ALS signed “Ty,” 26 pages, 7.25 x 10.5, personal letterhead, January 26, 1955. Lengthy letter written to his stepdaughter, Gerry, in part (grammar and spelling retained): “No doubt you are surprised my writing really should not be on account and basis of my appraisal of you, what you think of me, I cannot say or even guess. You are the daughter of the woman I happen to have loved and do even now and often what’s happened in the several circumstances and happening as you will know and I feel I need not come out in words, then this last one worse than all, I still have a love for her, now coming from a man of my age, experience and maturity to say such, you know quite well that is really something to say and admit for instance to you her daughter and so much my junior also hers.
There are so very, very many in this world who marry, many of course for gain or other ‘phoney’ impulses and reasons, I have observed many such cases in my life and travels also resultant endings, strife etc. And if one has a brain in their head and half way uses it they by equasions see what such classes of so called love brings in divorces tragedies etc. So again I say I have and do yet really love your mother and I hasten to say one with such love, never, never, never can in any way mistreat or be rough with the one they love, every desire or wish is a pleasure to grant, and I say and she will tell and assure you personally if she has not already and at all times told you this for it is the truth…
Too bad your grandfather could not have predeceased your grandmother, I saw & know it was she who held things together as best she could, it was she who attracted right people to the home and table as guests and yet no doubt they had in past been exposed to his unbridled acts, that they came again with misgivings & fear as to what he would do, honey I know the score. All this affects me yes, but I love your mother and I did not marry him. Your mother freely on her own tells me all and that’s as it should be. I am truly sorry for you, your position as a grand daughter also as the daughter of your mother, the position you have been ruthlessly placed in. I feel so deeply, because of my love for your mother, that you would think I feel as if you and your brother was my own children. I must say my feelings toward you are far more than your brother, this I must say all caused by him. With the poisonings from his grandfather and his make up within himself what experience I have had, inflicting I should say with him as of what I have experienced in the time I have known Bill up to the last seeing of him, I confess I don’t feel the same to him as I do to you, think you would know that is quite understandable, I have seen him quite difficult towards you and others, not counting me in on it…
I cannot and have not blamed your mother too much for more than one infraction this last, one you were there and saw and before all for no good reason, only one thing she could say I had had drinks and not in any way ever drunk, why she has seen her father so many times far worse than in all my life, I have never been that bad, her mother had a right to have a complex…I never took this deeply or seriously, though I realizing from a health standpoint, my pride in my self and all the years of self discipline as the work I was in demanded, I was a total abstainer and for years after my retirement I did not, I have had the most terrible disappointments from the first months of my former marriage to the time I divorced her and yes after, no man should have been expected to hold up under such, it’s a wonder I am living today…I have tried to help her not to hurt herself, I have forgiven her for each time including this last time though it was rough and gained the public’s attention through the papers, now the public knows, that is destroying the real foundation of a home…I will tell you on the grounds I have forgiven this. First your mother has been a wonderful person to me in the home in what she does for me personally. She has to have something finer within her to do what she has for me."
Cobb writes of Gerry’s father and his infidelities that he believes led to her mother’s subsequent mental breakdown and accusations of physical abuse: “My daughter came. She saw lots and heard lots. I never had seen or heard your mother before in this way. She was not herself. I forgave her, my daughter also. She asked my daughter to take her to plane. I tried to have her sit down and compose herself before acting, let me explain what it means in what you want to do, calm her. She refused. I cannot hold her even if my daughter was not there. Your mother cannot and I know would not ever say I even put my hands on her in such a way. So she went, she got a lawyer also instituted action, but under a number, this was supposed to be secret and not gain the papers."
After Cobb discusses his relationship with her mother, mentioning their avoidance of the courts and offering his thoughts on the reasoning behind her behavior, he concludes the letter: “So Gerry here it is for you only her daughter one that I have learned to think much of. The letter is long, no doubt the longest letter, even taking in Hoover that you have ever received. Well at least I hold that record with this your longest letter—ha! ha! If you should have impulse to write me about my desire and outpourings in this as I felt you her daughter should know all that happened and then you would not be thinking of things, influences etc. that did not happen and with me could never happen in my treatment of your mother, my wife. For proof of my honesty of all this also sincerity I give you my permission to send this letter to your mother. If you should not want to do this then I do ask that you destroy it at any time you elect after reading and rereading to your satisfaction.” Cobb pens a pair of lengthy postscripts, signing with his initials, “T. R. C.,” at the end of the first. The letter is housed in a handsome custom-made folder with leather-bound slipcase. In fine condition. Accompanied by the original mailing envelope addressed by Cobb, who incorporates his signature into the return address field: “T. R. Cobb, Menlo Park, Calif.”
On September 29, 1949, a 62-year-old Cobb married his second wife, Frances Fairbairn Cass, a 39-year-old divorcee from Buffalo, New York. Cobb, who had by now earned a reputation as being abrasive, at times violent, and an on-again, off-again alcoholic, divorced his first wife of 39 years, ‘Charlie’ Marion Lombard, only two years prior after a parade of dropped divorce suits. His second marriage would not last nearly as long; Cass filed for divorce on September 7, 1955, accusing Cobb of ‘drinking, violent behavior and profanity,’ and asking for $500 monthly alimony. Cobb, in his cross complaint, accused Cass of ‘mental cruelty.’ A passionate, exhaustive letter from Cobb as he attempts to explain his innocence.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.