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

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