I was fifteen when Mother became Ann Landers. The excitement of a
burgeoning career was still new, so her letters to me at college
reveal the exhilaration of adding client papers, making speeches,
and becoming a big-deal newspaperwoman. People have asked
me—for decades—how I felt about my mother suddenly
taking on a demanding, high-profile job. The truth is that it was
like a gift from the gods. Finally, some of her focus was deflected
from me. I was never one of those kids who could later complain I
received short shrift in the attention department. On the contrary,
my mother had always zeroed in on me like a laser. Probably because
I was an only child, I was overprotected and the primary object of
her concerns, hopes, and fears. I periodically rebelled . . .
though in reasonably ladylike ways. I was considered
"sophisticated" even as a high school girl. I smoked and I drank
scotch on the rocks; I was well traveled and a magnet for men. It
was all restrained and decorous enough, however, so that Mother
never felt she had to lower the boom.
It is fair to say that my mother was ambitious for me, in the sense
that she was, in spirit, a stage mother . . . without the stage.
She wanted me to do well and to shine. She was similarly supportive
of my father and his business endeavors. He loved to travel, and
she never leaned on him to do less of it and spend more time with
her. She was positive and optimistic. And when it came to me, she
had an all-involved and unstinting love. Starting in college, and
all throughout my life, those who knew us best and saw us together
would remark that they'd never seen a mother-daughter relationship
as close as ours. That closeness is the underpinning of the letters
I went to Brandeis University because it was the school my mother
was pushing for. I do believe that on some subconscious level she
thought it would serve as a belated Sunday school. (The reason I'd
had no proper religious education was that during my grade school
years we lived in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, a small town with only
thirty-two Jewish families. The best that could be managed was a
sporadic, makeshift Sunday school.) Not to put too fine a point on
it, there weren't that many schools other than Brandeis to choose
from. Vassar put me on a waiting list . . . too dicey a proposition
to suit me. My "fallback school," the University of Pennsylvania,
didn't even accept me. Sarah Lawrence was the only other school,
besides Brandeis, to accept me on the straightaway. Mother pleaded
with me not to go there; her argument being that given the kind of
student I was, it would not be useful for me to park myself at a
school that had no grades, no majors, and quite a bit of freedom.
She was also concerned, given its location in Bronxville, that I
would spend most of my time in Manhattan at Saks or Bergdorf
Goodman. Having waltzed through high school with no discernible
devotion to scholarship, it would be fair to say, quoting that
sage, Diane Keaton, "I went to school as a social occasion."
In the late '50s Brandeis was a school for intellectual
heavy-hitters. That would not have been me, but I suspect my lack
of seriousness was counterbalanced by quite strong board scores, a
really good interview with the dean of admissions, and
recommendations from Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas and
then-Senator Hubert H. Humphrey.
This is the last paragraph of a letter from Senator Humphrey to
Mother, dated January 24, 1958:
When are you coming to Washington? Tell Margo that I have written a
recommendation for her to Brandeis University. She will not only be
permitted to enter as a result of that recommendation, but most
likely become the Dean of Women or Campus Queen on the day of
registration. When Humphrey recommends they are recommended.
Hubert H. [hand-signed]
Hubert H. Humphrey
It worked! There was no offer of Deanship, or reign as Campus
Queen, but I was accepted. My academic career can be tracked in the
following four years' worth of letters. Well . . . not quite four
years . . . and not always having to do with academics. What I now
find most interesting is Mother's sliding scale of supportiveness,
acceptance, or motivational browbeating about my various approaches
to school. I was going to graduate; I wasn't going to graduate.
Good grades didn't matter; they did matter.
Mother wanted me to date lots of different people—not choose
a special one—but when such a person periodically appeared
she was encouraging. She wanted me to take advantage of the social
possibilities of the Ivy League, but she also endorsed
putting schoolwork first. When it came to my college career,
therefore, she was inconsistent and contradictory . . . but these
approaches were indicative of her wish to be supportive. She was, I
suspect, more involved with the social aspects of my college life
than other girls' mothers. What I did not understand, at the time,
was that my love life was being quarterbacked by a world-recognized
expert in Chicago.
SEPTEMBER 20, 1958
Your letter from Boston was wonderful. Yes, I am saving this "gem"
for Daddy. He will be home tomorrow morning. He couldn't get home
on an afternoon flight so he must fly all night. (His arms will
sure be tired. I told him next time to take a plane.)
I was struck by the neatness and accuracy of your typing. This made
me very happy, as I am delighted you are a far better typist than
your mother. Also, your phraseology was excellent. I guess it has
been a long time since I have read a letter written by you. The
last ones were from the camp days, and you have really grown up
Nothing new. I am working like a little beaver . . . and the house
is quiet . . . and clean. Too quiet—and too clean, if you
know what I mean. I have already taken your old leopard flats . . .
maybe for sentimental reasons. Anyway, they are comfy!
Bob the doorman asked if you had left . . . and when I said yes he
expressed real sorrow at not having had the chance to say goodbye.
Marshall [the other doorman] is still talking about your nice
farewell. Miss Margo is a lovely lady he tells everyone.
Write when you can, doll, and so will I. Fill us in on what's going
on. I am glad you find the roommates congenial. Bravo . . . and
In the following letter, "Martin" is Marty Peretz, a Brandeis
senior when I arrived as a freshman. The proverbial "Big Man" on
Campus, he was editor of the Justice, the school newspaper,
as well as a cause-oriented provocateur. We met during
orientation week (of which he was chairman), dated briefly, and
maintained a lifelong friendship. Himself the protégé of
Max Lerner, a syndicated liberal columnist and an author, Marty
essentially made me his Eliza Doolittle, involving me, for the
first time, in things intellectual. When I mentioned in my first
book that he'd played a big part in my education, he responded in
the New Republic (which by then he owned and edited) that he
could live without the honor and wanted no credit for my education!
This referred to my social pose as a dumb blonde, a persona that
later carried over into some of my writing. He was one of my
friends who, while we were at school, met my mother and stayed in
touch with her over the years.
"Larry" is Larry Fanning, the gifted Sun-Times
editor-in-chief for whom Mother first went to work. He became
her close friend and, in effect, her journalism school. "The Fan,"
or "Lare Bear" as we called him, polished her innate writing
skills, helped her shape the column, and made her a star.
Drew Pearson was a famous (and famously gruff) syndicated
investigative reporter and muckraker.
Milt Caniff drew the comic strip "Terry and the
OCTOBER 20, 1958
I am at the paper . . . and wanted to get this note off to you
today. Your letter (the long one) was excellent, and showed real
thought. I think you are reasoning things out well. I like
particularly the notion that you are NOT pushed to make any
Marty's piece on the beat generation was excellent. I asked Larry
to read it for an objective evaluation and he said the boy is
brilliant without a doubt. He also said if he is interested in
newspaper work to drop him a line. So, pass it on for all it's
worth—which may be nothing.
I am leaving for Canton and Akron on Thursday . . . and will be at
the Mayflower Hotel Thursday night . . . Akron . . . and Friday and
Saturday in Canton, Ohio at the Soaper. . . . Last night Drew
Pearson called me at home and Daddy answered. He said "This is Drew
Pearson. Is Eppie home?" Daddy said "Of course it is. This is
President Roosevelt!" Some joke. We didn't get to accept Drew's
dinner invitation, as we had to go to a party for Milt Caniff. But
it was good to talk with him on the phone. He wrote a new book
called USA Second Rate Power. Get it. I'LL PAY. . . . LOVE YOU . .
. and am proud of your ability to think things through in a mature
and patient way. Also, am very happy that you write to us so often.
This demonstrates real consideration for us which is one of the
great rewards of being a parent. There is no substitute . . . and
you've got it.
I have no idea, now, of what the "jolt" was, but clearly it was
of the college-girl-calamity variety. And I have no specific
recollection of the professor being sacked, but I was always an
enthusiastic acolyte to Marty's antiauthority actions. He involved
me in campus politics, usually opposing the university president,
Abe Sachar; the civil-rights movement; and Sane Nuclear Policy,
which at first I thought was a group honoring Saint Nuclear. (I've
had a lifelong proclivity for hearing things wrong.) Although my
mother, pre-column, was involved in Democratic politics and
anti-Joe McCarthy efforts, before Brandeis I had no real interest
in or particular knowledge of public-policy issues.
Hubert Humphrey, from Minnesota, became a family friend when we
lived in Wisconsin and Mother was a player in Democratic politics.
They first met when she was in the Senate gallery listening to him
deliver a speech and sent down a note asking to meet him.
[NOVEMBER OR DECEMBER 1959]
I will try to phone you today and see how things are going. I know
you will handle this last jolt well. It is all a part of the
learning process . . . and I think you are getting a postgraduate
This letter that arrived today, about the anthropology guy being
sacked. I am afraid you are letting Martin open your head and
shovel things in . . . like a coal chute. There must be another
side to this. That guy is a crusading type, which is fine. BUT . .
. I think he likes to be a nonconformist better than anything else.
So long as he has something to be against he seems to be happy.
Don't let this attitude rub off on you. It is nice that he has
"taught you to care." But please be sure you are caring about the
All is well. Tomorrow Hubert comes to Chicago for a man of the year
award dinner . . . (A Catholic group). He is going to spring
himself after the dinner and the two of us are going to hide out up
here for a nice long chat. He said on the phone yesterday he is not
bringing any pals along. He just wants to talk to me . . . and I
know about what. Last time he asked me if he should let them put
his name up at the convention for V.P. I told him NO . . . but he
didn't listen, and the results were disastrous. Now I think he is
ready to listen. He is going to ask what I think about his chances
for the top of the ticket. And I think they are pretty good. It's
been a long time since the two of us have had a good political
discussion without a bunch of hanger-oners around. The onlookers
always fill him full of baloney and throw him into a state of
megalomania. They tell him what a genius he is, and as a result, he
lets them drag him into all sorts of losing situations. He can
depend on me to give him the straight goods.
Gotta scram. Be well . . . Be good . . .
love you, kitten,
Red Smith was one of the all-time great sports writers. My
grandfather, "Mr. A.B.," knew him before my mother did.
Mike Di Salle was the Democratic governor of Ohio. Mother took
me, as a pre-teen, to the wedding of one of his daughters, in
Columbus, one week early. Just as I heard things wrong,
Mother sometimes read things wrong. More than once she confused
departure dates with flight numbers or times, until her secretaries
started managing those kinds of details and simply told her where
she was going, and when.
"Our Boy" is Hubert.
"Munnecke" is the late Wilbur C. Munnecke, a patrician gentleman
of the old school whom I picked up on a train (the "400") when I
was twelve. He became a family friend, and because he was Marshall
Field IV's right-hand man when the Field family still owned the
Sun-Times, he was instrumental in getting Mother into the
contest to replace the previous "Ann Landers," who had died
JANUARY 7, 1959
I will start on the unpleasant note and wind up in the key of C.
Enclosed material speaks for itself. This is taking advantage and I
won't go for it. I'll sail for one pair of "slippers" but not
THREE. So send me a check for $9.90 . . . plus the $10 you owe me.
Grand total $19.90. You are welcome.
I have a marvelous letter from Red Smith which I will also send on
when Daddy has seen it. This is in response to my $100 in A.B.'s
name . . . for the down-and-outers.
I'm enjoying the Steve Lawrence record . . . which reminds me . . .
where is Bobby Short? You got the record for ME and took it along,
did you? Please, gonnif,* if it's around here tell me where to look
See where Mike Di Salle came out for Kennedy . . . dammit. I had a
nice letter from Our Boy. He said he wrote to you. So—what
are you doing for him on campus? You can't just let it die on the
vine now that you've committed. Got any bright ideas? Hubert is the
only liberal in the race . . . so if Brandeis is a liberal school,
he should be the front runner, the way I see it.
I'm enclosing something that looks like a thank you from Judy Levin
[my best friend from camp]. Pretty soon she'll be a nice Jewish
married lady. I can hardly believe that many years have rolled
around. I can see her now . . . in the cubby . . . sitting on your
Munnecke was sorry he missed you. He said you called "at the last
minute" whatever that means. I hope you can catch him next time. I
think he feels put out a little. You can't keep friends and use 'em
only when you need something.
Oh . . . the telephone credit card number has been changed to 97-M
. . . 561-3200. Call when you want to, but leave us not abuse the
Write when you can, and remember the school work comes first.
The Minneapolis-Charley Ward mention is interesting because it
is relevant to Mother's relationship with her twin sister.
Minneapolis was the home of Popo's in-laws, the Phillipses, a
high-profile, prominent family. Having left Eau Claire (where my
father was with National Presto Industries, a Phillips-owned
business) for Chicago, basically to live apart from Popo, my mother
certainly wasn't going to wind up in a town with her twin's
in-laws. And Charley Ward fascinated me, even as a little girl. He
was in jail, for gunrunning to Mexico, where he met a fellow
"resident" who was one of the principals of Brown and Bigelow, a
calendar company. Upon Ward's release, his jailhouse buddy brought
him into the business, where he did exceedingly well, eventually
The "Grandma" Mother refers to was Gramma Gustie, my father's
mother who lived in Detroit.
Your mother has been sort of a shlepper* about writing, but as I
explained on the phone, I have had one helluva busy two weeks. The
speeches really take the time. I never give the same one twice, and
the preparation for the Ad guys was really a time thief. Will
[Munnecke] wanted it to be JUST right. He spent one whole day with
me, just going over it and suggesting alterations. Anyway, it was
well worth the trouble, as the audience sat in the palm of my hand
and stayed there.
It was good talking to you on the phone last night. I think it is
amazing that kids in college haven't got sense enough to move away
from the phone when someone has a call. I KNOW you have better
sense than that. Anyway, you are learning . . . PLENTY there. I am
delighted with the academic strides. It would be nice if you could
develop something of interest on the social side. Even if a guy has
the personality of a fire hydrant, GO . . . he may have a friend or
a roommate. Interesting that the N.Y. friend faded. You'll probably
run into him somewhere. Don't forget to be pleasant. No questions
such as "What the hell happened to you . . . did you drop
Drop Grandma a line if you have time. Also write to us. Daddy
should be home Friday. Everything is going well. He ran into
Charley and Yvette Ward in L.A. at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Charley
wants your dad to go to Minneapolis and replace him as president of
Brown and Bigelow. Don't worry. I won't let him do it. There ain't
that much money in the world as far as I'm concerned. It is
flattering, however, nonetheless.
Be well . . . Be good . . . write and I will try to do
"The Puerto Rican venture" was a miniature precision
ball-bearing factory my father built in a San Juan suburb. He did
this when he was president of the Chicago-based Autopoint
Corporation, an advertising specialty firm dealing in, among other
things, ballpoint pens. He served as the company president after
leaving Presto but before starting Budget Rent-a-Car. Advantageous
tax laws at that time allowed U.S. businesses to manufacture in
Puerto Rico. For whatever reason, the factory was not as successful
as anticipated; it created a cash drain for him, and took quite a
while to sell.
This letter carries just the first of many references to what my
mother viewed as my father's indulgence. He was always extremely
generous where I was concerned (as he was with my mother), but she
felt he was doing me no favor. Mother, perforce, became "the tight
one." They were playing good cop-bad cop with money. Even when I
was at camp, bills would fall out of the envelopes from Father's
letters to me. In addition, I received gifts such as a case of
Bosco . . . I suppose his idea being, "Chocolate milk all around!"
When I was in college, he arranged an account for me at Boston's
Locke-Ober's, with the invitation to dine there with my friends
whenever I wanted. And if I went to New York for a weekend, I was
allowed to go to "their" hotel—the St. Regis—where the
management almost acted in loco parentis. For example, when
I went to visit prospective colleges as a high school junior, I
went alone (!), and because weather changed my plans as to which
school to visit and when, the head bell captain at the St. Regis
took me to Grand Central Station and bought my ticket because I had
no idea how to take a train by myself. (That was the train trip
during which I "picked up" Bobby Kennedy. He got on at Princeton
Junction and took the seat next to me in the club car. We were both
doing our "homework." Mine was Shakespeare; his was a thick file
for a Senate committee. He said he liked mine better. This lovely
man looked out for me, took me with him to the dining car, and was
most kind to a kid traveling alone. In addition to which, the
encounter became the main topic of conversation at my admissions
interview at Brandeis.)
Mother's speaking of my "resentment" toward my parents is now
something I have to accept on faith. I have but a faint emotional
memory of any rebellious feelings, but in hindsight it rings true
because the selection of my starter husband could only have been an
act of rebellion.
FEBRUARY 24, 1959
Just had a lonnnn-nng conversation with you. I think you do get
some good out of our lengthy conversations, although there is a
good bit of dead (though costly) air!
You mentioned Daddy . . . in detail. Your remarks were interesting,
particularly in light of his enthusiastic remarks on the time you
two spent together.
One of these days you'll appreciate him for the great little guy
that he really is. I've lived with him for almost 20 years and have
seen him under every imaginable kind of circumstance. Take my word
for it—he's a champion. He has real character, wonderful
human qualities that you don't see very often in this day and age
of frantic money-grabbing. He has a sense of morality in business
that is very rarely seen in ambitious men. He has never stuck
anyone for a dime in his life—and he never would. Every deal
he's ever gone into has proven him to be a model of integrity. If
this Puerto Rican venture didn't come through, he would be 10 years
paying everybody back. This is the only way he knows how to
But these good qualities are the least of it. He has a genuine
goodness in his soul. The way he took care of his mother—when
he was just a kid, living at the YMCA in Grand Rapids. He made $18
a week, and he sent his mother $12. He was only 18 then . . . and I
defy you to show me many kids today who would do it. He never
complained that life was rough, or that Fate had handed him a bum
deal. There were days when he had to decide between breakfast and
lunch—he could not afford both. He had two pairs of shorts
and two pairs of socks. He washed one pair every night and put them
on the radiator so he could have a fresh set every day. Yet these
things never made him bitter or unhappy. He just dug in and worked
harder and decided to make something of himself. I don't have to
tell you that he's succeeded. But more important than the fact that
he stands to be a millionaire pretty quick now . . . is the fact
that everybody loves and respects him.
Of course he has his limitations and weaknesses . . . who hasn't?
And one of his greatest weaknesses is YOU. He is so proud of you,
and loves you so much that he has spoiled you badly. He is so eager
for you to like him that he buys you off. He doesn't KNOW this
isn't the way to do. He gets such pleasure from a smile or a kind
word out of you that he keeps making the same old mistakes year
after year. It's always been so, and it will never be any
I know you must feel guilty about some of your thoughts where he is
concerned, and this is natural. You are pretty tied up with both
your mother and father. After all, your parents are pretty young,
and you, being an only child have had all the heavy artillery
centered on you. This has been both good and bad . . . especially
when you have a mother who is a plenty strong personality. True, I
have influenced a lot of your thinking, but I have given you a
great deal of freedom, too. There are times when I am sure you
could cheerfully strangle me. I can understand this, and believe
me, I don't mind. I understand.
I remember my own resentment against my parents. It wasn't as deep
as yours, but it was there. I recall well . . . when I didn't do
well in school one day, I came home and said to my father "You
failed your children. You didn't give us CULTURE. There is never
anything to read in this damn house but Elks magazines." I can
remember the hurt look in his eyes. After all, what did A.B. [her
father] know about "culture"? Nothing, I can assure you. But he
knew an awful lot about how to love people and make people love
him. He was a master at this. And he taught me a great deal that
has made me able to do the work that I am doing today. When a
future candidate for the highest office in the land can write to me
and say, "Eppie, please steer me and guide me. I value your
opinions very much. I need your thinking," . . . this means
something. And where did I get it? A lot of it came from A.B. . . .
who didn't have any culture.
If I had been honest with myself, I would have admitted that there
were thousands of books in the public library. All I had to do was
go get them. It was easier to blame A.B. It took me 10 years to
wake up to this.
So don't be so critical of your dad because he doesn't measure up
in every department. The important things he has. He has heart. He
cares about people. And he has character and principle. He's kind,
and sweet, and good. And the world is a better place because he's
"The Bandler deal," as I look back on it, was just remarkable,
and today seems like something that might have happened in the
early 1900s. Bernard Bandler was chief of psychiatry at the
Massachusetts General Hospital. I wound up seeing him because I was
concerned about having become romantically interested in a
handsome, homosexual upperclassman. Both my mother and I thought
this was rather strange behavior . . . hence the psychiatrist! My
only rationalization for this, some forty-plus years later, is that
the thinking was very different then. In any case, I veered
away from my unavailable love object and bamboozled this eminent
shrink into thinking that the standard five-course load was too
taxing for me. His recommendation, which the school accepted, was
that I be allowed to become a "special student," taking only three
courses a semester. It was at this point I made the decision that I
was at school for a custom-tailored education, as opposed to a
degree. (My custom tailoring included failing a freshman
requirement, Physical Science, three years in a row by simply never
showing up. I didn't understand science then, and I don't
understand it now.)
FEBRUARY 25, 1959
Hurray . . . your letter made the Justice [the student newspaper].
I enjoyed seeing it, and I think it is quite a tribute to you, in
such competitive surroundings to have made print. Apparently they
put the personnel guy's picture in upside down, I take it. A very
shoddy trick, to say the least. Your letter was very good. The only
thing I would have edited out would have been the sentence about
"breeding." Breeding is strictly for animals. I never did fancy the
idea that breeding was a factor in judgment or behavior . . .
training, yes . . . but breeding no.
About the Bandler deal: If he decides you should go on a 3-a-week
routine you had better learn where the bus stop is, and acquaint
yourself with a schedule. A car you ain't gonna have, and taxis are
Glad you see the sense in contributing something of your allowance
in the way of a stipend. This will insure you getting more out of
it. I would like to make something clear about money that
apparently I have failed to get across to you all these years. What
we can afford has nothing to do with how much you can have at your
disposal to spend. These things are totally unrelated. The
Rockefeller kids were brought up to save one fourth of their
allowance and they were also taught to tip everybody a DIME. The
Ford boys had less money to spend than any kids in their
fraternity. As a result they are now amounting to something. It's
the nouveau riche and the fools who throw dough around, don't know
the value of a dollar. Naturally, there is never enough . . . and
they succeed only in becoming bored and jaded, and to others look
like jackasses. So, if Father should strike uranium you would still
not get one more dollar. Your allowance is more than adequate. Make
it do. And incidentally, if Martin has not crashed through with
what he owes you, it is time now to remind him.
Speaking of him . . . his editorial (his last one upon leaving)
fairly drips with negativism and pessimism. If ever he writes
anything big it will be the Great American Tragedy. Oi what a
merchant of gloom and doom!
Well, petrenella, this is it . . . be well . . . and write when you
can and I will do the same.
[FEBRUARY 26 OR 27, 1959]
I knew you would be excited to know that the St. Louis Post
Dispatch . . . second only in excellence to the New York Times,
bought my garbage.
And guess what letter will be the first to appear in that paper? My
definition of love! You liked it very much, I recall. It was a good
"The Pest house" was Mother's term for either the infirmary
at school or a hospital.
Ralph Starr was a business friend of Father's who Mother always
held up as an example of understatement. He was a mainline
Philadelphian whose father or grandfather (I forget which) was a
backer of Andrew Carnegie. He not only eschewed finance and
mortgage banking to run a spice company, he often appeared looking
a little down at the heels. I remember one visit when he arrived
with part of the hem of his coat hanging down. Mother retrieved the
coat from the front closet, sewed the hem, then hung it back in the
FEBRUARY 28, 1959
Your last phone call came from the Pest house. I hope you are
feeling better now. Me—I am back to normal . . . laughin' and
scratchin' (more scratchin' than laughin', however . . .) and I
hope soon you will be back on the intellectual line . . . making
with the pearls and the gems.
I hope this letter reaches you altogether. I have no stamps to
speak of . . . so had to salvage a few "seconds" from the drawers.
You know . . . no glue. I pasted them on . . . with a hope and a
prayer. Father mails his overseas stuff like crazy with MY stamps,
and when I want to write a letter to my only child I have to look
in the garbage can.
Monday night the caterers move in and put on the party. I hope it
will be nice. They have a good menu and it is costing a left lung .
. . but the Cory Corp is paying so I am not too concerned. They
charge $7.50 a head . . . and we have to supply the booze. Of
course the menu IS tenderloin steaks, and they will have five in
help buzzing around, so I should not complain. A butler, two maids,
a cook and a supervisor. Too bad you wont be here to "direct
things." This would be your cup of tea!
Ralph Starr is in town . . . have to take him to dinner tomorrow.
Rat soup. I hope the weather is nice or I may wind up cooking. I am
pretty well over my cold but I don't want to take any
Wednesday Pops and I are taking the syndicate to the Pump room for
dinner . . . first cocktails here . . . this is long over-due . . .
so I thought in celebration of the St. Louis Post Dispatch and the
300th paper, I would crash through. It should be fun.
Enough drivel for now. Just wanted to get a line off to you as you
are probably still in the bed. And after all, this IS better than a
poke in the eye with a sharp stick.
"E and P" is Editor & Publisher, the trade magazine
for newspaper and magazine people.
[APRIL 1, 1959]
Your letter today was wonderful. You DO write well. Now . . . How
about writing often? (I'm a fine one to talk.)
I am enclosing something which may interest you. It is a promotion
from E and P on Charlotte's Web. Remember? Where is that book
anyway? I recall it was one of your very most favorites.
. . .
Hubert just called. He's in town for a dinner. Will Daddy and I be
free tonight? Of course. Daddy will be home from Puerto Rico in
about an hour. He missed the g.d. plane by THREE minutes. He called
madder'n a hornet's nest.
NOW . . . a BEEF. Did you or did you NOT write to Bertha Olehausen.
Immediate action requested! I went to see her for a few minutes
last night (poor thing had ANOTHER operation) . . . . . . . . . . .
and she didn't say you had written. If you didn't . . . do it right
now, or your name is mud with Mother. She always says such nice
things about you.
. . .
Well, doll . . . this letter isn't short . . . the type is just
small. Write to me . . . and I will do the same. The important
thing is the WORK . . . school I mean . . . keep at it. It's that
day at a time plugging that makes the difference . . . a drop of
water at a time can wear away a rock . . . so GET BUSY
Mother's use of the word "goyem," while not politically correct
then—or now—was the way many Jews of that generation
referred to Christians. It was the most widely used Yiddish word
for "other," in terms of religion.
Here are some stamps . . . not stolen . . . paid for . . . or
should I say "charged to" . . . after all . . . what's a mother
Also, a check for $70 rocks . . . Since I am paying for the
straightening of the INSIDE of your head, I think I should pay for
the straightening of the outside. Also, have a heart to heart with
ol Doc Pandhandler . . . [the psychiatrist, Bandler] or whatever
his name is and learn if this thing is going to continue . . .
because if it is, you will have to start figuring ways and means to
cut down on expenses so you can help lift that barge and tote that
bale . . . (get a little drunk and you land in jail).
We had a long winded conversation today . . . in which you accused
me of not liking ANYBODY you liked. Name me TWO. The only one I
ever knocked in the head was Mr. P. and I have a sneaking hunch you
unloaded him emotionally long before I ever got into the act. And
besides . . . like I said earlier . . . "What's a mother for?" I
just don't want to see you get tangled up with ONE guy for a while
. . . and this goes for anybody. You just MUST learn how to handle
fellows casually for a while. I think you are in love with love.
Just keep your feet on the ground and all doors open. You don't
have to make any commitments or give anybody the idea he has the
inside track. At this stage of your life . . . the more the
Wednesday I am going to the Life Mag party at the Gaslight.
[Singer, actor] Maurice Chevalier is going to be there and other
celebs who are in town. It should be fun. I shall report.
All is well. . . . I will have Feuers send the fur piece along and
they will clean it before they send it, natch. You will need it in
Florida. Otherwise, how would they know you were Jewish? Goyem come
with yarn stoles . . . Jews have fur.
Well . . . doll, this is it. Love you like ca—razy . . . even
though at times I am sure you don't think so.
Mother never drank or smoked, having decided when she was young
that alcohol and tobacco could do nothing good for her body. On the
other hand, I did both. This letter is an example of how she was
able to be tougher in a letter than in a face-to-face conversation.
This "stay out of the hay" lecture, for example, would not have
been as easy for her at the breakfast table.
[APRIL 9, 1959]
Well last night was the Life party, and your old beat-up mother had
a ball . . . a matzo ball, that is, as Passover is just around the
corner. Several pictures were taken and I will try to snag you one
One of the more interesting guests was a guy you used to love . . .
in your high school days, that is. Hank Bloomgarten. Remember? He
is doing Public Relations work for Life and came in especially for
this party. When I was introduced to him I told him my daughter
used to love to watch him on the $64 thousand question—and I
was pleased that she became enamored of "a brain" rather than Howdy
Doody or Gunsmoke's hero. We got to talking about politics and he
is an ardent (and active) Democrat . . . and a really very bright
and interesting boy. He asked me if it would be all right to call
you as he is in Boston very often . . . and I said yes, and gave
him your number. Now he may or may not call . . . but I wanted you
to know that I said it was all right. He even suggested taking you
out to dinner . . . and I said I wasn't exactly sure about THAT as
he is married, has a son, and is 30 years old. He assured me that
as far as HE was concerned it would be a very pleasant way to spend
a couple of hours . . . and nothing else.
As he spoke I churned over a few things in my mind and decided to
O.K. it. So . . . if he calls and invites you to dinner I think it
would be nice to go. This is, in my opinion, a real sign of
progress, so far as YOU are concerned. It means that I have enough
confidence in you to know that you can handle yourself well under
any and all conditions. I think you have the maturity now to begin
to establish some good platonic relationships, and that you need no
longer think of all males as potentials for the romance department.
In other words, you can now operate on a good level—three
steps higher than the most feminine plateau, which is of course
clobbering 'em with the sex appeal.
You know how, over a period of the last several years, I have been
able to maintain very good relationships with men in many fields,
and I would like to see you begin to do the same. Hank could be one
of those people. He is extremely bright, wonderful company and well
worth knowing. I learned very early that if you have the
stuff—and I HAD IT . . . and you have it, too . . . the same
stuff, kiddo . . . that you can establish relationships with men at
any level you want to. Most men will take what they can get. The
really worthwhile ones like Hubert and Will [Munnecke] and Soapy
[Williams] and Pearson, to name just a few, operate at a high level
and they are not interested in making everything they see. Being
human they could probably be knocked over the head and dragged into
the boudoir, but once that happens, the relationship gasps a few
dying groans and then dies. Nothing is as fatal to a relationship
as getting intimate with people of high reputation, good
conscience, or someone who is well known to the public. They can't
afford to be involved . . . so the minute they get back to their
senses, they start to get panicky . . . then the guilt and the fear
move in, and the friendship is kaput. I learned this lesson early.
My instinctive good sense always kept me out of trouble and it
really paid off. Wherever I go I have very good friends at the top,
both in politics and the newspaper field. My friendships have
lasted through the years . . . and I am constantly making more
friends. Also, the word gets around. One tells another. This is why
the no drinking and no smoking has fit into the picture so well. It
adds an aura of wholesomeness that is somehow incongruous to a
good-looking sexy woman. That is what I would like for YOU. A girl
who can look like you . . . and speak well and intelligently . . .
and not drink or smoke . . . and not lean on her sex appeal as her
major weapon . . . well, this could be a gasser.
This is a long letter, but it could be an important one. I just
want you to get the fun out of life that I am getting . . . and I
think this is one of the big secrets. Just keep this one tattooed
on your cerebrum. . . . If you want a relationship to fold up
fast—just hop in the sack with a guy and I can guarantee you
something will happen to sour it. It may look like something that
is completely unrelated, but it will definitely fall apart. If on
the other hand, you want a relationship to flower and grow . . .
remember that you are a real lady and that you have enough on the
ball so that YOU can call the shots . . . and be in command of the
situation, and you don't have to give away a damned thing.
Felix (McKnight) was a Dallas newspaper editor whom I knew and
liked. He would later, to Mother's way of thinking, double-cross
her professionally, at which point she moved Ann Landers to the
The summer school session was Harvard Summer School, between my
freshman and sophomore years. This turned out to be one of my more
elaborate scams—though I had not planned it that way. Mother
was in Russia that summer writing a "straight" series about the
problems of Olga and Igor, the generic Russian citizens. This meant
she couldn't check on me, and my father, being his usual
preoccupied, peripatetic self, wouldn't check on me. So it became
possible to withdraw—after only three weeks—just in
time to get significant money back and spend the balance of the
summer at the Cape with a charming Oklahoman. Miraculously, my
mother did not find out until YEARS later that my summer at
Harvard had been severely truncated.
Popsy Topsin is my father. The YPO (Young Presidents
Organization) is a prestigious business group that continues to
this day. To join, one had to be president—before the age of
forty—of a company that did a certain volume of business and
employed a specified (minimum) number of employees. During my
father's tenure, I was the oldest "YPO brat," and perhaps because I
was an only child my folks often invited me to the annual
conventions. Father joined while I was in high school and I have
memories of business stars like Warren Avis and Al Rockwell, and
men who ran companies with household names like Pine Sol and
Holiday Inn. I occasionally would ask one of them for a little
assistance with my homework.
[MAY 7, 1959]
Decided to use my best stationery on you. After all . . . why not?
Who is closer?
The phone conversation was fun. You sound as if you are buckling
down and working. Good. . . . I know your next set of grades are
going to be better than the last. If they aren't, you will need
police-protection. Seriously, I know Brandeis is a very tough
school, but I know, TOO, that you can do a first rate job if you
want to. Those characters who are pulling down the honor grades are
no smarter than you are. They just work harder.
I had a gushy letter from Bob Brodkey [a cousin]. I guess Ron [his
brother] wrote him what fun he had at our house, so Bob had to get
into the act, too . . . sibling rivalry you know. He couldn't let
his brother get TOO far ahead of him. This is interesting when you
consider how they can deny any competitiveness whatever. Like I
said . . . bull. The minute I hear brothers and sisters rave about
how "close" they are . . . I get suspicious.
Dallas was great fun. Felix and his wife Lib were marvelous to me.
They had a dinner party at their home . . . shipped me to their
country club and made it very special. I gave five speeches in two
days, so you know I worked my can off. Southern Methodist is a
beautiful school. The campus is lovely and the kids look a lot
different from Brandeis students. These kids REALLY look
presentable . . . no Bo-Ho . . . leotards or far out stuff. Of
course S.M.U. is a Methodist school . . . and most of the kids are
blonde Swedes and at the worst red-headed Norwegians. A darling
Jewish guy came up to me tho . . . he lives in Philly . . . he told
me he played basketball for Wharton last year and hurt his back so
he was down at S.M.U. "resting up." He also asked for your address
. . . and I told him no soap.
The summer school session sounds like it's going to be fine. Let me
know where to send the money. It maybe wouldn't hurt to take a
couple of courses that you can use for credits. No point in putting
money down a rat hole. As long as you are going you may as well
make it pay off. And one day, you may NEED a few credits. Hoo
Popsy Topsin will be home next Tuesday I HOPE. The poor boy has
really been beating the bushes. He tells me that things are good,
however, and the Autopoint Company may be a real outfit yet. I hope
you took care of ordering the pictures from the YPO convention, as
I didn't even SEE 'em. Much less take action. Also . . . is your
dress for your friend's wedding being sent home? And who is to pay
for the alterations? Did you put it on the bill, or what?
This is a far-shtunkina* letter to say the least . . . but Mother
is on her bicycle as usual. Today I must go to the wallpaper house
and make a few selections. Need I say, my head is twirling?
Love you . . . like ca—razzzzzy, . . . . . . . . . . .
P.S. Please write to me, baby.
Mother's mention of a new car is funny because, in approximately
three years, my father and I would be standing in the "1000" garage
saying good-bye to her. For whatever reason, we stood there and
watched her pull out into Oak Street traffic, and my father had the
realization that she was a menace to others—as well as
herself—and soon thereafter engaged a chauffeur for her.
Mother promptly forgot how to drive, and she never took the wheel
"1000" is 1000 Lake Shore Drive, the building we moved into when
we came from Eau Claire. My parents would live there until after I
was married, when they moved about a block away, to East Lake Shore
[MAY 8, 1959]
I know you will just hate this . . . but I am sending it anyway.
The time to think about these things is NOW . . . not 15 years from
now when you may go to a doctor and he starts to call in
consultants to look at the exrays [sic]. This damned cancer
thing is no joke anymore. I hope you will give it some
consideration. I really became alarmed when I noticed in Florida
that you honestly wanted to lay off the weeds for a few hours
because I had asked you to—and then you actually had a
helluva time because of the addiction to the stuff. This is bad.
The only thing you can do now, if you want to emerge victorious
over this lousy habit is to substitute mints (or a pipe . . . and I
recommend mints . . .) . . . plus a lot of will power . . . rooted
in common sense that the cigarette habit is no damned good for you.
Particularly since you have a bronchial history . . . with asthma
in your early days.
The new car is in today . . . and I will be driving it to the
office. Hooray. I must be a big hick, but I get a big bang out of a
nice car. Father had been trying to talk me into a smaller one . .
. like a foreign job, but I like a Cadillac. Must be my Iowa
background. I told him if HE wants a small car to get one for
himself and leave the Caddy for Mugsie and me. I promise to drive
carefully so when you come home it will be in good shape. And by
the way, doll, when ARE you coming home? Your room is lovely. I
picked out some stunning new papers for your bath, the guest bath,
our room and bath . . . and I know you will just love it. Your
bedspreads are gorgeous . . . and Mr. Gersh is delivering your
benches today. I can hardly believe we are going into our fifth
year at 1000. . . . And a good five years it has been, too. We have
no complaints believe thee me.
Gotta run. Write when you can . . . and don't hit Mother for
enclosing this clipping. I just want you to be around to enjoy your
Willie (Washington) was our housekeeper who stayed with us until
she retired. "Ellya" is a nickname for me that I only faintly
As for Mother's entreaties to stop smoking, I finally succeeded.
When I was forty-four.
The Trezevants were Dick and Dorothy. During this time, Dick
edited her, informally, before the copy went to Larry Fanning. Dick
would later become her editor. He had a dry sense of humor, and
Mother was extremely fond of him.
[MAY 14, 1959]
Yesterday was a red letter day. Two delightful letters from the
baby. Father will be home tonight and I'll put 'em right on top of
all the bills . . . gevald!*
Your dress came from Miami. It is a beaut. And now . . . where are
the shoes? Did you take them or are they to be mailed? Oops, I just
asked Willie and she tells me they came in the Florida suitcase. I
looked them over and they are lovely.
So—you are going to be living at 19 Everett Street [my
Cambridge address for summer school]! Mazel tov. I just hope the
place is nice enough to be an inducement to study . . . and not SO
nice that you will want to be entertaining all the time. Like I
said . . . I expect you to perform well in summer school and make
. . .
Now about the weed habit. I am praying you will hack it because I
KNOW if you can't lick it now, you'll never be able to do it later.
I will always worry. Every time I heard you cough in Miami (and you
cough a lot and don't realize it) it was like a little knife going
through me. You just MUST stop completely, Ellya. If I sound like
it's a matter of life and death—it's because it is, in a good
many cases. It just isn't worth it, Baby. The first couple days
you'll be climbing the walls, I know, but after that it will be
completely over. You must alter your thinking and approach it from
a positive point of view and not say "I'm going to try . . . and
see how it goes. . . ." Just make up your mind that you're going to
win and you will. It takes a lot of guts and tremendous
self-discipline, but I know you've got it. Please report on the
progress and don't let anyone sell you on the "gradually stopping
or cutting down method." It doesn't work. In two weeks you'll be
back at a pack a day. You just must say to yourself "I am through
with cigarettes for keeps. They are my mortal enemies. I will have
nothing more to do with them. Period." Whenever you feel like a
cigarette—take a mint. I promise your entire physical
condition will improve.
So—this is it for now. The Trezevants are in New York on
their way to Europe. Daddy fixed them up at the St. Regis and I had
Andy Lyons [St. Regis general manager] send him a single rose from
me with a card: "This is a rose—for your ear. . . ." In your
absence I read the copy to him . . . and I call this "giving me his
ear." I know he'll get a bang out of it.
That mink suggestion from you is gorgeous . . . and I am taking the
picture down to Suzy's today. I want her opinion and if it doesn't
cost a million dollars we may do it. I am having a new silver blue
coat made this FALL you know, and I don't want to be too much of a
pig. I must say, Kiddy, you have a very good eye on you . . . and
your taste is sensational. (That model looked a little like you, by
the way. Did you notice?)
Gotta run . . . (and in the new car is a pleasure). Be well . . .
BE STRONG . . . and write,
[JULY 4, 1959]
Thanks for the wonderful letter . . . and the delightful cards. You
are a dear child . . . and we are so happy that God didn't drop you
on the Groruds [our next-door neighbors in Eau Claire]!
So . . . you had a reception committee of vermin and mold [in the
Cambridge apartment]? Remember, dear . . . it's better to be in bed
with bedbugs than all alone . . . when you are lonesome. As for
mold . . . a guy named Fleming made it pay off. He called it
All is well here. Twenty years today I have been married to your
Pa.* I just can't believe it. I couldn't have done any better if I
had known what I was doing.
You seemed to be having a ball in O. City . . . I won't preach, but
just remember . . . NOW you have a completely clean slate . . . the
canvass is white . . . without a single line on it. Make sure you
don't put any marks on that canvass that you wouldn't be happy to
look at in 20 years from now. I don't have to get any more specific
than this. At this very moment YOU are in control . . . so play it
right. Don't close any doors, spit in any wells or burn any
bridges. Build all new relationships slowly . . . and with your
eyes wide open and your head squarely on your pretty shoulders. You
can have anything you want . . . any way you want it. Take my word
for this. Time is your greatest ally. Use it wisely and well. If
you want something worth having . . . and something that will LAST
. . . build it slowly . . . and carefully. . . . In fact, the
slower, the better. Again I repeat . . . the OPEN DOOR policy is
the best one to follow. When the door is open you can come and go
as you please . . . and close it when you want to. Once you close
the door . . . it can become a prison if you make a mistake.
Be well . . . study . . . work hard and have fun. Write often. We
miss you already. . . . When you coming home?
P.S. Your cards made my heart leap for joy! I can't think of a
lovelier gift. Thank you, ketzel.*
[JULY 6, 1959]
I have one million things to do—the desk is heaped like
crazy. . . . Queen Elizabeth is coming for lunch . . . (I told her
all I had was salami, and she insisted on coming anyway . . .) Well
. . . what can you do? At any rate, I am throwing everything aside
and writing to my darling daughter.
Your letter is the reason. It was short and sweet . . . and
heartwarming. You said your mailbox was haileh,Ý and I just
couldn't stand THAT. So, here I am.
I got a slew of darling studio cards for the birthday and
anniversary. I may pile them into an envelope and send them on to
you for laughs. Yes, I think I'll do that!
I thought about you a lot yesterday . . . the 5th . . . wondering
if you made it up to Newport and back O.K. I hate the thought of
highways on these lousy weekends. The Festival must have been a
gasser. Daddy told me your friend's mother was trying to get you
sleeping quarters up there. I hope you succeeded. You could always
go and sleep in the basement of the country's oldest shul. Did you
know that Newport has the oldest synagogue in the USA? It's true. .
. . They built it in 1640! (I happen to know because I was
Now, about the roommate sitch. I hope to hell you have one by now
because time is getting short and I can't see a girl moving in when
the semester is half shot. We won't go into detail, but it will be
an expensive goof for you if you don't locate a buddy. Like I said,
Vic . . . $150. You are welcome.
Daddy left for New York this ayem. He is now in fine shape and I
wouldn't be surprised if he sold the factory this trip. He has had
a tough time of it and the fact that he has kept that damned turkey
afloat to the point where someone wants to buy it . . . is a
goddamn miracle. He's a genius!
Beauty Parlour Scuttlebutt:
I went to the Basil Shop last week to get de-flead and de-loused.
Ingrid they told me is no longer there . . . also . . . ditto Neil
. . . and Ruby. They quit with NO NOTICE . . . just walked out.
They had vacations coming up, and this is the scoop. Neil is
opening a shop over Bregy's . . . and in August. He took Ruby and
Ingrid with him. I just can't understand why a gal as nice and
ladylike as Ingrid would walk out on Basil with no notice. After
all, when he brought her to this country she could not speak a word
of English and she didn't know doodle-dee-boo about hairdressing.
This is gratitude? I am eagerly awaiting the chance to get the real
dope on this. There must be more to it than meets the eye.
Well, doll-face. This is it for now. Call when you can and pay
attention to your work. Keep me posted and I will do the
This is a GREAT day. Father sold the plant. I am sure you know it
by this time as he said he was going to call you.
He is a goddamn genius . . . to have been able to keep that turkey
afloat until the one guy in this whole world who would want it . .
. came along. I couldn't be happier. He didn't come out too bad
financially, either. So—do a jig in honor of your old man's
victory. I am THRILLED!
Now, about the roommate situation. SO, you got a girl to move in
with you . . . but she does not pay any rent. Right? But she does
have a car . . . and she will pay the household expenses, food etc.
Right? This means that she will be paying the expenses that you
ordinarily would have to pay. Right? You then exchange her the rent
money for the other expenditures which you will be relieved of?
Right. So—send me the $150, please. Thank you very
Bill Blair (of the McCormick Blairs) is setting me up travel
connections through his agency. When we were in the Pump Room on
our anniversary . . . (with Lou and Maryjane Kohn) he joined us and
he is very hip to Russian travel. He was there with Adlai
[Stevenson] last year. This is quite a break. Daddy keeps saying he
can't go, but I'll bet he does! [He didn't.]
Guess who joined us in the Pump that night . . . but briefly, thank
God . . . [longtime acquaintance] Baily Ozer. He is still the same
infantile bag of wind . . . reminded us once more about how you and
Mike [Baily's son] spent $36 for dinner . . . and we laughed about
it all over again. His memory is pretty good . . . he recalled the
menu . . . artichokes and so on. It was kinda funny at that. Mike
goes to school in Tucson, but didn't like it . . . so he'll go
somewhere else next term.
Write when you can . . . keep Maymo posted . . . and remember what
you are there for, kiddo.
My mother briefly mentions "that Irisher Driscoll," but he was
important in my Brandeis life. Phil Driscoll was the dean of
admissions who accepted me, and who also, I suspect, ran
interference for me. He was a dear and shy man whom I am certain I
embarrassed with an original song I wrote and had a few girlfriends
sing under his office window. The song began, "How'd you like me in
your life, Mr. Driscoll, doll? How'd you like to leave your wife,
Mr. Driscoll, doll?" Coincidentally, I hadn't known that Mother and
Popo, when they were in college, had serenaded a math
teacher with "Don't blame me . . . for failing geom-et-ry. . .
Mother most likely mentioned "the quiz stink" because Charles
Van Doren's brother, John, was my English professor, and one of my
all-time favorite teachers. A reticent man to begin with, the
scandal involving his brother and The $64,000 Question was
very hard on him and made him even more introverted.
George Abrams (S. George) was a close friend from high
[NOVEMBER 1, 1959]
SUNDAY . . . MASS FOR THE MACKAREL SNAPPERS
Just had a lonnnng conversation with you and it was good to talk to
you, although this wasn't one of our peppiest conversations, to say
the least. But like I have always said . . . life is one godam
thing after another.
It will be good to have you home for a few days. Let us know what
flight you will be on. If it's possible Daddy and I will meet you .
. . altho' this meeting is for the birds. I think you are smart to
get away a day earlier and beat the mobs. I hope you thanked the
dean of women adequately. It was VERY nice of her to write you that
note which you sent on to me. She really extended herself to give a
pat on the back to a student for doing something which is damned
well EXPECTED in most places. I was greatly impressed with her
thoughtfulness. I hope you are aware of it.
Don't be discouraged about the damned grades. Just keep plugging.
If you get two years of Brandeis under your hat this is an
achievement. After this school year is over you can go to school
anyplace this side of the moon. But like I said, Vic, you gotta
finish this year and make passing grades. Try to get some info. on
the various European schools so you won't be operating in a vacuum.
Geneva sounds good to me although I don't know much about it. I
just don't want you to waste the year dizzying around.
The important thing is to hack the assignment at hand, which is
Brandeis. Keep at it and I guarantee you the results will be there.
Also, keep your oars well exercised in the social waters. When you
do well in the social wars, your school work does better,
Keep writing and I will do the same. I will put the $125 for travel
in the bank today so your balance won't suffer.
I was surprised to hear that Lynn Guthman is going to the U. of C.
She must be living on campus. Do you hear from Freya or Ina? Has S.
George written to you? It's good to keep the contacts up so when
you come home you have not lost the thread of friendships.
Did you know I was speaking in Washington for the Brandeis chapter?
This will be in April, toward the end of the month. If you want me
to come to see you on campus this winter I will. It's up to you.
I'd like you to introduce me to some of your faculty members. I'd
love to meet that Irisher Driscoll.
What do the kids think of the quiz stink? Please let me know what
the opinions on campus are on this subject. I am interested.
Enough for now . . . be a good Ellyasita and writer to your father
[THE DAVENPORT WESTERN HOTEL
THE HOTEL WITH THE ROOF-TOP POOL
Dear Neglected Daughter:
Your poem arrived, also the other letter in which you weep buckets
because you ain't had no letters from your roaming ma.
Well . . . I have been no rose, but we have done so much yakking on
the phone of late I rather thought it covered everything. But this
IS a lame excuse . . . and I should not have even mentioned it.
Just try to understand that I have been on a real merry-go-round
all October and I am not thru yet. Things have been so close
time-wise that I actually had to mail Larry two days' copy from Des
Moines. I didn't finish the week by the time I left on this trip,
so I left Sunday through Thursday on his desk Saturday as I ran for
the airport . . . and I had to mail him the remainder.
Des Moines is a gasser. I had a ball. We had over 900 people there
. . . more than came to hear Mrs. Roosevelt last year, which was
amazing. The Des Moines paper did a wonderful job of promoting it,
however. They gave me every break. After all, I am their property,
why not? So, it worked out very well and the dinner party was
great, too. Art [Sanford] invited the Governor and his wife. He is
a living monument to the theory that ANYBODY can get elected if he
has a weak enough opponent. What a jerk. When the newspaper editor
asked him questions about politics he looked to ME for support! The
guy must be living in a closet. His wife is lovely, however, no
brain hemorrhage, but a sweet person who helps him a lot. His name
is Herschel Loveless, the gov. that is.
The suite I am now living it up in is really gorgeous. It is one of
the plushest I've seen anywhere. They met me at the airport and I
am getting the really red rug. tra la la. This is part of the
reward for working like a damned dog. You know, it's like that old
song "Love and Marriage . . ." . . . It goes "You can't have one
without the o . . . . . thuuuuur!" If you want the benefits . . .
you gotta put out the work. And that goes for everything in
Chew on THAT one for a while.
I love you and your letters have been wonderful. Keep it up and
keep me posted.
Kup (Irv Kupcinet) was Mother's longtime friend and colleague at
the Sun-Times. For years he wrote the premier gossip column
in Chicago. His daughter, Cookie (Karyn), was in our
best-friends-group in high school. A starlet, she was murdered in
Hollywood when we were all twenty-three.
This is Mother . . . reporting from Detroit. You aren't the only
one who has a smith-corona portable. I have one in my room,
compliments of the Michigan Medical Society.
I had a ball in Toronto . . . it was great fun, and tonight I speak
to the croakers and their wives. Tomorrow I am off to Battle Creek
. . . and then home.
I had a very interesting time with Margaret Truman Daniel . . . She
spent the day with me and we talked politics for three solid hours.
Then I took her to the Sun-Times and they fell on her in large
numbers . . . including Kup. The word got out that we were in
Fanning's office and the avalanche descended. She is such a
pleasant person and it was an enjoyable day.
Then on Saturday night Father was in Puerto Rico so Margaret knew
this and phoned to ask me if I would like to come out to the
theatre and see her in the play . . . and also, HER husband was in
town for the night, and since she had to go to the theatre very
early . . . how would I like to have dinner with him and come out
later? So . . . this we did . . . and it was really most enjoyable.
I knew Cliff before I knew Margaret you know. He took me to the
Cape Cod room (my suggestion) . . . as I didn't want to go into the
Pump room with a strange man, especially Harry Truman's son-in-law.
So . . . then I hired a car from the Ambassador to pick us up at 8
and drive us to Drury Lane. It was too long a hall [sic] for
me to drive . . . and I decided to let the moths out of the change
purse and spend the dough. It was well worth it.
Well, the play was simply terrible and Margaret may be a wonderful
girl but she's no actress. It was rather embarrassing in fact. SHE
SANG, too, yet. Murder. After the play the three of us and
Margaret's leading man, George Vesico, went to the Bonepart room
for something to eat.
All in all, a most pleasant evening, but I sure wish she would get
off the stage. I am going to be interviewed and photographed in a
few minutes . . . and I have to call up my relatives and look over
my speech . . . so . . . be a good girl and write when you have
time, and so will I. Your letters are a real joy to us, and we
appreciate hearing from you.
FRIDAY . . . BENSHT LICHT AND MAKE A BROCHEH!*
Well . . . the five-page gasser from the Fountainbleau arrived
today. In fact . . . I yanked my column out of this typewriter so
that I could make with the very prompt reply. I am plenty happy you
are coming home next week. YOU NEED HELP! My stars (and garters) .
. . after the phone conversation reporting on Mr. S's behavior [a
problematic beau] . . . you are finding him delightful!!! All I can
say is c'mon home before they put you in restraining irons and call
the cops. Your feeble explanation is that there's nothing better
around. I want to ask you just one question. IS THERE ANYTHING
WORSE? Please collect your money from the guy and make a resolution
not to float any more loans.
You were right . . . I said he was BRIGHT . . . and he is . . . in
fact, he is one of the brightest yet. But I didn't say he was sane.
He is attractive, too . . . one of the most, but what difference
does that make, really? All right, now . . . enough on this subject
until you get home. If you want to continue here on the pink
bedspreads I am willing. After all, what's a mother for?
Daddy reported on the Florida trip via phone (he'll be home tonight
. . . in fact this afternoon) . . . and he said you were a joy and
a pleasure. He filled me in on the details and I think it was good
that you made the trip . . . if only for this one reason. You made
him feel awfully good. He was thrilled with the way you conducted
yourself . . . your kindness and friendliness to people and your
attitude toward him. This is good good good.
Daddy's business ventures are flowering and blooming. He is feeling
very good about miny miny things.
Willie [her houskeeper] is fine . . . got new uniforms in
anticipation of your arrival home. She thought it was TODAY. I told
her it is NEXT FRIDAY. She said "Oh, a whole week yet? Remember to
get the flowers for her room."
Enough for now . . . more later. Write and bring home clothes that
need shortening or altering as we have Rose Kaplan coming.
The "Stolars" are Frances and Bob Stolar. Bob Stolar was the
Washington physician who was known as my mother's "Svengali"; it
was he who guided and encouraged her to forge an identity separate
from her twinship. He acted informally as family shrink to Father
and me, as well. Though not a board-certified psychiatrist—he
was a dermatologist—he had become well versed in psychiatric
issues because so many skin problems were of psychosomatic origin.
(Not that we had rashes . . . just plain old everyday
"The Wall Street romeo" is still the Oklahoma chap. Mother
saying, "You learn by doing as they say in Parker" refers to the
motto of Francis W. Parker, my small, somewhat eccentric, private
high school. Over the front door of the original building was the
dictum "We learn by doing."
"Trez" (or "Trezl") was Dick Trezevant.
[DECEMBER 8, 1959]
This is the first minute I have had to sit down and write anything
that may vaguely resemble a letter. The Stolars were house-guests .
. . Frances left but Bob is still here. The YPO [Young Presidents
Organization] formal Saturday . . . trying to keep up with the
office and writing work . . . making plans to go to Omaha and
Lincoln (where I speak at the U of Nebraska) . . . fittings (new
suit . . .) . . . and multiple things banging me on the head at one
time. On top of all this, Hubert is coming . . . he asked me to set
up a news conference with him at the paper Friday at 3:00 . . . I
have done it. I hope Marshall [Marshall Field IV, owner of the
Sun-Times] appears as is hoped. Then a dinner for Hubert at
Elmhurst school . . . a rally. I know it will be fun if for no
other reason than Hubert is on hand to whoop it up. Maybe we can
steal him after the dinner and take off our shoes at the apartment.
The only trouble is, that guy doesn't know what it is to go to bed,
and with him morning comes very fast. Then . . . Blatnik
[congressman from Minnesota] will be in Friday for lunch. This is a
ritual. He always drives back to Washington from Duluth . . . and
stops to spend a couple hours with us. Soo-oooo. . . .
The YPO formal was scrumptious. . . . Eighty thousand dollars worth
of gowns. Many people asked about you. It was a Las Vegas night
set-up . . . phony money and gambling tables. Every one got a
thousand bucks in Confederate money and the 15 people who had the
most $$ at the strike of midnight got prizes. I went broke on the
fourth roll of the dice (my money and pa's, too) . . . (he was busy
refereeing a new war between Lu and Arnie Meyer) . . . so I had a
few dollars left which I gave to John Patton who went tap even
before I did . . . and then I visited around with a few people and
had a nice time.
I am eager to know: Are you rounding up anything in the way of
support of Hubert.
The last phone conversation with you was excellent. . . . It is
very GOOD that you are able to be honest about your feelings
regarding the Wall Street romeo . . . and that you do not feel
compelled to cover up your doubts and disappointments is indeed a
sign of maturity. HOORAY FOR YOU! You know I am not enthusiastic
about this guy but yet you know, too, that I want YOU to make these
decisions based on your feelings and your findings. This is the
only way you will feel right about it. So—you learn by doing
as they say in Parker. I just don't want you to get too many lumps
in the same place.
Your white kid gloves came back from Bregy as good as new. So
please stay out of Lederers of Paris and leave my credit alone.
Thank you, Sylvia Porter [a well-known financial columnist].
The weather is gorgeous. Bob [Stolar] and I have been doing a very
generous amount of talking. In other words I am getting my
psychological valves ground and my mental crank case drained. It is
WONDERFUL to have someone to evaluate and guide and help. He is,
indeed, a very old angel.
So, doll, this is it for now.
Do you want to have some fun when you are in N.Y.? Call University
42700. This is the Crown King hotel in N.Y. Trez is there for a two
week course in advanced journalism. . . . It is a national editor's
school put on by Columbia U. Call for Mr. J. Trezevant and say
"TREZEVOONTI. . . . have you got an ear?" He will die dead as a
doornail as this is MY greeting! Just say hello and ask him how
he's doing in jail there. These editors cannot get out of the
joint. They are under campus regulations and can't leave unless
they go awol!
O.K. Doll, more later . . . when I can, for now this is it,
Mother's high dudgeon at "Mr. Capp" referred to a plane I was on
(Boston to New York), where Al Capp—the creator of the comic
strip "Li'l Abner"—not only tried to pick me up, but he
invited the man in the seat next to me to sit somewhere else so he
could try. I knew him by sight, and when I saw the way the
conversation was going, I told him he knew my parents. He didn't
Her mentioning the "smokey tones" was part of an ongoing
discussion we had for decades. Well, actually a discussion
she had. Mother was heavily invested in my hair from the time I was
a little girl with ringlets. I remember her once saying to me,
"Your looks are in your hair." And blond was the color she
preferred for me . . . the color I was, in fact, for quite a bit of
my life. The last couple of years she was alive, however, I was a
redhead, and this is no joke: during the next to last visit we had
together she asked me, "When are you going back to being a
[JANUARY 19, 1960]
The typewriter man just left . . . new ribbon . . . I'm cuttin'
like a diamond . . . as Trez would say.
You woke me up this morning. But after all . . . what's a mother
The child is sounding better better better . . . all the time. I
know the real reason you called was because you were worried about
the plane wreck in Virginia. Those damned accidents do unstring a
person, but it's always been that way and it won't ever be any
different. You just can't go around living in fear. When you
consider how many thousands of planes take off every day from
hundreds of airports, it's a wonder there aren't a lot more
accidents. In 10 years there will be virtually no train travel . .
. it will all be by air. So . . . we live every day at a time, the
law of averages is on our side, and remember that more people get
killed at home, falling off ladders, chairs, slipping in bathtubs,
catching fire from Christmas trees and falling asleep with
cigarettes than in plane wrecks. The moral of that story
About Mr. Capp: All I can say is . . . the nerve of him. Just take
his phone number and feed it to the nearest goat. You know what I
think of the lecherous old bastard . . . I see he believes in
working every generation. There will be others just like
him—so don't be surprised. Life is just filled with little
surprises—and big jerks.
Norma [an assistant] is making reservations for me. I plan to be in
Boston on Sunday, February 7th. . . . You and I will stay at
Somerset and Monday I'll attend classes with you. I want to meet
[Stanley] Kaufmann if possible and that lady dean of girls . . .
and of course see Goldie and Judy and Emily [my roommates]. Don't
put the B on anyone to meet me at the airport. You can be there in
a taxi . . . or I can meet you at the hotel. Please . . . get a
reservation for a nice double room for the two of us . . . twin
beds. We don't need a suite, unless you plan on having someone over
. . . or if someone is with you at the airport we would need a
sitting room. You noodle it out. Are you interested in seeing Hal
Berman [Harvard Law School professor]? If so, let me know. I almost
forgot about him. I do think he would be a good one for you to
About the shreck department: This is the occupational disease of a
student. All kids everywhere (except maybe Miss Finch's or Pine
Manor) are shrecked at exam time. The key of course is to work
moderately hard all through the year instead of trying to do a
semester's work in one week. So-oo-oo . . . you do the best you can
and forget it.
I am not heartbroken that you are not a top student. I believe you
are getting more out of school even on a half-assed basis, you
should excuse the crudity, than you suspect. The Brandeis
experience has been wonderful. I am thrilled you went there and in
the years to come you will appreciate what it has really done for
you. I do feel you could have gotten more out of it if you had been
able to harness yourself a bit better. But there's no sense in
beating on a dead horse. I do hope that something, somewhere, will
kindle a spark in you and that you will take your next semester
more seriously and prove to yourself (not me . . . I KNOW what you
can do) that you have got something on the ball. This would be a
great achievement as well as a real victory.
But it's the total product that I am interested in and in this
regard I am very happy with Margo. I have seen too many educated
damned fools, maladjusted odd balls, book-smart egocentric pains in
the neck . . . and so have you. The important thing is the total
package . . . and this I like. It's HOW you fit into life with the
people around you that counts. You have proven that you can and are
developing meaningful, honest relationships with people . . .
particularly you have done well with the girls. This is more of a
victory than you know. For years this was an impossibility. You
were so self-centered that you simply couldn't manage a decent
relationship with girls. Now you have many friends forever. Your
relationships with boys are getting better all the time. You are
making better selections by far . . . controlling the situations
much better, and dealing with the male animal on YOUR TERMS. I have
no fears or doubts in this department. You are over the hill. You
know what to look for and you no longer have a fear that you have
to make any definite decisions. You have finally realized that this
world is full of people who are worthwhile and that you haven't met
I hope you will keep all doors open, not waste time on foolishness,
explore, learn, investigate, and give yourself every opportunity to
make new friends and keep the ones that are worth keeping.
It will be wonderful to see you again. I hope you've given up on
the smokey tones and are a golden-headed doll once more. Write to
me when you can and if you can't can . . . buy frozen foods.
The "skip the gym/wart on the foot" business, like my blond
hair, was also an ongoing story with us. Mother was totally
nonathletic, and so am I. It appears that in those days one could
opt out of physical activity, which was part of the
curriculum—even in college—with an excuse from home. I
know we did this, to some degree, in high school, but it surprises
me now that such was possible in college.
[JANUARY 29, 1960]
You are getting so goddamn wonderful I can hardly stand it. The
letters have been deeeevine. And now this one which says if you
have to come through with the $50 for Hubert, out of the allowance,
you will do it. I am so proud of you I am busting my buttons. There
is this business of talking big . . . and doing nothing, which many
people do. But it looks like you are a kid who comes through, and
is willing to put her money where her mouth is. I want to be kept
posted on this . . . and also tell me if you meet any interesting
kids through the politics. The current Time piece shouldn't hurt
our boy at all.
I am sending stamps. The astringent you will have when I get there
if I don't send it with Daddy in advance. And . . . if you make
Dean's list (full course load, of course) you can have a
. . .
Now about HISTORY . . . I IMPLORE you to please stick to it. Don't
tell me it's too late. The money is already paid for a full course.
In fact, you can skip the gym if you'll take the history. I'll go
that far . . . even support the wart on the foot . . . if you will
please stick to the history and get the full year's credit.
It is shocking the difference in the tone of your letters as well
as your voice, when you are working hard at your school work. You
are a different person. The feeling of achievement, which can come
only from putting out the energy, is marvelous for you. I urge you
to stick to this ship, kiddo. You will be glad you did, and I will
consider it a personal victory.
All is well . . . Daddy leaves Sunday. . . . I will let you know
from N.Y. when to expect me. I don't know what the flights are but
I'll grab something that will get me into Boston about 5 on Sunday.
Gotta run. . . . Be a good pussy-cat and write to me and keep
My mother regretted not seeing the musical I was in at Brandeis
and she talked about it for years. It was more of a problem for her
than for me. She felt she had let me down . . . and also perhaps
wondered why Eliot Norton, the legendary drama critic at The
Boston Globe, had called me a "mercurial talent."
It was so good to talk to you today . . . both Daddy and I agreed
that you are sounding better than ever. We are happy that your
musical comedy is coming along so well that you want us to be
there. I just wish we could make it . . . but at the minute, it
looks pretty doubtful. We have both been away from home for almost
two weeks. Daddy has to go out again in a week for another TWO
weeks. As you know, he is trying to put the distribution system in
shape before he leaves the company [Autopoint]. This is no small
job. So . . . a hop to Boston is not in the cards.
The last conversation from the road wasn't a very good one . . .
and I'm glad you recognized it. Now—about the weeds. It means
a whole series of things besides just puffing away. When you are
able to REALLY quit, it will mean a lot more than just cutting down
your chances for lung cancer 900 to 1 . . . (this is the average).
It will mean that you are the master of your ship and the captain
of your soul—to borrow a phrase. And more than that . . . it
will mean that your attitude toward me is a much more mature one.
The weeds have been a symbol of your hostility. You have smoked
through the years knowing that I didn't want you to do it. It has
been in effect, an act of defiance and rebellion. Now . . . this is
all right—if you need it, and as you know I can tolerate a
helluva lot. I always felt that there would come a day when you
would not need to hit me with this brick . . . and apparently the
day is here! So—hallelujah . . . praise be the Lord! This is
a major victory for you and for me, too, in a way, because when you
do better, then it means that I have done better. It's a bloody
battle . . . becoming a whole person . . . and I see wonderful
evidences that you are making the grade. And NOTHING in this world
gives me the satisfaction and pleasure of seeing you win over your
weaker self. I want you to have GUTS . . . to be in command . . .
to be in control. You can never win the major battles if you can't
handle the minor skirmishes—and winning you are! I see it in
many areas. You are thinking better. Your selection of friends is
better. Your school work is doing better. Your attitude toward
Daddy and me is better. You are able, now, to think in terms of the
big picture . . . the long haul. The notion of staying in school
for four years does not terrify you . . . as once it did. You may
not do it . . . true . . . but at least the thought of facing the
challenge doesn't turn your knees to water.
I am really pleased with you and what you are becoming . . . and
more important . . . I am thrilled with what you CAN be.
[APRIL 4, 1960]
MONDAY . . .
When I heard your little whimpering voice on the phone I had to
laugh. . . . You are so much like me in the shteeklock* department
that it is frightening.
The Justice arrived [student newspaper] and I saw your letter. IT
WAS GREAT. YOU CAN WRITE. I WILL BE HAPPY TO POINT OUT A COUPLE
LITTLE AREAS IN WHICH IT COULD HAVE BEEN A SHADE BETTER—(a
word or two deleted) . . . but let me tell you, Girl . . . I think
you've got it. By Jove, she's got it!
Today is Monday . . . only a few more days and tra la la . . . la.
. . . Call me from the airport!
[APRIL 29, 1960]
What the hell did you do in the beauty shop for $31.59? You are too
young to have had your face lifted but I just can't figure out what
you charged dorton.* Now, please do not send me a check for this
because it is paid and it is not your fault if your mother is
crazy. All I can say is, I hope you instill in your daughter a more
solid appreciation for a buck than I did in mine.
Lots of luck,
The trip and the small towns Mother mentions refer to her
speaking engagements. She did a great deal of platform speaking as
the Ann Landers column became widely syndicated. I remember being
on airplanes with her, when I was in my thirties and forties, and
hearing many of the flight attendants say to her, "You spoke at my
[MAY 14, 1960]
It was wonderful talking with you last night. You are doing BETTER
BETTER BETTER. Back to Brandeis with you, child. The total product
is beginning to shine through!
The enclosed letter is from M. [an old friend] . . . well . . .
judge for yourself. This is a bit of a lesson. I misjudged them
both, which I realize now. This was a bit of a shock because I
always felt I was pretty shrewd about people . . . but even the old
master can get taken in, which I assure you, I was. I should have
had the ticket when I heard they were here for a weekend and didn't
call. Notice in this letter, she starts Popo dear, and then she
goes on to say Eppie dear. Well . . . if she can't even keep the
names straight I feel sorry for her. As if this letter wasn't
enough, Daddy called them about a week after the big party took
place. He talked to [the husband] on the phone. . . . (Daddy, big
shmo always called them . . . on every trip, but he won't again. .
. .) Well . . . anyway, [he] never even mentioned the telegram.
Here I slaved on the damned thing, phoned him long distance to get
the facts and figures so that it could be accurate . . . and now I
wonder if they bothered to read it at the party at all. I'll bet my
life they did not! You know, the most valuable thing I have is
time, and when I took that much time to compose the wire, and it
WAS good . . . it just burns me up that I was such a big yokel. I
feel like a hick at a county fair—with egg on my face.
Enough of that. All is well. It is good to be home. Father took me
to Jacques for dinner last night. We just sort of celebrated. My
trip was a lulu . . . but then they always are good—it is
just a matter of degree. The small towns are great. Everybody turns
out, rain or shine, and we had RAIN all over, and plenty of it. But
they came in herds anyway, which is always a good feeling.
. . .
Love . . . and write, you beast!
MAY 31, 1960
You called last night, and I decided to write a few lines about
your letter rather than wait until you got home. We can still talk
about it in person, natch, but I just read it for the second time
and think that while the thoughts are fresh in my mind I will try
to translate them to paper.
First—the letter was extremely well written, from a literary
point of view. You expressed yourself well, and the composition was
surprisingly good. You are really learning how to write—and
this is wonderful.
Some of your letter made good sense . . . particularly the part
which started "I didn't raise myself." Yes . . . I accept the blame
(or the congratulations) and whatever criticism you may have to
offer. However, this reasoning can be extended to any area of
failure, by any person who doesn't want to accept responsibility
for his own actions. So, I don't think your argument is completely
valid, but I liked the way you put it.
As for David . . . well, let's skip him for the time being. I think
your description is an interesting one because you talk about
things that matter. You didn't say whether or not he was short or
tall . . . whether he had more than one suit, or if the girls think
he is darling. He certainly sounds solid—and this means you
are making better selections. Mazel tov. I remember meeting his
brother in Mr. Emanual's [Frank Manuel's] class. I think he sat
near me and opened and closed the window a couple dozen
It's too bad that I can't show Daddy your letter because it is a
good one, but that bit about [S.] rules out the possibility.
And speaking of Daddy brings me to an important point. We both know
how you've got him shnoggered, so no need to go into detail. It's a
damned shame but there is nothing I can do about it. Because of his
insecurities, he feels that he must cave in every time you want
something. I have failed completely to make him understand what
sort of a position this puts him in. All I can say is, you should
be thankful that you can't maneuver me as you do him. Your girl
friend who is now at Menningers would surely have a roommate.
And now about the earning. We are having a problem with semantics.
Earning does not mean the same thing to both of us. I shall define
my terms. When I say I want you to EARN the freedom that you want .
. . (you can call it a trip to Europe if you want to but a poor
example since you've been there—) I don't mean I expect you
to behave yourself or make all A's. I mean by earning . . . I want
you to show me that you are capable of mature judgments and that
you have harnessed your unbelievable potentialities so that you can
achieve something. THIS is what I call earning.
In this you ARE doing better. Much better. I think this is your
best school year yet, from a standpoint of being able to discipline
yourself and get something real out of your studies. Also, I think
your male selections are getting progressively better—much
You will reach a notable level of maturity when you can accept
total responsibility for your school work, and not put the blame on
a teacher. One day this will come.
You are correct when you say Daddy can afford to buy you anything
you want. I'm glad you don't want a Rolls-Royce, because I think
Daddy would probably see that you got it. And I agree with you when
you say "the determining factor should be the ability to pay for it
and the need." It's the last word that is the clue. NEED. I do not
feel that you need a car. It would only serve to distract you . . .
and maybe make life easier for a fellow who didn't have one.
As for your declaration of independence, I don't think you had to
declare it, since you have been more independent than you know, for
a lot longer than you think. What irks you is the feeling that you
are not completely independent—you want complete freedom to
do as you please. This I can't give you. Freedom to a point . . .
yes, but carte blanche to come, go, do, have, . . . no. I am still
your mother and it is MY responsibility to see that nothing spoils
my masterpiece. Not even you.
P.S. The roses will be waiting.
The late Tom Ross was a Sun-Times Washington
correspondent. Mother was obviously on a husband-hunt on my behalf.
She also cared very much that any future husband be Jewish. Her
personal and professional opinion was that marriage was tough
enough without introducing religious differences. But she was to
change her mind about this some years down the line. It is
interesting that two developments in my life caused her to rethink
the issues of divorce and intermarriage. Knowing the situation
intimately, Mother concurred that my first marriage should end, and
being so fond of my third husband—who was Christian—she
reversed her view on that subject.
In the summer of 1960 I was an intern in Hubert Humphrey's
Senate office when he ran against John F. Kennedy for the
presidential nomination. In those days, interns were unlikely to
rendezvous with their bosses; what we did mostly was fetch
doughnuts for midmorning coffee. In fact, I remember riding in the
senators' elevator on two occasions with John Kennedy. He never
looked at me twice, let alone tried to strike up a conversation.
When his amorous habits became well known years later, I was deeply
embarrassed that my twenty-year-old blond, svelte self had not
interested him at all. All I could think was, "What's wrong
Your letter was a gasser . . . and I loved every minute of it.
Write to me at home from now on. I leave here on Friday. Daddy gets
I met a friend of yours from Harvard. His name is Howard Miller. A
doll. He said he had asked you for a date . . . and you were booked
up for six months. What's the matter . . . are you a nut or
something? I told him to TRY again. He said he would.
I met Tom Ross. He is a honey . . . but he is CATHOLIC. However, I
gave him permission to call you, and he said he would . . . just
for coffee . . . but he knows lots of swell fellows who are bright
and Jewish and he told me he would FIND YOU A HUSBAND FOR SURE. A
Herald Trib guy from N.Y. is his dearest friend and he said this
guy would be the one for you. So . . . it's a connection.
I have seen Hubert and Muriel . . . and have spent quite a lot of
time with him in fact . . . and he is in great spirits. Also, he is
delighted that you are in his office. I hope you are doing
I must run now, doll . . . I will write more when I can.
For now . . . love and kisses . . . and enjoy . . .
Newton Froelich was a young Washington lawyer to whom I became
unofficially engaged during the summer I worked for Hubert. Newton
was a serious and scholarly young man, the kind of beau to please
one's parents . . . certainly the kind of beau to please my
parents. We found ourselves in interesting situations that summer,
including one when he represented a nightclub owner at whose club
Sammy Davis Jr. was going to perform. On opening night, white
supremacist picketers were outside making a terrible racket and a
scene. In response, Sammy Davis performed for one hour and
forty-five minutes in which he sang, danced, played instruments,
and worked his heart out. It was a superb, amazing, and moving
performance. The second odd footnote to history with Froelich was
that he was a friend of John Chambers, Whittaker Chambers's son. At
a party one night, where we all were, someone introduced me to Tony
Hiss—the son of Alger Hiss. I asked if he'd ever met John
Chambers. He said no. I introduced them.
"Bob" is Bob Stolar, the aforementioned family
JULY 27, 1960
First . . . your letter in which you have told me that Newt is "the
I couldn't be happier.
Daddy gave me a full report when he got home from Washington. When
he said, "That kid has a smart eye on him" I knew that was it.
Those were the words A.B. used when I introduced him to
Bob's reports have been excellent. He used all the meaningful
words—potential, bright, mature, well balanced. The only
thing that troubled me in the beginning was the pace. It seemed too
fast. Too much . . . and, I still feel the tempo could and should
be cut down for the sake of the relationship. It would be much
better for you and for Newt if you could give each other one or two
breathers a week. . . . Night and Day is a beautiful song. But, I
don't think it's the best way to court.
About the Man: I am eager to meet him, but that must wait. I have a
fairly good idea of what he's like. In fact, I think I could pick
him out of a room of 100! The thing I like best about him is that
he brings out the best in you. I have always known your potential,
although I'm sure you still are unaware of "the tiger in your tank"
to get a bit commercial.
I feel, too, that you can do many important things for him. Just
loving him would be enough, but being my daughter, you know how to
give beyond the call of duty. Strangely enough, however, in your
romantic relationships you have never actually done it! You've
never gone with a fellow that brought out your true potential for
giving . . . or loving. You were always the one who was loved. You
were the adored . . . the one who did the taking. Now at last, I
think you can be both adored and the adoring one. And THIS is a
marvelous combination. If I could have just one . . . I would
rather love than be loved. For loving is giving, and the one who
loves becomes whole, fulfilled, and complete. Being loved is
someone else's history. I think you have found the one who cast you
in the dual role of the loved one and the loving one. How
And how do I know? Because, you told me on the phone, "He doesn't
have any dough, but he has lots of potential and I am willing to
work. I know there is nothing we can't do together."
What a glorious time you'll have. There is no fun that can match
working together, facing a challenge, doing without a few things,
counting nickels. You'll have an appreciation for things you used
to take for granted. It will be exciting and it will add a new
dimension to your character and it will give you a better
understanding of what life is all about.
What makes me happiest is that you, in your final selection, have
looked for the right things—the real values. You made the
decision knowing that he didn't have any money. You haven't met the
family . . . and you said right off he wouldn't win any beauty
contests. So . . . what is left? Just the most meaningful
My most important job is almost finished. And I can say with a
feeling of real satisfaction and pride, I have done it well.
"Ka-Noot" was Mother's nickname for Newt Froelich.
Referring to John F. Kennedy as "the punk" was a function of her
friendship with, and loyalty to, Hubert. She would later become a
supporter of JFK, as well as Ted and some of the other
Steve Reiner was a pal at Brandeis.
[SEPTEMBER 14, 1960]
You are a chiseling beast . . . but here are the stamps. More
later—IF YOU WRITE HOME . . . and not use them all on
And speaking of Ka-Noot . . . he wrote Larry [her editor] a loverly
letter which shows he has some couth and knows how to do things.
SO—this you will not have to teach him. In fact, maybe he
will have to teach YOU. Have you written to the Stolars to thank
them for the last hospitality?
I hope you got that big fat envelope that I referred to on the
phone. By the by, we saw (the morning after your call) that Boston
was hit by the hurricane. I am surprised the Kennedys would allow
it. Incidentally, it looks like Nixon might beat the punk.
Last night was my Guild Hall speech and I done good. Marsh
[Marshall Field V, the son of her publisher] was my dinner partner
and it was very pleasant. He is a lot brighter than most people
give him credit for. We did have a relaxed and interesting evening,
although the broad on his right tried to get his ear on many
occasions . . . but failed.
Who is Steve Reiner? Besides transportation, that is. And . . . did
the dress come?
I'm enclosing a letter which may swell up your head, but I think it
will serve a useful purpose in illustrating something that I have
been trying to get across to you. You have a basic insecurity on
how you are going over with people . . . and you must GET OVER IT.
Just because they don't fall dead at your feet does not mean that
you are a flop. You must conduct yourself well . . . and then be
satisfied that the results will be good. I hope this teaches you
something. It took me 40 years to learn it.
Topsin bought three gorgeous suits and wore one of them this
morning. He looked like a fashion plate. I told him that if he
loses five pounds he can forget about acquisitions and mergers . .
. and just be a fashion model for menswear.
He went to Eau Claire yesterday to see Hale Publishing company (the
hale he did!) . . . and it is progressing NICELY. Then he went over
to Presto [his earlier company] to say hello, and said he got a
great big hello from one and all. He said he was awfully glad he
went. So am I. I always like to leave a "good feeling" behind. The
Autopoint Co. is having two lunches for him . . . today and
tomorrow. The gift for his farewell . . . LUGGAGE!! Hooray.
Love . . . write when you can and so will I.
Mother's carrying on about math reminds me that she and I had
many of the same strengths and deficiencies. Neither one of us
could deal with numbers, or spell. (We couldn't read a map, either.
We both thought north was up.)
SEPTEMBER 17, 1960
. . .
Now, Doll . . . about the school . . . math, etc. As they used to
say in Sioux City . . . "Feed it to Sweeny." Just get to work and
hack that math course and don't tell me the math teacher told you
it was too tough for you and you'll never make it. You probably
took one look at the book and decided . . . "What the hell . . .
why should I knock myself out . . . ? I'm not going to graduate
I am telling you that you are being unfair not only to Topsin and
me . . . but to yourself, when you goof off. It may well be that
you will decide after you get to Washington permanently that you
want to get your degree. It will be one hellova lot easier to get
the math credit at Brandeis . . . so please don't be so
short-sighted as to think it doesn't matter. . . . With a LITTLE
bit of effort you can make at least a D . . . and maybe a C. So,
get with it, Kid, and see what you can do.
. . .
Bick [Irwin Bickson, business friend of Father's] congratulated me
on your engagement today. I told him if you got engaged he'd be
among the first to know. He said Arnold Root [friend of mine] told
him. I told him, so far as I knew you were not engaged. Now, look,
until you get your ring you are not engaged so please, kid, let's
keep this thing in hand. I don't want this leaking all over the
country in advance of the announcement. So, please keep your trap
shut until we have something for your left hand . . . and I don't
mean a wart.
Daddy bought three gorgeous suits and a magnificent cream-colored
camel's hair coat. (yeah . . . from a real camel . . .) He looks
I got myself a few choice rags, too . . . you shouldn't be ashamed
of us when we get to Washington to meet the mahoots.*
SUNDAY . . . (MASS)
Just got home this morning from Akron and Canton, where, I, of
course killed all the people.
I read your letter complaining of the "three liners" [short
letters] . . . and I suppose I should take five lashes with a wet
noodle for neglecting my dotter.Ý But honestly, I think I have
been very good through this whole ugly mess.
I have been traveling. In fact I have more miles than the average
United pilot this month. So have mercy. I don't go anywhere until
Nov 5th, and then it is only Milwaukee for a day. Then Michigan for
two days . . . then St. Louis . . . and Florida on November 16th .
. . for two days. I will be in Eden Roc and living it up to the
hilt. But it is the Southern Publisher's Convention and will be
great fun for me.
Father is in Puerto Rico at the moment, and expected home today. He
is fine and bizznizz is good.
NOW . . . are you deaf er something? Why don't you answer my
questions! Did you go to the Smiths' for dinner? Who called for
you? How was it? Please, kid, pay attention when mother
. . .
You mentioned the dean's list. If you should crack this I would
probably be forced to give you a Jaguar out of sheer pride. It is
almost too much to hope for that you would do so well academically
at such a stiff school. Do your best of course. We will settle for
I have a column to write and two more speeches to go over in the
next couple of days . . . so this is a long letter. In fact . . .
34 lines . . . so there. Can't wait til Thanksgiving . . . I am
LONESOME. . . . LOVE,
However embarrassing, "tamps" (for stamps) and the "toidy paper
voice" have to do with the baby talk we sometimes used. The latter
began when one or the other of us would run out of toilet paper
(for which she was famous in another context: should it be hung
over or under?); the one in need would call out, "Toidy paper!"
This silliness actually went on for as long as I lived at
OCTOBER 3, 1960
I loved talking to you last night . . . and I did promise a long
letter today. Well . . . I am waiting for a call to come in from
Will's [Munnecke] office . . . so I don't know how long this will
be. I'll type until the jingle . . . however. Can't guarantee
anything. It could come at any moment.
Will is now on the fourth floor again . . . hooray . . . with HIS
people. He is general manager of both papers, which means he's in
up to his hocks. I LIKE this as he is also automatically head of
the syndicate. Russ Stewart had this job for the past five years,
and all the good he did ME, you could put in your left eye and
still see pretty good. I asked him for three things, and he laid
three large goose eggs. Now that Uncle Willie is at the helm,
things will go easier. Altho' I used to go right over Russ' head
and run to Will anyway.
I am enclosing the "tamps" which were requested in your "toidy
paper voice." Now—let's see you use 'em . . . on US, I mean.
This is sort of a token of love . . . half and half. Part of them
came from Daddy's office, and part from mine. What are you doing
with your allowance . . . buying a building?
My Omaha trip was fine. I told you most everything on the phone and
it's a good thing, because I just got a call from Will . . . so I
am runnnnnning. Be good, and write and keep up the good work. I
think you are doing beautifully in all areas.
The story that Mother liked so much about Erich Fromm—the
then-elderly humanist, psychoanalyst, peacenik, and book
writer—was my report of something that happened after a rally
for "Saint Nuclear" and his policy. (I was taken there, of course,
by the rabble-rousing Mr. Peretz.) Fromm was the speaker, and
afterward there was a party. We were talking in a corner, he and I,
and he asked where I went to school. When I told him Brandeis, he
said he had been a visiting professor there in 1935. "But the
school wasn't founded until 1948," I told him. With a twinkle and a
smile he said, in his wonderful accent, "Vell, den, I am lyink to
OCTOBER 7, 1960
Well . . . you've really got the whip-hand over me now. You have
been just wonderful about writing, and I have been terrible. Two
letters from you yesterday . . . and one the day before.
Me—well . . . I have sent you a magazine, a crummy clipping
and a few lame excuses for mother love. One thing you must admit .
. . I am very secure to think that I could ignore you so completely
for two weeks and not fear for violent outbursts of hostility.
Nu—so I am a secure mother—and I hope you are the same.
(Not for a while, tho', please.)
Things are humming right along. I have been a real loafer for the
past two days . . . I mean like no work, just entertaining myself
like ca-razy. This was the program: I got a phone call from Father
Paul . . . you remember that living doll of a priest from Eau
Claire. . . . Well, he is a Monsignor now in La Crosse. He wanted
to know if I could spare a minute . . . so I said . . . "Come right
over." I have not seen this Catholic Rock Hudson in three years and
I must say time has done him no dirt. He is still plenty beautiful.
So . . . he hopped in a taxi and arrived in time for lunch. I had
Willie run to Stop and Shop and get corned beef . . . etc. At 1:30
I get a call from Trez . . . Pierre Salinger (Kennedy's campaign
manager) is in town with Kennedy. . . . They are across the street
at the Drake . . . can they come over? "Sure" I said. "I may even
give you a nip of booze." So . . . over they came. Ten minutes
later Lare Bear [Fanning] calls. . . . He heard I am having open
house . . . can he come over? He had lunch with Sid Yates [a
congressman] and is two minutes away. . . . Natch, I shrieked. . .
. (that Irishman can smell an open bottle of Scotch a mile away . .
.) So—we had the most terrific hour and a half of visiting
ever. The conversation was great and Willie stayed with me to keep
the glasses filled and the ash trays clean. (It was getting on to
Then after they left I got a call from a gal I used to know in
Sioux City. She is about Sister Helen's age . . . lives in
California and I liked her very much. She is here for a convention
of Doctor's wives. . . . She is Calif. state president and this is
a national convention. I asked her over as she was across the
street at the Drake. We had a lovely visit . . . (hadn't seen her
in 20 years) . . . and she said "I saw Popo last year in San
Francisco. You are the same Eppie I knew in Sioux City. She has
changed." I did not wish to go into detail, but it saddens me to
hear old friends say these things because the word gets around and
it gets worse in the telling, and she is just NOT that bad. I never
thought I would see the day when I would defend the situation, but
believe me . . . she isn't.
. . .
Your report on Erich (Ear-ache) Fromm was great. I ROARED . . . and
I am so happy that you are attending extracurricular things. This
year at Brandeis is going to be far your best yet. Atta girl . . .
keep it up.
. . .
Daddy is going great guns. His ad in the Wall Street Journal pulled
like magic. He is in a state of Euphoria. (By the way, this may be
the 51st state, yet.)
Now . . . you can't say this is not a long letter. Well, you can
SAY it, it won't be true. Of course I am over-compensating, as you
well know. You probably fell asleep ten minutes ago. Please write
to your old grey-haired parents. We love you. And . . . I ordered a
few extra pictures of you from Maurice Seymour [a theatrical
photographer from Chicago] . . . but I would like you to try for an
engagement picture one more time . . . either in Boston or
Cambridge. . . . I hate to use your high school picture. We will if
we can't improve on it, but please get your hair fixed and try it
OCTOBER 9, 1960
This letter is being written the day following the phone
conversation. You told me you aren't ready to announce your
I can't say I was surprised. The silence these past few weeks on
the subject of Knoot and the plans made me wonder. I figured you
may be having some problems dorton, and since I have become an
expert at keeping my nose out of your business I didn't want to ask
what was wrong. In my conversations with Bob these past few weeks
(mostly about my book) he didn't give me any hint that all was not
well. (Yeah, I think you are right about him. He's on YOUR side,
I wouldn't, for the world, attempt to give you any advice. I want
you to feel perfectly free to make your own decisions. You have the
right to do what you want with your life—even wreck it. But I
hope for only one thing, that you make your decisions based on
Life is no pipe-dream. It's no hayride, and it's no joke. Life is
real, and it can be plenty rough for the best of us. There are no
shortcuts to the road to glory. You must cut your very own feet on
the rocks. And rocks there will be a-plenty, because this is part
of the price of the trip. But you'll cherish the scars because they
will be the reminders that you did grow up—experience by
experience. I wouldn't remove the rocks from your path if I could,
because I believe everyone should learn his own lessons. And you
ARE learning. Your progress this past year has been magnificent.
You are twice the girl today that you were a year ago. And I hope
you continue to develop and most of all, to accept in your guts,
Maybe Knoot isn't the one. Nobody knows this but you. But if you do
reject him, do it with mature reasoning. If you think things
through honestly, you won't be kicking yourself in five years.
You're still pretty young and I'm not worried that you'll be an old
maid. But please, use that smart head on your shoulders. If you
hold a precious jewel in your hands, a jewel that has been
appraised by experts to be worth millions, but to you—it
looks like a hunk of pop-bottle, then that's all it's worth. It's
the value that YOU put on something that makes it worthwhile.
I love you,
My mother was fond of the young man I had been planning to
marry. Newton Froelich was a person of quality, and perhaps I was
just too young to appreciate his solidity. Her relaxed position on
broken engagements, however, was no doubt influenced by her own,
more than twenty years earlier. At truly the last minute, when the
twins' double wedding was deep into the planning stages, she
"switched" grooms . . . with her father's blessings. Mother was
engaged to a lovely guy from California when she met my father. My
dad was the one who sold her and Popo their wedding veils! He was
then the very young millinery buyer for the TS Martin department
store in Sioux City.
OCTOBER 11, 1960
Your little "angel mother" note came today and it meant a lot to
No . . . you have not shaken my confidence . . . in fact, if
anything, it has increased. I would be a failure, indeed, if you
had gone thru the motions . . . not meaning it . . . just because
you were afraid of letting me down.
Just keep your feet on the ground and think things through. If it
doesn't work, well, it is not the end of the world. You must not
let what others think be the deciding factor. It matters only what
YOU think, and how you feel. Give it a fair chance this weekend,
and don't be ashamed and feel that all is far-shmodret* because you
did or said a foolish thing. Believe me, whatever it was, time will
take care of it.
Keep me posted, and if you tell me you are coming to conclusions
based on logic, then I will be very happy . . . regardless of how
Mother enclosed in this letter a clipping about James T.
Farrell, a novelist and critic whose most famous book was Studs
Lonigan. The clipping said Farrell worked "in pajamas,
barefoot." This, she underlined.
OCTOBER 12, 1960
I'm sure you'll get a kick out of this.
I haven't heard from this kook in ages. The last time I gave him a
kind word, I couldn't get rid of him for two years.
The thing I do like about him, though, is that he contributed to
your growing up. Remember when he came to St. Regis Hotel looking
like a bum and we took him out for coffee? You were about twelve
years old and you decided that he was very smart even though he
looked like a tramp.
Oh well, enough of this trivia. Back to work.
OCTOBER 19, 1960
Mother has been no great shakes at letter-writing this week, but
then we have been on the horn incessantly . . . so that should keep
you from feeling too much like an abandoned waif. I would say we
have chatted in the past week, a total sum of 1,000
. . .
The weather is gloomy and sunless. It's a good day to stay at home
and work, which is precisely what I am planning to do. I have spent
several days on columns . . . and now I must go back to the book.
My next chapter is NOW TO CHOOSE A MATE. Got any red-hot
suggestions? I am serious . . . no joke. If you would like to
outline a few thoughts or give me an idea of what YOU think belongs
in the chapter I shall be happy to have your suggestions. After
all, who knows better than one in the process of making such a
selection? It's been quite some time since I chose a mate, and
maybe my memory is a little dim.
. . .
Nothing new . . . since my surprise party [for her fifth
anniversary as Ann Landers]. It was a real thrill. Will was the
Master of Ceremonies. He read the wires and took charge in general.
There was quite a sweat about who to invite and who to leave out .
. . because the Tap Room holds only 17 people.
Phone just rang. . . . It was Coop [Bob Cooper, head of the
syndicate] . . . we got Whittier, Calif. . . . (Nixon's hometown .
. .) but I took it anyway . . . count now 402 . . . onward and
upward . . .
Mother . . .
P.S. Pa just came home . . . wheeeeeee!
Max Lerner, devotee of De Tocqueville, taught at Brandeis two
days a week, in addition to writing his syndicated newspaper column
from New York. His department was American Civilization, which was
my major. Marty Peretz was a grader and section man for him, and he
also had a significant part in writing Max's book America as a
Civilization. Max, Marty, and I went a lot of places together. I
think Max just liked to troop around with young people . . . and
perhaps thought one of them should be a blonde. This gave people
the idea, erroneously, that Max and I were an item . . . when
actually I was just along for the ride.
This second mention of the WSJ ad—meant to rustle
up Budget franchise holders—is interesting, all these decades
later, because many of the original franchise holders went on to
"Toilet mouse" meant, in our family, "really clever person." I
have no idea about the derivation of this inelegant
OCTOBER 21, 1960
Tell Max Lerner to look again. BARKIS is a man . . . not a woman.
He is a character from David Copperfield all right but he was the
guy who wanted to marry the nurse . . . and his message to her was
. . . "Barkis is willin'. . . ." My source is Will Munnecke and
I'll put my money on him any old day.
From the looks of all the polls it's Kennedy. The only really good
thing about this election is ONE of those jerks has to lose. They
BOTH can't win. Of course I'll vote for Kennedy. You, doll . . .
will have to wait till next time.
Father returned from the financial wars with a few dazzling scalps
on his belt. He has had terrific response from the Wall Street
Journal ad, and people are fighting over the franchises. The toilet
mouse really picked a winner with this car deal.
The Jaguar in the meantime is ready for the fox-farm. Damned thing
is the worst car mechanically we have ever owned. It is in the
garage again . . . stopped dead on me. If it isn't the spark plugs
it's the carburetor, or the clutch. Daddy said "There's nothing
seriously wrong with that car. It's just a small problem. Probably
something mechanical." To which I replied . . . "Of course it's
mechanical. It's not emotional." If this isn't breaking you up, it
is losing something in the translation.
Snow due here tomorrow. Hooray, that means I'll wear my Russian
hat! Write when you can spare the time, and I'll do the same.
Your Very Own,
With Love yet,
OCTOBER 25, 1960
The "BEAST" card arrived today and father and I screamed! It is a
lulu. . . . We would have it framed, but we don't want anyone else
to see it. So—we'll hide it in our room, and take it out from
time to time to enjoy.
Several bits and pieces of news. First a comment on [an ex-beau's]
letter. The kid is semi-literate. No comment beyond that. Maybe
one. In YOUR words . . . he has all the qualities of a dog except
loyalty. The guy wants you to ditch [his friend] . . . but the jerk
leans on a very slender reed when he makes the proposal that you
cannot go with BOTH of them. Over-confident. Oh well.
Good news: Our car finally runs. The complaint was . . . water in
the gas tank. It was to be sponged with a powder puff instead of
washed with a hose. Also we have been using the wrong kind of gas.
Anyway . . . it runs like a top, the guy said. NOW . . . if it
would just run like a car.
Prediction: Kennedy is going to win. Who said so? I did.
OCTOBER 30, 1960
Well . . . that was some conversation we had last night. I hope you
can call again tonight so we can have another good laugh. HONESTLY
. . . you had to go to New York for hor deaurves [sic]! Well
. . . as they say in Francis Parker . . . we learn by doing.
It will be wonderful to have you home for a few days. I'm really
looking forward to it. Please make your reservations as soon as
possible as there will be lots of people trying to get places right
before Thanksgiving and after.
This won't be much of a letter but I just wanted to drop you a line
and remind you that this New York trip should be a landmark. . . .
The New Margo. Deal from strength from now on . . . not from
weakness. YOU decide who you're going to associate with and how
you're going to spend your time.
HOLY KIMONO . . . YOU JUST THIS MINUTE CALLED!
. . .
If you can't spend an hour or two with somebody who is at least in
his right mind . . . then be alone . . . so you can maintain a
semblance of stability yourself. Kooks do only one thing for you .
. . they make you doubt your ability, your potential and your own
sanity. Also, add to the list Max Lerner. See him in the classroom
only. He is using you for window dressing and you're a damned fool
if you let him get away with it.
[OCTOBER 31, 1960]
Hooray . . . you are coming home for Thanksgiving! Get your
reservations confirmed because there will be a mad rush at that
time of the season . . . and you want to make sure you are
Your last letter was great. You are actually attending classes. For
a while there I thought classes were holding forth in the beer
joint . . . or in Pittsfield . . . or that guy's apartment where
you eat lamb chops.
. . .
It's actually hot here today . . . and I have a million things to
do. I just got back from a week's trip . . . and the work is
staring me in the face. (I am staring back.)
Write when you can, and love to you, doll. It will be so good to
see you again. I am counting the days.
NOVEMBER 1, 1960
Some parents' kids get mixed up in the hospital. Not us. We got our
own. Your bill from the Hotel St. Regis arrived yesterday. I would
say that $74.81 for two days is over doing it a bit. You have one
item there, $12.56 which looks like drug store purchases. Also, you
have a breakfast for $4.80 and a meal for $9.70—now really,
Kid, the total of these expenditures means you owe me $15.00 the
way I figure.
This amount will be deducted from your next allowance check. But, I
don't think you will have to start selling apples . . . or anything
. . . on the street.
NOVEMBER 11, 1960
I HATE people who say "I told you so. . . ." . . . but I told you
so! Kennedy is in like a burgalar [sic]. You knew of course
that Orville [Freeman] got swept out with the garbage. I can't say
I'm heartbroken. Maurine Neuberger made it . . . also Gaylord
Nelson . . . back as Wisconsin's governor. There was a real upset
in Iowa. That jerk Governor Loveless thought he was a cinch for the
senate . . . but he got broomed out by a young guy who used to hang
around me at Morningside College. A nice Republican shnook named
Jack Miller. I'm sure he never thought he'd ever make THIS!
Enough of politics. Guess who's in Larry's office at the moment?
Max Lerner. The other night Rhoda [Pritzker] told me that Max was
in town and called her but she was busy that day and couldn't
invite him over. He was supposed to call her again. I don't known
if he did or not.
Your letters have been wonderful and I feel like a crawlin' furley
not doing any better by you this past week . . . (and the week
before I was not exactly The Mother Of The Year either). However,
you will just have to know I love you madly even if I don't write
you long magillas . . . and bake brownies like all the other
I just glanced at the paper and see where Marilyn Monroe and Arthur
Miller are pff—fft. So, now I wonder who will marry this nice
Jewish girl. I'll bet the Frenchman [Yves Montand] is in there
pitching. It is all denied, but weezel see. When I have to start in
with movie star gossip, it is a new low.
Tonight I leave for Minneapolis. Daddy is going to Cincinnati
tomorrow so this makes it nice. We'll both be home Monday . . . and
Tuesday night we go to a party for Rod Serling. It is going to be
at Frankie Atlas' [a neighbor in the building] and I know damned
well HE didn't think of us as guests. It must have come from Rod.
So, it should be a lot of fun. It's a dinner party.
I have so many little shteekloch to relate when you come home . . .
so please be well rested as we will stay up all night talking. I
told Willie to rest up as I will be working her plenty hard. So far
the car is running. . . . It makes tea at four o'clock and popcorn
in the morning. But it does run, and you can't expect anything more
from a $5600 automobile.
. . .
NOVEMBER 14, 1960
Your letters are a delight. The one today, in which you had to do
some "mental gardening" was a treasure. We roared.
I am sending this air special delivery because TUESDAY is Topsin's
birthday and I know you have not forgotten but if no gift is on the
way . . . a telegram (prepaid) will be very welcome.
We will be going over to Frank Atlas' place for the Rod Serling
dinner that night . . . (I decided to let Frank give Daddy his
birthday party) . . . so please . . . something . . . a kind word .
. . like.
I had a lovely time in Minneapolis . . . got back this morning . .
. but before I go into that. I did see Max Lerner. . . . I had to
drop copy in Larry's office Friday and when I walked in, there Max
was . . . needing a shave and a haircut. He was very friendly . . .
in fact, warm, I would say. He told me that you sit right in the
front row, and provide excitement in the class room . . . by
"entering the lively discussions . . . etc." He also said . . .
"She looks very beautiful . . ." and I replied . . . "Yes I know
that she can do THIS all right . . . what I would like is for her
to develop the mind." He assured me that you were doing well.
. . .
The perennial nightmare of every public speaker became a reality
last night. I was to be in the ballroom of the Curtis Hotel at 7
bells . . . and I had a suite upstairs. At 7 flat I kicked the TV
guy out of my room and ran a comb thru my hair in preparation for
meeting the dinner audience. I went to get my speech . . . and I
COULD NOT FIND IT. Well . . . I knew I had left it somewhere . . .
but WHERE? Beauty shop, Drugstore, coffee shop? I didn't have time
to look . . . so . . . I went without a speech. Believe it or not .
. . I spoke for 35 minutes from a few last second notes . . . and
it went off without a hitch.
[In pencil, she wrote, in very squiggly letters: "WHO'S
The [—] saga is interesting. We will talk when you get home.
I see you have Goldie's [one of my roommates] support and that
means something. I have learned one thing in my 42 years of living.
I don't expect perfection from people . . . and I am never
disappointed. She is colorless, un-bright . . . lazy in the mind,
but above all . . . she is a real neurotic. So, why expect much out
of the kid? If she can shlep her beautiful face and frail bag of
bones from one class to the next, this is a great deal. Be content
to accept her limitations . . . and see her when you can stand it.
I'm quite sure she never had any REAL deep affection for you
because she is not capable of a really stirring emotion. This is
her whole trouble with boys. She can't give anything . . . it isn't
there. So be nice . . . don't look for her company, but keep in
mind she has plenty of trouble and you should not add to it.
The panel at Sholem was indeed political. It was an afternoon
version of At Random . . . with Kup moderating. It was fun . . .
and I opened up a mouth on Nixon the likes of which nobody heard
The YPO formal was fun. Pa looked great in his boiled shirt. He is
a doll. Tonight he left for Cincinnati. He'll be home
Enough for now. Even the mothers who bake brownies don't write
letters THIS long. So . . . nu . . . go, and do likewise . .
A note in haste to say
1) it was nice talking to you today. Too bad a date with an
Assistant Professor at Harvard doesn't count for a half-credit at
Brandeis for Bio-Chemistry. Now HERE is a way to get thru school,
2) I got the nicest phone call this evening. Smokey [Mann, an old
friend]. He called to see how I was and just visit a little because
he "misses Margo."
. . .
Daddy is in El Paso. The sheep is in the meadow and the cow is in
the corn and upstairs, downstairs, in my lady's chamber, which
makes no sense at all. But then it is midnight and I am beat.
Oh . . . one more thing. The lobby is finished and the tenants are
taking up sides and the WINES ARE MOVING OUT OVER IT. Mrs. Wine
says she will not live in an apartment where the lobby looks like a
whore house. Now, I'd like to know how she knows what a whore house
NOVEMBER 15, 1960
Here's the guest list for my N.Y. speech. We invited four people
from Reader's Digest. Three refused and the fourth didn't even
answer. I must really rate over there.
"Essee" was Kup's wife, and in a true sense, his partner. She
was involved with both his column and TV show, as well as many
cultural events in Chicago. In addition, Essee was the mother of
Cookie, my close friend from high school. Following Cookie's death
three years later, Essee had a wistful connection to me and the
other "best friends."
"Metrecal," for those readers too young to remember, was a diet
aid. The violin Mother speaks of is the one she played as a child.
She and Popo took lessons . . . but because Popo was the better
musician—and because they were identical twins—Popo
would walk out of her lesson, walk right back in as Mother, then
take a second lesson.
NOVEMBER 17, 1960
Don't let the envelope fool you. It's your cheap mother . . . using
up one of her reader's envelopes. Some dope sent an envelope with a
stamp . . . but no address.
The Rod Serling party was a gas and a half. Kup was the host and it
was at Club Alabam. This is a dive from the word go, but the food
is delicious. It has one distinction . . . it is the oldest
nightclub in the United States. I am sure they have the original
entertainment. Some old has-been . . . dyed red hair singing. . . .
"My red-headed Mama Anette" and a few numbers that even I don't
The saving grace was that Rod sat next to me . . . so we got to
talk a little. The TV guys were bashed out of their drunken skulls,
totally incoherent, and I didn't say anything beyond hello to them
because they would not have understood.
. . .
Essee sat next to Daddy and they had a long conversation. She asked
him if we ever looked at At Random. He told her frankly, we don't
stay up that late. She answered: "You're smart . . . and that
accounts for the way you both look. You and Eppie look like a
couple of kids." I really felt sad when he told me that because I
know that she must realize she's aging fast, and when you don't
have much else to fall back on it can be a devastating thing for a
woman, especially. I still cannot figure out why she is so
unpopular in this town.
The weather is deevine. Too warm for a fur coat. Daddy and I went
hat shopping yesterday and we bought two lulus. Wait till you see!
Sweet of the old tycoon to knock off in the middle of the day to
take his old broad millinery shopping. He's a dear child and I
don't want you to be mean to him when he comes east. He does the
best he knows how with you. It's not his fault if he is an easy
touch. He thinks he's being nice. I am talking about the $19 for
Metrecal, which was foolish . . . followed up by candy yet!
Willie is shining up your room as if Queen Elizabeth was moving in!
She has been polishing the floor since noon! By the way, we have
been invited to the Pritzkers for Thanksgiving. This means we won't
have to cook a toikey!
Daddy had my violin overhauled. He took the violin into Lyon and
Healy and the man said to him "Do you know your wife has been
playing with a cello bow all these years?" Well . . . I KNEW
something was wrong, but I didn't realize it was THAT! If the U.S.
Committee of String Instrument Geniuses hears of this they will
take away my membership!
The car is feeling fine, thank you. We have tea at four and popcorn
at 6, but it does get us where we are going, and we've had no
complaints since the last one.
I'll send this special delivery mail just to prove to you that I DO
know how much it is, and that I am willing to pay the price.
NOVEMBER 28, 1960
I think your plane was the last one out. The fog settled in down to
the ground about 10 minutes later and the birds were walking.
. . .
Daddy is busy with his Washington people and I am hard at work
solving the world's problems. If you need any help, please send a
self-addressed, stamped envelope.
[DECEMBER 4, 1960]
I know you think I just SAY I'm going to these various cities to
make speeches . . . and that I really sit in the bar and drink
beers with the editors. Here is proof that I really did make a
We had a lonnn-nng conversation today and she was hostile to
Mother. I suppose you do get tired of hearing me harp on the same
old things. It must be boring as hell. I think it's fine that you
call but maybe we had better cut the conversations down to a 20
minute limit. Maybe the sheer repetition gets on your nerves. Let's
In spite of the way the conversation wound up, I think it was a
good one. You are sounding a lot more sensible these past few
I think we'll plan on leaving Chicago Dec. 20th . . . and grabbing
a few extra days of sun. I have a lot of work to do and so do you.
Maybe we can both work better in sunny Arizona. Please go on a diet
NOW because food there is the most devine ever and I am planning on
gaining five pounds.
JANUARY 30, 1961
After that lovely conversation I intended to sit down and write you
a nice long letter, patting your fur and stroking your
Benzedrine-fevered brow. Still I have not been able to get off that
longie to you so accept these two hilarious clippings and call me
. . .
Keep in touch with me—which is a helluva lot more than I've
done for you lately but then, I just know that you love me for my
sweet adorable self and not for the lovely letters I write.
Jeff Stern got back from the army and is now employed at the
Sun-Times. He asked after you yesterday like this, "Where's your
beautiful daughter?" "Is she engaged or married or anything?" I
told him that so far as I knew "no" but then I had not talked with
you since yesterday at noon.
I will phone you soon and we will settle the affairs of the
Your father joins me in saying "dearest love and multiple kisses to
our darling daughter who is growing old gracefully with us."
FEBRUARY 13, 1961
. . .
Daddy and I are planning on coming to Parents' weekend on Friday.
We got a brochure and the first event is Friday dinner. . . . Also
. . . they have a large hole in the schedule Saturday afternoon.
We'll think of something. Father will probably open up a business
of some kind. It should be fun . . . and we are looking forward to
. . .
This is no letter . . . but it IS better than a poke in the eye
with a sharp stick.
FEBRUARY 22, 1961
Well, report me to the Juvenile Protective Association if you want
to. I have been a lousy mother. If the state wants to take you away
from me, they have a good cause. I have used every subterfuge known
to man . . . I have sent clippings . . . cartoons . . . even seven
cent stamps. . . . Everything but a letter. Now, I hope this will
make up for it. At least I am going to continue to type to you
until Will Munnecke comes up behind me and says "Come on. . . ."
Nobody can say "COME ON" quite like Will Munnecke. He has an air of
authority about him that is unmatched. Class I call it.
Sue Feuer [neighbor and Mother's furrier] has been a basket case. .
. . We have tried to keep her afloat. There have been lots of
people around which helps, but very soon she will be alone and on
her own, facing reality. Daddy and I have been in and out of there
a lot . . . we don't spend hours, but we pop in and out . . . liven
up the joint and that serves the purpose.
Well. . . . Will just appeared. I must leave, but I will write
again tomorrow. So, sue me. I am a failure.
Mother's "Mark" reference has to do with the Jewish tradition of
naming children for the dead, either by using the actual name or
first initial. My paternal grandfather, Morris, died when Father
was thirteen, and it was for him I was to be named. For whatever
reason, my folks were sure I would be a boy—and the name they
had picked was "Mark."
The key to the city referred to Mother's collection, which just
sort of happened, as she visited more places and was considered a
visiting dignitary. Her favorite keys were ultimately mounted in a
huge frame, which hung on a wall in her office at home . . .
opposite an entire wall of honorary degrees. In fact, many of the
keys were very impressive looking (and obviously some were not!).
The exclamation "Nu, mach-a-nini" came from a television show (I
don't remember which). Mother adopted it for a couple years, in her
conversation and in her letters alike.
"Chapter Three" describes her visit to the Florence Crittendon
Home—the national shelter for unwed mothers—a group for
which Mother did much over the years. This kind of facility had
also been a pet charity of her father's. In fact, in Sioux City,
Mr. A.B. would send over movies, with a projectionist, to the
Catholic home for unwed mothers so the girls would have some
entertainment. Mother's report about which girls were
clients reveals another example of her ingrained
[FEBRUARY 27, 1961]
[THE COMMODORE PERRY HOTEL
Daddy adored your latest "Dear Topsin" letter. . . . You signed it
Mark. I am in Toledo. . . . I spoke last night to the Episcopalians
and this afternoon I am going out to the Florence Crittendon Home.
Tonight I speak to the Sigma Delta Chi group . . . this is the
journalist's national fraternity. The phone just rang. I gotta run
. . . going over to the mayor's office to collect the key to the
city. I hope it's a nice one. I'll leave ya' know later. Bye now. .
Chapter Two: Mother Returns
Well . . . the key may go in the drawer . . . alongside the piece
of chaserie* from Oklahoma City. It was the crummiest piece of junk
. . . plain wood . . . painted gold . . . (O. City, that is). You'd
think with all the bragging they do about their wealth they could
come up with something decent for visiting firemen. The mayor was
very nice, however, and he gave me a gold-plated jeep which isn't
bad. (Table model, natch.) . . . The Willys jeep is made in Toledo.
The mayor told me it has been given only to Nixon, Kennedy and now
me. Nu, mach-a-nini! Off to the home for unwed mothers . . .
Chapter Three: Mother Returns
Well . . . that experience is not a chapter—it's a volume.
More in person. I couldn't do justice in a letter. They have 48
girls in there . . . and some are just dolls. One 16-year-old who
could win any beauty contest. She is from a very fine family . . .
and is supposed to be in Europe going to school. They have three
Negro girls . . . one Japanese. They have no Jewish girls. This is
interesting. Mrs. Walters who is the head of the home told me that
in her 30 years of experience with the home . . . she hasn't seen
10 Jewish girls.
The girls were all wearing tags . . . "Ann Landers Day" and they
baked me a lovely cake, all decorated beautifully. I spoke to them
in an informal get-together in the dining room and they had a
prepared list of questions. I am saving the questions. They are
very revealing. Many of the girls are wearing wedding rings. Mrs.
Walters says Woolworth is very nice. They send over as many as the
So . . . this is it for now.
More later. . . .
MARCH 16, 1961
So you have discovered morning! It really is a lovely part of the
day—and I heartily recommend that you see more of it.
Honestly, girl, a kid with your brains sleeping away the years is
really criminal! For God's sake get out of that sack and accomplish
Daddy called me from Houston last night. From there he goes to
Dallas. I am home until I leave for Tyler, Texas, a week from
Sunday. The sheep's in the meadow and the cow's in the corn and
that accounts for the whole damn family; where are you?
Why are you using the St. Regis Hotel stationery when I remember a
$42 bill from Saks for special Margo Lederer stationery. And
speaking of Saks—those thieves, I went through the last 18
pair of hose in 14 days. I swear they must have been left over from
the black market days of World War II. I would put on a pair, they
would tear before I got to the door; I'd have to go back for a
second pair and they would be torn before I got home.
. . .
All right. This is it for now. Be a good kitten, write often and
lots, newsy letters, and make your summer plans and your winter
plans—knit for Britain and Vote Democrat!
Mother's asking for the green light to have coffee with Newt
Froelich was indicative of two traits—one we shared, the
other we usually did not. The shared impulse was to follow through
and make good on our word . . . even if the particulars of a
situation might have changed. Where we differed is that she often,
either from pity or affection, stayed in touch with men who were
past tense for me.
APRIL 15, 1961
I leave Monday for Norfolk, Va . . . Washington and N.Y. QUESTION:
shall I call Newt when I am in Washington . . . for a cup of coffee
at the Statler? When I talked to him on the phone . . . (you put
him on, recall) I said I would. If you say no I won't . . . after
all . . . it was MY interpretation that he was the mouse that died.
Let me know. Write to me at the Statler. I'll be there Tuesday thru
Sat. I will be on the run plenty from now until Mar 3rd. I will
call you from the variety of places that I hang my hat. No point in
your trying to call me. It is going to be one great big rat
Your recent notion (expressed on the phone) that you ought to scrap
all the men you know and start from scratch is an interesting one.
Tell me, do you think that somewhere, someone is raising a brand
new kind of human male just for YOU? People have been basically the
same for a few million years. I'm all for meeting NEW people . . .
the more the merrier, but don't expect perfection. If you make good
basic selections, the next step after that is arrange your own set
of values so that you can appreciate the good in people . . . and
be happy with what you know is first rate.
Your new school attitude sounds terrific. This year you have really
done well. If you had your present ideas the first year you would
have been Dean's List by this time and I am not kidding. I think
you NOW know how to attack the school situation, and this is an
enormous achievement. This summer you should do well at
Northwestern . . . and . . . next year should be your best at
I'll keep you posted . . . and please have some goodies in my
mailbox at the Statler. I love your letters. Remember, I'll be
there Tuesday . . . the 18th thru Saturday . . . then I go on to
New York . . . from the 18th thru the 23rd . . . St. Regis,
APRIL 25, 1961
[THE ST. REGIS
NEW YORK, NY]
I saw Herb Tepper [new general manager of the St. Regis] here today
(for the first time this trip)—He didn't even say
"hello"—just blurted out "How is your gorgeous daughter?"
I just had my morning juice and coffee ($3.85 plus tip)—and I
must say it was delicious. I have #1604 which adjoins a magnificent
suite. They left the door open to the suite unlocked—so I am
wandering around in a $200 accommodation for only $23 a day!
Daddy phoned last night and he is on Cloud #19. He just signed a
new group [for a Budget franchise] who want Honolulu—which
means—all in one month he has signed Denver, Portland,
Seattle, San Francisco and Honolulu. Need I say he is elated.
Be a good kitten and write, even if I don't deserve it.
MAY 12, 1961
Absolutely marvelous Mother's Day card. Simply great . . . and, I
must say . . . the highest compliment. I think you are more like me
than you think. I see myself in you in so many ways. And I think
you will do better than I did, if you work at it.
I am thrilled about the Brandeis offer to let the child graduate
with her classmates if she buckles down. You can't imagine what an
achievement this will be. I am certain that you can do it. The only
thing you have to do is decide that you can and the rest is duck
soup. If anyone had told you four years ago that you would get a
degree from Brandeis, would you have believed it? Well . . . there
I am enormously proud that you are so close . . . because I KNOW
you'll hack it. I can't think of anything that will do more for
your general feeling of well-being. Also, Lolly, Baby, it's nice .
. . just for the record to have this behind you . . . in case you
marry up with a guy who has a dee-plomer in his hip pocket.
Daddy will be back from Honolulu tonight. He called from there
yesterday and it was as if he were phoning from the Pure Oil
This is no letter—just a note.
Love, and all that jazz
"The Boston guy" was John Coleman, an investment banker, who
would become Mr. Right Number One.
SEPTEMBER 29, 1961
(1) Field's is putting a tracer on your linens.
(2) Glad you like the new heating pad. It's better than a fire in
(3) I love you.
It was good to hear your voice yesterday. And . . . hoo ha . . .
the call was entitled "I think I've found him." This was not the
first such, but it had a ring of conviction. Too bad I was rushing
to the beauty shop. You know how THAT is.
Since unsolicited advice is a drug on the market, I won't give you
any. After all the kaup-far-drayeness* you've had, you are well
equipped to think things through to a logical and rewarding
conclusion. I hope that you will reach back into the mental file
called "experience" . . . (look under E) . . . and give yourself
plenty of time to let the situation unfold naturally. Don't go
pulling the petals apart in an attempt to get the flower to bloom
faster than it should.
You've told me very little about the guy except that he has "a fine
face" and the external trappings. Now . . . the big question is . .
. does he have the real stuff. Only time will tell. Bob Stolar has
decided you can have anybody you want. The important thing now is
to make a solid selection.
I hope you'll keep the neuro-surgeon on ice . . . and have him come
to see you if he wants to. It will be good for the Boston situation
as well, to know there are others around. Don't make the mistake of
spending every waking hour with the Boston guy "because he's
leaving soon" . . . this would be a mistake.
And of course you know the importance of making this a banner year
in school. Nothing should be allowed to stand in the way of a first
class school year. This is your major project and as a matter of
self-respect you must have this feeling of achievement. You musn't
go through life feeling that you have charmed everyone into giving
you things. You have ability and you must produce something on your
own. Now is your last chance. Don't fail yourself.
Daddy and I are both home till next week. Then I do my Ohio trip,
which is six days long. I'll keep you posted. Daddy goes east but
then he calls you from the road when he can.
Write when you're able.
Mother made a big deal out of "seven ayem," which denotes
the horror we both had of rising early. Our joke was that if we had
to catch an early plane, we'd be better off staying up all night,
or buying a house near the airport. I, somewhat, outgrew sleeping
late; she never did.
OCTOBER 17, 1961
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH]
BANK DAY IN YOUR SIOUX CITY THEATRES
Your mother is in Salt Lake City—and loving it. The
bath-water here is divine.
I speak today at the Rotary Club . . . a sweetheart luncheon. The
men bring their wives. If they brought their girlfriends the hall
couldn't hold 'em. Tonight I speak at Weber College in Ogden . . .
which is about 20 miles away. Tomorrow I get a seven ayem plane
(you heard me) . . . and go to St. Louis. I speak at the Missouri
state PTA convention tomorrow night. Then on to Mexico, Missouri,
to Bob White [the local publisher]. Outside of the above schedule,
I'm not doing a thing . . . just sitting around and playing
Daddy will be home until Thursday when he goes to Indianapolis.
Then we reintroduce ourselves on Friday (we ask a mutual friend to
do the formalities) and the weekend we spend home together. I leave
for New York (one day trip . . . for radio and TV . . .) and Daddy
goes to Atlanta. He says he has business there but I know he is
really going to see Scarlet O'Hara.
The book [her first, Since You Ask Me] seems to be doing<