Thursday, January 28, 2010

Clarence Comes Home

Photo: My great-grandfather and his plane.

January 24, 1919

My darling Ernest:

Yes, he came today noon. And he knows something is wrong and begs me to tell him, but I wish to wait a few days until he is sort of settled. But it has spoiled his homecoming, as he noticed it right away. I was in bed and he called up, and I talked to him after Zella had, and I told him I’d send Pa after him. But I dressed and went myself and found him at Candy Land and he came and got in and said “Hello!” and flung a kiss at me and off we started. Neither of us talked all the way down, only a few words, how he came when discharged, etc. Well, there was no more love in our talk or actions than two sticks. I was really hurt because he didn’t take me in his arms and love me a little bit. Ha ha!

I haven’t told you all that makes me sick, dear, for the sake of our not being too familiar yet, but you can guess what it is. My regular sickness you know. Well “C” guessed it right away and asked when I would be well again because he wanted me – you know.

I said, “What if I refuse, Clarence?”
He said, “I will anyway.”

But he wouldn’t do that I’m sure. Because I shall say no! I shall be clean for you! You don’t want a dirty wife, do you? And please dear, every time you write, please ask me to keep clean. It will help me much! Oh so much! To have you back me up.

He hasn’t said a word about getting married or loving me not, and believe me, I haven’t either. He is going to work next week in the Riverside Cannery as a boss. So maybe you’ll see him. Ha! ha! Gee! If I live in Riverside with you, I’ll still be near him. I’ll go to work in the cannery. Ha! Ha! Poor fellow. I’d like to be able to comfort him afterward. But it is all so much easier for me this way.

We went down home, and the folks greeted him heartily and he was very happy, etc. I was awfully sad to see him, but it’s all wrong. So then I took him home and his folks were beside themselves with glee, and we went to town and back and I stayed for supper and Mrs. L said I was getting the flu, and for me to go home to bed and stay there, but she insisted on my staying for supper. So I did.

Before supper “C” asked me what had happened to me to make me feel sad, and I said I couldn’t tell him now, and I would have to tell him later, but I couldn’t right now. So he said he’d try to be happy for my sake, but he was very anxious to know my troubles and to help me if he could. Can he, dear Ernest? Yes, by giving me up!

So he kissed me goodnight (not a long sweet kiss like yours, dear, just a short one – no feeling in it), and oh how I longed for you! I wanted your arms around me and your lips oh so tenderly in a long sweet embrace full of pure love. Dear!!!

I do care a great deal for him yet, and it’s mighty good to have him here again. We act like just old friends more than sweethearts. He sure looks grand with all his trimmings and little cap, and he sure is a handsome fellow too. He weighs 192 pounds, gained seven pounds since he left France. Brought several souvenirs [?] hats, bullets, etc.

But my true love lies buried away in an aviator’s heart in Riverside.

We saw Bess today. She gave me a wink when “C” wasn’t looking, shook her head, and I did also and gritted my teeth. She guesses about the whole affair. Just so no one spills the beans before I do. His momma and he will go to an all-day meeting tomorrow, so I will be alone ‘til night. Oh if only I could spend the day with you! Oh my Ernest love!

Thurs. Eve. – at home
My own dear Ernest, just a note tonight to let you know I am not well. I sure feel rotten tonight. Worry I guess. I have been half crazy since you left. I am sick physically as well as mentally. My stomach is all out of order, and my head aches so, and my throat is getting so sore and swelled, and I am just sick. I’m getting so I can’t eat, only just a tiny bit. I get so hungry I just tremble like I did last Sunday noon. It’s awful. And besides all that, I think and think and wander and worry. Sometimes I think I shall love to give you up, and then next, I’m being kidnapped by you, and then next I’m running away and you after me, and then next I am thinking, “How shall I tell ‘C’, so that he understands?” It’s all a muddle, and he is to come tomorrow. By Sunday at least, so I can see you Sunday dear. And Mabel’s quarantined with the flu, and you and I shall be lonely for each other, and I will go nearly wild and I’m afraid of “C.” ‘nough said.

I sewed all day – got all my curtains done. Sure look swell. Little white ones and real old and gray for over drapes. Wish you were here to enjoy it with me. Well, you call me up Saturday night about 9:30, or Sunday night dear. I want to hear your voice. Next week is so long. Yes, get a 30-day pass and we’ll fly.

Your own Mamie.

Dear readers, on the one hand, I feel sorry for Clarence. He returns home from war and is unknowingly about to lose his girl (such a typical tale). On the other hand, if she decides not to sleep with him after her "regular sickness" passes, he won't take no for an answer? There is more than a hint of a-hole there.

The way she describes it (and in more detail than Ernest really needs to know, I might add), they are more friends than lovers now, and her heart is unquestionably with Ernest. We are more sure of this than ever. So why does she insist on throwing jabs at Ernest about Clarence still? Threatening to work at the cannery, albeit in a joking manner, is mean. She never ceases to be a tease who undoubtedly hurts poor Ernest by telling him she was disappointed Clarence didn't show her more love when he got home. It seems more that she wants the attention than she actually wants Clarence.

Despite the excessive detail that can only make Ernest shudder, it's interesting to note that she is able to tell him anything. Not having to hide her life and emotions is a good sign their relationship will last after Clarence is let down. She dreads having to tell Clarence; who wouldn't? Hurting someone is almost as painful as being hurt - almost.

I laughed at her description of Clarence kissing her: He kissed me, but it meant nothing and wasn't passionate, not like when I kiss you. Clarifying isn't going to make Ernest less jealous. That she brought it up in the first place makes me continue to think she wants him to be jealous. You already told him you are going to marry him, Mamie. You can cease the game-playing!

Another sign of the times: Having sex with one man, a man you were supposedly going to marry, would make her a "dirty wife." Ernest, you better keep telling her to stay away from Clarence because if you don't help her, she might succumb to her desires, or so she says.

Take her flying and tell her to stop messing with your head! And Mamie, just get it over with and tell clueless Clarence what's up.


The Grammar Nazi

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Clipped Wings, for Now

(Image result for "blonde kewpie")

Newly engaged, Ernest shares an army story with his love:

January 13, 1919

Aero Squadron A. Barracks 3
March Field
Riverside, Calif.

At home (heck of a home) Ha ha.

Once more and lonesome so – little blonde kewpie of mine. By gollie I’ve been sitting here a half hour trying to concentrate, but it’s Monday eve of the 13th and I have that on the brain already.

YA mav. (?) just announced there was to be music immediately by the Mission Inn. Burgers and players. Of course I wish like the dickens you dearest were with me. Geeeeeeeee. Hope you are feeling Jake, honey. And I surely appreciate your coming up to the (?) with me. O girl girl that was sweet of you. We were about 25 minutes behind time when we arrived at Riverside, but I sure was glad we were because I was with you that 25 minutes. There were two last busloads of us and we had quite a joy ride. Ours started out last and arrived first. Passed each other six or seven times, and of all the noise. The last time we passed them, the driver just pushed on the steering wheel so excitedly, we sure laughed.

The fellows are having a bit of diversion out of the stunts the rookie guards pull off. Yes there is a sqdrn 311th, mostly privates recruited from this vicinity, and they do funny stuff sometimes. One shot a hole in the YA building last night. Didn’t know how to operate his rifle. There is one stationed on the tower with a revolver, and a fellow had loaned him his gloves; he wanted them, so he yelled up for him to throw them down. Said "rookie." Thought he said "gun," so he tossed his gun down. Such is life with army. Ya don’t know what is gonna happen next – even here. Some of us fellows took our exams just before the holidays. I suppose they will give us our promotions and expect us to stay.

But honey, sweet darling of mine. I have just the biggest longing in my heart to fight in civilian life with you, or rather for you – ha ha. Boy boy I’d sure love to slip up to your window some moonlit night.

Forgive me, but I would. I would. When a fellow is desperately in love with a girl, he wants to do things he shouldn’t. Yet, darn it honey, but my wings feel awfully clipped right now and goodness knows yours do too. Lots and houses of things can happen in a few weeks, so here’s hoping they will!

And darling, if I can help you in any way, say so, even were it against me. Anything to help you. You dear.

It’s late again, so again, dear heart, I bid you a lover’s goodnight.

Tell Zella hello, but don’t tell her but she is some chaperone. Will write again soon and girlie please, please speak your sweet heart out to me. Will you dear? When you write, it helps my own thoughts to extricate themselves from this piece of French ivory in which they are.


Three things:

1) How does one mistake "rookie" for "gun"? They sound nothing alike.
2) I think it's time I brought "feeling Jake" back into the lexicon. I will make it a point to use it in conversation and see how many weird looks I get.
3) Is it necessary to "slip up" to a girl's window when you're engaged to her? My, how times have changed.

Finally, a note from Mamie, even if it is short and somewhat confusing. Does she want him to meet her Saturday or Sunday? Make up your mind!

January 17, 1919

My Ernest Boy –

‘scuse pencil but it is 8:30, and Zella is going to school, so I want to send just a note to my sweetheart.

Yes, dear, come Sunday. I’d say Saturday if I could have my way, but you’d better come Sunday morning. Come Saturday eve to town, and if I can, I’ll meet you there and then if down in time for dinner Sunday (?). Gee I was sure glad to talk to you last night, but as usual, I couldn’t say as much as I wanted to dear.

Has Jimmie come back yet? That’s queer. Well dearie, bye bye till Saturday. I’m going to paint my bedroom floor and wash today and Ma is sick in bed so – help!

Remember dear, I love you always.

Your own Mamie.

Unlike "feeling Jake," I have no desire to bring back the word "queer" as "odd." It just has too much negative connotation. I hereby gladly resign it.

I wonder when the lovebirds will get married. Did they have long engagements in 1919?

Next up: More from Mamie.

Monday, January 11, 2010

'Romance isn't dead yet.'

December ?, 1919

Dearest Mamie:

I wonder – when may I see you again? Heavings!

Yes! Honey! But I want to see you. And tell you. Writing is the bunk.

Besides, my writing is all shaky tonight. What is gonna happen? I’m so happy with everything.

O how I wish you were here. Gee!

Mable is singing so beautifully (?) well words won’t express any feelings. She just looked at me and I winked. She is singing now. Only about three paces from here. And well, you know how she can sing. Gee girlie I believe I’m dreaming. Please may they come true. I may have to stop soon. As she is going pretty soon. So dearest dear girl, please forgive me for my very short letter to your long one. Please honey.

Hope things don’t go to swash as they did before. A few times like that and my heart will have burned to a crisp.

And gee, I sure sympathize with you dearest lil darling of mine!

Well, night and I’m gonna call you up and out of bed when Mable has gone.

Oh yes, I received your letter this eve!

Well, I wanted to come, but for your sake, I wouldn’t, as your folks would have found it out and woe to you.

Night x night x night x night x
Your own ED.

I have to compliment you again on ya chum. By gollie. ED.

Ernest is happy. Ernest is shaking. Ernest is scared Mamie might change her mind. Oh how I wish we could read what she said to him! Could it be she has decided to let Clarence go? He says he sympathizes with her, so maybe she has decided to call off her engagement to Clarence and had a hard time doing so. In any case, it looks like Ernest is starting to win that race. It also looks like whatever has happened is still a secret from her parents, and they wouldn't be happy with her decision. If indeed she has decided to just be with Ernest once and for all, what a great way to commemorate such an occasion but with beautiful singing from Mamie's "chum," which I do believe is her sister.

Aero Sqdrn. A Barracks 3
December 17, 1918
March Field
Riverside, Cal.

Dearest little darling of mine:

Received yours the most lovingest letter this noon. O boy! But I was glad, glad to hear from my dearest fiancé again.

‘scuse pencil, am fireman for this section of the barracks for a couple of hours tonight. It’s my turn to shovel coal. Ha ha. Was rather scared for awhile today. We were settling the question of who is to stay here during the holidays. 75 men have to stay. Two men for each hangar (two troubleshooters, guards, fatigue men, etc.) Well one troubleshooter has been sick and away and just came back so he volunteered. And the other got a short straw. We are off from Sat. about noon till 11:00 PM Jan. 2nd. Gee! Yes, a fella kind of hates for a moment to break away from a place where one has been for awhile. And as much as Bertha wants to leave, I’ll bet she stays and stays. Gets in the rut.

Well, Bunny, I wisht your sweet self were here with me. O girl! O girl! But you aren’t. So I guess the rest of the week will just have to d-drag along. It’s getting late again so I’ll shut my eyes for a few hours and forget time. So goodnight. X.

Your own loving ED.

Oh Mamie, every time I write you I think, if I could only write like she does. I always was so bunk at writing. ‘nothing wish. Ha ha. Anyway, I just love you, love you, love you.


(On the outside of the envelope, it says “Romance isn’t dead yet.”)

Did you hear that? FIANCE! What an abrupt shift: Mamie went from Clarence's fiance to Ernest's fiance in a matter of days. Now that he doesn't have to worry about their relationship status, he proceeds to give details about shoveling coal and the vacation status of his mates. Before, he was pining over her as someone else's girl. Now he is free to say, "I just love you, love you, love you." I wonder if the constant gushing will continue, or if he'll be more at ease and subsequently less mushy. In any case, this is a happy day for him. When's the wedding, I wonder?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Your Loving Mutt

For these two letters, I wrote them the way Ernest wrote them with few changes in grammar. Notice the antiquated use of 'th' in place of an 's.' He uses 'til' instead of 'until,' and 'wif' instead of 'with.' He puts a 't' in place of 'ed.'

In the first letter, he could either be talking about committing a masked crime, or forgetting to wear his gas mask, or something else. I'm not entirely sure. I'm leaning toward NOT crime because our gushy paramour just isn't the type. He seems to need to cover his face so as not to breathe whatever is in the air. Is this a test? And what is the fine for? The war is over, and he's in Riverside. Odd.

I wish I could ask him what Grace said to him when he ran into her unexpectedly! He skipped over the best part of that story, just to return to fawning over Mamie.

In the second letter, he has made a mistake and will no doubt try to make it up to her. Did he forget to call her or see her? That seems unlikely since he's constantly talking about that very thing. He also says he saw her yesterday, so maybe he said something out of turn about Clarence. We'll never know. But soon we will know who wins her heart once and for all.


The Grammar Nazi
P.S. I hope "feeling Jake" is a euphemism for good health and not a new character introduction.

Aero Squadron A.
December 2, 1918, 8:30
March Field
Riverside, Calif.

Deardeardeardearest Mamie –

Was in town this evening and went for my cam. (?) and razor and incidentally was supposed to appear to pay a fine. I guess I was pinched last night. No mask. Ha ha! Lots of fun! Wish you were there. I sure wanted to sell me one. Told them I wath busted. Kidded them! They wanted me to come in this eve. I said I couldn’t. Then they wanted to lock me up. Honeth. Couldn’t find an M.P. They have to turn us over to them, so finally – It was getting late, just in time to make the field – they asked if I had a hanki to put on. Yea, a dirty one alright. When I got outside, I pulled the hank off and pulled out my mask and wore the old thing ‘til I got on the bus.

Oh girl! How I wisht that were you! Honey! that I bumped into at the feed house this evening. Sat down to a big feed and happened to look in the mirror and saw a face that looked like Grace, but I thought, “No, it couldn’t be and dismissed it.”

After awhile, she suddenly tapped me on the shoulder. Oh, if it could only have been sweet you.

We had a smash up in the field this morning. No one hurt. But one more fellow bumped off at the hospital – pneumonia. Otherwise things are as serene ath mud. Only, I ith awfully lonethum. Hope your guests have a heart and are not rushing you dear, and boy oh boy! Hope the folks were not and are not peeved yet.

And O darn it, no fooling, words can’t express how much I love dear sweet you.

Night! Dearest sweetheart, and I hope the world ith still going around 'til I can see my girl. You may be able to stop writing –

But I can’t.

Night night xxxx dearest.


December 9, 1918

Dearest Sweetheart:

O boy. What an absent-minded mutt I ith. Pleath forgive. Guess I’ll call you up right away. Oooo girl how I miss you. Hope the bunch are not severe on you dear and that you are feeling Jake.

I muth get busy now. It’s 7:00 AM, and the birdies are just buzzing out on the line.
O girlie, I sure wouldn’t have missed being wif you yesterday for the world. Just to be wif you, even tho we had stayed home. Lots of love for you dearest.

Your loving mutt,
Just sent the film away.