“An American Paper for the American People – The Great Newspaper of the Great Southwest—The Paper for People Who Think.” The Los Angeles Examiner was bold in its claims and on February 18, 1930, for the Hall family, it was the paper to read. On the front page of Section Two a short article proclaims: “Manhattan Beach Girl, 14, Proving Literary Prodigy.” That may have been enough to inspire another reporter from a feature service to make an appointment with Jane (who was actually 15) the next day. “Desert Humorist’s Daughter Writes, Too,” by Donovan Roberts came out in at least one and possibly several papers. Jane was so excited. She told Mr. Roberts that her goal was to be a novelist, not a humorist. “‘I guess daddy was the only humorous one of the family. And besides, humorists are so glum and work so hard to be funny.’ ” During Roberts’ visit to 1148 Manhattan Avenue, he also spoke to Daysie who explained that she never saw Jane’s work until after it was published. And if the stories were rejected, “‘I don’t see them at all,’ says Mrs. Hall, quite proudly.”
Jane immediately wrote her Aunt Rose that “my picture and biography will be in 100 different papers all over the United States! It’ll probably be in some New York papers so maybe you’ll see it.” She also mailed her a clipping of an Arizona Republican story (February 23, 1930) called “An Arizona Girl Is on the Way.” Again the reference was to a “literary prodigy on the coast over whom the Los Angeles newspapers are raving and in whom Arizonans must feel a proprietary interest.” And Jane’s happy news continued. Thanks to the generosity of a family friend, she and Dickie had tickets to see “The Love Parade,” starring Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald in her first role. The musical comedy, director Ernst Lubitsch’s first “talkie,” had its general release in January 1930. Over the next few years all the studios would reorganize to incorporate dialogue into their pictures. In less than a decade Jane Hall would benefit greatly from this revolution in the history of film.
- Daysie Hall circa 1927- How she loved hats!.
Throughout March and April of 1930, Jane and Dick had high hopes their mother’s health would improve. Daysie was not up to writing letters, but Jane reported on April 27 that she cheered up every time she heard from Rose – “Things are beginning to look much brighter, I Really think mother is going to make the grade.” In the meantime, Jane – the expert chef – kept their household on a strict budget: “When we spend something, we get something,” she assured her aunt. “I’ll bet Silas Marner would think I was a tight-wad.” Rose wrote again on April 28 to remind Daysie that she thought of her all the time. “Rest as much as possible and you will be surprised how that will help you improve. Remember you have nothing to worry about except getting better. Lots of love my darling, from Rose.”
That spring Rose Hicks took a job at the office of William C. Durant, one of her husband’s clients and a close friend who had founded General Motors. For she and Randolph, along with many of their prosperous contemporaries, including the Durants, had experienced huge losses in the Wall Street crash. Not even the 2.9% of Americans who were invested in the market realized they had entered what would be a multi-year Depression. And so it was with a certain amount of resignation on or about May 11 that Rose read a shocking letter from her frantic niece. Daysie was back at The California Hospital and, just as Jane had feared two years earlier, the all too imaginable had happened.
“Mother is much worse– can hardly turn her head and I suspect that she was delirious part of the day. I went to see her after school. Oh, if only I didn’t have to go to school! I hate it! And she was very sick, Aunt Rose, I don’t know what’s the matter with her. The doctor thinks Cappy is a serious matter but he doesn’t seem to attribute mother’s [latest] illness to that. He doesn’t know. Nothing has been said about an operation as yet and I think it’s a rotten hospital and the doctors are nonentities. Mother is beginning to get awfully discouraged and dissatisfied. (I can’t spell tonight) They’re charging $126 a week (nurses and room and FOR WHAT?) She is ten times as bad as she was when she went, a week ago. . . .”
Should she leave school? Jane wanted to and she felt helpless.” If only they’d let me stay with her at the hospital she would be all right but they won’t and she’s getting worse all the time. Aunt Rose everybody said she’d be better there but she isn’t. What shall we do? If anything happened to mother it would be all off with me but nothing will happen to her will it? I’m also glad you’re going to write every day. Things seem so sort of bleak. Aunt Rose I hate to wire collect any time. If I don’t have the money, I just don’t wire. It seems too cheap to telegraph collect. With all my love, Jane E”
Then Jane added a postscript –“Gram has been really lovely to us.” Rosa Sutton’s presence was a comfort to Rose who now regretted the long distance that separated her from her West Coast family more than ever. On May 12, 1930, Rose sent a telegram to her sister: DARLING BE PEACEFUL AM STANDING BY WILL KEEP CHILDREN TOGETHER LOVE ROSE. But it may have been too late. There is no record of whether or not Daysie saw this message on the day she died.
Rose immediately wired the funds for a cemetery plot and sent flowers for Daysie’s grave. She had now lost a brother and a sister and Rosa Sutton would bury a second adult child, this time at the bottom of a gentle slope at Inglewood Park.
A week later, on May 20, Daysie’s 48th birthday, both Rose and Jane felt her presence. Jane revealed her despair to her aunt with a reference from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar—a speech by Cassius [Act IV, iii]: “I’d like to ‘weep my spirit from mine eyes’ if only I could! Don’t worry about me crying too much. I’d give anything if only I could cry and cry and cry. Instead I just hurt inside. Oh well, maybe it’s a good thing. Mother always said to ‘take it on the chin’ for the sake of those around me, and I hope that’s what I’m doing.” She and Dick wanted to place the statue of an angel on their mother’s grave but Rose may have thought it was too expensive. At least the simple headstone spelled “Daysie” the way she liked it.
As she had done for her father, Jane soon created her own eulogy.
“Dirge –To Mother.”
We swore that death
Would never part us,
But it has.
Death has come between us
Like a slim, cold flame . . .
And you are gone.
Am I the same?
The scythe which cut you down
Took two instead of one,
For two hearts may lie
In a single grave
If those two hearts beat as one.
The life that was you has faded away,
And the hope that was I is gone.
Will that life ever come back,
And that hope be renewed,
In the glow of some distant dawn?
What is the use of going on?
Of living, as they say,
When already a part of me is dead,
And moldering day by day?
I have lost, with you, a sunset’s light,
And the warm, sweet bliss of a desert night . . .
I have lost the luster of crystal joy,
And the sheen of a crested wave.
What is there ahead, when all these are behind,
Deep tucked in your lonely grave?
With you, my heart and soul have flown,
And that park of ambition’s pride
Which means life itself; there is nothing left,
But the mourn of an ebbing tide.
This post is Number 11 in a series. Jane’s adventures have barely begun. For an easy way to follow the story from the beginning, go the Blog Tab at the top of the home page, click “Salome to Hollywood” and you will have all the posts on this topic, starting with the most recent. If you are new to the site be sure to read Post No. 1 (the featured post) on the home page first.