[MEXICAN REVOLUTION] Letter from an American businessman to his young English fiancée, containing an account of his recent experiences in the Baja Califonia Desert. Los Angeles, August 1920.
4 pp, quarto (280 x 180 mm); manuscript in ink on two lettersheets with the printed letterhead of the Los Angeles Athletic Club, dated 13 August 1920; some staining (martini or tears – or a mixture of both?), resulting in a few lacunae, otherwise complete and legible.
An interesting item of private correspondence written in the aftermath of the Mexican Revolution by a wealthy American businessman to his upperclass English fiancée, in which he describes his recent visit to an oasis in the Baja California Desert to inspect his company’s sugar cane and cotton enterprise. The writer signs himself “Clare” – presumably his surname. His Mexican commentary vividly depicts the violent atmosphere of the time, as well as the dramatic and arid landscape. It also includes an assessment of the wiley Colonel Esteban Cantú, governor of Baja California Norte.
Complete transcript of the letter:
This is some day – Friday the 13th, a Regular Hoodo, some may feel quite discouraged Sweetie till I received both your letters – and they were like a shot of booze in a dry country – just tickled to death. I have read them three times already. You Darling have the most wonderful facility of putting more in a few lines than any one I ever knew – tis a Real art – But then my Girl is a real artiste – first sweetheart mine I will tell of my trials and adventures. I arrived from Mexico last night, tired & dirty and all fed up. They have another of Che’s bi-monthly Revolutions out there. But this time it looks serious. Lower California – which is in Mexico – has a Governor who has some Talent and ability. He has made part of the Desert blossom like a flower – except he like all Mexicans are out for Graft. The one thing which Redeems Gov. Cantu from the other Mex’s is that out of his Graft he gives some to the community. Tis the way of improvement and the others keep all the Dough to themselves. After the Big Revolution, after the overthrow of Carranza – Cantu refused to get out, and he has the sympathy of most Mexicans residing in the territory. He is forming an army of his own and trying to lick the whole Mexican army – so there was H[el]l to pay – I was obliged to go to my Ranch – and I saw a lot of so called Mobilizations – while in Ensenada there were a couple of hundred in a large coral [sic], all Bloto, each with a Senorita and with Dancing and Rough House – a couple of Bandits could [have] cleaned out this Place – they call Americans Gringos there – they hate us, and it was dangerous to remain in town … But at 5 am we beat it for the desert. [We] all stayed quite close to the Hotel and under special military escort – you never was in the Desert. Well Dearie tis undescribable [sic]. Imagine sand and sage Brush every where – mountains and canyons black and bare, fantastic crags which remind you of Pictures of Dante’s inferno with a pitiless Sun beating on you at about 5 times hotter than any day you ever had in England. Besides, tis a dry heat that licks up every spot of moisture – no living thing except Horned Toads, Rattle Snakes and Tarantulas, the only water we had we carried in canteens, so warm that it was Hot. We travelled 60 miles Horse Back, 30 there and 30 back, and we sure did suffer. You say you like Hardships – well you would have had your stomach full. Some times I was partly delirious, and strange – the Image of my Ear was constantly before me. Dearie tis true you are my only Patron Saint, we arrived there in time – a Beautiful spot with springs and considerable planting done. Our company grows sugar cane – and are experimenting with cotton. I say it was a pretty place – it was after the Desert. But the Heat. God help the overseers who live there. The Mex and Indians don’t mind – if they ever get thru fighting there a Rail Road will be opened to the Oasis. Mildred drove me far as San Diego – But I returned by Train. I will say Dearie one compensation: Mexico is not a Free Country, so you can do pretty much as you Please – eat what you like, drink what you like, and the Law does not interfere with your personal comfort – in Free America, everything we do is by Law.
Darling answering your first letter. It was so sweet and Pretty, you are a wonder – my miracle woman – and Darling true I do have every confidence in you – But permit me to complain a little, won’t you? I note what you say about the young man who desired you to show him London. But it does seem Dearie you tried to show him the whole Big Town in one week. Theatre every night – and exhibition [after] exhibition etc. He didn’t let you [rest] a moment. I think you sure want some, you do not need to Remind me that they all thought you Lovely. How could they help it – but then … he has no right to tell you you are Lovely. You say Maud said I wouldn’t be jealous. But Darling mine the funny part of it is I am jealous. I guess sweetheart I am selfish. But somehow I just can’t bear the thought of some other man being nice and entertaining. Reallly Dearie I don’t ever think of it. You Love me Darling, don’t you? I need it so, just tell me you Love me in every letter won’t you? Then Dearie you are right you should have seen the fright I had when I received the letter with Bruxelles on it. I went right up in the air. You would have screamed, and Darling what a Relief, when I read your sweet letter. I don’t mind you scolding Dearie – guess I need it – and guess I am an old cold man to be cross and doubtfull. But Dearie I’m not doubtfull and I do know you do things just to tease me, and you are a master at that. You [know] my soft streak and [know] how to work [me] to a frenzy in a moment. Forget it Dearie, I don’t want you to get angry for any little petulant complaining of mine, for Sweetheart you are my all and I know Paradise is waiting me on my return, for I dream just to hear you laugh and see those sunny eyes, and that little devil look in you would be Real Paradise. You also wifey mine will come [into] some strenuous learning – and as you say Dearie – with the Romance of soft Italian skies, sailing the lagoon under the Venetian moon … We will be just as happy as Turtle Doves. I will be in Heavenly delight (providing you don’t do much flirting) … Tis funny Dearie when I think of it, you never Flirt when alone – always when I am with you – Guess you like to see me Tear and Roar – Darling, we are going to have some very sane and wonderful times – one thing is sure, I will never leave you again during summer, never again.
Dearie I am working hard on my business – but everything seems so slow – perhaps tis my impatience to return to you – I must go to San Francisco Sunday. Have another appointment with a client. Am rushing this [as] fast Dearie as possible. You will see me soon my Pet, then we must make up for lost time.
Dearie I am so sorry Mommie Dear is ill. Give her my very best Love and tell her I am sure with the wonderful nursing she will receive from the wonderful Daughter she has that she will recover rapidly. As for me Dearie, for the pleasure I would enjoy of having you fluttering near me all the time – I wouldn’t regret a long stage of sickness. Darling I will write you again tomorrow and send you some more music and other interesting things – and believe me sweetheart your [sic] forever first, last and all times in my thoughts – my wonderful little L…sch[?].
Worlds of love & kisses, Clare[?].