Monday, February 22, 2010

'Our Fair Castles Have Fallen'

The above photo is of my great grandmother Mamie (sitting on the horse) with her family in Wisconsin (early 1900s.)

This letter is attached to the previous one in the same envelope, but it looks like a continuation of the last one with no date on it and no greeting, so I'm not quite sure when it was written. I do know it's in the same couple days because the next one later in February expresses a turn of events. This one, however, is focused on how much Mamie will miss Ernest, and how she still plans to marry Clarence, mainly from the pressures of her father. I'm still not sure why he wants her to marry Clarence instead of Ernest, but her parents are adamant, as you'll see.

Mamie seems to be resigning herself to her supposed future, and she's naive to believe her troubles will be over if she marries Clarence and moves out of her parents' house. If she thinks she'll forget about Ernest once the paperwork is signed, she's mistaken. It's the same if she marries Ernest. She can't just wash her hands of her feelings for Clarence, if they are indeed as strong as she says they are. Can she?

I find it very interesting what she says to Ernest about their future as pen pals (and maybe more from afar).

I keep thinking about how she referred to her relationship with Clarence since he came back from the war as more friendly than romantic. It makes me want to go back in time and knock down her door and scream, "Don't do it!"

Luckily for me (and Ernest, of course), she changes her mind. What causes her to do so? Maybe we'll find out at the end of February 1919, but first, enjoy this correspondence:

Feb. 8(?), 1919

There are a lot of hard things in this world, and we have to get used to them as we grow older! I feel about 20 years older now than I did a month or two ago. I only wish you could forget me and be happy again. I can see you now as you were last Saturday night. Oh! You were so happy dear, and so was I, but our fair castles have fallen down and crushed into the ground!

I hate to close things this way, for your sake dear. Clarence wants to give you a fair chance – but the folks absolutely shut down on having anyone else come to see me except “C”, and just because they would lie awake at night and worry. “C” is highly disgusted with them for making such rules, but what can we do? Pa said the other day that he would consent to no other marriage, only to Clarence, and that if I married you without his consent, we would wish we were in “hell with our backs broken.” He said he’d make trouble for us as long as he or we lived. Isn’t that a nice way to do? And yet he called Clarence a “son of a bitch” the other day. Not to his face, but to mine. He said he’d shoot the son of a bitch if he ever caught him at his old tricks. We can’t seem to make them believe that we have reformed. Oh it hurts me to have them say such mean things about men I love so dearly, and I don’t dare say a word. They would knock me flat if I did. I will be glad when I can have a home of my own and nobody to quarrel and fight with. It’s not far off. We probably won’t get married for a few months yet because he will not have much money to start in on yet.

How long does your furlough last, dear? Or did you go back to camp? I don’t know where to address your letter. Camp, I guess.

Ernest dear, will you promise me one thing? That you will write to me same as ever, only perhaps not so often. I shall cherish every word of the letter you write dear, and I shall always want to know all about your life and what and where you will be after you finish army life. Dear, will you promise me that? Please!

I will try to be part your wife anyway, dear, even though we will not be united in marriage. I shall always feel that I partly belong to you, and I shall always be interested in your affairs and welfare.

I shall keep all the pictures too, dear. I’ve got several framed and on the wall in my room, so you see, I have not tried to hide you from me. Well dearest, it’s getting late and I’ve got plenty to do tomorrow to get ready for that gang Sunday. I could talk to you all night if you were here, but it’s hard to write things I want to say.

I guess it is all said, I mean, my feelings are expressed in that song, “It’s Never Too Late to be Sorry.” And God knows I’m sorry for you, dear! It will be sweet memories of the past. Won’t it, dear? Our short, but beautiful romance! We were so happy, you and I, but now I feel like I could cry because I hate to lose you. I’m so used to you now.

I’ll say goodnight before I do break down dear. I’m trying to be brave for your sake, and if only you can forgive me, dear boy, it won’t be so hard then. Can you?

Your lost little wife, Mamie.
I can feel your sweet, tender, loving kisses now and forever! Oh! Oh! Oh!

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