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Letters from the

Archives of Marcus Bruce Christian

From & To Friends, Colleagues, & Wife



Books by Marcus Bruce Christian

Song of the Black Valiants: Marching Tempo / High Ground: A Collection of Poems  / Negro soldiers in the Battle of New Orleans

I am New Orleans: A Poem / Negro Iron Workers of Louisiana: 1718-1900 /  The Liberty Monument

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Letter 35


Ruth Unhappy with Christian's Response 

Encourages Him to Vacation in Chicago




Chicago Signal Depot 

1903 West Pershing Road 

Chicago 9, Illinois 

August 14, 1945 


Dear, dear Bruce: 

I received your short note and frankly I don't think it justifies my waiting a whole week for. But I suppose you're either awfully busy or you're not feeling well. Which is it?  Usually you are much more long-winded than I. Why I've seen you write longer letters to Bontemps.

Well, I had decided to put off my vacation but I decided a week's rest should do me a lot of good so I have taken five days off which time, I shall use by going to the theaters, parks, museums, etc. This is the last week for concerts out in Grant's park. The concerts have been on since the beginning of summer. Every night except Monday and Friday, concerts are held and admission is free. It begins at 8 o'clock and at that time one can see people crowded all about the park, some sitting on benches, and a great many relaxing on the grass. I must say, the parks here are the most beautiful I have ever seen. On hot summer days one can see girls, women of all ages sitting out in the sun in play suits while just opposite them traffic and business go on as usual. The music in Grant's park is supplied by Chicago's leading Symphonic Orchestras with now and then a brilliant newcomer in the field of classical music.

Sitting there in the park watching all these things I know you'd enjoy, I somehow wish you were here with me. Do you think you'd care to make a trip here, say about next summer on your vacation? If you're willing, I would supply half the fare. You need a good rest and a week or so in Chicago would about do it. Then, together we could visit the Civic Opera house, the parks, antique shops, trading shops and even the printing houses. There are so many beautiful places to go to, so many odd things to see, seeing so many fine things here often instill within me a desire to travel and see the rest of the U.S. If ever I should come into some money, I think I should like to spend it traveling.

The weather here is quite pleasant. Not too hot and not too cool. Summer's here now but it seems more like Fall. We haven't had but 2 really hot scorching days at which time the mercury went up to 96 and 98 degrees. All the rest have been quite cool. Would you believe it, the last of March found us still wearing coats and sweaters and also on the last of March we had a thin covering of Snow? My first winter here wasn't so bad. I stood it pretty well. Bundled myself up with woolens, flannels, head pieces and the like until I must have looked like Grandma. But I kept warm and didn't catch but one cold. I think I am quite seasoned to the cold now. 

Snow is so lovely when it's fresh. It's when it melt it becomes a mass of ugly slush. When the cold winds freezes the snow it forms a slippery layer of ice which has to be shoveled off. I took about three falls last year.

The buildings here are marvelously huge and practically all built of brick. But the most beautiful are the apartments which are built of soapstone. And because of this, they are cleaner. Dust and soot do not cling to the soapstone as with brick.

As for the money I am making . . . Maybe it is more than you are making but it takes twice as much for me to live. Everything is sky-high. Then too, I don't cook, I eat all of my meals out. You see, here where I live we have a community kitchen and most of the people here do cook. I never like to become too friendly with the folks and if I cook there's a possibility of having to come in contact with them a little too often. Sure, I like them, respect them, and talk to them sometimes but I have yet to invite them to sit in my room and talk. You see. I have found out, women are naturally jealous of another woman and there's always a chance of foul play and knowing Chicago women as I know them, I want very little or no part of them.

I can easily understand your ideas about women in general. They know now that I don't like being too friendly and so I am never worried. Most of the people living here are women. There's only one man on our floor and we see him so seldom it's like he's not here at all. There is also a married couple on our floor. On the second floor there are only three people. Down in the basement is a family of three and the Janitor. In all, the house is always quiet. Thanks goodness there are no loud mouths here.

Another reason for my not cooking is that meats, lard, etc. are really difficult to find and I would wear myself to a frazzle just looking for food to cook.

At work we have a very large, airy, neat Cafeteria. A balanced meal is always served. There is a Colored Chef who prepares all the meals and take it from me, he knows his business. A whole meal, as I buy it, includes ice cream and cake comes to about 65 cents . . . then too it's according to how many side dishes one gets. Some days we get Roast beef, another day we get baked ham. Mashed potatoes, gravy, side dishes of string beans, or Carrots, peas, beets, asparagus, which ever you choose. Another day we'd get fish served with slaw or relish. Egg-Foo-Young, a Chinese dish, potato patties, Pork patties, meat balls and spahagetti, all kinds of salads with cottage cheese or if one desires a dish of cold cuts and salad. We also have watermelon, fruits and fruit juices. The first dinner is served at 11:15 a.m. and the supper is served 7 o'clock p.m. Breakfast anytime between 7 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.

I assure you, I eat well (as if you didn't know). But one thing eating out has done for me. It has made me leave starchy food alone and has thereby cut off some of this weight I had gained when I left you.

On Sundays when I am at home I go to a little Creole cook shop on 51st street. 2 blocks away and get a good dinner. Sometimes I take it home with me and eat it as I listen to the Radio. Sunday dinners cost me much more because these places are not cheap.

As for washing and such . . . we have everything convenient in the basement for laundry but due to the soot and dust in the air, one's clothes never become too clean and dry, so I send my things to the laundry . . . there we have a laundry bill.

I clean the bathroom once a week and my room twice a week. The bathroom is all tiled, both floors and walls. It's easy to clean and when cleaned it shines and sparkles like sunlight. If ever I should build a home I shant forget to make my bathroom all tiled. I guess you must think I have some pretty big ideas, uh?

I was indeed surprised to hear that our Dr. Dailey had gotten married and above all things gone on a Second Honeymoon! I was glad to hear of Dr. Quarles success. I miss his slow mischievous smile.

So Sister has moved into her new house. You mentioned where Annie May and Alonzo lived but what about Willie? Has she left Alonzo? If not, when you see her tell her to write me. 

I had meant to ask before about Manual, how is he? I've missed him and thought about him more than I've thought about any of your folks. Maybe it's because I've always thought Man was more gallant than the rest. He took my part and I felt he was earnest about it.

I guess you're wondering how I happen to type this letter and I am on my vacation? Well, today is payday and I came down for my check. I came early because I wanted to cash it and stay awhile to type this to you. We get paid every two weeks exactly now. Before I had to wait fifteen and twenty days for my pay. Before I manage to save anything I am going to buy a few clothes. Winter things, right now. You don't know what a thrill it is to be able to make my own money and buy the things I want. I don't want for anything.

As for that short note you wrote, you could have written a much longer note if you had only answered my questions. I am sure there's still a bone you want to pick with me. So you just as well put it down on paper and get it all off your chest. 

I am enclosing a few clippings. One is a list of the many and varied radio stations we have here. The other is a clipping from the Herald American paper which daily carry some short story about a newspaper boy, black or white. The other is a page from the Sunday paper showing what's playing at the playhouses and classical theatres.

Well, that's all for now. Take it easy, and DON'T WRITE ME ANY MORE NOTES. I want a letter and nothing short of it unless you can't do better and if I know Marcus Bruce Christian, he does know better. Give my regards to all, and don't work too hard. Love as ever, 

Your Skipper, 


P.S. While here at work our Supervisor has just told us, President Truman announced that the Japs have accepted our terms.

<<---Previous34      Next--36->>

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Ruth Warm again on Chicago and Gives Christian Her View of Conflict  / Ruth Unhappy with Christian's Response

Ruth Lonely for Christian Chicago Wears Thin  / Ruth Enjoys Negro Life in Chicago   /  Ruth, the  Bible, & a Marriage Certificate 

Ruth Anxious Aout War's End Plans to return to Will's Point  

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Selected Letters  Selected Diary Notes

Memories of Marcus B. Christian (CainsChristian's BioBibliographical Record    Introduction to I AM NEW ORLEANS 

A Theory of a Black Aesthetic   Magpies, Goddesses, & Black Male Identity

Activist Works on Next Level of Change   Intro to I Am New Orleans   Letter from Dillard University

A Labor of Genuine Love  Letter of Gift of Photos   Letters from LSU and Skip Gates

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Negro Iron Workers of Louisiana: 1718-1900

By Marcus Bruce Christian


Study of the blacksmith tradition and New Orleans famous lace balconies and fences.

Acclaimed during his life as the unofficial poet laureate of the New Orleans African-American community, Marcus Christian recorded a distinguished career as historian, journalist, and literary scholar. He was a contributor to Pelican's Gumbo Ya Ya, and also wrote many articles that appeared in numerous newspapers, journals, and general-interest publications.

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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost

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The Looting of America: How Wall Street's Game of Fantasy Finance

Destroyed Our Jobs, Pensions, and Prosperity—and What We Can Do About It

By Les Leopold

How could the best and brightest (and most highly paid) in finance crash the global economy and then get us to bail them out as well? What caused this mess in the first place? Housing? Greed? Dumb politicians? What can Main Street do about it? In The Looting of America, Leopold debunks the prevailing media myths that blame low-income home buyers who got in over their heads, people who ran up too much credit-card debt, and government interference with free markets. Instead, readers will discover how Wall Street undermined itself and the rest of the economy by playing and losing at a highly lucrative and dangerous game of fantasy finance. He also asks some tough questions:  Why did Americans let the gap between workers' wages and executive compensation grow so large? Why did we fail to realize that the excess money in those executives' pockets was fueling casino-style investment schemes? Why did we buy the notion that too-good-to-be-true financial products that no one could even understand would somehow form the backbone of America's new, postindustrial economy? How do we make sure we never give our wages away to gamblers again? And what can we do to get our money back? In this page-turning narrative (no background in finance required) Leopold tells the story of how we fell victim to Wall Street's exotic financial products. Readers learn how even school districts were taken in by "innovative" products like collateralized debt obligations, better known as CDOs, and how they sucked trillions of dollars from the global economy when they failed. They'll also learn what average Americans can do to ensure that fantasy finance never rules our economy again. The Economy

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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