The summer of 1927 finds Ruth back on the farm and John working for the college traveling the country recuiting students for Nebraska Central with Guy Solt.
Back to my usual summer pastime but I don’t like to think that you are so far away. I tried so hard to keep the tears back before I left but after I got on the train I just cried. If it had been in my power to stop that train I would have gone back to you. That pain in my throat stayed until I was almost to Fremont. I didn’t think it was going to be quite so hard to leave you. The conductor was very kind to me. He gave me a Denver paper to read, but when I opened it what should I see first of all but a picture of a man holding a girl in his arms just ready to kiss her. Needless to say I had to turn away from that. The conductor talked to me quite a bit and told me about his little girl. He asked me if I would like to see the kitchen on the train. Of course I did because I have always been curious to know what it was like so he took me in. I thought it was very kind of him and it helped to get my mind on other things so I felt a little better. By the time I got to Fremont I was able to think about the home folk and that made things better. Papa, Lawrence and the dog met me in the truck.
Lawrence could hardly wait to show me his garden and patches of corn that he had planted with Henry Field seeds. He said he had spaded up all that ground by hand. He has a patch of potatoes and watermelons that Dad planted for him to care for. He has one tiny little black pig that Dad gave him to fuss over and raise if he can. Then he wanted to show me Dales’ field across the creek. By the time I got through looking at all that I had seen a good bit of the old farm. It made me more appreciative. I realize more and more what a fine home I have. I just love my family and everything so much.
I have been writing letters all evening but have left the best until last. The rest of the family have gone to bed so I am alone with you (I wish I were). You have always been so lovely to me even when I was unkind. I am always glad that you could keep cool and reasonable when I was angry. That is one thing I have always been able to say: that I have never seen you really angry. That mean’s so much and will mean more in our future happiness. I’m sure I’ll never tire of that dear face across the breakfast table especially when there will be more than two faces.
I went out interviewing my prospective music students and had good success. I will have five pupils this summer. Mama wants me to take lessons in Sioux City. I will have a busy summer in addition to helping with the housework, although Mama would try to do it all. Bless her, she is such an inspiration to me. She is so interested in my pupils. If it weren’t for her encouragement I don’t know what I’d do sometimes. I would think she would tire of hearing those youngsters laboriously go through their lessons but she says she doesn’t mind. She wants me to take lessons so if I don’t like teaching school perhaps I can teach music and I can teach music whether I’m married or not. Can you beat it? What mother’s won’t do for a person. You no doubt get the main thought here: that I think I have a wonderful mother. I hope that I may be as good a one. Sad news: Jonah the pet fish died. Lawrence buried him under the lilac bush.
Dear Mr. Ferguson,
My interest has been aroused considerably since reading about the school you advertise. Of course I could not judge on such meager information and would thank you kindly if you could send me any further material you might have on the matter. Or perhaps, dear sir, you could come and see me. I would much prefer the latter because I could see for myself a specimen of the student body. I hope you are good looking and have brown eyes. I do so like a good looking men. As you say, sometimes the friendships you form at school are invaluable. I am anxious that you should come as soon as possible…. Dearest sweetheart, wouldn’t I like to sneak up on you some time and overhear your conversation with some fond mother who thinks her son is the best boy in the world. I hope you meet with good success in your work and no one sets their dog on you. No joking, I do hope you can win new students for our school.
I started my music lessons in Hubbard yesterday. Mama wanted me to go to Sioux City but I don’t make enough from my pupils to pay for lessons and transportation on the train too. I’m afraid my music career with Mrs. Krew won’t run very smoothly. In the first place, I’m not very much taken with her method of teaching. In the second place, she doesn’t like it a bit that I am teaching. She started talking immediately about her starting a class in Waterbury hoping, I suppose, to take my pupils. I was supposed to start my pupils tomorrow but not sure now since Chester has the measles.
So ends my first day of teaching for the summer and tired — well I never tried to do anything quite so nerve racking in my life If I thought I had to do this sort of thing every day for years to come…darling you wouldn’t have much of a lover very long. It takes the patience of a saint to go through a day like this yet one can’t help but enjoy it too.
I have been reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. It has been quite depressing. Jane had been denied everything lovely all her life and when she finally found love it was snatched away from her the very day she was to be married. Such a thing always shakes me. Even though I know everything is alright I just want to hear you say that it is. I have been dreaming about you every night. Dearest if anything should happen to me as it did to Jan in my story I think I should die or at least want to. But why be gloomy. Nothing will happen. Our love is strong enough to meet any obstacle and whatever comes I will love you always.
I have often wondered how much I am worth and now I know: $1,000 to Mother at least. Dad took that much insurance for me yesterday. He wanted me to do it and let him pay until I go to teaching. If I remember correctly you are the man who doesn’t believe in insurance. To tell the truth I don’t see much value in it myself. However, it is a sure way of laying up money – if you have any. The insurance agent in this is my cousin-in-law from CA.
This afternoon we stopped to see another cousin before coming home and I couldn’t help but think that that house and family were just what you don’t want our home to be. The three youngsters were so dirty but Clara had been too busy to clean them up. The porch was dirty the house didn’t smell fresh, the screen door stood ajar and the flies came in. And last of all Clara is getting fat. Ha! Yes dear, I think our idea of a home is quite utopian yet I truly hope it is attainable. Perhaps I will be too fussy about the house and spend too much time keeping the babies clean. Can you feature me doing those things? Especially caring for a baby. Really, I imagine it would be quite entertaining.
I was at Sara Way Kingston’s this afternoon. Sara took my old sweetheart (Floyd) you know. (Rachel’s note: remember Floyd? The boy who wrote the letter to Ruth after she dumped him in the summer of ’25? He didn’t pine long!) That has rather upset me — or not. HA! She showed us all her things that she has made. They were lovely and have need to be. he used all her money from teaching school and then friends have given her things. The thing that took my interest most was her treasure chest. It was a cedar lined walnut walnut chest Perfectly adorable. (Rachel’s note: I currently have Mom’s walnut cedar chest in our livingroom).She showed us the dress she was married in. Floyd wanted her to put it away and keep it.
I had the most fun Tuesday giving lessons. Each pupil is so different that one has to change their method of attack for each one. I have one little pupil that is too dear for words. She alway wants to count and while she counts she sings. The others won’t count at all. It’s great work but I get lots of laughs from it too when I get home and can tell mother about it. I’m afraid I’m inclined to see the funny side too often but I don’t dare laugh until I get home.
Lawrence and Dale certainly have been sick with the measles and I’m afraid Mother is coming down with them but she doesn’t think so. Friday and Saturday she didn’t feel a bit good and Sunday morning her face began to break out although she says she’s all right. Dad has been dragging around feeling bum with a cold in his head and a cough. Rather a sickly outfit, aren’t we?
I had the most fun yesterday. In the afternoon I went down to Uncle Frank’s. The McAfee girls were there. Had a picnic dinner and then we all went wading in the creek. The water was warm even if it was muddy and we just had the most fun. When you come you’ll probably get to see Guy, but I’ll warn you, he can have only fifteen minutes of your time. You see I am going to claim all your time and if any one wants to talk with my dearest they’ll have to arrange time with me. So there.
Tears were inevitable as number sixteen vanished from my sight carrying my dear girl. Forgive me for crying, I couldn’t help it. I hated to feel that you were gone. But as I came back out to the college and scrambled to my waiting duties the burden was lifted and I felt how happy I was that you would be happy at home, and that I could see you this summer. Things have been about the same around NCC with the exception that a great deal of the beauty of the school for me has disappeared for some “known” reason. It seemed hard to think of going to hear Marie give her reading Friday evening knowing you could not go to, but I went and as usual in between naps, I enjoyed the program. Marie did very nicely in the presentation of the play. I could see that even though I did sleep most of the time. I know I shall be happy in my work for the college, although I will miss being home. I must do my utmost for our school this summer for to it I owe my life, my sweetheart, and my friends. I can never in any way repay what this school has meant to me.
I went with Merl and Lillian over to Solts where Merl talked with me about prospective students at Plainview. Monday was spent in the office addressing catalogues. Leona and I pounded the typewriters all day to address about 500 as well as to write some letters and do some other writing. This morning I cleaned out the boys dorm. My, such a mess. This afternoon I spent in the office working on catalogues, lists of students, grades, letters, etc. Oh yes, and President talked to me for about two hours. I am taking my meals at the Fergusons but they are not like the Ferguson’s I am used to each summer nor are they like the Fergusons of the future. Perhaps I am planning too strongly on that when you have openly expressed your dislike for cooking. It seems strange to think that I am not working on the railroad this summer. That means I am not dead tired with aching muscles and blistered hands at the end of the day’s work. While I am happy with my work, I feel a great responsibility for those men back there on the road and for my home.
I didn’t suppose you felt so badly when we parted but it is comforting to know that I wasn’t the only one that cried. As to the lump in your throat, I had one for a day or more at when when I would think how far away you were and how I loved you so dearly. I like my work immensely. Wednesday I began canvasing for students and met with a very good response. Out of the six that I visited Wednesday afternoon I felt quite sure of at least four. My I certainly meet up with some experiences. Tomorrow I am going to Clark and Silver Creek. Saturday morning to Archer and Saturday afternoon to HOME. I will work from there to Alda, Chapman, and then Palmer. I am afraid my love that if I hold down this white collared job all summer I won’t account to much as a man. Instead of blisters being on my hands this summer they are apt to be on a lower extremity.
Mother has been sick with back trouble. The folks are anxious for my return. As you love your home, so do I love mine. We certainly have a world of things to be grateful for. I feel mighty humble as I think of how much they have scarified, loved and suffered for me. As you mentioned my home means more to me now since I have loved you and have stated the best that I have upon our utopian home.
After talking with your folks, what have you decided to do next year? We have a very fine school here at Central City, one whose credits are fully accredited by the State University. At this school almost any course may be taken, one leading to an elementary state certificate or higher certificate. Courses may be taken backing any profession such as medicine, engineering, etc. Also the associations that one has are invaluable. Often times they mean much to a person. Pardon me dear, my “line” justslipped in, but don’t you think the school sounds good? I should be happy to talk further with you about our school at your own convenience.
I’ve managed to circumnavigate the county and wind up at home. The folks have all been so good to me. The kiddies were certainly happy to see me. They all wanted to eat by me at the table and Leonard had to sleep with me. Lawrence showed Mother and me his wedding ring this morning. He didn’t say when he was to be married but it will be sudden if it hasn’t happened already. He has been away all afternoon and was so excited he could hardly eat dinner.
Dad asked me this morning when I was to be married. When I told him he said I was making pretty definite plans and that I should need to find some one to marry me first. Upon a hint that I gave him he asked if I had “popped the question”. Of course I assured him that I had. I visited two prospective this afternoon and my old buddy Urskin Claar from the railroad. The Claar’s look toward my coming home much the same as do the folks. I attended church this morning. The children presented a very pretty program. Both Katherine and Leonard took part.
Don’t you remember the many, many times that I have told you that I would not go with any one other than you? If Leona should buy a Packard I shouldn’t care to go with her. I like her as a good friend but I have not the least desire to go with her. You may rest assured that you alone have my greatest devotion. I should be very sorry if you should get the measles. I regret very much that Chester had to take them but it is much better that he have them now than in later life. I am so thankful that I had all of those diseases when I was a baby and had nothing else to do.
Mr. Watson (a prof at NCC) invited me to his place for dinner. I do so enjoy those people and they have such wonderful children. It always makes me wonder whether ours will be like that. But you see they have only five, while we, with our seventeen, will have a more difficult task. (Rachel’s note: Geez, Dad! Mom will have more to say about this in later letters.) Ralph has been around here for the past two days. He is going to start working for a fellow near Chapman in the morning. We got to talking about getting married this morning and I judge that he and Marie are making about as definite plans as we. Ralph said they planned a quiet home wedding and it couldn’t be sooner than three years. I’m glad your folks know of your plans and I hope that they will have no objections to our marriage. We would be in a terrible predicament if they should. But we won’t worry about that until later.
Lawrence and Rose are a happily married pair from Mother’s report. I judge that Lawrence had to go in debt for the enterprise, but what’s that I hope nothing as insignificant as money ever keeps us from getting married. While it is a necessity and a convenient thing to have it never worries me, thank goodness I have gone four years to school on practically no money at all. I think I can go for four or five more.
President Carrell took me out to lunch with him yesterday noon and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit. He is such a wonderful man. President said some awfully nice things about you and about us. I’m afraid we don’t deserve all the high impressions people have of us but never-the-less I’m glad they have them. I know you must be happy in your work with your children. I’ll wager that my dearest is learning more than her pupils. I should like to be around some time when you are working desperately to get one of your students to run the right scale or something similar.
It seems that meeting and visiting is constantly before me and in my mind. Regardless of how many girls I meet and talk with I can’t see anything about them that would attract me to go with them. You’ve completely spoiled me. The more I meet the more I am convinced that you are the best in the world and the only one for me. Oh Ruth, I am so anxious to come see you I can hardly wait but then I must. Maybe I can stay longer. President said I could if I needed to.