Friday, July 4, 2008

January 1920

More than two weeks after she received Uncle Teddy's beautifully tender proposal, Tantie wrote this accusatory note that lacked even a salutation.

18 days since I’ve heard from you
Tuesday morning, Jan 20

My better nature rebels at the thot of reminding you that “it is too long between drinks.”

For the first time since Christmas, I am unable to control my tears and this morning with not even car fare I was not able to hold my smile when I was told “no mail for Miss Forrest.”

... As far as you are concerned, your promises are nil. Nevertheless “I love you just the same.”

Your hungry, neglected “wife to be”

As it turns out, Robbie, Marie and their infant Sylvia had returned to Charleston and were living on the third floor of the Harleston Funeral Home. All three of them had tuberculosis and occupied an apartment across the hall from Teddy and his brother Moultrie.

Teddy and Moultrie shared custody of Robbie and Marie's four-year-old daughter, Gussie, but it was Uncle Teddy who did all the work. Tantie once said his brother Moultrie was the laziest man she had ever known.

Although Tantie was in the habit of writing to Uncle Teddy daily, he was unable to reciprocate because of family illnesses and work responsibilities. He finally responded to her letters one day after her birthday.

Feb. 5, '20

My Sweetie,
You may not have heard from others (and you certainly did not from me) that we have been having more than our hands full here for some time. Your last letters but one had a lot of questions which would have taken a long sitting to answer, and with the awful rush of the past three weeks I have not had that time.

Did you know that Marie, Robbie and the baby have been sick in bed together? That it has been impossible to get anyone to help? That I have had to cook for them and keep house and do my work? That we have been head-over-heels in the undertaking line? Even Bob Randall is down with the flu.

I have had a hard time meeting these various duties, but they are now all recovering – Marie is sitting up in her room; the baby and Robbie have both been out for two days. Yesterday we had four new calls – from ten a.m. to 10 p.m.

You must know how I wanted to write you on your birthday but I could not that week nor the past one. I know you must be glad to hear from home, and you ought to know that I appreciate the fact of your isolation but I don’t think you ought to be well nigh hysterical in your every other letter.

You know I have a few nerves also, and an everyday schedule of from 9 a.m. to 1, 2, 3 a.m. is a little matter to put anyone on edge. Of course since I have not told you, you may not have known, but try to fill in a gap and imagine that it is not all a matter of my worthlessness. ...

Please write me a cheerful letter; send me some pictures and tell me how you are getting along.

When you go to the museum again buy a photo of “Salome” by Regnault (pronounced Rain-yo) for me, if you have the price [of entry].

And don’t reckon the extent of my love by the frequency or length or my letters – my heart is yours and all I have to give but don’t persecute me and stab me by continued peevishness. I love you as you are & won’t you try to do the same for me?

... Goodbye for today. Write again soon. ...

With love – the same as ever and a little bit more.

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