Dear poor Miss Mina. I do hope your convalescence is short lived. Please, please take good care of yourself. My Aunt Hetti spent years in a Vienna Sanitarium after her sniffles tragically deteriorated into Tuberculosis. Oh darling, I don't mean to worry you, I understand the Quirinelle and Kadorian doctors have much better treatments available than hers did.
Elizabeth O.- Yes, isn't Lucy adorable? I believe Miss Ball has done a number of features though only "The Fuller Brush Girl", made in Eastern Quirinelle, comes to my mind at the moment. It is a delightful murder mystery/comedy.
I was Enchanted to hear about the Exploits of the Culverian Air Corps. How thrilling! And isn't she the Dashing Aviatrix! (Oh dear, her name escapes me, and silly that I am, I couldn't find the archive). If I weren't already betrothed to Patience... well, a girl is allowed to Dream isn't she? Speaking of Patience, I believe I mentioned she is giving me aeronautical lessons. Here is a snap of us in her up-to-date "Meyers Oh Something or Other" taken by my Mum. It's no "Mustang" I'm sure, but I Adore its' pink and blue colour scheme.
May I add my "Two Cents" to the Great Sewing Controversy? I learned to sew at a Young age and have not once Regretted the education. But do I sew? Never! Well, ...hardly ever. So how do I find those up-to-date Vintesse ensembles that so suit my small bosom and thin frame? Well, if you have a Leaky roof you can either Shingle it yourself or Hire a roofer. I prefer to expend my Creative Energies on my real Passions; painting and cooking (I am attracted to the Immediacy of each medium, I think). You see this calf-length white pleated skirt and blue sailor tunic, with white and red piping, that I'm wearing? I found a printed photograph of the very same outfit in a "Life" magazine, showed it to my seamstress and, Voila! Of course its not as Economical as doing it yourself but even blondes must set Priorities. Besides Mums' Culverian Wall Street investments are positively sky high these days. My Point, I think, is that it doesn't matter if you're no Good at Sewing- so long as you're Good at Something. You should try my cold sesame noodles.
I also recall seeing her in the film of the Ziegfeld Follies as an exotic figure with a whip doing some sort of a dance with blondes in black cat-costumes!
With much love,
The shop-blonde, Miss? >Ahem< Yes, Miss, funny you should say that, because when I went back to the shop to buy all of those things, I thought that she was a very nice young lady, once she had discovered that there was not any need to hide under the counter. I thought that such a nice young lady as that deserved a little something to recover from the fright that I had given her, so when she closed the shop for luncheon we repaired to an establishment where we fortified ourselves. Thank you Miss, yes we did enjoy ourselves very much. She is a nicely brought up young lady, rather pretty, a bit shy but not overly so. I don't like blondes to be too shy. I like to be entertained. Of course I still like them to act like a proper lady, and treat them like one. You become a lady's maid because you would like to better yourself, you know. Jennifer, always aspire to better yourself, that's what my brunette mother told me, and I always have.
Maisie--that's the shop-blonde's name--and I are going out to tea again next week. She doesn't live with her mothers. She wanted to work in a shop, and they live in a farm cottage. So she left home and found lodgings in town. Very respectable lodgings they are too, very pleasant. Not a speck of dirt on the front door step, the lady that keeps the lodgings is most particular. Everything is just as it should be, it's very genteel. The lodgers are permitted to entertain guests in the back parlour. Well, Miss, I did enjoy that drink. It was very nice. I had better be leaving now, though. Perhaps I'll see you again soon, Miss.
In Denver I had to change lines from the Great Northern Railroad to the Southern Pacific, 'cause we have to head downhill into New Mexico so that when we turn right at Albuquerque to reach Arizona we will be far enough downhill to pop through the Sierra mountains into California at just the right level to get to El Lay. It shows the route on a dolly little map I found in my Pullmaid compartment: the train goes downhill 'till it reaches some Indian ruins (just uphill from Albuquerque), then it turns right (if one is going downhill), passes an Indian blanket and a couple of clay water jugs, then goes past some cactus with several bleached cow skulls lying about, then on past a snow-capped mountain or two, past three palm trees and before you know it one arrives at a little movie camera right on the shore of the Pacific Ocean and that's Hollywood!
Here is a picture postcard of the glorious thirty-car Rocky Mountain Limited snaking along the Continental Divide, that's where all the water flows downhill on one side into the Gulf of Mexico, and uphill on the other side into the Pacific Ocean, which is quite a bit higher, you know. If one looks carefully on the Gulf of Mexico side of the tracks one can see a Mummie bear and two baby bears watching the train.
Now I guess you are probably wondering just what the rest of my calendar months look like, since I have already shown you January through April. I intended to show you only a three-month trailer (with February as an added special extra bonus month, thats four), but I can't resist showing you just a few other months. Blonde Mummie always said I was a little exhibitionist (in case you dont know thats a girl who used to be an hibitionist but then saw the light and got reformed), so I will now show you several more months that Antonia shot in her studio last week.
So first here is July with me on a skyrocket which is a Culverian symbol for July, because in Culveria thats the month they set off fireworks as a way to bring on much needed showers to ripen the crops, but they dont usually have little reins on the rockets. Antonia made a fake rocket with little reins just for me and I am riding it side-saddle, as riding a skyrocket astride is most unbecoming and rather risky, as one might not be able to dismount just before it explodes. The halter top is the same as the April one, but the bottom is different, without any fringes.
Next is August, which is the hottest Culverian month, so thats me on a palm mat on a very hot August day, which calls for a rather, um, abbreviated bathing costume, but Antonia said that in California in summertime girls practically live in a bathing suit and in Hollywood girls sometimes go to work dressed like this if they happen to be a budding starlet. This bathing suit is quite fanciful, as the top has a big safety pin right in the front to hold the cups together, (with an almost invisible spaghetti strap running round to the back), and the bottom has two oversize safety pins, one on each side. It is not too practical for bathing, 'specially if there happen to be any waves, but Antonia said that this sort of outfit is very attractive to brunette movie producers, as it makes a blonde appear helpless and in need of protection, and movie producers, she says, are a very protective lot.
Last is the September one - this is me in the kitchen, cooking oatmeal, to prove I am not just a silly bathing beauty that can only sing and dance and jump out of a cake, but I have dramatic range and versatility and can also be quite useful around the house on occasion and can turn out a meal. It may appear that I am stirring the oatmeal in the wrong half of the bain-marie, where it would burn, but that is a clever touch Antonia added on purpose so that an alert brunette can point it out to her friends and feel that she can teach that blonde a thing or two in her own department!
Good-bye! I'll drop you a line when we reach Phoenix.
Which, leads me to say this about my favorite blonde. The other night, I was watching episodes of the up-to-date I Love Lucy show (I'm still recovering from it. I now understand the saying "laughing so hard my face and sides hurt". Lucy is a blonde's blonde with her mishaps! She is truly a fine actress and comic, for watching her on the screen, well it was just so natural. Does anyone know if Lucille Ball has ever been in any movies? I fear I just can't get enough of seeing this fine blonde! She in many ways reminds me of myself, scatterbrained and silly, yet so optimistic! Her optimism I believe is the most wonderful trait she displays for no matter what scheme she is dreaming up, she just knows it is going to succeed.
Her best friend, Ethel is more of a brunette, but she does have a little bit of blonde in her, and of course this is who Lucy is talking to when she is trying to enlist Ethel's aid! Ethel is almost sure that Lucy's plans will fail but Lucy is just so optimistic it is contagious and before you know it, Ethel is going right along. You pettes just must see I Love Lucy, for once you do then you too will love Lucy!!!!
Well, girls, the intrepid Ariadne is off to fame and fortune. There can be no lack of success for a girl with such varied talents. The pictures of her were utterly delightful. Who could resist such a calendar? Perhaps we will see her soon at the Magic Cinema--and I don't mean sitting in the stalls!
Hands up every pette who has a Magic Cinema! Oh yes, I did think so. An extremely numerous collection of manicured fingertips are waving in the air. What's that? That pette at the back has wants to know what a Magic Cinema is? Of course I will tell you, dear heart.
The Magic Cinema is a travelling show from Fairyland. It manifests from time to time, frequently at regular intervals, in all the pettes' homes. We won't bother with the vulgar mechanics of how to prepare the hestia for a visit of the Magic Cinema, shall we? I expect that you can guess. Anyway, when the Magic Cinema comes to visit, it is like a big Cinema except that it is such a dainty size it can fit into a room in your home. There is darkness, and silence, and no noisy eating of sweets. When the Magic Cinema visits my hestia, there is no girl selling ice-creams in the Interval, but there is in some pettes' hestias.
The Magic Cinema shows the loveliest films. The Magic Cinema visited me yesterday, and I must tell you pettes about it. The film was The Spanish Main. This is an utterly delightful adventure story, starring Miss Maureen O'Hara, and made in Western Kadoria. It must not be missed at any cost! When I tell you that the film is all about a pette who became a pirate to fight against tyranny, and a haughty Spanish Contessa, the adventuresses amongst you will become excited. When I tell you that it is all about a marriage, the blondes amongst you will become excited. A film for the whole family, is it not? The pirate and the Spanish Contessa are wed; a forced marriage to which the Contessa agrees because...I won't spoil it for you pettes. It is too sweet for words, and all the blondies will be melting, and all the brunies will leave the cinema feeling exhilarated, daring and capable of sweeping that demi-reluctant (or at least, that's the pretence) blonde off her feet. It is too charming for words. And if you have not a Magic Cinema near you, why not prepare for one? Perhaps it will come and visit you, if you promise never to rustle the chocolate papers during the film, to be quiet during the performance, and ensure that the Cinema is dark during the film. That is how the fairies who make the Magic Cinema like it. They don't like to show themselves, or to be disturbed in any way whilst they are spinning their magic. And with with melting blondes and heroic brunettes being the result, who can blame them? (But you haven't got to promise not to hold that pette's hand. That's the other charm of darkness, n'est ce'pas?)
I bought this keen Art-Neo picture postcard of the Sky Chief at the newsagents in the grand waiting room at Union Station last night in Chicago and I would have sent you this very postcard with writing on it except everything I want to tell you wont fit on a postcard so Im just sending the picture part and writing a regular letter instead.
So here is how I got my first Big Break ... Do you remember when I jumped out of the giant Valentine's card at the St. Valentine's Day Extravaganza in New Kadoria? It seems ever so long ago, but it was really only last week. Well, the New Kadoria Daily Sentinelle printed a picture of me jumping out of the card and it was picked up by the wire services and within days I started getting tons of fan mail from brunettes - at least a dozen letters, each one more enthusiastic than the next (and a considerable number containing marriage proposals). One was from the brunette photopette who took the newspaper picture, her names Antonia, and she said a girl with looks and talents like mine should really be a star and asked me how come I wasnt already out in Hollywood being famous and making five films a year? So Antonia offered to make an tasteful photographic portfolio of me disguised as a bathing suit calendar (not me disguised as a calendar, sillies, the portfolio, I mean!) with a picture for each month and the first picture would be the one of me jumping out of the Valentine's card and that would be February. I know February comes second, you sillies, after January, which is usually the first month, except for leap years: Antonia simply meant that we would only have to do eleven more pictures instead of twelve (a year has twelve months here in Culveria, but they are a few days shorter to make up for it). Antonia told me lots of Hollywood starlets get their first break after making a bathing suit calendar. The big Hollywood studios all have special talent scouts who do nothing but go around looking at bathing suit calendars twelve months a year (in Culveria, but in Aristasia proper they get a month off), so a bathing suit calendar can be a girls Way to the Top.
You will remember that Im already a seasoned photopette's model from my days flogging Butterfly Brand cosmetics to all the Bentley drivers in London, when Alexis (she has only one good eye and wears a gold lamay pirate's patch over the other), took my picture for the package and I didnt need any. Didnt need any makeup, I mean, 'cause my natural schoolgirl complexion, well, say suffee, they said at the time. Now, Miranda and Rosie and Trudy and Miranda's mothers did not appear completely convinced that a dozen pictures of a pretty girl in a bathing suit can launch her on a Hollywood trajecktory, but they were forgetting that when a girl can also sing and tap dance and jump out of baked goods like I can, a bathing suit calendar certainly can't do her any harm, I mean, it certainly gives her an edge over all those girls who can sing and tap dance and jump out of baked goods and who don't have their own bathing suit calendars. So I set all their minds at ease on that score, though the two mothers still looked rather skeptical, but I have a quite a bit of hard-boiled experience when it comes to calendars, since I already became a famous month, February, when I jumped through the Valentine, so I told them they had no reason to worry for my sake at all and that they would be seeing me on the Silver Screen at the Tivoli and the Rialto and the Odeon by the time they flipped their calendar pages to June.
So when Trudy and Rosie and Miranda and Miranda's two mothers saw that I was bound and determined to go seek my fortune in Hollywood no matter what, they pitched in and sewed up a storm, coming up with half a dozen bathing suits for my photo session, which was last Thursday. Trudy and Rosie thought I should go for "the girl next door" look, and not wear anything too riskay, but I talked them into doing a rather, um, scanty two-piece number with a strapless top for January, the first month, because a girl always wants to make a good first impression and Januarys the first month, you see, except for leap years, of course. So on Friday we drove to Antonia's studio, halfway between New Quirinelle and New Kadoria, and did the pictures. So here is the January one, with me sitting on blocks of ice - January usually falls in the winter, you see, so that's why Antonia used blocks of ice. (I wont tell you how it feels reclining on ice in a two-piece bathing suit, but a vocational artiste doesnt complain, so I shant.)
You all have already seen February, so I won't show it again. But here's March. That's a robin I'm holding (you can tell its a robin because its March, and March is when robins come back). The robin wasnt actually real, so it couldnt fly away, but the ice was real, I promise! Being a calendar girl has certain hazards - ice blocks in January, skyrockets in July....
The last month for today is April: that's me with a transparent plastic umbrella, holding out my hand to see if it has stopped raining and whether its May. The umbrella and my hand being held out stand for showers (April showers, you see, so when they stop its May!) I have all the months with me right here in a big manila envelope in my valise in my plush Pullmaid compartment, I am just showing you Aphrodite Cocktail Bar pettes three months as a sort-of-a special calendar "trailer," and you already have February, so thats four.
There will surely be one of those bathing suit calendar talent scouts lurking about at the Southern Pacific terminal in El Lay (thats Spanish, you know, for Los Angeles), picking off the real talent coming in everyday on the trains from Chicago - separating the cream from the chaff, so all I shall have to do is show her the January page and ... Presto! Next thing I'll be in the casting directors office at Warner Sisters or MGM being offered big roles and a fat contract. Then Ill buy a 30-room mansion right next to Pickfair and all of you can come visit me in between contracts. It will have a projection room, of course, so you can see the rushes of all my new films! But, La! We are just pulling into Des Moines, I want to pop off the train for a mome and post you this letter!
Elizabeth O, your coffee pot sounds wonderful. I expect that the fairies did have a hand in it. And your real tins are delightful. As for sewing, I do think that if one cannot find Real clothes, that making them oneself, or having a seamstress make them from a Real pattern is a good idea. The material is not as nice as that of which Real clothes are made, but there we are, faute de mieux, as the Continentals say. Your War Work is very important--and I only wish that I could see you, arrayed for battle in your exquisite armour, as you venture forth upon your fleeming expeditions! I, too, am rather keen, on Acts of Charity. I had the misfortune to visit the Pit today. It was a great consolation to be able to reflect upon the light and loveliness that I was bringing into the drab, mad inhabitant's lives by means of my beautiful black hat, coat, gloves and shoes. (Yes, Norma, my handbag did match. No, I know that it is not essential, but is it not charming when it does?) Clothes makyth maid, as they say.
Dear Miss Mina, I trust that you are feeling better now, you poor darling creature. What an interesting phrase in reference to marriage--to 'go the whole nine yards'. I suppose that if one were only flirting, one would only 'go two and three-quarter inches'. I shall certainly pass on your private question to Miss Barbara when I see her. For myself, I think that the question of a blonde buying a brunette a drink might rather depend upon the brunette and blonde concerned!
Alas, Lycress, if a girl is gone for a while, she has an awful lot of catching up to do. The Bar is positively bursting with scintillating conversation on all manner of subjects, you know. It is enough to make one's head spin!
As for the' wounded'--well, as Miss Barbara so rightly said, when a girl suffers from battle fatigue, there is nothing so heartening as a little matriotic talk! The thought of fair and peaceful Quirinelle, the nobility and passion of Kadoria, the jinkiness and 'depth' of Vintesse, the formality and grace of Arcadia, and the discipline and truth of Amazonia, the sophisticated smartness of Trent, and the wonders of Novaria are balm to a girl's mind.
I mentioned to you pettes that I have only recently arrived in Quirinelle. Do let me tell you about it. Quirinelle undoubtedly is peaceful and fair. It is also remarkably 'enclosing', I find. The pit dashes against the walls of Quirinelle but seems a very long way away. In Kadoria, it seems to me, one fights the pit within and without; but Quirinelle simply seems very far above the pit. Quirinelle seems to me to epitomise the fortress of the hestia, or rather, the fortress that the hestia may be if we will it to become so. The root that sinks deep into the sanity of the normal, in the true sense of the word. A girl suffering from battle fatigue could do no better than visit the haven of sanity and solidity that is Quirinelle. Hail Quirinelle, the Charming, and Queen Elspeth, the Fair!
Greetings, girls! Elizabeth Ruth here. Welcome back, Elizabeth O., dear name-sister! Let me buy you a drink - may I suggest an Imperial Fizz? Candida got me drinking them. One day I hope to have the courage to try a Golden Dragon, but I understand a girl might want to make sure that she has no pressing engagements the next morning! Barpette, two Imperial Fizzes, please.
I haven't any pictures - I'll leave that to Norma and Marcelene - but I would like to second Marcelene's praise of home sewing. Because it isn't just the war-torn provinces of Aristasia that have shortages, you know, but most of Telluria. Say, for example, that you are just dying for a sort of modified Christianne Dior "New Look" dress, with wide lapels and a buttoned bodice fitted to the waist, and a big flaring skirt. You can see it in your mind's eye, say in navy blue silk or rayon, with a bit of a crinoline, and big buttons, maybe an inch across, covered in the same fabric. Now this sounds simple enough; a classic and very flattering) design, a simple colour, no special trims or notions (for you non-sewers, "notions" in this context, means odds and ends like hooks and eyes and bits of elastic, not ideas.) And yet, as odd as it sounds, such a pleasing and natural - indeed a very nearly universal - garment is not to be had, either at shops or at fleems. (You know girls, around here, fleems are called "garage sales". My mother and sister and I go "garage saling" on auspicious Saturdays, or just "saling", which mystifies my sister's friends, who hear "sailing" and who know how seasick she gets at the sight of the ocean.)
Excuse me, I digress. It must be the Imperial Fizz. (Yes, another would be very nice, thank you, dear.)
Or suppose you find the perfect skirt at a fleem, just what you've been looking for, a lovely pattern of black and pale pink. Now you need, absolutely must have, the perfect blouse to wear with this stunning find, and nothing will do but a shawl-collar blouse of the same pale pink. Well, just try to match a pale pink! And when you do find the right colour, it's the wrong size, or it has short sleeves when you need long sleeves, or it has businesslike lapels which are just all wrong for the skirt.
Well you catch my drift. At times like these, there is only one solution. First, a trip to the fabric store. Oh, heaven. Hundreds of possibilities, piled high. This table has bright silks, hanging like liquid rainbows from their rolls. That table has rich, luscious wool suitings, draped to show their seductive weight. There's a little alcove with fabric for wedding dresses and ball gowns; there are marvelous prints just by the window... Really, the hard part is limiting oneself to - what was it? oh, yes, navy blue rayon, and some light blouse fabric in pale pink. Some little pink pearl buttons for the blouse, some self-covering buttons for the dress, some navy tulle for the crinoline (thank heaven we have patterns at home, because I can get lost in the pattern books for hours) and that's it, if you can drag yourself away from imagining the winter ballgown you could make with that burgundy velvet or the most innocent virginal nightgown that swiss cotton could become.
Next stop, the sewing room. I practically grew up in a sewing room, and I believe it is my favourite room in the hestia, full of dreams just waiting to be made up into clothes. My sewing room is equipped not only with three sewing machines (all different, and all, I assure you, quite necessary) but also with a television and movies, so I can watch lovely familiar movies while I sew. (Like Casablanca, or Breakfast at Tiffany's, if I have enough clean hankies, Anne of Green Gables.) But I never watch movies while I cut, not since one of those mishaps that makes the most brunettish brunette wonder if she doesn't have some latent blondeness.
Anyway, within a few evenings - ta da! (oops, these stools are a little slippery for that sort of grand, sudden gesture, aren't they? Thank you, dear, I think I'm steady now.) One New Look crinolined navy rayon dress, and one pale pink shawl-collar blouse that goes perfectly with the skirt!
My mother used to hum a little tune while she sewed, and while she helped me learn to sew. She was never very musical, and she seemed to have forgotten most of the words, but I believe what she hummed was a fragment of a real song. All I ever heard her sing of it was, "oh, the sewing machine, the sewing machine, a girl's best friend." I shall ask her if she remembers any more of it, next time we go garage saling.
P.S. Since originally writing this, I have asked my mother if she recalls any more of the song, and she can't, although she sang a perfectly faithful rendition of the exact same line she used to sing to me so many years ago (which made me feel very odd indeed). She thought the song was originally English. Do any of you know any more of it?
Some one has described Aristasia as "one long conversation". Well, Aphrodite is rather like that. If you want to catch up on the conversation so far, the Archive is the place to do it.
And here are LOTS of delightful girly places to go
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