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#2213: Willa Cather to Roscoe Cather, January 14, 1944

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My dear Roscoe1:

When the checks from McVicar-Rood Montebello, Ltd., have arrived from time to time, they have sometimes had a voucher attached labeled "partnership withdrawals". I had not the slightest notion what the withdrawals mean, and have always thrown away the vouchers instead of filing them with the Chase Bank's notices of deposits made to my account. By accident, purely, one of these vouchers got through to Miss Bloom5, who knows something about such things, and she tells me that these withdrawals may not be taxable. If you could send me a statement of how much these partnership withdrawals amount to for the year 1943 and tell me what they represent, it might save me some trouble. The Federal Income Tax people hound me just as savagely for the money I throw away as they do for anything I may have forgotten to report. They are determined to make a professional bookkeeper of me.

The enclosed letter from Arthur Train6 may amuse you. The four candidates for this medal7 were: Sinclair Lewis8, Ernest Hemingway9, Ellen Glasgow10, Willa Cather. Ballot blanks were sent around to all members of the Institute11. I wish the majority had voted for Hemingway. It would have pleased him very much, and it doesn't please me at all. For twelve years I have had the Academy gold medal12 for fiction, and now to bemedaled by the Institute is like getting a high school diploma after you have graduated with honors from a university. Alfred Knopf13 says it was a brazen move on the part of the Institute, and that the members wanted to get some advertisement out of me. Unfortunately, one can't refuse these annoying interruptions. The medal is not to be presented until May – perhaps I can get away by that time.

Now, my dear boy, I am awfully sorry to tell you that my right hand14 is back just where it was when you first saw me at the Fairmont15. Dr. Ober16 came to town, from Boston17, on his monthly trip and I saw him Sunday. But I knew before that what had happened, and put the brace on at least ten days before he saw it. The worst of the business is that I have overworked my left hand terribly, and it is really more painful than the right – same trouble – inflamed tendon sheath. It is a very humiliating situation. Dr. Ober wants me to take the brace off my right hand for one hour in the morning and do a little writing with it – just to see what happens. He begs me to carry my left hand in a sling and use it as little as possible. I am not proud of this situation, I can assure you. Until my right hand breakdown, I really had no warning. Ever since I left San Francisco18 I have used it as if it were a well hand. Of course, when Edith19 and I got home at the end of August, we did a lot of quite heavy housework before we could get any satisfactory domestic help. But my hand never hurt – though it sometimes felt tired. I am telling you about this because it will explain a good many things I can't do. The truth is, one can do almost nothing with one hand in a brace and the other in a sling. Perhaps I shall have to go to California and live at the Fairmont.!

My love to you, my dear boy. Willie

No word of this situation to Elsie20 or other members of the family. They seem to love to be the press agents of my misfortunes.

FROM CATHER 570 PARK AVE3., NEW YORK CITY2 Mr. R. C. Cather,1 First Savings Bank of Colusa, Colusa, California.4 NEW YORK N.Y.2 Jan 14 1944 4 PM