December 25th, 1921: A Holiday Greeting from J

One of the many hardships of being a touring performer is spending holidays away from your loved ones. J faced this challenge more than once. She was close to her mother and stepfather; spending Christmas across the country from them in California couldn’t have been easy.

Christmas Telegram

In this telegram, J’s vivacious personality and laid-back wit shine through her homesickness. Maybe she wanted to reassure her folks back in Memphis that she was doing great, no need to worry! Yet, it is easy to picture J coming off the stage after the last Christmas Eve show, running to her dressing room, and tearing into her family’s care package. Then, a dash to Western Union followed by a trip to San Jose to procure a few bottles of illicit Prohibition beer. Were there tears of regret, however momentary, for being absent during such a festive season? She was, after all, a very young woman pursuing an unusual and particularly mobile career path that kept her away from home for significant stretches of time. Whatever the emotional truth of that evening 99 years ago, she ended her message with a humorous, au courant Irving Berlin reference.

Life was still good.

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