Saturday, September 18, 2010

"We're Going To Drink Vodka Gimlets." -In honor of Raymond Chandler and wife

"We had three gimlets, not doubles, and it didn't do a thing to him. That much would just get a real souse started. So I guess maybe he was cured at that." ~Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlow in The Long Goodbye.

This is a love story of sorts. It is about best-selling novelist, screenwriter, Raymond Chandler, author of The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye, Farewell, my Lovely, and other novels, short stories, and screenplays.

Raymond Chandler was born in 1888 in Chicago. At the age of seven years, he relocated to London with his divorced mother. In 1917 he enlisted in the Canadian Army. After the war he returned to the states and in 1919 was in Los Angeles. It was there he met Cissy Pascal, a married woman. They began an affair and shortly thereafter her divorce was final.

But Chandler's mother did not want him to marry Cissy and the couple did not marry until 1924, only weeks after his mother's death. Cissy died in 1954 after a long illness.

A heavy drinker, Chandler also suffered from bouts of depression. A year after his wife's death he apparently attempted suicide. His career suffered from his drinking and depression, although his books and movies are classics. He died at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, CA in 1959. He was buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in San Diego. He had wanted to be cremated like his wife, according to Frank MacShane, literary biographer, but without instructions in a will, he was buried.

But that is not the end of the love story. A dedicated fan and historian Loren Latker, who for years has researched Raymond Chandler had discovered that Cissy Chandler's ashes have been sitting on a mausoleum warehouse shelf a block away from her husband's grave. But it would take a court order to reunite the couple.

I quote the A/P article by John Rogers: "Latker's wife, Annie Thiel, is Internet talk radio psychologist Dr. Annie. She approached an attorney friend, Aissa Wayne, for advice. Wayne, the daughter of John Wayne, was so captivated by what she called "a wonderful love story" that she decided to take the case on pro bono."

Although the judge admitted he was inclined to deny the request, when he heard Cissy Chandler's ashes were sitting on a shelf in the warehouse, he ruled in favor of reuniting the couple.

So a scheduled celebration will take place Valentine's Day, 2011 at the writer's grave in San Diego's Mount Hope Cemetery when the two will once more be together after more than 50 years.

Historian Loren Latker states, "We're going to have a toast at the grave. We're going to drink vodka gimlets."

Read more about Raymond Chandler at Loren Latker's site.



Anonymous said...

Great post, Linda. I've always enjoyed Chandler's work, particularly his short stories. I think he was quite talented in that the short fiction form, in fact. Isn't it almost ironic that what's happening next year in this reunion sounds somewhat "pulp" at its heart? Anyway, thanks for sharing it. And for pulp fans, I might point out a recent site I discovered -

Linda Pendleton said...

It is somewhat romantic if nothing else. LOL I had one or two of the screenplays of his work ...excellent stories. I've not read any of his short stories. Thanks for the link.