mad in pursuit: letters from james & orpha, summer of '26

LETTERS from James & Orpha: contents

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Here we have this poetic college graduate looking around him and deciding to pick up some tools and build a house. You recall that his first letter said that he once figured he could do anything if he put his mind to it. And then it went on to say how frustrated he was that he was caught in a position where sheer cleverness and strength of will wasn't working. He has been agonizing about making the right decision about his career. And today there is this breakthrough -- build a house. Here is something that a systematic problem-solver can do. It brings back his old confidence. Not only is the project intellectually and physically demanding, it is an act of love that connects him directly to his future with Orpha.

Postmarked Wednesday 7.14.26, from James in Lynbrook NY

Your special came just as I was about to shoulder my pick and shovel. There are several sizeable oak trees on our property which must be removed before cellar-digging can commence. If we are to build, I have decided it would be better for me to work for myself until September – it will be easier to get something in the city then, and there’s no use paying some carpenter $10 a day to pound around in the fresh air and sunlight while I am buzzing around the hot, dusty city for $5 a day – despite your onetime threat of self-destruction sooner than have anything to do with one in the bricklayer class.

Your special came just as I was about to shoulder my pick and shovel.

Since you may be at a camp, and are having a party Friday, and since I ought to get the land cleared up, so we can go ahead next week if there is an influx of coin of the realm on Friday, it would be well to come up on Saturday and stay for a couple of days – if that will suit you. Your letters arrive the day after you send them, so if you let me know if Saturday will conform with your plans by writing anytime Thursday, I’ll be able to be en route Saturday morning.

Thank you for the pictures – obviously I’ve cured you for life of any desire ever to train a camera on me again.

As much, of course, to discuss as ever, so I’ll just hope for Saturday night.



Orpha must have called him since there is no letter. But James did visit Glens Falls the following weekend. Next week, the letters pick up again.





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