Found: Russ’s Class Schedule, September 1960

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Found this randomly between two letters as I was sorting by date last night.

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If it’s hard to read, he’s taking: Chem 124 (includes class and lab time), Physics 106 (lecture and lab), Math 143 (Calculus Discussion), Military Science 101 (ROTC), and PEM 145 (at the ice rink).

Mein Leiben Schatzchen – October 1, 1960

Worried that you missed a love letter? See a chronological list here.

October 1, 1960

Mein Leiben Schätzchen,

I asked my co-worker what this means because she knows German phrases for some reason. She said it was a term of endearment, but when I used google translate it literally translates to “My overeating baby,” which is exactly what I call myself, oddly enough. I’m *guessing* he meant “lieben” because it means “love” but I prefer to think Karen has a big appetite and he thinks that’s super cute! 

I met Beverly today. Obviously for the first time. I also met two of her and one of your girlfriends. One was Rosemarie S[redacted]., Bev’s roommate, and the other was Elaine B[redacted], who knows you and Beverly.

So Bev and Elaine are Karen’s friends from back home and Rosemary is Bev’s college roommate. Does Karen need you to explain who Elaine is, Russ? I mean, it appears she knows Elaine and Bev and you know she knows Elaine and Bev and the entire reason you’re hanging out with any of them is because of Karen. 

The meeting was fortunate for both of us as it preserved our respective honor, so to speak.

I smell scandal.

First of all, Beverly gave very livid [sic] descriptions of “me” to her friends on two occasions. Said descriptions went: “short, rather thin, long dark hair, glasses, an ‘intellectual’ look.” This rather negative description was enhanced and brought to full bloom in the minds of Rosemary [sic] and Elaine.

This sounds like a cute boy to me but maybe nerdy skinny is not cool in the 1950s? Also, his random spelling of Rosemarie/Rosemary tells me he wasn’t the least bit attracted to her so Karen doesn’t have that to worry about. 

So anyway, when I went over to LAR this afternoon, I called Beverly’s room and she, informed me of saying she would be down shortly, told me she sent down a girl named Elaine and described what she was wearing. She also said she had just sent her down [RUSS IS PUTTING US IN PRONOUN HELL]. A girl who fit the description had walked by earlier, but I didn’t pay too much attention because of the time difference. I could be mistaken, so I waited.

However, said suspicions—looking girl looked around the lounge, went back to the phones and called x679 (Bev’s). She then proceeded to inform Beverly of my absence. This I could not exactly understand because I was standing right behind her, and I thought Bev knew what I looked like. However, I made my presence obvious by interjecting the comment that I was there, big as life, in full color and CinemaScope.

THIS IS A DELIGHTFUL 1950s cultural reference. 

Elaine looked shocked, Beverly looked shocked — when they saw me initially. [PEN CHANGE FROM BLUE TO BLACK] Something was amiss.

Finally, the pending explanation came out and all was clear. Bev on a past telephone conversation had mentioned my attending some New Year’s Eve party or some other affair with Terry T. [messy spelling/unclear]. The description fits, — the guy who attended the affair with Terry. Only I didn’t attend said affair. George D.[redacted] did.

WHEW, Glad we got to the bottom of that mystery! The lives of people in their 20s are so much more boring than I remember. I am bored now, in my 40s, but at least I can afford decent booze and I don’t care if college guys think I’m hot (largely because there’s no chance they will? Heh). 

So. Then I was going to meet Rosemarie. Fine. Bev and I went downstairs but Rosemarie had flown the coop and left nothing behind. Schade.

What does “Schade” mean? I was hoping it was short for schadenfreude (the only German word I know) and it sorta is. Google says it means “Pity.” 

Bev went upstairs to retrieve Rosemary [sic]. Meanwhile Elaine came back, unknown to me, with Rosemarie. However, the light isn’t too good in the basement rec room or LAR and Elaine didn’t recognize me.

 These bishes are cold.

However, they walked into the little room they call their canteen and had a discussion concerning the pros and cons of whether the guy sitting outside was me or not (it was).

Finally, Bev arrives and they got the point loud and clear. The gentleman outside was no less than me.

 Russ, you coulda helped the ladies out here.

Rosemarie was shocked. I was beginning to expect that reaction. Anyway, the gist of their overheard (by me) conversation was that I was superior to their conception of me.

Elaine, Rosemary and Beverly. In CinemaScope, no less.

LOL, Russ, this entire story is so you can tell your girl how much hotter you are these days. I feel you. 

So you are no longer considered quite so desperate. Your reputation is salvaged, at least in part. My reputation will not be besmirched by “long dark hair, short, skinny with glasses, and an ‘intellectual’ look, not meant in the complimentary sense.” My ego was lifted from the depths to which it was beginning to sink.

And Beverly will probably lose no time in telling you the same story from her end of the deal.

How much would I pay for Bev’s letter? SO MUCH. I doubt she employs the passive voice as aggressively. 

However, I thought the whole affair quite funny and it served as an excellent booster for a lousy weekend.

I made arrangements — or rather Beverly did — for my parents, sister, and cousin to stay overnight, which has many benefits. Use of a car and seeing the family for a greater length of time. Everything is pretty well set then. I can’t thank Bev enough, especially since she offered her services without my even hinting. I never expected her to do any more than put you up for the night. But she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Does getting to use the car mean he gets to make out with Karen? I might just be grasping at romantic straws on this one.

Beverly also made another suggestion which I go for in a big way, but which would involve — possibly — some inconvenience on your end. i.e. coming down Friday. I’m free after 1:00 p.m. Friday and would more than like the idea, but you’d have to come on the train. I’ll probably call you before you get this letter, but, in any case, if you’re interested, the following trains leave the IC stations at 63rd and Dorchester on Friday:

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I didn’t transcribe the list of departures and arrivals, but Russ is very subtle with this “FRIDAY NIGHT, BB, YOU AND ME AND NONE OF MY FAMILY” business, yes? And then Russ gets all nerdy about trains, and I like it:

These are Chicago-Memphis-New Orleans trains. The 5 p.m. train is probably your best bet unless you can leave on the 9:15 a.m. However, the 9:15 a.m. is The City of Miami and only runs on alternate dates. Furthermore, the schedule was effective Aug. 2, 1959 and the times may have changed.

God, Russ is such a boy nerd.

Probably not much through. They are a rough guide toward your decision. You’ll have to check another thing. The IC may very well run a special to Champaign so checking into that would be a good idea.

The agent at the 63rd St. (Woodlawn) station, 1415 East 63rd St. is at the phone Hyde Park 3-0825 [Old Timey phone number for you kids reading along at home]. Just ask for the departure times of trains leaving for Champaign, Oct. 7, Friday.

Do you think Russ wants Karen to show up before his family? DO YOU? 

One of my parents will probably take you to the station, I think.

Good luck, Sweetheart. Study hard, but not too hard, and have fun. See you soon, the sooner the better.

With love,

Russ

 

The Box of Love Letters


I bought a box of love letters at a flea market, and since several of my nosiest friends wanted to know what are in the letters, I decided to transcribe them here as I work through them. I type fast! Good thing because it’s a big box. Now, keep in mind this could go any which way: super boring, depressingly sexist and/or racist, fever dream sexy, or just a sweet snapshot of a couple of white kids in the 1960s at college (most likely scenario).

Anyway, here’s the first letter to Miss Karen K., of Chicago, Illinois from… I’ll find out at the end because the return address is just his college logo, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The letter is indented, my comments are flush left. Because it’s my blog and I get to comment.

September 25, 1960

Guten Abend Meine Liebchen,

Oh god, I hope he’s not a nazi! Here’s hoping this stays cute and doesn’t get dark (who am I kidding? I love when stories take a turn).

First off, I will attend to your “questionnaire.” The itinerary includes the football game Sat. afternoon which will be over about 4:30. After the game we will probably wander around campus, have dinner and let you get dressed for the dance in the evening. The dress for the Homecoming Dance varies. Specifically, for the girls anything from just dressy to formal is worn. The norm centers around semi-formal. Some girls wear formals, other come pretty close. Doesn’t help much. Specifically, for you, a lot depends on what is most convenient. I’d prefer something more or less formal. Use your judgement.

I’m gonna call it right now: engineering student. Just a feeling. Also, what does “more or less formal” mean? I’m guessing it means “formal”? I appreciate that she sent him a questionnaire as I like a girl who is detail-oriented!

The affair is supposed to be semi-formal, but that sometimes covers quite a range. A lot of girls coming in from out of town don’t want to bring formals because they take up a lot of room and are difficult to keep “un-crushed.” However, I like to dress up and I’ll be dressed semi-formally. I am not that familiar with women’s clothes to really be any more specific. Maybe another girl’s opinion would be more helpful or at least aid in your decision.

Pretty sure he just told her to dress the hell up but only if it works for her. Side-eying this a little bit but it’s 1960 and she asked a probably engineering student what to wear to a party!

Anyway, Sunday, I don’t know what we’ll do, exactly, but casual dress should be sufficient.

Bow chicka bow bow? And probably hungover to boot.

I’ll let you know of any new developments regarding Sunday.

My parents are bringing you down here, so it might be a good idea to get in touch with them, although there is no hurry, of course.

(Reading that last statement over it occurred to me that it sounds sarcastic. I certainly didn’t mean it that way. Please excuse.)

What the hell is he talking about?

Right now, I can’t think of anything particularly besides what I told you already, but undoubtedly I will between now and Oct. 8, and I will transmit the information to you.

In your plight caused by registration and “orientation” I am your whole-hearted sympathizer and veteran, one year removed.

Ooh, details! He’s a sophomore and she’s a freshman! But Karen’s address is the south side of Chicago. I wonder what school she’s attending?

Registration is bad with the exponent of 20,000 some odd students. And some students are very odd which only adds to the mess.

Ha!

But registration is repeated for me every semester so that I won’t forget the results of ultimate chaos. Fortunately, certain little tricks learned each semester abbreviate much of the difficulty. And orientation week comes only once. Registration only kills one full day and the rest of the time I can laugh at the new freshman (just refilled my pen).

Dude, unless I’m mistaken you’re ONE YEAR ahead of her. So you have laughed at the freshman… once… just last month?

But I still look forward to registration with dread. It is because of the backward system of registration this university uses that I don’t have the schedule I wanted and have a Saturday class. Therefore, a have a six-day week, and a one-day weekend. Can’t be helped though. I won’t cry. At least Sat. morning won’t be wasted.

Is there anything more banal than the complaints of college sophomores?

A bit of consolation for you, “Experience is the best teacher.” Probably come in handy in the future.

I take it back. The wisdom of college sophomores is even more banal than their complaints.

A comment on snowstorms and blizzards in early October. Don’t put it past Champaign weather. All things are possible down here. It snowed on Mother’s Day May 8, last year, so a blizzard in October is not out of the realm of possibility.

HE IS INSUFFERABLE 

But I like that he’s clearly got her last letter with him and he’s addressing her points one by one. He’s basically peacocking his College Experience at her while also ticking off all the questions she asked and points she made. This is good letter writing form, in my opinion. As a member of the last generation of letter writers, this is exactly what I would do when replying to a friend’s letter back in the dark ages before constant communication.

My regards to Bean also.

Keeping in mind the violence with which she generally greets me, even she hads never before [sic], I am dubious about whether or not I can stave her off if she’s glad to see me and is welcoming me back. However, it really doesn’t worry me. The greetings of her mistress are much more important.

Aw, Bean is her dog! And the greetings of her mistress are more important! CUTE.

Your consolation for having to stay at home would be enough to keep me from going.

Hmm. I’m guessing she wasn’t sure she could make it to the dance (maybe she needs a dog sitter).

We had a football game here last Saturday. We trounced Indiana, 17-6. Actually, we should have had three more touchdowns, but we goofed three times. On three separate occasions we were within 10 yards of the goal line with four downs to work with. But we fumbled them badly. In the last half of the last quarter, our blind quarterback passed the ball from the 15-yd. line directly to an Indiana man behind the goal line instead of our own receiver. A black mark against Easterbrook.

He had an open field and would have ran the ball pretty close to the goal line on top of all that. But we beat ’em.

I love the use of the royal we by sports fans.

Last year we played on a wet field and lost to Indiana, but after an initial charge down the field at the beginning of the game, Indiana played the defensive for the duration. All they could hope for was to keep the ball out of their own territory. We play West Virginia next week and Ohio State for our Homecoming a week after that. I love football weekends, esp. Homecoming this year as our campus will have a charming addition, which will add joy to my life. If you didn’t come, I would haunt you, so we’re even.

NICE SAVE, with the cute ending after boring the shit out of everyone with football for a full page. I’m guessing she made a joke about “haunting” him? Feels like a callback to me.

Your letters do me no end of good. You are without doubt wonderful, and your second card was better than the first. Now you’ve exposed yourself to the possibility that I’ll send you cards. The fact that you do think of me is alone enough to make me happy. I’m going to get all trite and mushy here pretty soon but your letters do more than give me happiness and satisfaction. They give me peace. You must know that you are with me at all times, not physically, but in a more important way.

YOU GUYS. Awwww.

And now I must say au revoir also. Sweet dreams and pleasant memories. My love to you and your family, but especially to you.

Love ad infinitum,

Russ

HIS NAME IS RUSS. KAREN AND RUSS 4EVAH.

P.S. You won’t “overtax” me by requests for letters. I’m not that busy. My only fault insofar as letter-writing is concerned is that I procrastinate. Procrastination will be my Waterloo yet. Please don’t interpret my not writing as indifference. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Auf Wiedersehen

We learned so much in this first letter!

  • Russ is likely a sophomore at University of Illinois in 1960 (so, 20-ish years old). He’s close enough to his parents that they are bringing his girlfriend to visit for homecoming.
  • Russ *really* loves football and lording his college experiences over his girlfriend.
  • Karen is likely a freshman at a college in Chicago (19-ish years old in 1960). Her mailing address is the South Side of Chicago.
  • Karen had a dog named Bean that was cute, possibly aggressive.

Worried that you’ll miss one? See a chronological list here.

I Was Teenage a Podcast

I forgot to post about the podcast I was on for work as editor of restaurant development + design! I was just listening to their new season and realized I never mentioned that I had done their show. The host is lovely and the topics and people are interesting.

I keep thinking we’re going to launch a podcast at work eventually, but we’re already spread fairly thin. But thought I’d post about it all the same for posterity.

Last Fall in NYC

I haven’t updated with anything meaningful in forever.

So I was going through some photos and decided to post some pics from my trip to NYC with my boss last October. She won a super cool “top women in media award” and invited some of us from the office to go with her to pick it up.

We went for a walk from Grand Central to Times Square.

Grand Central Station was right next to our hotel.
Grand Central Station was right next to our hotel.
Times Square
Times Square
Hedwig--Wish I'd had time to see it!
Hedwig–Wish I’d had time to see it!
Times Square
Times Square

Later, I dragged my co-worker Tracy to the Empire State Building after dinner on the night we were there and it was pretty gorgeous!

Times Square from the Empire State Building
Times Square from the Empire State Building
Chrysler Building from the Empire State Building
Chrysler Building from the Empire State Building

I had the next morning to myself and wanted to go for a long walk on the Upper East Side because everything I know about the world I learned from TV, and I figured if Gossip Girl taught me anything it was how to navigate the Upper East Side. So I left my hotel, hailed a cab to the Starbucks closest to Blair Waldorf’s house (he drove me through Central Park to get there) and walked all the way back to Grand Central Station.

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Blair Waldorf lives at the top.
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1136 5th Avenue, overlooking Central Park.

I got a coffee and a yogurt and went for a walk.

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I had a yogurt on the Met Steps, just like Blair Waldorf does every morning.
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The Met!
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The Guggenheim Museum
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Pretty!
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Walking on 5th Avenue along Central Park
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I left 5th Avenue and saw a bunch of high-end shops, like Kate Spade, etc.
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I even cruised past Serena VanDerWoodsen’s house because it was on the way to my hotel!
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And I ended my little Gossip Girl tour where the show started: Grand Central.

I’m a dork. And my trip amused me.

ASBPE Gold Award!

I forgot to post but a couple of months back I attended the American Society of Business Publication Editors’ ASBPE awards and won the Gold for Best Use of Social Media for Foodservice Equipment & Supplies!

It was pretty neat because I had already won the Gold when I was nominated for Best Use of Social Media in the Tabbie Awards. So I’ve won both of the highest honors for social media in business publishing!

Just hadn’t posted in awhile but felt like tooting my own horn!

I Grew Up In Flint — and I’m Glad I Left

There’s a post on PolicyMic making the rounds among my Facebook friends called “This is America’s Most Apocalyptic, Violent City — And You’ve Probably Never Heard Of It” and it’s about my hometown, Flint, Mich.

I read it and didn’t think much of it. I take issue with the very premise. Flint is kind of famous for its endless failures and always makes one of the top spots in every variation of the “America’s Most Dangerous Cities” lists that seem to come out several times a year from various news sources. We also have a fairly famous movie enshrining Flint’s endless failures–Roger & Me, of course.

I’ve rarely encountered people in the Midwest who’ve never heard of Flint, even if everything they’ve heard is bad (and it usually is).

The article I linked above made the rounds on Facebook as anything about Flint does among the locals and those of us who grew up there. And it sparked a lot of “but what about the resurgence” talk and a few people even made lists of their own, counting down their favorite things about the city.

I was struck by the simplicity of the lists, because they were the kinds of things anyone would say about a place they lived and liked and the lists basically boiled down to: I love some of the people here and I have a favorite restaurant and also there’s a lovely cultural scene (that is really a sub-culture as I know just as many people who don’t visit any of the city’s cultural amenities as I do those who do).

However, because we’re talking about Flint, there were a few things people liked about the city that sent a shiver up my spine and reminded me that I’m glad I left. Someone posted that they liked how “tough” Flint is, how it sharpens people because it’s a hard city to thrive in.

My husband and I have long-joked about the idea that Flint is “tough”, but it’s an aspect of life there that I don’t miss at all and, in fact, am very happy to not have to deal with anymore. Tough conditions harden people, make them distrustful, fearful, and angry. And the longer I’m away from the Flint the less hard I am, and the more grateful I am for the opportunities I have to be soft and vulnerable. Vulnerability is a skill I’m still learning to enjoy.

This is a very silly example but this past month my husband built a fun piece of “yard art”–a perfect replica of Snoopy’s Dog House from A Charlie Brown Christmas–and it includes items that could easily be stolen. And I wondered what, if anything, would be snatched from the dog house from our yard in suburban Chicago. So far, nothing has been stolen. Not even the silly First Prize ribbon we pinned to the side of it.

But when we went back to Flint for Christmas the topic of the dog house being stolen was brought up repeatedly. “You think it’ll be there when you get back?” “Anything missing from it yet?” Questions like that cropped up every time we talked about it with Flint-area friends and relatives.

When we got home? Everything was still there, even the First Prize pin. And I know it’s a small, silly thing–and much worse and more dangerous things are happening everywhere, all the time–but it’s the little things that remind me it’s a relief to not have to endlessly worry about battening down the hatches and securing what’s yours before somebody else takes it. The world doesn’t need to be as tough as it is in Flint and I’m glad that I don’t have to be anymore.