18 January 1955
Dear Mr. & Mrs. Margason
It has been called to my attention that your young son, Franklyn, has been a very, very naughty boy—he has been away at camp now for three weeks and hasn't written. I know you must be terribly worried about him, so I have persuaded him to write you a little note. Now, now, Franklyn—don't be stubborn---here you are, Franklyn—write mommy & daddy a nice letter about how much fun you're having here at camp. But you really should you know---Very well, Franklyn, I have no other recourse than to take away your movie privileges for the next three days….
DERE MOM AND DAD
I AM HAVING A SWELL TIME. I SURE LIKE IT HERE. YESTERDAY I WENT TO THE SHOW. I SURE LIKE IT HERE. TONITE I'M GOING TO THE SHOW. I HAVE BEEN A GOOD BOY AND HAVE NOT DONE NOTHIN MUCH BAD. TOMORROW I'M GOING TO THE SHOW.
YOUR SON (ROGER MARGASON)
Well, enough drivel—let's get down to the real gore. Yesterday we had our first test in Navigation. I went down valiantly with all hands. Today we had our first Engines test. I passed it, but just barely.
It is raining. It has been raining for two and one half days. I have lost my OD jacket. No one else minds the rain, because they have nice OD jackets to keep them dry & warm. But I don't have one. I can feel all the little germs & microbes deep down inside holding a secret convention. I think they're working on something that will make triple pneumonia look like a case of the sniffles in comparison.
I am feeling very sorry for myself. I have been in sheer misery ever since I went to Miami. Oh, not physical misery—mental! It reminds me of the recording of the flaming crash of the Hindenberg, at a complete loss for a description of the magnitude of the disaster cried "Oh, the humanity!" My loss of words is not from quite so gigantic a or disastrous an incidence, but rather from for the frustration within me. You are aware, I believe, of my attitude not toward money, necessarily, but toward what it can buy. And what I saw in Miami, which has more billionaires per square inch than any other place in the world, really sank in. The homes & hotels are almost unbelievable; the money behind them & how the money came in is just as strange.
Take, for example, the gigantic mansion of Abner (?) Green--so huge that, after his death is was divided into three separate twenty-room houses! He was the son of Hanna Green, the most miserly character in Wall Street history. She would pick up papers on the subway, copy the stock market quotations, & give the papers to her son, making him go out & resell them to get the 2 cents back. Then, one day, he was run over by a truck. When carried to his mother in their dingy tenement, she refused to send for a doctor, though she had $30,000,000 in the bank! As a result, gangrene set in & his leg had to be amputated. He vowed that after she died, he would spend every penny his mother had ever earned. He had eight homes, of which the one I saw was the smallest. He bought 40 cars a year—five for each home. And when he died, he was almost penniless—leaving only $38,000,000.
But the most fabulous & unbelievable was the Deering Estate. John Deering was left either $24,000,000 or $124,000,000 by his father (when figures are that high, who quibbles about a mere hundred million dollars). He was also left a ½ interest in International Harvester. Young John, bless his heart, never worked a day in his entire life. He busied himself with traveling about, collecting antiques, & it was his dream to build a home that could fit them all.
So he did. It took six years to build. The tiles on the roof are from an entire village in South America (he moved the inhabitants out, removed the roofs of every building, replaced them with new tile, & moved the people back in). He admired a fountain he saw in a little Italian town, & had water piped into the entire town so that he could have the fountain that had formerly been their only source of water.
Since the water in front of his home was only four feet deep, he had his own private channel dredged to the deeper areas of the ocean. In a small cove in front of the house, he had a replica of Cleopatra's barge carved out of stone (it took four years). On this, musicians would play while lighted streams of water shot into the air. He built the most complete & beautiful gardens in America; on the other side of the house, he dug a network of canals & sent some of his servants to Venice to learn how to be gondoliers. Each morning, the housekeeper-in-charge would open the doors & admit 30 gardeners with armfuls of flowers to place around the house.
He once saw a play in New York & liked it so well he bought it & had it moved, lock, stock, & barrel, to his home, where he put it on in his outdoor theatre for friends! He died in 1925, returning from Paris on an ocean liner he had chartered. The house cost so much to maintain that his heirs turned it over to the state, to be used as a museum
See what I mean?
Oh, incidentally, I saw all of this while on a boat tour. It was really worth the money. One of the "nicer" homes belongs to a Doctor Stoyer or something, an eye-ear-nose-&-throat man from somewhere called Rockford, Illinois. Ever hear of him?
Played for the Shah of Iran, though we only caught a glimpse of him as he swept into the hotel. The hotel, incidentally, repainted his entire 14 room suite to match his Rolls-Royce.
Weather there ranged from hot (especially in our winter blues) to frigid (for which we naturally wore our summer trops).
Tell me something—why do all the very tanned women in Miami wear mink coats? To me, suntans & furs just don't mix. But, then, I don't have $30,000,000.
Till next time, I send