Popular Culture Review Vol. 28, No. 2, Summer 2017 - Page 43

Golay credits the early partnership of ER and Hickok in “mak[ing] it possible, in eighteen months spanning 1933 and 1934, for Hickok to assemble as powerful a documentary record as we have of the hardest of American times (The Great Depression)” (1). 10 Hickok was stationed at Baltimore in the late fall months of 1934, where she and ER continued their ongoing correspondence relationship. Their letters were made public in 1978, when “the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library opened eighteen cardboard boxes filled with Eleanor Roosevelt’s and Lorena Hickok’s personal correspondence to each other” (Streitmatter xiv). At that time, ER had been deceased for sixteen years, and Hickok had been deceased for ten. Hickok had donated the letters to the FDR Library in 1958, along with the proviso that the material not be opened until ten years after her death. In the collection “3,500 letters that [ER] and ‘Hick’ had written during their thirty-year friendship—the first lady sometimes writing two letters in a single day—documented that the women had shared a relationship that was not only intense and intimate, but also passionate and physical” (Streitmatter xiv). There were so many letters, in fact, that archivists are still struggling in their assessment and organization of it in 2016. 11 The first historian to read through ER's and Hickok’s letters, Doris Faber, expressed her discomfort with what she found within the sealed boxes at the FDR Library and Museum National Archives in The Life of Lorena Hickok: Eleanor Roosevelt’s Friend, released in 1980. The preface and ending note describe Faber’s elation, and then anxiety, over being chosen to be the first historian to read through the letters and present them to the public. Faber immediately admits her discomfort with the female intimacy found in ER and Hickok’s letters, and in the disclosure of that information, as she writes, “Because of Eleanor Roosevelt’s renown, their story belongs to history. I wish this were not so. In my Personal Notes starting on page 329, I have described my own unavailing effort to postpone the inevitable disclosure” (5). This disclosure is [Hickok] slept on a daybed in a room adjoining [ER’s] bedroom . . . [and] had daily contact with FDR—who called ‘Hick’ [how ER referenced Hickok] his wife’s ‘she-man’” (Streitmatter xvi-ii). 10 Many of Hickok’s letters to Harry L. Hopkins are included in One Third of a Nation: Lorena Hickok Reports on the Great Depression, edited by Richard Lowitt and Maurine Beasley. Included in the book is Hickok’s November 13, 1934 Baltimore letter to Hopkins, which discusses wages for various local businesses, such as Bethlehem Steel, Glenn Martin, and stenographers for the Equitable building, as well as her finding that “WAGES [ARE] SO LOW THAT PEOPLE ON RELIEF REFUSE TO TAKE THE JOBS BECAUSE THE WAGES OFFERED ARE LOWER THAN RELIEF” (342). 11 This author’s request for Baltimore correspondence from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum National Archives was met with prompt enthusiasm regarding the scholarship interest in ER and Hickok’s letters and an apologetic response in terms of the limited search engines and accuracy available for researching ER and Hickok’s correspondence through thematic or geographical means (such as locating communication which was processed through the Baltimore postal system) (Carter). 38