Sunday, August 24, 2008

Velma's Journal--April 14, 1932

Was called back to Jacob Vandewater who once again received me curtly at his door. Looking quite disheveled again, he handed me the exact same manuscript in the exact same shirt box which was now crumpled and in a sad state.

"Don't return that to Dr. Loockersmans. The note is intended for Mr. Rapalje." His wire-rim glasses were still crooked on his face. I wondered if he had changed at all since my first delivery. "Do you understand?"

"Yes sir, completely."

"And don't hand it to that driver of his either. Directly to Mr. Rapalje himself. I fear that man to be meddlesome."

"I understand, sir," I said almost chuckling. Rudy, to me, seems to be the nicest man I've met in my travels.

Vandewater looked both ways down the street and ducked inside the door. "Be careful, Ms. Graydon, I fear you're being followed. Do not go directly to Mr. Rapalje just yet." With that he slammed the door.

I turned slowly and started walking down the street. In the corner of my eye I did notice what seemed to be a tall man in a hat following me. I couldn't make out his face but as soon as I reached the corner he began to move in my direction. I quickly found my way into a taxi cab and as far as I can tell, was free of him.

The intrigue doesn't seem to end. And now, part of me, is starting to enjoy it.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Velma's Journal--March 30, 1932

Listening to the radio this morning, my favorite show at the moment is The American Album of Familiar Music on the NBC dial. I have to usually fight off Dottie for the radio. She is completely enthralled with Little Orphan Annie which just so happens to come on everyday of the the week at the same time. But listening to some of the bands on my program makes me think of Robert. He's been gone for nearly a week now and I can't believe how much I miss him. I know that be he'll be back by summer. I only hope he doesn't go off and fall for a fancy European girl.*

It's Sarah's birthday today. Her father had Dottie and I down to their home for dinner. It was a different dining experience from the last time. Mr. Schimberg served a traditional Shabbat dinner. We had chicken and a stew of carrots. I was introduced to a host of Hebrew words for certain household items like mapit is a napkin and prachim means flowers. Sakin means knives. There was a song which was a prayer to the Shabbat Angels to bless the food and Sarah as she entered her 19th year.

Of course Dottie added her own flare to the evening. She stopped at an Italian bakery on the way down and bought an assortment of pastries. I bought Sarah a biography of Louis Daguerre, which she loved the most she said.

Tonight Sarah is staying in Hewitt Hall so we can go to the Bakery to celebrate "properly." 

*EDITOR'S NOTE: In a prior entry not included on the list given to me by Velma, it is mentioned that Robert was accompanying Caroline Vanderford on a European tour as her butler. He was gone for approximately five months before returning to New York. She mentions many times how she misses him but does not confirm whether or not they are officially coupled.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Velma's Journal--March 11, 1932

Studying feriously for mid-terms next week and then there is a spring recess called for the week after. I don't think I'll go to Saratoga but rather stay in New York and continue to practice my Dutch and research more on these Lightkeepers.

I've been dreaming quite a bit again. Recurring images. The girl in the tattered bonnet like the one in my dreams back in the fall. She continually gives me the long blue feather which I can sware I feel in my hands. And for the past two nights I've been dreaming of ships sailing into a desolate harbor. There are three of them and they are old. Perhaps caravels or European schooners of some kind. The images flash by in my dreams in a nonsensical pattern.

Had a delivery to a new Lightkeeper today. His name was Jacob Vandewater of E. 77th Street. I delivered him a shirt box tied with brown string. It felt as though there was a stack of paper's inside. He answered the door in quite an erratic state. His hair was disheveled and his glasses crooked. He took the box quickly and said that he would call on me soon to bring the box to Mr. Rapalje. He then bid me good day and shut the door rudely. I have now met four of the seven Lightkeepers. Two seem perculiar to me and two I like very much.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Velma's Jounral--March 2, 1932

Read a disturbing article in the morning paper about Colonel Lindbergh, the famous aviator, who found his child missing last night with a ransom note. How frightening! I think this Depression is making people commit desperate crimes for money.

It has been over a week since I've received an assignment from Loockersmans, so I have taken the time to do some investigating of my own. Of course with Mid-term examinations coming, this is the worst time for that sort of thing, but I can't help myself.

Robert and I are going out again for the third time tomorrow. He is taking me to the cinema to see 20,000 Years in Sing Sing with Spencer Tracy and Bette Davis. He told me that he enjoys my company more than anyone elses. I said I did his. I really cannot stop thinking about him. I'm not sure these feelings couldn't have come at a worse time.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Velma's Journal--February 25, 1932

Delivered a package today from Professor Loockersmans to William Fitz Roy, CEO of the Commissioners. When I arrived on the 75th floor of the Empire State Building I noticed the stark contrast of the office. There were glass partitions between offices and silver marble lining the floors. A secretary was there to greet me when I stepped off the elevator. She escorted me down a newly formed hallway, extremely art deco, all black, white, and glass. Stark. Everything was shining and new. Even the secretary wore a black dress and her hair was pulled tightly in a bun. I felt completely out of place in a drab brown dress with my trusty green satchel.

I was led past an enormous room and saw the longest conference table ever imaginable. There was a maid polishing the finish on it. It was clear that every detail of this office was deliberate.

When we reached the end of the hallway, two black and silver-trimmed double doors were opened. I was announced by the secretary and Mr. Fitz Roy bid me to enter.

I explained that I would have left the package with his secretary but Professor Loockersmans said I give the package only to him. He had me sit and offered me a drink. I declined. He said not taking a drink was poor form in a business meeting. I replied that I was not aware we were in a business meeting. For some reason I felt a strange air of confidence in this situation. Being such a standout made me feel like I needed to act like a standout.

“You’re missing out on a wonderful Scotch from the Isle of Skye. Nothing from a bathtub in Harlem, I assure you.” He poured himself a drink.

I simply handed him the package and asked, “Does this have to do with John Randel Jr.?”

He said, “You looked him up?”

“I did.”

“It does. Everything here does. City planning is our bread and butter, Miss Graydon.”

And then out of nowhere I asked a question that I felt was none of my business. “How are you associated with the Light Keepers then?” I’m still not sure who the Light Keepers really are. I was hoping he could elaborate. But I noticed the question cut the air and created a moment of discomfort for him.

His face was blank for a moment. “That is a good question. Ask your professor. I’m not at liberty to say.”

I smiled politely and suddenly felt the need to leave, “I’ve taken up too much of your time.”

“Not at all.” He sipped his Scotch. “Always a pleasure Miss Graydon. ” I was promptly shown out.

I vow to the page that I will get some answers even if I have to do some investigating of my own.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Velma's Journal--February 17, 1932

Had the most wonderful night with Robert. I arrived at a club called Small's Paradise which is in the basement of a building on 135th street in Harlem, hence the 1/2 address. Robert stood at the door waiting for me with a black case in his hand. When he saw me, he handed me a green carnation stating that he thought green was my color. He said it was his favorite. I said it was mine as well.

When we walked inside a round man greeted Robert familiarly and took the black case from him. He showed us to a small table among the smoky room. The tables were set up around a large open dance floor where people were dancing wildly. On the stage, in the front of the room, was an ensemble of men, one on piano, one on base, one on clarinet, one on trumpet, one on trombone, and a gentleman on drums. All where wearing black fedoras. The room was stuffed with people drinking and moving along to extremely upbeat music. I would assume jazz, although I had never heard it before. The entire club was alive with energy and even the waiters danced with the drinks on their trays.

Robert ordered two whiskeys and offered me a cigarette. I refused it since I've never smoked before. He lit one for himself and we talked a little over the music about growing up around horses since his father ran Mrs. Vanderford's stables. He also fascinated me with the story of his crossing from Scotland when he was eight. There was the 10 days he spent on the boat with only he and his father and for 8 of them it was stormy and he couldn't go above the deck so he stayed below reading all the complete works of Sir Walter Scott. His mother and two sisters came over two years later when his father could send the money. Then out of the blue he asked me what my favorite church hymn was. I told him I wasn't much of a churchgoer, but I remember Granny Ellie saying she loved "Closer Walk with Thee" when she went down south with her sister.  He smiled and said Granny Ellie had excellent taste in southern hymns.

Suddenly the music stopped and the same round man came on stage and asked Robert to come up. The host introduced him as "White Lightening." The room went crazy with applause. When he stepped on stage he took a silver trumpet out of the case he was carrying before and addressed the ensemble. He turned to the audience and said, "This is a fairly new little dirge from New Orleans, but tonight it'll raise the dead." The band then exploded into this swing rhythm of "Closer Walk with Thee" which lasted for 10 minutes, each instrument having their turn on improvising on the theme. Robert's solo was the longest and most complicated. The audience hollered, clapped, and some people even danced in the aisles. It was the grandest thing.

Robert played fives songs after that and stepped off stage. We finished our drinks and he offered to walk me back to campus. I accepted. When I asked where he learned to play trumpet, he said that Mrs. Vanderford gave him a trumpet for Christmas when he was twelve. One of the stable hands from Harlem, who played drums, took him to his father who taught him how to play trumpet.

When we reached Barnard's campus at 1:30 AM, I told him I'd never had an experience like that and I wanted to go again. He leaned over and kissed me softly. I almost collapsed from weakness. He said anytime and walked off. When I walked in to the room, I found Dottie up sitting in bed waiting to hear all about it. She said by the color of my cheeks the night went well.

Whatta night!


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Velma's Journal--February 14, 1932

The day of Saint Valentine. Not very much to report on that front for myself. Dottie is off with Howie, doing what, I'm not quite sure. She told me not to wait up. Like I ever have in the past. Sarah and I will most likely have dinner. Neither of us pretend to be too broken up about being single young women.

Although, I only admit this to the page, but my thoughts keep coming back to Tuesday evening's upcoming date with Robert. His note was so terse and mysterious and that leads me to question his intentions. I have only seen him a handful of times and each we have exchanged less than five words to one another. Of course he is exceedingly handsome and he smiles at me like no one else ever has. It makes my heart beat a bit faster than usual. Something I've never felt. Dottie says this is what normal "dames" call falling in love. Sarah said the same thing. I assured both of them I haven't had the time or the occasion to fall in love with him yet. She then called me an idiot for trying to schedule love like an appointment.

Regardless, after having Dottie do a little investigating at the Bakery, the club where I'm meeting Robert has the queerest address, 2294 1/2 W. 135 street. Can half a building be correct? She says I have Mick to thank for the information, so I wonder.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Velma's Journal--February 3, 1932

The third Olympic Winter Olympics games opened today in Lake Placid. Henry has informed me that he will be traveling north on the 9th to watch the bobsleighing competition. That has always been a favorite pastime of his in Saratoga. He was sweet to ask if I wanted to join him, but time will not permit me.

This afternoon Abby Putnam, who seemed to virtually fall off the face of the earth since Christmas recess, came to our door with a huge gift-wrapped box on a dolly. She said that it was a very late Christmas present from the Putnam family to all of Abby’s closest friends. We are only mere acquaintances and Dottie has kept Abby at an arm’s length since the bootlegging situation this past fall. Thus one might understand my complete confusion as to being classified as “closest friends.”

“How many of those do you have, Abby?” Asked Dottie unscrupulously.

Abby smirked, “More than you think, I’m sure.”

Dottie who is much stronger than she looks, hugged the package, threw it on her bed and did the honors of unwrapping it. “With the number I’m thinking of, I’m sure you’re right.” Dottie, being proud, did not appreciate feeling used by Abby for booze. “But I’m never one to turn away a gift.” She proceeded to tear open the box. Inside was wood-paneled tabletop Zenith radio with gold fixtures.

I gasped. “Abby we couldn’t possibly accept this.” I knew how long it took mother and dad to save for ours.

“Of course you can. Dad was given a gross of them as gifts for one of his contracts. He told me that every cultured college girl should have one.”

“So I guess this one’s for you, Vel,” Dottie said.

“No,” Abby insisted. “It’s for both of you. I sincerely hope you both enjoy it.” And with that, Abby wheeled her dolly out of our room. “Have a good evening ladies.”

We both thanked her graciously. Well, at least I did. Dottie and I then both looked at each other. “She wants something,” Dottie said to me.

“I agree.” I said.

“But hell, I’ll take the radio. Ma and pop don’t even have one yet.” Dottie spent the remainder of the afternoon finding the perfect spot for it which we settled on being my desk since it is closest to the window. When we first turned it on, we mostly heard static and finally settled on a frequency that was playing something classical. Perhaps Brahms. Dottie didn’t enjoy it.

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