Category Archives: Chuck Jones’ Letters to Linda

Chuck Jones’ Letters to His Daughter, Linda (Redux)

[If you've not read Chuck Jones' letters to his daughter while she was at boarding school in Arizona, they're certainly worth your time.  Just click on the appropriate category on the left side of this page.  –ed.]

# 5 Post:

Wednesday…September 24, 1952

Dearest Linda;

Another day, another letter and my damned typewriting doesn’t seem to improve.  The two initial fingers of my right hand do all the work and others just go along for the ride.  The index finger of my left hand pushes the shift key.  I suppose it thinks it’s earning its keep.  It just pointed out to me by doing so that it also returns the carriage.  Big deal!!  Do you know I used a typewriter for about six years before I discovered what the tabular key is for?  I felt like I’d just invented it.

I’m on a diet.  I found to my horror Sunday morning that I weighed 194 pounds.  Pure flab.  So when Donn  came over I challenged him to a two-week diet: no sugars, sweets, starches, breads, potatoes, butter, milk, salad dressings or etcetera.  No beer!  We agreed on a $50.00 penalty if either broke it, so I think I’ll go through with it.  What a dreadful thing it is to have no will power.

I saw [two of your friends] last evening.  They came tripping past the house, giggling and gabbling.  They were in bathing suits, had just been swimming.  They want you to write to them.  Write to me instead, hm?

Has the Senator Nixon controversy struck the school?  I hope not.  It’s a hopeless sort of argument.  Had to do, as I suppose you know, as to whether he should gave accepted $18,000 as a sort of expense fund to help his income.  In my opinion he is, at best, naive, and dammit, I don’t want a naïve vice-president.  My advice to you, if you need it, is, while over there, to indulge in political controversies sparingly.  You’re probably in a nest of children from Republican families so you won’t win many converts to the Democratic Party.  

  ‘Bye for now.

Linda at school
Linda Jones at her boarding school in Arizona.  

 

Chuck Jones’ letters to his daughter, Linda

Thirsday (Thirstdate) uh…yeh.
1954

Post # 55

Dearest Linda
How can I have spring fever when it isn’t even Autumn?  I’m s lonesome as a penguin in a sandstorm; I’m as stormy as a sanguine in a pen.  Don’t be lazy you little beast, look up sanguine in the dictionary.  However, I’ll give you a clue: the butler is the up-stairs maid’s lover, but the first foot-man was aware that the Bolivian Embassy Café had been rifled by a man named Winchester who was exactly 76 years old.

The street in front of the studio is being severely scarred by a number of unlikely looking machines, one of which is approximately two hundred and seven feet, ten inches long and chews a hole in the street nine feet wide by twenty feet deep.  This is followed by a clamshell digger to pick up clamshells left at lunch by the workers.  Then a largish crane shambles up and sloppily lowers an eight by thirty foot pipe into the hole where it is welded together by men known in the trade as “Welders”.  This pie will extend from the Colorado River to San Pedro…No, no, now wait…it must be this damn diet, confections of all sorts seem to sneak into my conversations.  New start:  This pipe will eventually extend and carry water from the Colorado River to San Pedro, where I presume it will be dumped into the Pacific Ocean.  What won’t science think of next?

Did you hear of the captain who found a beautiful stowaway in Number 2 hold and took her to his cabin and showed her number 3 hold?

Then there was the man who made two crossings of the Atlantic without taken a bath…the dirty double-crosser.

Had a pleasant visit with Dr. Mumler yesterday who was pleased to announce that my virus was still lurking in my veins and arteries.  My blood sedimentation rate is up you’ll be pleased to know, rather like a small-scale Bologna Creek I gather, pleasantly sludgy and rife with eel-grass.  He seemed quite pleased, said he’d never seen this particular virus flourish in a human body, said it was hard enough to keep it going in the laboratory with the help of yogurt cultures.  He patted me gently on the shoulder like a Leyden flask and told me not to worry, that the stuff was not contagious.  He said to continue on with the old yeast only to force it when I felt low.  I said I always felt low about something, what about that?  He said only when I felt low physically.  I asked him when I felt who low physically?  He tapped me gently on the bridge of the nose with his reflex hammer and shot me out into the corridor where I sat quietly reading a poster for Forest Lawn Cemetery until Dottie found me and carried me sobbing to the car.

If any of the above seems to indicate that I am trying to be whimsical when really sick, quite the opposite is true.  I am getting sick trying to be whimsical.  The truth of the matter is that I am in magnificent health, strong as Camembert, erect as wet Kleenex, a boon to my companions, a delight to my family and a breeding place for a small innocuous virus name of sam.  He is so innocuous that he can’t even carry a capital letter on his name.  Nevertheless he is mine.
As Dottie may have mentioned, we are going to Laramie Oct. 29 and will return through Albuquerque to Phoenix where we will spend the week of October 1…pardon..November 1st to 7th.  We will either see you in Phoenix or at the ranch or preferably both depending on how available the Merkley car is.

Until later I remain your devoted papa.  Je vous adore…
 

Chuck Jones’ letters to his daughter, Linda

Wednesday, November 12?

Post # 54

Dearest Linda:

I owe you more letters than I do apologies for not writing to you oftener.  The preceding sentence defies logic but it sounds logical.  As the mid-Victorian magician said to his wife as he sawed her in two, “I could not half thee, dear, so well loved I not Honoré best.  (Honoré was a popular ladies’ name in the nineties.)

Enclosed find one (1) explanation by John Burton of the theory and practise of 3-d for your Physics project.  Since it is fairly brief, though reasonably clear, I thought I had best check with Mr. Pickwick [Hollywood bookstore] for further information.  I found an excellent volume, though somewhat technical, which will be mailed today and should arrive not too much after this letter.  As I say, a lot of it is technical and can be skipped, but the introduction and the last part, I believe titled “The Human Element” look very interesting and inside the back cover is a sleeve containing a pair of 3-d glasses and a series of charts.  The chance of pulling this material into shape for an interesting article is very good I would think.  One thing to always stress, I think, is that it is manifestly impossible to attain 3-d without insuring separate viewpoints for the two eyes.  So far, spectacles seem the only possible answer.  All the other processes only simulate stereo: Cinemascope, Cinerama, Vistavision all are concerned with greater size and different dimension, but they are no more 3-d than a mural is.  They can force the eyes to move around by the very nature of their shape and size, but the truth is that a one-eyed person will see exactly what a two-eyed person will, and this is the significant difference.   In three-d we get binocular vision, or depth perception or whatever you want to call it. Anyway, I hope this will serve your needs and that your paper will be a huge success.  I love you.

The C-plus in Spanish is far from fatal and I am very, very pleased with the way your academic progress is going, but this is the big year and there is no question that you have the ability, the diligence and the desire to get top grades and to learn, too.  Whether they will be sufficient to get you into Stanford we do not know, there are other factors.  Doing top work does not always get top grades, we know that too; teachers are often very human, but I know that you are going to merit high grades this year because you will bend yourself to it and not as a drudge but because you can, because this is the time to do so and because, as Roger Bannister shows, the final drive is the supreme satisfaction and the supreme achievement.  This is the big year in your high school career and I am not asking what your report card will be, but I am asking truly and simply that you give your best.  And that is asking a great deal.

I can’t wait to see you behind the wheel of this beautiful Oldsmobile with your horse-tail flying and your pretty, proud head thrown back.  Wow!

So much for now..I know you want this material so I had best get it in the mail.

Shall I write to [your boyfriend] re grades?  Would it help?

I love you…

Chuck Jones’ letters to his daughter, Linda

 

October 28, 1954

Post # 53

Dearest Linda;

I just took a short nap and am in that gentle-post-dream state that follows napery.  I find that, like a child, I am marvelously rehabilitated by a small sleep, less likely to cry at small irritations, a better companion, better able to find ways to amuse myself.  Fifteen minutes invested in sleep is a wise deal I guess for any age.

I suppose you know by now that you are my dearly beloved.  It seems to me that I have had many daughters of many ages, each clear-cut, each lovely in her own way.  I remember you as a small soft-shouldered baby with wispy blonde hair very gay at the back of your small carefully packed warm neck, dimples where your knuckles should have been, my eyes peering back out of your tiny face.  A mysterious experience, unlike any other.  I can see you as a leggy twelve-year old looking down the stair well at Iris Circle, when I fell backwards down those stairs, carrying a tray to you when you had a cold.  Odd that this mental snapshot persists: me sort of in mid-air, surrounded by flying dishes and lazily curling milk, head not yet in contact with wood and you, hands whitely gripping the railing, staring with horror-stricken eyes (I had not yet recovered completely from my cracked vertebrae).  I thought then, in that suspended second in eternity, that you were the prettiest girl I had ever seen in that awkward age and I still think so.  There are thousands of other still pictures, horse pictures, sleeping pictures, Squire* pictures, Dottie’s arms pictures, all of you, all fascinating, all mine and best of all each the most successful, each the prettiest as it happens.  For now is my favorite time, now my favorite daughter, now my greatest pride, till my heart is near bursting in my love and admiration and pride in you, and when we receive a report like the last one from [your counselor] I know that we made many mistakes as parents but that since we were working with superb material and because we wanted so much for you to be happy and triumphant as a person that you have managed to survive and outlive our blunders.

We will see you briefly next week.  We are homesick for you, too.  This is a short letter, but I do not think that extending it would enable me to say more convincingly that I love you.

For I do.

*Squire was a Great Dane.

Chuck Jones’ letters to his daughter, Linda

September 27, 1954

Post # 52

Dearest Linda;

I think it only fair to tell you that this is my first letter of the current school year.  I like to keep you up to date on these matters so you will be the alert young Girl Guide I like to remember you as.  “I like to remember you as.”  How anybody wh does that to the English language can hope to learn French is beyond me.  By the way, how would you pronounce “wh”?

Your mother is becoming more of a problem every day.  We were discussing the Oceanarium with some people yesterday and she told of the home-sick shark who was kept all by himself in the tank.  I asked if he was by hisself, was he a loan-shark?  Quick like a mouse she replied that she didn’t know, she hadn’t seen his three balls.  What a serpent-wife she is.

The hills hereabouts are tinder-dry, as you know, and there has been a really severe rash of bad brush fires.  The brown-grey smoky crud has drifted down and mated with the greasy acid of the smog to form a really unpleasant blanket over the city.  The stuff makes you want to cry, but plugs up your tear-ducts and makes you want to murder whoever is responsible, but prevents you from finding them in the muck.

Speaking of French, and who wasn’t?  I went down to take my lesson this morning only to find that I had made a mistake.  I wasn’t due until the afternoon and there were no French teachers available.  I was offered my choice of Arabic, Pakistani, Watusi, Icelandic and Armenian, but I didn’t feel that I could attain a speaking acquaintance with any of these in an hour, so I left in a huff. Or, as Groucho says, in a minute and a huff.

Just heard a wonderful term:  “McCarthy-wasm.”  It’s not so popular to be pro that grubby ape now, thank goodness.

The Indian summer is upon us and the heat is pretty trying, coupled with the smog—as above.  I find that psychologically I stop thinking summer about September fifteenth and from then on anything above eighty-two degrees causes unseemly sweats and general distempers in body and my pore old mind.  I’m ready for the winter snows about now; I’m greasing my flexible flyer (sled) whilst others are still toying with water wings.  Dammit, I want to don tweeds and drink hot-buttered rum and it’s ninety-three outside and a hundred and four in here.  Four letter word!

My correspondence is piled up to last July.  Throughout the nation naïve moppets are awaiting their or’ginal B. Bunnies.  I feel very sad about this and incapable of action, too.  Poor lil slobs.

No parental pats or admonishments today.  I wouldn’t know just where to pat or of what to admonish.  No reports of you yet.  Are you in the [town] pokey?  (Jail)  Have you been elected president of the United States?  Have you been tossed into some lime-pit, reserved for recalcitrant students?  If so, I want some of your tuition back.  I want some back if you are only in jail, part of the dough goes for board, you know.  Why not send us one of your fingers, to prove you are still alive?  You’ve got lots of fingers, it’s not like I was asking for a leg.

Note the new paper with all the peg-holes.  We only use two skinny ones and the center one, the rest are hold-overs from the old system.  Well, I could do something on holy paper, but I won’t.

The fact that I love you in no wise indicates that you are lovable.  I have odd tastes, that’s all.

Daddy

Chuck Jones’ letters to his daughter, Linda

 

January 25, 1954

 

Post # 51

 

Dearest Linda:

 

O.K. so you made a
mistake.  As Mayor Fiorello La
Guardia of New York used to say, “I seldom make a mistake, but when I do, it’s
a beaut.”  I’d say you made a
beaut.  All right.  Man has not clawed his way up out of
the swamps in a series of right or even righteous moves.  He has come some fearful croppers, but
he gets up, wipes the mud out of his eye and the stains from his soul and
proceeds.  Being man he has no
choice.  He can stop and be a
vegetable or he can proceed and be a man.

 

You stumbled and got
your nose dirty.  Again I say, all
right.  But nobody tripped you.  Not [him].  Not anybody else. 
This is where I think you deserve criticism.  Not because I am holier than you are, but because you are
indulging in an evasion.  You are
apparently bravely asserting your fault and at the same time trying to make
[him] culpable.  It can’t be
done.  Man has tried many times to
learn how to talk out of both sides of his mouth and he just isn’t built that
way.  No individual can claim that
another person has led him into error, because by so doing he acknowledges
intellectual and spiritual superiority to that person.  Society can make this judgment, but not
the individual, not without sacrificing something very dear and very necessary
to him:  his dignity.  You may freely judge [him] as you
will.  This is your right and your
duty, but what you do is not any fault of [his].

 

I know what you have
been through and you know that I know it and that I sympathize with and honor
that hurt.  I have been there and I
know.  You are a clean and honest
person and I know you will never tarnish yourself with any big meaty crimes, so
I must reserve my anguished cries for the smaller cunning ones.  Beware the amoeba, my daughter, and the
dragons can be easily slain.

 

Not in reference to
any of the above, but I would like to tell you quickly that I believe there is
only one basic wrong in any human society and that is the one against the
society itself.  I believe that a
sour visage and a murder are part of the same general misuse of society.  They both cause disturbance and
unbalance.  Both, I think, indicate
the assumption by the individual that he knows better than the society or its
laws.  Murder, of course, is a
written crime while a person can be a sullen drag on the people around him for
fifty years without being legally penalized.  But they are both crimes, nevertheless.  I think any action can be easily judged
by the question of whether or not it wrongly affects those around us.  If it does, then it deserves a second
look.  To be sure, there are times
when the true individual must be out of step with society, but this is usually
on the basis of his ideas and not his actions.  Well, this is not intended as a cure-all, but it might give
you an idea to chew on.

 

I think, with the
above exception, you have handled your misfortunes well.  I know that any small disappointment we
may receive from you will always be recompensed by the great satisfactions you
bring to us.

 

I love you very
much.

 

[Note: 
The rest of the letters from this school year are missing.  If I come across them in my travels, I
will publish them at another time, or era.  LJC]

Chuck Jones’ letters to his daughter, Linda

15 January 1954

Post # 50

Dear Linda:

From the tone of your dear mater’s voice when she greeted me at the airfield, I deduced that your motoring trip to the [school] was not without incident.  It seemed a bit thick and chancy as she described it, rather on the mucky side, I gathered. 

Reminded me a bit of a spring I spent in Bechuanaland during the latter days of the Widow’s tenure on the throne.  Gumbo was so thick after the rains that your Uncle Freddy Thwistlestop disappeared with fifty head of Cape cattle while crossing Cranford Road to the pub for a spot of neat gin.  He groped about rather fruitlessly and it must have been somewhat deeper than he supposed for he was not heard from until next Knight Rupert’s Visiting Day, not less than three months hence, in a Buffalo Wallow not far from Benares on the river Ganges.  Came up on a religious Festival, too, and was taken by the assembled natives as Vishnu, back from some backwoods Buddhist Valhalla.  That’s why cattle are sacred in India and why your Uncle Freddy after his death was stuffed with bay-leaves and spices and enshrined in a hilltop temple built with cement carried in pilgrims’ mouths all the way from Delhi.  We dropped in there on our last visit to the Malay States and it was quite touching to see the devout kissing old Freddy’s class ring.  Freddy was the one who hung the bursar’s braces over the sacristy while at Oxford.

Our aereoplane circled the Phoenix Air-drome for two and a half hours of the very best, looking for a hole large enough to insert a DC-6.  Finally found one too and dodged through it only to find ourselves over Tucson.  Neat trick, but not where we really wanted to be so the pilot decided to follow the railroad.  All right so far, except that we soon found ourselves at Gila Bend.  Well, the Gila Bend air-drome is set up to accept nothing larger than a Link trainer so we headed back to Tucson for a fresh try.  Went down and checked road-signs this time—good move and wise, too—then followed the Phoenix bus in.  Pleasant trip.

Best to R…… and others who merit such.

Your adoring papa
F. Coulson, A.I.P.I.

Chuck Jones’ letters to his daughter, Linda

Friday, January 12, 1953(4)

Post #49

Dearest Child;

You last letter was a sort of
puzzling one and I’m not going to attempt to analyze it yet.  Keep us
informed what your thinking is though.  I’ll never hold you to a chance
remark as being some kind of gospel, yet such offhand opinions in
aggregate often give a much clearer idea of the conditions that exist
and the state of your feelings than some carefully considered
statement.  Catch?

As Dottie told me she told you we
are again in the throes of the good old Academy.  We have a good
cartoon up, the one I narrated for you about a year ago concerning the
little boy who day-dreamed:  “FROM A TO Z-Z-Z-Z”.  It is, I believe, a
happy compromise between the stylized limited UPA-ish approach and the
Disney tendency to over-animate.  It was received well by the academy
judging committee and I have received several enthusiastic calls from
friends who saw and like it.  All this adds up to the possibility of it
perhaps failing to even be nominated, but I do believe that it merits
that.  Once again, as it must every year, we will just have to wait and
see.

I woke up last Saturday feeling
somehow different.  I knew there was rain in the offing.  Not that day
because it was absolutely cloudless and sparkling, but soon, of that I
was positive.  Then while I was shaving I suddenly realized what was
different: my hair was lying down.  During all this very dry, cold
weather it had a tendency to be very floaty and impulsive and get all
charged up with electricity, but today it was acting like hair, very
orderly and mannerly.  The odd part was though that I knew it meant
rain, and soon.  So I told Dottie that it would rain within three days
and I’ll be Billybedamned if Monday it didn’t cloud over in a lovely
storm and just beat its brains out raining. Now how the devil did my
hair know two days in advance and how did it know to tell me?  Real
bright hair.

How did the poor old woman make
out?  I meant to tell you that you are under no obligation to use it,
show it, or preserve it.  Things that are fun to do are not necessarily
fun to use.  I enjoyed doing it because I felt like it, but it won’t
hurt my enjoyment a bit to have it incinerated or anything else that
seems proper and fitting a fate.  [an illustration of the song, The
Poor Old Woman, She Swallowed a Fly]

Heard of a man in Greenwich Village
in New York with a diabolic sense of humour who inserted an ad in a
newspaper the day after Christmas GOOD PRICES FOR USED CHRISTMAS TREES
and added the address of a friend.  There was a traffic jam to end all
traffic jams.

I love you with a curious detached fatherly attitude untouched by criticism.

Your devoted sire…

Chuck Jones’ letters to his daughter, Linda

Monday, January 11

Post #48

Dearest moppet:

We have not yet recieved word whether or not you have arrived back at school.  If you have not, please let us know, there is no particular reason to continue to pay if you are no longer there.  I would like to help [the Headmaster] and all that but I’d rather make a direct contribution and get credit for it than continue to pay for a non-existent student.  Of course, there is always the possibility that you have returned.  If you have or if you hear where you are please let us know so we can proceed accordingly.  You might try asking around among the other kids, it’s just possible that some of them might have heard a rumour of what might have happened to you.

You’ll notice in the first line above that I am still having trouble with the i before e routine especially in the word “receive”.  I know that it is after c there, any fool can see that, but it still doesn’t look right.  But then “recieve” doesn’t look right either (iether?).  When you run something through a sieve and then do it again is that resieve?  I cannot believe that any language could be conceived (that looks wrong too) in which the exceptions exceed (e before e, except after c) the rule.  Then the rule would be exceeded by the exceptions and the exception would become the rule and the rule the exceptions.  How about “Y before X, except after sex”?

There are only fifty-seven shopping days left before Arbor Day.  I think we should inaugurate Reverse-Arbor Day, in which everybody chops down a tree, thus everybody is kept happy and everything is kept in balance.  Look at it this way:  If everybody in the United States planted only one tree on Arbor Day, and many plant more (sneaks) then there are 165,000,000 ½ trees planted each year on that day alone.  The ½ is a bush planted by mistake.  In only one thousand years there would be 165,000,000,000,000 new trees in the United States and you wouldn’t be able to walk across the room without an axe.  Highways would be overgrown; toilets filled with weeping willows and eucalyptus, wheat fields with pepper trees and peat bogs with persimmons.  Only answer: Reverse or Anti-Arbor Day.

I keep flinging out these magnificent ideas and you keep ignoring them.  Here I am stinting myself, living on Filet Mignon and Champagne and all to keep you in luxury, all to stuff you like a chicken with erudite.  Hell, child, respond, build me an empite (empire, that is!)  (In the foregoing sentence the ! should have been outside the “)  “rather than inside it)

We enjoyed having you with us during the Holidays.  No holiday seems quite the same without the pitter-patter of little feet around the house, tiny grubby finger prints on the wallpaper, the shrill baby voice, the ‘I want a drink of beer’ late at night, the changing of the diapers…..

Your sire…

Chuck Jones’ letters to his daughter, Linda

Friday, Dec. 4, 1953

Post #47

Dear degenerate younger generation:

How can I expect you to write me when I so seldom write you?  Easy.  I expect you to write every day, but I don’t hold my breath each day waiting for you to do so.  Why?  On account of I can only hold my breath for five days at a time.  Then I get blue in the face and my eyes pop out…and roll around on the floor endangering the lives of passersby; eyeballs are slippery, almost as much as baanana skins.  Two “a”s in banana, starting right now.  How about baanaana?  Or even baanaanaa?

Today, as you may faintly discern from the above, is Friday.  I finished a rough draft of the script on the Air Force film and shipped it to the advertising agency: Dancer, Prancer, Donder, Blitzen, Fitzgerald and Sample.  On second thought it must be Dancer, Fitzgerald and Sample.

Hey, you know why Emma and Gerald were so happy when they got married?  ‘Cause Emma Fitzgerald and Gerald Fitzemma.

I think the script looked pretty good.  I enclosed some of my inimitable sketches and one and all here thought them jest divine, but how they will fare with Dancer, Prancer Dond—whoa! with the agency and with the Air Force remains in the ample laps of the gods.  Those poor old gods must have the messiest laps, everybody tossing unsolved dilemmas into ‘em.

Good old Dilemma, often wondered how she made out with old Dilgerald.

Tomorrow being one day later should be Saturday, but these are troubled times, subject to change without notice as the lady said to her baby.

Oh boy, oh boy, tomorrow falls on Saturday!

One nice thing about my letters is that what they lack in clarity they make up for in lack of information.

If you removed Saturday and Sunday, Monday and Friday would snap together like a rubber band.  Brother, the things that can happen to you under a Republican administration!  Thursday is, of course, the shortest day in the week.  Not the shortest day in the month mind you or the shortest day hour by hour, but unquestionably the shortest in elapsed time.  Measure it some time.  You’ll be surprised.

Emma and Gerald join me in sending our love.  They wanted me to tell you that they are still very happy.

See you Friday

Hm?