Marriage and Decline

Bob was an athlete... semi-professional softball player and high-ranking amateur tennis whiz... and quite handsome. She was attracted to Bob for his wit and sense of humor. They dated for a short while during which time Lee dropped out of school and returned to live at home. In October 1939, Lee became pregnant and she and Bob decided to get married. There was a humorous attempt at elopement in early 1940 which failed when Bob, who had a notoriously bad sense of direction, set out for Elkton, MD and ended up in Stroudsburg, PA. They finally succeeded in March, but to the world, they proclaimed the marriage had occurred the preceding June. For lack of adequate finances to live on their own, Bob moved into The Leopold's house and in July, Gary was born. Besides legitimizing her pregnancy, the marriage had offered an escape route from her father and the family home. Having to remain in her father's house with her new family was the ultimate defeat.

There were signs of trouble with the relationship very soon. Bob wasn't liked by Lee's parents, he felt intimidated by her father's erudition and status, and resented having to live partly on their support. It was also becoming obvious that he had little real interest in being a husband and father, especially having both "forced" on him by the pregnancy. Bob became progressively more disengaged, spending a lot of time off on his own, leaving Lee with the baby and her parents. The relationship was degrading and Lee felt lonely and abandoned much of the time. She began to hang out with Joe and his high school friends who frequently gather at the house. One of the fellows, who we'll call AJ, was a budding artist and a serious intellectual. He wasn't good-looking, but he had a mature and sensitive nature which, together with their shared interest in art, made him very appealing to Lee. As they spent more time together, the relationship became more intimate and the romantic and erotic undertones ever more overt.

After graduation, in 1943, Joe was drafted into the Army and sent to Europe. Lee was left alone with her parents, a 3-year-old, and a detached husband. Bob joined the National Guard when he was deemed ineligible for regular military service because of a blown eardrum. The NG meetings provided even more of an escape from his declining marriage.


Bob, Gary, and Lee celebrating Gary's first birthday
in the Leopold house on Riverside Avenue (July 16, 1941)