Guthrie, Woody - Mail myself to you
Type of Spiritual Experience
Marriage number one - Mary
At age 19, Guthrie met and married his first wife, Mary Jennings, with whom he had three children, Gwendolyn, Sue, and Bill.
With the advent of the Dust Bowl era, Guthrie left Texas, leaving Mary behind, and joined the thousands of Okies who were migrating to California looking for work. Many of his songs are concerned with the conditions faced by these working class people. During the late part of that decade, Guthrie was making enough money to send for his family, who were still living in Texas.
With the outbreak of World War II and the nonaggression pact the Soviet Union had signed with Germany in 1939, the owners of KFVD radio did not want its staff "spinning apologia" for the Soviet Union. Guthrie left the station. Without the daily radio show, his prospects for employment diminished, and Guthrie and his family returned to Pampa, Texas. Although Mary Guthrie was happy to return to Texas, the wanderlusting Guthrie soon after accepted Will Geer's invitation to New York City and headed east.
In September 1940, Guthrie was invited by the Model Tobacco Company to host their radio program Pipe Smoking Time. Guthrie was paid $180 a week, an impressive salary in 1940. He was finally making enough money to send regular payments back to Mary. He also brought her and the children to New York, where the family lived briefly in an apartment on Central Park West. The reunion represented Woody's desire to be a better father and husband. He said, "I have to set [sic] real hard to think of being a dad."
Guthrie quit after the seventh broadcast, claiming he had begun to feel the show was too restrictive when he was told what to sing. Disgruntled with New York, Guthrie packed up Mary and his children in a new car and headed west to California. In May 1941 after a brief stay in Los Angeles, Guthrie moved the family north to Oregon on the promise of a job.
At the conclusion of the month in Oregon and Washington, Guthrie wanted to return to New York. Tired of the continual uprooting, Mary Guthrie told him to go without her and the children. Although Guthrie would see Mary again, once on a tour through Los Angeles with the Almanac Singers, it was essentially the end of their marriage. Divorce was difficult, since Mary was a member of the Catholic Church, but she reluctantly agreed in December 1943.
A description of the experience
Mail Myself To You
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie
I'm a-gonna wrap myself in paper,
I'm gonna daub myself with glue,
Stick some stamps on top of my head;
I'm gonna mail myself to you.
I'm a gonna tie me up in a red string,
I'm gonna tie blue ribbons too,
I'm a-gonna climb up in my mail box;
I'm gonna mail myself to you.
When you see me in your mail box,
Cut the string and let me out;
Wash the glue off my fingers,
Stick some bubble gum in my mouth.
Take me out of my wrapping paper,
Wash the stamps off my head;
Pour me full of ice cream sodies,
Put me in my nice warm bed.