Popular Culture Review Vol. 28, No. 2, Summer 2017 - Page 44

that of an intimate female/female relationship—one which Faber foresaw as being problematic for public reception, even close to twenty years after ER’s passing. One of Streitmatter’s main goals in collecting and publishing some of the hidden letters between ER and Hickok was to uncover “glimpses . . . of an Eleanor Roosevelt who is strikingly different from the icon she has become” (xvii)—a woman who was a complex human, not just a political and historical “figure.” Streitmatter explains: “More fundamentally, the figure who emerges from between the lines is not a paragon of virtue but a woman who could be not only sarcastic and funny, but also catty and judgmental, snide and petty” (xvii). Streitmatter defends his collection’s intentions, stating that the public exposure of ER’s letters to/from Hickok “should not diminish [ER’s] stature, but rather should serve to reassure us that she was, like all of us, human” (xvii). Often, hidden communication is the only medium that highlights this humanity in public figures, due to the filtered and exposed status of public lives. ER's and Hickok’s preserved communication begins in March 1933, not long after FDR’s inauguration and ER’s move into the White House (Streitmatter 15), and continues until September 1962, stopping only two months before ER’s death in November 1962 (Streitmatter 288). To date, ER and Hickok’s preserved letters have only been partially published, with only two full collections providing significant excerpts from the correspondence—Streitmatter’s Empty Without You and Faber’s The Life of Lorena Hickok. The majority of ER's and Hickok's letters remain unpublished and are only accessible through direct appointment at the FDR Presidential Library and Museum National Archives or by paid orders (for copies) through the postal mail. There is little mention of the letters written while Hickok was stationed in Baltimore, or the significance of Hickok's time there, in either of the collections. Only one of Hickok's letters from this time frame is included in Empty Without You, mailed from the Lord Baltimore Hotel on November 2, 1934. 12 In the letter, Hickok reacts to newspaper reports which covered ER’s speech New York City the night before (Streitmatter 138). Hickok readily admits her disgust 12 The Lord Baltimore was the “first integrated hotel in Baltimore,” and was “seen as a ‘crowning architectural jewel’ when it was built in 1928 in the center of downtown Baltimore” (Ober). The hotel has a rich history of guests, including George Burns, Martin Luther King, Jr., Carol Channing, Snoop Dogg, and Chris Rock (Zajac, “Lord Baltimore”). Also of note, The Lord Baltimore Hotel’s online blog has a link where guests can post haunting encounters that have occurred in the hotel, such as accounts of the lingering spirits of men who jumped from the nineteenth floor of the hotel during the Great Depression and the ghost of a child with “a cream-colored dress and black, shiny shoes” (“Ghost Stories”). 39