Saturday, July 30, 2011

Don't Flirt With the Nurses!

With the wedding tentatively scheduled for September 1, 1951, Art decided to address a long-standing health problem.  He was admitted to Presbyterian Hospital in New York City on June 12 for an operation to address the pain in his left knee.

Tuesday, June 12, 1951

126 Lincoln Street
Riverhead, NY

Dear Art,

Well, darling, I was about to write to you when Miss Murray, the teacher who rents the room upstairs, came downstairs to show us the trouble she’s been having fitting a skirt.  Mother and I went up to give advice and stayed to talk.  I’m just getting back to the letter now.

How do you like the ink?  I bought some Parker’s Superchrome Ink today – it’s special for these pens.  I’ve meant to buy some ever since you gave me the pen.  I really think it writes smoother with this ink.

I miss you very much, darling (I guess I kind of got used to having you around!).  But I feel so relieved to know you are in such good care and have such a capable doctor.  I also have a feeling that it won’t be too long, after all.  However long, though, you will be better when you come out and that’s all that matters.  I love you – so don’t you dare flirt with any of those nurses.

Today at work, I asked Francis if she could be a bridesmaid on September 1 – if everything works out alright.  I told her all about your operation, too.  She says that any date in September should be fine.

Good night now, my darling.

All my love,


(For Monday – A visiting nurse from Southampton.)

© 2011 Lee Price

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Vital Statistics

With the wedding tentatively scheduled for September 1, 1951, Art decided to address a long-standing health problem.  He was admitted to Presbyterian Hospital in New York City on June 12 for an operation to address the pain in his left knee.

Tuesday, June 12, 1951

Presbyterian Hospital
168 Street, 5 Floor
New York, NY

Dear June:

Art on the beach, circa 1950.
His left knee had been hurting
him for years.
It’s so long since I wrote a letter that I don’t know where to begin.  Maybe I’ll tell you the vital statistics again.  Visiting hours are from 2 to 8.  I’m in Room 15 on the fifth floor.  This guy in the room with me seems to have quite a lot of pain.  He’s in a cast from his toes to his thigh.  They did something with his ankle.

My mother is coming on Thursday and plans to stay here for the operation on Friday afternoon.  I doubt if she’s here for the weekend though.  I’ve already had a few needles shoved in me and my leg shaved.

I’m looking forward to seeing you on Sunday, and I’ll call you every day that I can.  I love you so much, darling.  Your picture’s right next to my bed on the nightstand.

Be careful coming into the city.  Good night now, darling.

All my love,


(Tomorrow – Asking a bridesmaid.)

© 2011 Lee Price

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Art Hospitalized

Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.

“Art, how is your knee now?  Please, even if it is feeling better, keep doctoring it – after all, I’m hoping to dance the next time we go out.”
                                                                                June Anderson
                                                                                Letter to Art Price, Oct. 1, 1949

June and Art were engaged sometime in fall 1950.  Now we’re leaping ahead approximately nine months to June 1951.  June and Art had tentatively planned a wedding for early September but no definite date had been set yet.  Art decided to take care of an ongoing problem first.

Art had a bad left knee.  He’d lived with it for years but the pain seemed to be increasing recently.  His family doctor referred him to specialists at Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, and Art was admitted to the hospital in mid-June 1950.  Considered one of the finest hospitals in the country, Presbyterian Hospital was located on 168th Street in Washington Heights, a Manhattan neighborhood located at the northern tip of Manhattan.

During the winter and spring months when June was working in Westhampton and Art in Southampton, they saw each other frequently and therefore there was no need for their earlier letter writing to continue.  Then Art left town to check into the hospital.  Separated again, the letter writing resumed.  This time, however, Art was in New York City and it was June who waited impatiently for him to return home to the eastern end of Long Island.

(Tomorrow – the letter writing resumes.)

© 2011 Lee Price

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Little We Know About the Proposal

For this entry, we leap ahead from the summer of 1950 to winter 1950.

According to a letter from June 1951, Art and June became engaged on Thursday, December 14, 1950.

Unfortunately, there are no family stories and no written accounts that describe the engagement.

We do know this:  We know that Art proposed and that June said yes.

And we know that this was the engagement ring.

(For Thursday – Six months later, Art is hospitalized.)

© 2011 Lee Price

Monday, July 25, 2011

A June and Art Photo Gallery

Pictures of June and Art together in the late 1940s and early 1950s:

(Tomorrow – The proposal.)

© 2011 Lee Price

Friday, July 22, 2011

The World of September 1950

June at the beach.
Skipping ahead to the slightly cooler month of September 1950, we begin building to a big event by first setting the scene.  This was the world that June and Art were living in:

Harry Truman was President.

The Korean War continued to rage on.  September 1950 was the month that U.S. Marines landed at Inchon and and recaptured Seoul after two weeks of hard fighting.  The draft was reactivated this month.

General George Marshall was sworn in as Secretary of Defense.

Joe DiMaggio was the first player to hit three home runs in a game at Griffith Stadium.

Mort Walker’s “Beetle Bailey” comic strip debuted.

The following people made the cover of Time:  Strategic Air Commander Lt. General Curtis LeMay, Admiral Arthur Radford, Berlin’s Mayor Ernest Reuter, and General O.P. Smith.

The following movies were popular in the theaters:  Summer Stock with Judy Garland and Gene Kelly, The Black Rose with Tyrone Power, Tea for Two with Doris Day and Gordon MacRae, The Fuller Brush Girl with Lucille Ball and Eddie Albert, My Blue Heaven with Betty Grable and Dan Dailey, and Mister 880 with Burt Lancaster and Edmund Gwenn.

The most popular show on television was Texaco Star Theater with Milton Berle on Tuesdays at 8, the second most popular was the Philco Television Playhouse on Sundays at 9, and the third was Fireside Theater on Tuesdays at 9 (doubtless benefiting from its position following Milton Berle).

And “Goodnight, Irene,” performed by The Weavers, was unavoidable on the radio that month.

(For Monday – June and Art romance in pictures.)

© 2011 Lee Price

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Shanghai Address, Part 3 of 3

Pencil sketch of Shanghai by Art Price.

(Continued from yesterday... This is the conclusion of a speech that Art presented at a Southampton Methodist women’s club sometime during the second half of 1950.)

It was against the rules for anyone to go on liberty in Shanghai alone.  I always went with this buddy of mine and usually there were 3 or 4 more of us.  Even then we never went in the old Chinese section or even down a side street at night.  Plenty of sailors out alone with too much to drink ended up in the river.  Plenty of Chinese would murder just for the value of the clothes a sailor wore.

I saw the body of a Chinese in that river, the Huangpu, and it wasn’t pretty.  It was wedged in between the dock at N.O.B. and a ship tied up there.  No one paid much attention to it and after 3 or 4 days the Chinese police got around to taking it out.  It was a coolie so no one cared who he was or how he died – one more or less didn’t make any difference to them.

Dinner on board the ship.  Pencil sketch by Art Price.
They only well fed children I saw while there were from an orphanage.  The Navy gave a Christmas party for 100 of them and I was drafted to work at it.  They were toddlers or up to older girls who looked after the younger ones.  The woman
in charge was also Chinese.  They gave the Christmas story in Chinese along with folk dances, etc.  I wish I could say it was a Methodist orphanage but I really don’t know what organization ran it.

I’ve just told you some of the things I saw in Shanghai.  There were other more sordid things going on in that city I’d better not tell.  There’s certainly plenty of room for Christianity there but it’s hard to teach a starving child not to steal.  It seems impossible that anything can be done for them when you’ve seen them but maybe it can.

Ships at anchor in Shanghai.

(Friday – Setting the stage:  September 1950.)

© 2011 Lee Price

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Shanghai Address, Part 2 of 3

Art's charcoal sketch of a child beggar in Shanghai.

(Continued from yesterday... This is the second part of a speech that Art presented at a Southampton Methodist women’s club sometime during the second half of 1950.)

The docks were haunted by thousands of children.  At chow time, they would stand alongside the ship and shout, “No momma, no poppa, no chow chow,” with tin cans in their hands, but if you felt sorry and gave one of them something you were immediately besieged by hundreds of them.

The gangway watch with a .45 automatic, an
officer waving a fire ax, and a mob of hungry
One time the cook on the ship came out of the galley and went to a bin that was on deck to get some apples.  The kids on the dock spotted him and a mob of them tried to come on board shouting for chow chow.  The gangway watch with his .45 automatic and an officer waving a fire ax kept them from overrunning the ship.

When we went on liberty in the city there were always crowds following you trying to sell things.  One thing they seemed to think no sailor should be without was a leather blackjack, and maybe they were right.  One time when my buddy and I were walking down Nanking road, one of the principal streets, we stopped to look at a little carved chest one of the peddlers was trying to sell us.  In a minute, we were surrounded by a mob.  I knew what that meant in Shanghai and grabbed for my wallet.  There was a little hand in my pocket along with it, a kid no more than 4 or 5 years old was picking my pocket.  We both got out of that crowd in a hurry.

To be continued...

Art (on the right) with two friends in Shanghai.

(Tomorrow – part three of Art's speech on Shanghai.)

© 2011 Lee Price

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Shanghai Address, Part 1 of 3

Art's pencil sketch of some Navy friends.

The following is a speech that Art presented at a Southampton Methodist women’s club sometime during the second half of 1950.

Art with a monkey on his
shoulder that he cared for
while in Shanghai.  It was
a tradition on the ship for
the Quartermaster to take
care of the monkey.  Art
was not overly fond of his
temporary pet.
I was in Shanghai in December of 1945 and January of 1946, but I don’t think the Chinese I saw there would be typical of all the Chinese people.  At least, I hope not.  I was at the Naval Operating Base there and later on board a ship tied up along the riverfront down the river from the city proper.  Most of the people I saw were the ones who lived right on the river.  You’ve probably heard of the Shanghai waterfront where hundreds of thousands live on sampans all their lives.  The slips in the river were constantly surrounded by these people, begging or trying to sell us souvenirs.

There was one family that lived on their boat at the stern of the ship I was on.  For two weeks, they stayed there simply to pick up the garbage that was thrown out of the galley.  The cooks would lower the garbage can to them on a rope, and they would dump it into boxes or anything they had. There were two women, a girl, and a baby living on that boat.

Art's pencil sketch of
a beggar in Shanghai.
The people were so terribly poor they would pick up anything that floated in the river: paper, sticks, boards, anything at all.  And if it didn’t float, there were other boats that dragged the bottom with long rows of fish hooks tied to sticks to pick up scrap iron off the bottom.

While on this ship, an LST (Landing Ship, Tank), they had the hull chipped and painted, from bow to stern, by coolies.  In the states, it probably would have cost thousands to have civilians paint that ship.  There it cost about $20 and that included a contractor’s fee.

One day while the coolies were on board, we had some rice for chow that the ship had picked up in Shanghai.  It was so alive with worms you could hardly see the rice, but before anyone could throw their rice over the side the coolies took it and ate every bit of it.

In this country, it’s hard to realize how strong the caste system is in China and other countries.  At N.O.B., the Naval Operating Base, they had hundreds of them working, young boys and old men worked side by side with no thought other than that they would always be coolies, as their fathers had been and their children would be;  all they ask is enough to eat to stay alive.  They were laying a cement floor on the second floor of a big warehouse converted into our barracks.  All day long they trudged up and down the stairs with half of a 50-gallon drum slung between them filled with cement.  The stairs in all the warehouses were built with steps only two or three inches high so coolies could carry heavy loads up and down them.

To be continued...

This may be the LST mentioned in the speech.

(Tomorrow – part two of Art's speech on Shanghai.)

© 2011 Lee Price

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Images of Roulston's

Art working at Roulston's, circa 1950.

A couple more pictures have turned up of Roulston’s, where Art worked as a grocery clerk during his courtship with June.  Located on Main Street, the Southampton Roulston’s was one of hundreds of Thomas Roulston & Sons chain grocery stores located in Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island.  The chain was headquartered in Brooklyn and the oldest stores dated back to the 1880s.  In the 1940s, the Southampton store was managed by Rodney Pierson, a distant relative of Art’s.

Apparently, Art worked briefly at Roulston’s prior to his time in the Navy.  When he returned to Southampton in 1947 after his service as a Navy Quartermaster, he went back to working for Rod Pierson at Roulston’s.

In August 1944 (when Art was 17 years old), Rod Pierson wrote the following recommendation for Art, possibly connected with Art’s looming service in the Navy and/or his application for Quartermaster training:

August 8, 1944
Southampton, NY

To whom it may concern:

Arthur W. Price has been in my employ for the past two months during which time I have found Arthur to be honest, upright, and conscientious in every respect.  I do not hesitate to recommend Arthur very highly.

F. Rodney Pierson

Another image of Roulston's from the time when Art
was working there.

An image of Roulston's, circa 1920.  A special thank you to the
Southampton Historical Museums and Research Center for this delightful
image of old Southampton!

(For Monday – Art's 1950 speech to a women's club about his experiences in Shanghai.)

© 2011 Lee Price

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dinner at the Windmill

“Last night, I went to the movies with Frank Hoffman.  Then he and I and Joe Cerullo watched wrestling at the Anchorage for awhile then went to the Polish Hall and saw the rest of the boys there.  Then to Peter’s, took Frank home, and out to Julie’s with Joe.  We stopped at Pete’s again on the way back and met Bruno, Farmer, and Singer there.  Then back to the Windmill to eat, and finished the night at the Hampton Bays Diner.  Finally got home at 4 in the morning.  I stuck to beer all night.  Today I discovered a small dent in my rear fender opposite the driver side.  That’s what I get for parking outside of gin mills!”
                                                                       Art Price
                                                                       Letter to June Anderson, Dec. 19, 1949
                                                                       (Bold emphasis added.)

Located at the intersection of Windmill Lane and Hill Street (Jobs Lane), the Windmill Restaurant was a popular restaurant near Agawam Park (across from the cannon).  Although this is the only time that the Windmill is specifically identified in the letters, the casual mention suggests it was well known to everyone.

Let’s turn back the clock and take a closer look... 

Here’s an exterior shot of the Windmill Restaurant, dating to the time of the letters:

Here’s an interior view with the Windmill’s staff:

And finally, here’s a menu from the Windmill (with 1950 prices!), as reproduced from The Southampton Press:

A special thank you to the Southampton Historical Museums and Research Center and the Rogers Memorial Library for these great images of Southampton, circa 1950!

(For Friday – Images of Roulstons.)

© 2011 Lee Price

Monday, July 11, 2011

Songs of Summer 1950 (Part 3 of 3)

Continued...  A romance in the Hamptons wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the beach.  For this brief series, June’s and Art’s beach photographs will be accompanied by the number 1 hit songs of 1950.

The #1 song in August 1950 was “Goodnight, Irene,” a folk standard performed by The Weavers with an orchestral arrangement by Gordon Jenkins.

“Irene, goodnight,
Irene, goodnight,
Goodnight, Irene,
Goodnight, Irene,
I'll see you in my dreams.”

And then June must have taken the camera and snapped the only picture in the bunch of Art on the beach.

(For Wednesday – A trip inside the Windmill Restaurant.)

© 2011 Lee Price

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Songs of Summer 1950 (Part 2 of 3)

A romance in the Hamptons wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the beach.  For this brief series, June’s and Art’s beach photographs will be accompanied by the number 1 hit songs of 1950.

The #1 song in July 1950 was Nat King Cole performing “Mona Lisa,” written by Ray Evans and Jay Livingston with an arrangement by Nelson Riddle and backing by Les Baxter and his Orchestra.

“Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa,
Men have named you
You're so like the lady
With the mystic smile
Is it ’cause you’re lonely
They have blamed you?
For that Mona Lisa
Strangeness in your smile?

“Do you smile to tempt
A lover, Mona Lisa?
Or is this your way to
Hide a broken heart?
Many dreams
Have been brought
To your doorstep
They just lie there and they die there
Are you warm, are you real, Mona Lisa?
Or just a cold and lonely lovely work of art?”

(Tomorrow – More songs of summer.)

© 2011 Lee Price

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Songs of Summer 1950 (Part 1 of 3)

A romance in the Hamptons wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the beach.  For this brief series, June’s and Art’s beach pictures will be accompanied by the number 1 hit songs of 1950.

For this particular excursion, Art brought along his camera and, except for one shot, he didn’t share it.  It looks like these constitute June’s glamour shots, goofing around and modeling on the beach.

The #1 song in June 1950 was the Andrew Sisters performing “I Wanna Be Loved,” with words and music by Billy Rose and Eddie Heyman.

“I wanna be loved with inspiration,
I wanna be loved,
Starting tonight!

“Instead of merely
Holding conversation,
Hold me tight!

“I wanna be kissed,
Until I tingle!
I wanna be kissed,
Starting tonight!

“Embrace until
our heartbeats intermingle,
Wrong or right!”

(Tomorrow – More songs of summer.)

© 2011 Lee Price

Friday, July 8, 2011

Goodbye to Shirl

Pencil sketch by June Anderson.

“Shirl’s pretty happy – she insists she’s leaving New York for good… 

“Shirl and I went to the movies last night and probably will tonight and tomorrow night, too.  It’s our last fling.”
                                        June Anderson
                                        Letter to Art Price
                                        August 15, 1950

And that really seems to have been the last fling for June and Shirl.  At this point, Shirley Stahl passes out of the story altogether.  She and June quickly lost touch with each other.  According to family lore, there may have been a mention once that Shirl married and moved to California but nothing’s been found to substantiate this.

Shirl’s family was from Lakewood, New York, a small town in western New York at the south end of Chautauqua Lake near the New Jersey border.  They lived at 303 Forest Avenue in Lakewood.  Shirl’s sister was Evelyn (Evie) Stahl and her mother was Mrs. Pearl Stahl.  The Stahls were Jewish.

Considering the strong ongoing presence of Shirl throughout these letters, you’d think there’d be more information available than that!  We don’t even have a photo of her.  Following the “six degrees” theory of separation, I’ve hoped from the start that this blog would find its way to Shirl or her descendants.  But time is running out and all leads have led nowhere to date.

In saying goodbye to Shirl, here’s a brief sampling of the many good times shared by June and Shirl during this period:

“Shirl and I just had a nice big laugh.  She just showed me the material she bought for the room, then proudly brought out the drapes that she had made and almost finished last night.  At one glance, I knew something was wrong.  Sure enough, they are about a foot too short – they don’t reach the window sill by lengths.  Shirl says that’s why her mother calls her good-for-nothing.”
                                                                             June Anderson
                                                                             Letter to Art Price, Nov. 29, 1949

“About 6:00 tonight, Shirl and I put our laundry in the washing machine down in the basement.  A half hour later, we decided to go down after it.  We went out to get the elevator and there were about five other people waiting for it too.  All were discussing the smoke in the hall.  They were asking, was it a small fire or a large one?  Finally a woman a little smarter than the rest decided that the fire was down below us, probably the basement, and the smoke was coming up through the elevator.  At that, the other people lost their nerve – when the elevator turned up only three people took it – Shirl, me, and the woman with brains.  Well, it worked alright – we didn’t fall to the earth.  Anyway, the woman got out in the lobby and Shirl and I continued to the basement.  Cold air surrounded us there – all the doors were opened.  Three men were there.  Shirl and I innocently went over and opened the machine.  One of the men turned on us with a ‘so you’re the ones’ expression on his face and informed us he was of the opinion that we threw too many clothes in the thing.  It seems the motor had burned out causing all the smoke.  We felt – well, you know.  Any rate, Shirl and I have decided that the machine was just worn out – we didn’t even have it half full.”
                                                                             June Anderson
                                                                             Letter to Art Price, Dec. 6, 1949

“Shirl did homework tonight.  In lettering class, the assignment was to make an envelope for a store – you know, the little paper bags with flaps that they put stockings, ties, etc. in?  Well, we had to make up a store name and design for our envelope.  Shirl had done it twice before and wasn’t pleased with her results.  So she sat down tonight to do it for the third and last time.  At last she finished.  Picking it up to examine it, she announced that she was pleased with the results, then all at once let out a loud groan.  She had put everything on upside down!  The flap was on the bottom.  How we laughed!  Poor Shirl.”
                                                                             June Anderson
                                                                             Letter to Art Price, Dec. 16, 1949

“I’m too pleased to think.  Maybe I can get Shirl to have a pillow fight with me or something.”
                                                                             June Anderson
                                                                             Letter to Art Price, Dec. 20, 1949

(Tomorrow – On the beach.)

© 2011 Lee Price

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Job With the Phone Company

As noted earlier, June faced competing pressures when she returned to New York City during the summer of 1950.  June’s mother wanted her to aggressively launch a fashion career in New York City.  Art wanted June back in Riverhead.  Up until August 2, 1950,  June’s mother had the advantage.  But the situation changed with the robbery
of June’s apartment.

June’s father was a widely-respected employee at the Riverhead office of the New York Telephone Company – he was friendly, dependable, and the calm go-to person for handling any emergency.  After the robbery, he probably pulled some strings to position June for a job with the phone company, moving her out of the city as quickly as possible.  June’s mother’s ambitions for her
daughter’s career were stymied.

June took the phone company placement test, scored high enough to place out of standard operator duty, and landed a job in West Hampton.  Thanks to the robbery, Art’s wish came true.

June's father Theodore Anderson seated at the right at
a phone company meeting.

(Tomorrow – Goodbye to Shirley.)

© 2011 Lee Price

Friday, July 1, 2011

Assigned to the Plant Dept.

June enjoyed the weekend with Art, but then returned to the city for one final visit with Shirl.

Fashion sketches by June Anderson.

Tuesday, August 15, 1950

112 West 86th Street
New York City, NY

Dear Art,

I’m sorry I didn’t write last night.  I was so tired, I thought I’d wait till this morning.

Well, I got through everything.  Of all the girls there – and there must have been about 40 – only two of us were selected for the telephone company’s Plant Department.  The others were told they could be operators or nothing.  So I guess we were pretty lucky.  Can you imagine me sitting there dividing fractions?  I don’t even think I’ve looked at a fraction for about six years!

I’m glad it’s Westhampton.  I think that’s about the nicest thing about it.  If there are no buses, I’m sure I’ll be able to find someone to take me back and forth.  And I won’t be up in the Riverhead office either, thank goodness.

Shirl’s pretty happy – she insists she’s leaving New York for good.  She’s still trying to think up a nice logical excuse to tell Traphagen for quitting school.  I can’t seem to persuade her to stay.  So now we’re trying to figure out how to move everything by – Thursday?  Our rent is paid till next Monday.  We sent Betty a telegram last night.  She should get it this morning.  We can’t tell Betty’s
things from June O’Neal’s, so she’ll just have to come.

Shirl and I went to the movies last night and probably will tonight and tomorrow night, too.  It’s our last fling.

Darling, I’ll see you Thursday night.  Till then –

All my love,


© 2011 Lee Price