Monday, February 28, 2011

Letter 4, from Joyce

[no envelope]
Feb 28, 1949
Hello There:
I just finished my homework and thought I'd answer your letter. Yep! I was really doing my homework.

To tell you the truth Sal I don't believe you when you said the reason for our “spat” was that I was anti-social (you know what I mean) but forget it seeing we are loving friends again (til the next time)

Well I really enjoyed my week vacation. I went to bed every night at 2 and didn't get up til 10: O'clock. Vic was home most of the time. We didn't fight once!! Can you imagine? Vic gave me an orchid for Valentine's day and I still have it boy! It certainly last long.

Oh! Before I forget “Happy Birthday ___ Pappy!! I would

of send you a card to if I had known well whatta yah goin to do I am really thoughtless huh?!!

Boy! Can you pour on the s___ about being in ecstasy and etc. but its fun listening to you. Once in a while Vic writes me nice letters but its mostly the same story, “I am tired,” or “It will have to be short,” sometimes I am lucky to get a letter. But what can you do. I love the big dope, probably that's why I cry when he fights with me. “I love him so much it hurts” that's the name of a song its really nice.

Mr. C., just what do you mean I hurt your feelings hun ____ you ask for it you also got your digs in so we are even. Ya! Ya!

Boy! That south has changed you, poping up with “Honeychile” Listen Big boy you all and all that, knock it off! Just be plain old Mr. C. O.K.?
Have you heard from Joe Z. + Joe S. + Phil and and and (any more)!! Guess not.

I have a new saying now, “Pudgey” is the word, boy do I drive the kids crazy. I go to them and say oh! Your so pudgey only with more oomph. I'll show you when you come home. You will have a bird (bird that is) Well Mr C. I'll end it here. Until I here from you.

p.s. Your alright
no kidding pappy!

I'm sorry to report that this is the final letter in the bunch from Joyce. But it's sure got a lot going on, doesn't it? First off, we have to wonder what caused a "spat" between Joyce and Sal. And what caused him to describe her has anti-social? Could it have to do with her letters to Chris? Ironically, she doesn't mention him, but rather talks about Vic instead. The reader, at this point, might be lead to believe that she has a renewed commitment to Vic, and that they live happily ever after. 

Even though this is the last letter from Joyce, do not despair! We get a little more information in subsequent letters. 

Readers have commented that the language in Joyce's letters is a hoot. I think this one might surpass the previous letters! She was clearly is a zany mood when she wrote this, shown by the way she calls Sal "Pappy" and lines like "you asked for it you got your digs so we're even!" But I wonder if someone can tell me in what context you would say to someone, "You're so pudgy, only with more oomph!" 

The idea of a young Sal, having spent time in the south, jokingly using the term "honey child" brought a smile to my face also. And I was rather pleased to see Joe Z finally get his mention!

Feel free to comment on the letter in the comments section. For now, I'll leave you with the song "I love you so much it hurts," from 1948.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Letter 3, From Joyce

[no envelope]
Feb 7, 1949
Hi Sal,
I am answering that letter which arrived the same time as you. Boy! Your certainly a tricky character. But it was good to see you home. Where were you kids going in such a hurry? I could probably guess –

Vic told me he received your letter. What do you mean there's things in your letters to me, that would get Vic mad!!? He asked me if I wrote you longer letters. Cripe I write that kid every minute. I get so mad (well alright) I don't think Vic would get mad at your letters if he read them. Cause there just filled with s___ well part of them

are anyway. Your not kidding that letter would be a “lulu” But you don't have to bother this is “Buddy Week” remember?

Oh! By the way how do you like the stationery? This kind I use for Vic's letter, so I'll have to get another kind for yours (that sounds all mixed up huh? But you know what I mean)

I'd appreciate it very much if you didn't address me as “My Dear Miss Fucci” just say “Hi” Oh' oh! We are back where we started but its fun anyway.

Your weren't kidding when you said you don't think I'd like to talk about exams Boy! I was so stupid I just had to laugh honest.

The only one I passed honestly was Clerical Practice. The rest were just even (you know just getting by.) But what do you expect I never study, go ahead call me stupid sob! sob! See if I care. Enough of that.

I am really in agony seeing your my friend, I tell you. I got a boil on my a___ and boy does it hurt. I hate to go to school cause I look funny sitting on half an a___ but I am just a half ass anyway so it doesn't make any difference.

Its up to you not to make Chris lose interest. He's nice to loose, you

two made good buddies so keep him interested. But I guess it is hard to have something to talk about, seeing you both are far away. Well thats the way things go. I as usual I can't think of anything more to say, so until I hear from you

Your Ever Loving

p.s. I wish I could sign my name as fancy as yours but your just good that all (ha)

oh! what did you mean by, “I know I shouldn't but I do anyhow”

A quick note about these letters: I've decided to transcribe them as closely as possible to the way they were written, with spelling errors and missing words, etc intact. I also have included other notations such as page numbers. 

Letter 3 supplies us with another great slang word: "<a href="">lulu</a>." It strikes me as another way of saying "doozy." 

We also see that Joyce's feelings for Chris have gotten stronger. She's now asking Sal to help her keep his interest, all the while sending letters to her fiancee, Vic! But while this letter, like the others, is flirtatious, Sal and Joyce are clearly just friends who are not romantically involved.  Still, she wonders and we wonder along with her what Sal "shouldn't" do that he does regardless.

But clearly the most amusing thing in the letter is the paragraph about poor Joyce's boil! 

Monday, February 14, 2011

New Development: Vic is found!

Many people have become nearly as interested in these letters to Sal as I have been. Your interest is both exciting and validating! Ultimately, if the people featured in the letters could be found, the mysteries of the letters would be revealed, for one single letter is only half of a conversation. Of course, half the fun of this process is to ponder the questions themselves and the many possibilities.

However, I will continue my research to catch up with the people featured in the letters, for they aren't imaginary characters, but in fact real, live people.

Women marry and change their names, so finding men is always easier. I googled Vic's name, and the first thing to come up was a facebook link. At first, I thought to myself, "Vic would be at least 80 years old; he won't have a facebook account!" But then I remembered that Sal, who was the same age, had a facebook account himself. Throwing caution to the wind, I sent a message with the subject, "I think I'm looking for you," and sure enough, it was indeed our Vic, alive and well, living in New Hampshire!

Asking someone to relive the experience of being left by his fiance for another man might have been an awkward proposition, especially after informing him that letters, of which he'd been a subject, had been posted on the internet! But Vic is, not surprisingly, a friendly, gregarious guy who was more than happy to answer any questions I had about the letters.

He sent me this photo of himself and Chris, before they parted ways after boot camp. They look like happy friends:
Still, we'll see if the rest of the story unfolds in later letters.

Vic was able to answer questions (from Letter 2) I raised about poor old Phil, and his supposed bad luck in having to spend another year in Africa. Well, we don't have to feel sorry for Phil in that regard. He loved his job in Africa delivering mail to the the fleet. He loved it so much he didn't want to come home! Vic regaled me with stories of getting into trouble with Phil, Sal, and "the gang" (as Sal called them), nude swimming in the Charles River of Waltham, Massachusetts. They often had the railroad police, the river police, and the regular police after them all at once. On one particularly memorable day, when the boys got busted for swimming in the river, they each ran in a different direction. Phil, the unlucky one, was caught, in the buff. In a moment of quick thinking, he smacked his captor in the head, and took off, running down the street in his birthday suit! The scene was complete with people pointing, ladies screaming, mothers covering the eyes of their children. He dashed into the five and dime, threw on some clothes, and made his way home, only to discover the cops waiting for him.

The "Joe S" in Letter 2 was not, as I had hoped, Joe Z, but that's ok. Vic told me a few other things as well, but I think I'll wait until more comes to light from the letters to Sal...

Many, many thanks to Vic for entertaining me and my little project.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Letter 2, from Joyce

[no envelope]
Jan 31, 1949

Dear Sal, (ahem)
I received your letter and this time was glad to hear from you. I would of answered your letter sooner but I was busy doing things for the school (no I am not trying for an “A”) Vic was home for a few days probably you'll get a letter from him soon. I said “Hi” to Joan for you she really is a nice kid.

If you can come home, why don't you? Joe S. would be glad to see you I just hope you can come home for the Prom. But if you can't that's alright. I really wouldn't mind (like hell)

I just have to ask you this, its really bothering me, Have you heard from Chris? I just want to know thats all. There now I feel better.

I shouldn't of told you about the fire, I am sorry I scared you!! (ha ha)

Its snowing like heck out today I wish I didn't have to go to work, I hate going out in the snow. I just like to put a housecoat on and cuddle up in a chair and read a “funny book.”
I bet you make out like a bandit with all the girls down there. Come to think of it Sal, you really never told me “How madly in love you were with me” You couldn't tell a girl you loved her and mean it, so I wouldn't believe you anyway.

Lorraine got a letter from Phil (as usual) and he said he has to stay in Africa for 12 more months, Cripes! That poor kid you + Vic I think got the best deal.

The other night Vic brought his buddy over the house, What a creeper, first of all he has only kissed a girl 2 and has never taken anyone out. He does'nt indulge in “jokes” either. And you know how crazy I act, but for once I acted like a lady and he told Vic he fell in love with me. I wouldn't mind if he was huba [? illegible?]. The kids I try to make out with run, but I guess thats the way things go. About that picture you'll have to wait till I get a chance to take some (no I have'nt any on call I am not that much of a hater just letting you know so you won't insult me.) Oh! By the way that valuable “info” you have shove it. Yes I know thats not nice to
say, but I said it and I am glad.

While Vic was home we didn't have any fights is'nt that wonderful. He just said I don't act like 16 and I should act a little older because he says things to me that I don't understand but I told him I'd learn gradually ← (is that how its spelled) I wonder how the heck old he wants me to act. Do you like the way I act? Truthfully now do you.

Boy! This letter is certainly longer than usual, I guess its the weather. I better shut up and let you say a few words, so until I hear from you

Your Ever Loving

This letter hints at a few things. First: Joan. We'll hear from her later. Secondly, Joyce's curiosity about Chris shows that her claim in Letter #1 to have "forgotten about him" was not entirely true. Thirdly, there is trouble in paradise with Vic. 

What I love about this letter is how age appropriate it is. She is 16 years old, flirty, boy crazy, and silly, like 16-year-old girls tend to be. 

I think we tend to think of "hater" as a recent word, but there it is, in 1949. Searches for the word "huba" came up empty, so I wonder if the handwriting is simply illegible, but if anyone knows what a huba is, or what that word could be, given the context, please comment.

Sal was well liked by family and acquaintances, but as an adult he wasn't exactly the type to have buddies. He wasn't the type of man to "hang with the guys," and he tended to spend most of his spare time with family. However in his late 60s he began to spend more time with his brother Guy, and they became best friends. Once or twice a week, he went to visit Guy and they often went out to eat with Guy's wife Jaye and her brother Joe. It was the first time I'd ever heard Sal refer to someone as simply "my friend," and he said it with a lightness of belonging and joy. "My friend Joe," he would begin a sentence. I believe that friend is the "Joe S" mentioned in this letter, though in truth it should have been "Joe Z." At least I would like to believe it is.

Finally, Lorraine and Phil. Wouldn't you like to know what happened to Phil in Africa? Did he make it out? And did Lorraine wait for him? 

What questions does this letter raise for you, in your imagination? And maybe what are your imagined answers for those questions? 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Letter 1, from Joyce

no envelope
Jan 13, 1949

Hi Sal,
I came home from school just now and found your letter waiting for me. I was glad to hear from you.
Vic isn't mad anymore and he wants you to drop him a few lines. Everything is all fixed up now. After you left me + Vic had a “long talk” and he was mad at me not you or anyone else so please don't give him up. Ahem! You to know each other for a long time.
Well enough for that. Well alright! Yes, I kept my word about Chris, infact I even forgot about him til you mentioned it in your letter.
My mom is all better now but its still as big as ever, I guess its only natural. If I have any pictures taken I'll send you one, all right? That's if you promise to make some improvements when you
draw me. Whats this about you going to tell me something interesting about myself!! Come on S-A-L whats up? You better tell me in your next letter.
I can't see what the difference is between that so called “unknown letter” and all my others. I say the same s___ over and over again. And its just as long as the rest well whats the “diff” I'll take your word for it if you say its different its different all right O.K.?!!
No, Vic hasn't said anything about the Prom. I think he rather see me go with you than anyone else. (not saying I'd get asked by anyone else.) Before I forget you keep your part of the bargin about Chris to I know you will but – just checking.
Well for once in a long time I've taken home some books to do a “little” studying. Don't laugh either. Well Sal I can't think of anything more to say so I'll end here until I here from you. Oh yes, don't forget to write to Vic. Is this ending better?

Your loving Friend
yours truly!!

I debated simply posting these letters and letting them speak, or rather not speak, for themselves. But being a curious person, I can't help but wish to fill in the blanks they leave, to wonder who are Joyce, Vic, and Chris.

Joyce, according to Sal, was the most beautiful woman on earth. He said she put any movie star to shame. But for some reason, they were only ever friends. He told me once of how they had once kissed, but with a "Blech! Yuck!" they both agreed that it felt like kissing a brother or sister. At the time of this letter, Joyce is still in High School.

Here's Vic, in a boot camp photo, found smiling in the second row to the right:

Sal is pictured opposite, in the bottom left. (Click on the image for a larger version.)

Vic was going with Joyce when he and Sal joined the navy together. They served with another man, Chris, found in the photo just underneath Vic. (His name was actually Frank, but everyone called him Chris.) Chris was depressed because he didn't have anyone to write letters to. So Vic figured Joyce might have a friend who could write to Chris, or else she could write to him herself to keep Chris' spirits up. Thus began a correspondence between Chris and Joyce. You can probably guess what happened...but I won't spoil the surprise just yet.

Re-reading the letter, you can see that Sal was not happy about these developments, and perhaps even felt stuck in the middle. If you have other interpretations or impressions of the letter, please comment below!