Nov. 28, 1960: Russ Loves Thanksgiving

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Looks like this picks up directly after Thanksgiving. 

November 28, 1960

Dearest Kay,

Oh, the wonders of modern transportation, or something. The old place hasn’t changed one bit. After classes today it was difficult to believe that I’d spent the night at home and even ate breakfast there. Compared with the routine down here, Thanksgiving vacation seems an impossible period of the past. Compared to anything it seems like a vivid dream which can never be forgotten.

Russ loves Thanksgiving.

Looking at it philosophically, college life away from home is a good experience given to make one appreciate home and that certain someone who makes life worthwhile no matter how rough the going gets.

Today was a lousy day. I can say absolutely nothing for it. It started out like a warm spring day, then it rained around noon and, meanwhile, got progressively colder. Right now, it looks and feels like a dreary winter night. Not even a nice, happy winter night. It’s supposed to warm up again by next weekend, but we will have now tomorrow first. Not even the weather knows whether its coming or going. Wish it would make up its mind.

Maybe it’s my outlook.

Maybe? 

I wasn’t very happy today.

How shocking.

Nothing about it was encouraging, except possibly that now that it’s over, tomorrow can come and it’ll only be 18 days until I’m back on the old homestead.

I have never loved living anywhere as much as this guy loves living with his parents.

That is definitely something to look forward to.

That train ride down here was peaceful except for some uncultured farmer trying to imitate a hog while he slept. Kept me away for the last one-third of the trip. Snoring I don’t mind but the snorting and unholy sounds this fellow was making irritates me, aware or asleep, but especially when I’m trying to sleep. Oh, well, such as the breaks of mass travel.

I miss you. Of that I have no doubt. Just having you near makes me feel like nothing is too big or too difficult to tackle.

130 miles provides a somewhat strained grasp, but no distance could break it. You become a larger part of me everyday. The better part, which is why I love you.

Have got to close now. Sweet dreams and good luck. If I’ve got any pull at all with the man upstairs, it’s all going to be on your side. He’s been pretty good to me in the past, so there must be something I can do for you.

I don’t see why the greatest person in the world shouldn’t be given more than her fair share of luck or help or whatever she needs. Don’t study too hard, sweetheart, and keep punchin’. Nothing’s too tough to handle.

Love always,

Russ.

WHAT IS GOING ON WITH KAREN? This further confirms that Karen is miserable at school (or at home?) in a way that Russ just isn’t. He’s a total crab ass but whatever Karen has going on is darker. 

Nov. 21, 1960: Proto-FOMO

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There appears to be a pretty good gap between the last letter and this one. I can only assume we’re missing a few letters? 

November 21, 1960

Dearest Kay,

Thanksgiving vacation can’t come too soon. I’ll be coming in Tuesday night after my Physics hourly. The only train I can get it seems leaves here at 9:35 p.m. and arrives at 11:28 p.m. Rather late [RUSS IS Twenty years old? LOLOL] but then I’ll have the whole day Wednesday as well as a good night’s sleep at home.

Russ needs more sleep than any five people I knew at 20.

That train shouldn’t be too crowded either, which is definitely advantageous.

Next Tuesday looks a long way off. But I also know that with these hourlies looming ahead, there won’t be enough time. I’m already counting minutes of study time.

A gave Beverly a couple sweatshirts to let you choose between, whereupon she told me she bought you one. They’re returnable and my sister might want on so keep any and all that you care to. You can keep all there if you want, naturally. It is unfortunate that Beverly chose the same design that I did.

Bev was rather enthusiastic about the weekend, which is a gross understatement now that I think about it. She was positively over-joyed. Especially with those illustrious members of Sigma Epsilon Pi.

I’m not sure what’s going on here, but I’m wondering if they got together and killed Rosemary? Just kidding, Rosemary made it to 2007. 

I have my reservations. I look forward to this weekend with about as much enthusiasm as a condemned criminal looks forward to his last hour. (Maybe that is not entirely accurate because some condemned criminals really do look forward to the end.) Anyway, I don’t have much a desire to study all weekend while everybody else is out living it up.

FOMO is real and existed in 1960. 

The only satisfaction I can derive is knowing that you are at least getting some opportunity to relax and watch the Illini beat Northwestern and enjoy yourself otherwise. I just hope you don’t enjoy yourself so much that you’ll forget to come back. Then I would have “rescue” you from the wilds of Evanston.

Well, I have to close now. Sleep is becoming necessary. Good luck and take extra good care of yourself, Sweetheart. Will see you in 5 days. Love you.

Love and kisses, ad infinitum,

Russ.

P.S. Please write!

I think I get what’s up. Karen is going to a game in Evanston with Bev. Bev is PSYCHED to go home because Rosemary is a terrible roommate, and Russ is bitter he’s stuck at school. 

Nov 6, 1960: The Trouble with Rosemary

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November 6, 1960

Dearest Femme Fatale,

This is Sunday, after I called you. Beverly is really having trouble with Rosemary.


You may remember Rosemary as Bev’s roommate. We met her in the second letter, and Russ didn’t seem that impressed with her at the time. As usual, the parts of Beverly, Rosemary and Elaine will be played by Lauren Bacall, Betty Grable and Marilyn Monroe. 

I called Bev yesterday to find out if she’d heard from you and with only a little provocation to tell me how things were going she went into a complete account of Rosemary’s actions.

UGH, how dishy would that be?

Rosemary is psychotic, neurotic and just plain, everyday nuts.

Actually, Rosemary feels inferior to everyone and she needs constant and ultra-patient handling. She has such a desire to feel wanted that it takes a literal mountain of compliments, niceties, etc. to satisfy her. Rosemary is unstable and cannot stand criticism in any form, real or imagined, and she has a malignant imagination.

I sympathize completely with Bev. If I had a roommate like Rosemary I would ignore him or if he continued to be openly antagonistic, would have long ago broken him into little pieces and disposed of them around the dorm.

What Bev should do is get another room or, if that’s not possible, throw Rosemary out the window. I would gladly testify that Rosemary was nuts enough to commit suicide.

1960 was a different time.

Anyway, I tried to cheer Bev up, but she really ought to get out of that room if she intends to study and keep her peace of mind.

Yesterday was none too kind to me either. I was sick all day. Maybe this weekend was jinxed.

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

I feel pretty good today, however. I should be in fine shape for classes tomorrow. I wonder if that’s good or bad. Can’t really decide. It’s good I guess.

Illinois lost a ridiculous game to Michigan yesterday. There was no reason why we shouldn’t have won the darn thing. Win ‘em and lose ‘em, I guess.

I don’t go out on weekends, so I can spend the time I used to lose there in writing letters to you.

And that’s how you stay faithful to your high school sweetheart in college, kids.

I don’t have any desire to go out with anyone else anyway, and I’d much rather write to you. Studying is important, naturally, but I must have some spare time and writing letters to you is a good way to spend it.

How have things been going with you? I mean St. Xav’s and all hasn’t made things too miserable. College life isn’t easy.

That’s not the way I remember it. But I knew what married men know.

It seems pretty bad at first, and it doesn’t get any better, but after awhile you just get used to it. A free hour never meant much to me before, but now a whole hour is a well-appreciated gift.

This contributes to my theory that Karen is the one who’s miserable at school and Russ just pretends to be miserable in his letters to her. I think he loves college, minus the lack of a nearby girlfriend. 

I even look forward to Sunday supper because it’s a break from the normal routine and is a chance to get away from the books. It’s a break I don’t begrudge myself because it is a necessity and something everybody does.

It’ll be no less than wonderful if I can see you this weekend. Bring books if you have to. We can combine pleasures with “business” in this case.

Listening to WLS, I hear Chicago has a possibility of snow coming. All bet that white sand’s going to come falling. Back to WPGU. They having inferior electricity down here. All radio stations come in better here on radio (I must be in bad shape) battery. There’s too much interference on AC. That’s Champaign for you. Maybe WPGU’s broadcasting over the power lines down here has something to do with it.

The announcer on WPGU’s in bad shape. He’s playing all kinds of WJJD-type music. One was entitled “Hi-Yo Silver.” No comment.

Russ is not a fan of The Lone Ranger.

Oh, well, I’ve got to go eat Sunday dinner, and then study a little math. Always marth to do.

Auf Wiedersehen for a little while. Don’t study too hard and take care of yourself. You’re sweet!

For a while I thought this endless yearbook cliche sign-off was a little joke between them, but I think I just realized that this was written before that sign-off had become a yearbook cliché!? He’s being sincere, maybe? Imagine that. People used to be sincere. 

Love and kisses,

Ad infinitum,

Russ

P.S. Homer and Jethro have come out with a version of “Itsy-Bitsy Teeny-Weeny, Polka-Dot Bikini.” It is wild. Different anyway. They just played it on the radio.

Radio is terrible in 1960, but here’s the song if you must listen. 

 

Nov. 5, 1960: This Is A Love Letter

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November 5, 1960

On this day in history, Tilda Swinton was born. That’s how much the world has changed, you guys.

Dearest Kay,

Greetings, Sweetheart. Tonight I feel soft and sentimental so if it seems like I’ve gotten carried away, that is the reason.

Heeeeeeey now, what happened over Halloween weekend in 1960? Did Russ discover what married men talk about?

When you love a girl though maybe it’s right that you should get “carried away” once in a while.

I’ve missed your letters, cards or whatever you send along with them. To say I look forward to hearing from you is a gross understatement, believe me. I keep hoping the next day’s mail will bring something. I worry about you because you mean a lot more to me than just a friend.

Darn it. I know how I feel, and I’ll be hanged if I can put it on paper.

Probably that’s because what I feel is too complex and human to be set down in exact, cold words on inanimate paper. Poetry conveys emotion, but that (poetry) is not my field.

DO NOT WRITE POETRY. PLEASE, RUSS. STAY IN YOUR LANE.

A letter is no substitute for the real thing. And that applies to both sender and receiver. I can’t derive the satisfaction of being able to see you from writing a letter. I’m jealous of everybody in Chicago because they can see you easily and I can’t.

The word “love” has become well-worn through time, but it has lost none of its meaning. It’s still a human being’s most treasured gift, to be given or received. There is no greater gift I could give that would equal or be more lasting or valuable than love.

To be loved by another has always been, to me, a source of endless amazement. Once, when thinking about it, the concept of love itself, from any source, impressed me so deeply that I have never forgotten the feeling.

Russ, then and now.

I could never explain it rationally and could never say exactly what it was about it that affected me, but it still happened. And the reward I have is a true appreciation of what love can be.

I have since acquired all the so-called “down to earth” notions about and characteristics of love, but there is still that little unexplainable part that makes it a little more than a rationally explainable phenomenon. It may not be something to use as a reason for losing all sense of reason over, but it is certainly a thing to respect and treat with care.

Love is amazing, so long as it you keep it in perspective. Got it.

Fortunately, love is self-evident and does not require elaborate, accurate explanations of it.

You’re on my mind all the time in any case. I’m not so unrealistic as to say that you are the only thing, but you occupy space more important than any other. It is fortunate that I can think about more than one thing or I would never get anything done just sitting around thinking of you. Right now, you are all I’m thinking about and I feel wonderful, if somewhat lonely.

This is a love letter. I’m human. I can’t think and feel all these things and never express them. I’m not excusing myself. Rather, I’m adding weight to my sincerity. I can’t really do justice to what I really feel, and the result is probably kind of garbled, but I can try.

Emotion is too frequently overlooked and played down. Emotion which is uncontrolled, and in being that way interferes with a person’s objectives, is not good. But emotion which is felt and which should be expressed is being wasted if suppressed.

Maybe I’m just a lovesick fool, but I don’t think so, and if others do, then at least I’m happier than they are. Darn it, I’d make a lousy lover.

Russ did not discover What Married Men Know yet, I guess.

I’m crazy about you so the spirit is there. As I’ve said before, eloquence fails at the most important times. What else can I say. I love you. That is to the point and does not beat around the bush. It’s just that such strong feelings seem to require more. But, on the other hand, what addition can one make. Hang it all, I’m confused.

“I love you not only for what you are but also for what I am when I am with you.”

This just jumped into my head, but I once read an article that explained the difference between men and women. It said that after a great first date, a woman thinks: “I like him. He’s smart and funny.” After a great first date, a man thinks: “I like her. She makes me feel smart and funny.” And now you can use The Thinker image above on me. 

That’s a beautiful line and I just remembered it, and it applies to you. Of that I’m sure. I’m sure of several other things but don’t know how to express them. I’m still confused.

This is a fine state of affairs for an experienced college student.

LOL AT RUSS AND HIS SOPHOMORE COLLEGE/LIFE EXPERIENCE.

Completely baffled by himself. I feel so inadequate, and I am beginning to think that you’re beginning to think I’ve lost my sanity. No, no, I’m not crazy. That’s what they all say, isn’t it?

I still think you’re the greatest and without equal in my mind. Stay as sweet as you are, and take care of yourself. I’ll write more tomorrow and include something that doesn’t give me all kinds of problems in expression. Good night, sweetheart. Don’t forget to write and remember what I’ve expounded upon throughout the letter. Love you lots.

Love and kisses,

Russ

Next up: Beverly is really having trouble with her roomie Rosemary/Rosemarie (we first met them way back in Letter #2)

Oct. 27, 1960: Russ vs. the Volcano

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October 27, 1960

Dearest Kay,

First things first. I don’t have any working facilities available now. MRH supplies nothing and prohibits everything. However, the complex system of MRH does not manage to exert any great influence down to the individual resident level, therefore, after next weekend I intend to have a contraband hot plate in my room. Not even our counselor objects to that so we have all sorts of coffee-makers, hot plates, etc. around the dorm. Bureaucracy will not prevail!

Your archaeologist will arrive tomorrow astride his white horse, brandishing his pun-edged, fierce, golden shovel.

If you saw the new genius Twin Peaks: The Return, this is particularly funny. Maybe Karen goes on to create silent drapes. 

Despair not, fair maiden, Sir Dig-A-Lot will save the day. Do not succumb to the dragon of discontent and overwork.

My roommate: A senior in LAS (Liberal Arts and Sciences), majoring in history in the pre-law curriculum. (His is Nelson W___, incidentally.) Height: 5’ 11”. You met him, so a description would be superfluous.

Damn! I would like a description. But, clearly, Nathan, the roommate who doesn’t like to sleep, is alive and well and coming to be the date of one of the Mean Girls that populates Karen’s college life!

Comes from Oglseby. Spent his first three years at Augustana College in Roch. Island, has had a varied and liberal background and childhood.

I wish Russ would talk about his own childhood friend here, but that would make these letters worth more money and also include something beyond his moment’s irritation so that’s unlikely.

Interested in history, of course, heraldry, people, and athletics, and likes to keep late hours.

Ha! Russ is consistent. But here’s the real scoop on ol’ Nelson: He was born in 1939 in Pennsylvania. He was a boy scout leader. In 1962 he married a gal named Darlene. They had two sons and a daughter. He joined the marines but was out before Vietnam got serious. He was a college professor for 25 years before retiring in 1989. He died in 2004 after a long illness (probably cancer).

That should cover it. She’ll see him Saturday, so she shouldn’t require any more background to mull over.

The weather doesn’t know what to do in Champaign, either. But that isn’t unusual. One gets used to it after a very short time.

I mean, THEY BOTH GREW UP IN CHICAGO JUST 130 MILES NORTH.

The forecast last night went: “Cooler tonight and tomorrow morning. Warmer tomorrow.” This was all relative to yesterday. The weather oscillates. Hot and cold. Rain and no rain. Earthquakes and primeval upheavals. Volcanoes and glaciers, and all the rest. Someday a volcano will erupt under 175 Hopkins and if I’m in the mood I’m generally in it will have met its match.

It’s weird how many Tommy Lee Jones gifs apply to Russ.

A big one might find it a draw, but a titanic battle of heat will develop. Go and erupt on somebody your own size. (Speaking of the volcano.) (Yes, I’ve lost all semblance of sanity.)

I’ve got to end this short since I want to get it in the mail today. I’ve also got to wash clothes today.

Well, at least he has to clean his own clothes.

Auf Wiedersehen for a little while. I’ll see you tomorrow. Take care of yourself ‘til then and don’t work too hard.

Love ad infinitum,

Russ

So I feel like Russ has been pretty crabby lately and having a long semester. Sounds like a weekend at home with his girl might do him so good!

Up next: A weird gap in the timeline…and a real schmoop fest. 

Oct. 25, 1960: Poetry, Mean Girls and Karen

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The short-form letter writing doesn’t last long as our hero bounces back to his usual long-winded style. 

October 25, 1960

Dearest Kay,

I’m writing this while the maid is cleaning the room.

A MAID. IN COLLEGE! HOW IS THIS REAL LIFE!

If I’m not careful, she’ll sweep me out of here.

I mean, she might sweep you out the room, but she certainly won’t compete with you for jobs.

I need to lie down.

 

 

I sympathize with your situation entirely. I feel like I’ve been through a wringer, and all I’ve got to look forward to is hours, hours, and hours of work.

BUT NONE INVOLVE CLEANING.

I’ve got an hourly exam Friday and a week from tomorrow. The math exam bothers me most, because I am not prepared nearly as well as I would like to be and have only a relatively vague understanding of the miserable thing. We’ll see what happens. Maybe I worry too much.

Maybe it’s because you don’t have any actual worries.

And serving as the final touch you are 130 miles away. If I weren’t going home this weekend, I wouldn’t last as a sane, rational human being until Thanksgiving.

Curse the Alum. Board members. Standard future excuse: “I’ve got to leave town to visit a sick friend very close to death.” (You really would only be telling a smile lie. I’m not close to death exactly.)

Karen’s a “hostess” at St. Xav’s, which probably means she has to clean the Alum. Board’s houses because it’s 1960. I’m not clear, but I’m guessing it involves grunt work on top of school work. [And it does! See her list of duties here.]

I’ve got to run to my 2 o’clock class. See you (on paper) in an hour.

Classes are over for the day, thank the powers that be.

Re: excuses: This simplest one is: “I have plans already made which cannot be changed.” Can’t argue with that one. Especially if you don’t mention exactly what the plans are. Memorize these excuses now so that they become reaction to unpleasant requests.

This is not terrible advice, actually. If Karen was a people-pleaser (as I suspect), she’d have a tough time juggling her responsibilities. I’m guessing Bev just did whatever the hell she wanted, which is why I’m Team Bev. 

Enough crying over spilt milk, though. It was a beautiful day, but we will see each other next Friday, Saturday and Sunday? Now you can’t back out. You got yourself into having me, haven’t you?

There are a few ways to read this but without Karen’s letter for context, I’m going to assume she’s overbooked and wants to spend time with her boyfriend because surely making out is much better than hearing his opinions on The State of the World in 1960.

You must have been studying too hard before you wrote the letter you sent and wrote “When you come home this weekend go into hibernation until you have to go back to school.” in a state of derision.

This made me laugh out loud because I just imagined her being like: AND DON’T COME OUT UNTIL YOU SEE THE ERROR OF YOUR WAYS.

Maybe you didn’t know what you were writing. In any case the idea does not strike me as very good. It’s not sleep I need so much as relaxation anyway. And I get that best with you.

One more derogatory remark about your appearance and you get spanked.

(re: Your dress: “I look like a blimp in it!”) (ref: Previous letter by this author regarding his favorite people and uncomplimentary remarks.) This is intolerable. Especially in writing where it’s permanent. I am confident that I can refute any arguments contrary to the observations that you are beautiful, impressively so. Your ancestors would turn over in their graves if they heard you make such remarks.

Russ has a weird thing about their ancestry, no? Also, ugh, Karen has such low self-esteem! I’m pretty sure self-loathing was the emotion I felt most keenly at 19, so I can’t say much about it. Still. Aww, Karen.

Incidentally, the saleswoman didn’t know what she was talking about.

It is you who will enhance the dress. If the dress is good-looking, which I’m sure it is since you picked it out, then it was chosen for you by fate to bring out all the dress’s better qualities.

And I’m not the only who thinks so. Everybody who sees your pictures remarks upon my good fortune. This sort of attention is not to be ignored. Do not be influenced by the remarks of the jealous peasants such as Ellen A__, and others whose names I do not know. I must stop now, or you’ll begin to think yourself too good for me.

Actually, Ellen may have been a mean girl in 1960, but she went on to get advanced degrees from both the University of North Carolina and Tulane. She also studied at Oxford. She was a lifelong learner and teacher. She also had a long-running TV series about books on a local TV station in North Carolina! She died at the age of 71 in 2014. 

A poem:

O soft embalmer of the still midnight,

      Shutting, with careful fingers and benign,

Our gloom-pleas’d eyes, embower’d from the light,

      Enshaded in forgetfulness divine:

O soothest Sleep! if so it please thee, close

      In midst of this thine hymn my willing eyes,

Or wait the “Amen,” ere thy poppy throws

      Around my bed its lulling charities.

Then save me, or the passed day will shine

Upon my pillow, breeding many woes;

      Save me from curious Conscience, that still lords

Its strength for darkness, burrowing like a mole;

      Turn the key deftly in the oiled wards,

And seal the hushed Casket of my Soul.

John Keats

And another poem follows: 

When the lamp is shattered

The light in the dust lies dead –

When the cloud is scattered,

The rainbow’s glory is shed.

When the lute is broken,

Sweet tones are remembered not;

When the lips have spoken,

Loved accents are soon forgot.

As music and splendour

Survive not the lamp and the lute,

The heart’s echoes render

No song when the spirit is mute –

No song but sad dirges,

Like the wind through a ruined cell,

Or the mournful surges

That ring the dead seaman’s knell.

When hearts have once mingled,

Love first leaves the well-built nest;

The weak one is singled

To endure what it once possessed.

O Love! who bewailest

The frailty of all things here,

Why choose you the frailest

For your cradle, your home, and your bier?

Its passions will rock thee,

As the storms rock the ravens on high;

Bright reason will mock thee,

Like the sun from a wintry sky.

From thy nest every rafter

Will rot, and thine eagle home

Leave thee naked to laughter,

When leaves fall and cold winds come.

Percy Bysshe Shelly

I’m such a busy copy and paster of poetry these days. Weird the way life turns. 

Hmm, I wonder how that presidential election is going in 1960? God knows we don’t get enough politic coverage in our lives in 2018! 

Sen. Kennedy just issued the statement that Vice-President Nixon is totally uninformed on the American position abroad. Vice-President Nixon has done similar things. Why must political campaigns include these ridiculous statements.

I sorta wish I’d found these letters two years ago, and Russ and I could have started a cross-generational podcast about politics. That would have gone well. 

As Vice-President of the United States, a man couldn’t possibly be uninformed on our position abroad. Even the average college student has a fairly accurate knowledge of that. Certainly, one can claim Sen. Kennedy’s observation to be true, but he would be unrealistic.

The same applies to Nixon’s statements about Kennedy. Some of them may be similarly classified as ridiculous and unrealistic. “Mud-slinging” is childish and should be out of place with men aspired the presidency.

Just gonna take a second to let that “men” aspired to the presidency thing sink in after last week’s screed

Maybe Eric Hass will get elected and all our election problems will be solved. For a long, long time.

Just when I think I have Russ figured out, he throws me a curveball.

I wonder how the election of Eric Hass would strike the rest of the world. The proletariat could rise against the tyranny of the aristocracy. That would shake up the rest of the world considerably.

Russ is a proto Bernie Bro? 

Everybody should make it a point to find out what Mr. Hass’ views on education, foreign policy, national defence, business, etc. are. Maybe a big campaign in his behalf would keep things alive around here. Give the students something to do and the Chicago Tribune something to write about.

Fun fact: Socialist Labor Party candidate Eric Hass got 47,522 votes in the 1960 election. I also read that after the surge in socialism of the 1930s, it plummeted in the 50s (obvi) and while the hippies were into them for a hot minute in the late 1960s (the old guard didn’t want to share their meager power with the Flower Children, I guess), they never really got it together and pretty much have disappeared as a party in the 2000s.  

Dinner is calling, but I’d rather continue writing. However, I must go soon or the cafeteria will close and I will go hungry. This might not be a bad idea considering the quality of MRH food.

He switches gears here and it must be in relation to Karen’s talking about changes to their hometown of Evergreen Park

Hey! Evergreen Park has good streets now. Are you complaining about our nice, new streets? Don’t complain about the old ones, either. They gave Evergreen Park a great deal of distinction. They suppressed that “metropolitan look” and made it look suburban. Now that we have our streets and curbs we have lost a great deal of “character.” We’re just part of the city. Evergreen Park does not stand out from all the other parts of Chicago around it anymore. This is a great loss.

And he switches topics again: 

So who needs Gina? (re: the dance). Look who I’ll be there with.

So, I’ll be on display, eh? Should I bring my display case and name plate? (This isn’t meant sarcastically; It’s just a good opening for some more nonsense.) If this is to be the case then I want the proper tour guides and background. Actually, maybe you shouldn’t have told me. Whenever I’m on display and know it I always manage to make the worst impression.

That’s because you’re a prig, as my grandmother might say.

After Saturday night, all your friends may be wondering what ever possessed you to encourage such an excuse for a man. Beverly’s original conception of myself might then be everyone’s conception — without exception. (Alliteration without even trying. Illiterate alliteration.) (I’ve been studying too hard.)

My instructors want everybody to cut off the ends of their fingers and write exams with that instead of ink and pencil. We have very colorful instructors at the U. of I. The idea of exams signed and written in blood appeals to them. They feel this would be in keeping with the type of studying they require to pass the things.

Tomorrow, I have ROTC at 8 o’clock in the morning. At least you don’t have to put up with that Mickey Mouse.

Right. Because women weren’t allowed in the ROTC until 1972

I think I left off the last page of my last letter.

WHEW, I THOUGHT I LOST IT

I put it in an envelope this morning so hurriedly I forgot to notice if I had completed the letter the night before. Takes all kinds of brains. In any case, if you were wondering what happened or what I was trying to do, that’s the explanation. A very simple-minded, stupid mistake.

Incidentally, I’m going to put his letter in the mailbox tonight. I would like to know exactly when it arrives. Unfortunately, I don’t think they send any mail out of Champaign-Urbana before 12:00 noon or after 4:30 p.m. but this is one way to find out. Maybe I can get one-day service to Chicago. One wouldn’t think this is so difficult considering that there is only 130 miles between here and Chicago. Not exactly commuter distance, but not a huge amount of feet either.

I keep thinking about Oct. 28-30. This is a red letter day in this semester. Three days to go. Now I’m going to have to get next weekend out of my mind, partially anyway, and study math for awhile.

Oct. 26, 1960

Studying math carried right up till 12 o’clock last night and with my 8 o’clock this morning I needed sleep. Damn the Illinois Central. I can’t get a train out of here until 5:30 Friday. I led a cursed life. We’ll get this out in this afternoon’s mail.

See you in 2 days. Auf wiederschauen. Be good and take care of yourself.

Love and kisses,

Russ

Next week: Russ is super insanely in love with Karen after their Halloween weekend meetup. 

Oct. 24, 1960: Real Short and A Little Sweet

Miss one? Check the chronological list here.

Oct. 24, 1960

Dearest Karen,

No random foreign greeting? Ok.

I’ve been copying math notes all night and will have to continue tomorrow morning. Consequently this letter will be finished tomorrow afternoon. I have to return the guy’s notes that I’m borrowing but by during class tomorrow. (I’ve got an hourly Friday.)

Your letter arrived this evening at 8:45 p.m. They Glarner Office called for me to pick it up. That’s one-day service.

Do you think Karen rushed her letter overnight to say: KEEP IT SHORT, SWEETIE, after that last one? 

Your card arrived this morning with the surprise inside. I’ll have to send a letter of thanks to your mother. She can certainly choose the most appropriate gifts.

Actual gift from Karen’s mom after reading that last letter

But now it’s getting late, and I need sleep in a bad way. Please forgive my “rushing off.”

Good night, Sweetheart. Sweet dreams until morning. Will see you soon (4 days).

Love ad infinitum,

Russ

I might be unnecessarily holding a grudge against Russ from last week?

Oct. 23, 1960: Russ Hates Feminism

Miss one? Check the chronological list here.

NOTE: This was the first page I read of all of Russ’s letters. I picked it up, read the first paragraph and was like: OH, YES, I WILL TAKE THIS WHOLE BOX.

He picks up directly from the last letter and declares this to be page 8!

Oct. 23, 1960

Dearest Kay,

Wie geht es dir?

HE SPELLED THIS CORRECTLY. It means, “How are you?”

“Love is a many splendored thing.” Did you know that? Somebody wrote a song about it.

Did you know it was a song from the movie, made in 1955… and filmed in CINEMASCOPE.

Love is great except for me, because the object of it is 130 miles away, which places a very effective damper on the majority of benefits, especially the tangible ones. I may haunt you before next week-end.

Now I’ve broken the precedent of closing letters talking about love. I’ve opened one with it. I didn’t break the precedent “on purpose.” I just felt like it. You are on my mind.

This is going so well. He’s gonna ruin it.

Some obviously mis-guided, bigoted, uninformed sensationalist called Jane Goodsell wrote an article in The American Weekly in which she “beat the drums and blew the horns” for the poor, undernourished, mistreated, enslaved, but typical housewife.

The 1960s are gonna blow Russ’s mind, right? This letter was written before Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem. This letter was written at a time when women couldn’t have their own credit card or serve on a jury in every state in the country!  

From her point of view, she has been unwillingly forced into a situation called marriage by the heinous machinations of an unethical husband.

Or just the constraints of a patriarchal culture?

She must tolerate him. Men are obviously not worth the time of day but are to be treated with care and left unmolested. They are universally thoughtless, unkind, self-centered and have no inherent intelligence.

I mean, this has been my overall experience but YMMV.

They exist only with the encouragement and aid of their loving wives, and their success depends solely upon the abilities they glean, willingly or unwillingly, from the inexhaustible storehouse of their wives. “Women worry about their husband their husbands worry about themselves.”

Women are the Rocks of Gibraltar in every household. They are not upset by anything and take everything in stride. Men are children and need constant attention and enlightenment. Men are hypochondriacs and always think they’re sick. Women never worry about being sick. All symptoms are brushed off without a moment’s hesitation. They appear helpless occasionally only to keep their husband’s happy. Apparently, men have value only for stud purposes. They can perpetuate the race, even helping to create the ideal human being, a woman. This is their only excuse for existence.

Remember when I said it’s nice to know that the headline news of the day rarely matters in the long run? We’ve come a long way since Russ’s day and yet we’re still dealing with the same crap. This whole letter makes me tired.

Similar articles have appeared taking the opposing stand. Why such extremes. The article wasn’t, although it should have been, written in a facetious manner.

I looked up Jane Goodsell, and from what I can tell she was like a saucy Erma Bombeck in 1960, so I bet it was written at least somewhat satirically. Millennials: Google Erma Bombeck. We’ll wait.

If all these things are true why the —— do women bother getting married.

Because they didn’t have access to birth control pills and couldn’t get hired at jobs they were just as qualified as boys to do, so they couldn’t take care of themselves? Has Russ never seen Mad Men?

Certainly it isn’t out of altruistic desires to perpetuate mankind. That is no problem and does not require marriage if that is the only end for marriage.

However, it’s not true and there is no basis for the childish evasion of reality comprising the essence of the article. Why assume any “battle of the sexes” and proceed to stimulate and improve on it. Why draw such a line between the sexes and proceed to place men and women at the extremes of this territory.

Russ is so the Millennial guy who tells you he’s a humanist but not a feminist because he believes in equality for all.

This so-called “battle of the sexes” is an imagined excuse for all kinds of slams against other people. People seem very anxious to find some basis for division between themselves and others and sexual differences do not escape notice. Apparently the more the merrier. The objective seems to be find an opposite in everybody so that you can attack them, saying I’m good, so you must be bad.

Hillary Clinton was 13 when this letter was written. I wonder if she read Goodsell’s articles? 

A long list of opposites is needed to “have something for everybody.” Sex is good because it takes care of half the population (roughly) in one sweep and consequently cuts the bigotry proceedings to half the work.

Russ’s penmanship sucks in this letter and he is dropping a lot of words and has quite a few scribbles and I’m thinking he was drunkenly pontificating here.

The newspapers are always happy to please the people. What is unfortunate is that many individuals read a thing like that and, since it compliments their egos and is presented in a logical if falsely assumed manner, supposedly representing the norm, they believe it. Since the views of their opposites is distasteful, they develop a certain amount of superiority to their “opponents.” Being basically irrational and emotional, the inevitable result is dissention.

I have NO clue what that last word is meant to imply. Also, is he actually calling women irrational or emotional? I need to lie down before I get all hysterical and have an emotional reaction to Russ’s logic. Heh.

Certainly, articles like these do not cause, but they do irritate, unhealthy relationships. They provide emotional fuel for the argument and verbal battle. They require defense. And offense-defense situation leads to only one thing, — a victor. The loser is resentful. What value is there in creating situations where someone must defend himself. They cause a circumstance of argument.

LADIES, STOP MAKING RUSS UNCOMFORTABLE WITH YOUR DESIRE FOR BIRTH CONTROL AND JOBS AND AUTONOMY!

And, most important, why create these things with fallacious material. For this I can find no excuse. The editorial policy of the Chicago American and many other newspapers as well is obviously deteriorating.

LOL, you haven’t seen nothin’ yet, Russ. I’m going to send a gender fluid teen to your house to give you these letters back.

They take such great concern in the divorce rate in this country, and yet feel no compunction in providing a reference source of emotional insults for a domestic argument.

Probably shouldn’t teach women to read and write! They’ll just get ideas and start fights.

“Mental cruelty” is the most frequent grounds for divorce and the “battles of the sexes” is the greatest contributor to that. Typically, the case of the mistreated, over-worked wife who is being led into a battle by the press, radio and TV.

 

I almost picked a way more brutal gif from this seminal TV movie, but just imagine Farrah Fawcett getting the shit beat out of her by a man so I don’t have to keep seeing it as I work on this letter. 

Repetition is an effective form of indoctrination and if domestic battles as a primary result of marriage is repeated often enough it will at least be assumed by many to be almost requisite in marriage, which is far from a rational assumption and completely unnecessary in our society. Stressing compatibility would be a better course of action.

I totally agree: Marry someone you are compatible with! But also: I bet a bunch of housewives were unhappy in 1960 because they wanted something else and never got a shot at it. They were probably especially unhappy because a bunch of them (and/or their sisters and mothers) got to work and got a taste of freedom during WWII.

Making incompatibility seem distasteful might destroy a great many useless television shows which depend on incompatibility in marriage for their humor, but at least no stimulus would exist to lead people to think that incompatibility is really funny and far from serious.

The Top 10 TV Shows of 1960 barely featured any women and were largely westerns (!): Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, Have Gun — Will Travel, The Andy Griffith Show, The Real McCoy’s, Rawhide, Candid Camera, The Untouchables, The Price Is Right, and The Jack Benny Show. The only shows I could figure that were about the battle of the sexes in the fall of 1960 were The Flintstones and The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. The #11 show is the first one to even have a main “mom” character (that isn’t dead): Dennis the Menace. Did you know The Honeymooners (pictured above) only aired for two years and a total of 39 episodes and was canceled by 1956?

And now you’ve been more or less forced into reading another uninhibited essay on a ridiculous issue which really doesn’t concern you.

But now that I’ve written it, someone has to read it and the letter is yours. Q.E.D. you have the dubious pleasure.

Karen, me and the 10 people who are reading these are shaking our collective heads at the idea that the state of women in 1960 doesn’t concern poor Karen.

I am going to finish this letter in a canteen over Sunday supper.

While Russ

heads to

the canteen

I’m gonna

take a

break.

I have never written a letter in the canteen before, although many others have participated in this great sport. And sport it is, because it’s a constant competition between writing the letter and being distracted by people milling around. Don’t expect too much from this section of the letter.

People are interesting, especially college students taking underserved breaks from studying, myself included.

But when the printed page becomes a blur of black and white and one’s pen begins writing personal insults and invitations to stop studying then a break is in order. Actually, this is an exaggeration (profound statement!), but very often this is nearly the case.

The music played in here by the students seems to alternate between fine and positively unfit.

Remember that Russ hates rock and roll? Oh, Russ. #bless

Apparently, we have here the freshmen and upper classmen contrasted. A certain allowance must be made for those who, in high school, developed bad taste, and have not yet outgrown it. Some freshman are good student (college level, the only level on which there are true students, of course) material, but they are in a definite minority.

His fixation on being cooler than the lowly freshman still cracks my shit up.

Re: Next weekend. What time does the dance start? That’s all for now. Every time I think about next weekend I want the days in between to go a little faster. Only 5 days till D-Day (i.e. Dream-day. Ok, so its corny, but I mean it anyway.)

This weekend was better than last. Partly because it was the first chance I’ve had to relax all week and partly because my parents came down. We had a very enjoyable day yesterday.

He’s close to his parents and has a great girlfriend, but he can’t figure out what’s good about the world. I hope his angry young man nonsense faded and he figured out the plot. 

Christmas and Thanksgiving. (True to the spirit of writing things as they come into my mind, Christmas and Thanksgiving suddenly came into the poor, incompetent thing.) I think about them often, especially Christmas. Christmas has always been my favorite holiday season, and especially while I’m at school.

THIS IS MARKED PAGE 20!

Would you prefer shorter letters?

Yes. Today I would.

Seriously. These letters often retrogress into nonsensical babbling, which can be very distasteful. Would you rather have shorter letters which come to the point and say things without excessive elaboration? Personally, it doesn’t bother me to write long letters, but you may appreciate the shorter variety, which don’t repeat themselves over and over again. Please give answer. I’m really in a poor position to judge them objectively and favorably. Naturally, they are nothing new to the author.

You guys, I seem to have lost the last page of this letter! Maybe I threw it out in a fit of rage because it took me like two weeks to transcribe this letter? Maybe it’s sandwiched between two other pages somewhere? If I find it, I’ll update here!

 

Rare & Expensive View-Master Items

For an overview of View-Master collecting see this page.

This is an ever-evolving and updating list of rare and expensive View-Master items. I’m not an expert on this topic. They do exist but I wouldn’t count myself among them. These are just items I’ve found that go for quite a lot of cash on the View-Master market.

For more on this, check out my spreadsheet, which has some notes about values. You can see my Pinterest board of rare and expensive View-Master items I’ve stumbled across. Also, for current prices, check ebay.

Rare View-Master – Unusual Reels/Sets

  • Any sealed reels catch a premium, assuming the package is intact.
  • Some promotional reels (these vary widely and may be subject to the popularity of whatever is being promoted on the reel–often entertainment related promotional reels are more expensive but scarcity is a bigger indicator — see the spreadsheet linked above for more notes on this topic). Some expensive sets I’ve seen:
    • Bates Motel (A&E TV Show)
    • Fallout 3 SimTek 1000
  • The 150-reel set: Stereoscopic Range Estimator Naval Aviation Training World War II (Complete sets of WWII Army/Navy training reels has gone for $400+ for complete set, includes a box, reels and two Model B viewers).
  • The original and completed Stereoscopic Atlas of Human Anatomy. Includes 23 volumes and 221 reels. ($500+)
  • Mushrooms in their Natural Habitat (33 reels)

Rare Gift Sets:

  • Dukes of Hazzard Canister set (1982)
  • Dune
  • Monster Gift Pack
  • Nations of the World Library
  • Tron Gift Set (1981)

Rare/Pricier Reel Sets:

  • Astroworld Houston ($100+)
  • Cartoon Carnival
  • Expo ’70 in Japan (three three-reel sets)
  • Green Hornet
  • The Munsters ($100+)
  • Tasmania Australia

Rare Individual Reels:

  • #1305 President Kennedy in Ireland (pulled from shelves after his death, I’ve seen these go for around $500)
  • Girl Scouts Serve Their Country
  • Movie Preview Reels from 1953
  • “Blue ring” reels, gold stickers in the middle, “buff” colored reels fetch higher prices. These are the oldest View-Master reels before the standard white reels came into being.
  • “Hand-lettered” reels sometimes get higher prices than typeset but not significantly more unless hard to find
  • Tour of View-Master Plant (and any internal documents or reels)

Rare View-Master Viewers

  • View-Master 500 Stereo Projector
  • View-Master Model A with large lenses
  • View-Master Model D (the most expensive of easily acquired viewers). The better quality, the better the price. Usually you’ll pay a premium for having the original silver medallion on it and the original box). $100-$200
  • View-Master Model E in Red, Blue-Gray or Cream
  • Model K (especially in unusual colors)
  • Tweety Bird Viewer from Six Flags ($200-ish on eBay for new in box as of 2018)
  • Mickey Mouse Face Viewer in *excellent* condition is harder to find but not particularly expensive

Other Rare View-Master Items

  • Coppery Brown Reel Case (as opposed to cream/maroon; turquoise is less common as well)
  • Original photographs used to produce reels
  • Original dioramas created to photograph for reel sets (extremely rare, from what I understand)
  • Advertising: in-store display items
  • Personal stereo mounts
  • Personal Stereo Camera Film Cutter
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