Sunday, September 18, 2016

Letters from Marilyn - Update 3

Another week has passed and it is time for another update on Marilyn's letters. I'm sure many of you would love to have a visual of Marilyn, so this photo is Marilyn's 1950 high school graduation portrait. Thank you, Grandma E, for supplying this.

Right now, I am simply taking the time to enjoy Marilyn's stories home. I am 108 pages (of 225) into her freshman year of college and once again, I have so much to share with you. From October to December of 1950, I had to do quite a bit more research online - Marilyn references a lot of things that are unfamiliar to me. Some examples include "Fibber McGee & Molly," a popular radio talk show in the 1940s and 50s, Fostoria dishes (now antiques that can be worth quite a lot), Joe Louis winning a boxing match, and outbreaks of tuberculosis in the area of her college. Fun story: you can actually listen to archived radio episodes of "Fibber McGee & Molly" online. I've put it on my list of things to do when I have more downtime.

In addition to her general news, Marilyn comments much more frequently about the Korean War in this time frame of letters. I am rusty on my history of the Korean War (thank you, History Channel, for the brush-up) but found her first-hand comments to be riveting. As one whose teenage years occurred post-9/11 terrorism, it's interesting to see the connections that span wartime activities between generations. After all, Marilyn was only 18 when the Korean War began. The entries she has about the conscription process and the men drafted spans so many letters, I would have to start keeping a list of all of those she knew who were required to go to war.

As I progress through the letters, I find myself marking more and more passages to share with you. I cannot share them all - that would be such a long post! - but know that someday, I hope for this to all be published in one piece. I have received such wonderful messages, comments, and support from those of you who are now as equally invested in Marilyn's stories - and more importantly, her memory. Writing about Marilyn has been both a joy and a sorrow - her letters are so witty, so fun, and so full of life. But as we all know, life cuts some tough breaks, and it's not fair that Marilyn had to die so young. It is my hope that sharing her letters through my writing will give her life on the page again. So without further ado, here are this week's passages:
October 17, 1950: Last night Joan and I went to an organ recital in the Bascillica of St. Mary's, to hear one of the world's most famous organists. It was Catholic and they had some ritual. We had fun anyway. I'll tell you a few of the incidents when you get here. [Marilyn was Lutheran by denomination - Augsburg has a Lutheran Seminary Program.] Marilyn included a postscript in this letter that I enjoyed: Wish I had a piece of fresh chocolate cake. Don't even know what it tastes like anymore!
October 24, 1950: Last night "Vi" (Oliver's wife) called and asked Marie and I out for supper. We had waffles and ice cream, brownies, salad, and coffee. She is so perfectly lovely, I can't wait til you meet her. [I included this because this particular letter made me hungry so I wrote in my research notes, "go get waffles." What can I say, I love the food entries.] 
October 25, 1950: Don't tell anybody, but there sure are some swell fellows here! I'm a little tiny bit interested! Of course, I have to study so much there is hardly time for anything like that.
November 10, 1950: I just came back from upstairs, or rather downstairs, where I was playing the piano. Honestly it felt so good just to lose myself in my music again as I don't get much chance to down here. 
November 17, 1950: I'm just having an argument with some kids about Phys. Ed and Music. Phys. Ed is required and Music isn't and I think it should be! [Preach, M. I totally agree. And towards the end of this letter:] Guess I'll get my ice skates some time. I'm going to learn to skate real good.
November 20, 1950: There is a girl in our dorm that has to go away cuz' she has a start of TB. It's still in the very early dormant stage. She is the most wonderful girl. Her folks are missionaries in China so she is left rather alone. I feel so sorry for her. [Follow up: Marilyn continued this info 5 days later] That girl that got TB went to the sanitorium yesterday. I really felt sorry for her again.
November 28, 1950 regarding the Korean War: The war news was real bad this morning. The Chinese communists intervened. It really makes me sick. And here last week they were expecting peace terms.  
November 30, 1950 again regarding the war: Honestly, the war news is just terrible. Every time I turn the radio on it gets worse. I heard a bulletin that they are drafting everyone. At least all the young ones.
And that concludes today's passages. Once I finish reading the 1950-1951 letters, I will share a draft of my actual novel writing so far. I do not want to overdo the spoilers here regarding the current format of the novel, so please stay tuned and continue reading.

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