Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Letter 8, from Joan aka "Dusty"

[4 of 5. Written March 19, 1949]

Saturday Morning
Hello honey bunny,

How you all? Got yr letter (as you can see) and thought I'd write this morning before I do my shopping.

My Mom is sitting here racking her brain trying to do a puzzle. She says it's the craziest thing. Scuse me while I look up a word in the Webster.

Okay, here I am again. There was a dance last night at the High School sponsored by the Commercial Club. It was pretty good. We had loads of fun. Joyce was there too. Next time I see Woody I'll say

“hi” to him for you.
Now about those rubbers, honestly sugar foot I can't find neither hide nor hair of em. You won't be needing them anyhoo now that Spring has sprung, the grass has riz I wonder where the flowers is. (I had to put that in. corny huh)

If yr havin troubles with yr face, Woodbury won't help. In fact it will make it worst. I can't use anythin but Ivory on my face. Those Woodbury Cocktails taste like anicette. It makes you sick. Bea gave me some once. I'll never drink it again. Oh! Horrors. Anyhow,

Sal don't worry too much about the pimples. They'll go away in due time. The only thing you can do (here's some nursely advice) is to drink lots of milk and water, cut down on sweets, and get plenty of fresh air and especially sunshine. The sun dries them up. (I'll send you a bill for services.) Try it though, I'm sure it will work. (I think)

It's really beautiful out today. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and everything looks grand. It's really nice and warm. These are the kind of days I could just walk and walk and walk especially in the country.

Know what bamby, I think me is getting spring fever. Nothin to worry about though. I gets it every year.

Now Sal, don't go saying things like that after all you hardly know me. How can you all be interestin in me?

The girl I had in mind as a “certain girl to the prom” was Joyce of course. I thought you were going to take her if you got home. I don't know if she's been asked yet or if she's accepted.

Bye for now honey-bunny. I could read the shorthand perfectly. Youse is pretty good at it ya know.

As Ever

Attempts to discover what the "Commercial Club" was have failed, so if anyone reading this knows what they were or what it was about, please comment! I also tried to find any sort of image from a Waltham school dance in 1949, to no avail!

Woodbury was a brand of soap, founded in 1870. Their wikipedia entry states that, "In 1936, Woodbury soap was the first product to use a picture of a nude woman in its advertisements." They had a product called Woodbury facial soap that was very popular, and though I couldn't find anything online about a tonic or medicine that one might drink, they were indeed "brought to court for practicing medicine without a license" so maybe that's the anisette-tasting cocktail she refers to.

But all that is not to be confused with Woody. Woody's given name was George, and he hung around with Sal's "gang" (as he called it).

Again with the rubbers talk! I think he may have actually forgotten his boots. But still, I suppose it could be an inside joke. What do you think?

As I suspected, it appears that Sal might have been a little more sweet on Joan (aka Dusty) than she was on him. And notice that she doesn't ask him if he would like to take her to the prom! But yet, she is sure laying on the affectionate terms. But she broke her promise not to mention Joyce again.

One thing I learned is that (at least at one time) Sal could read and write shorthand!
In the previous post, I couldn't find a photo of Woolworth's and the surrounding stores. Well, here you go.

Woolworth's in 1909:

And in this photo from the 1950s you can see Parke Snow:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Letter 7, from Joan aka "Dusty"

[3 of 5. Written March 18, 1949]
Friday Night
How you all? I'm fine now thank you. You can't keep a good man (I mean girl) down.

You should see Moody Street now. It looks sooo funny. They tore down Woolworth's completely and Parke Snowe's and Bell's look lost now. They're supposed to rebuild and from what I hear, it's really supposed to be somethin.

We haven't started graduation songs yet, but we are going to start next Tuesday.

We graduate June 2. We're supposed to have outdoor graduation. Mr Huff says he really wants to make it a big affair. We'll be the hundredth class to comgradulate ya know!

Guess what? We had April showers here today. It really poured and then the sun came out.

Excuse me bunny but I have to get up awful early tomorry so I'll finish this letter in the morning after I get home okey?
Good night now.

Good morning. It's nice out today. The sun is (oops it just hid behind a cloud) out. It's kind of chilly out but we can't complain.

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, and we'll all go to church and get our palms. I hope it's nice out. Then next week is Easter. My, my “how the time goes by.”

Now, the little matter of the picture. I'm in an awful fix. You see it seems I promised more pictures than I had. I had fifty made and I have two left. The trouble is though I've promised about seven more people. Honestly, Sal,

I don't know what I'm going to do. I can't afford to have any more made. How does a snapshot appeal to you? Let's put it this way, if I give you a big picture, it will take up more room, but, if I give you a snapshot, you can just file it away someplace. Now, if it so happens that certain other people forget I owe them a picture then you'll be first in line. Okay?

I can't remember what I wrote in shorthand last time so I can't explain it. As for Joyce, I'm sorry. I won't say another word about it.

As Ever,
Joany alias Dusty

Tel. Wal. 5-6917-M
I almost forgot to give it to you

Telephone numbers sure looked a lot different in 1949! This letter is a little bit of a downer, though I can't quite put my finger on why. Is it the fact that Joan (aka Joany aka Dusty) tells Sal that he didn't make the cut for a photograph? Or is it the mention of Joyce, and ensuing apology? Or perhaps it's the baby talk and the diminutive term "bunny"? What do you think?

Information on Mr. Huff or the 100th graduating class of Waltham High School is eluding me. I would have liked to include some sort of image with this post, but all I have found is this old postcard of WHS:

I also tried to find a photograph of the old Woolworth's, Bell's, or Parke Snow's, but could only find images of what they look like now as a Dollar Store and a Mattress Giant. So if anyone has photos or information on any of the above, I would be thrilled if they shared it. So for now, I 'll end with the song "My How the Time Goes By." I have to admit that I was shocked to see blackface in this video. But it's an interesting (if not disturbing) relic of the time, and actually a good song. The set and costumes (minus the blackface, of course) are also delightful. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Letter 6, from Joan

[letter 2 of 5. written March 16, 1949]
Wednesday Nite
Howdy do Sugarfoot:
Here we are down here and we just had a nice big snowstorm, about six inches. The most we've had this year ain't it?

I'm glad you see that my beauty exceeds that of Ava Gardner (ahem, who you trying to kid? Certainly not me, I hope.)

Gee, that was a swell walk we took, weren't it? I never realized Washington was soooo beautiful. I guess we'll never find such lovely places in Waltham, so a walk wouldn't be quite

as nice here. Still, our little city has some interesting places hey what? Anyhow I guess I just love to walk.

How do you know what kind of eyes I have? You've never been that close, and don't tell me you saw me in your dreams.

You know what? I tried wheaties but it don't work. My hair is still just as dull and drab as ever. Oh well, who cares (me) (I mean I)

Saw your brother couple of times as I was shopping.

In fact, I saw him just Saturday.

The mardi Gras was last night, and they crowned the Queen; namely Anna Mula. I understand she is very lovely, but, of course you already know that. I didn't go to that one because I went to the French Mardi Gras (shux I din't win the television)

Before I forget, I left my rubbers up there? Will you bring them to me when you come home? Gee, tanks

I saw Joyce today, and she said that she wrote to you I imagine you have the letter by now. So you can see she's not mad at ya (now you can sleep nights again)

Still haven't heard “Gloria” but “I'll See You in My Dreams”

p.s. Thanks for the tip but I use Revlon.

This letter reveals young Sal's obvious attempts at flattery and flirtation. But I fear that he may have been so over the top that he missed his mark. Joan doesn't want to accept that she might look so nice as Ava Gardner (pictured right)!  And flattering the beauty of her eyes didn't seem to work, either! She really was a tough sell, it seems. 

Still, Joan seems to have made a visit from Waltham, Massachusetts to Washington DC, and they seem to have had a lovely walk. But are you wondering what I'm wondering? Is it possible that leaving their "rubbers" is an inside joke of some kind? Or could both of them actually have left their galoshes at the other's place?

And we get a bit of a glimpse of Joyce again. Clearly, there was some sort of misunderstanding between her and Sal. We may never know what it was, but it may have had something to do with her unceremonious treatment of Vic.

The "p.s." in this letter is also quite funny. I guess Revlon was a popular brand even back then! Now, for the songs. First, here's the sad song, "Gloria," recommended by Sal, followed by "I'll see you in my dreams."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Letter 5, from Joan

[post marked Boston, Mass. Mar 19, 1949 9:30pm to Sal Coraccio S.M., M.S. Naval Barracks, West Potomac Park, Washington D. C. Group of letters in envelopes with days of the week inside. Also inside: one small leaf.]

[1 of 5. Written March 13, 1949]
Sunday Nite
Hi You all,
This is sort of a bad news letter. Waltham lost the finals of the Tech Tourney last night. They won they're first two games, East Boston and Quincy, and then dubbed out to Sommerville. They felt pretty bad about it.

Enough of the crying over spilled milk. I just went to the movies tonight. I saw “Enchantment.” It was wonderful. Have you seen it? Of course, practically any movie is good to me. Going to the shows is one of my favorite pastimes (next to walking

of course.)
Aha! Woke up with strawberry lipstick did you? It must have been someone else you dreamed about because I don't wear strawberry. (double sirup)

It's really beautiful out tonight. The stars are shining in their full glory. (quite poetic eh. What?)

Glad my letter pepped you up, bet you say that to all your pen pals.

Gee, Sal, I'm awfully sorry I lost your rubbers, but I'll look real hard for them. They must be around here someplace.

By the way, my hair is in its full glory now (100 stroked every night.) It shines like a light. So does my nose. As long as you're sitting there doing simply nothing wanna brush it for me? (my hair that is). If me falls asleep just slap me and me will wake up soon nuff.

Don't worry bunnykins I haven't forgotten your picture. I'll send it out soon. I've been so busy, why do you know I had a big colored one made for my Dad and I haven't even sent it to him? My Dad is in California you know in case you're

wondering why on earth I'm sending him a picture.

Easter will soon be here. Got myself a new zoot suit with a reet pleat. It's really sharp. (Even though it has no pleat and is'nt zooty.)

Me is getting tired now and when me gets tired me gets silly so I better say so long for now? Besides gotta get up and go to Mass early tomorry.


This is one of the letters my sister Tina and I read aloud to Sal. However, as you can imagine, we had not had much sleep and were, let's say, not ourselves. So, when I got to the word "rubbers," I stopped, and considered it to mean quite a different thing than Joan meant in her letter. Mortified, I handed the letter to my sister, and said, "You read it!" But she, too, stopped, and awkwardly avoided the word, replacing it with "prophylactic." I don't think she finished reading the entire letter, and moved on to another one. Now, if we had just read the word "rubber," we could have all had a good laugh at the fact that Joan of course meant "rubber rain boots" (aka galoshes), and not a form of birth control. 

Our temporary amnesia as to the alternate meaning of the word "rubber" only occurred to me weeks later, after Sal had passed away, but I had a good chuckle nonetheless, knowing that it's just the sort of comedy of errors he would have appreciated.

Now, onto the letter! We still are not sure who Joan is. Perhaps someone reading this knows a Joan Marin from Waltham who would be nearly 78 years old now. Hopefully she still has the same playful sense of humor as she did then. What else do we know about her? Let's see, her father lived in California, so perhaps her parents were divorced. She must have had long hair, and she went to church on Sundays.

I had to look up the Tech Tournament, and could only find out that it was the high school basketball tournament. 

Enchantment was released in 1948, starring David Niven (later from Pink Panther), Teresa Wright, and Evelyn Keyes. It's about an old guy who retires to his childhood home and reevaluates his life. But it sounds like it's more about a love triangle and jealousy between the old guy's nephews and two women.  
Mostly, I'm sure anyone reading this loves the tone of the letter as much as I do. And one can only imagine the flirtatious letter from Sal about a dream and lipstick -- how suave! It was at least suave enough to earn the term "bunnykins," which is about as rich as it gets. 

What is your favorite line from Letter #5?