This is the second page of a very long letter written by Grandpa, telling those away from home about the engagement of his second born, Dan, to a lovely French girl. This continues the story of how Dan and Paulette came to be engaged.
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The next time I came she was visiting her fiancé in Lille but was expected home the following evening. So I came again the next night and was there when she arrived. What a surprise! She was tall, pretty, radiant with the excitement of her trip and her arrival home. But I did not feel any strong attraction toward her at first – – I used to visit the three of them rather frequently, glad to have something to do – – eager to learn French better by talking with them.
During the latter part of December, Mme. Senechal went to Paris to visit her sister – – the one who had given me the address. I continue to come to the house frequently. At Christmas time Jacques, the fiancé of Paulette (or Chiche as I nicknamed her because of her frequent use of the word, meaning “I dare you”, came to C—-. That night when I arrived, Chiche (pronounced ”Sheesh”) was visibly upset. She told me that Jacques was coming and asked me to stay – – not to leave until he had left. I hardly knew what to do – – what to say.
From that time we both began to consider our relationship more seriously. She is easily upset but quite quick to recover and usually gay. She is well-liked by those who know her. I tried not to influence her decision to break off her engagement because I realize how difficult it will be for her to leave her home for a distant and strange land. I am in position to realize how different are the customs of the U.S. from those of France. She is bashful about trying to speak English although she can read it fairly well and has quite a good accent compared to most French students of English. Of returning with me to the U.S. she writes: “I think of your father and brothers and sister – – what will they say if you take me to your home? Oh Dan, I’m so afraid of that!” And all my assurances of how nice you are do not remove this fear. Her parents have expressed great chagrin at losing their favorite daughter but insist that her happiness must come first. As for the future, I still don’t know what sort of job I can find. So much depends on the opportunities which might be presented. Of course I realize that my responsibilities have been altered completely, and my life is no longer a carefree solo – – it has become a beautiful duet which will soon become a full chorus – – a paen of fulfillment. Et voila! I enclose a photo which I feel is not completely “Sheesh”. Photos usually miss the portrayal of character which after all is more important. But this will do for now. Love. Dan.
That progression from solo to duet to chorus sounds promising, Dan. Hope there will be a good balance of mixed voices. Speaking personally, I sort of fell down on the soprano parts.
How’s that for a newsy letter, boys? I gradually am accumulating a new flock of daughters. Dave, you have a few years before you get to look around, but Ced better start thinking of something besides airplanes and skiing and Buicks and Big Ben’s, or he and the old man will find themselves keeping house together – – and it could be worse at that. Just one other thought before I end this parenthesis. The photo arrived and knowing the rest of you would be interested, I am having copies made from the one Dan sent but unfortunately these days it takes about a month to get things of this sort done. Meantime it might be a good stunt to write your new perspective sister-in-law to reassure her as to how welcome she will be in the family as far as you are concerned.
Tomorrow and Thursday, I’ll continue the story of Dan and Paulette. On Friday, I’ll post a letter that Marian wrote on the same day Grandpa was writing his letter and it was enclosed with Dan’s copy of the letter.
Every weekend, I will be posting my Grandfather’s story, as written by him in his Reminiscences. When the time comes, I’ll add the memories of his children and other groups of letters pertaining to a particular “Slice of Life”.
Do you know of anyone who is interested in life here in the United States during the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s? Why not share this blog with them. They might really appreciate it.