somewhere in the mountains of
France, just before Switzerland. Geneva was gorgeous, most
of the time sunny. It was there that I hurt my ankle and
kept staggering up and down the hills and dales, and there that
John "recaught" the flu. I spent most of the mornings down
around the boats—and the afternoons just strolling around
(limping, that is). Told you about having the fondue again
for dinner and seeing Of Mice and Men, excellent
production, but I was reading it at the same time and nearly
drove John mad saying, "George, tell me about the rabbits" etc.
etc. Of course, in French it was "Georges" and "Lennee"
but they managed to get the mood across.
Milan was a disappointment to me, rather
dingy and industrial and both of us were feeing too rocky to be
sociable—bickered most of the time. Did notice the
gorgeous clothes—Italian styles are far superior to those of
Paris. We stayed in a rather depressing hotel, getting
there by streetcar at 10:00 at night, with me screaming "This is
NOT our hotel, this is the Albergo." It seems that Albergo
is the word synonymous with hotel in Italian. I had to do
most of my sightseeing by myself there, and it was sheer
bitterness which drove me on since I didn't really feel like
It was either from Milan to Venice or
Venice to Florence, I think it was the former, where we began to
run into the enormous crowds. Standing waiting for the
train, huge swarms of people, priests with shaven heads, sandals
and brown robes, nuns, Italian peasants with all sorts of crazy
packages, food, bottles, etc. all began collecting—and also the
tourists. When the train started coming in there was a
dull roar which began among the waiting throng . . . I glanced
terrified at John who screamed "Just push, push, PUSH."
From then on, it was like one of those Civil War battles, the
screams, smoke, noise, and human bodies thudding to the ground.
When all the smoke cleared away, all the Italians were squeezed
onto the train and all of the tourists were standing outside,
waiting, breathing hard while the trainmen hitched on a few more
cars to the back of the train, so we did get on the train, after
all. It was like that all through Italy. How they
can push! One time, I don't remember where, the train was
coming in fast and people just LEAPED on as it passed.
Even little old me had a try after it slowed down to a mere 20
mph and [I] swung on, laughing hysterically, expect[ing] to
never see John again but he was doing the same, with the baggage
too, no less. Have found out that one never gets anywhere
unless one pushes, which proves that I'll never get anywhere.
Another time, on the way to Nice we were doing our usual stint
of walking up and down the aisles, peering into compartments and
miming "Any seats?" John claims that I said (I
don't remember it) after some woman replied to me in French,
"But you're speaking French and I don't understand French"—this
may not seem funny to you but we have had many a hearty laugh
over it since. The point was that the poor woman couldn't
understand me either—I was being completely irrational per
In Florence, after two hours of trying to
get moved in our pensione and getting baths, we
finally settled on a big room upstairs, with a double bed,
couch, chairs, etc., and a tiny little nook next door to it with
two cots (John said we could have taken in boarders). I
got the big room, he got the little one. Well, one had to
go through the big one to get to the little one and there was
only one key to the whole setup and one to the outside door.
Since I get up first I was being very helpful one morning, by
carefully locking the door of my room so the maids wouldn't
disturb John, but the catch about the whole thing was that I HAD
LOCKED HIM IN. He claims that he waited all morning
to get out before I got back, and the maids kept screaming from
the outer door for him to let them in. It all sounds
hilarious but I doubt if it was quite that bad.
Another time in Nice, I was buying a box of
Kleenex in a store and John wanted to get to the bank to get a
traveler's check cashed before it closed (we had just got to
Nice) so I was to meet him there, never having been there, of
course, but that it was on the main street. Naturally, I
couldn't find it and walked up and down the street several
times, gave up and went back to the hotel. About a half an
hour later there was a knock at my door and John in a deadly
calm voice said, "Where
have you been?" between clenched teeth. Well, I chattered
my explanations and found out I had been past it (it was across
the street) twice. John said, "You remember it?
Well, the tall many in the grey suit standing outside was me!"
He got over that quicker than being locked in the hotel room in
In Genoa we were really considered the
eccentrics since John has a thing about heights, as you recall,
and refused to ride on the elevator, since it had open sides you
could see through and down—so every time I went up on the
elevator he would climb up and down the six flights of steps.
Actually no one really cares much what you do or don't do in
either Italy or France. Only England. Once in Paris,
I saw a couple taking their pet poodle across St. Germain, each
had a paw and it was walking on its hind legs. At almost
every restaurant you run into little family groups sitting at
the tables, Papa, Mama, and baby, baby being the dog with its
own special plate.
I was especially gifted in the stupid
remarks, like at the Casino, during a strip act—they used
incense during the scene, evidently to enhance and heighten the
"mood." But I guess I wasn't in the "mood" to begin with
and kept sniffing and yelling loudly "Do you smell incense?"
etc. John merely giggled. But such was life . . . we
did enjoy ourselves. I guess it adds something to the aura
of the thing to be young and innocent.
I know these are the type of incidents that
one usually talks about in connecting with a trip abroad,
especially to Italy. One would rather talk about the
magnificent boat ride down the Grand Canal (or main street) of
Venice, or the view of the Spanish Steps flanked by gobs of
azaleas in Rome,
but all of that takes time to sink in and evaluate and right now
the funny little anecdotes are first in my mind.
So for now, I will close with a description
of our Le Flore, next to the
[sic]—hangout of the existentialists, literary crowd,
etc. Haunted by East Africans selling fur rugs, little
boys selling peanuts, kids selling paintings, and me! Luv
I was going to end on that page, but will extend it one more.
Have had a raging headache today, but
had to do a washing since all my lingerie was dirty.
Tomorrow down to the cleaners with the rest of the reeking
stuff. I spilled cognac all over
taffeta dress in Rome, but so much has been spilled on it so
far and it never shows, I rarely wear it, and cleaning it is so
bad here I hesitate to send it out . . . besides I had the
accident in the
Excelsior Hotel, THE hotel of Rome, where Ava Gardner and
Clare Booth Luce stay, so that should mean something.
Did I tell you we ran into two other
Fulbrights in Venice the day before Easter? What a shock,
and they're both rather squares . . . luckily we had an excuse
to get back since "Grandma," our landlady, was heating up hot
water so we could wash . . . the first morning we were there she
knocked on John's door about 9:30 in the morning . . . after
about three knocks he appeared, clutching a towel strategically
and she said in muddled Italian and French something to the
effect of "WHEN you get up could I have your passport?" He
All hotels and pensiones must have
your passport to check and fill out forms, it seems. We
had no hot water in Venice, Florence, Genoa, or Versailles . . .
only at odd hours (3:00 in the morning, etc.) in Rome . . . I
know because I was up at all hours one night with my
"complaint." Nicest rooms were Nice, gorgeous room with a
little balcony, Rome and Geneva, small but with good views and
nice decor, and the expensive one in Venice. It still gets
me how all the guidebooks talk about how quiet Venice is—they
claim because there are no autos and traffic, but Lord how do
they account for the racket the people themselves make?
Didn't really bother me, though, I slept through it all, but
realized how noisy it was when Paris seemed practically quiet in
silence in comparison. By the way, your article on the
silent trash cans in Paris is way off . . . every morning about
5:30 it sounds as if they throw the cans and milk bottles
at each other.
My head is giving me fits, so think I will
turn in with a hot water bottle (guess what my trouble is).
Glad to be in one place for awhile.
Much luv, [smiley
Monday [May 2nd]
And another wonderful letter from you
today! You put me to shame, but I will get this off today
. . . right now I'm sitting in the sun, believe it or
not, and am I reveling in it.
Remembered a few more things I wanted to
tell you . . . was so thrilled and impressed with the Italian
policemen called caribinieri and their "costumes" as I
called them (really just uniforms), wore black jackets and
riding breeches with a fuchsia stripe down the side, high
black boots, riding crops, long black capes, and either
Napoleonic type hats or regular caps with bills . . . always
stood in pairs or rode on horseback . . . did they ever look
Also remember our femme de chambre
at the Rome hotel named "Maria" who weighed all of 250 lbs and
was very helpful . . . knocked on my door one morning at 6:30
saying "bagno, bagno?" and I muttered feebly that I wanted no
bath and she could jolly well leave me alone . . . she stood
there quizzically for a few moments and left. Someone must
have taken it . . . certainly not I.
We also had trouble with the elevators
there. Once John pushed the number of his floor . . . and
zoomed on past it upwards, then came back down to [the] ground
floor where Maria and a gang of floor washers crowded on . . .
they were going to the same floor as he so when the elevator
stopped they all ploughed off first, then he attempted to get
off. Maria, sensing that all Americans are just overgrown
children apt to make mistakes, assured him this wasn't the floor
he wanted, and threw him back in the elevator . . . this is just
the trick Maria could do well, outweighing him by some 120
lbs—he kept pleading with her that it was too his floor
but she kept throwing him back on the elevator till someone
The day we left I was going up to my room
when the "bellboy," a lad of some seventy years, got on, and
down we went . . . I screamed I wanted to go up, [but] by
this time the elevator had landed and waiting just outside was
Maria and her crew . . . I shrieked, the "boy" fought off their
hands about to open the elevator, and up we went with him
nodding and smiling "bagno, bagno." I didn't get the bath,
but I got to my floor and out of the hotel.