|Jean Elliott at the Lake Union houseboat, 1945|
Heat and light are something else. One night the electrician of the house came into our room, asked if we had warmth in our radiator. We said no, and he put his hand on it and said oui, oui, you have the heat. It was a little warmer than body temperature. That was a week ago and apparently just an experiment with the heating system because we haven’t had heat since and the days are getting quite cold (they’re like Seattle’s cold, frosty days only a little damper). The lights in the hall are so dim that often we’ve reached for the button before we realized that they were on. … The bathroom light is not automatic but is so unfunctional that we have to take a flashlight in to see what we’re doing. Our reading lamps are slightly better, but only if we are huddled under them. But these few discomforts are nothing compared to the joys of being here. You know how incomparably beautiful it is (didn’t you once hang from the netting of the Eiffel Tower?). We’ve been doing some organized sightseeing, that is—organized by us, such as going to a famous place outside the city each Sunday: Versailles, Chartres, Chantilly, Senlis, St. Germaine
|Bee [Lucille] Shepherd, Puget Sound, 1948|
|Shep (Charles) Shepherd, Port Ludlow, 1948|
Howard Daniel was not home at all. Nor Howard Lewis—at the paper we were told that he was in Paris but flying back to NY the 26th; we sailed the 24th. We looked for a plane overhead Sunday afternoon and Monday morning but didn’t even see a wing-tip to wave at. We talked to Ann [Ann Elmo, Murray’s agent] about how she was (she had a strained back) and how we were (we were fine) and how you were (you were fine too) and how Agony was (Agony was not fine but she said that she’d like us to try rewriting the last chapter). One nice piece of news we had for her was that we had seen, the first day we were in the city, a fairly prominent display of Dixie Raider on one of the tables at Brentano’s. (How is DR going?) …
“Liquor for the State of Washington, Wallace for president: the perfect life.”
If the house caught on fire, we would first save each other and the toss to decide whether to grab the typewriters or the Baedeker next. I can’t find words, French or English, to tell you how much we’ve needed it, relied on it, enjoyed places because of it, used it to find things or to keep from getting lost or to get unlost, loved having it and read ourselves to sleep with it. I shudder to think how different our lives here would have been if you had believed us when we were protesting that we really couldn’t accept it from you. God.
Monday’s Le Monde carried a short paragraph about M. Parnell Thomas , among the loveliest French we’ve ever read. Maybe it is just Democratic Party move and maybe he does get a closed session in contrast to all the public reputation-feasts he’s officiated over, still it’s good. [Thomas, head of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, was convicted of fraud for putting friends into phantom jobs on the Congressional payroll in exchange for kickbacks.] a We’d like to know more about that, too, if you have time.
Gene wants space. We miss you deeply. Send a note as soon as you can and seriously think about how happy you’d be here.
Dear Water-dwellers: we have not yet found the Keplers or Kepples (choose one) [it’s Kleppers] but will give you all the dope soon. In the meantime we are constantly reminded by seeing the boaters on the Seine, some with those double-bladed paddles and some with sails, having what is apparently the time of their lives. Jealousy gnaws at our vitals, or would if it were not for the fact that there are so many land-borne pleasures t every hand that we don’t stand still long enough to be gnawed. Harry and Jo arrived (as implied above) and are settled near the Boulevard Saint Michele, very happy. Better come over. Study threatens. Much more soon. Love to you both. g
For more on the Canwell Committee hearings at UW: