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

LETTERS from James & Orpha: contents

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Maybe there is a missing letter or a phone call that occurred -- or maybe her 8/16 letter hit more of  a nerve than is evident. Somehow James perceives himself in big trouble with Orpha over the wedding plans. He attempts a little humor along with his explanations and apologies.

Postmarked Friday 8.20.26, from James in Lynbrook NY

Let me hasten to clear Mom’s name from your scathing arraignment of the absence of savoir faire emanating from this region – I allude to the horrible case of the young-man-who-did-not-read-Vanity-Fair and the Wedding Invitations. In a word, I broached the subject of invitations versus announcements before Mom last Sunday, and she, thinking I had reference to home weddings, allowed that invitations to the latter required, in best usage, a reply in the form of hand carved what-nots, by which I mean that while any simple soul failed to discriminate between, or rather to realize that there are invitation weddings and invitation weddings, she, in a lapse into singleness of intellectual discernment, did not know that a church wedding was under consideration.

In even briefer word, I’m sorry to have acted like such a disagreeable enfant-terrible, but plead as my excuse an overwhelming array of bugaboos which I conjured up in fevered dreams – I feared you might be planning to have me learn to speak three after dinner speeches, dance the lancers, play Mendelsohn’s wedding march with variations on a seventy six stop pipe organ, learn to take an old 9-1/2 army shoe on the jaw without blinking an eye, eat a peck of raw rice without culinary assistance, tapering off with a silk top hat worn with all the ease with which I now fill a pair of overalls.

I think Ed will be able to come up with me, to depart from G.F. to Hanover for early football practice.

The fair weather today allowed us to get a start on the basic timber structure.

I’m sorry to have acted like such a disagreeable enfant-terrible

Now I must get to sleep for the work of the morrow, to end with a tennis match with Mr. Ebberts – he’s going to boat races this weekend, so wants a few sets tomorrow to revenge the last set we played, in which he very carelessly allowed me to cop six games before he did.

And it is futile to write much anyway – words are becoming increasingly futile. I am just hoping that you are quickly getting fully well – as I have during your whole terrible siege, even though I said nothing in letters. Words of sympathy seemed empty; all there was to say was that I wanted recovery for you.

Despite work and tiredness and hurry, there is daily growing upon me a calmness and quietness – the hush which comes before the time when we are free at last – unbound and unrestrained after an eternity of aching to create the soundless song – the song of the two flames which rush together to become one song-red flame for which no name can be made.





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