Irvin S. Cobb

Irvin S. Cobb, an American author and journalist from Paducah, Kentucky (known as 'the Duke of Paducah'), wrote this letter to cabaret singer, Hildegarde, in 1940. In the letter, he confesses his admiration for her while reminiscing about the first time they met. He closes the letter by asking her to sing to him on her radio program. 

Letter from Irvin S. Cobb to Hildegarde (Page 1)

Page 1 of letter from Irvin S. Cobb to Hildegarde, 1940

Accession #2014MS0012

For Publication if desired]

Dear Miss Hildegarde -- We met last spring. You may have forgotten it. I shall never forget it. It was at the Plaza on a gala night when I was wearing my full evening dress and you were wearing enough of your full evening dress to avoid giving disappointment to the general public and yet sufficiently much of it to keep a lot of those old ringside moopers hanging in the ropes praying that a shoulder strap would slip down just about an inch and a half more.

I had been dining further downtown at a popular Thieves' Market which still was favoring its famous Mid Depression forty cent blue plate special, choice of jello or stewed prunes, only now the check ran to $5.20. The last time I had been there twas a snug and cosy affair with a sort of fluffy atmosphere like the inner pouch of a patent carpet sweeper, but a perilous place to take your hat and overcoat. However most of the regular customers weren't wearing their own overcoats.

But a new day, beginning now about 5:30 in the afternoon, had dawned upon this establishment. Probably some gentleman, deeply overtaken, had paid his wine bill without adding up the totals, and

Letter from Irvin S. Cobb to Hildegarde (Page 2)

Page 2 of letter from Irvin S. Cobb to Hildegarde, 1940

with that start -- the affable proprietor, Tony the [Suet?], (Sing Sing. Z-8379) had dug up some more cash somewhere. And so they'd sifted the unburied dead [out] of the basement and re-gilded the backs of the resident cockroaches and knocked two umbrella closets together to provide suitable dancing space and here, behold, was a typical New York night-spot. They'd even hired a decorator of the Ultra-modernistic, in Dementia Praecox school to do over the main dining room according to an epileptic fit he'd had. Artistic? Yes. But I'd hate to have delirium tremers in that room -- I'd never know when I was getting better.

Well, we left this enchanting retreat and went up to what one of our party, an Gilman from Tulsa with a heart of gold and front teeth to match, insisted on calling "the Purgin' Room". And then, bless you, bonnie lassie, you seemed to billow forth, eddying in and out of your trick bodice -- only time in my life I was ever happily seasick -- and you seized on that piano and rattled every tooth in its head, playing very much as I would have done had ever I taken up piano playing.

And then, banggo! all of a sudden I was nickering over the posture bars. In a sort of rose-hued trance introductions followed and confidences were being exchanged and you were proving how easy you were to get acquainted with. (By the way, were

Letter from Irvin S. Cobb to Hildegarde (Page 3)

Page 3 of letter from Irvin S. Cobb to Hildegarde, 1940

you ever a Fuller Brush salesman?)

But alas, all too soon the true facts regarding my age came out and I confessed having traded off most of my emotions for symptoms; this when I stupidly [?] while you were giving me the address of your florist to give you the address of my neuritis specialist. Well that did spill the ruddy beams of romance. That gave to our new born dream which had promise to go down in history as one of the great soul-matings such as Romeo and Juliet or Abelard and Heloise or Abercrombie & Fitch, a deadly [joke]. It just naturally handed it a fatal kick in the crotch (noteIf "crotch" seems harsh I suggest "sacroilliac")

But I still have my blessed memories. And the other night while I was lying here in bed, feeling sort of puny you busted in on the radio with that Beat the Dawn program of yours. Honey, I'm telling you straight -- you put on the best one-gal show since the Lady Godiva rode through Coventry -- and she had a horse!

One of these evenings please forget there's anybody present but just you and me and sing "the Last Time I Saw Paris", the way you sing it, won't you?

So here, dear Hildegarde with hopeful high regard, I'm signing off.
Irvin S. Cobb