I am just living now until your lovely plans can be carried out to the last little detail. You surely put something into my head when you told me all that you did when you were here. Your plans couldn’t suit me any better if I had made them myself, in fact they are better because you eliminated several difficulties that I didn’t know what to do about.
Shortly after you left I dreamed that our church was burning and the only people that were much concerned were you and Guy Solt. Part of the church building fell in and burned Guy but you were uninjured. I thought perhaps the dream came in that way because I have been thinking how much concerned you are about the welfare of the churches and your desire to help in the best way. You were straining to save the church and the people’s indifference in the dream was my seeming indifference in the work. It bothered me all day. When I received your letter telling of your horrible experience at Hoskins, Mother wanted to know if I remembered my dream. (Rachel’s note: Dad tells a terrible tale in his letter of 8/10). Doesn’t it seem strange but perhaps there is nothing to it. Maybe our strong love forms a connection that even distance cannot break and I am feeling in a sense what you are experiencing.
I am so disappointed that I am not going to get to go to Estes Park,Colorado. Ralph feels that he cannot afford to leave the work now. If he stays on through the threshing season he gets a share of the machine profits that would amount to nearly enough to take him through this school year. If he leaves he will only get a month’s wage.
I makes me feel rather queer inside to think that I won’t be home so very much longer. The last time Mother and I were coming home from Sioux City I told her it would probably be the last time she would take me on a shopping trip. Mother and I had lots of fun on that trip and it made me wish I could o a lot of things before I leave her but I don’t see how it can be done. One thing I’d like to do is take her back to Ohio to visit her old home but you see if I did that I would have to give you up for a while at least and I am selfish enough to rather have you. Cora said that if we wait too long we are apt to drift apart and never be married. I would rather not take the chance.
I had the most fun at my little recital Friday afternoon. My pupils played remarkably well and I was happy. Even my little beginner played well. I think Mother is as happy with my work as I am.
The “bunch” had a gathering today over by our creek just across the little bridge. The Way girls, McAfee girls and me. We ate dinner over there and spent the afternoon together having a good time. We do have the best of times together.
I am rather looking forward to school starting. It is always fun to get back and see all the old friends again. You certainly know how to write nice letters to me. If you write anything like that to the prospective students I don’t see how they could resist coming to school – but I hope you don’t. There is a young couple at Springbank Church that I can almost envy. They have three of the sweetest little youngsters one could want. This evening an old man sat beside them and in the course of the meeting got up and made a long testimony. During his talk he got rather loud. When he sat down the little girl said right out loud, “Do you have to make that much noise?” Her mother was nearly convulsed with laughter yet mortified too but you can’t keep a child from saying what it thinks. They are so amusing at times.
Life is quite common place here. Just doing everything as usual: washing dishes, sweeping, ironing, giving lessons, sewing, etc. I’m sure if it wasn’t for you to think about it would get quite monotonous. As it is the day passes all to quickly. The boys, especially Ralph, torment me a lot to add a little extra spice to life. I get disgusted with Ralph some times. I should think he would want to be more purposeful and determined about his life. He is always talking about getting married but goodness only knows what he would do or what he would live on. If somebody would give him several thousand dollars and a nice little home with nothing more to do he would just be happy. The way he talks he would not be satisfied to begin married life with nothing less than the best of everything. That is the reason he says he can’t farm. He wouldn’t have money enough to get a new tractor, good machinery and have a nice house.
If I go to Hartford with you I wonder if you’ll think am just an expense? Does it ever seem rather strange to you to think of us really going to Hartford together? It does me some times. Merl left today and won’t be back until Christmas. As Mother was watching him drive away she said she was glad it was only one leaving. All of you at once would be too much. It just made me think how hard it must be for the folks to see their children go away like that. I imagine she hates to think of me going away far and for so long. I can’t bear to think of it that way. I’ll have to leave some time you know.
I have been trying to reason myself out of my impatience and trying to convince myself how wise it would be for us to wait until you are entirely through school. I’m trying to see both sides. You know what I want to do but if I would stay you would be so much freer for your work and there are so many things I could be doing in the meantime that I couldn’t do or at least you wouldn’t want me to do if we were married. If we wait until you are through school then we could have a real home like we want. I have to write these things to you because I never can say them to you. When you love me and kiss me I forget all about it and just want you above everything else.
These last days before leaving for school will be busy. I had to help make the bread the last time and it wasn’t so bad. I also had to make the pies for the threshers. I fairly held my breath for fear they might break their teeth on them but they were quite edible. Rather encouraging don’t you think? (Rachel’s note: Mom became known for her wonderful pies made with the fruit Dad grew in our back yard.)
Mother still has it in her head to have a baby in our home. A lady came to talk it over Saturday morning. She is going to NY this month to get orphan children and if she can find one she thinks would suit she is going to bring her out. Perhaps I will have a little sister yet. It might be good training for me.
Did you have a nice Christmas? I have certainly enjoyed being home if it wasn’t for the thoughts of Mother going into the hospital. She goes tomorrow. She has been telling me how she has suffered without saying anything to anyone except Dad so now I am glad for her to go if she can be relived. I don’t know how she has endured for so long. The day before Thanksgiving she felt so badly she could hardly stand it but she went to sleep and felt better so she didn’t say anything. Two weeks ago she thought she couldn’t stand it any longer and Dad wanted to send for me, but then she felt better so she wouldn’t let him but he did take her to Sioux City to a doctor. I feel things are going to be all right but I ask for prayers this week. We can’t get along without Mother. I will probably be alone much of the week as the boys are going to husk corn for Mr. Hill and Dad will be in Sioux City a lot.
I know you are the dearest boy that ever lived. You’ll spoil me always getting me everything that I want. Oh, I love that little bag you gave me. Thank you a thousand times. You know what I’d do if I could see you for a few minutes. Your lips are like intoxicating wine to me. Once I get a taste I want more.
Mother is much better than she was last night. The operation was yesterday and when Dad came home in the evening and told us that she was in bad condition so we were all pretty blue. Poor Dad, he was so restless and worried this morning he could hardly stand it until Merl got ready to go. We were so relived when we got the report that she was much better. They removed her gall bladder and her appendix. No wonder she has felt so bad.
I have some job here at home. It may encourage you to know that I believe I am doing a little better with my cooking. It seems all I’ve done since I came home is cook. I’m going to try to bake bread tomorrow. I want to see if is going to be any good before Lillian comes (she’s such a good cook). If it isn’t, I’ll buy some. I’ve been trying to picture myself doing all this for you, but I’m afraid you’ll be very much disappointed in me. It embarrasses me to death to cook for you for fear it might not be good. You’ll have to be patient with me. Mother didn’t have to have a tube put in her side so perhaps it won’t be so terribly long until I can come back to you.
P.S. Dad got Mother a pressure cooker for Christmas and I am trying to use it even though I am scared early to death of it. I’m afraid it will blow up. Dad laughs at me and says it will be all right but never-the-less……(Rachel’s note: I remember Mom cooking with a pressure cooker when I was a kid. Always scared me too!)
John 8/2/27 Sargent, NE
When in Arcadia yesterday I persuaded two girls to go to NCC next year, They made me work until twenty minutes until twelve last night. Yesterday was a memorial day for me . I only got lost and wasted about two hours parading up and down some of the most terrible hills in the county and it was rainy too. Coming in to Arcadia I got stuck going up a hill and of course I got soaked as I put on the chains, but I got two girls to go to school so it was worth it.
John 8/10/27 St Edward, NE
It doesn’t seem like the whole of two days have passed since we parted but they have. I can’t think of anything else but you as I am driving along. On my way from your place as I passed through Hoskins I witnessed one of the most terrible scenes I have ever seen. On making the curve just at the north west corner of town, I saw flames reaching high into the air and people running wildly. As I pulled up I saw a large frame house wrapped in fire. I never have seen anything burn like that. Very little of the furniture was saved An elderly couple some 70 years old lived there. The old man had been a drunkard and I was told had been drunk for the past two days. The old lady left him at home and went down town. She had been there for not more than half and hour when she was warned of the fire. When the crowd had saved all the household goods they could they asked of the the where about of the old man but no one seemed to know. They found his cane hanging on the door but could find no other traces of him. After searching the fields and community for him and not finding him they gave him up as a burned man. After the house had almost fallen in they saw the old man crawling in from the weeds where everyone had been standing. He was a ghastly sight. He shook terribly and his hands and wrists were burned until the flesh had fallen partly off. His face was also burned. They took him to the doctor and I went on. Everyone concluded hat he had set fire to the house and had been burned before he could get away. This scene touched me so that I have been unable to get away from it.
John 8/14/27 Central City
It will only be five days until I may seen you again. I’m sure I want to solicit students again next summer. I get to see you often and then the summer goes faster and I am happier. It seemed awfully good to be back to Central. Its strange that this place is home sweet home to me. We’re back from Alda and I’m awfully glad we went. The folks were there and a member of my dear friends. I didn’t know what to do, I felt so humble when I found that the folks and another family were there. I felt the responsibility of doing my best and I think I did.
I’m awfully sorry your plans to go to CO have been thwarted. The conference would have meant so much to you and your work this fall. So many disappointments are coming in connection with my work The two girls from Arcadia have decided not to go to NCC this year. Conditions had made it hard for them to go. In similar manner a number of my best prospects have “blown up”. Still there is hope for a good student body.
I hope you get to do the thing you want to do with your music. Remember though, my dear, that your music preparation is not to cease upon our marriage. I have only the highest hopes that you may accomplish the great musical ends which you desire and I shall be very happy to help you. When we go to Hartford you will be able to take music there and I hope you shall. You aren’t going to marry to help me alone, I want to help you too. Maybe if we accomplish all we have planned in those first happy years we won’t be lonesome for our baby. Those years will be much to look forward to.
It was so nice of you to send me that picture. Now I can sit here at my table and look at ourselves with great intensity. Tomorrow when I celebrate my twentieth birthday I shall think of you often. Really I do feel like I am getting to be a serious old man and I may mourn that I have at least one fourth of my life lived.
Guy Solt and I had a very good time as we spent last week together. We covered the northwest territory and returned to Central yesterday morning. From this journey we secured about five definite students. We can certainly “throw a line” when we prey upon some timid high school graduate. Often I wonder if I were as young, undetermined, and simple as the average high school graduate that I meet up with.
John 8/28/27 Shelton, NE
Today the folks wanted me to attend the county gather of the Odd Fellow Lodge. I can’t conscientiously sanction the lodge and couldn’t feel free to take part in their social affairs but the folks expected it of me and so did all my Shelton friends. I finally concluded that it would hurt my cause more if I didn’t go than it would if I did so I went. I didn’t enjoy myself because the conflict was inside of me of whether I was wrong in my attitude toward the lodge. There was a group of four or five hundred. A Sunday ball game was featured, card games were gong on, nearly every man smoking some even in the auditorium during “service”. The Charleston was featured by a small boy and such entertainment as that.
Now work now is quite easy. I’m sure we will have at least as many students as we had last year and I hope more. I have been doing some buying for the kitchen and making some provisions for canning I’m going to be getting some real training in husbandry this year. Just the thing you want your husband to have. How would you like to go home with me next Sunday? I may need to go and bring Edith back. I’m afraid that I am going to need to help Edith some with her expenses this year. Its all I can do to pay my own way but if I need to work a little harder to make it possible for her to come to school I will. The folks are willing to do all they can but I doubt whether that is enough.
We finished closing down about four o’clock Friday afternoon. Prof Peters, Dale Holtry and I had a bountiful feast in the kitchen on the would be spoils. Merl crawled in bed with me about midnight. It seems that I’m forever scheduled to sleep with some of the Benton family. Of course you know my disappointment over such a prospect! (Rachel’s note: Dad told me that roommates shared a bed! Imagine that happening today!!) Saturday morning we concluded the materials of the kitchen and then went to the river with our Sunday school boys where they skated. We had much fun although we didn’t get to stay long. the ice was splendid.
It was a merry Christmas for all here at home. Edith and I went to the Methodist church. Their service was quite different from ours at Central but they had beautiful pipe organ music so of course I thought of you. Such a dinner as we had! I can still feel it. Everything that makes Christmas Christmasy.
All the sympathy and love of my heart goes out to you dear and your family because of your mother’s illness. Your mother has certainly been brave to postpone relief as long as she has. I do hope and pray tht everything will come out all right . If you will need to miss school during her recovery it will be hard but you will have no difficulty in making up the work. The folks were so good to me at home that I rather hated to leave today. It was good though to get back to Central. It seems more like home here than anywhere else. Mr. Peters didn’t allow the furnace to blow the dormitory up while I was away either. He and Dale and I are holding the fort alone now. If we were left in such a hermitage long the authors would have to speed up their publication of books. I have almost finished three thus far and I have nearly a week to go yet! We won’t have very much to do until Saturday except eat, sleep, read and occasionally fire the furnace.