Sometimes I think I am like that boy in the song “Peck’s Bad Boy”. I just get out of one trouble into another. It’s a shame I can’t be more like Arvilla. She’s always good and never does anything her folks don’t want her to even if it kills her. There is always something that just has get out of me one way or another.
Mother and I went to Soiux City. Mother is trying to get me ready for school. I guess she thinks I need a whole department store with me. It nearly requires that much to keep looking decent. It’s lots of fun to buy new things though.
Please keep writing providing you find it convenient to write to the girl in “no man’s land”. Of course I expect you to tell me all about your trip to Estes Park, CO when you get to NCC. Ralph will probably drag me off as soon as ever. He was thinking how soon it would be the other day and then he kissed me as sweet as honey. If I was Marie I’d fear for my bones with such a lover as he is.
Ruth 8/26/25 Last letter of the summer
I’m Really anxious to get to school. One night I couldn’t sleep thinking of the coming year. Just think of all the work and worry on registration days and the first weeks of school. Oh it will be fun – I shouldn’t say fun but interesting and really fascinating and then “oh boy!” think of all the good times outside of school. I am so delighted to know that there is no doubt about you coming back. I think you should come the first week. That is when we have the most fun and the student reception – why boy you’ll have to be there for that.
Music certainly is one of the most if not THE most delightful pastime for me as you probably have realized before now. It can express so much that is within a person. Many times especially in the evening I feel moved to play and I can play by the hour and dream and never in the world realize how the time is going by. I am sure I can not tell how my music must should sometimes when I practically forget what I am doing and just think. I can build some of my best dream castles when I have such a background. Sometimes I think I will give up everything else and devote my time to study music. Yes I know you think that is foolish and a waste of time but that is where thee and me differ again. I cannot help having the feeling within me that can only be expressed through music.
Ruth 12/28/25 Christmas
My dear boy I can’t thank you enough for your gift. Boy I feel like a queen when around my neck they hang. Merl wanted to know how many kisses you’d get for it but well — who knows. I don’t. Perhaps one for each bead (over 150).
Ralph got the mumps. Too bad, of course, but he doesn’t seem very ill only he cna’t open his mouth wide enough to take much nourishment. We didn’t isolate him so I suppose we’re all doomed.
I wish you could have looked in on our family about a quarter of an hour ago. It represented my idea of a good family evening. Mother was sitting in a big rocker sewing. I was sitting here writing as you are aware. Across the table papa sat reading. Ralph was sitting back of me by the radiator reading and dreaming. Lawrence sat beside me eating nuts which, by the way, he has been doing most all day and Dale sat at the end table reading. Chester was in the kitchen giving his skis some special attention. Do you get the picture? And can you wonder that home has such a hold on me? Boy I can’t help but love it to the bottom of my heart and I like to dream —. A great thankfulness goes up fom my heart for such happiness when I think of home in Waterbury. (Rachel’s note: there may not be any photos inside the Benton house but this paints a word picture of their happy family. This is one of my favorite passages.)
John & Ralph’s high school graduating class; John is seated front left, Ralph is in back row 2nd from left I sure have a good time before going to work in the morning playing with my smallest brother (Chet). He is quite able to stand alone now. Yesterday morning he got in mother’s bread box and took everything out. When I came in and found him in that predicament he thought I was going to scold him but instead I put him in the bread box and he had the time of his life athough mother didn’t appreciate our fun.John 8/4/25
I was deeply impressed by our letter which I received today and I certainly do appreciate your faithfulness and sincerity to me. I believe it would be very selfish of me to object to you going with any one else. You should let your conscience direct your actions. I am willing to sacrifice those feelings (jealousy) to know that you are enjoying yourself. I wish I could have met my rival (Floyd) when I was there. I imagine he is a fine boy. No, Ruth, I haven’t forgotten that we are engaged and have saved enough money to buy 10 gallons of gas, a tent, one day’s food and a quart of oil. Don’t you think I am a real provider and economist?
I have managed to save a little more money perhaps enough perhaps enough to buy a bucket of coal. I wish that we were far along in life that talking about being engaged was not a joke. Tell Ralph I realize now more than ever before that next year I shall miss Ralph at school. I hope some arrangement can be made where by he may be in school next term.
I don’t believe your mother would want to impress you that boys are horrid. Perhaps you misinterpret her “lectures” or perhaps she doesn’t understand modern boys. Does your father ever give you any lecture? I wish I could sit down and talk to him as I have Merl. I can now understand where Merl gets his power of good judgement and quietness.
I’m getting ready to go to Estes Park (CO) with Merl and others for a two week conference.. Love 50-50 is knowing that if my part is 50 and some other dear friend of mine is 50 we are equally fond of each other. If this is true I am indeed thankful for it is the first time in my life which I have experienced such. Before it was 90-10 on my part or 10-90. Such circumstances do not give happiness and only leads to one disappointment after another. It sure makes me feel great to know there is no doubt as to whether I will go to school next fall. I talked with father the other night and everything is satisfactory for me to go.
Two section jerries and I are going to Grand Island to see a show. The “Ten Commandments” is on and I want to see it so badly that I don’t think it will be breaking the sabbath by going. Only wishing you were to go too. This will be the first show I’ve gone to all summer although we have a picture show in town. Aren’t I good? Assuring you that while on my trip I will be thinking of you always and I shall try to write often. Love 50-? John.
John 8/23/25 from Estes Park CO
At last we are way up here 8000 ft above sea level and I was never before in my life inspired by the wonders of God and nature a I have been since our arrival here yesterday. “Estes” certainly performed wonderful all the way out here We didn’t have any trouble at all except tire trouble and not much of that. I had one blow out and two punctures.
There must be over 100 boys and girls attending the conference. Merl is sitting across from me writing to Lillian. These Texas girls aren’t what I thought they would be but we may find that they are contagious. Some how in our tent as yet we haven’t gotten into the spirit of the conference yet. It seems as if we have too much foolishness. Dinner is over now and it was a pretty good meal of potatoes tomatoes, pork and beans, coffee, bread and jelly. Leona and Gladys came over. Leona has been troubled with the atmosphere. Yesterday a bumble bee flew dow her neck and stung her twice and last night a wasp stung her. She sure is having a time.
John – Christmas 1925
Drove home in the snow and freezing cold. Started to work with the work train. We stay in Grand Island at night and work picking up rails and scrap between Shelton and Alda. All I have to do is measure rails with a tape line and sit in the caboose and sleep most of the time. If I keep at this job very long I would be able to retire and you and I could live in luxury the rest of our day. I’ve been making $5-6/day. But my associates are not the best types. All they think of is whiskey, women and craps. This morning I heard the kiddies down stairs talking about Santa Claus, dollies, tinker toys, wagons, slippers, candy and such. Sure gives me pleasure to look in the other room and there are my little brothers and sister playing on the floor with tinker toys. I just love to sit and watch them. They do some of the dumbest things.
John 12/30/25 on a trip to Chicago
It sure is a privelege to get away from the roar of trains street cars and elevated trains and think of that quiet peaceful country some 600 mi west and of a very dear girl. For certain one thing, Ruth, and that is that we shall never live in a city like this suburb 30 mi of Chicago. I simply marvel at its immensity and it is almost incomprehensible. I have a headache and a backache from stretching my neck to look at buildings saring high in the air and at streets far below while riding on an elevated railway car.
I went to Central Sunday and Guy Puckett and I visited Pres. and Mrs. Carroll. Then Guy Solt and I went to the depot and made the arrangements so that it would be possibe for me to come to the conference. I got up at 3:00 and went to Sheton on the train taking all my luggage along. After breakfast I started for Central in my Ford but it was so cold my radiator froze up and I couldn’t get it thawed out so I had to stop at every farm house between Wood River and Grand Island and put water in my car I got to Central at 2:15 and was nearly frozen to death. I will never get that cold again if I can possibly prevent it. Guy and I left for Chicago at 4:48, in Omaha we got a berth and slept until 7:00 and arrived in Chicago at 9:35. We then went to Evanston and registered. After dinner we took a train to Chicago University and a ride around Chicago. The magnificence of the buildings an libraries is wonderful.