World War ll London Blitz: 12-1-43 to 12-30-43 Last night we had a fairly heavy raid in this section, between eight and nine in the evening.

Purchase Diary's:

December 1, 1943
It is the first anniversary of Artie’s wedding. I was in hope the pair of them would go out somewhere to celebrate, but no, here they stuck. I wished them to blazes. Hilda gets on my nerves more rather than less as time progresses. Last night Ted said there was a rumor that a certain flat on the Brentwood Road was likely soon to become vacant, and perhaps Artie would like it, if it fell into the market. Artie said, yes, but he couldn’t plan anything until after his next medical board, in January. He might not be discharged from the Army; therefore he wouldn’t furnish now. Quite right. It might pay him to pay the rent just the same, to hold it, in case he was going to be free to live a civil life very shortly. After all, it would only be a few weeks, and anyhow the flat isn’t even vacant yet, and may not become so, this is only a rumor of possible vacancy.
I, too, am impatiently waiting for January and the decision of the Army Medical Board. Some decision will be made then about Artie’s future, and what ever it is I hope it will take him away from this house. If he is to remain in the army he will have to go to some military depot, if it is civil life he will have to find a job. In either case he could leave these premises, and I certainly wouldn’t keep Hilda here without him. If he remains in the Army most likely she would go back into the W.A.A.F’s; and if it is civil life, he will have to rent a place for himself somewhere or other. If he was alone he could stay here indefinitely, but married, and to this dull boring girl, he can’t remain indefinitely, for I simply can’t tolerate this girl. She suits him all right. She doesn’t suit me, and she never will. I can’t stand her about the place. Heighho!
December 8, 1943
Last night I had another of those instructing, illuminating, warning and guiding dreams. I hope I never forget it. The facts, which induced it, I think, are there. These last few days I have been working again on my, This Heroine, story. I have written a whole chapter on Angel Road, and of course this means I have had my mother continually at the bottom of my mind. Then here in this house there has been discomfort because of Hilda, who will not be genial or pleasant. I also spent yesterday writing to Eddie, which makes me terribly homesick for America and I wrote him of my dream and intention of returning to the States once the war is over, and staying there, Dad or no Dad.
Well in my dream I was in America, staying as a guest with Ruth Eason. I was in her house, yet it had our porte-cochere, and was filled with our furniture. None of my sons came into the dream even for a minute. Two elderly ladies came to visit Ruth, and somehow I was made to know that not only was I an unwanted guest, but I was a positive nuisance. Ruth refrained from introducing me to her guests, with whom she was effusively welcoming, and I found myself relegated to a sort of charwoman who was expected to tidy the dining room and then wash up the dishes. I found myself out on the porch, shaking the tablecloth, and suffering poignantly. “I am not wanted,” went my thoughts. "I am in the way. What can I do? I’ve spent all my money, and I can’t get anymore, so I can’t go away. I should have saved some money, enough for passage money, but I didn’t, so now I must stay here, and she doesn’t want me. Oh what a fool I’ve been! I want to go home, back to Ted, and I can’t go home. Misery, misery.”
Well, that was the dream, very clear and plain, warning me not to be a fool. My mother would never go and live with any of her children, and she was right. She remained her own mistress on her own premises all her life, and so will I do the same. I’ll never go to America to live with a son. I’ll visit my sons, but never will I be persuaded to make a home with any one of them. Always before when I’ve gone back to America, my own house was there. In nineteen thirty-three we still owned Five Twenty-Three Knickerbocker Road, and I resumed residence as its chatelaine. That house has been sold, and there is no home of my own in America. If I go there I must visit in my sons homes. Well, visits of which the terminations can be seen are all right, but visits of indeterminate time are the very devil. So, I will not go back to America to live unless my funds will be sufficient to establish me in a house or apartment of my own. Look at the disagreeableness here with Hilda. She is an unmannerly girl who cannot accommodate herself to being a visitor in this house. She is not amiable and is rude, chafing, no doubt, to get away into a home of her own. Suppose this was her house and I was a visitor in it, what a hell of a time she would give me! It is obvious this girl doesn’t like me, and never intends to, nor even try to. She has put Artie in her pocket, and to such an extent that it is impossible to see Artie alone ever for three minutes. She is the possessive type, and consequently because I’m his mother she is ready to oust me in every possible way she can think of. No thank-you I do not wish to live with any of my daughters in law. I will always live in my own house even if it means I have to reside permanently in England.
I am glad my dream was so clear, reminding me so vividly of realities, or I might have gone on indulging day dreams, say of life with Eddie in Washington. Eddie maybe can go on loving me whilst I remain three thousand miles away from him, but he might stop very quickly if I sat down permanently in his premises. So, I shan’t try it. I will keep my own home, myself, always.

December 11, 1943

It is ten-thirty a.m. and I am cooking the dinner. I have a very disagreeable  incident to record. Extremely disagreeable, but here it is. On Thursday morning at breakfast time things reached a climax in the house. It was a cold, dark morning, but nothing unusual in that, considering this time of year, but when Artie and Hilda came down they complained of the weather as though that too was my fault. That was the last straw, and I exploded. I told Hilda that what she wanted was exercise, she should go out and take a walk around the block to make her blood circulate, and blow her cobwebs away. I pointed out that she went out even less than I did, and that she stuck too close to Artie.
Then she replied, that she couldn’t go out with Artie, and walking with him was too slow. “I can’t walk quickly with a crippled husband.”
I could have felled her. To allude to Artie, in front of him like that, and in the tone of voice she used, was unforgivable. She voiced what must lie in her secret heart a resentment of Artie’s loss of limb. I flared. She turned to Artie, who was saying nothing, and said, “You! Can’t you say anything? Are you going to let her talk to me like that!”
Poor Artie still said nothing, but did put his arm around the back of her chair. I was sorry at once, and rose at once to leave the room.
“Oh, never mind,” I said, “get on with your breakfast. I’ll go and dress,” and went upstairs.
Then I found myself in such a state of exasperation, I thought, I can’t stay in this house today. I’ll go and see Joan, and when I get home this evening we shall all feel better. So I dressed for the street. I concluded all the necessary preparations for lunch, and worked out things for tea. I also put out a hoarded box of chocolate candies for them. I told them of all this, asked them to tell Dad I had gone to see Joan, said goodbye, and left in time to catch the eleven-fifty train. I had a pleasant visit with Joan, and as the moon was almost at the full I remained until evening. I got home soon after nine o’clock, St. Edwards Church clock striking the hour as I walked up this road.
In the house I found only Ted, but I thought perhaps Artie and Hilda were out at the movies. I got myself a snack meal, and then Ted said, “Well Lady, you’ve got your wish. The lovebirds have flown. They gave me my dinner all right  but told me I should have to get my own tea as they were leaving for Scotland. However when I get back at teatime they were still here, delayed, I suppose, by Hilda taking the usual hour to do her hair. Anyhow they had to wait nearly an hour for a taxi, and then went off about five -thirty, with a couple of valises. I presume they are traveling all night. What a night for the journey! I must say the house feels better already without them; that awful oppression has lifted. Yes, I had a short talk with Artie. He was quite friendly with me, but said they couldn’t stick it here any longer. I told him I thought he was acting very foolishly, but of course he could do, as he liked. He said he would write, and I told him to tell me if he wanted me to still get him a house or flat, otherwise I should do nothing further in that matter. I also told him that I thought you were in the right and that Hilda did not behave well towards you. I also told him of her very bad habits of whispering in company, and of her petting in public, and said he ought publicly to stop her, that such things weren’t done in polite society, and were in extremely bad taste. He agreed. Poor Artie! Poor fellow! Anyhow he’s gone, Lady, and he left this for you.”
“This” was my empty cigarette box, on the top flap of paper he had written in blue pencil, “Mother, all my love” on the under flap,” I’ll write.” In the box a florin, with another message, “For laundry.” That was all. No goodbye, no signature, nothing else. I felt sick. I felt as though the boy had died. He has died, for this isn’t my Artie.
When Artie came home from Africa in July, he was happy and gay, in spite of his lost leg. He was his usual cheerful, careless, happy self. He was happy to be home alive, and he was happy with us, as he always was. From the first week that Hilda joined him he began to change. She is one of the most possessive, over powering women I have ever known or ever heard about. This would be all right if she made him happy but she doesn’t. The Scotch word “dour” exactly describes her. She won’t mingle and she won’t smile. She won’t be friendly and outgoing. For weeks past now I have only seen her at meals. They have lived up in their bedroom, only showing up at mealtimes. As soon as the meal was eaten and disposed of, they again retired upstairs, until the next one came along. In short, they lived here, not as though they were at home, in the family, but as though they were two strangers in a boarding house.
Dad gave them total hospitality, and I did all the work for them, but they held aloof and treated us with disdain. In fact, an ordinary boarding house keeper would have received more courtesy than they gave me. As for Ted, he says he has never had five minutes alone with Artie since Hilda got here, and if you wanted two minutes conversation with him about private matters, you had to stage a conspiracy to arrange for it. Ted says she is like a great fat spider that has gobbled him up. Ted also says of her, that he’d hate to introduce her to any decent people, the Utard’s, for instance, and he’d hate to introduce her as a daughter-in-law. That’s Ted, not me, but Ted, who can find excuses for anybody, and has an excess of charity. This girl is impossible. She is a Catholic too! For Ted can forgive practically anything for a Catholic. This girl does get on his nerves; he can’t like her, though he does try. It is her unfortunate nature. Her ignorance, her lack of good breeding, the fact that she comes from a slum, could all be overlooked, if only she was good tempered and good natured, but in Ted’s words, “She is a pill.” That’s Artie’s wife. This is the woman he is tied to for life. Ted says, “He did it himself. What can you do for him?”
The worst about it to me is Artie’s secretiveness, so great that it amounts to deception. Why didn’t he tell me they were thinking of going to Scotland? He found out he won’t get his leg until early in January, why didn’t he tell me? What is more natural than she would wish to visit her Mother? Why not say so? To pack up and go away behind my back, and with never a word of explanation, or of farewell! This is horrible for Artie to injure me, and here in our own home, and after receiving all these months of hospitality for both himself and his wife. She resents me I know, but to make Artie resent me too, what a power she must have over him, a bad power.
 Last night we had a fairly heavy raid in this section, between eight and nine in the evening. Rita Pullan was here and waited for the all clear before departing. She said it was like Nineteen-Forty when you had to run home between the raids. The B.B.C. this morning reported four bombers down, three falling to one pilot, some damage and some casualties in the Greater London area. I guess we were the area.
Ted has just gone out to get me a library book. We have been enjoying a very happy afternoon over the fire. I remarked, “Isn’t it queer how you know when a house is empty? You know there is nobody upstairs today, you feel it.”
“Yes,” he replied, “Thank goodness. I felt Hilda as a positive evil in the house. Of course it is sad that one should feel happiness at the departure of a child, and yet I am glad that they have gone, damned glad. I am glad Artie left of his own accord. I am glad I never asked him to pay us any money. We’ve nothing to regret. Now in her home, where they are poor people, he’ll have to pay his way, and it will be good for him to find out what expenses are. It’s nice to have the place to ourselves again, isn’t it?”
I agree. “Let’s forget it,” Ted said finally. “They left us of their own accord, and in a nasty way. It was a blow for you. It’s all over now; lets put it behind us and forget it. It’s no use worrying over them. They are a couple of young fools. Only let us be sure to be very nice to Artie. When he writes, write him very nice letters, extra nice letters. Make him see that we are always sane, always polite, always reasonable, and always kind. Let him know we will always do anything we can to help him. Finally he may come to see that Hilda is the unreasonable one and then he’ll promptly teach her a lesson and improve her. Don’t worry, Lady. They’ll learn sense eventually.”
Yes, I hope so. It is nice to have the place to us once more.
December 14, 1943
I have just come in from a walk around town. As I turned down this street I passed the visiting priest whom I’ve seen taking the mass at St. Edward’s. Of course he did not know me so no acknowledgement passed between us. I was glad, for his appearance disgusts me. He is an elderly man, chockfull of all the signs of good living, paunchy and with a toper’s complexion. He was wearing an expensive overcoat and a silk muffler, and he paused to light himself a cigar. I thought he is exactly the type of the prosperous priest, a stuffed pig, and a cleric who makes a derision of the religion he stands for. I thought there is nothing spiritual about him, so how can he expound or show forth the spiritual life?
I thought could any woman go to confession to this priest? Of course not. Such a man could not have anything to say to anyone that would be of the slightest use. This sort of specimen of a priest should be kept out of the public view, for the mere sight of him is a scandal to his cloth. I remembered Miss Radenacher, back in the old Bayonne days, telling us how her mother used to advise her children not to get socially acquainted with their parish priest, as a personal acquaintance ship would prove a mistake. “After all,” she’d say, “priests are only men, but if you get to know them as men you will lose your respect for them and then possibly lose your religion also. So let the priest stay in his place, in church, don’t ask him into the house, never make a friend of him. Friendship with a priest is fatal to your religion."
She must have had the fat and smug ones in her mind, though I think she meant all priests were to be socially evaded. Well, I guess she was right. The mere sight of today’s specimen passing on the street is sufficient to damn the entire priesthood.
December 18, 1943
Love, after sleep, deep in the night. This is how and when I like it, when I can best respond to it. Today, I am serene in my mind, and well in my body, content and happy.
December 20, 1943
We were up twice in the night for raids. We heard one bomb fall which sounded fairly near; we have heard this afternoon that the railway line was hit between Stratford and Bethnal Green, nobody killed but several linesmen injured, traffic stopped all morning, but has resumed again now.
Influenza is rather serious just now, quite an epidemic, last week there were eleven hundred and forty eight deaths from it in England alone. However this is the first really bad health of the war. This is Ted’s Home-Guard night, so I am going to take my tea now, and read awhile in cozy solitude. So Au-Revoir.
December 27, 1943 — Boxing Day
Mrs. White and Daisy called this afternoon and were our only Christmas callers. This year Christmas is less like Christmas than any of the last years yet. We had news at midday that we sunk the battleship “Scharnhorst” yesterday, somewhere in the Arctic Circle. So that’s disposed of at last. No word from Artie, not even a Christmas card.
December 30, 1943
I remain very serene, calm, and shall I say, “happy”? News the R.A.F. bombed Berlin again last night. I am sorry about that. I know the warring has to be resumed, but I wish our authorities had felt they could let the Christmas respite last a little longer. However…
Presently I am going out to the post office to deposit my last money of the year. It is a beautiful afternoon, clear and sunny so I shall enjoy the walk. I have been extra busy this morning, cooking soup and pudding for tomorrow, for Eric has telephoned that he will come out on Friday and bring Malvin and Karina with him. I have made a plum pudding especially for Eric, who dotes on them.
My God, I may be a rank rotten Catholic, but I can’t be anything else. I want to stay with Ted. To agree with him, that is more important to me than anything else. I can’t be heroic and independent, and stand up for my private conscience as against his. Actually I find I don’t care a damn for my private conscience. What I want is to live peacefully and amicably with my husband, and if that entails acting like a conforming Catholic, very well, it does, and that’s all about it. I can’t agree with Ted. Life is much too short, and becoming shorter, and there’s no going backwards in it. I took Ted for better or worse, till death do us part and I guess I took the Catholic Church in the same way. So there it is.

I’m not going to worry myself any more about the rights or wrongs of religions and churches, and the sorts of people one does or doesn’t find in them. I don’t intend to give another rap about the whole caboodle. Nor do I intend to make myself “believe.” I will believe as much as I can, as heretofore, and let the rest go hang. If I were a free and financially independent woman, living alone, I might do otherwise. I might do all sorts of things, which I don’t do now. I am not free and independent, so there it is. I hope I’ve settled with this worry for the rest of time. I’ll go to Mass on Sundays as required, and keep my mouth shut, also my mind. Religion has been a constant curse to me for a lifetime but I am not going to let it be so any longer. I’ll conform. I’ll conform to Ted, who is more important to me than anyone else in the universe, dead or living, so since he expects me to be a Catholic, a Catholic I’ll be.

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