Happy 1950 U.S. Census release day! It’s 72 years since enumerators with cute little clipboards and mechanical pencils fanned out across post-war America and asked every soul they could buttonhole for their stats.
A decade ago, I blogged about the 1940 Census record for Raymond Chandler and his wife Pearl (Cissy), enumerated at one of their many Southern California furnished rentals, this one in Monrovia township.
If the 1940 Census caught Chandler at the start of his late-life career as a best-selling mystery novelist and occasional screenwriter, 1950 found him badly burned by the film trade and working remotely in the only home he and Cissy would ever own, a California ranch overlooking the Pacific.
I didn’t expect to learn much, certainly not to find anything as shocking as a lost operetta. The Chandler’s mid-century movements are well documented, and Census records are dry. But I wondered what age Cissy, who was 18 years her husband’s senior, would claim this time around. In 1940, she lied, but not by much, admitting to 63 years to Ray’s 51.
Victor A. Brown was the name of the local La Jolla fellow with the clipboard who knocked and asked this most intimate of questions of the owlish, private people at 6005. We don’t know if Cissy showed herself, or if it was Ray who gave the lady’s age.
Cissy was 79 in human years, but it seems 63 is as far as she went. She’s still 63 in Spring 1950, and I expect she’d be 63 in the 1960 Census, had she lived to fill it out. Mature, but by no means old, enjoying the sound of the waves and scent of honeysuckle and long days alone with her own beloved Raymio. Let’s leave them there, in love, forever.