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

LETTERS from James & Orpha: contents

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As the day approaches, Orpha the organizer begins to emerge.

Postmarked 8.31.04, from Orpha in Glens Falls NY

Tuesday, Aug 31

Your Bulletin was well-named and perfectly expressive of our correspondence in great part these days, n’est-ce pas?

Mrs. Shaw should now have received her invitation – and have ceased her business of “merry” making. My only hope – that she’ll open the invitation in the dark. The point is – in addressing them we ruined several envelopes – and what with several 11th hour thoughts of ours we were drained of envelopes, but possessed of the remaining parts. So upon receiving your S.O.S., we rushed to the printers for envelopes. He had some the correct size, but slightly off-shade. Heaven grant that she be not critical!

There are several little items which perhaps you’ll forgive my reminding you of – first of all – flowers – and, in short everything for which you are said to be responsible, and the problem of arranging for them before you arrive, if you will not arrive until shortly before the hour. If you can tell me your necessarily revised plan of coming, I’ll do or have done what you couldn’t do because of the lateness of your coming.

I think it’s customary – I hate like Fury to have to tell you all this – for you to purchase Fran’s and my flowers. How fortunate I’m not to be proceeded by the usual procession of flower-laden maids! If you wish to order them by telegraph, it’s possible – or if you prefer, one of my family could do it. I shan’t have a white be-ribboned one, of course, since I’ll wear a colored dress and hat, as will Fran. I’ll wait to hear your reply before I tell you details. Then, too, we’ve found it necessary to have four ushers, since we expect that there’ll be about 100 people at the church. We’ve so many relatives and friends who couldn’t be overlooked. Of course you know of the custom, not at all an obligatory one, of presenting the best man and ushers with little gifts. I shouldn’t do it if I were you, unless you really want to.

Mom and Aunt Fancho say that it’s very bad form for you to stay at my house the might before the wedding. Personally, I think it’s silly – but perhaps you’d as soon be alone elsewhere than in the midst of the bombs my family will be that night. We’re all doing frightfully well – keeping calm. With Aunt Fancho not well, it’s absolutely necessary not to become excited.

There are several little items which perhaps you’ll forgive my reminding you of...

It would be well if you could be here in the afternoon or morning Tues. for last arrangements. Although you’re not supposed to gaze on my ugly self the day of the affair – we could of course do as we liked, if you were here – and would have to, to appear before the notary or clerk. I’ve not heard from him yet – will this afternoon – about seeing him at his residence.

If your family were to come with you, and if you were to stop in Albany – perhaps Monday night – you could come early on Tuesday to attend to the things – even tho’ they were to wait and drive up later. I’m so quaky about our shabby house, and their seeing it. You could engage rooms at a hotel for a few hours, even.

We have our first wedding gift – from “Aunt” Helen Gage, in Ithaca. Figurez-vous! I sent just an invitation, no card, of course, as courtesy and in appreciation of the party she gave for me to announce our engagement – and if she didn’t send a lovely black (I’m astonishingly ignorant) console [casserole?] dish, I think it’s called. Beautiful thing. Fine crockery or Wedgwood or – well, you shall see it soon.

Now to things of greater importance – No I don’t find myself reacting unpleasantly to pigment and cement. I must confess that pigment is as much a mystery to me as lolly columns were, and until now, non-existent in my, and I had thought, in your ken. You know, mon Jacques – that whatever you choose, I shall make my second-most interest – you, of course, always being my first. And, to think that “rigorous economy and busy working” could cause my heart to do handstands of ecstasy – but they do. Oh, I am joyful! – because I am learning to enjoy looking at pots and pans and dish cloths too. I have quite a collection now, you know. We shan’t have a great deal to buy.

I cannot write sanely – I am ridiculous to you, I know – it is the fortification I must build about the shimmering Castle of Dreams and Shadows – no – I must not write on this same horrible letter of dusty things what is to me unspeakable -- the unnamed of our living – all that matters to you and to me, James – one more week.





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