September 19, 1952 (part 1)
[My mother and father saw me off on the train from Los Angeles to Phoenix (where I was to be met by someone I didn’t know) on the morning of September 19, 1952. I had just turned 15 and in a daze of mixed emotions, expectations, and fears, I set off on my new adventure…boarding school. This letter arrived a few days after I arrived.]
As you read this I presume you are pulling out of Los Angeles station on your way to Phoenix and what will be a happy and exciting year for you. (and for me too, for this is the sort of thing that I so dreamed of when I was your age and I am going to enjoy every minute of it with you, just as if I at long last had this wonderful opportunity) “Opportunity” is one of those words I always have to look up in the dictionary, to see if it has one or two “p”s.
I’m afraid that I’m going to be unable to write the kind of a letter I’m supposed to write as a father to a daughter going away for the first time, full of “don’t’s” and “watch out fors” and “avoids” and “promise me’s”. I seem to just be full of love for you and delight for you and confidence in you. I find little room in my mind for in my heart for doubts about your ability to cope with any situation, critical or otherwise. There will be crises, some you will meet with wisdom and instant dispatch, some will take thought and some you will doubtless fumble…like other human beings, as different from machines.
Carl Stalling is in the next room writing the music for the next Pepé picture, the one set at the Paris World’s Fair of 1900. He runs the sound track on his Moviola and I keep hearing Pepé singing, over and over again, to the tune of “Billie Boy” (“Billy”?): “Can you kees a preety girl, Pepé Boy, Pepé Boy? Can you kees a preety girl, charmeeng Pepé?? I can kees a preety girl, ‘fore she can shake a preety curl, I’m a yong theeng and cannot leave my mo-thair” … I think it will be very cute.
[more of this letter next time…]