Some time back, a group of photocopied letters was sold from Tessa Williams’ living estate, on ebay. Speculation was made, based on the assumption that all of the letters within were from Jeanette to Gene. While I honestly cannot recall the exact item title, I believe it did say something to that effect. (If anyone knows, please feel free to agree or correct me.) There was one within, about which I have openly admitted to having said “any idiot could tell that one isn’t written to Gene.” While the statement may have been a rather broad judgment and, perhaps, in bad taste, let me use a familiar quote- “I can’t deny I said it.”
To clear this mess up, however, here is the full letter, which, as I guessed, was not written to Gene.
Translated from Jeanette to English:
The Sulgrave, Park Avenue and 67th Street, New York
Dear Miss Smyth,
Hastily – replying to your note re – lamps. The 2 Chinese figures are being de-lamped to be used as figures on either corner of mantlepiece without the lamp fixings – just save the shades. The large pink base lamp is being converted into a “down throw” instead of reflector lamp. All 3 articles are in Mrs. Ruseau’s possession at the Orleans Shop. They should be finished long since!
I made an appt for Xmas for my hair before I left but I forget for what day. However, they wrote it down at Westmores’ so please check with them. I want another appt. for this Monday at 11 – everything – wave, manicure also my toenails done! Feet can be taken care of at same time as fingernails!
Just so you’ll know what to do about the 2 console cabinets on either side of mantlepiece. Put our large silver framed picture on one. The large silver basket on the other. You can put a pretty flower piece on the piano – temporarily.
The pink lamp goes on the new table beside the entrance to living room.
We are leaving Wed. nite & expect to arrive Calif. Saturday morning. Will wire you about train so Carl can meet us!
We’re exhausted and happy!
P.S. Ask Mother if Laurence can drive station wagon to meet us (illegible) luggage as will be loaded down. Carl can drive big car.
No CandyGrams and no hearts and flowers… because the letter was to her secretary, Grace Smyth. And the “we” to which she was referring? Herself and Gene. Here is the timeline of events:
Gene arrived in Hartford, CT, saw her show there, then went on to White Plains and saw that concert on December 4 (“Gene Raymond Here,” Motion Picture Daily, December 2, 1940). From there, they went to New York City. They left on December 11 to train back to California (“Three Players West,” Motion Picture Daily, December 12, 1940 and The Film Daily, December 12, 1940).
And boy, isn’t it nice to see a lady who’s fond of her secretary?
You have not yet seen the last of Della Street… I mean, Cinema Dilettante. More to come, and thanks for all of the INVALUABLE support! Oh, and for reading!