Bradley T. Van Deusen

Bradley T. Van Deusen

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Letter to Ex-wife Jean from Tiger
27 Dec 1951, St. Augustine FL

December 27, 1951

The Carved Cow
44 1/2 St. George St.
St. Augustine, Florida

My dear:--

Your letter came this afternoon and I have read and re-read it many times.

Of course we are friends. I have known long since that I killed passion and desire.I ask nothing but the assurance that there is someone, by preference my family, who cares even in my long absence. We have ties together, Jean, that can never be violated.

You are as great a lady as my mother. You have her same sweetness and courage. Shall I, with all my errors of commitance and failure, dare to place my damned emotionalism against it? Even your proffer of friendship is more than I actually deserve or can ask.

I'll try to make this a better year for you all. I will make no promises for promises from me seem to have a habit of slipping away into limbo. But, damn it, Slim Lady, I shall try.

Shall cut the things for the kids even if my confounded hands fall out. Please send me exact waist sizes.

Sometime ago I had one of the finest artists in the country, Emmett Fritz (1) (2) , do a portrait of you from my one picture of you. I was going to send it to TenEyck for Xmas but couldn't bring myself to part with it for it stands on a shelf above my cot where I can say "Goodnight". Someday you may see it. He has caught every bit of the beauty of you.

Loved the mental picture of Mary S. and the tree. Lord, I bet she is a wonderful person. Never had much to do with "...little girls that are very sweet" but sure can do a lot of imagining and dreaming. Does she still have her vast collection of dolls?

Six feet! By Allah! If he keeps going he will make his old man look like a runt.

Wrote him a letter yesterday, Jean. One that I felt I have owed him for something longer than a day or two. I hope you are not angered with me. I spent many hours and many pipes in its composition because I did not wish to say anything wrong. He'll probably show it to you and I hope you approve.

Even if you request nothing but "friendship" I do not regret writing you my "loveletter". Have no idea whether you read it or never got past the first paragraph but it was tender and absolutely sincere. I am not going to press a damned thing, time will settle things, but I do, or did, have the right to speak out in meeting with no heavy emotional background.

Please tell me things, Jean. Where are the children going to school? Is Tiger-Two playing basketball this winter? Does Mary S. dance gravely in the center of the room? What kind of a crowd is TE running around with? Has he made any ROTC? What are youdoing in Chicago again? What happened to Kankakee? How is your father? The more you tell me the more my heart will cleave to some peace and logical balance.

My current problems will be solved with some time and patience. I didn't even blow on Christmas which I usually do. I am doing as you ask, even before you asked, being "quiet".

I have a friend here, "Don Pedro", or Peter Herzog who is becoming as close to me as Bob. (He has his troubles too). I have my old Adjutant, Captain Bob Morrison staying with me in the back of the shop. We awake each other at the damndest hours to quote something back and forth and cool each other off. I am not throwing any binges and I am fighting the damndest fight I have ever put forth. Am drinking, yes, but now only to stop the pain. My insomnia is my worst problem. My liver and diabetes can be stood but these long white nights with memories crowding can give me Hell. Will probably never be a shining light but would like to be a man of whom my children can approve. I am not doing it only because I love you but for my own self-respect.

It's cold here too, every now and then we have to wear a suit coat or a sweater and the Beach is too chilly to lie on for too long.

But the sun shines and I have the old Salazar house across the street to watch and one lone palm that I have adopted personally. This little City is full of beauty and unbelievable vistas. Be sure to see DISTANT DRUMS when it comes to the neighborhood movie. You might even recognize your old man in the background a few times. Parts of it were filmed at the Castillo de San Marcos and the whole town got into the act (Cooper is quite a man personally).

You are quite right, what you have done and what I have done to hurt each other had best be wiped out of our minds. None of them are important if we can ever put our hands together again and the children are a damned sight more important than memories.

My Love, and friend, Goodnight.


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