Friday, February 13, 2015

“Dearest Pippi”

“Dearest Pippi”

by Horace P. Sternwall

Edited by Dan Leo, LL.D., Assistant Professor of Mid-20th Century American Literature, Olney Community College; editor of “Ham and Eggers Need Not Apply”: The “Gwendolyn and Auntie Margaret” Stories of Horace P. Sternwall, Vol. 3; the Olney Community College Press.

Original illustrations by rhoda penmarq.

Dearest Pippi,

I just want you to know I am so sorry about you getting pinched and I also want you to know that I am truly appreciative of you keeping mum and not turning squealer on an old pal. I knew you were a stand-up girl from the moment I first laid eyes on you back at John T. Hoffman grammar school.

Please do not worry about this penny ante rap they are trying to hang on you. I have contacted my Auntie’s lawyer and we had a good chat about your case. He will be in touch with you soon, probably on the morrow as you read this, but as for now he is “greasing some palms” as he puts it behind the scenes and the less you know about that he says the better for you. I have given him a retainer from our “stash” but we still have a pretty good pile left over plus there are still those watches and bracelets and rings and whatnot that I have secreted in a locked box inside one of my Auntie’s hatboxes at the bottom of her closet where no one will ever find it, which I will take to Mr. G-----’s’s shop on M------ Street just as soon as the dust settles a little bit and the heat dies down.

Our lawyer says he can probably spring you inside of a month, and if not the worst you will get will be a year in reform school, and he says he can pull some strings and grease some more palms as long as we can come up with the do-re-mi and he can get you in at Rozenzweig’s Home For Girls up in the Catskills which he says is just like a high-tone summer camp except it’s year round and in the winter you can even go sledding. So if worse comes to worse, look on it this way you get a year’s vacation up in the mountains in the fresh brisk clean air and away from all the fetid stench of the city and that frankly somewhat unsavory building you live in.

I am sorry I have not visited you but my lawyer says that would not be a good idea. So I will see you when you get sprung, which as I say should be within a month and at most a year tops and in the fresh clean mountain air.

Everything is fine out here. I have been laying low. The girls and teachers at Miss --------’s are still for the most part hopelessly dull, although I have my eye on a couple of girls who might help make up the nucleus of a new gang. They will need a lot of training though I fear, not like you, my dear.

I have sent an anonymous note to your mother telling her not to worry and that your chums are looking out for you and have retained a good lawyer, whom my Auntie assures me is a square guy and the best for his price in the city. More than that I do not think it prudent for me to tell her, nor to have any personal contact with her either, alas. 

If you want any books or movie magazines which I know you like please feel free to give a list to our lawyer Mr. Z----------g who as I say should be visiting you on the morrow.

At school we are reading King Lear by William Shakespeare which I find quite amusing. What an old fool that King Lear was, and I hate to say it but he got what he deserved, and if you ask me Cordelia was too good for him although she was a bit of a drip too if you ask me.

My Auntie’s friend S---- said I should read some Russian literature and so he is teaching me Russian and reading me some very clever stories by this man named Gogol and we read them in Russian and S---- helps me to understand them. As you know I am quite fluent in French and Italian and not bad in German so it will be nice to get Russian under my belt as well. You never know when knowing the lingo can stand you in good stead, that’s what my Auntie M****** always says.

So just keep mum to the coppers honey and I will be in touch again soon.

I hope you enjoy the cheesecake this note came in. It is from Lindy’s your favorite.

I remain your faithful pal,


PS don’t worry any money left over after the lawyer’s fees, including all the dough from the sale of the swag I haven’t fenced off yet will be saved for you until you get sprung. A 50/50 split just like always.

PPS if you like I can put some or all of the above-mentioned gelt “out on the street” for you as they say so as you could earn some good interest on it while you are “upstate”, but I will not do so unless I get the okay direct from you through Mr. Z----------g.

I had a very enlightening pow-wow with this business acquaintance of my Auntie’s named Tommy S-------- who is stopping here at the hotel and he says you could maybe make 20% on your investment in a year, possibly 25% but then nothing is certain in this life as I am sure you know.

PPPS when you get sprung I hope we can work together profitably again although I think maybe we have burnt the town down with the preaching and dipping routine. I have some new ideas but more on them later.

I really must close now and fly lest I am late for school again and detention is such a bore. Keep a stiff upper lip and for that matter both lips zipped because all will be taken care of.

Ta for now.


(This story originally appeared, lavishly illustrated by rhoda penmarq, in New Tales of the Hotel St Crispian.)

(Arnold Schnabel will return next week with an all new and very special post-St. Valentine’s Day episode of Railroad Train to Heaven!)

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