Valerie Layton

Letter From Jacqueline M. Kempees (11-01-1938)

Jacqueline, Kempees, Valerie, Layton, 1938, Letter, Publisher, German

About The Letter - 

In this letter, Jacqueline M. Kempees writes to Valerie. Jacqueline went to London for business and the two briefly met up, but they do not know each other all that well. Jacqueline used to work as a secretary but was fired due to the Great Depression. She since got another job but had to quit to support her ill mother. 

See the transcript here...

Jacqueline M. Kempees Letter 11-01-1938 - Transcript

Contents Inside Envelope:

Vught, 1st November 1938

[Dums. 24./2./39. [handwritten in pen]]


Dear Mrs. Layton,

You’ll have wondered that you did not hear from me since my visit to London. But I’ve been so terribly busy – even busier than usual – that I could not spare a moment to write a decent letter. I’m still ever so busy, but as this period of overmuch work will last at least until the end of January – and probably the next batch of work that has to be done as quickly as possible will be waiting for me then – I thought it would be wise to take a day off and write to at least a few of my friends to let them know that I have not forgotten them. It cannot be a long letter, of course. I hope to remedy that later on (next year that is!).

I was so glad that at last we could meet again this year. Even though it was only for such a short while. Still, it was better than nothing. Only, we had so little time to talk. Let’s hope that will be better next time. Though, when that next time will be, I don’t know. However, you never can tell. I never dreamt I would be going to London on business this year!  And yet there I was!  My goodness, isn’t this a lovely bit of prose?!  Look at these neat little sentences, all beginning with some nice, grammatical word. I wish I had time to rewrite the letter.

Well, what shall I tell you?  There is such a lot to tell. If I could write a long letter, it would not be so difficult, but to me writing a short letter to a friend is just like saying goodbye on a railway-platform. There are such lots of things one has to say, but one cannot choose, because the time (space) is so short and it is difficult to decide which one is more important than the others. They all seem equally unimportant and yet important. And every subject one chooses eventually at once seems silly. Do you know that feeling?  Or are you a very well-ordered person?  I’m not. I’m just like a bottle of mixed pickles.

Do tell me something about yourself when you write, won’t you?  We know so very little about each-other after all.  What things are you interested in?  What are your hobbies and suchlike?  I gathered that you work in an office.  What do you do there?  Secretarial work?  I used to do that too, oh, years ago. I liked it very much indeed, but the slump got worse and worse, and I had started work just at the beginning of the slump, in 1929. So, you can guess how things went. Reorganisation. Very sorry, but those taken on last have to go first. A new job. Cutting down of expenses. Very sorry, but . . (see above). A new job. Slump. Very sorry, but . . Until I got a quite different sort of job. Lead of youth, we call it, but mostly I did secretarial work there too, because I was better fitted for that than for the real club-work and lectures. Oh, I hated them!  It was easy enough to prepare them in the office, but when I had to give them I never could remember a word and had to read them from sheer nerves. Horrible.

Then Mother’s illness started getting serious and I went home to do the housekeeping. In between I did some work as librarian and gave a few lessons, and now I

have this splendid job, but housekeeping is still the most important though my publisher does not agree there!  And ever since I came home (in a hurry!) from London Mother has been in hospital on and off, but more on than off!  Poor thing. Still, she is home now since a few days and we hope that now at last the worst is past. 

Well, I must close now. So long. Do write soon, won’t you?  I love to hear from my friends.

With love,

Jacqueline M. Kempees

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