April 1929

Its a rocky month. Life changing events happen in April. A wedding decision is made, John finds a job, and Ruth comes to terms with teaching

Ruth 4/2/29

My thoughts have been with you since you left Allen. I hope you met with no serious delays. Of course I am very sorry about the storm and all your difficulties, but I am certainly glad you came for several reasons. I have felt much more calm and at ease since being with you. I certainly loved you a lot when you were here. You seemed more peppy or something and I fell more in love with you than ever if that was possible.

Ruth 4/8/29

I spent all day Saturday in Wayne at a the music contest. Did I take in music? I just breathed myself full to overflowing. It was wonderful. Then last night I heard the cantata Springbank had prepared to present last Sunday but postponed because of the storm. It was very, very good. All this gets me inspired in a way that you probably won’t approve, but I wish I might go on to school and just study music and methods of teaching. Then I could teach music and not have to bother with these little kids in the grades. I could be doing something then wherein I could find some pleasure. I wish I might go to school next year, but can’t see my way clear. If you go to NY, I think I shall plan to go to Penn College the next year and so fulfill my desire. You see if I had an education in music I could always make use of it anywhere, anytime – married or unmarried.

Ruth 4/9/29

I just finished making out report cards for the past six weeks. What a relief to get it done! Just once more, thank goodness, and I’ll be through for this year – I wish never to come back to it. Only five more weeks after this and they can’t pass too quickly for me. I despise to see the pupils come in the morning. They are such a noisy mess. I dislike them more every day – they can be such “darned little fools”. It will be a long time before I’ll want any of my own to bother with. The gang say “what will you do when you are married?” I say I won’t have any. Then they alway say “how do you know?” Then I have to admit I don’t know and that’s the trouble. I suppose the only remedy would be not to marry. I’m sorry for your sake, but that’s how I feel now.

Ruth 4/11/29

I am putting off your question until such time when I am feeling better. It is absolutely impossible for me to think connectedly tonight so I’m not going to try. Dearest, my feelings frighten me and then I get more mixed up than ever.I have the most overwhelming sense of failure this evening. The day has been a terrific one and everything has been so messy. These rainy days the kids have to stay in all day and it is enough to drive anyone straight to the mental hospital. The kids have no respect for anything or anybody. They would just as soon make fun of Mr. Bell right to his face if they weren’t afraid of a good paddling.

Ruth 4/14/29

I begin this letter with a great deal of hesitation. I have just read your letter and am at once conscious stricken. I feel terrible for making you feel bad. Instead of feeling more like it is right for us to marry this summer I am getting farther from it. I want above everything else to be married sometime, but not just now, dear. I am just not ready for it. I have told you over and over that I love you and if you can’t take my word for it I know not what to do. Is it because I don’t want to be married now? Just now I do not care to be married perhaps for a year or two. I prefer the prospects for the future to be more definite. I would like to know what I am getting into.

The atmosphere has cleared a good deal for me since talking with Ralph. We had one grand confab last night lasting into the wee small hours. I do not know whether religion is at the roots of our differences but it may be. You can not feel my way and I have not experienced your way. I will not be a hypocrite about it and say I am experiencing it when I am not.

I am sorry you didn’t get the position at Fullerton but perhaps you will be just as happy at Monroe. At least you will get a year of experience which is going to be a great one I warn you.

Ruth 4/16/29

I know some boys who are going to be very, very happy tomorrow. The new Ford is to be delivered. The boys will be please to death Dale said to me Sunday evening, “Isn’t Dad a good scout?”. I’ll say he is.

Ruth 4/21/29

It may not be any of my business but I am very much puzzled over one of your latest announcements.  My dear, how does it come that you will be in debt $500 at the close of the year with the way you live?  How can it be so much? And then in the face of that you planned to be married this summer and go on to school. How could you do it? If I had’t already made my decision, that would have made it for me. I would feel an absolute burden to you. I’m afraid, my sweetheart, your aspirations almost get beyond you or else I’m not made right. You need not answer this question if you would rather not. It is not my affair I suppose.

Ruth 4/24/29

Do I love it? It is perfectly wonderful. I like it so much that I can do nothing but look at it when I am near it. It is absolutely splendid of you and I love it, but not more than the sender. What were you thinking of when you had the picture taken? I think I’ll have to take it down home and only look at it during weekends. I’m afraid I’ll never hold out with you looking at me like that all the time. I was so excited this afternoon I was going to send a telegram immediately after school but I remembered you said this was the evening for the extempo (extemporaneous speaking contest). I was afraid a telegram arriving about six might be distracting.

John's senior college photo

John’s senior college photo

Ruth 4/28/29

I have been feeling tip-top this week and have been having a good time. If your letter had been sad I would have been disappointed. I guess you still don’t understand me as well as I do you. I’ve begun to think I am rather crazy as mother says I am. She says I don’t know what I want and I guess she is about right. I just want to have a good time. You may think I am frivolous but I think (notice I hesitate) I have done something that the teacher didn’t do last year. I seem to have gotten a hold on my fifth grade boys that is meaning a lot. The ones that fought their teacher nearly every day last year and caused me so much grief at the beginning of the year are minding me in school now and bringing candy to me and other things to show they like their teacher. One boy especially has come out in fine shape. He doesn’t study as much as he might, but I believe I could even get him to do that if I had longer to work with him. I’m going to have to guard against one of these so called pupil crushes. The boy is thirteen years old. He stayed after school this evening to talk with me and from his conversation I was amazed to discover the “inner workings” of the boy, the very one that first showed himself so worthless. Comparing the conversation of this boy last fall and this spring I can scarcely believe they come from the same boy.

I took my fifth grade pupils on a picnic last evening after school. We had a lovely time and the kiddies were just wonderful. They played well together and minded me like little soldiers. Some of the sixth grade boys came out to see what trouble they could stir up and I thought to myself that I was going to have trouble, but was simply amazed to see how they would look to me first and obey everything I said. When I said it was time to come back to town they all gathered right up and started in with me. Easy as an old hen calling her chicks together. The two oldest and naughtiest fairly fell over themselves to do things for me. Now isn’t that enough to make anyone feel better? I told the gang if school didn’t hurry up and close I’m afraid I’ll begin to like my pupils. I hate to admit it but I think it is partly due to the fact that now I am sure I am coming back and feel more sure of myself. I am on something solid again.

No wonder you feel so virtuous getting grades like you get. It isn’t normal. You can afford to aspire to eastern ways. I never could. If those grades wouldn’t impress eastern friends, nothing ever would. With those grades and your other aspirations no wonder the students think of you as Mister Ferguson instead of John. It isn’t natural you know. That’s why you are different and makes me a bit fearful of you myself. I wouldn’t discourage you for a minute but I’m to made that way hence your lectures to me. You old darling, if you do it anymore I’ll pull your ears. You might as well save your breath and energy for some more pliant soul. I like to have a good time. So does Ralph. We come together just about right and does he understand – oh brother!

Ruth 4/28/29

I congratulate my dear sincerely on your ability. I am very proud of you, boy. My first thought on receiving your letter was to go to Omaha next week to hear you speak. On second thought I have decided it might be better not to since it is such a busy time. I am so tempted – I suppose you will be all dressed up with your hair slicked down and just laying it off to your audience.

I am getting so excited about going back to the campus I can scarcely contain myself. For once I can get in on all the fun of commencement and not have to be over burdened with work. I am a visitor this time. There is only one thing I would like to do and that is play the commencement march for your class. I wonder if I could. That would be all that would be necessary to make me feel as though I belonged to the college group. I’ll always feel that that little place by the church piano is mine.

I am as extremely sorry about Ruth Crain as you. I don’t think that my sweetheart would have anything to do with it, but it does rather look that way. I imagine her nerves were quite unstrung making her do things she wouldn’t have done under ordinary conditions. Pardon me for asking, but did you go out with her any, even once? I don’t think I would feel hurt if you did but I just wondered if you ever did. You told me how you finally settled the matter.

Ruth 4/30/29
I just returned from a dinner party given by one of the teachers. It was one good dinner; everything wonderful from cocktail to ice cream. After dinner we played bridge. Yes, I have even learned to play bridge after a fashion. (Rachel’s note: Mom was still a member of three bridge clubs until the day she died.)

After school I walked out in the country about two miles to pick flowers with some of my youngsters. Their mothers wouldn’t let them go unless I went with them and because they wanted the flowers for May baskets so I went. They told me about the wonderful May baskets they were making for me. More fun.

A most sickening thing happened at school this morning. One of my boys tore a place open on his arm on some broken glass. Of course he came running to me. It hadn’t bled much and I could see right down in the flesh and see the blood vessels. I had to take care of it. The youngsters told me afterward that I was as white as could be I didn’t feel faint but afterward I just trembled like a leaf in the wind. It happened at the first recess. At the same time another boy had the nose bleed that bled so long and just stopped before the bell rang. Shortly after, it bled again. Joys of school teaching!


John 4/3/29

It was hard to leave you. We had no difficulty what ever with our car until we were within three miles of Columbus. Our Ford had been leaking oil until it became so low that we burned out another bearing. We drove slowly home. After supper at my home we tried to get it fixed but none would do it. We stayed overnight and got back to Central by dinner. With your financial help and that of Dad’s I didn’t have to go so deeply in debt as I thought I might have to. Thank you sweetheart.

It was good to be home even for a short while. The kiddies are the dearest things, I could love them to death almost. Leonard has growing interests and pleasures. Now his spare time is spent in playing marbles and ball. Chester also has his bag of marbles. Katherine showed me her report card that was quite good. I can’t imagine those two being naughty in school. Harold is working hard on an operetta that the high school will give this Friday.

Word reached me from Monroe today telling me that the board was anxious to see me and that the position there was mine if I wanted it. I’ll go see the board this week but I won’t decide until I hear from Fullerton.

John 4/4/29

So you think you fell more deeply in love; of course I’m glad, I must have fallen too because I can think of is you. I’ve been thinking more deeply about school and plans for next year. The way I feel now, unless I get a scholarship for next year I want to teach one year and then have us both go to school. I know you’re not entirely in love with that plan but I’m confident that if I actually asked you to marry me a year from this spring that you would. I hope so.

John 4/7/29

Friday evening I went to Monroe in response to a telephone call from them. They offered me at first $125/mo but I finally told them that if I took the place at all I would want $1200 for nine months. I told them I would let them know the first of the week after I had heard from Fullerton. I do prefer Fullerton to Monroe by far. Some of my anxiety was relieved when I heard from NY refusing me a scholarship this year – I didn’t feel badly in view of present circumstances. By Tuesday when I write I will probably be able to tell you my decision regarding plans for next year. I’ll be happy to have the over with at least for the present.

Merl stopped in a bit this afternoon. He had as little to say as always and as little time to spend. He asked “is Ruth still cussing me because I’m single?” I said you were. To which he replied, “well she may cuss another year yet.” What do you think of that?

John 4/9/29

I am fearful that if I wait to hear from Fullerton next week that someone else will have been elected at Monroe. I think I shall call Monroe in the morning and inform them that I will teach there next year. Will you mind? I’ll be forty miles closer to you than I am now so I’m anticipating seeing you quite often.

I’m glad you told me what you did regarding what you wanted to do. I have been unhappy at times because I haven’t known what you had hopes of doing in the future. I have felt that you were sacrificing all dreams and plans for yourself just because I loved you and you felt obligated to marry me. You know I don’t want you to feel that way. Why would it not be possible for both of us to realize our dreams? I am inclined to think that our married life will not be abundantly happy unless we do those things. I have had no other hope than when I do go to school, and if you go with me, that you shall take training in that field that you love. I could never be happy to feel that your marriage to me meant denial to yourself of what your heart loves. If you had the obligation of deciding when you would get married, what plans would you make?

I umpired a baseball game between district 8 and Marion school. It was great sport, the the weather was rather disagreeable. Marion school won 41-5. Can you imagine such a game? It was fun to be out there with the boys.

Don't know when this photo was taken but not at the miserable game in this letter!

Don’t know when this photo was taken but not at the miserable game in this letter!

John 4/14/29

Your last letters have made me cry through and through I thought of little else than of you. As I try to understand you and your circumstances I have an indescribable feeling. I could hardly wait to get your letter this afternoon. I got so nervous wondering what you would say.

I’ve been taking invoice of my debts. Much to my dislike I find that graduation will find me about $500 in debt. It seems this year that there were so many things that demanded money that I have to borrow more and more. I’ll be happy as long as my credit is good . Now I venture to dream of saving at least enough next year to get married next spring. I know I can if you will only trust me.

I like to think that there are only five more weeks of school for you and only seven for us. Do you recall all the events of the closing weeks of school, such as sneak day, plays, picnics, etc, etc!!

John 4/16/29

I feel so tired, my head aches, and my throat is sore. I think my feelings are the result of the worry of deciding what to do next year, of making ends meet, and of thinking of you and our matters. All of these problems have come when Ive had so much work to do. Perhaps I feel somewhat as you often do. If so, I certainly am sorry for you. Since you feel as you do about marrying, you can rest assured that I shall not press the matter. I’m afraid I’ve done that too far now at the expense of your free will.

What a disappointment was mine today when Supt. Bitner called me and informed me of my election at Fullerton. My? I hate to turn that position down but such I must do. I would prefer Fullerton not because of the more wages I would receive, but because of the better school and then I would get to coach debating. I’m already planning the things I will do at Monroe. It will be great sport to teach history (not so much to teach English) and coach basketball. I want to start a Hi Y.

This afternoon the debate squad had our picture taken. I’ll be sending you some pictures soon. Guy Solt asked Miss Thornburg to take a snapshot of me that Guy wants to have prints made so that he and president can send them to Friends in the East. He thinks that if those people can see some of NCC’s products and know something of them that they might be more interested in our college. I very humbly consent to such knowing myself as I do. I love NCC so much that anything I might do is insufficient.

debate team 29

John is standing on the left. Mrs. Carrell is 3rd left and Estellene is next to her. Estellene shows up in later letters. Wish I could identify the rest of the team! Wonder which one is good buddy George.

Grades are out again and much to my surprise my average has risen. I thought debate and other things would lower them but they are decent: Drama 95, History of Friends 96, HS, Methods 93, Child Psyc 94, US Hist 94, and German II 94.

Way to go Dad!

Way to go Dad!


Yesterday morning (4 am) found me feeling well enough to sneak. My! Did we have fun? I should say. I don’t know when I have ever had as good a time – that is of foolishness. We were in Hastings for breakfast. At the beautiful park then we played and ate. After “dog piling”, swinging, playing ball and what not we visited a museum and saw many wonderful sights. We came to Grand Island for supper and then saw “Broadway Melody” at the Capital. We got back about 11:30.

You children have a right to think your dad a good one, also your mother. In fact I’m quite in love with your whole family – did you know that? I know they must be very happy boys with the new car. However, I’ll bet your dad and mother are happier than the boys I’m sure I would be. It was certainly lovely to get your letter today – it seemed more like my sweetheart. We’re certainly are two bundles of complexities, aren’t we?

John 4/21/29

Nothing has been more welcome than what you wrote concerning your work. I’m so glad for your sake as well as for the pupils. I wonder if it isn’t nearly always true that when things dont seem to go rightly the big reason is within ourselves. I have had the feeling that you were achieving more than you thought.

Another invitation Ruth. George invited you and me to be present at his wedding at about 1 o’clock on commencement day. Dear old George is so enthused he can scarcely contain himself. He got a long distance call from Zola calling to say she had bought her wedding clothes. I thought I’d have to get someone to help me hold George he was so excited. Only a select few of their friends will be at the wedding. Will you accept the invitation? If so, we’ll have a pretty well filled day, don’t you think? Two weddings, the festival, and commencement.

I had a call from Arcadia yesterday offering me a choice of two positions in their high school. Both pay more than what I shall get. The reason I feel I must remain at Monroe is that I had the option of taking a chance on getting another school or of losing out all together. I didn’t take the chance, I lost – therefore, I don’t feel like breaking the contract. Fullerton would have paid me $50 more – yet I think there will be enough difference in living expenses in the two towns to make the difference. Then too, at Monroe I’m only 8 miles from home and only about 110 miles from you.

John 4/24/29

I happened to win first in the extempo contest and will need to go to Omaha on May 4th to attend the state contest. I’m at a loss to know just where to begin in my preparation for the state contest on the subject “The practical aspects of the spoken word”. I suppose this subject permits discussion on the radio, oratory, ministry, salesmanship, etc. Imagine me tackling such a job! Two prizes were given tonight, the first of three dollars and the second of two.

extempo 1

From the Central City Republican newspaper. Click to enlarge.

Edith got homesick so she went home on the train yesterday and came back today. She said Leonard was certainly happy over the ball glove I sent him. I know I have had more fun out of giving him that than he ever will have out of using it.

The incident I related to you recently has had rather a tragic ending. I learned today that Ruth Crain’s work of teaching coupled with other things had gotten the better of her. I sincerely hope that my refusal to pay any attention to her hasn’t increased her burdens sufficiently to cause her to go insane. If I have that effect on girls, I marvel at your strength. I leaned that Ruth Crain will have to stay in the hospital for a year George said that her difficulty started from an internal goiter. Perhaps you’ve guessed by now why she happened to be interested in me. Not so flattering after all, is it? Truly though, I feel very sorry for her. (Rachel’s note: thus ends the tragic saga of Ruth Crain!)

I hope you have the nicest birthday ever. You have made me more of a man than you will ever know, Ruth – I speak of recent things you have enabled me to do with myself. I’ll close now with the hope that your school is going perfectly and that you have a happy, happy, birthday.

John 4/30/29
I told you I had been asked to coach the girls in track. Well, I did. I’ve gotten them all hobbling about now they are so stiff. For that I’ sorry but such results are inevitable. I’m going to have a real track team by May 11 when they shall attend the meet at Lincoln. Many boys no doubt envy me this job.

Another tragedy – one that has cut deep into the lives of all here at NCC and in the community. Irving Dickerson, who graduated from Central City High School last year and now as a freshman in college, was working at the sand pit yesterday and was drowned. He was working with a crew that was pumping sand. For several hours they dragged the pit for his body and found it finally. I knew Irving very well and it doesn’t seem possible that his life could be snatched so quickly away. His funeral will be held Thursday. School is being dismissed so all can attend.

No, I’ve never been out with Ruth Crain, nor have I given her occasion to feel that I cared for her. From other things that I’ve heard recently I suppose I was partly the cause of her break down yet I conscientiously must plead innocence.

I have literally devoured you recent letters – they are wonderful. The world is always rosy when you are happy and we are not in conflict.


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