3.1 Letter One: 1949

3/1/49

Dear Everybody:

Despite numerous obstacles the proper names were finally signed to the lease and we have now rented a house complete with garage, large yard, front porch, and beach and swimming at the end of the street, about 2–3 houses away. The rent is low enough so that we can plan to have some fun re-decorating the interior which needs it sadly. And we are now deep in color charts, catalogues, booklets of hints to home makers, long lists of things to do. And this is no doubt the last letter I shall write for many weeks – or months, Phil says. So, before I delve into the paint can to emerge nevermore, I shall describe our new though temporary holdings.

Wilson Ave. is one of the short streets that crosses the tiny peninsula which points southward into an estuary of Narragansett Bay. The village is known as Oakland Beach and is a summer resort in a small way, containing mostly permanent homes of people who commute to Providence to work. A direct bus route carries residents into the heart of Prov., a 35–40 min. ride. All the homes are small to middling in size, all have their own grounds. The soil is sandy and scrubby, not at all pretty in the winter. But most of the homes have bushes or fences and are neat and clean if unpretentious. The general impression is small-townish, not well-to-do.

Our house is a 2-minute walk to the bus, a 1-minute walk to the beach. The water can be seen from our front porch, the beach cannot be seen from there because the house is on a rise.

The house is pleasant looking from a small distance, and is basically sound with good foundations and a dry cellar. Up close, one sees that it has not been kept up well. The front steps need repair. There is a tiny front lawn in need of planting, bushes in need of pruning. But the back yard, which is as large as the house, has a strong new picket fence all around it and a child’s chair-swing. The shaded front porch covers the front of the house and goes around one corner for a short distance.

The front door leads right into the living room which goes across the front of the house and halfway back. The back of the house is divided into dining room and kitchen. A stairway leads from the living room to the second floor where there are three medium bedrooms and a large bathroom. The plumbing fixtures are old-fashioned, but the heating is new (oil furnace, forced hot air heat, Vulcan hot water heater and tank) and tucked neatly out of the way in the clean basement (thermostat control).

The floors and most of woodwork are oak and should look quite good with a little treatment. There are many windows, which the owners and present residents have strangely enough covered or half-covered with furniture. This plus the dark woodwork and heavily patterned walls result in darkness and gloom in what should be a bright cheerful little house.

The house has one large new gas stove, large old electric icebox, large old piano. All three of these we hope will remain. The owners keep muttering about selling them and replacing them with small old things, hoping thereby to persuade us to buy the ones that are there. We shall do no such thing of course. We would like the piano but would not buy one here since we shall probably move away in two years. We would just as soon pick up a high old-fashioned stove with warming oven, etc. and for less money. And if we buy a refrig, it will be a brand new GE. So we let them mutter. But there is not much else in the way of furniture in the house.

We have a crib, baby’s bureau, baby’s chair, toy box, highchair, desk radio, record cabinet, typewriter, books, bookcases, washing machine, baby’s toilet seat, portable shower, large rug, 3 throw rugs, file boxes, lapboard, and folding bridge table, army cot and sleeping bag; china and glassware and silverware, bed linens and pillows, drapery material, lamps, and clothes.  Period. So-o-o, between now and  moving day we shall have to hunt up a great lot of furniture. The most important item being a bed and mattress for us. Phil plans to make the bed and we shall have the mattress made to order. We want one made especially for people with bad backs and especially for wives with extra long husbands. And after that we’ll think about bureaus and tables and chairs and such.

Phil has details such as how to work the oil heater and hot water heater and windows and such and I have rooms to measure and contacts to make in the neighborhood, etc. Therefore, we shall be going out again this week. Sue loves the bus ride. She looks out the window, talks to her doll, and to people in the bus, and sings loudly.

The first time we heard of the house for rent, last Monday, Sue and I went out for the day. We had a lovely day. I have a friend who lives a short bus ride from the house, a little farther down the Bay. So we went out to see the house right after breakfast, were the first ones there and made a verbal deal for it; then we took the local bus to Mary’s house for lunch and the afternoon. Mary and I worked in adjoining offices downtown and left at the same time to have our babies within 5 weeks of each other. Little Walter is at the same stage of development as Sue, his extra 5 weeks of age not making much difference at this  point. They had a wonderful time together. And if I had had my camera with me I could have sent you a snap similar to the one in the Sun. Times. Sue was amazed by the kiss, but decided it wasn’t too bad.

I am not enthusiastic about the long bus ride for Phil twice each day. Not at all. I grew up in a small town where you could not commute for that long unless your job was situated on a buoy. But Phil says it’s not at all bad and he thinks it is worth it to have a place with a large yard for Sue, fresh air and clean air and a salt water swimming beach next door.
Well, we’ve got it now. Hope we like it. And we’re expecting you all down this summer. Bring your suits and the last one in is a dummy.