Popular Culture Review Vol. 28, No. 2, Summer 2017 - Page 49

Commerce requested them not to do it!” (“Friday Night, November 23 rd ”). Hickok's view of Baltimore business leaves much to be desired, as she admits to ER that “[t]his morning I met the only intelligent businessman I’ve encountered so far in Baltimore” (“Friday Night, November 23 rd ”), reinforcing the city's stereotype as one of economic incompetence. ER’s letters mailed to Hickok at The Lord Baltimore Hotel are much more difficult to incorporate here, due to their lack of illegibility. In an interesting way, ER’s letters add a new element to the study of hidden communication: indecipherability. Streitmatter does manage to decipher one of ER’s letters from the fall of 1934 in Empty Without You: “Hick my darling/ That cry of ‘I want something all my own’ is the cry of the heart and I was near to tears last night. You told me once it was hard to let go but I found it was harder to let go and yet hold on . . . for I love you and you’ve made of me so much more of a person just to be worthy of you” (qtd. in Streitmatter 138). Interestingly, Streitmatter leaves off the last line of this letter in Empty Without You. That line reads: “If you can come on [untranslatable word] I can put my arms around you tonight” (“Hick my darling”). Again, readers would not know this unless they had a copy of the original letters with which to compare. Regardless of the editorial intention behind this decision, both the decipherable and the undecipherable words in ER’s 1934 letter to Hickok demonstrate a hidden desire for female intimacy in no uncertain terms. In 1936, two years after leaving her temporary position in Baltimore, Hickok “began retrieving the letters she had written to Eleanor; between that year and 1968 when [Hickok] died . . . she purposely destroyed hundreds of letters” (Streitmatter xxi–ii). 19 The hidden communication of ER and Hickok housed in the FDR Library is, then, a mere trace of a much larger body of hidden communication that will never be found—words that were once written, but are now unwritten. Streitmatter explains that Hickok “burned the most explicit of the letters, dramatically dropping them, one by one, into the flames of a fireplace,” so that “[w]e can only imagine what has been lost” (xxii). ER and Hickok’s preserved communication, even if only partially representative of its original contents, still serves to represent the hidden communication of many other intimate women which will never be found. 19 Hickok "destroyed all of her letters to Eleanor written prior to November 26, 1933" (Streitmatter 15). 44