Saturday, April 1st.
Just received two bitter letters from you. To think, the U.S. government threw aside Roosevelt's practical plan of a postcard vote for all soldiers. You are right when you say, if it's wrong to vote outside of continental America, it's wrong to die for one's country in Guam and France or North Africa. The whole thing is monstrous, though it won't do much good in the future! The joke going around is close to the truth. You've probably heard it but here it is: - Churchill's secretary asked him would he speak on the telephone to someone who would not give his name. "No, he must give his name and business." said Churchill. In a moment the secretary was back: "It's Stalin, phoning from Calais, wanting to know, has he come far enough?"
You ask, do I understand what you're talking about? Of course I do darling. Here are the answers to your questions.
Religion: Didn't go through that period known as "losing one's faith". Never had any faith to lose, I stopped going to church as soon as I was old enough not to do as I was told! I was brought up in an intensely religious home, and went to church 3 times a week from babyhood. It was a good place to go to sleep, also to draw pictures in the hymnbooks. As soon as I was old enough to think, I decided that religion was the cause of as much misery in the world as selfishness and love of money.
Sex: Think you're dead right in wanting to marry someone who has had a good bit of sex experience, and even righter to live with her before marriage. However, before or after marriage, if two people have a deep and unusual love for each other, without sex problems, happy together in all ways, then they should be faithful. Not from any moral reasons, just practical ones. It isn't good sense to fritter yourself away on trivial people and "affairs" - risking something and someone who is of vital importance. I would always live up to that, myself. I also believe that very thorough sex-instruction should start at age ten or eleven years for children.
Politics: Here, I am an enthusiastic amateur! I've got the artistic temperament, as it's called, and am too vague and absent-minded to absorb statistics, figure, economics, the things you have to know to be of use to The Party. (Whatever party you like). I am interested when you tell me about those things, and am learning fast. Although I have not been politically educated, I am by no means backward. I never accept anything because "father did", or "it's always been like that." It's obvious that the world needs a new creed, revolution, idea, movement or whatever you call it - something new. Something to sweep away all outmoded forms and anachronisms. The old, bad ways need changing, and you are one of the wonderful young people who can change it. There are many who think as you do, but few who have your gifts, and strength to bring your ideas to fruition. I disagree with you when you say "to recognize Truth is not enough, you must also have strength." I think you are wrong to sweep aside intellectuals as futile - unless they have the strength to use strong-arm methods, knuckle-dusters and rubber clubs to enforce their ideas. You don't seem to realize that the printing press gave the word a power beyond powers.
The word - if written with genius and beauty gives to the feeblest man, vast far-reaching power. Dostoiovski was a delicate, frail man, who died of consumption - he was a victim of the Csarist Strong-arm thugs, and was always in jail or Siberia or in hiding, but the books he wrote have been read by millions of people in all the countries of the world. People who did not speak his language, who never saw him, were deeply moved by the beauty and genius of his work. They received his message - gained a new understanding of suffering humanity.
The poet is usually a frail person - but the power of fine poetry to express an idea in a few lines is incalculable. I give you Walt Whitman and I give you unknown, sensitive poets who in simplicity can show their scorn, and deep compassion. For instance:
"The golf links lie so near the mill
That almost every day
The laboring children can look out
And see the men at play"
(This is from a poem called THE GOLF LINKS, by Sara Cleghorn.)
Then there is a little poem by Joseph Skipsey;
"Get up! the caller calls,
And in the dead of night,
To win the bairns their bite and sup,
I rise, a weary wight.
My flannel dudden donned,
My birds are kissed, and then
I with a whistle shut the door
I may not ope again.
I never heard of the man who wrote this lovely, simple expression of a miner's life, but it moved me when I read it. It was recently quoted in the Express, a paper with about three million readers. If only a small percentage of them were moved as I was, how many people may have been changed.
At the end of your letter you say: "Darling, am I nuts - most things I believe, everybody thinks are wrong." You are far from nuts. You have exceptional power and originality of thought for a young man. The clever man, the man of force is one in millions, he feels out of place when with a large gathering of ordinary people - as in an army camp. You're on the right track, when the time comes, life will give you big opportunities - you'll know how to use them. I hope I'm around to watch - it will be thrilling for me, darling.
It's depressing not to know when I'm going to see you again, it's been nearly 2 weeks!
Midnight, Tuesday, April 4
What is there to say, what can one say. A few hours ago I was talking to you and heard your voice saying "I love you, I love you -". I was standing next to T. in the kitchen, but there was no-one listening in, so what you said could not be heard. Knowing that you love me only helped to break the blow a little.
This morning, at about mid-day, I received your letter. I was elated. First, the wonderful luck of your unexpected Jewish holiday falling on my night off! It seemed too good to be true - and was! I looked forward to a whole night doing nothing but kissing you, and making love. I planned what I'd wear, and cook for your supper. Then planned to go with you to a theatre on Friday night - a new psychological thriller just opened called "Uncle Harry" - it got extra good write-ups so we must see it. Saturday, I thought - I'd ask about six people for drinks and sandwiches, I'd bake a real cake and make pots of coffee. Simple fun, but nice and homey, and a real change from the camp. Your letter was so very definite, too - "you can expect me about 9:30." And then . . . disappointment.
I've been getting your letters regularly, nearly every day, so I've not been distressed and worried at all. When you could not get here for my last night off, I was not very upset because I had a bad cold, and aching cough, like Camille in the last act, plus the Curse. This time it's different. It's just after the Curse when one feels "hotter than a fire-cracker" as you put it! The tension has been getting worse for several days, you can imagine how relieved I felt when I heard you were coming. I shall dream about you tonight. Hope it will be in Technicolor!
You said, on the telephone, that you sent some ration cards and a check. When did you post them? Those things get stolen so I'm a bit worried. Anyway, sweet of you to think of it. I'll tell you as soon as they arrive. (My loving thanks)
Let's see: is there any news? Nothing except that I'm about to start Spring Cleaning! (F--- it).
The people across the street asked us to take tickets for a show given by an R.A.F. Fighter Station. It was called "CindeRAFeller", in aid of the R.A.F. Charities. We couldn't afford it, being ABYSMALLY broke at the moment, however we managed to raise a pound or two, because I would do anything for the R.A.F. I would even sleep with them, all in turn, if asked to!
I owe the fact that I'm still American and not German to these brave boys. During the Battle of Britain, the German Command tried the same softening-up process on Britain that we are now trying on them. The idea was to wipe out the whole of Britain's air force, and then invade - which would have been child's play - if they had gained air supremacy. It was just after Dunkirk, Britain had lost all her armaments, many ships, men, and planes. Germany hoped to break the spirit of the British people and terrorize all resistance out of them. Due to the famous Spitfire, the bravery, and brilliant flying of the R.A.F. the Germans did not succeed in wiping out the British air force. As for breaking our spirit, they kept at it for a year, and we just got tougher and tougher! One marvels, remembering those hot sunny days of 1940, when the R.A.F. boys were not out-numbered 5 to 1, or even 10 to 1, but 20 and 30 to 1! Going up again and again, five, six, ten sorties every day. Then, when the Luftwaffe was losing 200 planes in a day, nearly every day, the daylight attacks had to be given up.
Of course, we bought our tickets and went to their little show, and clapped very, very hard. During intermission you tripped over the crutches standing propped against the walls and down the aisles, and bumped against the very, very young boys hobbling about in Hospital Blues. How terribly sad I felt.
Well, now I must go to bed. Darling; if you are aching in all your bones, flesh and blood for me the way I am aching for you, then I feel sorry for you. We are in for a restless night. For God's sake, come to me soon, or I shall just die.
Sunday April 9 Afternoon -
I hated missing this particular leave . . . at last it's Spring . . . I wanted to walk in the park with you. The silver blaze of the moon, rain - rich smells, - a new play.
Harry had a friend here for 48 hours leave. To my amazement he turned out to be a tough, paratrooper who had "jumped" over Italy, and Africa. He was "tall, tan, and terrific" - a most tasty dish, and he gave me the eye! What do you make of that?
He has gone now, and seemed to think he wouldn't be coming back to London, having urgent appointments to "jump" over the Channel in the near future.
Please come to stay with us soon, it's lonely without you.
With all my love -S.
Tuesday, April 11,
Small oddments of candy, all that was left were two round, hard, dusty, slightly melted, lime-drops! There was nothing else, so I washed them under the tap and ate them while I did my ironing! Bubi was so hungry. POOR Bubi.
The chocolates you sent didn't help much when I read that you will not be able to get here for my next night off, "unless a miracle occurred". Isn't your transfer coming through? Tell me what happened about that. If it does, try to get a short furlough, - even 4 days, - between the two jobs. I don't think there will be any possibility of your getting one later. The fight will be on by May or June, and furloughs will be out of the picture by then.
- B. told me he'd been to a movie down round Piccadilly, and that it was practically deserted! No men in uniform, the Rainbow Corner empty, no queues at the movie! Nothing but a few M.P.s standing about! He said it was positively gruesome. Looks as if all leave is being stopped, and the boys going coastward. H. also told me that about four of the R.C. Clubs have closed The Victory closed today - Mostyn no beds, only the Club part open.
Oh, dear, oh dear. What a sickening thing it would be if the last time I saw you proves to be our last leave together, for ages and ages. If only we had known! Not that we'd have one anything other than we did, but each moment would have been lived much more intensively. You'd have come back for that one last hurried kiss when I flashed "I love you" out of the window with "our" torch.
Oh, darling, don't leave England until you absolutely have to. Once you do go . . . it means . . . it will be the end of one phase with us.
Since you left, I thought of you as you were when walking round naked after your bath! You were very pink and moist and smelled deliciously of my powder and wet soap, and of clean sweet flesh. I walked into your arms because I couldn't resist being close to my big boy and sniffing him and tasting him. I can still feel the firmness of your back and arms - and your wet hair. I remember the sound of your voice calling me from the kitchen. Wondering what I was doing, you would call with a slow downward inflection on the last syllable: "Boo-bie,". Another time the sound would be different; the first syllable low and very quick, and the last one rising to a quick little squeak - like this: "Boo-bie?" A hundred times I've imitated the sound of these two calls, it makes me feel less lonely. Oh, darling, we must, MUST have one Spring and Summer together while we are so terribly in love. Those are times made for lovers
The book of stamps you sent is now going to be put to the good use of bringing this letter to you. Thank you darling one.
PS I promise I won't go out alone at night. Swear it! Did you get potted, darling, like you said? hope not. It worries me so. Anything might happen to such a hot-head as you when drink removes the censor from your mind.
Thoughts about Gerry.
Aldous Huxley said:
"Two people destined for each other can be strangers in space - or strangers in time."
Would it have been worse, I wonder, if Gerry and I had never met, remained forever strangers in space? As it is we did meet, only to face the cruel fact that we were born into the wrong years and thus, strangers in time. Would Gerry love me more if I were a young girl, ravishing lovely, healthy, gifted? - I do not think so. The true love of the heart does not arise out of these things. Who knows where it does come from, how or why? If I possessed a flawless beauty I could hold no man's love with that alone. There will always be a women more beautiful, I would need that further splendor which she possessed. If I were a girl of twenty, my youth could not compel a great love. Competing, would be those girls of only nineteen, or eighteen, and that youth I would need also. If I were clever and strong and did all things well, from the baking of a cake to the breaking of a stallion, the man I loved would meet women more vital than I and I would need the added luster of their brilliance and energy.
Then . . . if it is not those incomparable gifts which inspire the deepest tenderness of a man's mature love, what is it? I don't know. Nor does anyone.
A man can be enchanted with that X quality known as charm. Beauty and distinction can draw his first gasp of admiration. Later, there comes a moment when he realizes something wonderful - She is my friend.
One way to know that your life is bound up with the one you love, is to feel tortured when separated. An even surer way is to feel peace, content, rest when together; to be comfortable, at ease and completely your real self.
One day, a man looks at his dear one and notices, for the first time, a tired look about her eyelids - perhaps a faltering of her step, or that her hands are not smooth and young any more. A terrible pang tears through him. Then he knows that he really loves.
(Written during an Air Raid.)
Thursday April 13
I sat in the kitchen last night during an alert, writing to you by the flickering light of two candles. "Thoughts about Gerry" - was really a love-letter, though not in that form.
Here's what I want to say. It's awful news that you still don't know when we can meet. Off and on all day, the tears have spilled over, I'm beginning to feel a dreadfully sick loneliness for you. I know you're feeling the same, and I'm too impatient and restless to take any kind of "waiting" well. As soon as I got your letter today I began to think out some way we might meet for a few hours. Only to see each other walk, hold hands, kiss - to see with our eyes that all was well. If you can get a 6 hour pass, see if you can work out a plan for me to come to your nearest town. I could spend the night at the local hotel, if your pass was for the evening. If for the day, I could take a morning train. You've been very sweet to that Red Cross girl, she would probably be willing to lend you her room for a few hours, we could sit there and talk, maybe have a meal together and then I'd take the train back, or spend the night.
I'll leave you to work out the details. From my side, there is no difficulty. Could just say I'd gone to the country for the day to stay with T. Or even say I'd gone to see you, that would not be frowned on. Find out whether that town is in the banned area. I don't think it is out of bounds for civilians yet. If it is, there's no hope of my coming. Find out when you can get a short pass, and write me at least a week ahead. I'll telegraph the Red Cross girl, so you'll have to tell me her name and address and whether she can be wired direct, not through the Censor. Or if you pick a train for me, then I'll just take it, and will write you to say I'm coming.
If you telephone, this can be arranged on the spur of the moment. Maybe the R.C. girl could ring up for you. I would be very careful what I said to her, no names mentioned.