I am just crazy about Margaret Armstrong

Photo: Biblio

In August of 1910, long before producing the iconic novels for which he is now known, F. Scott Fitzgerald began to write Thoughtbook of Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald of St Paul Minn. U.S.A., a diary that would span six months of his life as a newly-minted teenage boy. At this juncture of his life, Fitzgerald was already en route to authordom: a year earlier, his first published story, The Mystery of the Raymond Mortgage, had appeared in print in the Academy’s magazine, Now and Then. However, judging by his diary, his main focus was his busy love life, with many entries dedicated to lists of his favourite girls and recollections of their various interactions and conversations. This entry–the final passage in the Thoughtbook—was written in February of 1911.

The Diary Entry

Feb 24

I am just crazy about Margaret Armstrong and I have the most awful crush on her that ever was. This has been the case ever since Bob’s party. She is not pretty but I think she is very attractive looking. She is extremely gracful and a very good dancer and the most interesting talker I have ever seen or rather heard. One Saturday night I was surprised by a visit from Margaret asking me to the Bachus school dance. Of course I accepted with pleasure and that night took her to it. I had a fine time including four dances from Margaret. The next day Julia invited a large crowd of boys and girls to make a visit to a house on Pleasant Ave. that was said to be haunted. Of course we went and the bad part of it was that Jim walked all the way out with Margaret and I was left in the lurch. Jim did not have such a walkover going back because I was on the other side of Margaret but just the same I felt pretty glum that night for I knew that up to that time I had been almost first with Margaret for a week and now Jim had to step in and cheat me. Wednesday an eventful day dawned clear and warm. Jim Porterfield and I were invited to call on Elizabeth Dean by Elizabeth and when we got there we found her too and we started out for a walk. Margaret and Jim walked ahead and Elizabeth and I behind. This made me mad and this was further inflamed when they got a block ahead of us. Then Elizabeth told me some things. She said that Margaret had given her a note the day befor in school which said “I know I am fickle but I like Jim just as much as I do Scott.” When I learned this I was jealous of Jim as I had never been of anyone before. I said some ridiculous things about how I was going to get even with him in Margarets estimation when we reached the country club. Elizabeth went ahead and asked Margaret which of us she liked the best. Margaret said she liked me best. All the way home I was in the seventh heaven of delight. The next time I saw Margaret was Friday. I met Elizabeth and she on the corner near Cecil’s house and we talked about 5 minutes.

Then I took Margaret home and I told her I was invited to the sophmore assembly by C Jame[s] and she said that she would have invited me if she had thought of it. I had three invites because when I got home I found that Alida Bigelow had invited me also. As Margaret and I walked along we had quite an interesting conversation.

Said I, “Jim was so confident the other night that you had a crush on him.”

“Well Jim gets another think.”

“Shall I let him know you don’t like him.”

“No: but you can let him know that he isn’t first.”

“I’ll do that”

“Now if you had thought that it might be different.”

“Good” said I

“Good” repeated she and then the converstion lagged. She asked me to call for her at eight and go to the play with her and I said yes. Then we said good bye & I went home. Then, sad to say, Margaret called me up & said that she couldn’t go. The play was very good but Margaret was not there boo hoo.

One Saturday night about two weeks later my finish came we were over at Ben Griggs four boys, Reub, Ben, Ted & I, and four girls Margaret, Marie, Elizabeth & Dorothy & that evening Margaret got an awful crush on Reuben which at the time I write this is still active. More about Margaret later on.

Alida is considered by some the prettiest girl in dancing school. Bob Clark, E. Driscoll, D. Driscoll, A. Foley, and I all had a crush on her last winter and this fall. Every night Bob & I would go over to see Don (?) & incidently see Alida. She liked Art 1st, Egbert 2nd I third & Bob 4th. Bob is south now & writes her a letter 3 times a week.

Further Reading

In 1965, with permission from Fitzgerald’s daughter, the Princeton University Library Chronicle reprinted the Thoughtbook, in facsimile, in 300 copies of its Winter issue. A few of those are floating around online and, though expensive, can be bought. In 2013, University of Minnesota Press brought out a new edition, this time not in facsimile, but edited and with an introduction by FSF scholar Dave Page. Titled The Thoughtbook of F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Secret Boyhood Diary, this modern edition is much easier and cheaper to get hold of. And should you wish to read his first published story, The Mystery of the Raymond Mortgage, it was republished in 1960—limited run of 750 copies—and can sometimes be snapped up.

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