My mom took this picture of Phyllis (Gallup) Goldschmid, her dearest friend.
26 December 1944
The temperature is between 30° and 40° and we are out of oil and there is a bit of snow on the ground so I feel that the time is at last propitious to write to you. We have enjoyed your letters so much that we have felt that an ordinary note would not be a proper answer, but with this physical conditions in which I am typing to keep my blue fingers from becoming completely stiff…we feel very close to you and will try to write you a letter. Part of our delay too has been due to the fact that I have been caught in some divinity fudge for the last week and have hardly been able to get away. Every time I touch this sticky mass to coax it into some form it reaches out and grabs me so that it is difficult to free myself. Perhaps you should send a request for the stuff so that I can bottle it and sent it you and you can pour it out on some iceberg and let it harden.
We tried to call Rosa yesterday when we were in Seattle, but not one, as we had feared, was at home. We are trying to get her to Shelton for New Years, but we are not sure yet whether she may come. We wish you could prevail on her to move down to Shelton. It’s so much nicer than Seattle and we would enjoy her so much. …
We received an impressive card from Mr. Luce which we at first thought was his gracious way of telling us that our renewal to Time had been accepted. On further examination, however, we learned that it was a subscription to Fortune from our esteemed friend in Alaska. Otto was so impressed that he wanted to order the Journal of the American Chemical Society for you …. We were both of course delighted….
Manuel would indeed make a good hero for a book. He has no doubt written that his wife is coming to San Fran and that he is to open a shop for Gump’s at Carmel in conjunction with the Lanz dress shop. At the time of our visit with him he was a little disturbed at the attitude of the Lanz management toward him, as a Mexican, but we hope they got over it. No doubt you have also heard of the involved pottery situation which we attempted to explain to Rosa although neither Otto nor Phyllis could agree on the details for we had a slight difficulty understanding everything he said, and he was so nice we didn’t like to make it difficult for him to explain. We hope that everything turned out well though.
I don’t know whether we have written to you since the nice Mexican, Miguel Arce, visited in Shelton as a chemist from the rayon plant in Mexico. He was very charming and nice, but quite different in many respects from Carmen and Manuel in that he was about thirty years behind the times in his political philosophy. His family had apparently lost part of their land in the revolution and while he was eager for Mexican development he had a very paternalistic attitude toward the Indians. Otto found him much more like a European than almost anyone he had met on this continent.
Visiting her at the same time was a wonderful Frenchman who is the South American representative for Rayonier. He had been a French liaison officer with the British Army before Dunkirk and told marvelous stories of his experiences. As a point of great pride he pointed out that it had been the French Army which had made the evacuation possible. He was very much impressed by the British officers’ habit of maintaining full dress dinners during the entire retreat.
We may also not have written to your about our nice vacation to Berkeley to see Helen and Fred and their two nice children. Otto spent a lot of time at the University and came home and made some DDT. From what I can understand it is not difficult to make, but due to the war uses of Freon and the stuff that DDT is generally suspended in, he had to use ether. It is certainly effective, but Otto made just a bit…enough to line a glass and spent days catching mosquitoes in the glass to then watch them become paralyzed and die. From this example I am convinced that it is not a very efficient method to catch insects.
I have been reading one of your books … one of the best I have read since War and Peace… Rebecca West’s Black Lamb and Grey Falcon. I won’t rest until Otto takes me to Yugoslavia… it sounds marvelous and she writes so well with just the right mixture of ideas and activity in her material and structure and charm in her style. Otto has given me a book, Mr. Tompkins in Wonderland, written by a theoretical physicist, Ganow, in the hope that I may learn something about science. The book is dedicated to Lewis Carroll and follows somewhat in his patter with Alice and the writer is obviously trying to make quantum theory and the theory of relativity as simple as possible for people like me. The pictures are very pretty though.
Tonight James Thurber’s “Private Life of Walter Mitty” was done on the “This is My Best” show…I hope you heard it. Last week Corwin’s “The Plot to Get Santa Claus” was done on the same program with Orson Welles as Nero….
Otto and Phyllis