Category: Love Letters

December 9, 1960: Russ Loves (Thinking About?) Killing People

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

A couple of notes to kick things off: I updated my WordPress site and it dramatically changed the interface and formatting options and it’s a nightmare. I can’t get anything to format properly and I hate it. So, some things might look even weirder than usual because I now can’t control anything related to how this displays. FUN.

Secondly, this is a TYPED LETTER and we know those might be considered rude.

December 9, 1960

Dearest Kay,

Whether I’m surprised to hear from you or not is irrelevant. What does count is that it’s great. Your letters put me in a better frame of mind and make me want to see you. But I can wait until Christmas Vacation if I hear from you. I don’t think I could wait ‘til very long after Christmas Vacation, however. It had better get here pretty quick. That old number of days-to-go is down to one digit. Good sign.

Your hair is out-of-bounds for scissors or any other implements designed to reduce its length.

Oh, puh-lease.

I’ve diagnosed your case. You are suffering from a common disease on college campuses called “The Class Attendance Malady” complicated with the occupational hazard of the college student which is an allergy toward books and studying.

The cure? I recommend at least a two-week’s vacation over the Christmas holidays with the constant attention of your greatest admirer, namely me. The disease can be fatal within 10-15 days after the initial symptoms unless properly treated.

Insert a distasteful coronavirus joke here, if you must.

I, too, am suffering from a rare disease which requires the constant care of one Karen K___, a psycho-therapist of outstanding caliber who has the unique talent of being able to help me. The disease itself is incurable, but she makes having it an absolute paradise. It’s really not a disease, but a condition and is often fatal. It’s called love.

Incidentally, don’t worry about wanting to stick pins in Pat C___. I recommend satisfying the desire. It would do both of you a lot of good.

Another person Karen hates. If we had Karen’s letters, I would publish his and hers together and call them Love Letters from Mid-Century Misanthropes.

It might deflate his ego and it would provide you with the revenge that you need and deserve. I’ll hold him for you. Hang a chain over the doorknob of his house some night with a note (using newspaper headlines pasted to dime-store paper) informing him that he’d be wise to avoid dark alleys, late hours and St. Xav’s.

LISTEN, I have like 20 readers and 15 of them already know this, but: Russ’s best childhood friend (who he has yet to mention in any of these letters) goes on to be a rather famous killer. Between that fact and his fascination with weapons and his endless talk about torturing people? I AM CONCERNED!

I wrote hundreds of letters back in my day, and I would be deeply surprised to discover any that spent that much time on people who wronged me or how I may or may not fantasize about torturing and killing them! What a couple of lunatics these kids are. To whit:

There is nothing so demoralizing as a chain, — a great big heavy one with the links filed down on the edges to razor sharpness, — and with one’s name on it. That would be an interesting experiment. He’d probably develop a serious neurosis. No violence, — just mental torture. Sort of like voodoo techniques with a flair for typical Chicago events.

True, Hollywood might send for you to star in a few horror pictures. They always need beautiful girls to be rescued by the hero. The old are getting stale. Humility can be carried too far.

I have not yet mastered the art of writing letters while standing on my head. However, I find that an excellent position to provide the change of pace necessary after standing on my feet for a length of time. Will inform you of future develops regarding letter-writing in that position.

Oy. That was boring and nutty before and just as much now.

As a matter of fact, now that you reminded me, and all of that, this letter would be an excellent place to try it out. However, I shall use pen and ink to accomplish the task as the typewriter wouldn’t really show the true effects of the inverted outlook, the blood rushing to my head, etc.

He actually wrote it partially upside-down and it’s nuts.

Enclosed is the info you wanted regarding a sophomore transfer to the U of I… If you’re seriously considering coming down here, apply for housing as soon as possible. Housing is easy to get for the Spring semester, but the fall semester is pretty crowded. Every available nook and cranny is filled with co-eds. The men of MRH offered to take some in temporarily with an eye toward permanent residence, but the university graciously declined the offer.

Oh, Karen. Never chase your dreamboat to his college. Did Felicity teach us nothing?

When Tom Morgan the Security Officer heard about a few more ambitious and clandestine male students having already moved a few travel-weary co-eds into accommodating quarters, he also thanks them quite sincerely on behalf of the university and, also on behalf of the university, again graciously declined their offer of further assistance in a letter of dismissal. In all, the episode provided a great deal of entertainment to the university population and refreshing change from the “fun(?)” of registration week. The girls involved probably found no peace, although their landlords probably did. There is a rather crude pun involved in that last statement, and I admit it.

You’re exhausting.

However, I excuse myself on the grounds that I am under a great deal of pressure and in this way sometimes vent my dislike for everything in general by violating the mores of society.

There’s no question that Russ talks a bigger game than he plays. He’s the most uptight 20-year-old in history, maybe?

I’ll be alright by the late afternoon of December 17. Anyway, apply for housing early. You aren’t obligated, of course, until you’ve signed the contract, which won’t arrive until the middle of July and need not to be returned until August. The U. of W. isn’t any good, anyway. (Please permit my small digs. I’m still hoping, you know. I am also hoping that I’m going to be here next year. Que sara, sara.)

Do not let saying “good-bye” become a habit.

MISS YOU!

NEXT PAGE

No, I didn’t leave. I’m still here. You must still plot on through [UPSIDE DOWN] my meanderings. Actually, I can’t go on for much longer. I’ve got a glorious class tomorrow and have to get some sleep for it. It’s getting late. Saturday classes are a pestilence upon college students.

I somehow ended up in an astronomy class that met at 8 a.m. four days a week. It was my first semester at Wayne State. That was worse than any Saturday class I ever had.

Good night meine Schätzchen [my darling]. Sweet dreams (schönen Träumen), and take real good care of yourself. Au revoir (I think I spelled it right). Will see you SOON, SOON, SOON. Until then, as always,

Love ad Infinitum,


Sambo

WTF is that sign-off? Is it a reference to the children’s book Little Black Sambo? Did he just sign-off by calling himself a little black child? I’m so confused about why that would be cute or why she would call him that or why he would call himself that.  I’m going to give a benefit of the doubt because it might be a play on words or an in-joke; we simply don’t know about but it feels a little gross.

PS. Had a little trouble up there in the second line. This may result in a permanent malady (the upside down “through”. But what is one malady more or less? I won’t worry about it. A mirror might help, but then all the letters would be backwards. Somewhere, there is a solution. Blech!

I miss you most on weekends. In a way, though, it’s a good feeling. I have someone to miss. For this, I am thankful, especially since that someone is as wonderful a person as you.

Merry Christmas, Sweetheart!

December 8, 1960: Russ Hates Shopping

Missed one? Check the chronological list.

December 8, 1960

Dearest Kay,

Our room looks like an armory. We have one Civil War cavalry saber, a dress sword of the early 1800’s, a Britain naval cutlass of the 1700’s, a Japanese World War II bayonet, several knives, two fencing foils, two fencing epees, and various other assorted minor weapons.

I wonder if the maid has to dust all this bullshit? Also, imagine keeping a WWII bayonet in your dorm room in college in 2020? Imagine being able to be in a dorm room in 2020. Heh.

We are going to start a revolution. Why not? Revolutions are the up-and-coming things lately. Stamp counterfeiting is another alternative. Foreign currency is also easy to counterfeit. One thousand ways to get rich quick. Using these methods, one would have to in order to be around to enjoy it.

My roommate also broke up with Joanne. [Called it!] This time for good, or so he says. He’s looking around for others, ———— girls, that is. We’re both in bad shape that way. I want to see you, and he wants to see any girl. Neither of us is in a position to satisfy our desires. Those are the breaks of life, I guess. They’re pretty hard to take sometimes, though. Christmas vacation is only 9 days away though. That is some consolation, and something to look forward to with fondest expectation.

Merry Christmas, again, St. Nicholas’ Day is past, and I have to do my Christmas shopping. Last year I went Christmas shopping in Chicago after I got home for vacation. I tried it down here, but I wasn’t very successful. Businessmen in Champaign-Urbana have no conception of consumer demand.

Their attitude seems to be: “We don’t have what you want, but we have this selection. What do you mean, you’ll go somewhere else? You won’t get it anywhere but here unless we don’t have it.” And the pitiful part about it is that they’re right.

Man, the past sucked. But now the current time sucks, too. Life is complicated.

Go to one store and you’ve seen the selection in all the rest. Nobody seems to believe in competition. Nobody carries merchandise that they’re fellow businessmen don’t carry. I guess that would be “unethical” in this hick town. And shopping for clothes is almost an impossibility, unless you’re looking for college fashions in relatively large demand, and then the campus stores have it.

To be fair, shopping in rural America was just like right on through the early 2000s. Now we can’t even go inside stores, rural or not!

They also have a department store in Champaign. The Fair store in The Plaza would easily be twice its size, but it qualifies as a department store. I tried there but I soon gave up hope. They even have a Store Directory, for all the good it does. I was looking for a suit. A relatively common item. There were two entries connected with Men: Men’s Furnishings (?) and Men’s Rest Room — the latter of the two seemed the most likely to supply me with what I wanted in view of what happened later. After studying the useless directly for awhile, I found an entry “Suits.”

I’m reading all of this in Tim Gunn’s voice and it’s DELIGHTFUL.

Of this I was suspicious, but on an outside chance, I tried it anyway. Well, naturally, they were referring to women’s suits. And on the same floor were located all the various and sundry items women find necessary in clothing. As a matter of fact, they had the floor so arranged that all the cute, pink and frilly things were located directly in front of the elevator so that they more or less hit you in the face as you stepped out of it.

After looking at all the women looking at me and wondering exactly what I had in mind, I got the impression that I didn’t “belong.” In large, civilized cities men do venture into such places, but not in hick towns like Champaign. Apparently, they haven’t progressed much beyond the stage of separating male and female authors on the bookshelves.

WHAT? Side note: the thrift store in my town that shut down last year had shelves labeled “books for men” and “books for women” and the titles had nothing to do with anatomy and I was like: I hate this suburb.

There’s wasn’t a man in sight. At a younger age, I might have been embarrassed. In a better mood I might have felt a little out of place because I was the only one, but I doubt that. In this case, I lost rationality as far as the store was concerned and left as quickly as was safely possible. I had already been to every other store in Champaign where they could conceivable have had what I wanted. “Men’s Furnishings” yielded a complete blank.

I also have no idea what Men’s Furnishings are. I’m guessing office stuff? Also, Russ seems super anxious. I hope he got therapy or meds. 

I received your letter today. I, unlike “Trixie,” am willing to sacrifice the unique thrill of playing in the sandbox in deference to the snow.

Who is Trixie? WHAT did she say to Karen? 

Par-boiling lacks the uniqueness and sensationalism of other methods. Besides, burning puts the victim into shock too quickly to be really effective.

What?

What you want is a large vat of concentrated sulfuric acid into which you may slower lower those who do not meet with your approval. Sulfuric acid has the charming property of removing the water from whatever it contacts including the hydrogen and oxygen in carbohydrates in which they exist in the same ratio as that of the hydrogen and oxygen in water. Not only would that dehydrate her tough old hide, but it would reduce it to carbon, the only other component of carbohydrates.

YOU GUYS, do you know how happy I’ll be if this turns into a series of letters where Russ helps his psychopathic girlfriend kill her teachers and classmates, and I end up solving some long-forgotten weird string of mysterious deaths in Chicago? I think I just wrote a pitch for the greatest novel I’m never going to write.

 

The carbon could be burned, which would convert it to CO2, and there would be nothing solid left of your “friend(?).” There are many other equally intriguing methods available. I will be glad to help you should you decide on a desperate course of action, involving real liquidation.

IF ONLY, RUSS. IF ONLY.

Beverly was being kind in regards to my new coat. Don’t expect too much. It’s new, that much I can say for it. Outside of that, well — It keeps me warm and serves the purpose for which it was intended admirably well. This is why I bought it.

Stay humble, Russ.

I also bought a new suit.

WHAT? WHERE? WTF. Was the entirety of this letter up till now all about NOT being able to find a suit or I am losing my mind?

This may solve the problems regarding Christmas presents from my parents. It’s an olive cord, although not a deep olive.

The Edgewater Beach Crystal Room. Sharp. Should be a great affair. That will also get us up on the North Side for a change and we might be able to see what there is in the way of entertainment there.

Must be where her winter formal was being held?

Christmas Vacation is getting closer, but I am not feeling any less like waiting nine days than 19. I get proportionately more impatient with each day closer. College life is like incinerating the candle in one big blast of flame. It burns at all points, simultaneously. No wonder the poor and uneducated are in such good average physical shape. Those who are educated use up all their energy in the first few years of their adult lives. 

That’s a grimace.

Better get off this train of thought. It’s better to avoid it than to dwell upon it and it is too tempting to think about it without dwelling upon it.

Yes, keep dwelling on how lucky the poors are not to have to go away to college, for the love of Christ.

I’ve also more or less given up on the idea of toboggan. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t have much chance to use it. I could use it only when it snowed and when I was home. Snow is improbable and I’m home very little so the simultaneous occurrence of both of these things is extremely unlikely. I’m home three months out of the summer. Great weather for tobogganing.

I shouldn’t be such a problem child as far as Christmas gifts are concerned. I like practically anything.

It’s true. Russ only hates His Roommate, Red China, Chemistry, Rock and Roll, Stationery, Feminism, and Dudes at School. Honestly, the only things he likes are his parents, football and Karen.

You will be my best Christmas present. That I wouldn’t trade for anything.

It snowed today. Sort of a salutary snow, but nevertheless snow. I was wondering where all the precipitation we have been getting for the past few days in the form of rain ran off to. I’d much rather have snow. Maybe we’ll get some snow later. Maybe I should go to the University of Maine.

Well, I’ll have to study now with the time “marching on” and all that sort of thing. Auf wiedersehen, für nur eine Weile [Goodbye for a while — spelled correctly!]. Take real good care of yourself and don’t study too hard. Sweet dreams, — when you have the chance of good luck.

Love, love, love,

Russ

Miss you, miss you, miss you.

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

Missed one? Check the chronological list.

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

Missed one? Check the chronological list.

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

Missed one? Check the chronological list.

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

Missed one? Check the chronological list.

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

Missed one? Check the chronological list.

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)