5 January 1970

January 5, 1970 (Monday 8 a.m.)

So, today is my birthday . . . . and a cold snowy morning it is.

What a somber person I have been over the holidays. Winter is such a restricting time of the year at any time. But this year is especially quiet for me. Not since I can recall has the holiday period been such a somber one for me. Perhaps, after today, and with the holidays over, my mood will change.

[two crossed out – typed over – lines here]

Eh! don’t feel like writing this morning!

[apparently late that evening – handwritten, above was typed:]

Met Brownie at Winde[r]mere Station and we went to Severance Center for lunch. While wandering around the place, he bought me a current Annual Business Review of Forbes and a 1970 Capricorn horoscope, also a can of Herbal Mist spray sachet.

Bill called me about 10:30 p.m. and he and Connie sang “Happy Birthday.” Then Bill talked with me a few minutes. Somehow it was an awkward conversation. I told him about having my back door fixed, and he asked me what kind of periodical I wanted for my birthday. I told him I had suggested a subscription to Forbes Magazine when he called me on Christmas Day.

. . . I heard nothing from Nancy. Bill told me he and Connie had been to see her. From what Bill said, Nancy’s life is not going too well. Although it did not surprise me, I felt upset about it anyway. Finally concluded it is the way Nancy wants, it, and fell asleep almost 1:30 a.m.

Happy Birthday to me . . . . .

4 January 1970

January 4 1970 (Sunday, 10: 30 a. m. )

La de dah . . . It is very cold out today, with snow all over the place. A few minutes ago, the sun began to shine through the windows . . . always a welcome sight during the winter months. Icicles are trimming the edge of the little window above the davenport. The green leaves on the window ledge seem to be enjoying the strange sight of the icicles and viewing the occasional snowflakes drifting outside through the air.

This is no day to be outdoors tramping around. Yet, I do not want to do anything in particular indoors. My books have all been read, almost, except for a few collections of works . . . and I find no pleasure in reading any more. Books have not helped me too much, despite all the reading I have done over a lifetime. When all the chips are down in life, it ends up one must shoulder one’s individual responsibility for oneself. There are no easy roads to personal existence. Each man travels his path alone. No one or nothing can travel it for him. Oh, books sometimes help one over rough spots, or occasionally ease the individual. But when All is said and read, one still has oneself on one’s hands.

Tomorrow is my birthday. Hmmm . . . . So what . . . .

Bought a song sheet the other day while down town. The title of this song? “Someone to Watch Over Me. ” . . . . .

At this stage of my life I am completely directionless. Is it a period of a crossroad for me? time for a change? Or, is it a more or less permanent state of life for me? Hmmm . . . who knows? Nature does not like a vacuum. Life changes in many ways. My inner self tells me that nothing is static. However, I cannot possibly conceive how life can change for the better for me, at least not at present. For such a long time now I have hoped something, somehow would give me some sense of stability, some sense of happier continuity. I have hoped so long for this I have given up hoping. This is not a very satisfying or happy condition, but facts are facts. Instead of getting better, my life has become emptier and emptier. So, one learns to live with conditions.

There was a time when any number of little kindnesses would have meant so much. Now the time for such acts have been delayed so long they are almost valueless. My feelings have numbed. I don’t care anymore. Too much water has flown under the bridge. Icebergs do not melt in a day. It takes a long time to make an iceberg, and a long time to melt it away. And my personal iceberg has been a long time in the process of becoming.

23 September 1959

23 September 1959

I must write. I must get this unhappiness out of my heart! I’m so blue and depressed I can hardly stand it. I want to scream. I want to weep. If I can’t rid myself of this despondency I shall go mad.

What’s the cause of it? FRUSTRATION!!! Just plain old-fashioned frustration. I’m sick of being sick! I’m sick of pain. I’m sick of illness. I’m sick of myself. I’m sick of everybody.

There is no health in my soul. I just can’t fight this feeling. It just gets worse. I can’t step out of it.

I hate life. I hate the trap of life. I hate living.

Actually, there isn’t too much wrong: Kurt feel shut out and far away from me. He feels neglected physically. I guess he senses something is wrong. But he is more interested in his own frustrations. Then, too, I satisfy few of his needs. I think he feels, in fact he says, he has problems of his own. I’m sure he has. So I can’t burden him with my feelings. What can he do?

Bill is Bill. Young – self-absorbed – growing up a bit, but very demanding. He voices his needs and persistently plugs for what he wants.

Nancy? Well she manages to enjoy life. Her hours are atrocious – her social life and activities very much more valuable than family, health, or anything else. She’s inclined to be very touchy recently.

If I could just make a lot of money in the market. But the money making I dream about seems very unrealistic. Blanche says I’m too impatient. I hate money worries and bills. As the time for a college decision by Bill draws closer, I’m almost beside myself with worry.

Also, Kurt is so opposed to a social life. Go to a movie; watch a TV ballgame, golf, or football and he is all right. But just ask him to visit (that is anyone but Steve [Treer]) and his displeasure shows a mile wide.

Caught as I am between financial anxiety and desire for human contacts, I am ready to bust wide open psychically.

It’s just gotten to the point I have no desire to live. I could just die because the picture is so mundane, so drab, so full of the press of other people who are not interested in my needs. Maybe it is the old psychological pattern again – frustration and unhappiness – perhaps it is the old feeling of not being important or appreciated. Perhaps it is just people. Both but if it is the people, I know who set the standards – the crummy relatives – it is small wonder what with being ill so long, with the indifference or lack of something around me, that I feel as I do.

I just am not getting much pleasure out of life and can’t pick myself up by my own bootstraps. And I can’t seem to write it out of my system.

6 June 1958

6 June 1958

The laughs of my recuperation:

1) Nancy’s remark on this situation. I’d ask Kurt to sit on the toilet seat and keep my company in the bathroom while I too my sitz bath. The bathroom, with a tubful of hot water got rather steamy and hot.

So Kurt would peel of his shirt and change, or take off, his trousers to accommodate himself to the temperature conditions.

After several nights of this, Nancy came into my bedroom with this remark: “The way dad takes of his clothes when you take a sitz bath, you’d think he was getting all set up to wash the dog!”

2) Dear grandpa [Zachmann, a.k.a. “Pop”] – he and Dada [his wife, our grandmother] made a once a week pilgrimage to our house, especially since Pop was not working and Dada is always on the lookout for collecting some cash out of us.

Pop sits watching television for the several hours they are there. He manages to guzzle 7 or 8 bottles of beer and a few shots.

About the third week of this, and after going through a case and a half of Kurt’s beer, when it is time for them to leave, Pop, full of beer, informs Kurt P.O.C. (Kurt’s brand) does not agree with him.  

He should get Leisy’s beer since Pop likes it better.

I thought Kurt would flip!!

8 June 1958

8 June 1958

Pursue your version of the Cinderella story, as you first told it to Nancy when she was a little girl.


So, since when was Cinderella so badly off. She learned how to cook, and sew, and clean. The animals loved her. And . . . who finally got the prince – the nasty no good stepsisters with their wretched stepmother? No!! Cinderella got him.

True, Cinderella was treated unfairly and unkindly – but who was the better person – the kinder person in the end?

And what did the stepsisters gain? No knowledge of anything Cinderella learned. All they were spurred to do by the stepmother was to be nasty and disrespectful of another human being.

[Here a clipping of a Dear Abby column from the Cleveland Plain Dealer is pinned to the top of a page in the notebook. “Owed” is writing for advice about a brother-in-law who borrowed $500 six years ago and has not re-paid the writer who wants to know if he should give his brother-in-law a “strong ‘hint’” about the money owed. Abby tells him that a ‘hint’ won’t do it and that Owed should “tell him in plain words that you’d like him to start paying you off”.]

The attached Dear Abby bit makes me think of several incidents. Han – and his borrowing $1300 from Eva and taking ten years to pay it back. She had to insist he pay, although she let it go because she hated to ask him.

It reminds me of Hans [Kurt’s younger brother] very freely demanding money for the down payment on his house – and how Dada got sore when I said, “We won’t loan him money.” And how I talked to Eva about Hans’ money loans from her – for his car, for his Quonset hut up in Branford, Connecticut. And how Dada, after Hans pulled the “You said you would help me and now no one wants to give me money” act, [how Hans] got Dada to borrow $1000 on Pop’s life insurance paid up policy. And how Dada kept saying how “wonderful” and “smart” and how successful Hans was – and then how we had to wait eight years to get the money from Hans – who repaid nothing with interest . . .  And how money devalued during those years.

It also reminds me of Dada saying Sweetie likes everything just so, and how [Kurt’s cousin] Ed Roser Jr. made $3000 extra on his off days as a fireman for Shaker [Heights, Ohio] . . . And how Dada said Margaret [Ed’s sister] contributes nothing to Aunt Roser because of her desire for expensive clothes and dates while her mother works hard at housework because Aunt Roser needs the money . . . And how Aunt Roser told me how Sweetie and Ed borrowed $3000 from her to buy their present home . . . And how they’ve had the home for over five years and have never offered to pay on Roser back one penny of the $3000. Oh values, values and the queer moral sense of people – even your own children . . .  And I remind myself . . . LEARN!! From this . . . Don’t ruin your children with smother love, with undue simpatico . . . And how important it is for children to learn to stand on their own 2 feet!! When they are able to do so.

True, a parent owes children a responsibility to help them grow into adulthood, owes them the debt of raising them – but also owes them the guidance needed to direct them towards self-reliance.


And I think of Eddie Bowers, Mrs. Hartig, and that messy situation. Eddie Bowers may end up in jail yet if some intelligent, unemotional reasoning doesn’t take over in that crazy mixed up family of Jerry’s.


7 June 1958

7 June 1958

One lays around during a deal like I have been going through and has plenty of time to evaluate and think, think and evaluate. I guess that’s what Rev. Nichols meant in New York when I was ill. I was too confused at that time to understand what he meant. I couldn’t think clearly, because even then I was heading for the emotional catastrophe which overtook me before and after my mother died.

All that is past history now. Perhaps I’m a bit more mature and knowing. Nevertheless, now I can understand his words better.

Well at any rate I guess I’ve seen both sides of the mirror – – – extreme mental anguish, and now, the hell of physical pain.

What is it all about? I don’t know. Perhaps it is not for me to know.

Let’s just say I’ve lived a little.

Maybe in some strange way I am richer than many people. I’ve drunk more deeply of the cup of life.

There have been so many times when I cursed my creator for bringing such misery into my life.

Why? Why? I’ve asked myself a thousand and more times.

I wonder if pattern will become clearer or more understandable to me is age. Sometimes I feel I have some understanding of how blessed are those who know something of life. Then, especially during the pain-wracked weeks of the recent past, hate filled my soul at the torture and pain of human living, and I’ve wondered about any benevolence in a creative force that can so rack a human being with mental and physical torture, sorrow, frustration, defeat, disillusionment, the whole galaxy of human suffering seemingly carelessly wafted over the human being.

I think of people… How thoughtless, arrogant, wicked, and expedient they are, and I wonder what malevolent force created such monstrous beings.

I think of nature, how cruel it can be, and wonder again about the force that created the world and its inhabitants.

Then, Mrs. Harding brings me a bouquet of roses and I enjoy the delicate odor.

I think of Elizabeth Kardos and the rainy Wednesday planter. And I think of those who befriended me during my growing years – gave me a bit of understanding – Helen’s brother Al . . . The period of helpful friendship with Betty Rish during my early adolescence. The various people in New York were kind to me at various times . . . Earl Wilkins, his mother, Rev. Nichols, Ben Williams, Mr. and Mrs. Randall . . . To mention only a few.

Then I’ve had Kurt, Nancy, and Bill (although Bill has caused the difficulties which come partly through his adolescence, inexperience, and youth).

There have been times when I have been so lonely in the world of people I could cry my heart out.

Then there have been times when I’ve been very fortunate to have had good fortune and people around me who sustained me.

Yes! . . . I’ve lived a little.

So Christ hung on a cross for a few hours – so since when is that such a much. How about people who suffer pain for months and months . . . Physical, mental pain, torture, a whole raft of sufferings. How about them? Polio sufferers, those with incurable, painful diseases? How about them?

I guess it was just the injustice of the crucifixion that fixed that hearts of men during a period in history, in a small little spot on the world where man had been pushed to the brink, that created the concept of Christianity.

Yeah! How about Socrates and his hemlock? – How about Galileo? How about a lot of other misunderstood men?

Man’s inhumanity to man!

I guess the difference with Christ was his interest in people, and their problems. In a way this applies to men like Socrates, to, sort of.

Also, some people who suffer a little or maybe a lot just get to be nastier people. (The crud* in women’s Hospital for instance.) There is a character for you! It all depends on depends.

There is no pat rule of thumb.

*(This was the character who expected all the attention from all the aids and anyone handy. The one who while reading a book (quite comfortable) wiped his nose on his arm – then held it out without a word – the aide was supposed to wipe his arm.)

5 June 1958

5 June 1958

I have developed a plan – and I hope it works out.

  • Learn all you can – but I mean really study and learn what is in Blanche’s material.
  • Approach Blanche on the proposition of learning more at her office.
  • Bone up on geography, metric measurements – everything connected with exporting. Treat it as an apprenticeship if need be – work for nothing until I learn my way around and complete my education along these lines basically.

Then if it all works out – tell Blanche I want to go elsewhere – would she mind if I stepped out, for Stan’s sake, if nothing else.

Elsewhere can be one of two places: Central National Bank (if more experience is necessary) then or maybe, skipping the bank – see whether I can get a job with the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce – a letter giving my qualifications – willing to work for free to prove my worth if need be. Mike Kuhlman may be a valuable person to know in this connection – Chamber of Commerce.

Odds and ends:

History of Economics

Maybe Spanish and French lessons through Blanche’s friend or somewhere.

Nancy came home all wound up yesterday. She had a science report to do on her trip to the Museum of Natural History. Such tension and handwringing!

Kurt, Bill, and I began giving her the business. Nancy had her reference books all over the living room floor. She didn’t have time to eat. She didn’t want supper. Her science report was going to keep her up until 3 AM.

Bill finally commented: “You are trying to do too much, and you are going around in circles.” This isn’t exact, but close to all three comments from Bill, Kurt, and myself. I said – “So hand it in late!” Nancy said, “They’ll take off from my grade.” So I said, “Get a zero once – the world won’t fall apart. Try it.”

“Maybe you don’t care,” she stormed “but I care!”

Bill said, “You are not approaching the problem correctly.” I said, “So how should she approach it?”

To make a long story short, this was the advice he gave her, with a few comments from me:

She was interested in the different ages of mammals and reptiles. Bill said, “People have written volumes about this subject. Pick out one phase and do a good job on that.”

I suggested she use for reference not all the books she had dragged out, but the very excellently written volume by the woman from University of Chicago. I advised her, since [her biology teacher Mr.] Mancini wanted pictures, probably hadn’t seen the booklet she bought, to use the chart, the pictures, and the simply written material in the booklet – and call it a day.

It was several hours’ work – She went to bed about one o’clock but she simmered down to a peaceful, knowing concentration of effort and probably she’ll get an A+ on her report. I hope so.

I write this because I need to learn much of this technique myself.

Nancy’s supposed to go horseback riding tonight and a storm is predicted. I hope to God it all works out all right.

4 June 1958

4 June 1958

Now, as I begin to feel better at times, with some desire to read during the long hours at home alone, I have turned to Blanche’s book on exporting. As she says, it is a noncontroversial subject.

Generally, I get so steamed up about general subjects of life in general, the factual material of her export book is something that requires concentrated thinking – it is a new field to me and one which requires good mental exertion. Result? I don’t get wound up. I learned something I did not know before. Also, it makes me realize how stupid I am about geography, other countries – many other related matters. It broadens my world and I’m grateful.

Blanche stopped in this afternoon and brought me a good world map which I asked her for. Heavy books and I just don’t go together for the present. The folded world map she brought me, I hope, will help clear up some of my dumbness about places. It is a map of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres compiled and drawn in the cartographic section of the National Geographic Society for the National Geographic magazine.

One thing this illness has pointed out to me is the fact that I skim over the surface like a water bug but never explore very deeply on many topics underneath the surface. As Blanche said recently, talking about Zell Canker in a comment about Zell’s personality: “She is a shallow person without much depth”

Well, in a lot of respects, that’s me, too. I’m so ignorant about so many things. I sometimes wonder what I ever did learn in school. Well, in my defense of my past ineptitude’s, I was so wrapped up with personal problems I went through most of my school years wrapped in emotional turmoil.

I wonder – will I ever stop getting emotional about a million and one gripes and ever gain a measure of sensible maturity?

2 June 1958

2 June 1958

Problems are so universal and the common denominator of human social problems all too frequently rests on the intricate chianceries [sic] of the human animal.

Nancy said, when she went to the newly dedicated Museum of Natural History, there was a large full-length mirror in the lobby. Under the mirror was a label for the mirror. It reads “The largest and most numerous animal, dangerous to itself and others.” Or something like that.

I’ll have to take a good look at that label when I get around to visiting the Museum of Natural History.

As I said to Billy or Nancy, I don’t remember which . . . Bill it was . . . something about – one must separate social aspects of humanity.

I believe he was making some scornful remarks about people. The idea was “get all you can” and the hell with helping another fellow unless he helps himself. I may not be quoting all this correctly, but we were talking about governments I believe. I pointed out to him that thank goodness there were people in this world who thought about the natural dangers of mankind – poverty, illness, disease, disaster, which the individual alone has no control over. i.e. I mentioned Salk and the polio vaccine, Pasteur, quickly – to bring him an inkling of what I was trying to get across to him.

1 June 1958

1 June 1958

May life bless you and give you an understanding heart.

Jean Zachmann

The above, at this point, seems the best wishes I could wish for anyone I love. It encompasses people, but also nature, natural phenomena, all the best truths of literature, music, science, art, evolution, all the culmination to the point in space where one gains some rhythmic knowledge, some rhythmic rapport with life, living and the universe, until the pieces all fit into a complete whole.

An appreciation of beauty, true beauty, sympathy for pain and struggle and turmoil, and an understanding of some kind with the broad flood of life in all its known forms, perhaps not in detail for each facet of life, because it is so wise? But rather I mean a sense of oneness with existence as human beings know it within the realm of their limited knowledges. It means the ability to sift out truth better and have some better comprehension of lasting values. It means so many, many things. It sounds very complicated, yet I believe somehow that when one really is blessed by life and truly has an understanding heart, it probably makes one bow one’s head in pity and sorrow sometimes, full of joyous wonder at other times, yet it all fits into some simple kind of a pattern.


Elizabeth Kardos said in one of our conversations, “There is nothing quite so disheartening as being disillusioned.” “However,” she went on, “[she] seldom makes a mistake in people and though she does make a mistake about she just doesn’t bother with.”

My comment to this:

I related the conversation I had in the hospital with the gal who brought toys around, on this very subject. (This gal was talking about salesmen who play on your sympathy and sell you something you don’t want.)

The way I look at it is this . . . When I am disillusioned over someone, I feel it is an error on my part . . . An error in judgment, perhaps, because of some need of my own. If the person I have over-glamorized turns out to be other than I imagined, the best way to look at it is this. Sure, it hurts to find my judgment faulty. But, somehow, I did not estimate correctly, so why blame the person I overestimated. I’ve been a bit of a fool.