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Continued from Bird Hunting

Much of the story so far has been linear and easy to corroborate with letters and diaries. Thin ice looms. Letters and diaries still abound, but now gaps in dates and abrupt changes in address appear. What happened in the years that followed, assumed Medusa’s head, as my mother retold the story to friends, each of whom hung onto each word as if it were a sacred text. Sacred perhaps. But reliable? The world never agrees on the reliability of sacred texts—with good reason.

I found among my mother’s papers, a sheet torn from a page-a-day calendar—NovemberNov 27, 1942 27, 1942. Half a dozen words,  in her hand, scrawled across the sheet: Starting out for a grand experience. It was the day after Thanksgiving.

At some point between Yry’s arrival at the CX on August 20, 1942 and her rather abrupt departure three months later, her world mysteriously shifted. A kind and gracious letter from Claire, coincidentally dated November 27, 1942, counsels Yry to enjoy her new experience, noting that it would surely bring her satisfaction and independence. Claire shares a tidbit of advice that had been given to her at the age of 27. “Try not to take yourself too seriously.” Claire continues by addressing her former “tough counseling,” but falls short of apologizing for anything she said. She stands by her advice—boy would I love to know what that tough counseling was—and wishes Yry well. “You leave the CX with much love and hope from everyone.”

One thing is clear. Yry’s dream was set. One day she would own her own ranch. Among her papers is another letter, dated, November 27, 1942. This one, from her father, expresses regret at having annoyed her and at their strained communication during the past years. It is clear from this letter that Herman was feeling his 60 years, and not lightly. He acknowledges her love of the west, the wide open spaces, the ruggedness, and her desire to make a life there. Though he admits life in the country is more intimate and healthy, he concedes that he loves living in a big city. He thrives on the driving force, the energy of city life. (Hence, I understand a great, unfathomable divide between him and his wife, Norah, who contrarily adored the bucolic village life, realized by the New Rochelle house.) Herman encourages Yry to consult with her good friends at the CX.

“George is a wise man with brusque exterior but a sensitive and fine soul. Claire is a kind and generous woman. They will both be helpful if you confide in them.”

Confide? Confide what?

Continuing, Herman wishes he could buy her a ranch, but must reorganize the firm, and keep in narrow limits. (Of course, the firm would still be recovering from the devastation wreaked by Adolph.) His final wisdom to her is to learn the business of ranching before diving in.

Meanwhile, ranch or no ranch, Herman was still funding Yry’s pinball trajectory through life.

Continued