The Lockwood Concern

The Lockwood Concern by John O'Hara

Book: The Lockwood Concern by John O'Hara Read Free Book Online
Authors: John O'Hara
Tags: Fiction, General
letter. As to the California weather, the heat was continually of such intensity that only the nearness of the Pacific Ocean made it bearable. "Occasionally Rita and I seize the opportunity to go for a swim." Agnes Lockwood would hint for more information about Rita, but it was not forthcoming. "She sounds Spanish," said Ernestine Lockwood. "There are a lot of people of Spanish descent in California." "I wouldn't want him to marry a Catholic," said Agnes. "Well, I'm only guessing. And he hasn't said anything that makes me think he wants to marry her." "She may want to marry him." "She'd be crazy if she didn't, but he'd let you know, Mother." The girl watched her mother's struggles with the lowland heat of the dog-days. Agnes could not sleep with the electric fans humming, but she could not breathe unless the air was circulated, and one Friday evening late in August she simply dropped her chin on her chest and her life was at its end. Ernestine Lockwood sent her brother a telegram: MOTHER DIED FUNERAL MONDAY LOVE ERNESTINE. A week later a telegram came from her brother: HAVE BEEN AWAY TELEGRAM RECEIVED TODAY PLEASE WRITE LOVE GEORGE. She wrote him at length, and in two weeks she had his reply.
    Sept.20, 1921
    Dear Tina: You have been very sweet to write and I also appreciate your sending the newspaper clippings concerning Mother's death and funeral. It was expected but when it finally came I discovered that I was not prepared for it. It must have been a dreadful experience for you but we can console ourselves with the thought that she could not have suffered very much. Most of her suffering was in being an invalid, confined to her room and I sincerely believe that she preferred dying to another year of that. I have some other news for you of a more pleasant nature. The reason I did not get your telegram sooner was that I was taking a few days off to go on a honeymoon. Yes, I was married on the 18th of August to Rita Collier. I mentioned her several times in letters to Mother so it would not have been a complete surprise to her (or to you either, I guess). She is a fine girl, one year younger than I am, graduated from Mills College cum laude (unlike her husband). Taught school near here. Her father and mother are Mr. and Mrs. David B. Collier, who live in Los Angeles. Mr. Collier is a chemist with the San Ysidro Petroleum Corporation. Originally came from Cleveland, Ohio, and is a graduate of Western Reserve University (Phi Beta Kappa). Mrs. Collier is also from Cleveland. Her maiden name was Ethel Van Meter. She was also a Phi Beta at Western Reserve. So you see I married into an intellectual family. I told them why I was kicked out of Princeton but they had already written to a friend of theirs on the Princeton faculty when they saw that Rita and I were getting serious. So they knew, but were willing to let us be engaged until I could support a wife. That has now happened. I did not want Mother to worry but the work I am doing is not ranching. Mr. King is in the oil business. His ranch, which I gave as my address, is a hobby. The first two months I was here I drove a truck, carrying pipe, etc., then was promoted to stock clerk. I am on the payroll of the San Marcos Petroleum Company, Mr. King's company. I have been living in boarding-house in San Luis Obispo but we have rented small house. Address above. I received a cash bonus for introducing a new system of checking on supplies so that anyone can find out immediately how many drills, etc., are on hand and where "out" tools are located. Mr. King was the only person here who knew I had any other income until I told Rita and her parents. My next promotion will probably take me out in the field to really learn something about the oil business. Mr. Collier has recommended several books on the subject, which I bought, but they are hard going. Rita helps me with my "home work" but I confess that I often fall asleep in the middle of a sentence. Don't know when I will see you again

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