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

No comments:

Post a Comment