A new year and after five long years the wait for their marriage is six months away. By this time they were writing 14 letters per month each, and the letters are three and four pages. The quest for what to do for the summer and for employment next fall consume much of the correspondence and, of course, the mushy stuff gets longer and mushier as their date approaches. The portion of the letters I’m posting is but a sampling, but gives a picture of what is going on in their lives.
Catherine came out home with me and we just lay around and eat lots of food. Lazy but restful. This evening we went to the show “Broadway Melodies”. Ralph, Chester, and Lawrence came with us. The show was dumb, I thought. Would have been better I suppose with vitaphone, but they haven’t got that started yet although there is to be one. The love making was so slow and dumb. They don’t know how. It made me miss you. You know how in the right way.
A most distressing thing has happened in school again. Of course, it had to come from my room. I feel dreadful about it, but it is no fault of mine either. Tuesday afternoon a billfold was stolen from the pocket of one of the baseball boy’s trousers. We were reasonably sure it happened before school was dismissed so we all turned in the names of students who had left the rooms during the afternoon. The fold contained over seven dollars and a number of papers such as driver’s license, etc. Thursday one of the business men called Kruse and said a small boy was trying to cash a five dollar bill. He knew of our trouble and thought it so unusual for a small boy to have that much money so called our attention to it. The boy said another was hiring him to change the bill and keep still about it. That boy said he found it on the school ground and produced the fold and money that he hadn’t spent, but the papers were all gone. Both of the boys are in my room and I’m sure I know which is guilty. I have found him cheating in school work several times. He is of low mentality and gets nowhere in his school work or seem to care or try. (Rachel’s note: I thought it so interesting that the local businessman was so involved!)
Mrs. Heizer was all excited yesterday and had to tell me at once that she has all but landed a job for you in Central High in Sioux City (at least she thinks so). She called some member of the board she knows and asked him if there would be any vacancies. She told him about you and he wanted you to apply. She is determined to have me next year also if I was that close to her she would probably drive me to distraction. However, I certainly would like to have the work under her and Mother would be glad to have us so near home.
Ralph left Saturday. It seems a bit lonesome around without him. I surely hated to see him leave. We have always been such pals. Brother Ralph will always be a friend and pal of ours. He is very fond of both of us.
Your letters are such inspirations and set me on wings of fancy. I have just read the last two through again and wonder how I can wait even two months to see you again. What do I honestly think of you? I love you absolutely and whole heartedly.
I went to the show last night “Illusions” featuring Buddy Rogers and Nancy Carroll. Our new theater tried out its new vitaphone this evening in a comedy. It does not work perfectly by any means, but quite nicely. It will surely be a big drawing card for the show. I don’t know whether that will be so good or not.
I have just finished reading the book “All’s Quiet on the Western Front”. I have never read, and hope never to read again, a thing as horrible as that. It nearly drives me to desperation thinking of the horrors of war and I have nothing in my experience to compare to it. I marvel that any ex-soldier can live even half way decent life. In me you will find a willing aid in striving for World Peace.
Ruth 1/13/30 Sent special delivery
I didn’t get your letter until this morning and it hurt me so much after what I wrote in my letter yesterday that I couldn’t be at peace until I wrote again. I won’t be quite happy until I hear from you again.
Dear heart, I wanted to go to the concert tomorrow evening so much and the only chance I would have to go would be to take Ray along. Mrs. Heizer got us special rate tickets to go. In the light of what you said, perhaps it would be better for me not to go with Ray. Believe me when I say it was no date as I think of a date. In fact, I asked Ray to go because he is just beginning his study of piano work and it is good for him to hear good piano concerts and you know how I enjoy them. He would never think of asking me for a date nor would I accept. He thinks too much of you for that. I wish I knew what to do. I can’t do anything but think of you. I had my ring cleaned Saturday and it twinkles at me just like your eyes do when they are full of mischief. I truly wish you were here to talk to me.
Fortunately for me we had the afternoon off today. We are having a real old blizzard with plenty of snow and wind. It began last night and is still going strong. The wind is howling. By noon Kruse began to wonder if we hadn’t better send the children home. I spent the whole afternoon making out grades and report cards. I’m not quite done yet but I can easily finish now.
There is one little point I want to set you straight on, my dear, and that is about my future work in music. Rest assured that you needn’t be responsible for that. If I am not able to work it out financially myself, I won’t take lessons. You are saving for your own education which you must think of first. I am just going along. I can’t make ends meet as far as my music is concerned, I don’t study. Think nothing more of it. I have told you a hundred times – I don’t want to be a burden to you.
After scouring and disinfecting myself to the nth degree I feel like I should be clean enough to satisfy even the most fastidious person You ask why all of that? A deep, dark secret: we have a case of the itch in school. Horrid isn’t it, but true nevertheless. I’m not taking any chances so I used Lysol, camphor and no end of lotions and wash often. Anything for protection. Talk about school troubles. Evidently you are beginning to realize some of the difficulties encountered by those in the teaching profession. Now do you think Merl and I are “all wet”?
I received an interesting letter from Lillian yesterday. Said she could scarcely wait until summer. How wonderful it would be to be with Merl all the time and not just now and then. I could tell her it is not so hot being with Merl. I have lived with him for several years and never got so thrilled about it. (Rachel’s note: an honest assessment of brothers!)
You shouldn’t say such things as you wrote in your last letter. It frightens me. No one human being can deserve such devotion – not I of all people. If you put me on that level you are setting a tremendously high standard for me to follow. I must carefully guard every thought and action lest I fall from the pedestal. You live that way easily, but for me it is more of an effort. I wish that I could be all that you think I am. I am wondering if you will wake up after we are married to find yourself terribly disillusioned. Mrs. Ellis said the other night, “Two people may know each other for years, but in one year of married life learn more about each other than in all the years previous”.
Naturally I have been thinking a great deal about our marriage. We have gone over the question so often but still I am not quite satisfied. It would be so much easier to be married at Carrell’s home without any fuss and bother, but I have finally had to admit to myself that I would never be quite happy about it when I thought back about it afterward. I really want to be married at home. In the end I think Mother would be happier too. I’ll venture she would want to have it to remember afterward. I know that as far as you are concerned you had settled it that we should go to Carrell’s home. You won’t mind the other way, will you? We’ll only be married once and I would like to remember things in a pretty way. At home I could fix things the way I wanted them – decorating, dinner, guests, etc.
I’ve been walking around in a dream since I read your letter and haven’t been able to really think. Of course I want to go with you next summer. I really would be heartbroken to have you go away on such a delightful trip and leave me here. The trip and experiences would be wonderful of themselves, but to be with you too would be ideal. Are you sure it would be all right for me to be there too? The invitation didn’t include me. Would you ask Bess about that? What a lucky boy you are to have the honor of such invitations.
Wouldn’t it be nice if everything could be so wonderful and so happy but this old world doesn’t hold that for everyone. Last Sunday evening a cousin of mine who lives across the hill north was taken to the hospital. His appendix had already burst and now there isn’t much hope for him. His folks were in California visiting his oldest sister. Word was sent to them and they started back immediately I am worried about Mahlon and deeply grieved. He is such a good fellow and so young. He graduated in Chester’s class last year. (Rachel’s note: another appendix…seems like lots of folks had bad appendix in Nebraska at this time.)
Lawrence is coming up to Allen tomorrow to take county examinations. I wanted him to go to lunch with me at Mitchell’s but he said he would be scared and couldn’t eat with all that bunch around him looking at him. He needn’t worry. They wouldn’t pay much attention to him.
You can easily imagine what has been on my mind most of the time since receiving you last letter. I told Mother about your proposed trip for the summer and she said just what I expected her to say. She thinks it is a question for me to decide for myself. She reminded me of the plans I had made for the summer and asked if I cared much about dropping them. That doesn’t bother me like wondering what we shall do the remainder of the summer.
I’ve been thinking of wedding plans. Don’t think I’m going ahead without consulting you; the ideas are for your approval. I would rather not have a bridesmaid or a best man – just us two. I want Esther and Guy Puckett there for chosen witnesses. I want your little sister to be flower girl and carry the ring. I can’t decide on a color scheme. I think I will ask Josie and Mary Way to help Mother with the work. I won’t be good for anything. I’ll have Catherine to help me dress. We will invite only my folks and family and your folks and family. There are many friends and relatives I would like to invite, but once started on that I wouldn’t know where to stop, so think it better not to begin. What do you think? Be perfectly frank in your opinions. What color would you suggest for me to wear? Or do you have and preference? I wish Lillian could be here to help me buy my clothes. I don’t know what to get. Perhaps you are saying what’s your hurry, there is plenty of time. If there is only four months left before then I must do all arranging now while I am in my right mind. Even now I feel a bit panicky to think so little time is left. I want to so much, but still I hate to think of leaving home.
I haven’t been especially happy this week. I’ve had noon duty this week which is terrible, stating it mildly. It doesn’t give a person a chance to breath from morning until night. Catherine and I have nearly had some spots this week. Last night she wanted to go to the show and I didn’t care to, but I went anyway just to keep peace in the family. The show was good, but then I don’t get to practice and read. Constant late hours are the root of my troubles now, I’m afraid.
Boy I let fly yesterday at some of Catherine’s’ pupils. I’ve had to herd them in the room every time the bell rings and we mixed yesterday. I was so angry I could have picked them up and slung them against the wall. Some did get knocked up pretty well, but I noticed today they lined up properly without being told. It surely burned me up and I was so tired after school I couldn’t do a thing. One little girl was quite sick this morning and had to be tended to, a couple of my boys had a real old fight this noon, etc., etc. They say a teacher has a snap of it. Bosh. Still there is something rather fascinating about it.
John 1/1/30 Columbus
Believe me when I tell you that I’m a lonesome boy today and I have been ever since I left you. I’ve been thinking about what you and Catherine would be doing today.
Lawrence, Rose and Gloria Jean were here when I arrived yesterday. Needless to say, I was very glad to see them especially the baby. Rose and Lawrence fuss over her continually. If there ever was a spoiled child she will be one. Rose looks and feels well – as if nothing had happened at all. I can imagine you being like Rose in many ways. Somehow even though I love children I’m not keen about having them myself. I suppose I’ll want them more, but I don’t have a passion for them. We must feel similarly in regard to this matter.
Your picture sits staring at me. I love to sit and watch it and dream I believe that if my debts were all paid just now so that my future salary would be clear, I would insist that you come and live with me after the first semester.
You were right when you said I would be late for class by the time I read all your “chatter” (I call it something else). Please don’t write any less on that account. I love your letters – they tell me so much about the girl of my heart. I fear that people here will grow impatient with me due to my continual mention of you.
The news item of your letter was certainly “news” (Mrs. Heizer’s recommendation). I’ve thought of it about all day and wondered what would come of the whole affair. Indeed, I shall do all I reasonably can.
Everyone has retired so now I can spend the next few minutes quietly with you. As I have been sitting here this evening reading, I have imagined such an occasion with you by my side. I can’t imagine a more comfortable scene. There will be peace and quiet as well as serene enjoyment when such can be true. Your letter today was wonderful. It makes me cease my petty fretting with confidence that your love surpasses all vicissitudes. Next summer will be here before we are aware of it – none too soon however.
I’m anxious to hear from Mrs. Heizer about who I should write to about what can be done in Sioux City. The proposition appeals to me; especially from the standpoint that you will be where you can study music until your dear heart is content. I’m not so certain, however, that it would be the wisest thing financially for us to do. That depends on the wages.
Since I learned who to write to I’ll write to Sioux City today. I rather fear that it will be hard for me to get away from Monroe due to the fact that I’ve gotten into so many things and apparently the members of the board have become attached to me. Might get surprised, though, who knows? I would rather enjoy spending another year here, especially if you could be with me.
Friday after school Miss Wilson was in a haste to leave, but didn’t tell me where she was going. The other teachers said she was going to catch the 4:30 train and go to Columbus to meet her boyfriend, Harold, and go to a cantata at the high school. I called the depot on the phone and when I got her I said, “This is Harold speaking”, and went on telling her that I was in Monroe and hence she wouldn’t need to go on the train. She swallowed it all until I burst out laughing. I couldn’t help it because Kotas and all the other teachers were all standing around holding their sides with laughter. I went on kidding her and she hung up. Last night when I saw her she wanted to wring my neck. (Rachel’s note: I have a hard time picturing my father doing this!)
John 1/15/30 special delivery
Your letter, the special delivery one, caused me considerable worry, but I suppose not nearly the worry that I have caused you. When the post mistress came to the school I was still more excited for fear something terrible had happened. Believe me when I tell you that I am not in any degree jealous. I’ll be awfully disappointed if you don’t go to the concert and of course I realize your interest in having Ray go with you. I admire you for your interest in him. Please don’t think more about what I said in my letter. (Rachel’s note: got a kick out of what “special delivery” meant in this small town!)
I had a mix with one of the boys in the assembly today. You know how I hate to use force or get angry but today I was hot. This boy had taken an attitude for some time. The past two days he has become unbearable. He bullied about riding with Miss Simmons to the basketball game last night as I forbade him to suit up. He pouted about it. This morning because he was peeved he refused to give his debate speech in class. In assembly at noon I asked him twice to stop talking and then I told him to move back to his old seat. He argued about it, but about that time I landed on him and took him into the office where we had some more. Prof. Kotas then talked to him and expelled him until he made peace with me. I don’t know what will become of it but it was quite upsetting to me. I’m sorry that the affair seemed necessary, but there is a limit to what one can go on in the school room.
My basketball team defeated Platte Center 21-7 last night. I didn’t enjoy the game very much because some of my boys were sore because I asked Miss Simmons to take a car and because I wouldn’t let them take dates. These boys are hard to handle.
Though it isn’t my regular evening for writing and I don’t know what I shall write, I feel the need of “talking” with you for a while. You are always a darling listener – so understanding. It’s a good thing for us too because you know how I must talk and “air myself”. Here I sit all alone in my lounging robe munching chocolate and peanut candy while I dream of you.
The air has cleared considerably for me today. My boy came back and we talked the whole affair over. He met my requests and we are friendly again. He was out for basketball and I let him play practically the whole game. I do hate to be on the “outs” with anybody. We shall get along splendidly now I am quite sure.
My second team played the Genoa Scouts tonight and won 33-4 They feel very proud over their victory. They did play very well – now I think they feel better too. Some of them had felt that I wasn’t letting them play enough. This should ease their minds.
I got a return from the application to Sioux City. It was to the effect that they hire anyone with less than two year’s experience. I will inquire at Central City very soon. I have a feeling in my bones though that we shall get what we want here at Monroe.
Another unfortunate situation has arisen. I told you something about the way Miss Simmons got along with the other teachers. Well, it resulted in a quarrel and the Suttons asked her to move. That done, what should happen but she and Miss Nurenberger changed rooming places. How I must room in the same place with Simmons. We’ll get along all right as long as she tends to her affairs and I to mine. I hope the air will soon clear of this affair too.
It is always an anticipated pleasure to write this Sunday letter Though I always enjoy writing to you, to write this letter gives me the most enjoyment. Mrs. Sigea wonders what we find to say when we write so often. Evidently she has forgotten the effects of inspired love.
You don’t yet understand my heart fully when you suggest that “I won’t be a burden” to you. Meeting the needs and desires of a loved one is no burden, it is an opportunity and a privilege. While, of course, you will be able to earn some from teaching music, I shall never stand to see your ambitions thwarted when such can be prevented.
So you really think you have made up your mind? You know I wouldn’t object to your desires; I’ll be happy to be married in your home, if that is what you wish. I think your mother will cherish the memory of having her only daughter married at home. There may be some sadness but that can’t last long in the presence of happiness such as shall be ours. Your suggestion about having Guy and Esther there meets with my hearty approval. In fact, I know of no one I should prefer to Guy.
Wait until I spring this one on you. It came as a great surprise to me and has made me dream new dreams. Of course, I’m wondering what your reaction will be. Are you ready? Well, a letter reached me yesterday from “Bess” Marsh which contained two invitations Through the American Friend you have probably noticed that there is to be an inter-denominational young people’s conference in Toronto, Canada, next summer. Each denomination is requested to select ten young people from Quakerdom to be at Toronto two days before the general conference to work out plans for the denominational church effort. Bess says “you have been chosen as one of those ten to represent Quakerism” and asks if I can go. Some funds are available for expenses. The dates for this are June 21-29. Along with this is another invitation. A wealthy Friend who lives on an island near Georgia Bay, I think this is near Toronto, wishes to make a retreat possible for ten young Quakers – or approximately that number. He has a wonderful home, a summer park, a yacht, etc. Bess says I have been chosen to come. The dates for the retreat are July 1-10. Now, what have I been thinking of? That we be married soon after yearly meeting, say June 10-15, and spend ten days en route to Canada and both of us go to these affairs. We would probably get back about the last of July or sooner if we wanted to get back home to do something. Still the same problem of what to do that last month before school starts. (Rachel’s note: remember the name of Bess Marsh – she plays an important role in the upcoming months.)
Saturday night I’m taking my Sunday school boys on a skating party. Leonard is coming out on the train Saturday morning to go to the party with me. He’ll enjoy it, I’m sure.
I’ve been tempted to place our applications with an agency. It wouldn’t cost anything if the agency didn’t find us an opening. What do you think about that? Some of the other teachers have been joining. Do you think the principal there in Allen will be back next year? If not, then I might possibly apply there. You could give all your time then to teaching music for there would not be much chance of us both teaching there.
John 1/26/30 .
I’m not the one who should expect disillusionment after we are married. You mustn’t say such nice things about me – I might begin to believe them. You certainly exaggerate my ability when you say that you think I could forego anything if necessary. If I could do that, then you would be marrying a genius rather than a poor, dilapidated school teacher.
You are dear to think positively of the trip to Canada that I proposed recently. Your reaction was just what it takes to make me happy – I love you for it. I wrote to Bess last Wednesday. I hope I hear from her soon in reply. I would want us to be married early enough to save us the necessity of hurrying to the conference Don’t you agree?
No doubt you have laughed (under cover) at the explosion of some of my college theories. In regard to money, I admit that there are many unforeseen demands made on one’s pocketbook. I didn’t save so much this year, but I will be in a position to earn and save next year. My indulgence in insurance, Ford, and books, has cut down on my anticipated savings, but I don’t regret my investments yet.
Yesterday Leonard came out from home, brought his skates, and went with us on our Sunday school party. Fourteen boys were there and we did have fun. Boys of that age 9-14 are so comical. They can think of more foolishness in a minute than I can in a year. About all I got done was to put on skates, keep the fire, and answer questions. They could scarcely wait until lunch time, but they did. From the number of times they fell down I should think they would be dead, but not so. There were up in a second and going again.
I’m glad you will work out most of the arrangements of our wedding. I shall approve most anything that you desire provided you do one thing and that is to make the affair as simple as possible. I’m not at all keen about form at a time like that or at any other time as far as that is concerned. With that, I’ll not say more, but let you arrange things to suit your own dear self.
A letter came from Bess today in which she sent us congratulations. She said there would be no question whatsoever about the conference in Toronto. She hoped that both of us would attend that. In regard to the retreat, she said she would need to consult the other members of the committee. She wasn’t so sure about that in view of the fact that the host has invited ten. She said she would let me know more certainly a little later.