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#1657: Willa Cather to Harriet Fox Whicher, January 24, 1944

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ Dear Mrs. Whicher1:

I am so glad to hear from you again. I know I don’t deserve it. But when one drops out of everything for nearly two years, one gets so behind that it seems impossible to catch up with life again.

Isn’t this an amazing and unsatisfactory world, to us, even though we are in the least tormented corner of it? Nobody belongs anywhere any more, and nobody, either old or young, is living the kind of life they intended to live and are prepared to live. I don’t wonder that you and Mr. Whicher4 fled away from Amherst3 for your Christmas.

All the young people in my family are in the war in one way or another. Mary Virginia5 is with her husband, Dr. Mellen6, at the Station Hospital, Camp Carson, Colorado7. They have been there for more than a year now. Virginia was in New York2 for six weeks this winter, and it seemed lovely to have her back again. I parked her at the Hotel New Weston, which isn’t far away, and we did a good many pleasant things together. Her brother Tom8 and his wife9 are in a hospital camp at Goldfield, Arizona10. I love the Southwest11, but Goldfield is certainly one of the dreariest spots in it. My brother Roscoe12's oldest daughter13 (the one who graduated from Smith when I had my last visits with you) is staying with my brother in California14, as her husband15 is a commander of a plane carrier somewhere in the Pacific16. When all family relations are broken up, and so many friends of mine don't even know where theirs husbands or sons are, the result seems to be that nothing in our life is very real at any time. There is a scramble for food, and one reads the war news: that’s about all.

Your lovely Christmas card of Beacon Street in winter, I am pasting in ⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ Mrs. Fields17' book, “Memories of a Hostess”18. I used to love Boston19. But now that they are trying to make the region around Trinity Church look like the ugliest part of New York, Boston, to me, seems like a jig saw puzzle all broken up - it hasn’t any character any more now.

Miss Lewis20 and I spent last summer at Northeast Harbor, Maine21. We stayed at the Asticou Inn22 and lived in great comfort, though the food was poor, as it was everywhere: was and is.! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could drop back and live as we did fifteen years ago? This sort of suspense really isn’t life at all.

It is good to hear from one’s friends, and I do thank you for writing me a letter which I did not deserve. And I wish a Happy New Year to you and Mr. Whicher.

Affectionately Willa Cather

I hate to send you a dictated letter, but in doing up so many packages at Christmas time (for boys in the army and for friends no longer very young or very youngwell) I sprained my right hand23—the one Dr. Ober24 kept in a brace for six months several years ago. So I am back in the brace brace again. Very difficult to guide a pen with a steel brace attached to one!

Mrs. George Whicher1 Amity Street Amherst, Massachusetts3 NEW YORK, N.Y.2 JAN 25 1944 230 PM