Actions

Work Header

Caviar Sandwiches and Beer

Work Text:

Duluth News December 20, 1941

Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Imbrie announce the marriage of their daughter Elizabeth to Macaulay Connor of South Bend, Ind. on December 15. The wedding took place in New York City, where the couple lives. Mr. Connor is a writer of short stories who recently enlisted with the Army Air Corps. Mrs. Connor is a painter and illustrator. The couple met when working for Spy magazine, which they left last year. Also in attendance were Mr. and Mrs. C.K. Dexter Haven of Philadelphia.


South Bend Tribune June 25, 1942

Mrs. Arthur Connor writes that her son Mike has completed Army Air Corps flight training and will soon be leaving for Hawaii. She asks for the prayers and good wishes of all of Mr. Connor's former students at South Bend High School, and offers her own in return.


Philadelphia Inquirer November 12, 1943

Main Line society celebrated Armistice Day with a drive for the Red Cross. Heading up the drive were Mrs. Seth Lord and her daughter Mrs. C.K. Dexter Haven, both of Devon. Mr. Lord is currently in Washington working with the US Treasury Department. Lt. Cmdr. Haven is stationed in London with the US Navy.


New York
February 18, 1944

Mike,

Got your Valentine's letter, thanks. I bet the censors fight over reading your letters just for the cheap thrills of them. When you become a great writer, trust me, we will not be publishing these particular missives. Or showing them to the children.

I'm enclosing a copy of the brochure and the Times review of the show. Another group show of "lady painters." I wonder how Mary Cassatt did it. Though come to think, those were mostly painter-curated shows. I get along fine with my fellow artists, even the ones who've landed from Europe. It's the gallery owners who are downright prehistoric. Oh, I can handle the pinchers. It's the ones who won't take me seriously—or really, won't take the paintings seriously—that just about drive me around the bend.

But enough of that. I won 30 bucks from those aforementioned artists at poker the other night, and decided to splurge on some new finery of the scrap-of-silk variety as you can see from the enclosed snap. Don't worry; I took the picture myself. I'm not the wordsmith you are, but I can write you a little story to go along with the photograph …

Don't trip over anything before you get home. You know, like a Japanese pilot.

All my love,

Your Liz


London
March 2, 1944

Red,

Well I've done it this time. They're through with me here and sending me off to the other theater. I'm getting a bit of a leave in between and of course want to see you, so be ready for His Triumphant Return with all appropriate festivities and celebrations. And be sure to save a little bit for just you and me, such as the whole week. Bit cold for a swim but that rarely stopped us before.

Thanks for sending along that note about Liz's show. I bet Mike could hear her screaming all the way in the Pacific. Come to think of it, we should spend some of that leave in New York and check in on her.

Actually, here's a proposal: let's spend all of it in New York. No family, only understanding friends and a very nice suite at the Plaza. Bring your party dress and I'll take you to the Stork Club.

I'll write again with the details as soon as I get them.

Much love,

D


Devon, Penna.
March 10, 1944

Hey Mike,

The Navy, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to ship Dexter out your way. Still not sure what the ability to make cozy sailboats has to do with the defeat of the Japanese but I'm not Marshall. I can tell from your letters that most of what you boys get up to for recreation out there is whiskey and poker. Now that's fine for you of course, but you can see how that could pose a bit of a problem for Dext. I'm not sure what's left, but there must be something. I wonder if you could look out for him in some way, of course without letting him know you're doing so.

About that story you sent: I am returning a copy with a few notes. It shows a lot of promise—one worth working on. I can't wait until this thing is won and you're back here polishing them up. And thanks again, Mike, for trusting me with your work. I can't think of a finer compliment. I have also enclosed some molasses cookies. I think the cooking classes are going rather well.

Mother is talking of closing her house and following Father to Washington, perhaps getting one of those little houses in Georgetown, especially now that Junius is in town as well. I wouldn't go there of course—George and all—but it will make things here rather solitary with Dinah at school and Uncle Willie riding the rails or whatever it is he's up to. Perhaps I'll have that affair with Max the night watchman after all.

Love,

Tracy


Somewhere in the South Pacific
March 20, 1944

Trace,

I am pleased to report that your cooky-making is improving. This batch did not threaten to break anyone's teeth, but was soft enough to arrive as crumbs. Delightful crumbs, but still crumbs.

Of course I'm happy to help you out with Haven. I can see the difficulty. Even Liz can take him at the poker table.

Okay, bad example. Still, ol' C.K. looks like a mark and while he's damn smart he isn't quite as clever as he likes to think it is. (Except perhaps when it comes to you of course.) But if the first book helped him get off the hooch then the third one might help him stay off it. I'll send inquiries as to where he'll turn up.

One good deed deserves another. You sound at loose ends. Liz isn't getting a fair shake from those art world vultures and you know her—she'll push for anyone else (including me) but never herself. And the poor kid's lonely, too. Could you go up to New York, see what she'll let you do for her? Something tells me you're just the gal. I'll trust we're all good enough friends now that you won't make a misstep as you did when you tried to give me that house. That said, Liz isn't nearly as "principled" as I once was.

They're sending us out again so I'll have to sign off here to make the mail, but I'm enclosing a new version of that story about the rowboat. Let me know what you think.

Love from your pal,

Mike


Somewhere in the South Pacific
April 10, 1944

Haven,

So they're sending you out my way. Liz says she's taking you to some of our old haunts while you're in New York and I'm downright jealous of you for getting to see both our girls. I'd give—well, I expect you know about what I'd give.

They're keeping us pretty busy out this end so I'm not too sure when I'll actually get to see you, but in the meantime here's a few stories to keep you amused on the train to San Francisco. I think you'll recognize some of the conversations. That's the peril of being friends with a writer; you end up in the stories.

I'd add more, but all I seem to have lately is war talk and philosophy. I'm trying to keep the latter to the stories, and I'm sure you've had quite enough of the former. Look forward to seeing you and hearing all about Liz first-hand.

Connor


Devon, Penna.
April 16, 1944

Liz,

Thanks for showing Dext and me such a fun time in New York last week. He left yesterday and now the house is empty again—emptier, really, since I don't even get to have little afternoon visits from Mother anymore.

Say, I was thinking—what if I move up to Manhattan and we bach it together? Seems wasteful to have two households when we could just have one, and of course you must stay in New York since you've made all those connections and you're doing such wonderful work. It's lovely to see, Liz.

Now, I know two war wives can't fit in your flat so I could come up and look for something we could share—split right down the middle. The Village is so charming, I think we'd want to stay downtown, wouldn't we? You can disabuse this college girl of all of her Bohemian fantasies. I promise I can fit in—I fit on all sorts of places.

Let's face facts. I've been lonely and I know you have, too. Why be lonely apart when we can be lonely for our fellas together? And when one of us really gets the blues, why the other can take her by the hand and bring her to a park or a cafe or similar and distract her.

Do say yes, Liz.

Love,

Tracy


Honolulu, Hawaii
June 15, 1944

Connor,

Well now All Is Known. I have no more secrets; they were all revealed a week ago when the little boats I helped design landed on a beach called Omaha. Of course, I'm now beginning to get in on a few new secrets but trust me, eventually they will be exposed in a similar fashion.

Thanks for sending those stories, and the additional ones waiting for me in San Francisco. They did me quite well on the journey. It's always odd seeing little things about people I know—and I suppose myself—scattered around and jumbled up into something actually meaningful. And I realize now that your settings and characters are floating into Liz's paintings, too, such as that little rowboat.

Also thanks for giving Tracy something to do. Don't think I don't realize that you're behind her move to New York, Connor. You've doubtless heard from Liz already, but Tracy has settled them in on Greenwich St., some large through-floor apartment with parking and afternoon light. (Women seem to be fiends for afternoon light. Liz, at least, has some excuse, but with Tracy it's almost a mania.)

I've even taken up this local sport of surf-board riding. I'd seen it once in California and always wanted to try. It's much more like riding a horse than I would have thought. If you get back to this end, I'd be happy to show you.

Haven


New York
September 10, 1944

Dexter,

I open with the news that your wife is taking sewing lessons. I report this item without comment.

When not making cotton dirndls, Tracy has been ingratiating herself into both the publishing scene and the art scene and attending as many of those ridiculous parties as possible. Apparently she has some connections of her own through college friends. Unsurprisingly she's no dilettante; I wouldn't wonder that she'll give Mike's agent a run for his money by the time he returns. Not to mention that she got me into that show of recent artists in July. Imagine, me at a show not just for "lady painters." One of the two paintings even sold, and I got my name around.

Which isn't to say that I'm not still doing some illustrations here and there. I have a contract for four paintings for the Saturday Evening Post to illustrate some short stories. Of course they're dreck when compared to Mike's work, but they're entertaining in their own way. Tracy has made rather an event of reading them dramatically whenever we have guests at our little dinner table, usually another war bride we've met at one of these parties.

Mike says he has a buddy giving you poker lessons. Good for you. Maybe by the time you return you'll even be able to win a few pennies from me. Stay safe.

Love,

Liz


Honolulu, Hawaii
November 30, 1944

Liz,

I must say, your letters make me miss Tracy almost as much as hers do. I can just see her doing every single thing you describe. Keep her out of trouble, won't you? I'm not worried about you; of the three of us you're probably the most capable of standing your ground when she's on a tear.

I enclose a photo of Mike and me at Thanksgiving dinner here in Honolulu. Don't you worry about him; the docs here got that leg of his patched up so well that he's shipping back out in a week or so once he's gained a bit of weight. But then, he always was on the skinny side. He's chomping at the bit to get back in the cockpit, but in the meantime is humoring me by letting me win at gin rummy on occasion. And of course he's been writing up a storm. I'm sending copies of the new stories under separate cover to you both. I think he would have gone crazy without pen and paper.

Thanks for sending that little sketch of the two of you. Don't tell him I told you, but Mike choked up a bit when he saw it. He's got that photograph of yours in his pocket at all times—though of course he didn't show it to me or anyone else. I think you bring him luck.

Say hello to my girl for me. I hope we'll all be together before long.

Love,

Dexter


New York
February 15, 1945

Tracy,

I trust your mother is feeling a bit better. We're getting along fine up here so don't feel you need to rush back.

I received another commission from the Post and there's talk of a new show of paintings at that little gallery on Bank St. in a month. They'd like four paintings from me. The little boy, obviously, and that ink-and-watercolor of the little birch grove at your place. Do you think there would be objections to including that portrait of Diana? It wouldn't be for sale, of course, but I admit I'm rather proud of it and would like it to be seen. Not sure what the fourth one should be.

Even after the war is over, Tracy, you should continue. It's rather amazing how well you can get people to think that whatever you want them to do was actually their idea all along. Or at least that of course you absolutely know best. You'd make some agent.

We got six more inches of snow last night and I went out and took a few pictures. I quite like the shadows in some of them.

Give your mother my love.

Love,

Liz


New York
August 20, 1945

Dext,

I simply can't believe it's finally over and you're coming home. It's like waking up from some strange, long nightmare.

Don't buy me a present with those poker winnings of yours! They're yours and you should get yourself something lovely with them. I'm so proud of you, Dext, really I am. For that and, oh, a lot of things. But I'm sure you know that already.

I must keep this short so I'll be sure it will catch you. Of course Mother wants to give a big party for you and Junius and Mike when you all get home, back at the house. But I also wanted to ask you about New York. I'm not, of course, thinking of insinuating ourselves into whatever passes for society up here, but the world Liz has brought me into—oh Dext! I think we could really make a go of it here. There are plenty of folks around who would line up for your boats, and I've stumbled into some way of making myself useful in the world at last. I can't wait to take you around and show you off.

We can discuss this properly when you're back, but I just wanted you to have a nice long time to think about it, on your own, beforehand. And your idea of a second honeymoon sounds splendid. We might even be able to get that same suite at the Plaza.

Much love from your own

Red


San Francisco
September 10, 1945

Liz,

Actually not quite San Francisco—we land tomorrow. I'll wire you with the exact train. You'll be like the movies and meet me at the station, won't you? Even though you're finally becoming the very important painter you always were to me?

Dexter sits opposite me at the breakfast table writing to Tracy, so don't be surprised if the letters arrive at the same time. If strings were pulled so we could travel together by old Junius or someone else, for once I don't care. My men are coming home at the same time I am, and that's all I can ask. If some social advantage gets me home to you faster, and gets my radio man back to Kentucky and my gunner back to South Dakota and my mechanic back to Maine that's all right with me. They deserve no less.

And I know you deserve it, too. With what the New Yorker has offered me for the rowboat story, I might even be able to take you on a little trip. And maybe in the not too distant future we can find a bigger place and fill it with books and paintings and little Connors. Do you know we've only lived together for two weeks, and only one of those weeks was in our actual apartment? I've made a fine husband, thousands of miles away. I hope I can make a pretty good one up close. I know I'll try to.

See you in a week, darling. I hope you still have those little scraps of silk. After years of looking at that photograph, I'm looking forward to seeing them in the flesh. Er, as it were.

All of my love,

Mike