October 1929

Knowing that the stock market crash of 1929 happened in the fall, I was anxious to see  what effects would be mentioned in the letters.  I was totally amazed at the story that starts unfolding  in Dad’s letters this month.  Of all the history that is in these letters, the saga of the bank in Monroe is one of the most incredible.

The school in Allen

The school in Allen

Ruth with one of her students in front of the school

Ruth with one of her students in front of the school. No date on the photo. Could this be one of her bad boys from last year?

Ruth 10/3/29

I guess I’m doing too much running around and keeping late hours.  Last night I wanted to see the show in town, Lon Chaney in “Thunder”, so Meyers and I went.  We had a little scare that made us want to run all the way home.  Just as we came out of the picture house an old bewhiskered man was standing in the door.  He kept looking right at me and so I smiled just a little to be nice and he raised his hand as though to hit me.  I went right on out without saying anything, but it surely frightened me.  He surely was not a dangerous character at large; just a distorted notion of mine after seeing the show.

We had an interesting little experience in school today.  Some music teachers from Sioux City came out to visit and demonstrate rhythm bands for your youngsters.  My kiddies were so excited they scarcely knew what to do with themselves.  Most large schools have rhythm bands.  I imagine Columbus does.  After school the faculty got together and played.  More fun!  We laughed as much as we played.  The piano plays the melody and all the children have little instruments with which they keep time.  I hope they introduce it here but I fear the expense will hinder its introduction.  It gives all children a little taste of music without expensive lessons.

Ruth 10/6/29

Last week was rather a busy one in school and socially too.  I didn’t get to spend much time on music.  It came into my mind to give it up and not try to keep my mind on several things at once, but after my lesson yesterday I thought what a foolish thing that would be for me to do.  Although I do not practice as much as I should, still there are so many valuable things I am learning from Mrs. Heizer that will be so useful to me when I teach.

I drove into the city alone yesterday and Mary Way came back with me.  She told me as much about her work as she had time for on the way home.  She works in the Community House doing welfare work.  She has found the most interesting cases and so pathetic that one wonders why people are as they are.  There seems to be injustice somewhere or a great wrong somewhere in our world of affairs.  She finds it very often true that many of these cases are people who left the farm thinking they could live more easily in the city.  She went out on a case Saturday morning and was amazed to find people who used to live in Allen.  People I know of very well although not personally.  Mary said her advice to everyone is to stay where they are and at least raise a garden if at all possible.  Usually the families in the most need tell the welfare workers it is because there has been sickness that has taken everything.

Ruth 10/9/29

Last night I just got home from supper and was practicing my music when in dashed Kruse saying they needed me at once at the school building. He is trying to put together an orchestra to pay for a Masonic meeting next week.  The pianist couldn’t be there so they called on me.  Of course I was happy to do it, but didn’t get home until eleven.  Kruse has been asked to play a solo at the church Thursday evening for some kind of  meeting and we are working on that too.  I love to do it, but this is rather a rush time in school work to have things like that come in.

Mr. Parkinson who conducted the rhythm band last week is coming again to work with the children and also give a cello recital for the high school.  His wife usually accompanies him, but for some reason she is unable to come today and he wants me to play for him.  I tell you right now, I am scared stiff and worried.  He is an accomplished musician, has studied and traveled and then to expect me to play for him impromptu. I don’t know whether I’ll live through it or not.  Too much excitement!!

Ruth 10/13/29

At last my busy bit of work is finished and I will have time to breathe easy again.  I finished the report cards this evening before supper.  I was going to have a quiet evening at home with nothing to do but first thing I knew kids came in and we sang and fooled around until late.  I didn’t get to do a thing I had intended to do.

Kruse visited my classroom today and complimented me upon my class work.  It isn’t my credit however, it is just the darling group of youngsters that I have.  I wish you could drop in someday to see them.

Ruth 10/20/29  Waterbury

There are so many things I want to do but will have to dismiss from my mind when I marry.  If it wasn’t for my dislike of housework there wouldn’t be a question in my mind nor would there be another month of time elapse before we were married and I should be happy forever.  When I think of the housework necessary in order to have the kind of home we want, it is like the feeling I imagine you have when you think of farming.  I don’t like that kind of work.  I guess I’m too lazy.  I suppose it would have been better for me if I had been married before ever I got a taste of other kinds of work. Then I would never have known anything different.  Because I love you and will not let you go, there is no other way and I know I will do it when the time comes. (Rachel’s note: Mom never did like housework. By the time I came along she always had a cleaning lady every week.  These women became part of the family with Mom & Dad helping them through all kinds of life crises.)

What do you think of Guy’s Puckett’s suggestion of a double wedding next summer?  I have always felt that when we are married I want us to be the whole show.  Down in my heart I believe I would rather be married here at home if arrangements can be made.  I’m afraid I’ll never be quite satisfied if we don’t.  Remember we will only have one wedding so why not make it a good one.

Ruth 10/22/29

It makes me ache for you when I think of you at banquets like you spoke of.  I can see you pepped up for a time – your eyes sparkle then and my heart melts.  Don’t kid yourself, my lover boy, you are too handsome for your own good and you know it.  Do you want to know what a dark suit does to you?  I shan’t tell you for fear you may become conceited.  My ring twinkles at me tonight.  I think it knows how I am feeling inside. (Rachel’s note: how cute is that?)

Ruth 10/27/29

The days are counted until I see you in Norfolk for the teacher’s convention.  I don’t care about the convention so long as you are there. I favor going to Columbus on Friday and on to Central Saturday morning.  There is a hockey game at 10:00 and I want to see that and some of the football game.  I hope lots of old friends will be there.  Merl will be there and I suppose Ralph will too.


John 10/1/29

Tomorrow morning three of my students make their first appearance before a crowd while they give readings.  They are awfully nervous about it, as you might well guess.  Do you remember when we used to give readings in platform reading class?  My, it seems so long ago!

Already the car salesmen have begun to come.  This morning one drove up in a new Ford Coupe, but I sent him away without an invitation to return, at least until spring.  I don’t quite see how I can buy a new Ford out of my earnings of this year.  One costs about $665.  I knew definitely what we were going to do next year I could make more definite plans.

Sometimes I get awfully disgusted trying to make plans.  It seems that there are obstacles whichever way I think.  Life is a big gamble; you never know how things will come out in the end.

John 10/6/29

You ask me to be definite about plans for the future and I promise I will be as soon as possible.  You must never think my love so trifle as to not attempt to make conditions as happy for you as is possible.  If to do that mean postponing marriage for two months then postponed it will be.  My unsettledness is that same old problem that of deciding on what I should do.  I wish I knew how and when to find the necessary help.

Yesterday I drove to Columbus to that I could be at home to get the football game at Lincoln over the radio.  All of us were home except Lawrence and the folks greatly enjoyed our being there.  Last night Dad wanted me to go with him to help him buy a new suit so I did and we did pretty well, at least everyone was pleased with our purchase..  Harold had his girl at home for dinner today.  She is nice looking but I fear there isn’t much to her.  You should be glad I don’t treat you like Harold treats her.  He gets “peeved” over petty things she says or does and then they quarrel.  Harold goes around for days treating her as though she were a stranger.  She takes it!

John 10/8/29

I’m getting immeasurable satisfaction from my history work.  I should never choose to teach in the grades  I can appreciate why others prefer to do their teaching there.  I am continually urged to grow and study; consequently I prefer above all else to study further and teach older pupils.

One of my boys and I had a round today that ended rather happily I believe.  I sent him from class on one other occasion and today I felt it necessary to repeat the act.  I had him stay in the assembly until school was out.  Then we convened for special conference.  He was scared terribly, but I didn’t get angry.  I merely talked.  However he has no misgivings as to what will happen on the next offense.

John 10/10/29

I don’t know what you will say when I tell you that today I bought a library of Standard Reference Encyclopedias.  The ten volumes were given to me as a complimentary set provided I would give them a review by Nov. 15.  They want my reference, so the man says, when they canvass this section.  All I had to buy was new material that they will send me each quarter to keep the library up to date.  For a period of ten years the service of keeping the library up to date will cost me only $6.95/yr.  I have the encyclopedias here and I’m surely proud of them. (Rachel’s note: Dad continued to love encyclopedias.  Our World Book Encyclopedias were always on the bookshelves in our living room and in later years Dad was proud to write the entry on the Federal Government for  World Book.)

John 10/13/29

Judging from the appearance of my pocketbook and bank account all of my ideas about saving money haven’t materialized.  Of course, enough time and capital haven’t come into my possession to allow a fair test.  If I save enough to carry us through until next fall I’ll be quite thankful. It’s true that there are many things that demand money that one doesn’t foresee.  Before spring I’ll have to get another car, whether new or used isn’t settled in my mind.  Of course I could buy a new one just like ninety-five percent of car owners do now – on time.  However, in view of our desire for more education I dislike very much to entangle ourselves with debts that will need to be paid next year.  I could buy a good one for $100 and a trade.  I know your dislike of old cars.  The cars that I have bought thus far have been real cheap ones.  The first cost $40, second $40 and this one $30 and a trade.  I’ll see what I can do.

What do you know? Central defeated York last Friday 6-0.  I was so tickled I scarcely knew what to do.  The Central quarterback intercepted a pass and ran 85 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter of the game.

John 10/15/29

Of course I’d be dishonest if I didn’t admit that I hope for you to be, and know you will be, a real mother in our home; but, I want you to be able to express your ambitions and desires in service in the same way that I shall be enabled to.  True equality between the sexes cannot expect other than that, in my judgment. (Rachel’s note: Dad ahead of his time again.)

You must not hope for too sudden relief from your wisdom tooth.  It usually takes those things years (literally) to finally get through.

John 10/17/29

Last evening several of my boys and I went out grave digging.  On a hill north of town that was once an Indian lookout. Several Indians have been recently unearthed and other relics have been found.  We succeeded in finding a grave filled with buffalo bones, dog or wolf bones (the head of this animal was preserved almost perfectly) some pottery, flint, bone instruments, etc.  The boys certainly had a big time; they dug like gophers.

John 10/20/29

I had a wonderful time back in old Central again.  There, I feel entirely at home.  I saw many old friends and took care of some business left over from the summer.  It surely seemed good to be back among friends.

For a time I found it possible to just stand on the campus and think.  For a full fifteen minutes I stood on the east side of the campus facing the sinking sun and meditated over the six years that I spent at NCC.  Those were wonderful years.  Foremost in my thoughts were the many experiences that we had together on that campus.  Central lost the game that they played with Omaha yesterday by the score of 19-0.  It’s too bad but it can’t be helped.

A recommendation blank came this morning in behalf of Ralph.  He is attempting to secure a loan from a loan fund at the university.  One of the questions is whether I am related to Ralph in any way.  Shall I explain, “Legally no” but “otherwise yes”?  I’m glad to recommend such a fellow as Ralph.

John 10/22/29

A little misfortune has befallen our community today.  Our bank closed its doors this afternoon.  That is all the town is talking about now.  Some of the teachers lost heavily.  Miss Nuremberg lost about sixty-five dollars.  I gave a check for eighteen dollars last Saturday which reduced my bank account to $3.55, provided the clerk came in before this afternoon.  If it didn’t, then I lose $21.55.  I’m afraid the clerk hasn’t had time to go through the necessary channels and reach Monroe since Saturday.  Of course we may get our money; then again, we may not.  (Rachel’s note: thus begins one of the most fascinating sagas in all of the letters.)

John 10/24/29

You flatter me by writing about me as you did last.  More and more I’m convinced of the truth of the old saying about love being blind.  In regard to the policy you should follow about buying, you must do as you wish.  You know that I shall be most happy to have you buy a new coat whenever you need it – married or not.  If you don’t really need one now, why, by all means wait until next winter.  I surely don’t want you to feel that you haven’t any voice in the spending of our money (what little we shall have).  Our married life shall be a partnership.  You’re investing as much as I; therefore, why shouldn’t all matters be handled in a cooperative manner?

ruth w fur collar

I wonder if this is the coat she bought. Mom always had coats with big fur collars. I remember hugging her and feeling the soft fur that smelled like her Chanel No. 5 purfume.

Last night I went hunting with Mr. Kotas and four of the boys.  This was my first hunt in years but I didn’t fare so badly.  Out of five shots I got two pheasants, and one rabbit.  In fact I got more than any of the others.

I hope our bank reopens soon.  Since my little loss I can’t tell how I’m going to manage through the next month without borrowing more money.  I have a note that is due this month that will exhaust my check.  Perhaps the debtors to whom I gave my check will be patient. Let’s hope so.

John 10/27/29

A letter came from Norstedt at the Central bank today informing me that my check had not gotten through before the bank closed.  So, I lost quite a little sum.  Mr. Norstedt said that there was no hurry about my making the check good – I could do that anytime this winter.  I’m surely thankful for all he has done for me in various ways.  Too, the bank at Central is very gracious to me.  They wrote me telling me that they would be happy to convenience me in any way that I might need.  With such a host of people behind me I have no fear about making ends meet after we’re married.  If we should go to school and run low on finances I know I could secure any amount that we would need.

I found this photo of the bank in Central City on the web.  Don't know who the people are.

I found this photo of the bank in Central City on the web. Don’t know who the people are.

What a time I’m having among these women teachers and Mrs. Segias.  They have such funny ideas about the relationship between a man and his wife.  They think wives should do nothing but make a home and bear children.  They feel that she should subject herself to the domination of her husband.  The argument grew out of whether married women should be allowed in the teaching profession.  Then Mrs. Segias said that in regard to politics a woman should submit to the ideas of the man.  This is all “hooey” according to my way of thinking. (Rachel’s note: “hooey” was one of those funny expressions I heard Dad use often!)


2 thoughts on “October 1929

  1. I think I have some of Aunt Ruth’s DNA for music. Now I know why I dislike housework—Again, it’s some of Aunt Ruth’s DNA! LOL

  2. I’m like Aunt Ruth in that all of my coats have big fur collars and my favorite fur is the Silver Fox. I also spend hours at the organ, piano and harp. Music is in the Benton genes.

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