Saturday, November 14, 2009
A Letter in Pencil
Ernest's last letter was a whopper, huh? I have so many questions. How was he rude to her when he felt "bunk"? (I love that word.) What is this about my great-grandmother considering the convent? We are obviously not related. She couldn't have been seriously considering it. She was engaged and flirting with another man!
What the heck is a fourflusher? Wait. I'm going to Google it. Be right back.
Okay, I'm back. Thank you, Wikipedia: A four flush is a poker hand that is one card short of being a full flush; a four flusher is a person who makes empty boasts or bluffs when holding a four flush.
I learn something new every day.
I wonder why Ernest has decided to quit going to church, and why the heck he doesn't drink. Surely he'll start now that he has given up organized religion.
Another new favorite word: "aviatrixey." An aviatrix is a female aviator, but he added an 'ey', which makes it sound like she would be his arm candy while he struts around in his flight gear.
He refers to a place called 'B,' but I'm unclear where that is.
The way he talks about being bothered by the guy next to him is funny; Ernest sounds younger than his 30 years by 2009 standards. That's one of the things I find so fascinating about 1918 language: It has an undertone of youth and innocence you don't find these days in adults.
Last, what a great phrase "the movie people" is as well. It makes film appear so "newfangled" and "mysterious," which it was.
Now if Ernest could quit beating himself up over Mamie, but alas, there's much more.
Aero Squadron A
September 25, 1918
Out in the field.
Not on a pink scented note paper, but on an empty stomach. Almost time to go to mess. Wish it was dinner with you. Was some busy this am. Motor’s on the blink all around.
Gee girl! I feel that I was mean to you Sunday. Dear sweet girl I just want to kiss and make up. Forgive me? I’ve asked you that lots of times already, but I guess I’m the big enough dickens to have to ask you dozens of times yet. Such is romance, huh!
But girl of girls, you did torment me toooo and everything. But I wouldn’t have missed being with you Sunday for anything.
Hope you are feeling scrumptious whatever that is. And will please please pretty please write when you can and I do want to see you Sun. M-may I?
Well here comes the circus and one ship missing, so bye dear. May have time to write a line later and may not. Wish the ship came down near there instead of anywhere over here. Bye! E.D.
Some ride bumpy, went over rough road. Yes the highways are rough sometimes.
P.S. Just need your dandy letter. I write too this week. Will have to mail this immediately with lots of love. E.D.
So they saw each other, but he's begging to see her again and begging for a letter, and just generally begging. I don't remember the last time a guy begged me for anything. It's somewhat sweet and somewhat annoying. Don't you think? What is this about him being mean to her again? However, as he mentions, and as you'll see, she does torment him. Here's a letter from her on the same day:
September 25, 1918
My dear Ernest,
I’ve got 20 minutes before I go on duty at 5:00. The thing to do is I’ll just scribble a line to you.
Hope you will excuse the pencil dear. I left my pen at home.
How are you getting along dear? I expected a letter from you today and went to the post office especially for one—and didn’t get it. I was disappointed.
Dear when you come over next time, (Sunday), I’m not going to let my emotions get the best of me like I did Sunday. It’s my fault dear. I have no business sharing so much that I care for you. I’m going to love you just the same as ever, but it won’t show so much in my actions – if I can help it. Perhaps it will be easier for you then.
I haven’t heard from Clarence yet. It has been an awful long time but …
Today has been a hard day for me – as was yesterday. Had go for dinner each day between 12:00 and 1:15. I didn’t know whether I was living or dead. Both I guess. I’m thinking seriously of quitting but I want to have another job first. I want to talk to you about – something too. Something you spoke about Sunday, dear. I won’t go farther. I am quite tired tonight. But if you were to be here, I wouldn’t be tired at all.
I’ve just been playing this music box – the song you played Sunday. I hope to lose you and it makes me feel sad dear Ernest boy.
Well, it’s 5:10 so I guess I can’t say much more. That (bad girl) I told you about Sun. night just went by and looked in for me and [unclear word] comes her victim, the barber. He’s trying to draw me in too since “B” (the girl) told him a lot. I went to SD with her. I hate him dear. I wish I wish I wish I could be near you. If I could only go to Riverside – away from all these people!
Dear, I know I promised you I’d quit and I will, but I may be there Sunday so call in here when you come over and I’ll try to get the machine and we can have a good time. (I’ll tell the folks this time dear. No mischief. Ha ha ha.) Well, bye-bye dear, with love.
(Come as early as you can.)
Okay, let me get all this straight: First she apologizes for using a pencil. Who does that? Nowadays, people barely use pens!
Second, Sunday's meeting must have been hot! She let her emotions get the best of her. I wonder what that means? I bet there was some smooching going on. In the next breath, she mentions Clarence, just as a reminder to poor Ernest that he's not the only one wooing her. And so begins her awful teasing. This letter is full of mixed signals. She hopes to let him go, but she also wants him to come over again. Make up your mind, lady. Stop toying with the poor man. Last time he came over, the parents weren't involved and there was "mischief," but not next time because she's a good girl, and because it will help HIM if she doesn't succumb to her feelings. Sure...
I'm really confused about the bad girl and the barber, but that story is clearly not applicable to our saga, just intriguing.
The Grammar Nazi