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Page 1 of Margaret’s letter
544 East Broadway
4 June, 1924
Your letter arrived this morning, that’s hardly more than a week ! The steamers are so fast these days, it would have taken longer to come from San Francisco, in California. I’m glad to hear that things are going well, there has been so much trouble there at home since I left. The IRA, the Black and Tans, the Sinn Fein government, and so much killing. The ladies at the Sodality say that their husbands still argue about the shooting of Michael Collins as if it were yesterday, but it’s been almost two years now.
Last week I actually met another girl from Bandon ! She’s called Bridget McCraith, and her father is Mr McCraith who manages the distillery. She went away to Cork, I remember, when we were little girls, and went to St Aloysius’ School. Now she’s here in Boston, working as a governess ! She has her own room above stairs in a big house on Commonwealth Avenue, where all the best people live. She offered to put in a word for me with her employer, he’s looking for a maid, but I can’t see that being a maid is better than being a shop assistant. At least I have my own room and can go where I please outside opening hours. But it really doesn’t matter anyway, because I have much better plans. I’m going to be married !
That’s the Lord’s own truth, Mammy, I’ve found a wonderful young man here. His name is Eddie Cooper, and he’s a clerk in a stockbroker’s office. I know I said I’d never forget Henry, and I haven’t really. Eddie knows about Henry, I told him all about how Henry and I had been going to marry, and he was really sweet. He said I was right to remember Henry, he’d been in France himself in the War, and Henry was a hero, but that I mustn’t live in the past.
I have to tell you how we met. Mammy, you wouldn’t recognize me, I’ve gone native ! I’ve abandoned my long skirts and gotten my hair bobbed, all the girls are doing it, this is the Jazz Age ! Of course, at work I wear a dignified long dress and a fall, but in the evening everyone goes out to clubs and dances. Of course, the only dances I go to are the Saturday mixers that Mrs O’Leary puts on here at the hotel, and I never go to clubs, but I can still look the part ! Boys come to dance with us, Mrs O’Leary advertises at the single gentlemen’s hotels, and Eddie just showed up one night. He was so fresh ! I was doing the Charleston with Eileen Andrews, she’s the tall girl I told you about, and Eddie just butted in and handed me a cup of that awful punch Mrs O’Leary makes. Eileen went off pretending to be put out, but I think she was secretly happy to see me in the arms of a handsome young man, after all she has a beau of her own. We danced a while, and then we sat down at one of the tables and just talked and talked until Mrs O’Leary threw all the boys out at ten.
I’ve known Eddie for three months now, we’ve been together every Saturday afternoon and every Sunday. (I don’t think I told you, I work only 60 hours a week since Mrs Parcetti decided to close on Saturday afternoons for the summer.) He really is nice. We go to the Public Garden and paddle about in the swan boats, and we sit on the Common and watch the little boys play ball, and we stroll up and down Tremont Street and Washington Street and Summer Street. He told me he’s going to New York to find a place in one of the big brokerage houses there, and he’s going to be rich. I don’t really think he’s going to be rich, but that’s not important. He does have a good eye for quality, though. I dropped my purse one night and all my things spilled out all over the floor. Eddie picked everything up and admired my pen, he said I’m very lucky to have a Waterman’s pen, they’re an excellent brand. He asked if Stephen J. Henderson was my grandfather and that’s when I explained about Henry.
I could go on all night about him, Mammy ! But I shan’t. I’m sorry not to be getting married in a Catholic Church, but I really love Eddie, and if this were Ireland he’d be Orange, not Green. I’m sorry, too, that there isn’t time to come home to be married out of Father’s house as I always wanted, but we’re leaving for New York on Saturday, and we can’t stay together if we’re not married. So on Friday morning we shall be married at Boston City Hall. I’ve given notice at the shop, and Mrs Parcetti was kind enough to offer her best wishes. She even gave me the money to pay for our marriage licence, she said it would seal him to me more tightly if I’d bought the licence.
So that’s that. On Saturday morning, we shall take a taxi with all our possessions to South Station and start off on our grand adventure. It’ll be my first and last trip in a Boston taxi. Eddie has friends in New York who have been looking for a flat and a car for him, and he says we’re “all fixed up.” The flat is in Queens and the car is a well-used flivver, but he says that we shall have a brand-new one before 1925 rolls around. He says he’s going to make his first million in less than two years. I tease him about it, I say he’ll have to take me to Dublin to impress all the big toffs there, and he laughs so happily with me. He says he knows it sounds crazy, but it really can happen in the stock market if you’re sharp, and he’s sharp as a tack. If anyone can do it, that someone is Eddie. He’s wonderful, and we are going to be very happy together.
It’s late, and I must end before Mrs O’Leary comes knocking at my door. Wish me luck, Mammy ! By the time you read this, I shall be Mrs. Edward Johnson Cooper.
All my love,