I’ve been struggling to find the time to write a blog post for a month, and then once I found a subject, I couldn’t get my words to flow in a neat and orderly fashion. Each sentence I typed felt like a false start, a diversion from what I really wanted to say. I started paragraph after paragraph and then deleted each one in turn. It’s so easy now to erase your thoughts, to soft-pedal and not make what you say count. So here I am today, back at the keyboard, faced with a challenge that Ruth Moore posed to her friend Mary in a letter from 1948, “Well, maybe this one will get a peep out of [her].”
In the letter above, Ruth Moore writes to her old friend Mary, a sorority sister from college, to catch up after over a decade. In that time, Moore met writer Eleanor Mayo; they moved to California together and then back to Maine, where they bought 18 acres of land and built a house. Here Moore describes Eleanor Mayo as her “friend,” but they lived together as companions until Mayo’s death in 1980.
Most of the materials we hold as part of the Ruth Moore papers are manuscripts for books, but there are a few folders of correspondence that offer a good view into Moore’s life and relationships. The first few letters I read made me laugh out loud–Moore’s sharp wit and clarity endeared her to me. If you want to read a great collection of her letters, check out Sanford Phippen’s High Clouds Soaring Storms Driving Low: the Letters of Ruth Moore.
Mary Kamenoff’s responses are quite hilarious in their own right. The two carried on a lengthy correspondence (1948-1989) that covered subjects from literature to family life; one series of letters worth reading is a critique of Mary Ellen Chase’s review of Ruth Moore in the Saturday Evening Post.
One of my favorite openings to one of Mary’s letters mirrors my own state lately: “You will please understand that a failure to express my scintillating thoughts with freshness and vigor is due solely to the inhibitions impressed on me by the machine age.” (July 7, 1962)