THE ROAD TO THE SUPREME COURT
If Susie Sharp was nurturing ambitions to become a member of the state's highest appellate court, she was not willing to sacrifice John Kesler to them.
In vivid contrast to her feelings for Venitah Breckenridge, she found every mention of Sudie Kesler by John or others to be painful. She hated to hear him refer to “my wife” and would sink into silent despair until he reassured her of his feelings for her. Once, when someone told her about meeting Sudie with John before they were married, Susie Sharp recorded that it had made her sick to her stomach.1 (Her revulsion, however, did not prevent her, on one occasion when she was holding court in the county where the Keslers were married, from examining courthouse records to look at the marriage license.)2 In the time-worn lament of countless other “other women,” she told him that “my idea of heaven is to be able to go openly thru the front door of places with “you” and where I can call all and sundry and say: 'I want you to meet John.”3 John said, “If we just loved each other less, it would be simple.”4
After a visit in 1952 in Salisbury with John, his wife Sudie, and their little girl—a rare occurrence—Susie Sharp wrote that she had left “with a terrible pain and ache in my heart. I think that the best solution of the problem would be for me to have that wreck he worries so about.”5 For his part, John never gave any indication of plans to leave his wife and daughter. Early on, he told Susie that he did not see any future for the two of them.6 Yet he too was willing to jeopardize all he had. Emblazoned across the top of a page in her 1952 journal: “He says, 'We know we are gambling. We must take what comes without getting too upset about it.'”7 As for Susie Sharp, she sustained a deterministic composure, a belief that ““w”e are not punished for our sins, but by them.”8 Actions had consequences. It would be astonishing if they escaped the consequences of their affair, but it was a risk she was willing to take. Perhaps she did believe, as she once said, that having been born the eldest of