New York

My mother and father had found an apartment in New York and had gone there to get settled, while Lois and I remained in Des Plaines for the summer. When I became a real worry to the camp administration, my mother was sent for, and she came back from New York to cut my Girl Scout camp stay short, and to pack us up and take us on to our new home.

Naturally enough, in those days we went by train, and as I remember it we took the Commodore Vanderbilt. Trains were the last word in luxurious land travel in those days. Service between New York and Chicago was excellent. Because of the difference In time zones one could leave New York at 5 P.M. and, after travelling comfortably for 15 hours, arrive in Chicago at 8 A. M., in time for a full business day after a sound night's sleep. Going from Chicago to New York the same time difference necessitated an earlier start from Chicago, so that the best train of the day, the 20th Century, left at 4 P.M. and after the 15 hour trip arrived in New York with its passengers again ready for a day's work at 8 A. M. Since we were not business men on a time sched- ule we did not take the 20th Century Limited, but took the Commodore Vanderbilt, which left at about 2 P.M.

This was the first overnight train trip for Lois. We were delighted with the elegance of our stateroom, which slept three of us comfortably, provided us with our own toilet and wash-basin, and was to us the height of luxury. The dining car fascinated us with its tables covered by snowy linens and heavy plated tableware, with a fresh rose on each table. The excellent menus, the friendly waiters balancing their trays above their shoulders as they made their way down the swaying cars, and the aura of gracious dining were all to disappear before long. After dinner there was the Club Car or the Observation Car to sit in, while the porter made up your bed, and you waited for bed- time. Upon request you could get a drink, a magazine, or a card table. It was a pleasant way to travel, make no mistake about it, and it was a splendid transition from our old to our new lives.

It must be remembered that our move to New York took place at a time when the world tottered on the brink of the world's worst depression. The stock market crash of October 29, 1929 marked the beginning of the depression to most people, and had a shocking effect on not only business and business men, but on the morale of the entire country. In many towns like Des Plaines, the small local banks were forced to close their doors almost immediately after the market fell. It was the more shocking to the average citizen because it was so completely unexpected by them.

The first frightening reports of stockbrokers and leaders of industry committing suicide rather than face the collapse of their world were soon augmented by the closing of factories, the failure of many businesses and banks, the rapid rise of unemployment, and finally actual hunger and loss of homes for many people. There were no unemployment benefits there was no welfare, there was absolutely no government facility to deal with the problems of these hundreds of thousands of hungry homeless.

Soup kitchens set up by the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, and many religious organizations gave what relief there was in the cities, and in a very short time every women's club and women's church organization was making up and passing out baskets of food to the needy. Bread lines were forming in the cities, and within a year there were hunger marches on Washington. To add to the horror, the drought was making itself felt in the west, and thousands of farms were being destroyed by the wind which blew their topsoil away, or piled it up into useless dunes People were forced to flee from homes where there was no food, and not even enough water.

But, during that time, the Oppers and the Grimms -- and of course many other people --- were enjoying the greatest prosperity they had ever known. We were aware of what was going on. No one could fail to be aware of it since every newspaper, magazine and movie was full of it. My father's job as Sales Manager and Vice President of the American Commercial Alcohol Corporation was almost unaffected by the depression. There is always a crying need for commercial alcohol, and there were few companies producing it.

This did not mean, as joking friends implied, that he had a source of drinking alcohol -- he had to rely upon a bootlegger for that just like anyone else. He and the offices were under constant surveillance from the Revenue Department, to be sure that not one drop of the precious stuff was unaccounted for. His phone was tapped, his mail was opened. But this was only annoying, and not too obnoxious, since he was actually operating within the law.

All of this meant that while other people had less and less money to spend and as a result prices went down and down, by contrast we seemed to have much more money than ever. Of course, what money we had went farther than it had ever done before, or ever would again.

It would be impossible to overstate the traumatic effects of the complete change in our lives that this move to New York had upon a couple of adolescent girls. For the next three or four years we went through a series of changes that were rather like a ride on a roller coaster. My mother and father had rented an apartment in Fleetwood, a brand new stop on the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad. Fleetwood came just after Mount Vernon, and just before the long string of Westchester suburbs --- Bronxville. Scarsdale. Tuckahoe, and on up into Connecticut. Fleetwood was nothing more than a city block of stores on the east side of the railroad tracks and three or four large new apartment buildings on the west side. The Bronx River and the Bronx River Parkway. as well as the railroad, divided the two sides of the town ---- which was not really a town, but a part of Yonkers, New York, with a Bronxville post-office address.

The apartment buildings were very large and brand new, built to take advantage of the boom of the late 20s. We were among the first people to occupy them. Before we had been in them a year rentals were dropping fast, and all sorts of inducements in the way of lowered rents, and free rents for the first few months, were being offered to attract occupants. My mother had a hey-day, moving every year for the four years we were to live there.

The apartments themselves were large and airy. The apartment we first went to was larger than our entire house had been in Des Plaines, and each succeeding apartment was larger yet. Our apartment was on the fourth floor, reached by elevator, and there was a garage on the ground floor with space for car for each apartment. An added attraction was constant hot water --- the first we had had since the Chicago apartment days. For the first time in my life, I revelled in a daily shower.

My mother had had a wonderful time buying new furniture for this apartment. She had brought almost nothing but the bedroom furniture (guests were not expected to see the bedrooms) from Des Plaines, and she furnished the dining room, living room and foyer entirely with furniture from John D. Wannamakers --- furniture, lamps, pictures, rugs and draperies. When in later years she complained that my father had taken over the accounts and squandered the money, I remem- bered all those new furnishings and wondered.

Fleetwood, although it was not much as a town, lay in hilly wooded country and was readily accessible to the Bronx River Parkway. It would be impossible for me to try to give you an adequate idea of how much the physical beauties of Westchester County impressed itself on people from the mid-west flatlands. We were familiar with Wisconsin's rolling hills and its woodlands interspersed with farmland, but we were quite unprepared for woods and rocks and rills and templed hills. That first summer we spent every evening and most week-ends driving around and discovering our new realm. I cannot tell you how many evenings we spent just driving up the Bronx River Parkway from Fleetwood to White Plaines and often beyond as far as Mt. Kisco. We drove farther to the east down the Hutchinson River Parkway --- both of these parkways the first divided, limited-access highways we had ever seen.

We drove up the Storm King Highway to West Point, where we watched the cadets march against the backdrop of strong grey buildings set below stronger grey wooded hills. We crossed on the ferry from Yonkers to the New Jersey Palisades and drove through northern New Jersey to visit my mother's cousin Maria Dummer Rehm and her family. John Rehm had built their house himself, and it was a plain but substantial house, built high on a hill with a view of distant Manhattan. Young John Rehm had a gun, and went hunting with his father within sight of New York City. In fact, this boy, living within commuting distance of New York where his father worked, lived the life that Bud Brown and I had only imagined as we read "Two Little Savages."

And, of course we explored New York City. My parents did the night spots, the theatres and the restaurants like people in a glorious dream. During the day my mother was happy to have two girls to accompany her in her excursions, and my sister and I were happy to accompany her. We know no one and we shared her excitement. We took every tour of the city which was offered. We rode the double-decker, open-topped busses the length of 5th Avenues, eventually visiying stores all along the way. We went down to John Wannamaker's big store, which was still down somewhere near Washington Circle (which of course did not compare with Marshall Field's in Chicago, but was the nearest thing to it which New York had). We walked through Times Square, both during the day and at night, standing open-mouthed before the huge animated advertising signs. We went to the theatres and to the movie houses which were in their heyday at the time. We took the Subway to Coney Island and up to Fort Tyron [sic], which I do not think was called Fort Tyron at that time, but was, as it still is, an enchanting piece of wilderness at the far northern tip of the island of Manhattan. We took the Staten Island Ferry, we visited the Statue of Liberty.

It was a strange change for all of us. My mother set the pace for our dreams. She bought not only new furniture, she bought whole sets of new dishes -- Wedgewoods no less -- and Bavarian service plates. She was going to entertain in the style she had only read about. Visions of butlers danced in her dreams.

My father was working very hard, and drinking far too much. My younger sister was the most lost of us all -- a rather shy child, completely dominated by my mother--plunged into new schools, and living far from anyone with whom she could have made friends. I can remember very little about Lois' life during these years in New York, and so far as I know she made no friends with whom she kept in touch, even during the first few years after we moved back to Des Plaines. My own epxeriences were completely strange. and sometimes lonely, sometimes overwhelming, but almost always exciting.

I and my cough had been taken to a highly respectable eye, ear. nose and throat specialist named Schmidt with offices on Madison Avenue. There were two Drs. Schmidt, whether brothers or father and son I no longer remember, but they were considered leaders in their field. Upon examining me and having many X-rays taken of my head, the decision was reached that my antra were badly infected and filled with a cheesy substance which they said must be cleaned out. This was a merry little operation which they performed frequently. In fact the walls of their offices were filled with suction tubes so that they could more easily suction out the sinuses of their many patients.

It was first maintained that this operation could be done under local anaesthetic in the office, and an attempt was made to drill into my antra through the inside of my nose. My scull proved to be of tougher stuff, however, and I was taken to the Manhattan Eye Ear and Nose Hospital, given a general anaesthetic and the antra duly opened up from inside my nose. Now, not only is this an operation which I am sure is no longer performed --- and had anything been know about allergies need not have been done then -- but they non- chalantly informed my parents that my tonsils had grown back, and while I was on the operating table they would just take out the tonsils as well.

Therefore I came out of the anaesthetic to find my nose firmly packed with gauze and completely useless for breathing purposes, and my throat, which was the only passage by which I could breathe, was one aching, agonizing open wound. The gut which held the packing in my nose came down the back of my throat and crossed my dry tongue and was taped outside of my mouth. What I needed terribly was a drink for my tortured tongue, but the slightest sip through that lacerated throat was agony.

I cannot imagine a doctor with or without striped morning trousers being so insensitive as to perform two such operations simultaneously, but I fear I have heard of others just as ridiculous since. Never before or since have I spent such a hellish couple of days as I spent until they finally took that packing out of my nose. The following weeks were almost equally unpleasant, since my throat, which had been subjected to such cavalier treatment, took a far longer than normal time to heal. I lost a great deal of weight, and by the time school started in September I was hollow-cheeked, sallow and physically a wreck. I was to go in every week or so to have my antra flushed out, an unpleasant gagging business which was followed up by squirting some sweet oil up the back of my throat which then ran out my nose ---- this ridiculous treatment I was supposed to perform on myself daily at home. I continued with this regime until I went away to college, and went on when I came home for vacations for the next two years.

While I was still in the hospital recuperating, my gym teacher from Maine, Jay Purvesq her fiance and his mother took a trip east and visited my parents in Fleetwood. Jay and Hoffie came in to the hospital to visit me, a thing which should have sent me into seventh heaven because Jay Purves was the idol of the athletic set at Maine Township High School.

Always a charming, pretty, athletic girl, daughter of the town's most popular doctor, apple of his eyes, a leader in high school, and a leader at the University of Illinois, where she had been Homecoming Queen, she had swept us off our feet. No one was more perfect in our eyes, and by our Junior year she was showing considerable favoritism for some of her older pupils. The June before I left Des Plaines, she had incurred the ire of Maryalice's mother because during Maryalice's birthday party she had cruised around and around the block, beeping her horn as she went by the house until finally Adelaide left the party and drove off with her. We knew that Maryalice's mother and others were none too happy about our ardor, but since no one told us why they objected, there was no necessity for us to rise up in her defense.

To have this dream woman come to visit me in the hospital was a real triumph, but somehow something was wrong. In the first place, her funny story of the cute customs guard at the border who had opened up her suitcase which was filled with kotex struck me as a pretty silly story. And then, as I watched and listened with wide-open eyes Hoffie, begged her to marry him soon, and with a jolly laugh she told him he would have to wait until the following fall because she really had to have another year at Girl Scout Camp.

Even as immature and doting as I was, realized that this was an absurd statement from a woman who had been going with a man for some eight years. and who intended to marry him some day. In fact, I couldn't understand why Hoffie had pushed the issue there over my hospital bed. All in all, I was thoroughly baffled, and for a 1ong time told nobody about It. Later that year Hoffie and his mother went to Florida for the winter, and Hoffie married another girl, which caused a major scandal in Des Plaines and Park Ridge, with a good deal of criticism of Hoffie and sympathy for Jay. It did occur to me when I heard about it that perhaps I was Hoffie's witness to the fact that Jay was the one who had refused marriage.

I am sure that if my parents gave it any thought at all they had assumed that I would go to Bronxville High School, since our post office address was Bronxville. We turned out to be in Yonker's high school districts and I was to go to Theodore Roosevelt High School by bus from the most remote corner of that school district. Roosevelt was a very large school, at least by the standards of Maine Township.

I remember the look of incredulity on the face of the councellor at Roosevelt as he looked over the smorgasbord of subjects I had taken and tried to make some sort of sense out of the weird grading system which Maine had used. He asked two questions "Where was this high school?" and "Do you have any idea of going to college?"

Well, yes, I did have some idea of going to college, although I must admit nobody had ever given it any serious thought, and certainly Maine had never given me one bit of guidance. Had I stayed in Illinois I suppose I would have drifted to the Univerkity of Illinois had I qualified. Or, I might just have gone to work. Now we were suddenly confronted with considering college ser- iously, and faced with the fact that I was in no way prepared for college.

Not only had I not taken many required courses. but my grades were below college standard (if anyone could translate Maine's mad system into normal grades).In order to get into most colleges I would have to take College Board exams, and in fact, at that time to get a high school diploma In New York State I would have to take New York State Regent Examinations, for which I was in no way prepared.

Theodore Roosevelt High School was a nightmare to a transferee from a small town high school. Not only was it four or five times the size of the school I had left behind, and not only was I entering as a Senior with a missing three years of friendships and cliques, but we lived at the extreme edge of the school district boundaries, and I went to school on the bus, the first to get on and the last to get off.

I knew no one when I entered, and had little chance to get to know anyone. Had we lived in an older, more established neighborhood, I might have gotten acquainted with students in the neighborhood, but there was no one who lived anywhere near us. Under the best of circumstances it is not easy to transfer in your senior year of high school, and these were not the best of circumstances.

There was no athletic program to compare with that at Maine. I cannot remember any team sports for girls, although surely there must have been some. There was no pool, and therefore no swimming. There was a good deal of work on the equipment in the gymnasium -- on rings, parallel bars vaulting horses -- which I had never used before, and which I enjoyed, although I was far behind the others in the class.

What really astonished me about Theodore Roosevelt was the scholastic atmosphere. When the English teacher found out that I had al- ready read "The Tale of Two Cities," which the class was studying, she took it quite calmly and merely asked me to make a report on it and read something else which I had not already read. I had never before had such a reaction from a teacher. Furthermore, it was the first time that I ever encountered questions on a test which truly asked me to use my head, or to interpret what I had read.

I was used to the kind of question which asked, "On what corner did Mercutio and Romeo meet?" or "What was the color of Portia's gown?" ---- things intended to prove that you had actually ground your way through the required three or four pages of material. Since I had probably read the book months before, I had not retained the answers to this kind of question, and usually showed up poorly.

The really stunning experience was the discovery that the BMOC expected to be called on and were prepared to give intelligent, thoughtful answers to questions. At Maine, anyone who rated as an athlete had an image to keep up and was required to be flip, sassy and seemingly ignorant of any academic knowledge.

I endured my year at Roosevelt, passed,the New York State Regent examinations in the subjects I had taken, and left without a backward glance in June.

In spite of the excitement and glory of living in New York, life would have been pretty stark for a 16 year old in a new setting and a new school if there had been no way to make new friends. I turned to the Bronxville Girl Scouts to find friends, and was very lucky to find a very active troop which met in a splendid Girl Scout log cabin.

It should be said here that since at that time you could not become a scout until after your twelfth birthday, the entire scouting program was aimed at young people from the 7th to 10th grades. While we lived in Bronxville, for instance, a Bronxville Eagle Scout went with Commander Richard Byrd on one of his Antarctic explorations. Therefore, it was not strange that at 16 I went down to Bronxville and asked to be allowed to join one of their troops.

By fortuitous good luck I was assigned to Girl Scout Troop #1, which was very much the counterpart of the troop I had left in Des Plaines. All of the girls were of high school age, all of them well advanced in scouting and embarked on their first class badge work. The troop was different from the Des Plaines troop in that the girls were economically a number of cuts above those in Des Plaines, and all girls had changed from the hideous khaki uniforms to the new green uniforms, which I promptly did. This troop had a paid leader who could devote a good deal of time to scout work, and the troop had its own drum and bugle corps.

At one time during the year we went up to Tarrytown for some sort of all-county rally, where we marched before General John Pershing, and to my delight I carried the troop guidon, which I lowered as we passed the grand-stand. The Girl Scout cabin had a working fireplace and a full kitchen.

I had not been a member of Troop #1 for very long before I discovered which girls were the leading lights of the troop, and recognized them for exactly the kind of trouble makers I and my pals had been in Des Plaines. They were the most capable girls in the troop, the most dedicated members of the troop, but also the most determined to do things their own way. The three ring-leaders were Helen Brown, Babs Ladue, and Alison Murphy, all of whom had been pals since early grammar school. They were a closed corporation. calling themselves the Three Musqueteers, and I do not in the least remember how it happened that by June, 1930 I had become the fourth member of the Musqueteers -- d'Artagnon. I got my first class badge, became a patrol leader, and received National Geographic Book of Flags from the Brdnxville Council as one of the most outstanding scouts of the year. I also made a friend for life in Helen Brown.

That first year in New York was a blur in my mind of scenery, shows and Girl Scouts. We had our first radio, which was at the time what television was to become, the center of attention in the living room.

Sometime during that winter my Grandmother Opper slipped on a patch of ice in Chicago and fell and broke her arm. My father and mother went at once to visit her, leaving Lois and myself to keep house alone for a week. They arrived in Chicago to find her resting comfortably in the hospital, visited with her one evening, and found out the next morning that she had died of an embolism.

I had learned that I was in no way prepared for college, and that it would be necessary for me to take another year of high school if I really expected to go on to college, which I was by now determined to do. Had I stayed in Des Plaines I would no doubt just have taken secretarial training and gone to work, but suddenly I was college oriented. We drove around to visit various preparatory schools. and before we left to spend the summer in Des Plaines I was signed up to go to Brantwood Hall in Bronxvillep where I could live at home and commute to school.

My mother. father, Lois and I drove back early in the summer to Des Plaines, where Mother and Lois were to spend a month with the Tuckers and I was to go to Hickory Hill as a Girl Scout. Des Plaines was beginning to really feel the pinch of depression. The Des Plaines State Bank with its new marble building at the corner of Ellinwood and Lee had been forced to close its doors the preceding Fall. Girls could not afford even the sum of $7.00 per week which it cost to go to camp, and many of them my age were on the staff at camp as Junior Counsellors.

The class of 1930 had been the first to graduate from the new Maine Township High School out at Ballard and Dempster that June, and I mourned the fact that I had not been able to do so also. The new Congregational Church building on the corner of Graceland and Marion had been dedicated in November, 1929, and the gymnasium was much in demand by young people who had no money to pay for entertainment elsewhere.

Girl Scout camp looked as good to me as ever when I arrived there for the opening session. Jay Purvis was now the bright star of the staff, head of swimming and in charge of the beach. Early in the year Hoffy had gone to Florida, and while there had married another girl. The sympathies of her coterie from Maine were all with Jay, whereas I knew that actually Jay had refused to marry Hoffy nearly a year earlier. There was an electric tension in the air around Jay and her group.

Before the end of the first week she had begun to turn the group at our table against Maryalice and me for reasons unknown to us, and before long those who were her unquestioning followers would not talk to us at meal times. At first Maryalice and I thought it was funny and brought megaphones to the table to ask to have food passed, but by the end of the second week it was no longer funny. Jay took us aside for an intimate little talk about how uncooperative we were, at which I burst into tears, infuriating Maryalice, although I attempted to explain that my reaction to any sort of tiff was to burst into tearst no matter how angry I was. Jay further told us that no one else in camp would allow us to sit at their table --- which we doubted and, in fact, tested by going to Sy Snider to ask if we could change to her table with the next session of camp, when there would be vacancies. She was not only willing, but anxious, and expressed her disgust at what was going on. We moved to her table and went on to enjoy the rest of the six weeks of campv to be- come Junior Counsellors, and to watch with some disgust the rest of our pals dancing attendance on Jay.

I am sure that nothing overt happened, but the curious excitement in everyone and the way they isolated themselves from the rest of camp was most distressing to us. When today I hear discussions about having homosexuals as teachers, it is not sex I think of, but this odd electric exhilaration which is stirred up. This is bad for the young people involved, and bad for those around them, turning the whole class -- or group -- into an armed camp with one faction at odds with the others.

We were almost completely ignorant. If we had ever heard the words "homosexual" or "lesbian", it had only been in some far-off literary connection, and certainly no one mentioned them at this time. Not felt compelled to take sides to defend Jay against a real or imagined hostile adult world. We had no need to align ourselves one way or the other. Ignorance is not only bliss, but may be a real protection.

At the end of camp the participants went their ways, not committed to any ideals or idealisms. By the end of the next year, those most involved were a bit sheepish about the parts they had been played, but no lasting damage had been done.

The four Oppers drove home through Canada, staying at the Chateau Frontenac, where I was able to impress my parents with my one year acquaintance with French. We came down through Vermont, staying at the St. Johnsbury House. I found New England even more enchanting than Westchester, New York.

Year #2 was just as unreal as year #1. I had never in my life experienced anything like Brantwood Ha11, which was a school, for well-to- do young ladies and gentlemen from Kindergarten through high school, run by very genteel ladies. It was co-educational through the fourth grades and entirely female from then on up. Many of the students had never attended anything but this select, small, private school, but a few of the girls in the Senior class were like myself, transfers from some other system. We were all treated as though we might break if exposed to ordinary life. I had gone to Brantwood Hall with some hesitance, since I was full of ideas about the snobbery I would encounter at a private school. One of the most astonishing aspects about such a school was the almost complete absence of cliques. I had been one of the "in" group at Maine, and a complete outsider at Roosevelt, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that once I was at Brantwood Hall I was completely accepted at all school activities. There was little communication outside of school between students, since we came from widely separated areas of Westchester, but within the school there was no cliquishness at all.

Our school assemblies, which were held about once a week, were a delight to me, because they were so utterly unreal, and so like something encountered in a Victorian novel. I can remember one which I suppose was to have been a little sex talk. There stood the elderly Miss Maine telling us that when a little soul was to be born it set out to choose Its future family, and if it were fortunate it chose the right family. We were all so fortunate in having chosen the right families so that our lot was much better than other unfortunate little souls who had not been so wise. It was enough to make a cat laugh.

Miss Maine wore very ladylike black clothes, long skirts, long sleeves, and little white net collars held up by whale bone which had been the mark of a lady at the turn of the century. Her teachers were also all ladies ---- but that does not mean they were not well educated women and good teachers. In fact, they were excellent teachers. I learned more at Brantwood Hall than I had ever learned in one year before. Miss Lawes taught Latin and History, and was not only an inspired teacher but also thoroughly grounded in her subjects. She was teaching in such a school because she had not the educational qualifications to fill public school requirements.

Our French teacher was a charming young French woman, newly married and new to America, who gave us all very good accents, although I must say that trying to take 2nd and 3rd year French at the same time is not very satisfactory. I also learned a little math for the first time --- a very little, but the first I had ever understood.

You must understand that in addition to academic learning we were also to learn to take our places in the world as young ladies. About twice a month we had tea in the parlors of the main house with teachers and special visitors in attendance, and we learned proper tea party deportment. We were taken by bus, chaperoned to the hilt, to such things as the opera, symphony, and the Horse Show at Madison Square Garden, where we sat in the best seats I had ever been privileged to sit in. To a girl from Des Plaines who had long been accustomed to get herself down to the Loop on a train. to go to theatres unescorted and unchaperoned, this was all amusing.

We were also taken, in limousines this time, to a dance given by (or for) the Knickerbocker Greys at the 7th Regiment Armory. The Knickerbocker Greys was a group of high school aged boys, rather high on the social scale in Manhattan, who drilled at the armory and enjoyed some social life there. It was well understood that this was practice for both the Knickerbocker Greys and the girls from preparatory schools who were brought there. We were dressed in full evening rig -- right down to long white gloves -- and the boys wore their elaborate dress uniforms, complete with white gloves. I was impressed, but amused. We all behaved like little ladies and gentlemen, stood around and made conversation, danced every dance (since this was no popularity contest and proper programs were made up), and were taken home again in our limousines after discreet refreshments. As I say, it was a life as unreal as the previous year at Roosevelt High School.

But the really important thing that happened to me at Brantwood Hall was that I took horse-back riding as my physical education requirement. We were picked up at the school two or three afternoons a week and taken to the Bronxville Riding Academy, which was run by a Russian Emigre named General Pleshkoff. His horses were good, his facilities excellent, and General Pleshkoff, who was a Russian ex-cavalry man,took the teaching of riding seriously.

From the moment wheat you were taught to mount properly to the moment when you dismounted properly, life was a very serious business of learning how to sit, how to hold your feet, how to hold the reins and your hands, how to grip with your knees, how to follow the horse's movements with your own body. We walked and walked and walked around the ring until we were comfortable in the saddle, until our hands were held low and flat in front of us, yet not touching the horse, the reins between the fingers of both hands. Then we trotted and trotted and trotted, and finally we cantered.

Always and every day, General Pleshkoff stood in the center of the big indoor ring, bellowing his commands ---"Heels down, back straight. hands down, collect yourself, move with the horse, heels down, grip with your knees, lean with the horse's turning, heels down." When he became really distraught with what he considered our sloppy leg work, he would tear a slip out of his notebook and place it between our knees and the saddle -- and that slip was supposed to stay in place as we rode. We dropped our stirrups and walked. trotted and cantered. We folded our arms across our chests and walked, trotted and cantered. Woe betide the rider who did not change his horse's lead during a figure eight! We dropped our reins and leaned forward until our foreheads touched the horse's mane and walked. We leaned backward until our heads touched the horses rumps and walked. If you fell off you got right back on --- not next lesson, right now. We worked hard and I loved every minute of it.

During the late fall and winter all of our work was done indoors, but when the weather grew nice we began to use the bridle paths, and finally we began to do a little jumping, which candidly frightened me very much. At the end of that one year I could ride.

I can testify to this because sometime during the late summer, and fall of 1930 the Bronxville Riding Club, which was suffering greatly from the depression, decided to allow Bronxville Boy and Girl Scouts to ride their horses at greatly reduced rates. A good-sized group from Troop One took advantage of this offer and went several times a week to the riding club to ride. The club had no indoor ring, but it had a goodly number of private horses which needed exercise, since their owners were busy trying to recoup business losses, and a fair number of good rental horses.

But most of all it had a young German, who was in charge of the stables, named Joseph Nurnberg, whose name we misunderstood because of his thick accent, and who we called Nepper and had a fearsome crush on. We rode with Nep- per all of that year, idolizing him the while. And I must say that a fortunate aspect of it all was that Nepper seemed to enjoy the company of these nutty young women without ever overstepping the bounds of utmost propriety. Had he done so he would have jeopardized his job, which he quite rightly felt was a very good way for an immigrant to meet influential business men and a possible way from riding stable attendant to business man. It would also have spoiled a fine daydream for the scouts.

In the summer of 1931, the Bronxville Horse Show held a class in horsemanship for Scout Trooper, in which about 10 boys and 10 girls competed. I rode a very nice little bay pony. and I can still remember Nepper helping me up and muttering, "Keep him under control, keep him at a flat-footed walk, don't try to do anything smart." As we went round and round the ring my heart sank as one of the boy scouts, who had his own horse, put on what I thought was a pretty dashing exhibition of horsemanship as his horse pirouetted high spiritedly and occasionally broke from trot to short gallop.

Good old Duke performed admirably, even though somewhat excited by the other horse. He stood like a lamb as we mounted and dismounted in the center of the ring, he backed on command, he remained calm as we changed mounts. And, lo and behold, I won the silver plate. Never have I had a greater thrill than that of riding around the ring with the blue ribbon fluttering under Duke's ear, and encountering a congratulatory General Pleshkoff at the gate.

In the midst of all of this change and excitement in my life, the rest of my family were also experiencing changes. My little sister attended 7th and 8th grades in Yonkers Grammar schools, but had very few friends or life of her own. My father was drinking far too much and was not really a well man. My Grandmother Grimm was living with the Tuckers in Des Plaines, and my Uncle Dick and Aunty Ruth moved from the wrong side of the tracks in Bronxville to the right side. My mother lived in a state of excitement and spending.

We moved four times in the four years we lived in New York, in 3 apartments in Fleetwood and 2 in Bronxville. My mother had not only bought service plates, but occasionally hired a butler to serve them at her dinners for my father's business associate, the first time startling my Uncle Dick into shaking hands with the unknown man in tuxedo who opened our apartment door to him. She was getting a bit restive that she had not made more friends outside of my father's business associates. She and my Aunty Ruth were living in a dream world in which they were going to take their places in real society.

Ruth had met someone who had per- suaded her that it was possible to take a young girl --- just any girl of the right age --- and with a bit of training and the proper introductions, bring her out in New York Society. Since Ruth had only three young sons and Lois was only fourteen, I was the only object for her dreams to seize on, and she and my mother worked hard to persuade me to allow myself to be dragooned as a debutante. As my grandson would say, "No way!"

I had not read Henry James at that time, but I knew perfectly well that a little hick from Des Plaines, Illinois, was not material for a New York "Season," that this was all a racket to snare gullible social aspirants like my mother and aunt. I was getting to know girls whose families had far more money and social position than ours, who didn't think of "coming out." It was a ridiculous idea. I was not very experienced at standing up to my mother, so I just adopted my Grandmother Grimm's attitude of sitting passively but stubbornly and just saying "no" to any and all demands. They railed at me. Oh, they were disgusted with me. but I was adamant. Here I was, the dope who had always been told she was ugly and lacked social graces, who did not even mingle with my mother's guests when she had dinners, suddenly supposed to be pushed out to take my place --- to make our places -- in society. Nonsense.

In June, 1931 I graduated from Brantwood Hall and began to apply to colleges, which I knew absolutely nothing about. Not a single member of my family (with the exception of my Uncle Charley) had even finished high school. None of my relatives or friends, or my parents friends, had ever gone to college. It never occurred to me to go back to Illinois. Helen Brown was going to Wellesley, and she urged Wellesley upon me. Leona Yoder was going to William and Mary in Virginia, and she urged William and Mary upon me. I applied to both, went on with my riding, and again went back to spend a month or more in Des Plaines, where I no longer went to Scout camp, except as a visitor to my friends who were counsellors.

Much to everyone's mystification, I also spent several weeks on the bed in Tucker's den where I alternately baked and hallucinated, and froze and shivered with what turned out to be malaria.

I happened to be at Rittmueller's house when Jeannette, who was seven, fell off the jungle gym and broke her wrist in an especially nasty way. Since her mother promptly went to pieces, demanding all of Dorothy's attention, I put all three of them in my car and drove us to Dr. Purves's, where he preempted the services of his son Sam, a medical student, and myself. He set the arm right then and there -- using first Sam as anaesthetist, and when Sam's help was needed to pull the recalcitrant wrist into shape, ordered me to take over the cone and the ether can.

Most extraordinary. I heard that Wellesley would accept me with a condition in Math, and that William and Mary would accept me unconditionally. so I opted for William and Mary, and-in September. 1932 set out for Williamsburg, Virginia.

Williamsburg was at that time a quiet little southern town with strong Confederate leanings much torn by the Colonial restoration Mr. Rockefeller was beginning to inflict upon it. At the College the Wren building and two smaller buildings on each side of the triangle leading from the Wren to the Duke of Gloucester Street had been restored. An at- tractive little Inn had been built -- not restored -- up the Duke of Gloucester Street just beyond Bruton Parish Church, for the use of visiting archaeologists, contractors architects. and VIPs. It was also available to visiting parents., Through Helen Brown, whose father was a member of Todd, Todd, Robinson and Brown (who were doing the restoration work). I met Dolly and Paul Houk, who were working on the restoration. Through them, as the year progressed I learned what was being planned, and actually saw what was being done at that time.

Both the Governor's Palace and the Colonial Capitol were being excavated, and much archaeological work was being done. Constant objections were raised by the townsfolk, who did not want their town remodelled. The Duke of Gloucester Street at that time ran from the college to the site of the Colonial Capitol, just as it had in colonial times, but the buildings on both sides of the street had been remodelled from their colonial state, or completely torn down and 19th century buildings put up. There was a narrow parkway down the center of the street, along which the light poles ran, with a statue commemorating the Confederate soldiers of the town right in the middle of the length of that parkway. The removal of that statue caused a great deal of civic complaint, and the purchase of the private property along both sides of the street for colonial renewal was not at all well received.

It was a pretty college, with several new dormitory buildings as well as the restored buildings. I arrived in Williamsburg completely ignorant of the south and of college-life. I felt hopelessly inferior socially, since I had had no opportunity to date during those two bad years in New York. And besides, I had been thoroughly convinced by my mother that not only was I basically unattractive but that no man would look at me twice since I was "too darned smart." And, in fact, no man with whom I had not wrestled or jumped rope ever had (to my knowledge), so that I needed little convincing. Therefor, on one of my first days in town, when Leona Yoder and I went into the college sweet-shop and the BMOC who worked behind the fountain began to josh me and asked me where I lived and whether I would come to his fraternity house for some sort of open house, I was embarrassed to tears and sure he was just putting me down. I left without even finishing my soda.

Leona and I were roommates and shared a bath with two girls named Carlson and Barrett, who were also Northerners. Three of us were quite pre- pared by the fact of our status as outsiders to be left out of the sorority- fraternity social life, but Leona had high hopes, since her mother and grand- mother were true Virginia Bellese.

Because I was so poorly prepared in Latin and French, I was afraid to take those subjects, and substituted Greek and German, feeling that I would be better off as a beginner. Whatever else I took was required --- I know there was Freshman English and History, and I discovered to my horror that all Freshmen were required to take American History up to the Civil War the first semester. After that all, Virginia students were required to take Virginia History up until the Civil War for the second semester. We outlanders could go on and take American History from 1860 to 1925 if we were so inclined. Since I had already taken American History at Maine in my Junior years and American History at Brantwood Hall in order to be pre- pared for my Regents exams, I attempted to avoid this third American History Course, to no avail. I am sure that I also took math --- in fact I know that I did, because it was at William and Mary that I discovered logarithmic tables.

I enjoyed the Fall term at William and Mary, in spite of the fact that I fell while playing hockey and spent a number of days in the infirmary with a badly twisted knee, which was to cause me more trouble later on. I was interested in the restoration work, and what I learned about it from the Houks, but I was unchallenged by the academic life at William and Mary.

I have three letters from that fall:


My Dear Phyllis:

Was indeed glad to get your letter. Note things are shaping up for you at school. Hope you will like it much and that your studies will not prove too irksome. They shouldn't be, judging from the list you sent Mother.

I see my suggestion of Latin and French was overruled and that Greek and German were substituted. I am sorry you have done this, but you are the ultimate doctor. Your other studies are not too "hot" either. I hope you will be able to continue through the four years. And you pro- bably will, but nevertheless my theory has been to get all you can while you can. You might not find it possible to go all four years, and then you will not make the most of your opportunities.

I am enclosing color sheet on your typewriter. Return and advise what color you want. Hope you found an interesting riding master who is not German. You and your Nurnberg. I have enjoyed the letters you have written Mother, She has been very busy, just moved to 25 Park View Avenuep and a long way from being settled yet.

My address is Room 4600--- 405 Lexington Avenue.



My Dear Phyllis:

Right "smacko" off the bat, I suppose you want to know if you can fly home. 0. K. with me, it's your life, not mine ---- Here's the money --- Your Uncle Dick recently flew from Virginia Beach to Washington and return. The following day that accident at Camden took place. But I suppose when one figures the number of planes flying and the few accidents one should not worry. [As a matter of fac,# the logistics of getting from Williamsburg to the nearest air field were so complicated that, in fact, I went home by bus that vacation.]

Glad you are meeting up with some of the uppercrust. That's one of the things one goes to school for. You just sit tight and mind your knitting and I'll wager you get a bid to one of the sororities in February. You always wore a horseshoe when it came to studies, so it is no wonder your German lesson should prove to be a simple ditty. As to the private life of Twain, should think almost any encyclopedia could give you all the data necessary.

I saw New York University and Georgia play football last Saturday, and I'll say it was a game. Georgia boy ran back a kick-off 96 yards for a goal, and Georgia held N. Y. on the 9 yard line for a fourth down. Score 7-6o Georgia should have won, howeverv as N, Y. gained most ground, but unfortunately lost two sure possibilities for a score by fumbles.

Am very much surprised your school would be so careless as to feed the pupils anything that would induce ptomaine. -- Bad business say I.

Tucker kids were O.K. when I was out there. but they have mumps and measles now. Tuckers himself, has finally recovered from his busted jaw. Your Aunt Dummer died this morning and Grandma Grimm and Tina Taggart are coming to the funeral Thursday. Your Uncle Charlie has been con- fined to his bed with the flu for some time. Better write him a nice letter. May go west again in a few weeks. Didn't see any of your pals when I was in Des Plaines last time. Everybody there is completely busted.

My dear, the question of a girl supporting herself is becoming more involved as the ages advance. Years ago the man earned the living and the woman stayed at home, but with our advanced civilization and the education of woman, she has entered into man's sphere and deprived many a male of the chance to work. The result is that modern woman had best be prepared to earn her own living in the event she does not consummate a successful marriage. However, It is a good bet that you will not have to worry a great deal as to where your B&B is coming from. --- And baby mine, you need not be ashamed of your ancestry. Your Grand-dad (paternal) did much for his adopted country -- unfortunately we can't discuss his Civil War activities in your southern college --- but apart from that his work for his country after the war among the Indians in the west was truly commendable. I'm proud of him, could, if I wished, wear several buttons on my lapel.

I am working in the office for a while tonight and Bruce Puffer is with me at the moment. Don't know if I told you, but he was the Daddie of a 7# boy about a month ago.

Well, Babe, be good, study hard, and have a good time.



My Dear Phyllis,

It was nice to have your letter when you were so busy with examinations. I hope you pass them all.

Your old Uncle was in bed for two long weeks, I can't remember when I was in bed for so long a time, Just getting old, Phil, I guess. I am again feeling as fine as ever.

I am enclosing some tuberculosis seals that you can stick on your Christmas letters and packages. I am also enclosing a little check. Thought you might want to do a little Christmas shopping early. [I very much appreciated this check --- not only because a college student can always use a little extra money. but also because I knew that my uncle was suffering financially from the depression. His bank had failed, his salary had been greatly reduced, and there was even some fear that the Sanatorium would be closed.]

Do they let you go home for Thanksgivings or do they make you wait for Christmas?

Much luck and happiness to you, Phil,

While I was worrying about flying home for vacation and discovering college, the depression ground on its weary way. Lines were forming for food handed out by soup kitchens in the big cities. Smaller cities like Des Plaines were trying to get food for their needy by voluntary contributions from churches and women's organizations. Men were selling apples on New York Street corners, and the first hunger marches were beginning. It was the worst of times for many, but the best of times for me.

I went home for Christmas to a new apartment which I had never seen. I wonder if this was the apartment where the family bootlegger appeared with his load of liquor and dropped the whole kit and caboodle in the the hallway as he came off the elevator. It caused a tremendous stink in more ways than one.

Vacation was busy. Christmas Day was spent with my parents and sister, and the Richard Grimm family. I had the Riding Club group to see, and also one Florence Finn, who was also a Freshman at William and Mary and who lived in Mount Vernon. Through her I met a young man named Palmer Hardinge and, to my astonishment, he seemed to find me attractive. I am not trying to imply that he found me overwhelmingly at- tractive, but I was quite adjusted to thinking that no man would find me attractive, so that I was astonished and mildly pleased when I had several dates with him, both at Christmas and during spring vacation.

I went back to William and Mary for the second semester, and was not so pleased with a Virginia winter in a small and poor town. The highlight of the winter term was a performance of "The Mikado," given by the William and Mary music department, in which I was a member of the chorus. I met a young man named F. Boardman Fish during this period, and he also found me attractive. I was beginning to get a trifle confused about my role in life since, I had quite decided that I would live without men and be a career woman. I was enjoying German largely because I was getting by on what I remembered of the German I had heard spoken, and I tried to learn German script, which I practised on my father and Granny Grimm. I find a letter from my father written at about this time.

Chicago, February 50 1932

Meine Liebe Tochter,

Ich habe mich sehrfreut deine schoenen brief zu erhalten. Du hast, aber, in ein kurtzen zeit Deutsch gelehrnt. Ich mochte deinen aussprache horen. Das must komisch sein, nicht wahr? Du undAie Leona sind aber boesen Madeln das du eine fremden sprache gebraucht so deine freunden solte nicht weisen das was sie zu essen haben. Du solst sich schoemen. [It is obvious that my father spoke "Schoenste Lengevitch" -- the muddle spoken by those who had known German but have not used it for years --- part German, part English, and partly words which sound German but are not really German at all.]

Well, that's just about as far as I want to strain my memory for one day. Been very busy and took your letter along with me to Chicago, knowing I would get a few minutes to write you from here. Came in from Detroit Thursday morning with one of the nicest snow storms I have seen in several years. Was quite cold yesterday but it is rapidly warming up with the resultant slush and mud prevailing on Chicago streets.

I was glad to learn you passed your exams. Are you seriously considering Consular service? If nop brush up on your shorthand and typewriting and your French. The latter is still quite necessary in Europe In spite of the advance of English. Who informed you that the French newspapers are so subsidized that the people are not getting the truth on international affairs? Your own American publications gave a splendid display of propaganda during the last war.

Have you all settled the Japanese question at school? I'll bet those are some interesting discussions going on.

I have not seen the Tuckers, as yet, but am going out there tomorrow. Expect the Clarkes et al will be assembled. Am leaving Sunday for St. Louis and will spend my birthday at the Mayflower Hotel.

Your old man is getting old and no fooling. I am very tired after a few days on the road and it used to'be easy and also interesting to galavant from one place to another. Oh. well!

Much love, sugarp

Back in Bronxville for spring vacation, I heard nothing about my father's not feeling well. I met Dolly Houk1s father, Dr. Austin, who was an opera and musical comedy buff, and who had worn out his family and most of his acquaintances in visits to the Metropolitan Opera, and his current favorite musical comedy "Music in the Air." As a result I accompanied him to "Music in the Air," and sat down in the very first row where the cast on stage could look down on us, and the leads changed a few words to the songs being sung by the chorus to compliment Dr. Austin. We went back stage after the show, where I met Walter Slezak, then young and slim and romantic, and had a wonderful evening.

As usual I enjoyed myself thoroughly: riding at the Club, and going out with my friends. Meanwhile Helem Brown was putting unrelenting pressure on me to apply for a transfer to Wellesley College, and sometime during that spring I did send in an application for transfer to Wellesley.

I am sorry to say that I have absolutely no recollection of what my younger sister was doing at this time. I am afraid that from sixteen to twenty most adolescents are far too involved in their own sturm und drang to be worried about their siblings, but I wonder that I have no recollection of where she went,to high school.

I went back to school, and was astonished to get the following letter from my father. To this day I do not know how it was that he went on such a cruise without my mother. It was evidently at Dr.'s orders, and I dimly remember that my mother was strangely reticent about the reason for the trip. It could have been an attempt to cut out -- or down -- on alcohol, but it seems a strange sort of trip to make for that purpose. In view of his last letter about how poorly he felt, perhaps is was for health reasons.


My Dear Phyllis,

Of all strange things I think this is about the oddest. Here I am writing you on board a ship off the coast of South Carolina just a few days after you left New York. I dreamed last night you left school, much to my disgust, and insisted you would not go back, but were going to work. My night was ruined because I could not figure out whether it were true or just a dream.

Have had quite a thrill out of the trip so far. Have had wonderful weather even though it has been somewhat rough. Have not been seasick as yet. Unfortunately the passengers are a queer lot. No young people (I still deem myself young), just a lot of middle aged old wizzle wozzles who are apparently out to restore their health, or vice versa. Met one chap, however, who is from Wilmette, and he is my sole companion. Been very interesting so far. Saw porpoises (hope I spelled that right) and a few flying fish. Crossed the Gulf Stream and are now out beyond it until we get near Miami when we will cross again. First stop is Havana, then Cristobal, Balboa, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

If you care to write suggest you send letter to St. Francis Hotel, San Francisco. Chances are I won't be home for seven weeks.

Going down into the engine room this afternoon to see how the ship is run. Nosey as ever you will note ------ Well, I've been down and watched the wheels go round. Hot: Ye Gods ---- don't know how the boys stand it. The Chief Engineer is a splendid chap and explained everything very well. One thing, Honey, I'm not going to reduce if they keep feeding me the way they do. Have had several radiograms so far, so as a result I don't feel as if I were out of touch with things anyway. Got one from Havana this afternoon from the Vice President of the biggest distillery in Cuba. Asks to take care of me while in Havana, so guess I won't be lonesome.

Very warm today (Sunday) and we are approaching Miami -- but we do not stop there. Lots of porpoises and flying fishes now. Am getting anxious to see Havana. They say the approach to it is beautiful. Will write you more about that later.

The ship's orchestra gave a dance last night, but as near as I could see there were no dancers on board. What a flop. This gang is too old for any good use.

Hope school is going along nicely and your marks are good.

Lots of love,

A letter I had written to my mother immediately upon returning to school, and before I received the previous one from my father, announced the news which I felt gave me some chance of getting into Wellesley. I had made the Dean's honor roll, and my grade point average for the first semester was 95.6:

Thursday (no exact date)

Dear Mum,

Prepare for the shock. Of course I know it's an awful blow to the family pride, but your eldest is one of the 20 list exceptional Freshman Women. Don't die ---- I really was one of the group asked to tea with the Dean today. Also just yesterday I got an invitation to an at- home at one of the most popular boy's fraternities. I didn't know I knew a Theta Delta Chi. In fact, I don't, but one must know me or I wouldn't have the invitation.

Also, I was told by a girl that I looked the best of anyone in our gym class in a gym suit, and this afternoon someone liked my hat.

Ho-hum: Ain't life sumepin'?

Got the $10.00 today. I'll pay my riding bill right away. Also, I think I'll be in the Mikado Chorus. This is really too much. I'm going to stop.

Love, Phil

p.S. We had the hottest argument with George at noon about women going into a profession. He worked for four years, and he thinks it is awful. He thinks it makes them hardboiled. Nobody convinced anyone else, but the argument waxed furious. He thinks I should have six children instead of being ambassador to Berlin.

George was a young man who ate at our table in the dining hall, and who was to play Nanki-Pooh in the coming Mikado, and whom we found very interesting. By this time Boardman Fish was convinced he was in love with me, which was interesting, and for the first time in my life I looked at my- self in the mirror and decided with some astonishment that I was not all that bad looking.

Late in the spring I fell while high jumping and twisted my already weakened right knee badly and ended up in the infirmary. After a week or so of bed rest for the knee which brought no improvement, a young orthopedic surgeon was called in from Richmond and the leg was put into a cast for some 4-6 weeks. At the end of that time the cast was removed and the knee again X-rayed, with no improvement found. The young Dr. persuaded me that the only satisfactory solution to the problem was an operation to remove the split semi-lunar cartilage. I of course wrote to my mothers who was much agitated, and also to my Uncle Charlie who was my closest contact with the medical profession. I at once got a reply from Charlie:

My Dear Phyllis,

You sure are a little orphan Annie 'all alone and with a bad knee.

Now listen, Phil, Old Dear. If the Doctor tells you to rest that knee--- that means rest and no fooling. Again, if that knee of yours should happen to be T.B. --- Well, you might know right now that it will mean absolute bed rest --- not even crutches.

If you wish our Dr. Hyde will be very glad to look at your X-Rays if you will have them sent to me. Dr. Hyde is very well versed in T.O. of all kinds. Have the specialist see your knee and do Just as they want you, to do. If it should happen to be T.B., the sooner you give it complete rest the sooner it will heal.

Let's hear from you again soon what the diagnosis is.


T.B. was at that time what cancer is today, a disease to make the strongest man blanche. My X-Rays were sent to the Sanatorium. and their reply was that the knee was out of their field -- it was not tuberculous, but they did not like a little bone cyst they saw on my tibia directly below my knee, and Charlie aNd Dr. Hyde urged an immediate operation.

At that time such a knee operation was most serious and most patients came out of it with a permanently stiffened knee. My young orthopedic surgeon swore that his new technique would leave me walking as well as ever, but it was the pressure from Charlie and the Sanatorium which convinced my mother that the operation should be performed as soon as possible in spite of the fact that my father was out of contact.

The operation was performed in a very small hospital in Williamsburg, my mother coming down for the operation which went off uneventfully. The aftermath was more painful than I had bargained for, and as was usual in those days I was kept flat on my back in bed for two weeks.


Dear Mother,

Hello, I'm recovering. What do you think? I can urinate! They shot some stuff up in me the last time they catherised me, and then what do you know? I went all over the bed. Very funny! And the most gosh-awful color---- pink.

Boardman and the girls were here yesterday and they all stayed so long I got a fever. Also, they got cigarette butts on the stairs. Mrs. Tucker was all het up this morning about the cigarette butts.

It is ferociously hard to write lying flat, and they don't give me a back rest. So I'll stop for a while and eat a praline.

Here's a letter Helen sent you. I read it, and I'm going to tell you that I am going to Wellesley in June for a visit.

I feel swell ----- I mean swellish.


Bell Hospital
May 22, 1932, Sunday

Dear Mum,

I got your letter today. Thanks for the money.

I feel much better. but they haven't let me up yet. In fact. they don't even let me sit up except at meals.

Boardman and George and the girls have been regular visitors. I haven't done much studying ---- all I do is sleep --- which worries me, and I have to get down to work. I want to get out of here.

I've had a letter almost every day from Helen, and Aunt Anne wrote me quite a long letter.

Did I tell you we had a new baby born here? Oh, mamma, I saw it About an hour after it was born, before it was washed and cleaned up. They aren't red, they aren't bloody, they are a pasty yellow with purple hands, feet and lips. It was wrinkled and caked with a whitish stuff. and its lips were scummy. Its head was a terrible shape for about 7 hours --- all bulged out of shape. This morning after being washed and oiled it is very red, and its head is quite a respectable shape. It's a good thing they don't show mothers their babies right away, ,he change after bathing and oiling is tremendous.



Thursday, May 21, 1932

My Dear Phyllis,

Well, your Dad had a great trip through the Panama Canal and visited the ruins of old Panama City. That city was destroyed by Morgan the Pirate and it is really interesting to see what remarkable churches the Catholics built over 300 years ago in the New World. New Panama City is far more interesting than Havana. The shops are run by every nationality in the world, and they conduct their business as they do in their respective countries. They name a price on something and then sell it for less than one half. Splendor and poverty abide next to each other. Beautiful churches which cost fortunes and the most squalid huts adjoin one another. Every shade of black is seen in the residents from a light yellow to an intense blue black.

I have made up my mind that I am going to see Panama City again when I can spend more time there. Somehow we are going to work it out so we will all go.

Things are somewhat monotonous on the ship when you are out of sight of land for four or five days and not even a ship is seen. Did get a kick out of seeing the huge sea turtles which are about four feet around, and of course we see porpoises daily, and a few sharks. Some of the pas- sengers claim they have seen some whales$ but that has not been my luck as yet.

I am as black as a nigger in my face and arms, doubt if I can ride in the white man's car on my way back. Feel pretty good, but have lost no weight. Feed you too well on ship and not enough exercise, Met the most interesting Catholic priest on board, He speaks all languages and also Latin Greek and Hebrew and writes them too. He is one of the most inter- esting men I have met in years. He appears to be interested in me and asked me to read a French (translated) play which he had with him. Am having a great time concentrating on it, and hope I get it read before I leave the ship.

Will be in Los Angeles the 24th and in San Francisco for several days after the 26th --- St. Francis Hotel. Hope things are moving along to your satisfaction and you are getting the credits you deserve.

We had a dandy "old time" party Wednesday night. The lights were candles in bottles, and they had a lot of crazy signs stuck around the dining room. The menu was the plainest kinds of foods. and they danced and sang and acted in general like a lot of school kids. At least you got acquainted with people who had been with you for almost two weeks, and to whom you had never spoken.

Just saw the first lights of lower California.(Thursday night) so it won't be long now.

Love you, dearie,

Looking back, it seems incredible to me that so many things happened in the next few weeks. I emerged from the hospital and took exams. I no longer had the cast on, and after the first week out of bed was ordered to abandon the crutches and use only a cane. I was also to try to bend the knee, and students from the physical education department who were specializing in physical therapy came to massage the leg and try to bend the knee. It absolutely would not bend, so I went into Richmond -- by bus--to the Dr's office, where he gave me a dose of chloroform and bent the leg until my heel touched my buttock. Yipes --- that brought me sailing right out of the chlorform. I went back to Williamsburg on the bus that afternoon with instructions to try walking without the cane, and to begin to do a whole series of exercises which the doctor perscribed. I was to walk as much as possible and he gave me a note to the effect that I had his per- mission to ride horse-back.

I had heard that I was admitted to Wellesley as a Sophomore transfer as of the following fall, and I knew I would need such a note since I knew that his treatment was completely unorthodox by the standards of the day and that they would never allow me to ride without it. The Doctor, on the other hands maintained that the riding was the best thing I could do --- give the knee exercise without putting full weight on it.

I left William and Mary and went direct to Wellesley, where I stayed in Noanette, a Freshman village dormitory, with Helen. In the next three or four days I walked miles of hills and stairs with my cane and my bad leg. The leg was a sight. Because of having been in a cast the flesh and muscles had wasted away, the knee was still terribly swollen and discolored, and the few muscles I was using had developed so that they were like cables down the front and sides of my leg. The other girls in the dormitory were deeply impressed with my sad state and took turns massaging that aching leg every night. If I had fallen in love with Westchester County, New York, it was as nothing to the Impression Wellesley College made on me. I had never seen anything so beautiful.

When I got back to New York, my parents, and especially my father, who had been ignorant of this whole matter, took one look at that leg and whisked me to an orthopedic surgeon in New York City. He took one look at the leg and refused to accept me as a patient. If I had been his patient I would still be in a cast, and he was unwilling to accept any responsibility for so drastic a change in treatment. He did suggest that massage might help those taut muscles, and all summer 1 took massage treatments and faithfully did the exercises that the Doctor in Richmond had ordered ---- kneeling in front of a chair and lowering my body until I was sitting on my heels, standing on that right leg, holding my left leg in my right hand and doing a deep-knee bend. Doing deep knee bends with both legs, and riding, riding, riding.

We spent some time in Chicago again that summer, although I remember nothing about it, and I was busy getting ready to go to Wellesley. By the time I was ready to go my right leg was the size of my left leg and I had no limp. I felt that I was truly recovered, and indeed I had no trouble with the leg for some forty-five years.

Wellesley was another experience that was a complete and total change. I had to go a week ahead of the other upperclassmen as a new student. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the beautiful campus and meeting the other transfer students. I was to live in Stone Hall, a com- panion to Davis Hall where Helen lived. We all had single rooms, which was a delight to me and the first time in my life that I had had a room of my own. I was so fortunate as to be on a floor with a group of Seniors who were most friendly and helpful to a new-comer. I loved the fact that we ate in a pleasant dining hall in our domitory building. In facto I loved every- thing about Wellesleys including my classes.

For the first time I was really challenged by my studies. We were free to go in to Boston to the theatres the symphony and the Operas and there were many artists who came and performed at Wellesley. It was true that we had rules and restrictions, but as a matter of fact, I at least found them comforting. It is very nice to be able to say "I have to be in by 11:30," when things are getting a trifle sticky without having to fight the matter out within your own bosom and with the gentleman concerned.

During this year I began getting more and more letters from my Uncle Charlie. I must have gotten hundreds of them. He was the only person to whom I could really write about the classes I was taking and the ideas I was acquiring.

In the fall of the year Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected President, something that most people at the college seemed to be in favor of, but which I as a rock bound Republican had never expected to happen. The Bank Holiday, and the beginning of his programs to aid the unemployed and hungry made a deep and favorable impression on me. There was real hunger by this time. There was no unemployment relief, there was no organized welfare, there was nothing between the hand-outs of volunteer organizations and a night in jail in order to get a warm place to sleep. The hunger marches were taking place, bread lines were still a sight in every city, and men were drifting across the country looking for work. In addition the drought in the west was driving people off their land, and they were desperately treking to any place they felt they could get food and work. My Uncle Charlie was mildly anti-Roosevelt, but largely he enjoyed beating down any ideas I came up with --- in such a way that he did not discourage me at all, but merely stimulated my thinking.

This was a period of real unrest among students across the nation, not unsLimilar to that of the 60s. There was strong anti-war feeling, and a real examination of the economic systems of the time in an effort to try to find out what had gone wrong, and what could be done to remedy the problems we faced.

As a transfer I had to take Dr. DeKruif's lectures on health in which she dealt quite explicitly with sex matters that most of us had never heard discussed out loud before, and she was willing to tackle any question sent up to her. I also had to take Speech which I had missed in Freshman year, and made little recordings of byself saying "How now, brown cow.' As far as I could see what we were learning in Speech was to wipe out our regional dialects, and since I didn't seem to have any I had an easy time with Speech. I had to take Freshman composition for one semester, which was a stiff course in composition. I took Miss Donnan's economics course and thoroughly enjoyed It and her. I began my major in History and Political Science under Miss Overackerp and thank heaven I did not have to take American History again, but went on to discover Europe.

I went on with German under Fraulein Wipplinger and struggled with it. I actually got by on the fact that I could understand perfectly well and my accent was fine, but I knew absolutely nothing about German grammar. Poor Fraulein could not understand how I could discourse so well with her in class about the Sorrows of Werther and then do so poorly on the written exam. She didn't realize, and none of the laughing class told her, that she was sailing to philosophical heights in German and I was responding In English.

The class that was an eye-opener and a delight to me was Biblical History 101. At that time all Wellesley girls had to take one Year of Old Testament history and one semester of New Testament. These were taught from a purely historical point of view, and although almost everyone entered the class with a feeling of dismay everyone emerged from the experience with a feeling of satisfaction and some new insights. Catholic girls, Jewish girls and girls with a fundamentalist background faced the greatest problems, and usually felt that they had learned the most.

My particular class was fortunate in that we had a new young professor from Union Theological Seminary named Joseph Haroutunian, who was a trifle uneasy about teaching an all-female class, but thoroughly imbued with and enthusiastic about his subject. He plunged right in, gave copious homework assignments and then lectured about anything but the actual reading we had done. When someone remonstrated he said that he assumed we would do the reading, but why should he waste his time and ours going over material we had already read when he had so much else to tell us. He had us all in the palm of his hand before the end of the first week. I think that there was more conversation about Bible at Wellesley than almost any other course.

I rode, of course, and was soon on the riding team. The Wellesley College physical education department took a dim view of such activity with my bad knee, but they could not stop the riding since I had the Doctor's note. However I was not allowed to do anything else very active. I took some sort of mild calisthenics, and I became a coxwain on the crew. I was a very poor coxwain since I knew nothing at all about rowing and have never been able to tell my left hand from my rights much less port from starboard.

Another transfer student named Margot Clarke and I struck up a real friendship, and I accompanied her to her home on Sunday evenings to join in a discussion group which met there. Mr. Clarke was an editor on the Boston Post and both he and Mrs. Clarke were active in the progressive education movement. Their home was attractive in a Bohemian way that I had never before encountered, and I thoroughly enjoyed the evenings and the discussions there. They were a far cry from Des Plaines and Bronxville. The membership in the group was quite fluid -- I dimly remember Albert Noyes Whitehead occasionally attending. I met a young man there with whom I had a number of very pleasant dates before he absolutely stunned me by proposing to me. That a couple of boys had waxed romantic was unusual en- ough, but Hugh was a man with a job, and he wanted to marry me. For a 19 year old girl I was certainly unprepared for romance.

I was not only a member of the riding club, but I had an opportunity to train a half-broken filly which belonged to Mr. McGee, the owner of the stables where Wellesley girls rode. She was a little Morgan horse, had never been abused in any way, and although not completely broken she was not in any way mean. When she bucked it was from sheer high spirits, and she was more amazed than her rider when the rider fell off. If you just lay still after falling she came over to nuzzle you, and was quite willing to be mounted again. I played with her as though she were a dog, and soon had her very responsive to all commands of rein and legs.

I loved, loved, loved Wellesley. Unfortunately, the only letter I have from that first year is one to my Mother;

February 22, 1933

Dear Mum,

Did you get the last letter I wrote you? I left it on Lodge's desk and I hope she mailed it.

Oh, Mamma --- Brown just wrote a six page letter putting forth all of her arguments as to why she wants Moses for the summer, and I really should plead for my little horse. We found out why she's so smart. She is a registered horse. Her full name is My Winsom's Lassie, out of my Winsom, who holds several records up here. I had to show her off for a couple of men the other day. No one rides her but me, and she follows me like a dog. She will let me slide down over her tail and I've taught her a lot of tricks. As one of the men said, "She's more monkey or dog than horse." She'll do anything for me. I've taught her to stretch (for showing, you know) and to canter slow, and change leads, and to passage. She's such a babyish looking animal that everyone is astonished when she can do the things she can. She's so young now that she learns fast and about two years from now she'll be worth a lot of money. Mr. McGee takes the biggest delight in making me show her off to people because you can suggest an utterly new thing for me to teach her and she'll learn it in about 5 minutes. When we finish we run around the ring together. Shell chase me just as fast as we can both go, and when she feels good the jumps in the air and kicks out her heels and snorts violently.

I just came from having coffee with the head of my table and a negro girl from this house who is just about the most brilliant person in college.

We didn't have any school today. It makes it seem like Sunday. We walked up town and had tea, which is just about what everyone in college did.

I'm supposed to go to Margotes again this Sunday, but I don't believe I will. I'm going to wait until next time because of the Peace conferences and the fact that I'm going to see "Another Language" Saturday.

How is Mickey? You said he was sick last I heard from yout and did you ever read the German letters from Granny?

I just set my hair --- I washed it this afternoon --- and I think I will go to bed. Tomorrow I have to go see Dean Coolidge about living in the German corridor next yeart and I have to see Dean Ewing about permission to go with Hugh Saturday night. By the way, I found out who the telephone call was from (the one I got the Tuesday before I came home). It was from the Bulgarian. He told me so last Sunday.

You should see the little horse play tag. I'd rather own her than have her for the summer because then I'd be sure I could teach her what I wanted to. Also I am economical. I hate to think of spending $100. for her for just the summer, when I could have her for not much more. Besides, look at how much more she would be worth if I ever wanted to sell her.

You owe me a million letters. Don't get all het up about the horse business ----- I'm not asking you to say I can do anything about it ---- all I want to do is to be able to talk about it without someone starting to say I can't right away. I don't mind if I can't do something if people will only talk over the reasons why without just saying it's a silly idea.

Love ,

PS: I wish Dad would come up here to see her ---- he'd think she was cute.

That spring I received three letters in German written by my Grandmother Grimm:

My Dear Phyllis,

You must not be angry with me that I did not immediately answer, but there was so much confusion about Easter. Old Mrs. Schumacher died and was buried on Good Friday. We celebrated Easter on the 18th in Des Plaines, and the week before I was in Chicago at Tante Lenas. Weather was so beautiful that I visited several old friends and then I forgot about the Grimm boy's birthday. But today, May 2 made everything 0.K. again.

Many thanks for the beautiful flowers for Easter. Many good wishes,


Dear Phyllis

I'm sorry that I,could not write sooner. The whole Tucker family was sick. The poor baby is not well yet. Today is the first day he was not feverish. He had earache and a sore throat. Next time I will write more.

With love,
Granny Grimm

My Dear Phyllis,

I thank you very much for the pretty card and I was very happy that you thought of me. Tomorrow morning Harry will send the grill. He forgot about It all week. our baby Dick Is well again. Lost a lot of weight, He must now learn to walk again. Anne was also sick. I hope she will feel better tomorrow. I hope you can read this. My hands are very shaky.

With love,

Spring vacation that year was a pleasant interlude of riding and fooling around with Helen and Nepper, as well as trips into New York with my mother and sister. I can remember nothing outstanding about it although I paid several visits to Pal and Dolly Houck who were now back in Bronxville. My father and mother had been ill during the winter--- ill enough to require staying in bed several days with a practical nurse, but both of them had recovered by Spring vacation. Since my 19th birthday fell on the last day of vacation my, father acceded to my request that we go out to dinner and go to the theatre to see the Lunts and Noel Coward in "Design for Living" before I got on the Wellesley special to go back to college. We had a wonderful evening, and it was the last time I ever saw my father alive.

In the middle of the June exam period I had a phone call late in the afternoon. It was my mother, telling me that my father was very ill, and that I was to come home at once. It was the beginning of a period of complete non-feeling. I do not have any idea of how I got a train re- servation, of how I got a few clothes packed, nor of how I got on a train to New York. I have a few brief flashes of people telling me that they would see to packing up my things and sending them to me if it were necessary, and I can remember the cold shaking that seized me on that train in between periods of feeling that everything was going to be all right. I must have looked dreadful, because I have a brief vision of people in the club car coming over and talking to me and getting me a drink and a chicken sandwich. They were more worried about my being met in Stamford than I was. I wasn't worried at all. I wasn't conscious of any feeling at all.

At home it was equally unreal. I do not remember anyone crying, although I am sure we did. I had been so anxious to see my father, but the man lying on the bed, struggling to breathe was not my father. My father just wasn't there at all.

My father had had a very brief illness. About a week previously he had begun to run a very high temperature which was diagnosed as a strep infection of unknown origin, which had had gotten into his blood stream, and at that time nothing whatever could be done for it. Ten years later he would have had a few penicillin shots and recovered, but in 1933 he lay and burned up. He was in a coma by the time I arrived, and he never recovered consciousness. There were only a few hours of watching his labored breathing before he drew in one last breath and never let it out.

He was 48 years old, and he died on June 12, their 21st Wedding Anniversary.

From then on I really do not remember anything about our decisions as to what to do. Knowing myself, and the fact that in times of stress I talk. talk, talk, I am sure that I did talk, but in my mind it is a long stretch of stony silence. Funerals are barbaric, but they certainly give the grieving family something to do to fill in that terrible void.

He was to be taken back to be buried in Ridgewood Cemetiry just outside of Des Plaines, but my Uncle Dick felt that we should have a funeral service in New York as well, which we did. In that strange numb state I am aware that I sat in front during that service, but somehow I am also in back watching the crowds of people, most of whom we did not know who came to see him ---- bar tenders, taxi-cab drivers, cleaning women from the office, the people who worked in his office. He loved people and they loved him. We then went by train to Chicago and had another funeral in Des Plaines.

I was not consulted as to my mother's plans, but I knew that she would have liked to stay In New York. Dick persuaded her that financially she would be much better off going back to her house in Des Plaines, which had never been sold. He agreed to handle her affairs, which he did until just a few years before his death in 1958. For years he handled them in such a way that if his transactions made a profit she got the profit. If they took a loss, he absorbed the loss. She had a good deal more money when he turned her affairs over to her in 1953 than she had had when my father died in 1933.

The whole summer is unreal in my mind. I do not know who finally packed up my room at Wellesley and sent on what had to be sent and stored what had to be stored. I do not remember making any arrangements as to my coming back the next year, or arranging to make up the exams I had missed.

I cannot say whether I grieved or not during those first months. It was rather as though I were walking in my sleep. It was not until months and years later that I would suddenly wake up thinking that my father was present. and then feel the real sense of loss.

We went back and forth between Des Plaines and New York several times that summer. The Century of Progress --- the 1933 World's Fair --- was held in Chicago for the first summer that year. At 19 you cannot mourn all summer, and I went to the Fair a number of times. There could not have been a more ideal setting for a World's Fair. It was strung out along the lakefront, with the Field Museum and backdrop for the north en- trance. A whole new strip of island was built out in the lake to hold the Midway section. Since it was the first fair in many years it received a great deal of publicity in the hopes that it would start a recovery from the slump.

There was no question as to whether I should go back to Wellesley. I applied for and received a working scholarship of $300, but since the entire cost of a year at Wellesley, tuition, room and board, was only $1,000 at that time it was a big help. I went back to Wellesley in Sep- tember, and my mother and sister went back to Des Plaines where my sister entered her junior year at Maine.