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Monday, May 25, 2015

IT'S HARD TO KEEP FROM RIPPING OUT THESE PAGES. (1)

     The summer of 1939 I worked as a filing clerk at Liberty Mutual Insurance Company in Boston. On my last day this poster was presented to me by artist Lenore Johnson.  The back was covered with the signatures and good wishes of co-workers, most of whom must be gone by now.
(from Mother to my brother, Dick)
October 19, 1939
     Sunday I went to Northampton to see Barbara.  She is not as happy there as I could wish -- in fact, she is thinking seriously of transferring next year to Wellesley. She is not sorry to have one year of dormitory life, however, and is making the most of it. . . . 
Sunday, October 22, 1939
     I had a lot of company this weekend.  Ed, of course -- also Mother, Vaughan, Jim, and Janeth.  Vaughan talked to me privately and said she is dismayed at the idea of my living at home next year.  She pointed out that Mother and I are both leading more peaceful lives because we no longer have those upsets between Janeth and me.
Sunday, November 5, 1939
    I have broken up with Ed.  I explained that I loved being with him, but I just didn’t have time to see him every weekend and join in the activities that college offers. He was so precious -- I can’t even attempt to describe how appealing he can be -- but I was strong and held to my decision. 
      It is hard to pluck him from my heart -- he is too much a part of me. It’s like a sickness, and I hope I shall recover soon.  I must keep busy.  Mr. Rinker and Taffy are coming up in a couple of weeks; that will help.
      I hope Ed doesn’t write to me.  If he does, I hope I’ll have the strength to return his letters unopened.
Boston
Nov.9, 1939
     There is no use trying to kid myself that this is just another squabble.
     As a last gesture of my affection I have sent you a gift that is the culmination of the mad, miraculous muddle of Beyer vs Malley.  It is finished.  Amen.      
    The future is up to you to make or shape as you wish.  As you must realize by now, life is a stubborn clay which we can, if we will, mold with clumsy art into some semblance of the thing that we want it to be.  Our success at this sculpture is governed not only by our dreams but also by reality.  So, my sweet, I say to you -- do not let your creation of yourself become, like Dorian Gray, distorted, crude, and ugly by mistaking the unknown for beauty.  Do not sell your soul in a fruitless, vain chase “over the rainbow” in pursuit of a romantic something that is not there but is back where you started from.
Memoranda
1.     All this sounds queer and mixed up to you.  It does to me, too.  My only excuse is that I wanted to write it, so I wrote it.  If it makes you feel like laughing, then laugh.  If it makes you mad, please forgive me as I am only clutching at straws.
2.    This is the last time that I shall bother you by writing.  If you want a letter, you must tell me that you’d like to hear from me.
3.  I’m planning to go to Wesleyan for the week-end.  If I do, I shall drive through Northampton on Sunday afternoon and we might have a friendly, unemotional and platonic tete-a-tete -- or maybe even dinner.
4.  WELL?
Saturday, November 11, 1939
     I’m feeling besieged and unable to think straight.  Ed is making it impossible for me to forget him.  Yesterday I received two records from Prince Egor, our favorite symphony, and couldn’t stand it any longer.  When he phoned last night, I told him I wanted to see him. 
      Miss Cobern, our house mother, asked me if I was going home this week-end.  When I said no, she said, “That’s good.”
     “What do you mean, Miss Coburn?  I’ve been home only twice.”
     “Yes, but that young man has been up here every week-end.”
     “He’s coming today, too.”
     “Well, I don’t think you’re very wise, Bobbie.  How is your work coming along?”
     “I’ve had only one mark below a B so far.”
     “Oh, my goodness, that’s fine.  That’s all right, then!”
Monday, November 13, 1939
     Smooth sailing with Ed again.  I am still discontented with the situation as it stands -- my never going out with other fellows, I mean. He went to a Wellesley dance Friday night, the fickle knave. Nevertheless I feel much more at peace just letting things slide along than trying to break off abruptly.  As Ed says, “Time will solve all our difficulties.”
Boston
Nov. 14, 1939                                                             
     If perchance I seem overdue in my letter writing, please forgive me and place the blame on my amateur automotive engineering.  The Packard is completely dismantled so that it looks like a disemboweled behemoth.   My hands are grease-stained, my fingernails broken and my body tired.  If it weren’t for that great Malley good humor and fortitude, I’m sure that I would collapse.
     I saw Taffy for a few minutes tonight, and she told me that so far she had not heard anything from Mr. Sti -- Wrinkor about next Saturday.  She is going to write to you just as soon as she does.  . . .
Smith College
Nov. 15, 1939                                     
Dear Ed, 
1938 with Taffy in back yard, 716 Commonwealth
     I just got a telegram: “Doctor’s counsel makes postponement necessary Katherine joins me in ten thousand regrets yours -- B.F.”  In less polite language, Mr. B. F. Rinker and Taffy have stood me up.  You have probably already made arrangements for Saturday, but if you haven’t, could you possibly come up?  Please let me know -- telephone or something. .  . .                                                         
Monday, November 20, 1939
     Mother was up Friday, Ed Saturday and Sunday.  She said she is at her wit’s end trying to cope with Janeth’s moods.  I never thought the day would come that she would say that to me, of all people.                                                       
Boston, Mass.
Nov. 21, 1939
 Dearest Babs –
      Darling, I hope that you will forgive me for my failing to write until now.  The Packard has taken so much of my time that I haven’t had a moment.
WITH ED & THE PACKARD, SUMMER 1939
     I’ve been moaning to myself that with that cockeye of yours, you can read so fast I’ll have to write twice as much as it would take to satisfy any ordinary person.   The Packard is slowly rounding into shape.  If my schedule works out I’ll bring it up to Smith Saturday, but it will take forever and a day to get there at 25 miles per hour.  Can you wait that long??
   I wish you were at Wellesley so that I could stand guard at you door and shoot any foolish male who endeavors to see you.  Or maybe I shall put one of those inter-office television sets in your room so that I can check on you every once in awhile. Isn’t it too bad someone hasn’t invented a device for transmitting your kisses?
Smith College
Nov. 23, 1939
Dear Ed –
     I’ll have you know that you hurt my feelings with that snide remark about my cockeye.  You’re liable to make me so self-conscious I’ll go around with it half shut to disguise my infirmity -- and then do you know what will happen?  I’ll get hit by a truck, you say?  Well, that isn’t what I have in mind.  More likely some handsome young man will think I’m leering at him, fall madly in love with me, and carry me off to his castle.  It would serve you right. . . .  
Boston
Nov. 30, 1939
Dear “sister” –
     Well, you are once again within the environs of dear old Smith.  I want to thank you again for being the means of my having such a nice Thanksgiving.  I really had an enjoyable afternoon despite my sorrowful face.  I must be like those Saint Bernard dogs that look unhappy all the time.    
     Oh, Babs, I can’t keep this up.  Once again I appeal to you to reconsider.  Are there no impassioned words strong enough to make you see what I am trying to offer?  The possibility of losing you has me deeply worried. . . .
Smith College
Thanksgiving night, Nov. 30, 1939
 My dear Mr. Malley --
     I want to thank you for the pleasant twenty-four hours we spent together in our new brother-sister relationship.  At least I thought they were pleasant, but I’m not sure about you.  Your expression was so doleful, everyone must have guessed you were being deprived of your favorite dish.  Speaking of which, I assume you have written a thank-you note to Mother’s friend, as I suggested.  Wasn’t she a  kind and gracious hostess? 
     I am jealous of Mrs. Snyder.  You might write me a thank-you note once in awhile.  “For what?” you ask dolefully.  For the sweetest platonic kisses I ever bestowed on a suitor who threatened me with knock-out drops. . . .
Monday, December 4, 1939
     God, what a fool I am!  I’ve been trying to break up with Eddie, but he wouldn’t cooperate.  This weekend I hit on a plan that would enable me to wean myself away from him gradually.  I said that if we were to continue seeing each other, it must be on a platonic basis.    And now, even though it’s too soon to go into a panic, I’m so sure I’m caught that I can’t eat or sleep or concentrate on anything for more than five minutes. 
     Why, oh why did I give in? And if I had to give in, why was I so careless? I was the one who got carried away.   The entire course of my life could be changed by a few reckless moments.  
      Having to leave college after only one semester will be bad enough., but what will I tell the trusting people who gave me a scholarship?  And Mr. Rinker, with his faith in my future as a writer?  And Mother!  How will I face Mother?   What worries me most is the thought of Vaughan.  I could probably convince Mom that I wasn’t unhappy, but Vaughan would be harder to deceive.  She has worried all along that I would marry Ed; I have assured her again and again that I had no such intention.
     If I’m pregnant, I see only one choice: I’ll have to convince everyone, Ed included -- myself  included -- that I don’t mind leaving college to get married.  
Smith College            
December 11, 1939
     And a cheery good mornin’ to you, my darlin’!  How did you feel when you got up this morning?  Full of high spirits, I am sure -- raring to go (jump off a cliff, probably).      
     It seems kind of pointless to work on my source theme now.   I'm finding it hard to work on anything -- even to write letters.  What I’d like do would be to crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head and hibernate for the next nine months.  And I don’t want to see anyone until I come out. . . .
Boston
Dec. 13, 1939
     Without the confirmation of a medical expert, I hesitate to say that I fear you are slightly demented.  Don’t start worrying yet; it probably isn’t serious.  You certainly aren’t violent or dangerous -- I hope.  I promise you that I shall always take into consideration your irrational condition and treat you accordingly.  With a strong and firm hand, I’ll lead you along life’s stony path and protect you from the world’s erratic inhabitants who, though they are not as mad as you, are probably not as happy.  There, my little lunatic, does that make you feel better?
     As for myself, I almost hope that “worse comes to worst” and my life will become part of yours for always. Whatever you think, please do not feel that I blame you for making my life a “mess” or that I blame you for depriving me of my “liberty.”  It is only with you that I could ever be truly contented.
Saturday, December 16, 1939
     I still can’t believe I’m pregnant.  It can’t be that easy to have a baby.  Every ten minutes I go to the lavatory and look desperately for a tinge of pink.  Pink that will deepen to red.  Red for redemption.  My dorm mates must think I have the runs.                                                                         
Boston
Dec. 16, 1939 
Dear Babs -- 
     Boy, are you mad at me!  Whew!  After what your mother told you and the horn-blowing incident, I don’t blame you.  Your mother misunderstood me.  I didn’t mean to appear conceited when I said I thought you had just finished one of the most beautiful years of your life.  Please believe me when I say that I think your mother misinterpreted my remarks.  It is hard for me to explain them inasmuch as I do not remember just what words I used.  I do know that the three thoughts I tried to leave with your mother were: that your knowing me had not been entirely bad and unhappy for you; that in the last analysis all I was concerned with was your happiness; and finally, that if she were sure my knowing you was hurting you, I would accede to her wishes and stop seeing you.
     About blowing the horn there isn’t much I can say except that I hope you will try to understand.   When I drove by your house I saw the light on upstairs and my aching heart hoped that you might come to the window if you heard the horn.  In the Elysian days of yore you used to come to the window and smile at me when I passed.  I am truly sorry that I woke your Mother up.
     Tonight I left a note at your door but I really don’t expect that you’ll let me see you before the date you have ordained, New Year’s Eve.  I can only hope. When I drive by your house my heart seems to swell up within me until I fear it will burst.  I miss you so that I shall die before January first.  ow that you are home it seems sacrilegious to waste any of these precious moments when I might be with you. 
     Of course there is also the very real possibility that you may have a baby.  If so, I want to be near you when you realize it so that I may love, comfort and reassure you when you become scared or unhappy.
     Conclusion:  
     1.  I love you
     2.  I hope you have our baby.
     3.  You love me.  (I hope)
     4.  You must believe in me.
     5.  It's 2 a.m. and I'm tired.
     6. My business deal is progressing.
     7.  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
     8.  Think of me once in a while.
     9.  All of my love is for you darling. 
    10.   Forever and always.
Thursday, December 21, 1939
     Yesterday afternoon I answered the phone.
     “Hello, may I speak to the elder Miss Beyer?”
     “This is Miss Beyer, Mr. Black.”
     “Oh - - that’s too bad.  Well, are you busy Friday or Saturday?”
     “I’m free Friday.”
     “I’ll pick you up at five o’clock.  Don’t dress up.  Goodbye.”
Saturday, December 23, 1939
     Bob and I had dinner at the Oyster House.  He confused me terribly with his new attitude.  The last time I was with him, he hardly looked at me the entire evening and acted generally bored.  Now, however, he looked at me frequently.
     Then he pulled out of his jacket pocket an unopened letter I wrote him two months ago and proceeded to read it, much to my discomfort.
     “There are some good thoughts there,” he said. “Is this the real you?  Why don’t you talk as well as you write?”
     “I can’t talk that way.  It would sound strange.”  (Why didn’t I say, “I’d have to consult my Roget’s Thesaurus every five minutes.”)
     We went to a joint called The Paradise, where I had one drink and Bob had several.  (This time I made him sit beside me so he couldn’t look at me, but the proximity was almost as disturbing as his stare.)
     At 11:30 we went to the burlesque at the Old Howard.  I had always longed to go at least once, but Ed, as well as I knew him, refused to take me.  The show wasn’t so terrible -- a lot of half-naked women, a few strip-teases, some comedians.  The dialogue was shocking, but I laughed whenever Bob did.
     We left at about one and spent an hour or so just driving slowly around the city.  Finally he brought the car to a stop in an old square and asked me what I wanted do.   I shrugged my shoulders, and another staring contest took place.  He won again.
     “I don’t stand a chance!” I said, with a double meaning.
     “You can’t win,” he smiled.  After a pause he said, “I wonder how things will work out with us in the future.  It looks pretty futile, doesn’t it?”
     Hardly realizing what I was saying, I groaned, “It’s hopeless!”
     ”Why?” Bob asked.
     “I’m sorry.  I hadn’t meant to talk about this.  But it wouldn’t make any difference to you, anyway.”
     “It might make a lot.”
     He spent the next hour trying to get me to divulge my secret.
     “Please, Bob, I wanted to forget about it while I had my final fling.”
     “Perhaps I could help you.”
     “You’re the last person who could help me!”
     “I guess that puts me in my place.”
     “I didn’t mean it that way.   Anyway, I think you’re looking at all this from a professional standpoint -- sort of like a doctor, impersonally studying an interesting case.”
     “You think there’s nothing personal in my interest?  What can I do to show you you’re wrong?  Do you want me to kiss you?  I will.”      
     I trembled and tried to make a joke of this last offer.  “Not right now.”  (He was driving again.)
     I was sure he must have an idea of what my trouble was -- even in my wretchedness I couldn’t help feeling a certain joy that Bob seemed to care for me a little.  As for me, I fell more and more in love with him every minute.  Finally, in utter misery, I put my head in my hands.
     :”I hope you’re just tired, Barbara.”
     After awhile I lifted my head.  Bob examined my face.  “Are you all right?”
     “Yes.”
     “Have you got guts?”
     “I have to have guts for this.”
     “Why don’t you tell me?  You have nothing to lose.”
     “I question that.  Besides, I have nothing to gain by telling you.  You’d probably say `So what.’”
     “You’re a pessimist, aren’t you.  Why don’t you gamble?”
     “Because even if you -- even if I had nothing to be pessimistic about, my secret itself would make the gamble pointless.”
     Toward 4 o’clock, I asked Bob to take me home.  When we were nearly there he said, “I wish I were cynic enough to believe this was all just a very neat little trick.”
     “If only it were!”
     We pulled up in front of the house.  “Do you want to see me again?”
     I nodded, unable to trust my voice.
     “How do we part -- friends?”
     “Yes.”
      Bob said he thought that what I had to tell him would make a change for the better in our relationship.  I was closer to him last night than I have ever been since I got that crush when I was fifteen.  I didn’t dream he would ever reciprocate.
Later
      I just saw Ed at Taffy’s house.  He walked in, nodded to me, and began talking to Taffy about Christmas shopping. 
     When we were alone, I waited for him to tell me what his plans were.  He just sat there and whistled off-key.  Finally I said, “Are you going to marry me or not?”
     “Well, of course I’m going to marry you.. . .“but tell me, do you have any love for me at all?”
     “I don’t feel much at the moment.  I’m terribly disappointed in you.  It seems to me you are behaving in a very selfish manner, worrying about yourself when you should be thinking of me.”
     “I’m not selfish -- I said I’d marry you.”
     [This conversation gets worse.  It’s hard to keep from ripping out these shameful pages.  I perceive everything so differently now.  I think I was half insane with worry about my pregnancy, the too-late discovery that Bob Black seemed to be interested in me . . . and dear, loving Ed was caught in the middle, totally unappreciated. BBM 1980]
[A later marginal note dated 2-22-98: Ed called me from Florida today.  I told him I was once again reading my diaries and was once again horrified by the way I had treated him.  “Ed, I was just awful!”  He gallantly said I was not, I was sweet and lovable.  “No, I was awful, and I’m so sorry.  I’ll tell you this, I wouldn’t have missed our years together for the world.  We had such wonderful times -- the boating, the flying, our kids, our weekend getaways --”
     “I feel the same way, more than I can say.”
     Dear ex-hubby, I do love him so much and am grateful for the memories.]                                                                             
Tuesday, December 26   
       “Hello -- Miss Barbara?  Would you still care to go to the theater with me this evening?”
       “I’d love to -- yes.”  (Chuckle on the other end of the line.)
        "I'm not going to take you out to dinner."
      “That’s all right.  I’m having dinner now.”
      “And we’re sitting in the fourth balcony.”   
      “All right.” (Stupid! I should have laughed and said, “I’ll bring my parachute.”) 
       We saw “Mamba’s Daughters,” but Bob was unable to wring any intelligent criticism from me.  After the show, knowing he wanted to get back to the subject of our last conversation, I wracked my brains trying to think of a way to stall for time.  However, the astute Mr. Black saw through my suggestions.
     “We’ll do anything you like now, but before the evening is over, we’re going to talk. I want to get this thing settled tonight.”
     Finally I directed him to the privacy of our island lot on the Charles River.
     “Now, shall I kiss you first or hear your tale of woe first?  I may kiss you later, anyway.”
     “Then there’s a chance I’ll collect two kisses if you kiss me now?” 
     “Yes.”
     We sat silently looking at each other for a long time.
     At last -- ”I don’t think I’d better, Bob.”
     “What are you trying do -- torture me?”
     Torture him?  Surely there wasn’t a sweeter word in the English language.  My heart reeled between anguish and joy -- anguish at my impending loss, joy that the lost one would give a damn.    
 [2-22-98 What would have happened if Bob had shown this degree of interest a few months -- even one month earlier?  Would I have been motivated to break up with Ed for good?  Would he have let me?  And why am I asking these questions fifty-nine years later?  Everything had to happen exactly as it did or I’d have missed out on four great children, an exciting marriage, an unusual divorce, and Jack, my droll, cuddly lover who kept me laughing for ten years.]

     “You know, I’ve actually liked you the past hour.  That hot dog must have done something for you.  Well, am I going to kiss you?”
     “I’m waiting.”
     He pulled me to him and kissed me.  I buried my head on his shoulder and he caressed my hair.
    At last I got it out.  “September first -- I was married.”
[Everyone over fifty knows this was the kind of subterfuge families resorted to in those prudish times.  A few decades later a pregnant college student could continue to attend classes, have her baby, and go on to graduate, her head held high.] 
     Bob was sitting very still, looking at me.
     “Isn’t that what you expected?”
     “Not exactly.  I didn’t think you were married.”
     “It was a mistake.  And now I find -- I’m going to have a baby.  Bob, I can stand almost anything myself, but how am I going to face my mother?”
     “It always comes down to that, doesn’t it?  Well, I think you’re a very brave girl.”
     “I’m not -- I’m scared to death.”
     “You have guts.  I’ve always liked you, though you probably wouldn’t have guessed it from the way I acted -- but now I like you even more and respect you besides.  I want to be your friend.”
     “How can you?  I won’t be able to see you again,”
     “I’ll stay in the background -- write letters to remind you there is someone who esteems you, someone who thinks you are a fine person.”
     “That will be nice,” I smiled wryly, thinking to myself how much more I wanted than his friendship.  His interest in me had surfaced just one month too late.
[July 1988   I recently quoted this last observation to Kathie, while reminiscing about Bob.  She looked at me and raised her eyebrows.  I raised mine back at her and we both laughed.  What a lottery life is!  I had considered trying to find an abortionist, but Ed was violently opposed (“You can’t do it!  You could lose not only the baby but your life!”). I gave up the idea—thank God or whomever.      
    After Bob left me at my house, I found a little box stuck to the door.  In it was the Smith pin I had given Ed.   Too bad I can’t give him back his baby as easily.
                            Except the heaven had come so near,
                            So seemed to choose my door,
                            The distance would not haunt me so;
                             I had not hoped before.
                            
                             But just to hear the grace depart
                             I never thought to see,
                             Afflicts me with a double loss;
                             ‘Tis lost, and lost to me.
                Emily Dickinson

MOTHER, HAVE YOU BEEN READING MY DIARY? (2)

Wednesday, December 27, 1939
       When I walked into my room tonight, I found Mother crouched down by my suitcases, my clothes strewn all around the floor.  Her face was wild, like a trapped animal’s.
     “Where’s your diary?” I’m looking for your diary! Your father has told me -- you’re in trouble!”
     She held up a paper on which she had been writing words supposedly coming from a supernatural source.  “Bar - Barbara  - trou - trouble, trouble, trouble - see, help - Edw - Edward - diary.”
     “Mother, have you been reading my diary?”  (After my father died, Mother would come home from séances, excited about spiritualists who helped her contact him, but this sounded fishy.)
     “No, I got this message from your father.  I suddenly woke up and started writing.”
     “If my father had anything do with this, he would have let me tell you in my own good time, when I was ready.”
     Finally Mother admitted she had overheard a conversation with Ed and had concocted this plan as a way of talking to me.  “I didn’t want to hurt you.” 
     Somehow I felt better that she knew the truth.  With her, at least, I could be honest about my feelings for Bob Black.
     “My biggest worry has been how this would affect you.”
     “I could be happy just to feel that I was wanted and needed.”   
      I told her Ed and I would be married in New Hampshire on Monday.
Poem clipped from a magazine and left on my desk:
     Words for a Daughter
Though you have shut me out, your eyes
Betray some wound your speech denies.
You need not fear, 
I shall remain outside    
That baffled look of pain
I shall not see, for I must learn
To mask my pity and concern.
And I am proud that you have shown
Courage to face your world alone.    

Only remember this: when there
Are times when you have need to share
Your problems, I shall always be
Waiting for you to come to me ‑
Eager to help you on your way,
Or blunt the sharp edge of dismay.
Your need of me, if you but knew
Is nothing to my need of you!     
Monday, January 1, 1940
      Today, New Life Day, Ed and I drove to Hampton, New Hampshire, “the marrying town.”  My wedding finery was a plaid skirt and jacket, scuffed white moccasins, and socks (with a hole in the heel).  I didn’t have a ring yet, but the Justice of the Peace declared us man and wife nevertheless.  We decided to pick one out tomorrow and then go to a hotel in Northampton for our wedding night.
     Ed dropped me off at my house.  Oh, how I dreaded facing Vaughan. She had just come back from a weekend baby sitting job and had no idea what I’d been up to during her absence.  I begged Mother to break the news before I came home. 
     “Where’s Vaughan?” I asked.  “How did she take it?”
     “I think she went up to her room to recover,” said Mother.  Then she described what had happened.
     “Can you stand a shock, Vaughan?”
     “Sure.  Are you married?”
     “Oh, no.  Sit down.  Barbara’s married.”
     No!” Vaughan screamed.  “She isn’t!  She isn’t!”
     “She was married last September to Ed.” 
     “I don’t believe it!  How could Babbie do this to us!   Oh, I hate that Ed -- he has ruined my Babbie’s life!  I’ll kill him!”    
     I raced up to Vaughan’s room, my mind a blank except for wondering if she’d be able to forgive me.  Her arms reached out to me.  She hugged me and we both cried, and she promised me she’d always love me no matter what I did.  “Anyone can make a mistake,” she said, “but I did so hope you wouldn’t make this one.”
     Then she told me that old Nanny over in Arlington has been predicting this marriage in the cards for a long time.
     “Barbara is either married or she’s going to be.”
     Vaughan said she laughed.  “Oh no, that isn’t possible.  Babbie’s going to college.”
 Wednesday, January 3, 1940
     I took the subway and met Ed in Boston yesterday afternoon.  Together we picked out a wedding ring at Long's with ten little diamonds for $25.00.  When I slipped it on my finger I felt really married for the first time.  My dorm mates won’t believe their eyes.
     Our delayed but very exclusive wedding reception took place at Nick’s Bar and Grille in Springfield. We toasted each other with beer (“Here’s to hope,” said Ed), then feasted on meatballs and spaghetti.  Or rather I feasted.  He said he wasn’t hungry.  It was a waste of 60 cents, but I didn’t want to start married life by nagging him.  We drove around until we found a hotel not far from Smith.  Ed signed his name on the register and pushed it back to the clerk.
     "The missus, too," the clerk said, turning the register around again.
     “Huh?” said Ed.
     "Sign my name," I prompted.
     "Oh."  After much thought, Ed put "Mr. and Mrs." before his name.
     "I guess he's used to traveling alone," the clerk said with a grin, handing Ed the key.
     You'd think my husband had never seen or touched me before, the way he acted in our room.  He stuttered and bumped into chairs like an awkward schoolboy.  As for me, I was miserable but tried not to show it.  I was dismayed by even so trivial a thing as Ed's pajamas hanging droopily on the bathroom door.  Is this what my future holds ‑‑ droopy, unromantic pajamas?  Well, there’s no turning back, I made this trap myself.  Now I've got to sleep in it. 
     College life resumed this morning.  I gave Mrs. Scales the same trumped-up story that I’d been married since September, and she said I could stay on until the end of the semester.  She wants my marriage made public, however, as the college dislikes secrets.  I shall be famous (infamous?) from now on.
Later:
     I am notorious!  I guess everyone in college has heard about my marriage.  As soon as anyone sees my ring, she exclaims -- “Are you the freshman who’s been married all this time?”
     “You certainly had us fooled,” my dorm mates said.  “You must have had fun kidding us along.  Now we know why you were so peculiar.”
     Peculiar??  “What do you mean?”
     “You always seemed apart from everybody, sort of in a world of your own.”
Smith Colllege
Jan. 3, 1940
Dearest Mother –
     I told Mrs. Scales the news this morning.   She was distressed that I had “kept you in the dark” about my marriage and hoped I appreciated what a kind and understanding mother I had.   She said she was glad I had married Sept. 1st because the college wouldn’t feel so responsible. . . .

Boston     
Jan. 4, 1940
Dearest Babs –
      As yet I haven’t done much about finding an apartment for us, but by the time I write again I shall have some information.  Hooray for that Paradise for Two, where the score is two down and three to go -- a peripatetic madhouse where love, laughter and tempestuous temperaments should keep the air blue with action.  Our motto will always be “Never a dull moment!”
     I can’t even begin to be humorous; there is too much love and yearning in my heart.
Smith College
Thursday night, Jan. 4, 1940
Dearest –
     You can address your letters to Mrs. Edward W. Malley, Jr. now.  In one short day I have become the sensation of the campus.  Some of my friends ask the most personal questions!  They look on me as a woman of experience and want to know first-hand what it’s all about.
     My psych. lab teacher heard the girls wishing me happiness, so before calling the role, she asked to be informed of any changes in names.  From now on she will call me Mrs. Malley.
     Oh Ed, I love my ring!  Everyone thinks I’m so lucky to have such a beautiful ring and such a handsome husband.  Of course I agree with them.
January 7, 1940
Smith College
(to Mother)                                                                                                     
     I don’t understand some of the things you say in your letters.  For example, “You disappointed me terribly by marrying Ed and giving up college.”  Well, in the first place, you -- and you alone -- know why I married Ed -- and when.
     It makes me miserable when you say that your heart bleeds inwardly all the time. The gossip I can bear, but the thought that I have made you unhappy is unendurable.
     I wish you would let me go on being your bright hope, dear Mother.   There are so many things I’d like to do for you, and if you’ll only have faith in me, I’ll come through.   Please tell me you still believe in me, and half my battle will be won.
Boston
January 7, 1940
     Well, your spouse has had a busy two days endeavoring to find some sort of domicile for his lovely bride.   After all this investigation, study, and searching, he is as far at sea as ever.
     The first problem is that of money.  If we are to follow the theory that the rent for a month should never exceed one week's pay, then we are definitely limited as to the places we can get.   Thirty dollars is just enough to hire a good sized closet.  I suppose the solution is to keep searching until we find a place we like at a price we can pay.  It is certain, however, that we can't afford more than thirty dollars per month.
     Next we are confronted with the problem of where to live.   One school maintains that the only place worthwhile is the city itself.  The advantages of an in town apartment are handiness to the stores, theaters, doctors, my office at North Terminal, etc.  The disadvantages are lack of a place to leave the car, and the dirt and stuffiness of the city.  Of the latter I can speak from experience.  Even out here in Dad's apartment on Park Drive, the dirt and heat of summer are almost unbearable.
     There are those, on the other hand, who hold that the suburbs are the only place in the world.  From a physical point of view, they are a lot more pleasant.  Marion Marsh would like to see us settle in Quincy because she feels that there would be a more active life for you there.  She believes you would enjoy such things as the Junior Women's Club, afternoon tea, bridge, etc.  As far as I am concerned, Quincy's advantages are mainly that it is near the ocean and the Yacht Club and would for that reason be pleasant in the summer ‑‑ but very far from the city.
     For myself, I don't care where we are.  I don't like the lousy drive back and forth from the suburbs and I hate the miserable, filthy heat of summer in an in-town apartment.  All I want is to see you happy.
     You may be interested in what progress I have made.  All I can say is none.  Every place that I've seen I wouldn't let a dead hen live in.  If I do run into anything interesting I'll tell you about it.
     With any kind of luck, I think that we'll have fun.  You might even get to like married life.  Here is what I think is the ideal sleeping setup for married people.  It has all the advantages and none of the disadvantages of a double bed.  Please try to like it.  You and I both dislike sleeping with someone else.  The bodily contact and the shifting of the other person are annoying to us.  Yet there are obvious disadvantages to twin beds.  This young married couple I know had the same difficulties and settled them this way:
     The beds are the conventional twin beds.  Each is made up separately.  Both are, however, placed side by side so closely that they touch.  Under such an arrangement each person has his own single bed and can toss and turn without fear of bothering the other person.  If either has a bad dream or for some equally frivolous reason wishes to be near his beloved, all he needs to do is rub the magic lamp, murmur the mystic word "Darling," give a little roll and toss _____then, behold,  all is solved.  What do you think?  
Ed (the deliriously happy hubby)
                                            Beware
                                           There is never any telling
                   Where the danger lies
                   To the problem known as Women
                   No one rule applies.

                   Whether they be blonde or redhead
                                           Brunette, short or tall,
                   Baby‑faced or siren‑visaged‑‑
                               Brother, watch them all.

                   Compromise and you will rue it,
                                           Fly and they'll pursue;
                   Drop your guard one instant
                                           And they will marry you.
                                                                                     So there, Beyer.
Smith College
January 8, 1940
    How about taking a week off and spending it with a very bored Mrs. Edward Malley, Jr.  Everyone is having reading periods or studying for exams or worrying about them except your just naturally brilliant (and brilliantly pregnant) wife.
         Ed, do you realize we don't have a thing to start out with?  Every time I mentally plan a meal, I realize how many things we need -- pans, bowls, meat choppers, knives, etc.  We'll have to take a trip to Woolworth's before I can boil an egg for you.
Boston
January 8, 1940
     Vannie has written that I should be the happiest fellow in the world but he can’t see that my happiness is measured by your happiness and likewise my sorrow measured by your sorrow.   I can’t help but feel that deep down in your heart you are far from happy.  Oh, my darling, what can I do?  Even now I miss you so terribly that my words and thoughts are chaotic and meaningless. 
     Only this do I know:  that if anything should ever happen to that promise we made last Monday, I should surely die.  You may laugh at this as melodrama but don’t, because it is bitterly true.   Whether we make a go of marriage or not; whether we love or fight, whether we cry or laugh -- as long as I am, there will be my love for you.  You no doubt can guess I’m even a little jealous of our baby if it has all your love.  Couldn’t you find just a little for me?
     This is very incoherent and mixed up but I hope that even though you may not care for me, somehow my love will help you when you are sick, scared or unhappy.
                                                                     All of my love,Ed, who would be not only the happiest man in the world but the happiest man of all time if you would smile and say you were glad.  Remember?  “And the Angels Sing” . . . “Deep in a Dream” . . . “I Get Along Without You Very Well” . . . “Over the Rainbow” . . . “Dance of the Polevetski Maidens” . . .
Monday nite
     I spent most of today looking for apartments and finally after going through about a thousand that were lousy, I found a swell one.  I don't know just what to do now.  I hate to take it without you seeing it and yet I'm afraid someone else may take it.  Do you suppose you could come home this weekend?  I could have a couple of prospects lined up for you.  I'd even make the round trip to Smith.

Smith College
January 9, 1940
     No!  No!  NO!!  I don't want to be way out in Quincy all by myself -- separated from my family and friends.  I don't give a damn about bridge and afternoon tea.  Why would I want to waste precious hours that way? I want to read, listen to the Esplanade concerts, explore Boston -- if you plant me out in a suburb I'll wither up and die!
     Suburbs are out then.  If we could only get a place near the library or near the clinic -- but in town, at any rate.  As for your sleeping idea, that doesn't appeal to me either.  Deep down, I still have a longing for separate rooms.  I know our finances make that impossible but someday -- oh Ed, I wish I could make you see how I feel.  When we stayed at the hotel that night, a sense of what married life would be like made me very unhappy.  It was all so matter of fact, not a bit like the excitement of pursuit that we used to have.  The romance had gone.  With separate rooms, however, the husband must continue to court his wife instead of taking everything for granted.  Thus, they are more like lovers than a married couple.  But I suppose you'd get tired of making the same old overtures.  I'd never get tired of having them made to me, though.
     It's no use my making an issue of this.  For financial reasons, you will have things the way you want them, your meals served in bed, so to speak.  Someday, if it isn't too late, if I haven't grown callous, perhaps my way will work.
     Do you know how you addressed your letter to me?  "Miss Barbara (Malley) Beyer."  Emily Post has banished people to Siberia for less.
               He pursued her and pursued her,              
With impassioned words he wooed her,
                          Till at last she was unable to resist. 
           Now they're married ‑‑ is he grateful?
               No, he's positively hateful!
    "What a prize you caught!" he ever does insist.

                                                                             Yah, yah, Malley!
Boston
January 10, 1940    
     You leave me sick at heart.  It seems as though always you misunderstand.  Please try to understand that I don't care where we live.  All that I'm interested in is seeing you happy.   If you want to be in the city, then that is where we shall go.   We'll discuss it when I see you Sunday -- especially the apartment I mentioned in my previous letters.
     So you think I take you as a matter of course!  If you will forget yourself for five minutes and stop to think, you may realize that in my desperate pursuit of you, I've tried to eliminate your sex.  Do you suppose I was unconcerned that night in Springfield?  Christ, I was nearly crazy trying to think of the right way to act.  I didn't dare be too aggressive for fear that you might not want me to come near you.  I was only trying to let things work themselves out.
     I assure you that I realize my chase after you is far from finished.  Even though we are married you are still far from won.  My whole philosophy toward you has changed.  My whole being wants to be tender, gentle and sweet to you.  Feeling thus, it is hard to pursue you in an active, physical manner.  If you wanted me to, I'd chase you with a club across the room, behind the chair, over the bureau, and rape you under the bed.  That’s what my instinct wants me to do but my love which is stronger almost kills all sex within me.
     Really, Babs, I love you most when you are coy but damn it, woman, if you won't run I can't pursue.  I'm not tired of making "the same old overtures" but I do like to have you surrender in terms of "mmm, mm, I want you."  Forget that we're married and I promise you I shall.
     To conclude the subject, I don't want any meals of any kind served in bed.  Grrrr.  Oh yes, and no more unnecessary lessons in social usage.  I felt a little embarrassed about sending a letter to Mrs. Edward W. Malley, Jr., yet I couldn't resist getting a Malley in somewhere.  I laughed as I did, knowing that you'd pick me up on it.
     Come on, sweet, fight for happiness.  All I do is because I love you.  I haven't caught you yet but I'm going to. 
                  He loved her and he loved her
                         With impassioned heart he sought her,
            Until at last he caught her in his grasp.
                         Now they're married‑‑is he grateful?
                  No, he's positively woeful!
        For "Pursue me still" she evermore does gasp.

Wednesday night
Dearest Babs,
     This letter is written as of January 1, 1950.  In it is my heart, my love, and my hopes.  Whether or not they reach the fulfillment they seek, only frivolous Fate can tell.  All that I can do is hope that when 1950 comes, I shall have the ultimate joy of taking you into my arms, saying “My darling, I love you,” and having you kiss me.  And so to you I write: (To be read when you have leisure.) January 1, 1950
My darling wife,    
     I want first to take you back to when we were married.  At that time I was so passionately in love with you that life was just a crazy dream.  There was omnipresent in my conscious subconscious a vital throbbing force which could be designated only as “awareness” of you.  It was like a dull, bitter toothache that lingers painfully in the back of one’s head -- indefinable but painful.  The thing that I can remember most clearly was my desperate hope that somehow I could engender in you the same feeling toward our relationship that I myself had.  Always it seemed as though I were welcoming and seeking love while you were fighting to keep yourself from it.  When I saw or felt you thus fighting, I would fear lest you would build up within you a barrier over which my love could not climb. 
       With all your shattered hopes of college, the pain of parental resistance, the pressure of poverty, lost dreams of freedom, the fear of responsibility and the worry of having a baby -- my darling, my sweet how could you love me, the one who had brought all this terrible burden down on your young shoulders.  I feared that what could be for me the beginning of life, could too easily be for you the end.   My heart and head chased each other in a monstrous whirl of love, worry, fantastic ideas and always the never quite lost beautiful dreams born of hope.     
       If only I could have reached into the citadel of your breast and torn out your scared, young heart and then breathed into it part of the great love I had.  Talk about blowing hot and cold with the same breath; my fears and hopes, grief and happiness, tears and laughter all followed each other in such kaleidoscopic rapidity that they became a mashed, mixed Gargantuan hash of wondering what would come next.  In fact, I’m quite sure that I had a bad case of emotional indigestion!
     Maybe you have wondered just how I tried to remedy all this.  Nothing that was very successful, I fear.  I would get the most awful frustrated feeling because whatever I tried to do to help matters would, through misunderstanding, become a boomerang and knock me silly.  That terrible lost night in Springfield, I wanted to be gentle and thoughtful as I feared you might not want me.  As a result I seemed complacent and matter-of-fact to you.  Darling, I was trembling inside.  Now that night is gone and the happiness which it should have held for us has slipped away.
     It seems to me now as though I must have been like a lowly, earthbound mortal striving to capture an elusive white dove with only the aid of a step ladder.  Really, the dove can’t be caught.  The only way for the man to have her is for her to fly to him.  And she will fly to him only when she feels that she will be safe and happy in his hands. 
     Now that ten years have passed since that cold but happy day when we were married, I love you as much as I did then --  more if it is possible.  This letter has been addressed to “my darling wife.”  Maybe through the years things haven’t worked out for us and we are not still together.  Even in that case, I still call you “my darling wife,” for you are the only wife my heart shall ever know.  If we are apart, if words and events are past that can never be taken back, even if I have denied it, I still love you.  Nothing can ever change that.  I do of course hope, however, that we are still together, living the full, happy life that we both deserve.  Maybe our love of music, literature, life and our children has knit for us a bond that makes a life with each other the only one imaginable.
     For all the laughter and fun, for all the arguments and squabbles, for all these years with you, my dear, I say “Thank you.” Isn’t it a delight to realize how many years we still have ahead of us?  Just think, we’ve hardly begun to live yet.  We have a home, a family, each other -- and I’m only thirty-four and you a flapperish twenty-eight.  ‘Tis indeed wonderful.
     And, my dove, what do you think of your children? Kathie is nine and already beginning to show the brains and willowy beauty of her mother.  Edward is quite a problem, however.  I’m in hopes that when he is seventeen instead of seven, he will begin to be less rambunctious.  I’m sure that he will make us proud of him, but he never will be a Phi Beta Kappa, that’s sure.  Dick at five is a darling and no doubt will someday be his Mother’s pride and joy.  The baby, naturally, is my pet.  She is such a joyous little cherub that my heart flows out to her.  I don’t know why but when I see her I love you more and when I see you I love her more.  It seems as though she is somehow the ultimate manifestation of my love through the years for you.  Sure, and it’s a fine family I’ve got.  Somewhat of a madhouse at times, it is nevertheless the consummation of all the dreams that a man ever had. 
     In all things, through all the years, you have been the guiding star, your love and understanding that making our life what it is.  So on your tenth anniversary, I salute you.  Congratulations!
All my love forever,
Ed XOX
     Please save this and remember to read it again on our tenth anniversary.