March 14, 2016
Just the name Amelia causes a deep stirring in me. I’m not exactly sure why. Could it be her mysterious death? Her missing body? A vague nostalgia for a bygone American Spirit? Or maybe it’s just the Joni Mitchell song, an ear-worm that has accompanied hundreds of my days.
In August of 1928, Amelia became the first woman to fly solo across the North American continent and back. She was interviewed that year by George Palmer Putman (GP), book publisher, promoter, explorer. Undocumented sources say he would ask her six times to marry him. Amelia’s accomplishments had been hard won and though social conventions held no power over her, she finally agreed to marry him in 1931.
The morning their wedding was to take place, Amelia sent George the following letter.
February 7, 1931
There are some things which should be writ before we are married. Things we have talked over before, – most of them.
You must know again my reluctance to marry, my feeling that I shatter thereby chances in work which means so much to me. I feel the move just now as foolish as anything I could do. I know there may be compensations, but have no heart to look ahead.
In our life together I shall not hold you to any medieval code of faithfulness to me, nor shall I consider myself bound to you similarly. If we can be honest I think the differences which arise may best be avoided.
Please let us not interfere with each other’s work or play, nor let the world see private joys or disagreements. In this connection I may have to keep some place where I can go to be myself now and then, for I cannot guarantee to endure at all times the confinements of even an attractive cage.
I must exact a cruel promise, and this is that you will let me go in a year if we find no happiness together.
I will try to do my best in every way.
They married at noon on February 7, 1931, in a 5 minute ceremony at George’s mother’s house in Connecticut. In attendance were a judge, three witnesses and two cats. Amelia was dressed in a brown suit. The word “obey” was omitted from the vows.
We are so glad that composer Thomas Lloyd chose to preserve this important American letter in song. It will be sung by mezzo soprano Katherine Pracht.
Join us for the premiere:
Saturday, April 2, 2016 at 8:00 PM at Haverford College
Sunday, April 3, 2016 at 3:00 PM at the The Academy of Vocal ArtsTickets