Letter – dated 2 April, 1938, Postmarked from Galveston, Texas

Dear Peg; I hope this letter catches up with you, before you and Tommy board the China Clipper for Hawaii. I enclose the clipping from the SA Light newspaper of the wedding. Your Granny Jane cut it out and sent it to me, because of the picture of us, all lined up on the church step outside, with the sun in our eyes and waiting for the photographer to do his duty. It was very impressive, since the editor put it at the very top of the weddings and society pages; your Granny Jane wrote in her note to me. Honestly, as newsprint goes, I think we all look very nice, although Ivy was complaining to me under her breath about how her feet hurt, and I know that Tommy was pinching your behind and saying that now he had the right to do so as a lawfully-married man! Well, really – Ivy is so vain about her tiny feet, so of course she will cram them into shoes a half-size too small. And yes, we both warned her about this.

I was so sorry that I could not see you off on your honeymoon journey, but I simply had to return to Galveston on the afternoon train, so as not to miss any more of my nursing classes than absolutely necessary. I had dispensation, at the pleading of all our kin, especially the Galveston branch to be your bridesmaid, since I don’t know when we will see each other again. I know that we vowed to each other  that year when we were fifteen and summering at the Becker ranch that we would be bridesmaid to each other, but if I marry a handsome doctor-surgeon and you are away on Tommy’s rubber plantation in Malaya and cannot come Home, then I release you from that vow to reciprocate. I shall have to make an effort to make up for what I have missed in the two weeks that I was away from Galveston, but I should let you know that I do not regret this in the least.

It was such a nice time, seeing everyone again and spending time with Ivy, and Daddy, and Granny Jane and Granny Sophie and all, although I did endure the talk from Daddy about how serious was I really, regarding pursuing this training as a nurse, yet one more time! Well, as I haven’t had a handsome and dashing Englishman like Tommy fall absolutely head-over-heels in love with me over one week and the next, I suppose I shall have to go ahead with this nursing qualification. One has to do something, if the inclination or opportunity for marriage doesn’t present itself at once, and I would rather not settle for waiting on tables. Did you know that Granny Sophie did, way back in the day before she met Grandpa Fred? Can you imagine, Granny Sophie, waiting tables? Honestly, the mind simply shudders in disbelief. I’d think this was one of Daddy’s stories, but I asked Granny Sophie about it once, and she said that she had, and then changed the subject almost at once.

She is such a dear, worrying about me, studying in Galveston. Granny was there for the great hurricane in 1900 and was very much against me going to the nursing college there, telling me once and again how horrible it was to endure the hurricane, and most especially afterwards, when most of the city was wrecked. Well, I said, ‘Granny – if it happens again, then I am a nurse and I can do good, and anyway, they raised up everything on the island to fifteen or twenty feet, so it’s not as if we’ll all be swept away, and left knee-deep among bodies when the storm surge finishes.’ And she looked at me very sternly after I said this, and said, ‘Vinnie, don’t be frivolous. I went among bodies in the morgue, afterwards, looking for a dear friend; can you imagine how sickening that was?’ and I replied, ‘Well, I have had to help lay out the bodies of patients who died when I was on shift in the hospital, and no, I was not frivolous and didn’t find it sickening at all.’ Just feeling a bit sad for their friends and loved ones, and if they had been in dreadful pain, then they were relieved of it all. Our dean of nurses says that we should think of this as a kind of sacrament. I didn’t say this last to Granny Sophie, I think she was shocked enough when she lamented that society is now so horribly changed from when she was a girl, and I said, ‘Oh, thank heavens for that, Gran – it must have been positively medieval, back then!’

I really have to begin the habit of biting my tongue when I feel a barbed retort coming on … except that I have had to do so much of it while in training and on the ward that the excess comes foaming out like the fizz from an uncorked bottle of champagne. Anyway, enough about me. You simply must write to me about what you see on your way out east. It’s so exciting that you and Tommy are traveling by airplane! The China Clipper to Hawaii, Manila and points east! You simply must write down every detail that you can, although I fear that the mysterious and exotic east will be somewhat of a let-down after reading ‘Terry and the Pirates’ in the comic pages! You simply must tell me, though, if you encounter any two-fisted ruffian adventurers, a blonde adventuress singing ‘St. Louis Blues’, a wicked pirate queen, or a pair of Chinese gentlemen – one a huge mute and the other a small, English-mangling shrimp.

All my love to you and Tommy,

Your devoted cuz,

Vinnie     

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