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

Miss one? Check the chronological list.

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

Oct. 22, 1960: The Guy Is a Total Loss

Miss one? Check the chronological list here.

Spoiler alert: I LOVE this letter. It’s so dishy and judgmental, which is just how I like my letters! 

Oct. 22, 1960

Dearest Karen,

Bonjour, mon Cherie. Comment allez-vous? Auch, wie sie in ein anderen. Brief gesagt haben.

This translates as: “Hello Darling. How are you? Also like her in another. Letter said.” I don’t even know, you guys.

We won our football game! 10-8. We started off like great guns, but after that we didn’t look as good. Penn State’s touchdown and run for the extra two points shouldn’t have happened. We goofed. We got a touchdown and a field goal early in the first quarter, but after that began to tail off. The second half we looked sick when compared to the first half. Penn State scored in the fourth quarter and Illinois muffed its chance for another touchdown. No sterling plays by either team. We won anyway, that’s what really counts. Too bad it wasn’t a conference game.

My mother brought me more food.

This is how I picture all food in the 1950s.

Side note: my mother never brought me food and for that I am grateful because she was a terrible cook.

I can really feast for the next couple of weeks. Actually it will probably last only this week. Not because there’s so little, but because the hunger I’ve been saving for two or three days will make itself “abundantly obvious.”

Weeks? What kind of food did she bring? 

So how’s the world been in your half? Mainly, how’s the work been? This is important because I’m going to haunt you over next weekend. One cannot study while being haunted.

One of the guys I roomed with first semester last year is down here visiting a buddy of his this weekend. The guy (the visiting one) flunked out the end of last semester as did his girl (?) (fiance(?)).

YAS to all the implied judgments. 

The university was and still is better off without him, but that’s not the point. He’s getting married next March. I think his attitude toward it is one of a little boy looking forward to new adventure, full of hidden pleasure.

LOL. Russ thinks the drop-out wants to have sex! I’d just assume a couple of dropouts were already doing it. 

He enjoys the prestige involved and the opportunity to say he’s entering into the final achievement of responsibility, although he doesn’t look at it that way. She compliments his ego and he can talk about things all married men talk about.

What does Russ think married men talk about? I know a few, and they always seem to go on about home improvement, the yard and the garage. Sometimes work. For some reason Joe Rogan’s podcast seems to come up a lot, too. 

He can use marriage as an excuse for evading true responsibility. He can blame “love” for interference in his ambitions and elimination of his desire to succeed. He knows people congratulate and admire the future groom and this pleases his ego. Therefore, he wants them. He wants all the untried “formalities” and informalities of getting and being married. It’s all one big, happy fling and he is curious about the intricacies and “intimacies” involved in his circumstance.

Russ is the most 1950s person who ever lived. 

She may love him. She definitely does, for some unholy reason, although possibly not enough to marry him. She may be making a mistake in judgment.

Her love is a novelty to him, though. He finds it pleasant and stimulating. He enjoys her affection and brags about her affectionate action both excessively and colorfully.

If only we had one of that guy’s letters! 

Without her presence and physical stimulation his desires take the form of lust.

Her father also owns a small but successful company of his own and being quick to take the easy way out my former “roommate” sees in this a future of money with no work attached. He sees an inherited interest in the company.

To him, love and marriage are entertaining faces of existing and he will exploit them to their fullest. The marriage will last until her father wills her and her husband an interest (probably half as there is only another daughter in the family.), and then his “ardor” will subside and life will grind on for the two of them until death or divorce separates the impossible pair.

This is the most I have liked Russ since we undertook this folly. 

She seems to have the idea she will completely “remodel” him. Certainly a certain amount of change and compromise on the exterior personality characteristics is always present. But one cannot change basic personality characteristics. Nor will a girl succeed in accepting him as a first husband. All in all, this marriage will be “interesting.” The guy is a total loss.

I love that he’s a “total loss!” and I wish he’d used their names so I could Google up what happened to them!  

And now, until tomorrow, goodnight, Sleeping Beauty. See you soon, Sweetheart.

Love ad Infinitum,

Russ

Oct. 19, 1960: Throwing Darts at Monkeys

Miss one? Check the chronological list here.

Hell week at school for Russ leads to another short letter.

October 19, 1960

Hi Sweetheart,

Half of this bloody week is gone. The other can’t be any worse and I’ve made it so far.

We shot darts at monkeys today in Physics lecture (or rather the lecturer did), among other things. Some of the other things were observing a stream of water and shooting a little ball out of a cannon and catching it again. (The monkeys, incidentally, were stuffed.)

Oh thank god. 

This is a college-level course. These demonstrations probably cost a small fortune in initial expense. I wonder who the guy is that does nothing but sit around and devise all these complicated pieces of demonstration equipment? I’ll bet the instructors have a ball playing with all these little toys. No doubt that’s all they do because none of them can teach.

That grind from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. is bad. I only had 20 min. to eat lunch and breakfast was nonexistent. Tomorrow is a little lighter in comparison, but not much. Have to do a little studying for a while. Will continue later.

Here I am again, back from the foreign wars, i.e., my Physics text and my dish. If this exam continues the precedent set by my math and chem exams I’m in real trouble because I’m not that well prepared for this one.

Am I going to relax when this week is over. This has been the worst to date. It shocks me. It can’t get any worse, I’m sure. I kept getting sleepy in classes today. I don’t think about the time between the hour I went to bed and the hour I wake up anymore. I just force myself out of bed when the alarm goes off, and go to class.

Speaking of sleep. Some of it I must get tonight. Sorry to rush off so quickly but —

Good night, sweetheart. Will see you soon.

Love and kisses,

Always,

Russ

Oct. 17, 1960: Russ Is a Noble Cynic

Miss one? Check the chronological list here.

This letter is marked 1 of 2.

October 17, 1960

Dearest “K,”

My roommate and I have spent the last hour looking up names. Really. In a book (2 vols.) devoted to the noble families of Europe. I rate. On my mother’s side anyway. Descended from a noble family of Hamburg. My coat of arms is a blue shield with a silver bar across it, accented to the left, with a star on the left and a circle on the right sides al in gold.

(Right and left refer to the bearers.)

Garsh! I’m noble. You rate, too. There are several noble K___ families. We choose the Prussian one. Seemed most logical. Anyway, the Prussian K__ family were nobles of the Holy Roman Empire and they have a gold shield with a blue star in the center, the rays of the stars being made to look as if they stood out.

 With small silver crowns on the rays. Correction, it is a six-pointed star in relief.

Addition to mine: There is a helmet above the shield, with a blue mantel coming down from the helmet, Wings coming straight up from the helmet and facing front with a gold ring between the wings.

Interesting anyway. We’re both noble. All this reference work provided a somewhat pleasant diversion from the rotten mood I have been in the past few days. I alternate between periods of depression and happiness. My cheerfulness stems from the fact that when I write to you I think about you and that cheers me up somewhat. However, thinking about you makes me want to see you, and since I can’t, this often gives me a somewhat pessimistic outlook on life in general. Confliction of emotion. Results in what might be called a cheerful pessimism, or maybe an optimistic pessimism. Such a thing is possible. I hate the world and find little of value in it and have no faith in people, but I never give up hope.

Russ suffers from the human condition!

Always hoping for a better deal. Never get it though.

Russ is an (upper?) middle class guy in college in 1960. His generation will enjoy some of the greatest prosperity human beings have ever known with cheap housing, decent wages, exceptional benefits, etc. And he doesn’t have racial, sexual or gender issues to contend with. He’s literally one of the luckiest humans to have ever been born. And he’s probably too old for Vietnam. Of course, he doesn’t know any of that (yet?).

St. Xav’s courses don’t sound so difficult as they are tedious. Tons of “homework” is out of character in college-level work. It is generally accepted in college or university that the student is a student and is interested in learning and knowledge for their own merit, rather than their results on a homework paper. I have no written homework whatsoever with the exception of about 20-30 chem. problems (probably less) throughout the entire semester.

Have I mentioned Russ is the luckiest human and has NO clue?

My lecturers supply references which may or may not be consulted depending on whether the student wishes to devote his time to these references and on the student’s knowledge of the material. Studying I’ve always got to do. Never can do too much of that.

Incidentally, I got a 49 (out of 100) on my chem. hourly. The average was 34, nine points higher than last year’s average for the first hourly. Nothin’ like a few nice hourlies to keep things rolling along.

Didn’t get any Physics done this evening. Worked on preparing for Chem. lab all evening. No sleep this week. I’ve got a procedure to make up for chem lab tomorrow night and much physics to study. I’ve also got an 8 o’clock class Wednesday morning. This ought to be real great. And when I get through with Physics and ROTC Thursday I can start on Math and try to get caught up. I should hibernate until Oct. 28. Fortunately, everything should be in order by then. However, the next week and a half looks pretty black.

College has gotten way less rigorous, I think? I mean, I don’t remember it being that time consuming. My 20s were mostly waiting tables and drunken shenanigans. Of course, I majored in film studies and library science. Ha! 

Tonight I’ve got to get some sleep. I’ve got classes tomorrow. Fortunately, only P.E., Math, and ROTC theory. Maybe I can get some work done.

Well, sweetheart, good night, sweet dreams, and cheer up, better days are coming, ——somewhere. I still love you.

Love and kisses,

Ad infinitum,

Russ

Don’t worry! There’s plenty more where this letter came from, though even Monty is starting to judge how I spend my spare time. Brutal. 

Oct. 15, 1960: Russ LOVES Football and Karen (and Lord Byron)

Miss one? Check the chronological list here.

I found these adorable little blank notecards that belonged to Karen tucked in between two of Russ’s letters. Maybe this is why he’s so consumed with stationery?

This letter is marked 5 of 5! The rain of letters ceases here. 

October 15, 1960

Dearest “K”

Well, on the basis of your last card, I’m either exotic or rather unappetizing or both.

Dying to see what that is about! I imagine she sent him a card with a buffalo on it. I don’t know why but that’s the first thing that popped into my head. 

The explanation for the sounds coming from this end of the line Fri. morn. is in letter 4 of 5. Should have mentioned it when I talked to you, but I didn’t. How could I possibly be displeased! Hearing your voice is a darn sight better than having to read what you say, and being able to talk to you beats writing by a long shot. The only drawback is the cost of long-distance phone calls. Otherwise my conversations would go on for hours.

I feel you, Russ! Long-distance calls used to be expen$$$$$ive! In college, my rent was $300 and my phone bill was very often just as much if not more. Serious scratch in 1995. Also, Karen has low self-esteem, and I’m gonna blame her mean dad that we learned about in a previous letter.

I hope you appreciate contemporary stationery as much as I appreciate it and contemporary cards.

What in the hell is he talking about? I’m guessing anything that is not onion paper is “contemporary” for Russ.

I’m going to have to send out some contemporary cards to you. That’s the only way I can obtain my “revenge” (?) (Question marks are evasive little forms of punctuation. I either leave them out or mess them up. Can’t have everything.)

I adore that he thinks question marks are evasive forms of punctuation.

The score in the Illinois-Minnesota game is 7-7 right now. Wisconsin beat Purdue last Saturday 7-0. If Purdue beats Ohio State today, that will even up the Big Ten rather nice. Jerry Wood just kicked a 33-yard field goal putting Illinois in the lead 10-7. Keep your fingers crossed for the Illini. By the time you get this letter, the game will be over, but we haven’t finished the season yet. So far so good.

Anyway, I slept through my class this morning. Great performance. This has got to stop.

Looks like a pretty good game for the Illini.

You’ll have to excuse my constant subject-changing. I’m listening to the game while I write this letter. Very shortly, I’ll to go out and mail these letters. You’ll have to promise to open them in order.

I tried, Russ.

Fine. This is the last of the series. Great, you’ll find out about opening them in order after you’ve opened them all. That isn’t exactly rational thinking, now is it?

Purdue leads Ohio 24-21 in the third quarter, Michigan leads Notre Dame 14-0 at the half. Half-time score for the Illini: 10-7. Go-go-Ilini! We’re playing Minnesota for the their homecoming. We beat Minnesota last year for our Homecoming also.

IF YOU ARE GONNA RECAP A HOMECOMING, YOU NEED TO RECAP THE RIGHT ONE.

Let’s keep up the good work. The Illini really can’t afford to lose this game. Everything should work out pretty well.

I ran out of Illinois stickers to put on my envelopes. Therefore, my trademark is gone for awhile. I can’t even buy more. All the bookstores are sold out. They must be in great demand. I’ll have to try again this afternoon. No, the bookstores aren’t open this afternoon. Oh, well, maybe the drugstores will do the trick.

Based on the envelopes? They didn’t.

The Illini are still ahead 10-7 near the end of the third quarter. Three points really isn’t too much of a lead in this game. We can do it though.

God! I have Physics to study today. Keep punchin’ for that hourly. It’s a good thing Physics is not my roughest subject. Keep worrying about it, though. Have to study math one of these days.

This is a dull weekend. Especially when contrasted with the past and future weekends, — especially last weekend. To be philosophical about the situation. One must have bad in order to appreciate the good. Very nice and practical. Rot! Dream a little. I’m dreaming about Oct. 28-30. It’s gonna be great!

Actually, there isn’t anything I can really tell you about, as is obvious in the above part of this letter.

Looks bad for the Illini. Minnesota has a first and goal to go (eight-yard line). We have go to win this miserable game. This looks real bad. They’ve made it to the two-yard line. The announcer goofed. They had a first down with two yards to go. Curses! Minnesota just put the ball over the goal line. The kick is good. Minnesota leads 14-10 with 11 minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Now, we really need a touchdown. Everything is black now. We’ll see what happens eventually.

The Illlini lost that touchdown to Minnesota because of a bad kick and three penalties which put Minnesota in a real good position. The point: Illinois still has a pretty good chance. The teams are more or less evenly matched. We might make it after all. Forty-one yard line with 8 min. 45 sec. to go. Loss 37½ yard line, 2nd down. Big run. First down on Minnesota’s 44-yard line. Another loss. Good grief! 44-yard line of Illinois with a penalty on the play. We couldn’t afford that.

And you thought you didn’t like it when Ross got political! Hope there’s at least one more Kennedy-Nixon debate. 

Second down with 22 yards to go. 6 mins. 42 sec to go. Another loss. The Illinois line is falling apart. Third down and 33 yards to go. Looks real black. Even the referees are against us. They called our pass receiver out of bounds. Fourth and 32. The punt of out-of-bounds on the 26-yard-line. Minnesota has the ball in their own territory. Looks real bad. 5 min. 5 sec left in the game.

Minnesota moved it up to the 31-yard line of Illinois. We have lost. Too many lousy penalties. This is no good. Only a miracle can save us. Another first down for Minnesota. Might as well quit listening. Minnesota just made another touchdown. Great! Put the flags at half-mast. Losing this game is worse than losing to Ohio State.

As anyone from Michigan can tell you, nothing is worse than losing anything to Ohio.

Disappointing is hardly the word. Minnesota leading 21-10. We have really had it. We’ve lost the old ball game. We can, by no stretch of the imagination, win the game. 2 min. 50 sec. to go. Not even a miracle will help. Maybe we can close up the gap in the score but even that’s doubtful. A black day for the Illini.

Well, you’ve probably not that interested in the progress of a football game told in a letter so I will close and go out and mail these letters. The others are more interesting.

However, first more poetry.

MORE? Where is the earlier poetry?

So, seriously, you guys, Russ proceeds to transcribe by hand three pages of poems. Which: Awww. That’s so sweet. I simply copied and pasted them from poetry websites because it’s 2018. You’re welcome: 

Oh, Hesperus! thou bringest all good things—
Home to the weary, to the hungry cheer,
To the young bird the parent’s brooding wings,
The welcome stall to the o’erlabour’d steer;
Whate’er of peace about our hearthstone clings,
Whate’er our household gods protect of dear,
Are gather’d round us by thy look of rest;
Thou bring’st the child, too, to the mother’s breast.

Soft hour! which wakes the wish and melts the heart
Of those who sail the seas, on the first day
When they from their sweet friends are torn apart;
Or fills with love the pilgrim on his way
As the far bell of vesper makes him start,
Seeming to weep the dying day’s decay;
Is this a fancy which our reason scorns?
Ah! surely nothing dies but something mourns!
George Gordon, Lord Byron

If you think about it, Russ isn’t even taking an English class. So he just chose to include poems that she might like or that might flatter her in some way. 

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
George Gordon, Lord Byron

I wouldn’t be as annoyed about all that football if I were Karen. Being in a good relationship means you have to listen to the other person talk about shit you don’t care about at all and pretend at least vaguely that you’re excited for them. 

I wish I could write poetry.

I am SO GLAD you didn’t try. This is way better.

Au revoir, mon Cherie. Until my next letter. Take real good care of yourself and dream about me once in awhile.

Love and kisses,

Ad infinitum,

Russ

Ooh, this is a new layer of commitment with the infinity promises!

Oct. 14, 1960: Russ Still Hates “Red China”

Miss one? Check the chronological list here.

This letter is marked 4 of 5.

October 14, 1960

Bon Sori Mon Chéri,

Pretty sure he means Soirée but he’s a terrible speller in everything but English, as usual.   

Finally back onto a stationery of reasonable size. God, what a horrible feeling it is to discover you’ve come to the end of the letter before you’ve come to the end of the words. Very annoying.

Russ hates everything.

Did you know that a short letter is supposed to be harder to write than a long one? Undoubtedly it takes more thought per word and this is something I’m incapable of.

Actual gif of Russ in college.

Today has seemed like a long day. Must be that I’m getting old. Actually, I haven’t done a blasted thing, which isn’t good, in light of the fact that I’ve got a Physics quiz. (I seem to have fallen into having words out tonight so if anything comes out sounding ridiculous you know why. I don’t reread my letters. [maybe you should start?] If I did I’d never mail them. [Fair point.] I don’t like to read everything I’ve written. I always find too much fault with it. [I also find fault with many things you’ve written, Russ.] I’m my own very best critic, I guess. More likely is that what I’ve written is just lousy.

Eh, just boring lately for being so on fire.

Tomorrow and Saturday I’m absolutely going to have to get some work done. If I don’t, I’m in trouble.

He seemingly has no compulsion to talk about what’s going on in his life or even just share mild gossip about his roommate or what he’s studying. It’s really weird to me, but I’m an over-sharer from way back.

Old man physics is going to run away from me completely if I don’t and then I won’t even make a passing grade on the hourly next Thursday. That would be disastrous.

This week has gone by very quickly — looking back on it, that is. When looking forward to it, it seemed years long. The next two weeks seem awfully long, too. Oct. 29 will never get here. (Oct. 28 will be when I see you and that reduces the time by one year.) Oh, well, that’s life.

If you would see the position I’m sitting in while writing this letter you would be quite confident in the knowledge that my mind has finally given its last “twang” — and snapped. I’m perched on the arm of my chair and am writing on the desk. This position is getting uncomfortable so I’ll have think up a better one. Just a minute.

This one is better. I’m sitting on the arm of one chair with one foot on the other arm and the other foot on the other chair while leaning on the desk, writing. This won’t work out. Crouching on one chair isn’t so bad, though. Hmmmmm.

The reason for all these positions is simple — more or less. That important part of my anatomy functioning as my sitting gear is “abundantly” dissatisfied with the hard seats of the chairs in this room. Consequently, certain peculiar adjustments are necessitated in order to relieve the strain of my excessive build from my posterior cushion. i.e., My tail is tired.

And now you know. Don’t you feel profoundly informed. Maybe I could keep you informed on other goings on. This way you would learn nothing in many, many words. Blast it, I wish I didn’t have a Saturday class. It’s a real pain in the neck. I can’t stay up too late tonight because I’ve got to get up for the bloody class. There is no justice in this cruel world.

My roommate left for Peoria (Bradley University) this afternoon to visit some friends. Some people are just lucky, that’s all. (I’m sitting down again. Crouching resulted in my feet feeling the strain. This could not go on forever. Maybe I ought to finish this in bed. It’s hard to write in bed, though. I wouldn’t fall asleep though, of that I am positive. The only time I fall asleep is in class. That is par normal for me.)

Filled my pen. Looked as though it was going to “run out on me.” (Hah, hah, I made a pun. Laugh, it’s only polite.)

Think I’ll start a “we-hate-the-Red-Chinese” campaign on campus. There hasn’t been one of those for quite a while and they deserve their share just as well as the Russians. This would also have a profound effect on the Presidential race. A couple of good TV spectaculars on the atrocities committed by the Red Chinese would really put the Democratic Party in an uncomfortable position.

FINALLY, let’s talk about something other than your damn writing position! I’m guessing Russ voted for Nixon? However, I bet he now thinks he voted for Kennedy. That’s just a guess. Do people admit to voting for Nixon these days? Remind me to add that to the list of questions I ask him when we finally meet. Spoiler alert: We’re never going to meet.

But aside from the political angle, a campaign like that would liven things up a little. Put some spark and zest into the students. We could even have effigy burnings and everything. Make a big production out of it.

Photo from an actual anti-communist rally at the Hollywood Bowl in 1961!

Maybe a student revolt would be better yet. We could revolt against the Dean of Women’s Office. Run the Dean of Women out of town on a rail. We could even throw in the trustees for good measure. Enough amnesties delivered toward the administration. It might go to their heads as praise “for a job well done.”

Anybody else looking forward to Russ’s hot take on the civil rights movement?

I must get radical or something late at night.

Yes, real radical to be against both communism and feminism in 1960. Edgy!

You guys, what if Karen gets all feminist and radical when JFK dies and that’s why the letters stop? I mean, I think they end in 1962, but let us just write a little piece of fanfiction wherein JFK’s assassination leads to a bra-burning Karen and that’s why they break up? Side note: If I were finished with college in the early 1960s and missed free love and hippies and birth control pills, I’d be soooo pissed.

Always suggesting nasty things. This is the hour when the witches and the goblins are supposed to be having their little parties (it’s 2:30 a.m.). Maybe I’m just a witch or a goblin in disguise. Disguise? Baloney. Here I am in full color and CinemaScope.

I’d much rather be a goblin instead of a witch.

Because witches are feminist?

Goblins are cuter.

Say! Halloween is Oct. 30, isn’t it?

Nope.

Let’s go out trick-or-treating. Force people to pay protection. I can see the Chicago Tribune’s headlines now. “City-Wide Racket Discovered” “Juvenile Crime on the Rampage”

If you read all the following in an old-timey announcer’s voice it makes it much more enjoyable:

“Our fair city’s children have organized a malicious racket patterned after the gangsterism of Al Capone. In a city (until now) free from organized crime, our Tribune roving reporter has uncovered an insidious attack upon our citizenry. The children are forcing the adults to pay protection. This is probably a direct result of juvenile delinquency, “The Untouchables,” and other television crime series. We must, in order to preserve liberty, justice and Mayor Daley’s income, stamp out this terrible development.

Co-operate with your local law enforcement agencies. Co-operation with these children will only encourage them. Our police are paid to protect you — the people. Pay protection to your local officer. We cannot afford to encourage juvenile delinquency. We cannot afford to pay off the juvenile crime syndicate. Paying them off as is customary on Halloween leaves nothing to support your family. You cannot afford two syndicates. Preserve the peace. We are for Chicago, the people of Chicago, and City Hall.”

And the City Council will commend the Tribune because they helped stamp out crime. Rah! Bah! Rot!

This is ridiculous. I will continue this letter tomorrow. Time waits for no man and I’m getting sleepy. Good night, Sweetheart. Dream about me because tonight I will dream about you again and morning will come too soon, ending my dreams. Don’t work too hard and “Stay as sweet as you are.”

Devotedly, with love, kisses and a happy heart,

Tiger

Just when Russ is about to lose me, he reels me back in. I mean, a couple of pages on what position he’s in while writing is absurd. But I love the contemporaneous political and pop culture details and he sprinkles in just enough to keep me coming back. When he goes on about football for too long, he’ll shift gears and send the schmoop in Karen’s direction. Speaking of, the next one has a lot of football and romantic poetry! 

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