Category: Love Letters

December 5, 1960: Russ Loves Misery (and Christmas)

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December 5, 1960

Darling Kay,

I did think my “goof” in regards to your address rather humorous. I once addressed a letter to you using your name and my complete address, but I noticed the mistake as soon as I had finished addressing the envelope. I always check the address before I drop it in the mailbox. I must have been in real fine shape. But you got the letter fortunately.

Some people who can go out and buy all the clothes they want have it nice. If I didn’t go window shopping once in a while, I’d forget what the inside of a clothing store looked like. Actually, it’s not quite that bad, but there are many, many little $50 – $100 items which must be passed up. I have expensive taste.

That seems expensive to me but I mostly shop at Target? Like I don’t have “little” $100 items except shoes. I like my Danskos.

However, I can think of no one more fitting to honor the purchases than by wearing the purchases for the people they were bought by. It’s not every business that can revel in the pleasure of having you wear their wares. I also imagine trying on clothes is a form of “work” which you find somewhat enjoyable, no?

WTF IS HE TALKING ABOUT? He bought her something? She got some clothing gifts or gift certificates? IDK.

Certain people are going to develop all varieties of heretofore unknown neuroses and psychoses as a result of my pinning you.

THEY GOT PINNED AT THANKSGIVING.

Takes all kind to make a world. Let ‘em wonder. Give out no information regarding us, which may conceivably find its way into the waiting arms of the A__ Coalition.

Karen still dealing with mean girl Ellen?

RE: Beverly K. Information relevant to her is included in the letter before this one. Probably the only thing of any interest whatsoever in the whole letter.

Probably.

Incidentally, she’s having her wisdom teeth extracted due to an infection. (Wisdom teeth never do last long. Probably an indication of the foibles of our civilization.)

What.

She was also given solemn orders by her doctor to refrain from the tempting vice — food. So right away she wants miracle treatments which will not work no matter how effective. She’s having trouble with the blood pressure. Actually, she’s probably told you all this by now since she did go home. She and Rosemary are getting on better.

Too bad. I much preferred horror show Rosemary.

Not having seen or asked about Elaine, I am unable to satisfy your curiosity. However, it’s relatively safe to assume Elaine thinks this is really it. Really what she wants. After she gets him, she may not be so happy, but she will be deservant of little sympathy. Obviously, she doesn’t belong at college, especially a co-educational one.

ELAINE HAS NO CHILL AROUND BOYS. So, Russ thinks Elaine shouldn’t be at a co-educational college because Elaine didn’t wait to get engaged until after graduation, like a decent young woman. 

Her progress we may know in approx. 270 days. Enough talk about the “folly of the younger generation.”

HEY NOW. He’s saying she’s pregnant. And also that he’s somehow a whole generation older than she?

Snow seems to be a dream appropriate only in Wonderland. Especially after the demonstration Sunday. It rained today, all day. A fine rain most of the time, not even qualifying as a drizzle, — just sort of a constant heavy dew, which is the most miserable variety of weather. Cold and damp. Just what is so unreasonable about snow in the wintertime. I remember trudging through 4-6 foot drifts on the way to grammar schools, when 2-3 feet of snow covered the ground almost all the time.

That’s some pre-climate change winter in Illinois or just the old joke my mom told me when I complained about walking to school in winter.

It snowed around Thanksgiving and stayed there until March. Great weather, with the temperature around 0 degrees all the time and going down to -20 degrees sometimes. They even closed the school on a couple of days because the snow was too deep to travel in, on foot, by car, or any other convergence.

I don’t know what he’s talking about either.

Now the robin’s will hang around ‘till next February. Then it’ll snow on May 8 like it did last year. Somebody has their clock confused. How can it snow all during April and part of May and rain on Christmas Day? Even last Thanksgiving was better. I think I’ll continue this at the canteen.

This is the canteen! Well, you can’t see it, but it’s here nevertheless. Some students live here instead of in their rooms. That I would find intolerable, but everybody to his own taste.

Somebody has shown their good taste by playing “Greensleeves” on the jukebox. The haggard faces of so many fellow students makes me feel better.

LOL. Russ Loves Misery.

Listening to “Greensleeves” makes me think of peaceful moments of contentment and this leads me to think of you and to miss you. I am nostalgic.

Can you IMAGINE this playing in a college cafeteria? 

Merry Christmas, Sweetheart! This is the eve of St. Nicholas Day and the opening of the Christmas season, my favorite time of year. People seem to be so much friendlier. This may be only a state of mind on my part, but it still works, snow or no snow. I wish Dec. 17 would hurry up and get here. When the holiday season will be complete with you.

And here he shifts gears with little fanfare. 

“Homework” seems to be the evil of all college students’ lives.

Wooden pennies are the only thing anybody’s giving away. They’re holding on to wooden nickels in the hope of them being valuable someday. This is a society of eternally broke college students.

With one exception. I overheard a group of students talking about a friend who quit trying as far as studying is concerned. He just doesn’t care anymore. He’s going to quit school. He’s inherited a million dollars after taxes. Some people —

Don’t ask me what I would do with a million dollars. The list would cover volumes. That amount of money is inconceivable. It would buy 4 million hamburgers or 10 million cups of coffee, which is 5/8 million’s gallons, or 625,000 gallons, which weigh roughly 5,000,000 pounds or 2,500 tons. 625,000 gallons is conceivable. Shouldn’t be hard to make much coffee. Marketing would be the problems. 2,500 is a little hard to imagine and yet it is equivalent. Imagine washing 10 million cups. Horrors. Four million hamburgers is out of the question. Beef cattle would become scarce. Enough day-dreaming. I‘m going to be rich someday. (Ha!)

Fun fact from Wikipedia: On May 3, 1960, Ray Kroc assisted Christopher Boulos in opening a McDonald’s franchise in DeKalb, Illinois. By 1965, the McDonald’s at 805 W. Lincoln Highway sold over 4 million burgers and 1,000,000 pounds (450,000 kg) of fries. Boulos was the first Greek-American McDonald’s franchise operator.

Well, they’re going to close the canteen soon, and I have to be signing off. I’ll see you soon. Meanwhile, sweet dreams, sweetheart and take real good care of yourself.

Stay away from strangers and don’t buy the Brooklyn Bridge without checking the dealer’s references.

I miss you a little more every day. Christmas vacation better get moving along. I’ll try and put the right address on this letter.

Auf Wiedersehen.

Love and kisses,

Russ

December 3, 1960: Two Weeks of Terror

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I’m not even gonna pretend. Things are about to get weird. Russ seems a little sleep-deprived? Or something. 

December 3, 1960

Dearest Kay,

Only 14 more days of living in terror. That’s one thing nice about each new day, because it’s one number less. It’s been less than a week since I was home, but it seems like a lot longer. Sometimes I wish time wasn’t so important and that life could be taken a little more leisurely, but then the grass would always be greener on the other side of the fence. But one can dream, can’t one?

I know he’s all madly in love with Karen but has anyone hated college this much ever? 14 days of terror? 

With what is constantly said about the growing (?) hours of leisure that everyone is supposed to have, I don’t see any of the results.

I mean, I’m typing up your letters from 1960 while sitting on my sofa right now? Most people have tons of time on their hands these days. Look at the Facebook.  

Progress toward making life easier and less laborious also seems to give it a faster pace. Our labor and time-saving devices seem to give us more time to work harder and live faster with modern medicine to prolong everything. But men have complained of this throughout history. A true dilemma.

The more things change, the more they stay the same!

All good things are worth waiting for.

The lenses on my glasses are scratched. And one cannot see through scratches. Almost enough to make me think that I’m missing half the fun when I have my glasses on.

I think you’re missing half the fun no matter what your glasses are up to. I wish we had anxiety meds to give Russ in 1960. I bet Russ is one of those seniors who spent his entire youth in torturous anxiety but now thinks young people are weak for needing meds because nobody had anxiety in his day. Heh. 

An alternative is to look through the corners, such as they are, or through the edges. But then people would think I’m looking at them askance, with conceited superiority, or reprimandingly over the top, depending in which outer area I choose. Just can’t win.

It’s about to get random and weird and maybe Russ got high for the first time before writing this letter? He seems to devolve into a kind of stream of consciousness conversation that I can’t really follow. Good luck to you:

Fifty-five percent of all married people are women. Figure that one out.

Sixty-six and two-thirds of all lovers are men. The eternal triangle.

It’s called a Devil’s Triangle, I think? Heh. I think this is supposed to be a back and forth and I’ve put in returns where he started new lines, but like I said: I can’t follow this. 

What is eternal about a triangle. Squares I can see, but not triangles.

I’m not mad I’ma tella you!

But you are.

Here we are, just the two of us. Isn’t it romantic?

…. That means we have a split norm, … insanity is abnormal … profound. Fat lot of good that definition does.

Maybe we’re both crazy!

Yes … that would cause complications …

Stop trying to prove I’m crazy and kiss me … darling?

What?

I said kiss me!

But I can’t.

Why not!

You’re a boy.

Now who’s crazy?

Our situation is hopeless… I have no norm to judge by… we are lost …

Maybe you are, but I’m not!

I don’t even know you anymore.

But you said you loved me!

So I did.

Why don’t you try it and see!

Try what?

Kissing me, you lone psychiatrist!

OK! I did some Googling and The Lone Psychiatrist was a novelty record from 1955. It features cartoon voices that sound weirdly familiar if you’re a fan of Looney Tunes or the like. It’s supposed to be funny but it’s terrible because comedy wasn’t invented until the 1970s, I guess? Kidding! Novelty records have always been unfunny. 

But I can’t … our love is an impossible one …

If you don’t kiss me, I’m going to kiss you!

Dream on, gentle one … for in your dreams you have found paradise.

What are you babbling about!

You.

Maybe you’ll kiss me now!

What is so great about a simple kiss? I’ve come to a great decision.

Cad!

You want no more than a kiss?

No!

Then a kiss alone it shall be.

… what have you been eating!

Garlic sandwiches with rotten egg sauce. Why?

You taste like an unwashed garbage can!

I think the butter on the sandwiches was rancid, that’s probably the trouble.

Is this your regular diet!

Of course.

You been seeing other women!

What makes you say that?

It seemed nice at the time…!

Oh.

I feel the urge to wander.

Don’t go yet.

I must! Theordore is coming!

You can’t do this to me.

You laughed at Euclid and thought triangles were a myth! Now the sine has become the cosine and the hypotenuse has chose the other half of the tangent! When our world turned upside and the sine became the cosecant I decided that the situation had become unbearable and I have not created the exsecant! Good-bye …..!

That roommate spiked his drink, right? Something.

I think I’ll call the above “Romance of the Lines.”

I warned you to stay in your lane and not write poetry, friend.

Check any good book of trigometric formulae for an explanation of the last bit of dialogue, and remember that you are creating a potential monster every time you draw a triangle. And you’ll just have to excuse my inane meanderings

We always do.

They don’t account for much. It’s better than becoming another Leopold of Leopold and Loeb.

Finally! A true crime reference!

Find out when St. Xav’s Christmas dance is scheduled and where it will be.

I just helped the fellow across the hall out of an insoluble situation, namely, the translation of a German sentence. I told him what a “bonvivant” was. The authors are apparently rather tricky using a French word, commonly used by English-speaking peoples, in a German story. Dirty pool. In any case, Dave couldn’t find the word in any German dictionary.

A bon vivant is someone who’s the life of the party; one who enjoys life’s luxuries. 

Dave also read the dialogue I included in this letter. I think he doubts my sanity. I do.

Frankly, I don’t care what Dave thinks of my sanity. I know I’m not crazy.

I heard a good joke today, … about a boy talking to a girl studying a menu: “Filet Mignon? That’s pickled goat’s liver. Why?”

How funny because women are less worldly than men and this is an underhanded way to ensure she’s a cheap date!

And another one. Alimony — bounty on the mutiny.

HAHA, WOMEN CAN’T MAKE A LIVING OR GET CREDIT WITHOUT A MAN IN 1960. IT IS SO FUNNY.

I talked to Bev yesterday. She said she going home for the weekend. Some people have all the luck. I’ll never last through next semester.

How could you with a maid in the dorm and frequent trips home?

I found out when my semester exams are scheduled. I’ve got one the morning of Jan. 20, one the morning of Jan. 25, and one the evening of Jan. 25. I register on Feb. 7 at 2:00 p.m. Therefore, I can take a train home the morning of the 26th and return on the 7th of February, a total of 12 days vacation. Do you know what your exam schedule is yet? The time between semesters is always more enjoyable because one has absolutely nothing to worry about as far as school is concerned. No classes at all to study for. Only trouble is that when I’m home, nobody else is. Either, the between-semester break doesn’t coincide, or, at most, they’re home only a fraction of the time that I’m home. But it’s still better than school.

Russ is so bad at college.

Our spring vacation also runs from 5:00 p.m. Wednesday, March 29 to 8:00 a.m. Tuesday, April 4, which is my birthday. Therefore, no classes on Tuesday morning, which is usually the case anyway. I might even take the whole day off. If Washington’s birthday can be a national holiday, then my birthday can be a personal holiday.

Having a birthday in the beginning of April isn’t bad, though. I generally get to be home for it since spring vacation generally falls around that time. Maybe I can talk the university administration into making it a University holiday.

I know he’s joking but if a Millennial or younger said that, it would be evidence of their narcissism. Heh.

My major problem right now is that I’m lonely, depressed, and otherwise generally unhappy. That is a hard thing to fight. This is what generally happens late at night and it is late at night right now. And this is when the desire to see you becomes strongest. My mood is probably a result of the fact that I can’t see you. No, not probably, definitely.

Interesting self-analysis.

Studying is a dull routine.

Why don’t you come to Illinois next semester? Housing would be no problem because of the vacancies left by drop-outs. Just grasping at straws — but it would be great. Oh, well.

I’ve read a few letters ahead and this is hilarious foreshadowing. 

I’ll have to close now. I don’t want to, but this letter is getting me no place, fast. You’ll begin to think I’ve terminated my membership in the human race, which is no exaggeration. Maybe I can sleep it off.

Auf wiedersehen, sweetheart, Be good and sweet dreams. Take real good care of yourself and remember that I miss you.

Love and Kisses,

Ad Infinitum,

Russ

November 30, 1960: Being Bad Feels Pretty Good

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November 30, 1960

Darling Kay,

I received your letter this morning. I also received one of those postcards announcing “gaslight gaieties” at St. Xav’s. Consequently, I am including similar literature regarding a social event here. It’s sponsored by MRHA and WGS (women’s group system — the equivalent of MRHA, but applying both university women’s residence hall and the women’s independent Residence Halls).

This paperwork is not included in the envelope, so I have no idea what it’s supposed to be.

The Cleveland Playhous is playing Dr. Faustus on campus, but the tickets are already sold out. I would have liked to see that, but “that’s the way the cookie crumbles.”

See you had a little snow in Chicago today. Why in Chicago? I want snow down here. Why does it have to snow in Chicago? Therein lies an injustice. However, it was “delightfully” cold in Champaign-Urbana, but it looks like it’s going to get warmer by the end of the week. Hang the luck.

I don’t understand the desire for snow or cold.

Since Adrianne’s taste in men must, of necessity, include men, it is no surprise that Ellen likes Adrianne’s taste.

Ooh, more Mean Girl updates. So Ellen A. likes Adrianne’s taste in men? Why does Karen care about that? Ellen must be a powerhouse.

I don’t think Ellen cares what he looks, acts or thinks like, if he does perform any of these tasks.

What tasks? Ugh, dying for Karen’s letters.

Ellen, like most girls at St. Xav’s, are somewhat starved for the opposite sex. The difference lies in that Ellen must satiate her “desires” in a way that annoys others. She wouldn’t be happy if she didn’t.

I sorta think Ellen was a little gay since she didn’t seem to live a normcore 1960s life. So maybe she wasn’t starved for much of anything at St. Xav’s?

Incidentally, did I mention the fact that due to the lack of information available regarding us being pinned, Ellen (et. al.) is under the impression that my mother knows nothing about it? This impression is most likely due to an attitude which says that unless Ellen (et. al.) knows about something, nobody else does.

I’m confused. I’m guessing that Ellen is a girl that Russ also knows from back home since she has reason to know his mother? Interesting.

In any case, since I enjoy playing upon the gullibility of “Ellen’s group”, I would like to maintain this impression. Sort of like being naughty, legally or sneaky in an above-board way.

Russ doesn’t understand what it means to be naughty.

And “it’s fun to be naughty.” I’ve also clued Roger in on this. Should be interesting to see what happens.

Roger is also back in Chicago. Good to know. Sorta. So who does or doesn’t know they’re pinned? I seriously don’t understand what we’re up to here.

My roommate is trying to think of a way to develop a romance between a girl he met over Thanksgiving vacation and himself. He still thinks he’s going to marry Joanne.

Spoiler alert: He didn’t.  

I think the shine off the gold Joanna represents has got him dazzled more than a little. He ought to forget marriage for a while.

I’m confused about this point, too. Nelson is desperate to get married, I guess?  

Kennedy is going to push Federal aid to public schools through the congress as soon as he takes office. He apparently likes to play government. After four years, he may tire of it though and play some other game. International diplomacy maybe. Wonder how much that game costs. If he plays his cards right and wins at government, maybe he can get the United States to foot the bill for him.

Well, at least we all know how that one ends.

What’s money? Never had to worry about a silly thing like that. Income tax can go up to 100%. Everybody work for the state. Democratic socialism.

LOLOL. I’m gonna send a gender fluid democratic socialist college kid to give these letters back to him.

The Supreme Court is also meddling around showing how strong they are. Declaration of the Executive and Legislative branches of the government as unconstitutional is the next step. Or at least the exercise of their powers will become illegal.

Russ is kinda paranoid and over the top. And I say that as someone who basically wears a tinfoil hat these days.

I don’t worry about the “state of the nation” too much, however, since there is very little I can do about it, not being a voter.

Oh! I forgot that the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 in the U.S. in 1971! Score a point for the Nixon administration.

I think college students should be allowed to vote.

Now they do and a ton of them are democratic socialists! Be careful what you wish for, Russ.

They generally make much more intelligent decisions. Or at least upper classmen.

You’ve got to be joking.

From what I’ve seen of many “adults” who vote, college students are being cheated. Oh, well, this is a very distant possibility.

Not nearly as distant as a lady president.

Have to close now and study more physics. Physics lab tomorrow morning.

Don’t study too hard and take care of yourself. Try to get some sleep and regular meals. I’m right behind you in spirt if not in body. Sweet dreams. Miss you.

Love, love, love,

Russ

November 29, 1960: Playing Opossum

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November 29, 1960

Dearest Kay,

This must, of necessity, be short. Finally made up that math exam this afternoon. I’m not talking about it. I can’t do on the next one what I did on that one. If I do, I will be in trouble. Only 18 days ‘till Christmas vacation. The closer the end of the semester gets, the worse the load gets.

A miracle happened today. I got a letter from Roger, without his having written me. This is an omen. A good one, I hope. Have to write back before I wake up and find out the whole thing was a hallucination. Don’t know when I’ll have time though.

Russ is resentful that Roger doesn’t write more. Got it.

How’s your speech coming along? And how’s the studying and work load doing? Not too bad I hope. I can never be good. Take it from one who speaks from experience. Have to close now. Just wanted to let you know: I’m still alive. Now I can start convincing myself. I think I died a long time ago and am just to mean to lie down and act dead.

Playing Opossum

Good night, Sweetheart. Sleep tight and Sweet dreams. Take real good care of yourself. Keep right in there pitchin’.

Love ad infinitum,

Russ

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

Missed one? Check the chronological list.

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

Missed one? Check the chronological list.

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

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. 

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