“Nick Carter” (1894–1945) was the adopted name of Frank O’Connor’s brother, Harrison.
10000 Tampa Avenue
October 5, 1944
Thanks a million! Officially and correctly—thanks for the shipping of our furniture, which I have not yet formally acknowledged. But even though that was the biggest trouble for you—my personal, unofficial and most enthusiastic thanks are for the little bunch of records that arrived yesterday. You don’t know how much they meant to me—or do you? I had no chance to write to you sooner and remind you, so I just waited—and did I dance last night when they arrived! They arrived in perfect condition—except for one, which was cracked; it can still be played—and I think the crack was there before you shipped it, probably caused by Volodia or Peter, it doesn’t look like a shipping crack. Anyway, please take the chance and send the rest of them on. Just put an extra pad of cotton, if you can get it, around “Canadian Capers.”
The furniture all arrived in good condition—except the glass table top and bottom, the tall glass vase and one red goblet. These were busted. But it doesn’t matter—the insurance company is going to replace them or pay us for them. All the precious antiques, such as the blue cigarette box, arrived intact. Thanks again. And will you please thank Faith for me for her assistance. We were really touched by her and your efforts to clean the chairs. Sorry that you had to attempt it—it was really a dirty job for Jesus. They look half-way decent now, but, of course, will have to be recovered soon.
Now what about you and your trip to California? You know how I always said that you write the most brilliant letters and have a wonderful knack for not saying anything, when you don’t want to. So now you’re exercising that particular talent on me. You have specifically refrained from informing us on that point. Are you planning to come? When? We’re really most anxious to know. Frank guessed some time ago that you will not leave New York until after the election. Is that what’s holding you there? If so, have a good time, but for God’s sake start for California in November. Do I have to tell you how bad another winter in New York will be for you? I cannot even gather from your letters what is the state of your health now. You referred once to your “former and continued T.B.”. Does that mean that your last examination showed active T.B.? You never told us what that last report was. Also, you write about having a job in order to earn money. Well, if you’re allowed to hold a job, aren’t you allowed to travel? If you still need bed rest, but are working only for the money—please let me know and I’ll send you the money, and you take the bed rest. It is insane to take such a chance. If you are better and are working because you want to, for the cause, that is different. But in either case, I do wish you would start making plans about coming here. You can’t afford another winter of New York. Why take such a chance—when it
isn’t even a chance, but a certainty—you know that every winter breaks you down and destroys whatever recovery you achieved in the summer. How many times do you want to go through that? I note with fiendish glee that you write about being bored in New York and about missing us. Well, what are you waiting for? I admit, without any cover-up, that we both miss you dreadfully. Yes, even self-sufficient as we are. Yes, even Oscar and Oswald want to get you here. They are now asking cautiously when Cousin Moe is coming. PLEASE start making train reservations now—I understand one has to do it long in advance, to get on a train at all. If you need the money for the ticket when making reservations—let me know and I’ll wire it. Do you get any discount as a veteran? Anyway, let me know how much you need—and please do start. Now, if you don’t want to come for any reason, then let us know and I’ll stop pestering you about it—but oh! how we wish you’d come!
Of course, I wish you luck on “Three on a bone”. If that goes through, you’ll have to stay—but then, collect your royalties and go to Florida for the winter, or something. It would be thrilling if you had a play produced now—and I’d hate not to be there. What about “Dynasty”? I was interested to hear that you were working on it again. I always thought that should make a good novel. AND I’m still waiting to hear of you working on “A very blunt instrument.” You know that’s been my personal and enthusiastic favorite among your projected opuses. Or, still not in a mood for that? Well, of course, “don’t force yourself, my good man.” I received your and Joe’s [brother of Frank and Nick] pamphlet on the C.I.O.—thanks—I haven’t read it yet, but read the last chapter, and it is excellent.
As to news about us—well, there is so much to tell that that’s what has delayed my correspondence, I couldn’t undertake even to begin. But a synopsis is better than nothing—so I’ll give you a synopsis. Everything is going wonderfully for us—so well that I’m bewildered. Frank is taking it all in his stride, as our rightful due, and his attitude is only “Well, it’s about time.” He doesn’t seem at all surprised—but I am. I can’t get quite used to it all. I won’t attempt now to describe the house—you must see it for yourself. It’s wonderful. Frank has gone wild about working the soil—he is out with his chickens and rabbits all day, I hardly even see him. I don’t remember ever seeing him chronically and permanently happy—and ardently enthusiastic—and busy, and glowing—as he is now—and it’s wonderful to see. As for my work, well, you know that I’m with Hal Wallis on a long term contract. Have just finished my first screenplay—and it’s going in production in about two weeks. It was even in the papers here—about it being a record of speed in Hollywood, Wallis’ setting up his company, and me writing the screenplay. It was a record. I worked as usual, like a dog, and since he lets me work at home, I worked day and night. But I finished the thing in record time—and it’s to be Wallis’ first production. I’d like to tell you all the compliments I received and how enthusiastic Wallis is about me—but it will sound silly in a letter, I’ll tell you when I see you in person, I hope. Anyway, things are going wonderfully with the job so far. I just got a few days off (on pay) as reward for my speed—so I’m dutifully writing to you, this being actually the first free day I’ve had here. The screenplay is an adaptation of
a dreadful novel called “The love letters.” It’s coming out soon—the novel, I mean. Don’t read it. It’s awful. We only took the general idea from it—and the screenplay is practically an original by me. It’s a vast improvement, if I do say so myself. Actresses whom Wallis wanted to get for the movie, refused to do it, when they read the galleys of the novel—but on the strength of my script Wallis got the girl he wanted most and she was the hardest to get, because every studio is after her—Jennifer Jones. She’ll play the lead, and Joseph Cotten the male lead. William Dieterle is the director.
I don’t know yet what my next assignment is to be. Will know in a few days. As to “The Fountainhead” it will go into production early in 1945. The casting will begin about the first of the year. No one set for it as yet. The problem is still to find a Roark. Did you see that “The Fountainhead” is back on the best-seller lists? I hear it is selling more than ever before. Isn’t that amazing—a year and a half after publication? I’m terribly happy about it, because that shows word-of-mouth appeal, a real response from the readers themselves, not from organized plugging.
Haven’t any personal gossip to tell—we hardly go anywhere or see anyone—we just sit on our ranch like isolationists and are very happy. I could stun you with a lot of “Buckinghaming”—I’m a real celebrity here now—and so far, it’s both amusing and thrilling—I’ll tell you the flattering details when you come.
Joe has gone on a theatrical tour—with a small company that plays one-night stands in schools and colleges. We had one letter from him—he seems very happy, feels well and is doing well. I sent him to a hospital here, for a general check-up, before he left, because he wasn’t actually sure whether his health would permit the trip. But it was found that he’s in better condition than he himself thought—and the doctors allowed him to go.
Well, that’s all the news in a general way. Now to bother you with some minor requests. You said once that you would be willing to get us kitchen gadgets in New York and mail them to us. If the offer is still open, I’ll tell you what we need – and will be most grateful if you can get it. However, it’s neither too urgent nor crucially essential – so don’t bother if it’s too much bother. But if you can—here are the things we need, which are unobtainable here:
Pots and pans. We got some junky ones here, and we’re getting along, but I would like to get what is probably the impossible—stainless steel pre-war pots and pans. If they can still be found in the better stores, please get us some—any size or shape.
A good-sized tea-cattle.
A good drip coffee pot—preferably for six cups. (Don’t bother replacing the glass one which you gave away—it wasn’t much good—we don’t need it.)
A good flour sifter (with a ring that turns—you can’t find them here at all)
A big cake pan (with a hole in the middle) preferably aluminum.
A gadget for poaching eggs—(like the one you had—or, as I’ve seen, one that poaches four eggs at once—they used to be made, but can’t be found here now)
None of this is “obligatory”, but would be a tremendous favor if you could get all or part of it. I’ll send you the money for it in advance, if you need it and if you think those things can be had.
AND, coming back to my pet subject, could you try to get for me the record that broke in the shipping? It’s a recent one, so I think you would be able to get it at the Gramophone Shop (it’s on 48th or 49th Street, between Madison and Park). The name is: “Water Pebbles” by Claude MacArthur, Victor Record No. 24107-B.[*] And while you’re there, get me another record of “Canadian Cappers” (the exact same kind as mine—get it’s number off the record before you ship it), it’s only about 50 cents—and if it’s still in the stores I’d like to have two, to be safe. I think the Gramophone Shop will ship them for you. Please ask them also whether I can order records from them by mail—will they send them C.O.D. or shall I send a check in advance? I have a lot of records I want to get—which can’t be found here. THANKS A LOT in advance for this—that’s more important for me than the pots and pans. Incidentally, the Capehart is wonderful—and what a pleasure!—it means more to me than any other luxury we’ve had, much more than the mink coat.[**]
I guess that covers everything. I have settled the rent and lease with Tishman’s—and have paid the closing utilities bills which came here—so don’t pay them a second time. Since I haven’t been very good on correspondence, I can’t reproach you—but still, be generous and write, with a few more details. Above all, SEND ME MY RECORDS—I’m really dying for them. And even above that, DO COME HERE—if you can and as soon as you can. At least, tell us about it.
Love from: Oscar, Oswald, Pop, Mom, Turtle-Cat, Cubbyhole and me—
P.S. There were some minor household things which didn’t arrive and were not on your list. If they’re lost or broken, never mind, but if you gave them away, thinking they’re of no value, I’d like to get them back from whoever got them: Frank’s big breakfast cup; one white horse head (the other was broken); one white pidgeon (We had two, only one arrived); the seal with a vase in its nose; the green egg set—little tray, egg cup and salt shaker; glass horse’s heads book ends; blue-green glass ashtray. I know none of these are expensive, but they’re sentimental value—and if they’re retrievable, I’d like to get them. And—almost forgot, this is important—you didn’t send the electric cord for the waffle iron.[***] If the relatives got it, please send it to us, we can’t use the waffle iron without it. Thanks.
[Hand-written along the right margin:] Nick—Thank you for the birthday card sorry people remember those things, but appreciate it. Frank
*Apparently, Nick was successful, for AR’s collection of phonograph records (housed in the Ayn Rand Archives) contains this exact recording. “Water Pebbles” was one of numerous compositions included in AR’s favorite genre, which she called “tiddly-wink” music.
**A Capehart record player.
***Underlining of this line is done by hand, with a handwritten note of “yes.” written next to this line.