Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Backstory: July 22 PM

Jim's letter makes me quite nostalgic, for times I never lived in. Perhaps that is why they seem so romantic...

Imagine, a boy waiting for a girl he loves to visit him from 2,000 miles away... a night spent listening to Glenn Miller and his orchestra (live, no less), dreaming of her coming out on the Santa Fe railroad. Only to find out it is true, and about to happen! What a dreamy yet melancholy story, when you break down the elements.

First, Glenn Miller's orchestra playing in Chicago. My grandfather LOVED swing and jazz. Glenn Miller's name was something I was familiar with at an early age, although it wasn't until writing this post that I knew the full story of his lie. More than his name, I know his song "In The Mood" ( by the first three notes of the opening refrain - you probably do too.  I just read that he died a short 4 years after Jim's letter, going down in a plane in the English Channel en route to entertain Allied Troops. Shocking! His career was so short, and his death so tragic. All this sadness associated with a song that captures the very spirit and, well, mood of the 1940's. I will never be able to listen to the song again the same way again. (By the way, if you do take a minute to check out his music at the link above, also listen to "When you Wish Upon a Star". You'll recognize that one, too, if you grew up with Disney as I did.)

Accompanying Glenn Miller was a showing of the less-than-memorable 1940's film "Untamed". Here's the plot summary from IMDb:

Dr. Bill Crawford, on a hunting trip to Canada, is attacked by a bear and his guide, Joe Easter, saves his life and takes the badly-mauled Crawford to his cabin home, where he lives with his beautiful young wife, Alverna. Leaning Bill there to recover, Joe goes on a prolonged hunting trip and Bill and Alverna fall in love. The local doctor, Billar, dies during an operation which Bill completes and then decides to remain in Lost Lake and continue his practice there...close to Alverna. The lovers decide that, in fairness to Joe, Bill must return to his former city. But an epidemic of streptococcus breaks out in the Lost Lake village. Bill, untrained in the ways of the primeval woods, sets out in a raging blizzard, in search of the messenger who had been sent to the nearest town for a special serum needed to break the epidemic. Fearing for his life, Alverna follows him and they find the messenger dead in his automobile, with the serum by his side. Exhausted they stagger into a deserted cabin and drowse into unconsciousness. Meanwhile, Joe, back from his hunting trip, is persuaded by the village gossips that his wife has run off with Bill. He starts after them, in his dog-sled, with murder in his heart. Written by Les Adams {}

What's with these names? My guess is that is why the movie doesn't really stand out from the other 4 "Untamed" movies made before 1960. Who really could say "Alverna" in a fit of passion, and not be thinking of their great aunt?

Finally, let's discuss longing. True longing. We think we know longing today, but we really don't. Today, longing is something along the lines of wanting the newest Lady Gaga album, but being stymied by an overburdened server. You have to wait 24 more hours than planned to get the music. Yes, it sucks. No, it's not like waiting forever.

No, true longing is wanting to see someone who is heading out to visit you - ON THE TRAIN. 3 weeks. First, Margie had to finish school. Then, she had to get to Chicago in the most economical fashion - via the Santa Fe Railroad.  The El Capitan was the all coach, streamlined train that offered "low-cost passage with high-speed convenience."Regular coach fare in 1938 was $44.50. I don't know how long it took (we'll chat with Margie for our next post to get first hand commentary), but I do know there were no beds, and it took more than 24 hours. (The picture below comes straight from wikipedia here:

Ah, three weeks to wait and see if all these feelings are true and real. How will we pass the time? Can we speed it up, only to slow it down once Margie arrives???

Stay tuned -


Dearest Margie: July 22 - PM

Dearest Margie,

Well here it is afternoon (about 5:30) and I suppose I should be calmer now that the news has sunk in, but I’m not. I’m practically going berserk and inside of three weeks I’ll probably be absolutely mad. I really can’t tell you how much it means to me that your coming, but I’m just like a changed man. I think if you wrote and said you couldn’t come I know I’d probably go mad again. I can’t seem to win but if I have to go mad, I would much rather do it waiting for the three weeks to pass. Today seems twice as long as the other working days, so I’m going to have to find some kind of work that will take my mind off it for three weeks, but know that’s impossible to do.

I hope you can get the Friday El Capitan, because that will get you here earlier and its the best of the two. Make reservations right away. Its really quite a train and very enjoyable to travel on. But Margie dear, watch out for some of the drunks and non-drunks too, because I certainly wouldn’t want anything to happen to you. Not that its dangerous as a matter of fact I guess its the safest train on the line because there are no private quarters. Everything out in the open. But what I was implying was I didn’t want you to get off the train and say “Jim meet so and so, it was love at first sight, aren’t you going to congratulate us?”Funny I’m really not worried about that happening, but I thought I’d put it in. you see I’ve been punchy ever since last night when I received your letter.

Last night (before letter) I went down as I heard Glenn Miller at the Chicago theater. He was terrific (one or 2 f’s?) and he put me in an awful mood; wanting you there and you 2,600 miles away. So you can see why the letter was so terrific when I got it. The picture with Miller was “Untamed” which wasn’t bad.

I’m glad you got to go to Big Bear. Its nice at that club. The boy you met has an older brother who took me up there once. This letter is awfully messy because I’m sitting on the bed and writing.

It’s been very hot here the last few days and Sat I went swimming in the lake. It wasn’t very good and only cooled me off for about 5 minutes. Sunday afternoon we went to the aquarium and after seeing some of the fish and eels that exist I don’t know whether I want to ever go under the water spearfishing again.

I’ve been writing you so often there's not a great deal more I can say. I hope I didn’t scare you out with the heat story from coming back. I know that if you’re back here I won’t even notice it and nothing else as far as that goes, except you.

I’ll save the important things to say personally, but in the meantime just remember I love you. (Maybe I shouldn’t say it because you’ll figure you’ve got me and won’t come back).

As ever,


Hurry summer school up, maybe you can close it early.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Backstory: A Trip to Chicago!!

Yes - you read that right! Margie is going back to Chicago to see Jim. Oh, the suspense!!!

Dearest Margie: July 22

Dearest Margie,

You thought you were excited when you wrote me your coming but I can’t even eat, sleep or write. Boy or boy, but I think that is just about the most marvelous news I have ever heard. I am just going to be counting the days and hours until you arrive.

I’ll agree to any terms you desire, just to get you back and I know there are many nice places you can stay back here. Hop on the train Friday the 9th because the sooner you get back the better. Also I can meet you easier on a Sunday morning. Be sure and come then because we have our training school starting about 23rd of August and although it would be swell if you were back here then, I wouldn’t have as much time to be with you, and I want to be with you just as much as possible so if you can leave the 9th it will be wonderful.

I got your letter late last night and couldn’t sleep, lay awake just thinking of all the things we could do. The little note I am writing while eating breakfast so please excuse scribbling. I want to get this in the mail this morning, and I’ll write you a better one tonight.

Darling, please don’t spend too much money though and let me help out where I can. But just get back here, that’s all I ask and we’ll have a marvelous time.

I’ll write again tonight, so until then-

My Love,