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Mildred Barnes Bliss to Elisina Tyler, December 5, 1942

[Censor-examined; the envelope is stamped: RETURN TO SENDER, NO SERVICE AVAILABLE.]

Box 595

Santa Barbara


December 5th, 1942

Mrs. Royall Tyler

Hotel Richmond [sic]

Geneva, Switzerland.

Enfin,“Finally.” my dear,

Here I come able to write you as I have long wanted to do. Cable correspondence, especially triangular ones, are irksome and inadequate, but you and I know that we will always supplement each others’ work in any way we can.

The cable censor out here has repeatedly caused delays requesting information (days after I thought the cable safely on its way) regarding proper names, localities, and full reasons for the message. The last request dated November 16th was received December 2nd! And I took great pleasure in placing Mr. Richard Allen,Richard F. Allen, vice president in charge of insular and foreign operations of the American Red Cross. Vice-President of the American Red Cross!

I hope now that all is in order and gather from Allen’s last communication that the Swiss Red Cross understands the radio photographic apparatus is for use in Switzerland for the French children during the war and after it is to be the property of the Edith Wharton Foundation.Fondation Edith Wharton, the French post–Second World War outgrowth of Edith Wharton’s First World War charities. This foundation was administered by Elisina Tyler. You will let me know, of course, if there is anything else to be done.

It was an immeasurable relief to know that you were in Switzerland. Where oh where is the chalice?BZ.1955.18. I wish I believed in the efficacy of prayer so that I might feel sure those d--- Germans would never get it.

So much has been going on in my personal life these last two years and especially during the last three months that my brain seems too weary to write a letter you would enjoy reading. Once this intense “jam” is ended, I shall write Royall more interestingly, I hope.

Today I merely put you both au courant of a few facts. Robert is completely recovered in health and the deletion of that long infection has transformed him.Robert Woods Bliss had a gall bladder infection and underwent an operation in Santa Barbara, California, on August 2, 1941. See “Robert W. Bliss in Hospital,” New York Times (August 2, 1941). He now is energetic, has initiative, coordination and takes great pleasure in the mere fact of being alive. In Washington since October, he has taken on work which interests him and has bought a wee house only four blocks from Dumbarton Oaks as renting has become practically impossible. I join him December 20th at an Hotel until we can move into the new home at 2750 “Q” Street, Georgetown, Washington, D. C. My property here has been taken over by the Navy.The Blisses offered Casa Dorinda to the U.S. Navy in November 1942 for use as a recuperation and recreation center for returning military personnel. However, the cost of maintaining the property proved to be prohibitive for the Navy, and the estate reverted to the Blisses in 1943. In 1946, the Blisses sold the property to Dr. Homer F. Barnes, who opened a day and boarding school. The school, The Montecito School for Girls, closed in 1956. The house is huge and peculiarly planned for a private dwelling but loans itself perfectly to the uses of a Convalescent home for officers. One is happy indeed to be able to make it of use but the task of deletion, preparation, legal formalities, decisions, etc., has been heavy. I hope, every two years, when November comes, that I am not going to have to give up my home!The Blisses gave Dumbarton Oaks to Harvard University in November 1940. The inaugural date was November 1 and the legal transfer occurred on November 29. Twice is enough.

The American Women’s Voluntary Services,The American Women’s Voluntary Services, the largest American women’s service organization in the United States, founded in 1940. The AWVS provided women volunteers for support services to help the nation during the Second World War. Mildred Barnes Bliss was a member of this organization. with its innumerable activities and the Red Cross have kept me over-occupied and I leave with the greatest regret. There is a sense of reality, simplicity and effective work with no lost motion, in this little community which, in the pandemonium of Washington, I cannot expect to find.

Bill is a perpetual and increasing delight. His contentment in his work and his optimism and his long range thinking do one’s heart good. Betsy’s poise is complete. Such serenity and equability are seldom seen. Some time in January I shall see them in New York and send you a line about them.

You will, I hope, be forgiving of my silence and the dullness of this and let me have your news, and mind you tell me at what date you received this letter.

Dearest love to you and Royall whom I never cease missing. I wonder shall we all be broken down old hags when we meet again? Certainly you won’t, for I gather from all accounts you have entirely recovered and are wise in not overstraining the human machine. I wish that we had been together when the news of that sombre drama came from Toulon.The war ships of the French naval fleet harbored at Toulon were scuttled on November 27, 1942, on the order of the Admiralty of Vichy France to avoid capture by Nazi German forces. It stirred me to my foundations. No parallel can be found in history for the German deeds or the misrepresentations of the French, but now we can all hold our heads high despite the blunders and delays for the British-American performances in planning and synchronization is an earnest harbinger of better things to come and whatever may develop from the incredible Russian endurance,The Siege of Leningrad, a prolonged military operation undertaken by the Nazi Germans against Leningrad (Saint Petersburg) began on September 8, 1941. The siege would not be lifted until January 27, 1944. they have eliminated a great many Germans and saved the Allies at a crucial moment. I feel a burning and passionate need to awaken the allied peoples, especially the Americans, to a recognition of the ___________________ and this _____________________________* before it allows conditions to obtain which will inevitably lead to a recurrence of this nightmare. Two thousand years of predatory and brutal aggressions and five wars in the last 78 years is enough.

Please do write.

Always affectionately, Elisina dearest


Mildred B. BlissThis line crossed out.

Excuse commercial stenographer.

*[Excised by the censor.]

Associated Artworks: BZ.1955.18