January 1928 and June 1928

There are big changes ahead in 1928, especially for Ruth. She stays  at home in January to help during her mother’s recovery.  After completing her second year of college, Ruth spends the summer on the farm and then heads of into the big, wide world to teach in the fall.  John remains at the college so their letters are year round.  

Ruth 1/1/28

Merl has done it – he bought Lillian a ring and it’s a big one.  I asked Merl when he was going to be married and he said he didn’t know, he didn’t think it would be next summer.  I half way believe he is kidding me.  He said he wasn’t really sure he wanted to get married.  I thought to myself, brother if we could only exchange places.

I had hoped to see Mother today but it was so cold we didn’t go down.  Ralph and Dad went down yesterday to see her and found that she is getting along nicely.    I have no idea how long it will be before she can come home and it will be a long time before she can work.  It will seem strange to have Ralph go back tomorrow and leave me here.  I wonder if anyone will miss me at school?

I have really been having very good luck so far.  I baked bread Thursday and it was really quite good.  When I set some o the table Dad smiled a little and said, “Is this the bread you baked?”  I was so proud I could have broken the buttons off my dress if it had had any on it.  Yesterday I made some pumpkin pies.  There weren’t as good as mother makes but one would know they were supposed to be pumpkin pies.  I have been having lots of fun with the pressure cooker.  The other day when I was using it the pressure got too high and the safety valve began to let off steam.  Lawrence just came into the kitchen and wasn’t looking for anything like that  He surely took himself out in a hurry.  It is hard to keep the heat regular with a wood fire. (Rachel’s note: this revelation came as a surprise to me – I’d forgotten she was learning to cook using a wood fired stove!)  I guess there is no danger of the thing exploding if the lid is screwed down tight and the valves are working properly.

Oh it’s a great life if you can stand the strain.  I thought I had to work when I was in school but oh boy!! it wasn’t anything like this.  I’d be ashamed to have you see my hands like thy are now let alone holding them.  The other day I sliced into the  ball of my thumb, I have burned my hand just enough to make them sore, and having them in water so much makes them sore and rough.  The biggest trouble comes when I sit down at the piano.  I can feel the limberness going out of my fingers since I don’t have enough time to loosen them up everyday.

Ruth 1/4/28

We were down to see mother today.  She is a jolly as ever, in fact I was afraid she was laughing more than would be good for her. Uncle Willie, Aunt Cecil and Uncle Philo were there.  Mother would laugh until she would have to hold her sides.  It made a funny little lump come in my throat to see Mother lying there so.

The other day I was saying that things seemed so different this time that I had to keep house.  I don’t mind the work at all especially cooking and that everything seemed to go better.  Chester said it was a sign that I was ready to settle down.  Perhaps so, who knows.  I know it would even be more fun to keep house for you than for Mother’s family.  We must have patience, the time will come.

Considering the fact that I must get breakfast in the morning and get the kids off to school in time (how does that sound?)  I must retire.  I have a great time trying to be mother, cook, maid, washerwoman and flapper daughter all at once.  I don’t know which predominates but I know by evening I am mighty tired.

Ruth 1/8/28

Nothing much has happened except in the kitchen.  I mean that is all I know about.  I haven’t had a chance to do anything since I came home and I begin to crave a little excitement.  The boys went to a party Friday evening but for some reason they didn’t seem very anxious for me to go  Therefore, I stayed home and washed dishes.  I’m not especially anxious to get back to school except to see you.  If I had my examinations and credit for first semester I’d be tempted to stay home the rest of the year.  Keep that under you hat, please.  I don’t suppose the folks would listen to it.  It has been a relief to get away from the wearing grind of work in school.  There is plenty of work here, more than I can ever get done but it is my own work and not what someone else has demanded me to do.  If I don’t get it all done no one is going to take my head off for it.

Ruth 1/11/28

I wish you could have been here this eveing.  Today is Dad’s birthday so I fixed a special dinner for him.  I made a white cake with white icing and put his age on it in pink.  We had him cut the cake.  It was fun.  We were sorry Mother couldn’t be here but she is coming home tomorrow.  Uncle Willie is going down to get her.  He wanted to because their car rides so smoothly.

If Ralph comes to get me I’ll probably see you Sunday.  If he doesn’t I don’t know whether I’ll come Saturday or Monday but I want you to meet me at the train.  I’ll let you know.

Ruth 3/20/28

I went to Allen to see Mr. Bell.  Yes I have signed a contract for a position in the Allen school but with one requirement.  I must go to summer school.  I don’t doubt but its a good thing for me and Im sure I would feel more sure of myself when I begin teaching.  I’ll get $100 a month.  Don’t you think that is good?  I do  Just think what I can do with $900!

This is the contract Ruth signed in March 1928 to teach in the Allen Public Schools.

This is the contract Ruth signed in March 1928 to teach in the Allen Public Schools.

Ruth 6/7/28  Estes Park, CO  Conference of YMCA

At last my dream has come true and I am at Estes Park.  I haven’t seen everything that I expected but I’m not disappointed in anything so far.  We haven’t had time to see very much yet and can’t take any hikes until the doctor examines our hearts again.  I joined the guest group on prayer but I was terribly disappointed in the leader.  She seemed inclined to shut anyone up who tries to express any idea different than what she wants us to think.  Queer, but I find there are many students who feel very much as I do and want to know the use of it all anyway.   We are pretty much alone.  Nearly every college has a larger delegation that naturally group together and its a little difficult to break into them.

6/10/28 from The Estes Park

It has been cloudy and rainy again today.  I wouldn’t mind if it was cold but it is so disagreeable when it rains because we don’t have a warm place to go to .  We can come to the administration building but it isn’t very warm and so many crowd around the fireplaces that one doesn’t have much of a chance at it.  I went to a music appreciation period.  It was perfectly delightful.  I don’t know how I can do anything  else but take more music.  I wish I had the nerve to go and play the piano but there are too mnay people around who can pay so much better than I.

Do you know that the more I analyze myself the less I think of myself?  I know that I am thoughtless, selfish and cowardly.  Those are terrible things to think and I would be thoroughly discouraged if I didn’t think I had a few redeeming qualities.  I feel truly unworthy of you who have accomplished so much.

Ruth 6/9/28 from Estes Park

We made a trip to Bear Lake and then up the mountain but we didn’t reach our destination because of a lack of time.  It was a shame that the clouds hung so low we weren’t able to see much of anything after we got way up there.  It was a long hike as you know but I enjoyed it more than the one yesterday.  I have a silly streak on tonight and have laughed and laughed at Helen.  Her feet were just slopping wet and everytime she took a step I could hear the water slop in her shoes.  I hate to go to bed it is so cold.

Ruth 6/11/28 from Estes Park

We went down to Estes Park town this morning to buy some new camp equipment.  We are going to have pancakes and hamburger in the morning.  Don’t you wish you were here?  It has been cloudy and cold again today and is snowing now.  Imagine, on the 11th of June! We went on a picnic this afternoon to Bartloft Park or some such place.  We started out in the rain but it didn’t last very long but I had to poke along most of the time with Helen.  Let me give you a piece of advice – don’t ever take a fat girl out hiking with you.  You have accused me of being a flirt and I have tried not to be that here.

Estes Park CO 28

Here they are at their Estes Park camp site. Ralph is in the middle, Ruth to his left and “Hefty Helen” to his right!

Ruth 6/13/28

We had a little tragedy on the campus this morning.  A cabin burned up this morning and a car.  I don’t know how it started unless someone left an oil stove burning.  People from Sterling Kansas lived in the cabin.  Many of the students have contributed some money to get them home and take care of them the rest of the time in the conference.

Ruth 6/25/28 back on the farm

You should see the washing I put out today.  Really you’d be surprised.  I expected to take two days at it but it rained all day.  We are having quite a rainy spell just now.  Dad has been anxious to put up the hay because he is  going to take their vacation this week.  That leaves us kids to run things again.  I’ll have to do some canning while mother is gone.  Doesn’t that sound funny to hear me say? (Rachel’s note: our house in State College had a “fruit cellar” in the basement that Mom kept full of fruits, jellies, and pickles that she canned.)

I’m expecting to have some fun tomorrow afternoon.  We’re having a surprise shower for Mable Way Johnston.  There just isn’t anything romantic about that marriage so it seems to me. Mother called Mable “Mrs. Johnston” at church one Sunday and she said she was the first person who had called her that since she was married.  Imagine being married a year and not being called Mrs. Johnston!

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John 1/1/28

I was anxious to get your last letter to learn about your mother.  It is certainly splendid that she is improving .     I think the same thing is true with your cooking as is true of you other many accomplishments – its not nearly as bad as you imagine.  Anyway if patience will help any I have quite a liberal supply.   The other night when it was so cold the north door of the lower north bathroom blew open and froze things in good shape.  It took prof and me nine hours to get things going again only to awaken the next morning to find some radiators and two pipes in the bathroom broken.  Well, it took all day to repair the damages and last night we fired all night to prevent further freezing.

John 1/3/28

It seemed strange to have Ralph returning last night without you.  You wonder if any one will miss you from school, why I should say they do!  Several have asked about you.  As for me, there is something missing from every phase of school.  I go to meals and no Ruth, between classes, no Ruth, go past the girls dormitory and no Ruth, and so on through the day.  This will be a little taste of what it will be like next year, won’t it?

Such a busy life I have been living.  We had to work so hard to get things heated up but at last it is done and we didn’t have a great lot of trouble.  I  returned from basketball practice and my feet are almost as sore as your dear hands I’ll venture.  I can hardly walk but I am that way after every practice.  Do you think a few burns cuts, and bruises would kill my desire to hold your hands? Not so easy as that, dear.

J basketb 24

NCC basketball team. John on the right; Ralph behind him.

John 1/8/28

I will have a big kiss for you when you get here.  I’m not conservative – I have lots of them. School has taken its normal course again since vacation but no one seems to have a great deal of enthusiasm or zeal.  We have all the post vacation matters relating to the furnace work finished much to my satisfaction.  Professor Watson and his son stopped by.  Mr. Watson is an outcast now; his home is quarantined because his wife has scarlet fever.  Mr. Watson moved in to the dormitory.  Alice isn’t very sick but needs to be secluded for three weeks.

John 1/11/28

I can sympathize with your desire to be away from the grind of school,  but I love school so much that I enjoy it nevertheless.  It sees that since I have taken this furnace work I have been in a whirlpool of activity.  Now that we are spending an hour an a half a day on debate together with basketball I’m almost sunk.

Not sure what piece of equipment this is, but photo is of Hord hall basement

Not sure what piece of equipment this is, but photo is of Hord hall basement

We lost the basketball game in Hastings 68 to 9 but the game was really better than the score indicated. Hastings is a splendid team; I’ll venture they win the championship of the conference.  This trip to my old home town brought back very vividly to my mind a large part of my experience.  How we often forget the past and the things that have made us what we are!

We had a good time at the oyster social.  About forty were there and believe me a great quantity of soup was consumed.  We also had apple pie and coffee.  Dale Ferguson and I were the servers; it certainly kept us busy waiting on all those folks. We had to leave before the program to get to basketball practice.  We got our new suits.  Say they sure are pretty; maroon pants with old gold trimmings and maroon jerseys with “Central” written across the front in old gold letters. (Rachel’s note: Thank goodness!  All the photos of Dad and his basketball career are in the ratty clothes like the photo above!) Our first home game is January 24 so you’ll be here for that.

During this lovely weather the folks moved back to Shelton.  The kiddies were tickled and Leonard crys when mother mentions moving to Kearney again.  It was quite a misfortune for them to have to move but it seemed best.  They will no doubt move again before spring.  I wouldn’t like that, would you? I wish I could possess some of the qualities of humility and patience in time of disappointment that the folks have.

I must do some ironing yet before retiring or my laundry will “mildew” whatever that is.   Mother told me about it.  I surely had a big ironing this time – about nine shirts.

John 3/22/28

What did I tell you sweetheart?  I knew when Mr. Bell saw you the contract would be signed.  I’m so happy about it, it will be much better for you than teaching in a rural school.  I’m also glad you are going to summer school.  Much of the future of the children depends on you.  After you teach a year or two you ought to be better prepared to teach our children.

John 6/10/28

I had a good time at home.  During the three days I acted as visitor, mother, and housewife.  First of all I like our house; it is nice and in a fine part of town.  Mother and Father went to Omaha on Friday and left me in charge.  I cooked, washed dishes, kept the kids and all those things that you generally do in the summer.  Really though, I enjoyed it.  There are two or three men who come around daily in wagons and trucks selling ice cream.  They have a bell that rings as they go.  The kiddies go wild when they hear those bells and about the only way to keep peace is to dig out a nickel apiece  for them to buy ice cream.  It would grow old in a few days with me but it was great fun to see their beaming faces as they pled for money to buy ice cream.  Children are a great nuisance but I love them dearly.

Kenneth Hawkes has decided to go with Guy Puckett east to join the prohibition caravan.  Guy was disappointed this morning as he tried to get me to go with him.  He was overjoyed to hear of Kenneth’s decision.  (Rachel’s note: Guy Puckett was one of Dad’s best friends.  Remember his name because he shows up a lot in the letters.  We visited Guy & his wife in California when I was 13.  When Dave was in the Army and we were stationed in Germany, the Pucketts came to visit us as they went camping through Europe.)

John 6/12/28

I don’t like my work as well as I did last year  I am going to have to walk a lot.  With two of us using the same car, one will have to walk in town while the other drives in the country.  I walked all over Central City yesterday.  Was I tired?

You must be careful and not crowd Helen too hard when climbing some of those mountains.  I would suggest a derrick or block and tackle!  That made me laugh.

News paper clipping enclosed: “While there is no law against punishing public school pupils in Iowa, Omaha school officials called attention to the fact that in Nebraska the law strictly forbids a teacher to whip his or her pupils.  Corporal punishment may be administered only after a teacher has called the parent and obtained permission and must be administered in the presence of the parent. “

John 6/20/28

Today I was out in Aurora.  Goodness but those graduates were scattered out!  I drove thirteen miles and back to see one fellow and he isn’t going to college.  I stopped at Boring’s  where we talked about school, especially of Hartford.  Im’ not entirely enthusiastic about that school. Mr. Boring gave me a catalogue and I’m going to look it over some more (especially to see if two can live as cheaply as one). I would prefer to go to a school where you could get more music than is offered there and more work in such subjects as economics, history, sociology, etc.  Of course I would want these subjects flavored with theology and philosophy.  I’m going to send for Harvard and Yale catalogues.  I understand that scholarships are given by these schools.

John 6/25/28

I signed off my last letter to meet you in my dreams. Well we met, and in an unusual way.  You were the mother and me the father of twins!  The dream was so real.  It was one I hope never quite comes true, don’t you?  This afternoon we learned that Mary Engle Wiley had twins.  Now honest dear, I’m not involved in any way.  The Wiley’s case is sad.  The babies had to be taken from hr prematurely at 7 mo.  They died about two hours after their birth.  Imagine her grief and sorrow.

I had a letter from Mother in which she said that Leonard’s could use his arm a little now although it is still crooked.  She thinks it will straighten out all right though.  Edith is applying for a nursing position and if she fails she is coming to Central next year.  If she wants to be a nurse I don’t object yet I would like very much for he to get more substantial background and outlook on life before she does.

Guy and I talk a lot.  Isn’t that surprising? and about everything.  We two are getting some interesting ideas about raising boys and girls in our work.  Some cases we find are pitiful and my heart goes out to them.  Guy is one person whose interests coincide with mine and we both love to talk…you know the rest. (Rachel’s note: Guy Solt remained one of Dad’s friends throughout his life.  He graduated before Dad and made connections for Dad after Guy moved to Philadelphia to work for the American Friends Service Committee.)

G Solt reading

Guy Solt graduated with Merl in 1926. This photo was taken while he was still in school. Guy is on the left.

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One thought on “January 1928 and June 1928

  1. I laughed at our mom’s comment about my mother’s engagement ring…My engagement ring wore throughand I had mother’s ring …unbeknown to me he had the stone from her ring and mine put in a new setting…..wearing it still…

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