When In Doubt: Marry a Hungarian

January 26th, 1937, Saint Mark’s Place, Manhattan, Maggie’s diary continues:

Anticipated quiet day and evening so called Edith about lunch.  Had lunch at Charles’— chiffonade salad—and she said they had been to two parties at Studin’s where she met *Edward J. O’Brien whom they didn’t like, said he was a flabby, affected, poseur, celebrity hunting.  One was for Mrs. Day, the other for *Dorothy McCleary.  After lunch to Esposito’s, Ugobuono’s for bread and Babas, Wanamaker’s for tape and home.

Kate then called, and said she’d gotten through with Infirmary early today and so would come over for tea.  Cut two of pads bought at Macy’s for crib thinking might as well bind them while talking to Kate.  She showed me how best to bind said pads and did two and a half herself.  Said they had new China boy as servant named Yic who was to cook first dinner tonight; she had just bought new silver dessert spoons and forks; and had dodged a subpoena to testify in court on insurance case, etc…. Gossiped cosily until almost six.

GM Strike of 1937:

Jennette McColl called up and said she was in town inspecting spring styles, as she’s now the fashion editor of Detroit Free Press so told her to come on down, and she turned up about six-thirty, looking very well in chic, tall, pointed hat and, if my eyes did not deceive me, eye shadow.  She had cocktails with M. and me and talked about G.M. strike.  Said men at Briggs formed picket line four deep, each alternate line going in different direction and walking briskly or dogtrotting to keep warm so it was almost impossible to get through without being buffeted though no rough stuff.  Very quiet and well-behaved.  Free Press prints no news on strikers’ side.  Said Briggs is known as The Butcher Shop because so many maimed working there. They’re asking forty-hour week, minimum wage, qualified doctor to attend injured, an slower assembly line, speed-up in those plants burns man out in very few years—M. said reporter for H.T. talked to attractive young girl who explained being on strike in Flint by pointing to husband who was only year or two older than she, but looked like her father, and she said he came home for work on assembly line trembling and no good as husband or anything else.  Jennette also told of Henry Ford insisting men buy homes in Highland Park when factory there, then got into trouble with Wall Street and moved factory to River Rouge and the men stuck with those homes, have to spend three hours getting to and from work through no fault of own.

Went around corner to Jade Mountain for dinner.  Jennette telling about Seventh Avenue, sitting in booths watching models parade past while salesman announces in lovely British accent number of model and price, though when replying to questions the same salesman speaks in purest Joosh (Walter Winchell’s word). Quite fascinated by style job; says Detroit overgrown village in taste—though some in country would disagree.

Home and Florence and Reback in, Sammy was with a patient down the street at The Brittany. She looking very well, too, and told about Sammy’s interest in horseback riding and how good he is at it; she taking swimming lessons.  Then Binnie came in (M. asking could he go to pool room to escape deluge feminity) with Moro in little red sweater.  He ran around sniffing dented silverice all given to play with but hastily taken away from by M.  who horrified at this unexpected vandalism.

Binnie distressed by flood (which worse than ever today and Louisville almost entirely under water, without gas, heat, water or anything) because retail trade in that section ruined for summer unless, she said, she could get a waterwing account right soon.

She told of a man who went to Hollywood with script he never got to show but sold title first day for $400—“Love Is My Business”, which was tacked on to film already made. Then Sammy in. He showed pictures of his child and Binnie countered with pictures of her niece. M. telling of two bets not to brag about child and all hooted.  Found out he could go to room with me, and come to see me as soon as out from under anesthetic—things we hadn’t known till now.  Kate also had kindly warned against guest meals at hospital, saying very expensive.

John L. Lewis: (looks like a racketeer to me)

Binnie left eleven thirty, called for by taxi driver who had won her heart on way down by having change for $10 so she had told him to return.  Others stayed, talked about Russia, and whether or not it’s a handicap to be only child, Jennette, M. and I being only children, Florence and Sammy not.  More about strike and discussion as to whether or not *John L. Lewis is a racketeer.

Impromptu party finally broke up about one, fine time having been had by all.  So ended “quiet” day. I said as we were going to bed, I wished this would happen oftener as thoroughly enjoyed.  M. had another struggle with Binnie over revealing where she lives, she wouldn’t tell, and he thinks we ought to stand on principle and not let her know about baby as consequence. Binnie said, by the way, her mother wrote that Claremont blanketed by smudge pall, pts going on in organge groves at five at night and not turned off till ninin the morning, which unprecedented, neighbor with groves had spent $1500 on oil in week; gobs of soot size of baseballs rolling in street, and brown cocker spaniel entirely black; ice in her brother’s minnow pool.  Folks wrote the other day that ice three eighths of an inch thick in their bird bath this winter.  Top-coat weather here today.

*Edward J O’Brien: probably the poet and short story writer.
*Dorothy McCleary novelist.
*John L. Lewis helped raise living standards for millions of American families and helped create some of the nation’s leading labor unions, including the United Steelworkers of America (USWA), the United Auto Workers (UAW), the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and many other labor organizations that continue to speak in behalf of America’s workers.

And What Was Her Granddaughter, Suzanne, Doing in Brattleboro, 2010:

My goodness, skip a day with grandma, and it’s a deluge the next.  It just makes me feel so plucky about the world that there were terrible floods going on then, too, and GM strikes and husbands winding up maimed old men and gobs of soot-blackened cocker spaniels in California.  Whatever that means.  I didn’t get that part, did you?  Anyway, we are in a fine mess ourselves, but it’s always been a mess so tra la al, might as well find the bright side. Like my grandma did: eating chiffonade salads (never heard of these) at Charles’ and prancing around with the Detroit Fashion Editor.  Leave it to Hollywood to buy a title. You can’t even copyright a title, how in the heck can you buy one?

British Drawing Room (for sissies):

Looking on the bright side isn’t all that easy over here. As the ER visit, when my ribs joints blew up to the size of balloons, turned out to be some vile little virus called Lyme Disease, that you get from ticks the size of a pinhead.  Everytime I get diseased like this, I blame it on my British ancestors.  Kingsbury means, essentially, King’s Land, and right there you know you are in trouble.  My ancestors were, well, sissies. They lounged around all day in drawing rooms with powdered breasts and corsets and once in a while played a little diddie on the piano, which was such an exertion, they needed smelling salts.  They didn’t even get up to answer the door and instead of exercising their eyes to see the operatic stage, they used pearl studded opera glasses. A henchman held their arms up so their elbows wouldn’t tire.  They even sat while playing sports, polo’s not really hard, the horse does all the work.

My husband, on the other hand, has probably had 109 ticks and never gotten Lyme Disease.  His ancestors were potato farming fifteen hours a day in brutal Irish weather, and drinking toxic stout at night to keep their livers strong.  Then, when they were starving, they all hopped on a freezing cold crappy boat and went to America, where they brawled their way from the bottom of New York to the farms of New England.

One year my husband willy nilly jumped on a plane to Tikrit and helped out in a med vac unit where he worked 13 hour days, 6 days a week in 120 degree heat. This was back when he smoked a pack a day and drank pounds of coffee. “Didn’t you get dehydrated?” I asked him.  “Once I got a little dizzy,” he said.  “But I drank some water, and it went away.”  Right now he works with adolescent boys, I can’t really explain what he does, but he is sort of like the Pied Piper. Those boys are always sneezing and touching everything and coughing and spitting and farting.  “I don’t wash my hands much during the day,” my husband says.  “It’s important to develop antibodies.”  One year he had perfect attendance.  No sick days at all.  But once in a great shocking while, he gets sick.  You know it because he sneezes 45 times in a row and insists it’s allergies. The next day, when he has a raging fever and a swine flu symptoms, he slams the phone down after he’s called in because he’s so mad he can’t go to work.  After which he sleeps 15 hours without water or food or vitamins and Poof like magic the thing is gone.  He’s 43 and half his grandparents are still living.

So, if you’re of Mayflower, British stock, make sure you mix a little Irish in.  Or even better, some Hungarian. In the meantime, I’ll just lay around on my velvet couch, popping doxcicycline and feeling very British.  Thank goodness for my grandmother’s diary, she parties enough for both of us.

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