July 1929

A hot, sticky month in which Ruth meets a music mentor who becomes very important to her, and John is living in cheap hotels and with kind families as he roams the hills.

Ruth 6/30/29

Such a hot, messy day as this has been!  A sticky, perspiring sort of day and now it is raining.  We have had so much rain that it is scarcely welcome any more.  It is rather unfortunate for those farmers who have so much corn to care for.  With so much rain they are unable to work in the fields.  Dad is more fortunately situated having so much help about.

In my letter Friday I told you that I was going to the city to make investigations about music.  Honey sweetheart, it was fun!  I hope you are sitting down when you read this.  I may say things that will take your breath.  We, meaning Edna and me, went to the Heizer School of Music and found it to be really a private home run by an elderly man and his wife.  He teaches violin and cello  she piano.  Their house is very lovely and her pianos are grand.  When Mrs. Heizer came to talk to us, I was very much surprised at the appearance.  She acts very common and makes one feel at ease immediately, but at the same time you feel that you are not talking to an ordinary sort of person.  I was fond of  her at once.    She has pictures of a number of contempory composers and can tell things that would fascinate me by the hour.  When she gave her prices I had to mentally grasp the edge of the divan to steady myself: $1.50 for 30 min, $2 for 40 min and $3 for an hour.  Thirty minutes is an extremely short time, but if I feel I am really getting full value I may change to an hour.  With my seven music pupils (that I didn’t tell her I had) I make $3.70/week which would more than pay for my lessons.  I know I am going to look forward to Wednesday afternoons with great delight. (Rachel’s note:  Mrs. Heizer becomes such an inspiration for Mom.  I can’t believe I never heard Mom mention her! I’ve searched the web looking for more about the music school. I can  find the Heizer’s names mentioned, but no photos. Their son Frederick became a concert violinist.)

Ruth 7/11/29

I’m not absolutely sure I will get to the conference.  I get so disgusted at the boys because they won’t say what they are going to do.  Dale thinks Chester ought to go but Ches isn’t greatly enthused until Dale says he will go.  Ches can’t do a thing unless Dale does it too. Dad doesn’t want them both to go because he wants to begin harvesting this week.  Dad’s taking cattle to the city so someone needs to bring the new threshing outfit down from Allen and the hay must be cut before harvest.  As if we don’t have enough work to do Dad bought another farm this week.  It joins ours on the southwest.  He seems to forget that he isn’t as young as he used to be. (Rachel’s note: I thought this was especially interesting given what the economy was like in 1929.)

I was in the city Wednesday.  My lessons are getting worse – I mean in length.  I was there from 2:30-6:00.  Imagine!  In the midst of my lesson Mrs. Heizer gave me some of her philosophies which are very interesting.  It really is worth two dollars a week to get acquainted with these delightful old people.

Ruth 7/15/29

Your whole letter was very interesting yet very disturbing.  I thought the question was settled and I was breathing easy.  I see it is not.  It is a question that I can do nothing about.  You must settle it yourself.  If you decide in favor of it, I do not care to have a family.  I feel sorry for a minister’s family and it would be a tragedy to pity my own family.  You have chosen the wrong girl to be a minister’s wife.  I am not made of the stuff of which they must be made.  I am sorry that I have such a prejudice against it.   There is no use meditating upon it because I know I would go with you whatever you do especially in that because it would be my religious duty to do it, but I would always feel rebellious.  I’m  glad I didn’t get your letter before I went to the conference.  It would have spoiled our time together.

Ruth  7/19/29 from Isaak Walton Beach where she took her 4H girls

This won’t be more than a note because time doesn’t allow.  In this camp program they didn’t allow for letter writing and with a group of 25 peppy little girls under my wing I don’t feel as though I can take very much time just yet.   I’m so tired as you might guess but it is a lot of fun and my girls are getting the biggest kick out of it.  We are much more crowded than we had expected.  More folk came than they planned for.  Makes a grand mess at night and there are girls, girls everywhere.

Ruth 7/21/29

The camp was much more crowded than the officials had anticipated making many difficulties.  I found places for my girls to sleep, but was left without a place for me and Mary.  Near eleven o’clock we finally feathered our nests with blankets behind the lodge with the clear sky above us.  I was too tired to mind and slept well.  We received something of a shock the next morning to see above us an old dead limb, broken from the tree and lying lightly across two other branches.  From all appearances it might very easily have been dislodged and fallen upon our place of repose.  Seeing that limb above me I thought how often we come near disaster but never give it a second thought. When something frightens me I always wish for you.  Chances are you couldn’t help the situation at all, but I don’t want you so far away.  Silly notion perhaps but it must be the feminine instinct for protection. (Rachel’s note: love this story!)

At camp I was put in charge of a group of twenty-five girls most for them quite small.  They tagged after me asking questions and asking my permission to do things.  In the afternoon they wanted to be in the water.  At swimming time my duty was to keep count of how many went in the water and I had to see that they all came out at the proper time.  On Thursday we took them into the city showing them the factory where La Fama candy is made and through Davison’s storerooms and part of the main store.

Davison's dept store

Davison’s department store in Sioux City. I picture Mom Christmas shopping here. I looks just like the stores where she and I used to love to shop in Harrisburg, PA. Some of my happiest memories are of shopping with my mom!

la fama

From the web: The roaring 20s brought increasing sales to the makers of La Fama candy. At the time, candy bars were an innovative concept that was rapidly sweeping the nation. Customers changed their buying behavior from purchasing their chocolate bulk at a candy counter or in a fancy box to buying candy bars at a grocery store or other more convenient outlets. The Bing candy bar is still produced today.

Just when I was getting ready to come home I discovered that the car had a flat tire.  Nothing to do but change it. Now, my dear, I’ve never changed a tire in my life, but here was the opportunity of a lifetime to learn.  Mary and I were not very serious about it I’ll admit, but in the process I dropped the spare tire on my knee.  I fear our task bravely begun might have been a failure if someone had not taken pity on us and come to our rescue.  Fortunately I don’t have to change tires every day or I fear I should have to leave the car at home.

Ruth 7/25/29

I have an opportunity to teach music in Waterbury for the rest of the summer, but I can’t decide if I want to do it.  I don’t feel I know enough; I’m pleased with my current pupils but hesitate to take new ones.  Mother suggested the added funds would buy the linen table cloths I want so much.  That may be, but I despise to have anything to do with money.  I like to have it to spend, but I don’t like to take care of it.  That’s why I’m going to let you do it. (Rachel’s note: ….and he did!)

Dad is starting out with his new threshing outfit tomorrow.  It will be a terrible task in this heat.  The boys nearly perished in the heat today putting up hay.  I hate to go to bed now because my room is so hot.  We ironed today and a good share of the heat went up in my room.  Wouldn’t it be nice to b out in the mountains now where it would be nice and cool?

Gran B garden

Love this photo of Grandma Benton in her summer flower garden. Mom never was a gardener and doesn’t mention the garden in her letters.

Ruth 7/30/29

I have two new music pupils now – began with them today.  One is a beginner but the other has had some music and will be perfectly delightful to work with.  That makes nine pupils all in one day which is quit a few to handle.  I’d like to change some to another day but don’t know where to put it in.

I was interested in what you said about Mr and Mrs Hawkes.  Are your parents a great deal different?  The folks aren’t – however they never quarrel or say harsh words to each other, but they never show much affection or do things as we say we will.  It makes me wonder if all folks get that way sooner or later.  Our intentions are very good, but don’t you suppose other folks have thought the same as we do?  I don’t mean that I think we will become the same way – at least we have each others promise to try not to become indifferent.


John 7/1/29

Just a quick note this morning since I didn’t have time to write last night.  I preached two sermons yesterday and then had to drive home from Alda last night.  Now I’m supposed to be at Guy Solt’s place, but had to write to tell you I’m coming to visit you either Thursday evening or Friday afternoon!

John 7/1/29  St. Paul, NE

I’m going to scout St. Paul, Danneburg, Elba and Cotesfield before Wednesday night then to Columbus for the fourth.   Friday morning I’ll do some work in Madison and then in the afternoon I’m heading for Benton’s.  That schedule is like trying to find the end of the rainbow.  I’ll find better than gold at the then of the week.  I want to go to Sioux City Saturday if you haven’t made other plans but I’m not coming north to go shopping but to be with you.

John 7/8/29  Arcadia, NE

Its terrible to have to be away from you after having such a lovely time with you.  You and your mother will no doubt say, “I warned you not to start home because of the approaching storm”.  It started raining when I was approaching Wakefield and then it poured – and right through the top of my car too!  I went on only to find myself in the ditch about two miles laters.  Curses on the hills!  A big hearted farmer pulled me out and I went on.  It stopped raining by the time I got out of the ditch, but oh! the roads!  After parading through such mud and in view of the little sleep on the previous night I found it necessary to take stimulants such as hamburger, peanuts, coffee, etc. to keep me awake. When I got to Norfolk I was so desperately sleepy that I couldn’t drive straight. A car pulled up beside me and a policeman told me to stop and said, “are you stewed?”.  I assured him I was not.  He said that I was driving all over the road.  Fortunately he believed me.  I was quite awake by that time as you might guess.  I stayed overnight in Norfolk.  More trouble though, the next morning one of my tires gave way and I had to buy a new one.

7/10/29  Sargent, NE

That old vocational problem has arisen again.  My last word was that I would not be a preacher, but somehow I can’t get away from the call of that work.  I’ve tried and tried hard, but more and more the work pulls me toward it.  Maybe a year or two of teaching will clarify my mind and I’ll know more what I should do.  I think we could be happy since you could have many opportunities to express your musical abilities.  We might even be fortunate enough to have a pipe organ in our church (not very likely in NE in meeting, however).  So much for that because I know such thoughts don’t make you abundantly happy.  I’m still puzzling.

John 7/12/29 Eucson, NE

It would’t require much urging to move me to head for Young’s Park Friend’s Conference tonight just to see you.  It seems tragic to think you are only 70 miles away.  Today it has been awfully hot and the sand hills wearisome.  My room here in this “dump” hotel is like an oven.  I hope it soon cools off.

Dad told me to kiss you for him when I left for your place last Friday.  I told him I would when I had kissed you sufficiently for myself.  He said I ought not to stay that long!!

John 7/15/29 (apparently he gave in to the temptation and drove the 70 miles to Young’s Park!)

Back home this time without any trouble and without being falsely accused. After I left the park I was tempted to return to you.   It’s awful to love you so and have to leave you and not know when I’ll see you again.  They didn’t have any rain south of Madison so I did’t go by way of Columbus, anyway the road through Monroe and Fullerton is practically all graveled now.  Today I’ve done odd jobs and tomorrow I leave to work in Albion and St. Edwards – two towns I dislike to work very much.

John 7/16/29  Albion, NE

I’ve begun to visit some of my prospects a second time and thus far the prospects are still encouraging.  But coupled with the encouragements are the disappointments.  Two of my best girl prospects have suddenly gotten married.  Not “have to” cases but decisions of their own. Financial conditions are so oppressive that it is almost impossible for them to realize any ambition to dream of.  Marriage offers at least a living.  The economic grip in which we find ourselves is terrific. (Rachel’s note: the first mention of the really hard times that are approaching.)

Some tough luck was mine today.  I ruined another tire.  This unexpected expense will run me close this week on expense money.  Maybe I won’t have enough and will go hungry I suppose.  I expect to be at home over night at the end of the week so I won’t starve at least.  It would be a relief to have a little surplus of money of my own and something which hasn’t been mine since I have been in school  And from the appearance of things won’t be until some time in the future.  It hasn’t handicapped me greatly thus far and I don’t intend that it shall in the future either.

John  7/18/29 St. Edwards, NE

Tonight I’m staying at a private home; the Hawkes are an old couple who are splendid people.  When it is possible to find such a place I prefer it to these small town hotels.  Usually it is cooler and things are more comfortable.  It’s interesting how people will open their homes to total strangers.  For instance the old couple have gone to bed and here I set alone writing to you.  They have entrusted their home and possessions to me.  Of course I’m grateful for their confidence.

John 7/25/29  Scotia, NE

I had an interesting experience today.  Mrs. Boone (the cook at NCC) will not be returning so I’ve been soliciting prospective cooks as well as students.  Two persons had be recommended to President who live in North Loupe.  All went well as I was meeting Mrs. Curry on Tuesday evening.  When she refused the offer, I saw the other who was working in the hotel.  I introduced myself and started in unaware that a widow lady who owns the hotel happened to be listening.  Miss Fuller said she couldn’t take the work and we were just visiting when the owner interrupted saying this was the second time we had tried to take Miss Fuller from her.  She had befriended Miss Fuller ten years ago when she was in need and now we were trying to steal her. We argued and she eventually gave up.  Interesting, but at the time I didn’t enjoy the woman’s interrogation.  Its a good thing I can control my temper.

Sweetheart, I surely hope that we never become like Mr. and Mrs. Hawkes.  Actually I can’t observe much love between them.  They argue and act in a way that disappoints me. Tthey never sleep with each other now.  It is a case where passion seems to be dead and with it I’m afraid fervent love.  Maybe we expect too much, but I’m quite certain that I wouldn’t care to be that way.

John 7/28/29

Since I last wrote I have covered a great deal of territory with some good fortune.  I have secured a splendid group of prospects for college.  The best group in fact that I have ever had.  Crops are the one determining factor now.  The weather is very unpromising just now.  The intense heat this past week has made crop conditions rather critical.  Farmers haven’t forgotten how their wonderful crops went last year and even a suggestion of such a recurrence makes them blue.  My I hope we get rain soon!

John 7/30/29  Fullerton, NE

I’m looking forward to next Sunday since the Haworth’s have invited me to their home for supper.  I’m anxious to talk with him especially about school.  Have you been following the development of the new Quaker school in Philadelphia?  It attracts me and I have written to the the director of the enterprise, Mr. Henry Hodgkin of England.  You may have noticed an article in the last “American Friend” about it.  Surely it would be a great treat to live and study with such men as Hodgkin, R.M. Jone, Alexander Purdy and others.  Today I have thought often about our plans and more and more I feel the urge for us to go east the year after we’re married, in other words, a year from this fall.  Now I’m inclined to think it best for us to go to school even though it may mean borrowing money.  I know you are not friendly to such a plan so we’ll have to think and consider.


One thought on “July 1929

  1. Love the picture of Grandma Benton. I have and seen her in the same position in many pictures and the only thing different is the age. Many of the people your folks were talking about I remember my father talking about them. I know your Dad and mine were very fond of President Carroll and his wife.

    Thanks for taking the time to do this. My notebook is rapidly getting full!!


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