Arthur to John, July 17, 1942

532 Arbor Rd
Cheltenham Pa
July 17, 1942

Dear John

To reply to yours of the 12th on the same day as I received it, will be "heaping coals of fire" with a vengeance. It so happens that I am vacationing this week, hence have the time which I will probably lack later on.

Answering your request for family gossip, I will report in the order of their respective ages; As the oldest, take myself first. I am well and happy. A few weeks ago I bought a nice little house as per the above address, and have moved back to Cheltenham, where my roots are down so deep. My oldest daughter Betty, together with son-in-law Johnny Bockman and grandson Paul, have bought a house some three blocks away and thus become settled residenters of the same suburban community. My second daughter Anne is to be married next month to a very fine young chap named Albert Kaeppler and will be leaving us to live in a Phila apartment house. My son Arthur Jr is in the Army, at the present moment at Indiantown Gap (near Harrisburg) where his outfit (the 1st Division) is making final preparations to depart for "destination not announced." He got married a few months ago, one of these war weddings that we oldsters view with some misgivings, but about which we can do nothing, and which often enough turn out very satisfactorily. His little bride is really an extremely nice girl, and she will live with her folks for the duration. So Florence and I find ourselves back where we started - the nest deserted and only the two of us at home. Our new house was selected with that fact in mind; it is small, cozy, and very pleasant. If all goes well, we will end our days in this finally attained haven.

Eleanor is still at Montpelier Vt. She writes rarely but is doing all right, I am quite sure.

Guilliam and Ruth were finally divorced after many years of difficulties. His oldest daughter lives by herself, being self-supporting. His boy Bill is with the Bell Telephone Co but has enlisted in the Marines and is awaiting his summons. The youngest child is at home with Ruth. Guil recently married again - a most satisfactory sort of a gal, whom we have learned to like very much.

Esther and George have bought a small house out near Ted's (69th and Market neighborhood.) Their daughter recently married to a soldier, has left for California to be near him where he is stationed. George recently had a rather stupendous piece of good fortune. He inherited no less than $30,000 from an elderly female relative. This assures their economic security for the rest of their lives, and is indeed a fine thing for them after their years of difficulties.

Joe and his Anne are now living in Lansdowne. We were out to see them last night. He has a nice place and his two children are well and good-looking. He recently changed his job again, leaving Du Pont's and signing up with the Ballinger Construction Company, a very large contracting firm. Oddly enough, the headman of the outfit is none other that the Bob Ballinger who used to live next door to us in High St, Germantown. Joe did not find that out until long after he was working for him!

Jim's widow Honey is still living in Easton. Her younger boy is in Girard College, the other at home with her. She is doing all right, all things Considered.

Ted and Laura are still at the same old location. I understand Ted has prospered with the revival in business, which is all to the good.

So that is the roll-call, bringing you up to date.

As to your long delayed comments upon our discussions of many month's ago - I was sorry to see the thing lapse as it did. However, perhaps we kicked the thing around to the limit of its usefulness. Let me assure you of one thing - if you consider yourself (with just a soupcon of pardonable pride) a "rebel and a heretic" - move over and make room for me. I don't suppose you harbor any screwy ideas that are screwier than my screwy ideas! The interesting thing, to my way of thinking, is the (to me) extrordinary manner by which these radical heretical opinions are able to find expression within the medium and framework of orthodoxy and convention. In other words, if they'll just let me alone, and not ask me too many searching questions, I can be the most impeccable Episopalian in the diocese. And have a perfectly swell time being just that. But God help me if there should ever be set up some sort of Inquisition which could dig out of me the processes by which I have managed to arrive at my orthodoxy! Your Quaker heritage is shared by all your brothers. But "sounding brass and tinkling fol-de-rol" can be either of two things: they can be just that; a wretched substitute for the real thing - or they can be mediums of expression as valid and useful as any other formalism. Read James Branch Cabell's "Beyond Life". All of these things are outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual grace. Now if that inward grace is non-existant, or should stifle and die, then of course the continuation of the use of the outward signs is a mockery and really a sacrilege. All I plead for is the practice, for myself and those who feel the same reactions as I do, of those ancient Catholic techniques which have in the past proved efficacious in the developement and expression of religious experience. For those to whom Catholic practice speaks an unknown and meaningless tongue, there can be, and doubtless are, techniques that more nearly express their temperamental ideocyncracies, and furnish them with the outlets and stimuli to get exactly the same results as I do with my use of the more conventional methods. But if you think that down underneath I am a sincere conservative, as the feller says, you've got the wrong silk purse by the ear!

Affectionately, Arthur

P.S. I'll get your birth certificate..

Go To Next Letter
Return to Uncle Arthur Sub-table of Contents