Wow, are we really up to part 5 already? Seems like just yesterday that I casually decided to put on my Adulting Hat™ to start, once again, getting to the business of sorting out the real from the not so. The last week has, honestly, been one of the most hardcore weeks I’ve ever had, as a fangirl. You get good and mad about one thing, that boils over to another thing, people get all up in your grill about 3 billion other matters that shouldn’t matter, and then… there’s a beautiful set of letters, in your inbox.
I would love nothing more than to be able to be wholly, completely emotionless when it comes to these letters. I would love to be able to pick them apart and define each word, without so much as even a little of that hyper giddiness that people have actually traveled hundreds of miles with me, just to witness.
You know what, though? There’s really nothing in here that I have to spell out. Jeanette MacDonald and Gene Raymond do a fantastic job of speaking for themselves. Who am I to try to explain what they’re saying? While you’re reading these, just know that I, too, am 100% RUINED by the fact that this kind of love has never come my way. Two brilliant human beings, both with more than their fair share of wit and a goofiness that is so so so endearing.
1943, Jeanette to Gene:
January 13, 1943
Dearest – I hate to waste any space – and there is much I had to write about but sent my letter (4 pages) on to Bill Dover in New York to deliver to you but he wired me it might go thru the official censorship and there was much too much really personal stuff in it. So I wired him to return the letter to me and I will now rewrite but simply cannot write about some of the things meant for only you. Soooo – It was a real newsy letter too and now I’m all out of the mood but will as best I can. Some of it I can have retyped and dictated some parts – can get so much more on a page – but that was the more or less impersonal stuff.
One thing, however, I simply must get off my chest (this I cannot go into the same detail I did) is on your transferring to operational end. I do not & cannot understand your eagerness to put yourself into further danger if that’s what it involves and it would seem to me that’s what it means. Surely you do not have to prove to me or the industry that you’re a brave & honest man – and I know, from all records, that the impression you’ve made in army circles is magnificent. Then, why, dear, do you find it necessary to get “in the field.” We’ve always been so frank and on the level with each other so I cannot restrain myself now. I’ve tried to be understanding of all of your decisions regarding your place in this war even tho you’ve known I was as reluctant to have you go, as the next wife – still I knew it meant something to you as a man to serve your country. But you are doing that and well, as your promotion must indicate, and now your decision to change your job for one of more danger or daring has me confused. I feel that in your man’s world over there, the excitement call to arms! pressure, however – has given you a purely one sided viewpoint – and you’ve forgotten that you have a responsibility to me as well as your country. You are fighting for me & home et al., you know, and yet, honey without you the me & home doesn’t count much. We both need you to be complete and while you think I’ve been very swell and brave and understanding – don’t over estimate me as a woman I’m just as hysterical as little Mary Jones at certain prospects and when those prospects are magnified by the job you seem to find necessary – I keep asking myself (and you) why, why, why? Why the field? What’s wrong with Intelligence? It’s as important a branch of the service as any other. I’m certain of that – and it would seem to me more important to a fellow like you because you can and must have an important place in the reconstruction to follow this war – and you can only do it on a politically equal basis. Perhaps I don’t make myself clear (the other letter was so much better) but things are heading towards a very rosey!! future. (Rose is one shade of red you know) and you fellows with ideals are going to have to straighten things out. You must take the reigns – you just can’t let all you’ve been fighting for fall into the wrong hands. And here’s where you don’t seem to know me – I am a snob. I do care whether you come home a Col. or Capt. if returning with a Col.ship means a better chance of asserting your real worth and force into the future of things. Your change in your job for the reasons you gave doesn’t make any more sense to me than the case of Peggy Wood’s leaving the board of the Actors Equity. Recall she left because there were some members of the board whose bright colored views she did not share. She simply would not stay to fight against them even. She, thereby, weakened the board by the loss of one more idealist giving over her vacancy to another radical. Here I am miles away, trying to compete with the emotional set up you are in and I’m afraid with the cold logic I am presenting I am on the losing side. Remember, that even tho a man at war is supposed to put all personal loves aside for allegiance to his country – you are only 1 in 53 million 53 million to your country and to me my darling you are 1 in all! It simply starts and stops with you. That must mean something to you because I’ve always felt that I was 1 in all to you too. And yet here I am being crowded out & your emotions and decisions by the propinquity of your mans world. If I lose you to this cause it will be a futile effort on my part all of the sacrifices we are making now will simply be a futile effort. I know you say “My whole purpose is to get this thing over with so I can get back to you the sooner!” But you cannot do it alone and I do not believe making the changes you have made will materially alter the results of the war – or perhaps I underestimate you!! No, I don’t darling. That’s what I’m struggling for – I know & appreciate your true value and I don’t think you really do. I think you have the power within you to influence men – and should do so to the fullest extent of your ability – all the more so because of your strong and fine ideals. Do you think I’m weak and a sissy for worrying! I can’t help it. I haven’t slept ever since you told me. And I’ve been having nightmares. Yep! I’m just as much a “frail female” as the little bride so dependant upon her handsome groom. Maybe I’m even more dependant – because dear, my sun will set sooner than the gay young thing and I’d have less to fall back on without you. Perhaps you’ll not like me for revealing my weakness to you but that’s prompted by a love which even you cannot control. The only thing you can do to it is make it feel it must seek a defense in case it is left “alone.” And now having bared my heart as much as I dare I hope you won’t think I’ve just been “working up a case” because of course you haven’t told me what operational means and so I’ve just had to use my imagination and perhaps that’s not good! However, one thing I don’t want you to do and that is keep anything from me. (I mean that is within the bounds of censorship). It is only thru a complete understanding and confidence in each other that we can hold together that wonderful bond we’ve established!
And now to bed! I wish that were a proposition!! In the (bed) spring – a young man’s (and woman’s) fancy lightly turns to – huh? Oh – come now, General, you can’t test your army’s endurance too far. Give the general my regards!! Find out if his wife has ever annoyed him with the above. Then tell him, if not, he doesn’t know what he missed. Gosh, I miss you – or do I repeat myself – alright – so I love you – too! O.L.R.. You’re not the only artist in the family.
(Jeanette Anna MacDonald Raymond, ladies and gentlemen. Fighter, lover, master of the run on sentence.)
Okay, sorry, more letters in the next post. I have GOT to go curl up in a tiny ball and cry for days, now. 🙂 A letter from Gene, in the morning.