Love. Love. Love!

On The Set[1]

Dear Boy,

I’ve “taken a leaf out of Frank Craven’s notebook” to write you a letter. Pardon the glare of the Kliegs.[2]

I think the time has come for some advice. Your recent letters home have been so frankly Rusty-conscious that surely I won’t be censured for replying.

At such a time, the average father would ask a few questions: can you afford it? Have you considered her? Aren’t you both too young? Being a very poor imitation of the average parent, I would simply like to ask:

Are you young enough? Have you considered yourself? Can you–emotionally–afford anything less?

Right now, you are probably older than you ever will be again. If you truly love, and if your love is truly answered, you will realize if fully when, very old with time but very young with long loving, she becomes a girl at last. But if either loveth not, you will never grow younger.

Have you left off considering Rusty long enough to consider yourself–the instrument of her happiness? Not are you equipped to make her happy, but is she so equipped that your effort will be efficacious. What does she look for in you, and have you what she looks for? What is the image you hold to the mirror of her life–will it fill it with radiance? If so, and if hers so fills your mirrored need, proceed–both of you–swiftly–into the long embrace.

Can you, either of you, emotionally afford delay of [illegible]? I don’t mean consummation of your lives’ beauty, I mean simple utterance of the sustaining and inspiring fact of your mutual faith. I don’t mean rash action; I mean imperative pledge. Can she afford half answers, or can you afford not to kneel at the shrine of her? There are those–

There are those that would soil or obscure this matter with materialistic prerogatives: unfortunately, perhaps, for you, yours is not such a sire. I have heard of money, but I don’t know what it is; I have heard of this and that impediment, but I don’t recognize such things. All I know, after a thousand years of growing younger and younger in the sunshine of your mother’s faith is–

That if you love her and she loves you, all else flowers in falling therefrom; wise diligence and wise restraint; surprises of life. If not, [illegible] can be hurt much by one’s not [compromising?]

Now I’ll wager that the average parent would write me off as mad, but if you’re a lover you will understand, and if she is a lover she will understand.

All I hope is that this mutuality is true. For then: reach out for your essential rose! Cherish its bloom with every tenderness, every solicitude; but let not your heart pine for its beauty. Neither let it want for the shelter of your heart; but speak truly each to each, and march even now together.

You see, life has given me so very much: only an infinity of beauty and truth. And the breast that fed you and the hand that led you have only amplified its gift a thousandfold. Now, apparently, the nothings are to be added: money, and more money, and rest. These are yours, too. Yours and Gretchen’s, Rusty’s and ––his. And theirs: your children.

Only, with them, won’t you take the sound advice of a very improvident father? Love.



Your Dad



[1] This is probably one of the last–if not the last–letters Phil received from his father. He is on the set of his final film, 1940s Our Town. Frank Craven, mentioned below, originated the role of the Stage Manager and reprised his role in the film.

[2] “Kleigs” – Kleig lights, used in filming.

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