February 1930

Four months and counting and John and Ruth still don’t have a clue what they are going to do after the wedding, although they do decide on their honeymoon and a time frame for the wedding (thanks to Merl and Lillian).  No job for the summer and so many options for the fall.  Will John teach in Allen, Central, Fullerton, Monroe, Oklahoma?  or work for the railroad? 

Ruth 2/2/30

I knew there would be a letter waiting here for me when I returned this evening  I was so anxious to hear what Bess had to say about me going to Canada too.  I’m no good at deciding anything.  Between us we just seem to go round and round.  Now that the possibility has been offered, I would a little rather be married in the spring and go to Canada with you and I guess I’ll just leave the rest of the summer to you.  That will be an easy way out of it for me.  How would you like that?  I think by all means you should attend the conference because another opportunity like that may not come again soon. Of course I would like to go with you if I can.  If you went to the conference alone and we were married later, it would be rather an expensive summer for you.  Isn’t it horrid to always have to be thinking about money?

I can’t decide anything until you know what you will do and you want to know what I am going to do.  It’s a vicious circle.  I imagine we will learn this week whether we were re-elected.  I don’t know of a one on the faculty who wouldn’t be re-elected.

Ruth 2/3/30

I told you that our school board elected teachers last week.  Mr. Kruse came in to talk to me this morning and tell me the results of the meeting.  I was re-elected with a raise for which I am very glad, of course.  All the grade teachers got a raise with the exception of one who reached the maximum grade salary.  All the high school teachers were re-elected with the exception of one – wait until I tell you who and consequently the way for of this letter.  Just a few minutes ago I was up to the building with Catherine getting some supplies and I sang in the hall forgetting there was another board meeting.  I may get called on the carpet yet.  To go back to the important thing…. Ingram was the member of the faculty who was not re-elected.  That is, he received a complimentary election with the understanding that the position is open.  I couldn’t get that out of my mind all day.  As far as I can see, you could fill the place to the letter.  You could handle basketball beautifully.  You surely could do as much with football as Nurmie has and if you couldn’t teach manual training better than he has I won’t marry you.  Nurme is supposedly teaching physics and I’m not sure you are prepared for that, are you?  Considering everything, I think this is an ideal job for you.  The present salary is $1450.

After this years’ experience I would really enjoy coming back here to teach again.  I know I would if we were not getting married this summer.  I don’t know just what you would think of this town but we could surely live through one year at least.  What do you think?  Best of all would before you to come up and have a direct conference with the board  Now if you want them to consider us both, make it plain that I would like very much to come back to my work.  If they won’t consider that they might consider your application alone if you want them to.  Mother would be please to death to have us so close home.  Act soon. We will probably have until the first of the March to sign or reject our contracts for next year.  The more I think about it the more excited I get.  Will wait in suspense for your reply.

Ruth 2/4/30

The whole faculty went to the show “The Thing Called Love”.  It was a good show but not at all like the thing have we called love.   I hope I have sense enough to control myself and never cause a scene between us.  We are always going to remember our agreement that we will kiss first and then discuss the point of disagreement.

Ruth 2/5/30

At last Merl has told me what his plans are for the summer.  Of course I’ll have to tell you, but we had better keep it to ourselves for evidently he isn’t broadcasting them.  He and Lillian will get married as soon as school is closed and you would never guess where.  In the Friends church at Denver.  President Carrell will officiate.  Who would’ve “thunk” it?  Long live the bridegroom.  I wrote to him asking him if he and Lillian could come to our wedding in June.  They plan to take a trip through some of the southern states, but he said they could cut that short and come back in time for our wedding.

You see what I am doing?  You might have known it after you suggested the possibility of being married early in June.  To be perfectly honest with you, I can’t think of it any other way.  All along I have just been trying to decide what we should do that would be best.  The sooner the better. And I’ll let you worry about the rest of the summer.  If you are willing to give up that retreat and its pleasures just to have me go to Toronto with you, I’ll let anything go which might have come up for me during the summer.  Then we could be together all summer. After your enumeration of all our fine qualities, I feel like we could almost rule the world if we chose to do so.  I grant we have a lot in our favor.

Ruth 2/9/30

Yes, I have made up my mind that I have already bought some of my clothes.  I know you will think that is foolish and taking a good deal for granted. but I’ll tell you how it happened.  Yesterday I went shopping for a dress.  I would have to be in style you know with a long dress.  I have been looking for one for some time but had almost given up in despair.  I couldn’t find any that fit or suited me at all.  Yesterday I went into a classy little shop and in fifteen minutes had tried on several dresses that fit me as though they had been made for me.  Then I couldn’t decide which one to take so I took two.    One is a black and white outfit that I will wear now; the other one I am going to keep until spring and it will be just the thing to wear at the conference and in our journeying about.  Buying it now will be saving in nervous energy and time.  I don’t like to shop for clothes because I usually have such a hard time.  What ever shall I do when I look for my wedding dress!  What kind of a dress would you like for me to wear?  Should it be white?

Lillian said Merl said hers should be white, so white she will have.  She is going to Denver to get her clothes and wanted to know if I didn’t want to go with her.  I hope I don’t have to go that far away to buy my clothes.  Sometimes I feel like most anything would do just to get it over with.  You had better help me choose.

Ruth 2/11/30

Your letter this morning made me very happy.  I was so anxious to hear what you would say about my decision.  I think you must have known how I would decide. There will be many changes taking place in my mind before final arrangements are made no doubt so don’t get confused and bewildered with all my statements.  There are so many little things to think about that are necessary to make everything run smoothly.  This is one time there must not be any flaws of any description

When Dad was taking me to the train Saturday he was asking me about Merl and his plans and then he told me something about his ambition for the boys.  I’ll tell you about it some time.  It came with something of a surprise to realize that the folks are not working for themselves, but everything is for the boys.  It isn’t the pleasure of accumulating for self, but for the joy of giving.  It makes a warm glow around my heart to know that I have such parents.

During this talk would have been the time for me to talk to Dad about my own approaching marriage, but somehow I couldn’t just then.  I had a feeling that Dad would feel badly.  Have you ever talked to him about it?  If you haven’t, do you think you have done the fair thing to him?  I love Dad a lot and I think we should both talk to him about our plans.

You are to be congratulated upon the excellent standing you have in that community.  It is something to have people ask you to accept a position such as has been almost as good as offered you.  It doesn’t surprise me at all.  I expect such things will happen a good many times in your life.  Your worth is quickly seen and people are eager to make use of it.  I shall be proud to be the wife of such a man I love you and will always be your greatest admirer. (Rachel’s note: her faith in Dad was well rewarded.) 

Ruth 2/13/30

You are very kind to supply my sweet tooth for a while.  Your valentine was lovely, or perhaps it would be more appropriate for me to say it was delicious.

I anticipate a merry time tomorrow.  The children are quite excited about valentines.  The box is brimful now and I know many of the children haven’t brought their valentines yet.  It is great sport to watch their pleasure.

valentine collection

Some more of the collection of valentines saved from Ruth’s teaching years.

My heart goes out in sympathy for Catherine tonight.  She received word last evening that her father has had a stroke and is not able to speak or move one side of his body.  He was found in his car in Hartley, Iowa and was taken to a hospital there.  Catherine is very broken up about it and declares she knows he will never get well again.  I don’t blame her for being worried, but I wouldn’t take that attitude.  She taught today but I know it was a dreadful day for her.  She felt so badly that Mr. Kruse took her home to Sioux City to be with her mother.  Her mother is very emotional and taking on dreadfully.  I can sympathize because death came so near entering our family last spring only a year ago.

Ruth 2/16/30

I look with unusual eagerness for your letters now.  There are so many interesting things they might contain about various things.  I’m always interested in the things you are doing, but your actions now are so closely linked with my future that I cannot refrain from being overly eager.  Scarcely four months left in which must we be dependent upon letters to convey our thoughts and feelings. Then we shall be together forever to share everything.  I often wish that I might take a peek into the future and see just how it will work – you and me living together.  You have expressed such beautiful hopes for our lives.  Truly it will be a joy.

I dream about you and my heart races.  I remember one night in particular at Young’s Park last summer.  I was sitting in a swing waiting for you after meeting one evening.  Presently out of the darkness you called my name and then came to me.  As you stooped to kiss me there I realized how tender, sweet and real your love for me is.  There is always a tender caress in your hands that I dearly love.  I cannot ever imagine harshness in them.

Ruth 2/18/30

I am as dense as a block of wood tonight.  I’ve had a cold for some time and can’t seem to get rid of it.  I feel fine during the day but when evening comes I feel punk.  I have fever and nearly burn up.  I am going to be inoculated for scarlet fever tomorrow.  I have put it off as long as I feel I dare but I have such a horror of the disease that I have decided to take this precaution.  Nearly every day another family is quarantined and children are taken out of school.  We rather thought the thing had died out last week but it still appears this week.

John, you accuse me of being changeable.  I don’t think I am a bit more than you are.  I was very much surprised at your present proposed occupation.  I didn’t suppose you ever thought of that now.  I guess the trains have a lasting hold on all you folk.  Of course it is an idea to play with and may work out very nicely.  Keep it in mind.  However, this came to my mind.  If you take up that work you are more apt to lose sight of your master’s degree or any further school work. If you took up work with the railroad next year would we live in Columbus?  That would be a happy arrangement, don’t you think?  You decide.  I shall be happy and try to be content if I may have just a few things: give me a piano, home, and you to love and I shall make out very nicely.  I will try very hard not to worry about finances.

Ruth 2/20/30

I spoke too hastily in my last letter for I didn’t have the inoculation done after all. The doctor at Wakefield talked me out of it.  His personal opinion was that it wasn’t worth the risk of a serious reaction.  I know of no recent cases of scarlet fever and we hope the scare has died down.

I suppose you are having the same problem in your school that we are having here since the weather is so warm and that is this game of marbles.  What do you say to the boys who play marbles for keeps?  How should one talk to them about it?  Frankly, I don’t know.  I have no strong convictions either way.  Kruse talked to my boys today and several told him they didn’t know any other way to play.  What do you think about it?

Ruth 2/24/30

Word came this evening that Catherine’s father died late his afternoon  I am so sorry for her sake.  God alone knows why such things must happen.  It will be comparatively easy for the girls to forget their sorrow and live their lives happily, but poor dear Mrs. Meyers is left alone in the world with very little left to live for.  Imagine how alone she must feel.  I do not see how I could live without you.  If anything should happen to you it might as well happen to me too, for life would be void without you.  You have – and most men do have – your work quite independent of the home.  My work and all my hopes for the future are centered around you and the home we make together.  I must see you soon.

Ruth 2/25/30

Now that you know what your opportunities are for next year, I’ll tell you what I think.  Not that my decisions on such matters amount to much, but I want you to know how I feel.  I don’t imagine that you have heard anything from Kruse and I hope not.  What would you think if I told him not to consider your application, and that I would turn my contract back unsigned? I wouldn’t care to live in this town without working, and we couldn’t get a decent house to live in anyway – at least one that is at all modern.  Just say the word and I’ll tell Kruse this.  That man and I get along less and less every week.  He doesn’t even give me a chance to be nice to him anymore.  To tell the truth, I don’t believe I want to teach at all next year – so far domesticated have I become (imagine me saying that last spring).

I would love to live in Central City. Haven’t I told you may times that I wish we might always make that our home?  I like the town, the college is there, we have many close friends there, our church is there.  It would suit me perfectly.

I think as you do that we would be very happy in Fullerton.  It would really be starting a new life for we know very few people there  No doubt we would find much to make life pleasant  It is up to you to decide what to do.

We learned today that Catherine’s father will be buried Thursday afternoon.  Mr. Kruse is asking the board if school may be dismissed that afternoon to allow the teachers to go.  I feel I should go because Catherine and I have always chummed together and she would expect me.  Kruse made it a point to tell me this morning that if all couldn’t go, not one could.  I’d say something else, but I guess better leave it unsaid.

Ruth 2/28/30

School was dismissed this afternoon and all the faculty went in to Mr. Meyer’s funeral.  The service was beautiful and the family held together wonderfully well, but I felt so sorry for Catherine.  I just thought I couldn’t stand it.


John 2/2/30

I’ve worried unnecessarily I suppose about circumstances and plans.  As you say, our plans are so uncertain.  Time and patience alone can tell what will be best.  Whether or not things work out for next year, as we hope they will, we cannot afford to live apart.  If working harder and longer before we realize our dreams we must, then so shall it be; but to live another year in dreams but suppressed love I won’t.  How’s that for dogmatism?  Your love merits the best that a girl can have and it is my privilege to see that you have it – not all at once – but there are many years ahead.

I have the blues this weekend.  If I could afford it I would come next weekend but unfortunately I cannot.  There are so many things I want to do that I almost get desperate at times because finances will not permit.  If the money were available there would be no worry about plans for the summer and for next year.

John 2/4/30

I’m no further in my thinking about plans for next summer than I was.  I’m satisfied, as are you, about two things: that the conference should be attended and that we get married.  If you would be happy to leave the summer unplanned then I’d be willing to give up the retreat to have you go with me to the other conference in Toronto.

Believe me, though we may be poor, we shall not want for love.  After all, isn’t that all that is really necessary?  I blush when older people tell of their marriage in an earlier day to think that we hesitate and fear in view of our far better circumstances.  Our health is good, our ambition abundant, education fair, age young, love dynamic and all consuming, personalities attracting, reputations good.  If on the basis of these we can’t achieve our aims then we shall prove to be terribly poor stewards of our talents. We, as are most young people I suppose, are too impatient for success, and too sensitive to imagined discomforts.  Impatience is always the fruit of ambition.

John 2/6/30

What a busy week this has been.   I’ve been gone every night until late.  Tonight instead of having our regular HI Y meeting we all went to the YMCA at Columbus where we spent the evening playing basketball, swimming, and playing ping pong.  That is the only disadvantage of coaching basketball – your evenings are taken.  Perhaps, if I teach at  Allen next year I could arrange to practice after school.

So you would have liked to have seen me when I read your letter.  You would?  I was in the office at the school; it was just about 8:30 while I was yet reading. Mr. Kotas asked me about staying here another year.  I’d like to be at Allen when Kruse reads the letter I wrote.  I wonder what he will say or think.  Do you suppose he will talk it over with you?

John 2/5/30

I’ll tell you what I did in response to your letter.  After school I sat down at the typewriter and knocked off a long letter Kruse.  In it I applied for the vacant position and stated my qualifications.  Then I told him that we were going to be married this summer and that we both wanted to teach if possible.  If that is not a possibility then I wanted to be considered for the position.

Mr. Kotas asked me this morning if I would consider returning next year.  I told him that we were to be married and that I would consider coming back.  I said that I was looking for something that might be better, and he said he was also looking for something else.  Unless I could get the superintendency here or both of us can get work, I would choose to teach at Allen if it were possible.  Then you could continue in your music work and be near home.  I suppose that the best thing we can do now is wait and pray that things shall work out as we want them to.

Both of my teams won tonight.  The main game was won 24-10.  My boys are very good on their home floor.

John 2/9/30

At last two decisions are made, or so it appears.  First, we shall be married at your home and second, that the event will take place in June and that we shall go to Canada.  Thank you for your decisions – it’s a great load off my mind.  What date do you suggest?  I am so anxious that you have everything just like you want it.  Only that can make me happy.  So you see the planning is up to you.  You ask my advice on what colors you shall wear – you do it to  be kind and not because of my judgment on such amounts to a great deal.  You know that I like blues and pinks.  However, on such an occasion I think I should just a little prefer pink – not a deep pink – but a light one. (Rachel’s note: I couldn’t believe that Dad actually had an opinion about her dress!  Ruth’s letters never actually say when she bought the dress.  It is indeed a light rosy pink/lavender color. I have it in the attic.)

Before long we will have decided on what we will do next year.  One of the members of the school board came to me today and asked me if I wouldn’t stay.  He said I simply must stay and that I would be given a raise.  He also suggested that they were considering offering me the position of superintendent.  Next Saturday I plan to go to Central City and Fullerton and apply.

So Merl and Lillian are really going to do it!  Your family will decrease all of a sudden, won’t it?  I’m glad they are going to get married, Lillian must be terribly happy.  I’m glad we aren’t as old as they, aren’t you?  What are they going to do this summer?  Dear old Ralph may be the bachelor in the family – wouldn’t that be strange in view of his fondness for girls?  I hope he will sing at our wedding.

John 2/11/30

Each day I expect word from Kruse but as yet I haven’t heard a word.  I know it is early yet to expect a reply but I hope one comes soon.  The board here didn’t elect last night as they had planned so there won’t be need for such great haste in hearing from Allen and elsewhere.  However, I’ll be glad to get matters settled, won’t you?  I’d like to take a shot at affairs there in Allen, especially for your dear sake.  Then you could keep on with your music.

No, I don’t think it silly that you are buying some of your clothes now. It seems wise from every view for you to do so.  I’d love to see your new dresses – or better still to see the one in which you are going to be married.  Lillian will wear white?  Do you want to?  I have suggested pink already but if you would rather I would just as soon have white.  I suppose it’s about time for me to think about such things for myself too, don’t you think?  I have thought about it but I don’t think I’ll do much buying until school is out.  Now you suggest to me how I should be dressed.

It takes me a long time to write even a short letter anymore.  I dream so much while I am writing.  A reverie of at least ten minutes took place between these last two paragraphs.

John 2/13/30

Your valentine was dear.  I love it.  I want you badly tonight; I feel like I could love you to death if that were possible.  It seems like a long time since I’ve seen you; it really has been a month and a half.  I’m surely coming to see you perhaps in two weeks, but it may be three because of the basketball tournament that will be held in Columbus.

valentine 30

Inside it says: Just loving you ~ what a comfort you are to me. Just loving you ~ how much happiness true will be mine every minute today and tomorrow and always and always ~ dear. Just loving YOU. And Mom writes, “there is nothing more to say.”

You are right about what I should do in regard to your father.  I have had it in mind at several times to talk to you father about the matter but a satisfactory opportunity has never come.  When we are at your place your folks are always busy or else the entire family is there and thus it is hard to talk about such things.

The board met tonight to discuss the election of teacher.  I’m anxious to hear their verdict.  If I get the superintendency here I think I should take it unless we could both get work here or at Allen or elsewhere.

John 2/16/30

Mother showed me a set of pillow cases she is making for us and said she was making another set similar to those.  It is interesting, isn’t it? how much our folks care for and think of us.  I told her something of our plans and she was pleased.

What do you know about this?  Mere speculation, no doubt, but never-the-less something interesting to play with.  I said, “Dad, why don’t you get me a job on the railroad?”.  He said, “I think I can”.  We talked further and he said that undoubtedly he could get me a job in the office that would in many ways beat teaching school.  Its queer isn’t it how our ideas are shaped by circumstances.  Had I not been so greatly influenced by NCC, I no doubt would be at something very different from what I am now doing.  Our plans would be quite different should Dad happen to stumble on something that suited me.  Don’t worry, though.

A sign on the bill board in front of the garage struck me queerly the other day.  It said “Minnie Ha Ha lived in her tee hee:.  Rather clever, don’t you think?  The one that appears on the signboard now is “a waffle is only a pancake with cleats”.  (Rachel’s note:  Dad always loved these silly word play jokes.  His oldest grandchild, Laurie, wrote the most beautiful poem that she read at his memorial service that included his famous jokes that all of the grandkids remember.)

It was rather a surprise to me last Friday night when my boys played Columbus Reserves.  We won 19-12.  Our next engagement is in the tournament in two weeks.  People here think I must be a good coach but it isn’t I, it is the boys.  Next year the story might be different, were I to coach here because my entire first team graduates.

In a few minutes I’m going to write to my cousin in Oklahoma regarding a teaching position.  He seemed so disappointed last year because I had taken this position and so sure that I could have gotten a job in Tulsa.  Next week I’m going to Central and Fullerton.

You are no doubt asking yourself, “if John is so nearly broke now, how much will he have by spring?”  To be frank and truthful, I won’t have as much as I should like.  I must concede that this has been an expensive year for me though I will have most of my debts paid by the time  school is over.  Had it not been for them and my car I would have saved about $600 this year or half of my wages.  Before the summer is over I expect I shall need to borrow, but I don’t care for that.  I’ll look after the finances so you need not worry.  I’ll try not to worry too and I won’t unless you do.  It would be nice to have plenty of money, yet I have no apologies which I can make.  I’ve done my best – which I can truthfully say.

John 2/18/30

Isn’t life interesting.  Just for instance this relationship of ours.  In the early days of our courtship we little thought as we lived our way of the wonders and ends of our actions.  It was just another illustration of the truth that “we live our way into our thinking, rather than thinking our way into our living”.  When I try to analyze my heart and past actions I can’t get far.  All I can remember is that I liked you well enough to desire to go with you steady.  Gradually I came to care and looked after you with jealous care.  The hurts you gave me in those days didn’t intimidate me, but on deepened my feelings toward you.  Gradually you came to me and I was happy.  I have loved you without question ever since.  Worries don’t come in to upset me like they have done sometimes.  I’ve made mistakes and serious ones too, but I really feel forgiven now and that is a relief.

John 2/20/30

It doesn’t take much to make you happy, does it?  You say just “a piano, home, and you”.  Certainly your expectations aren’t very high.  You know you’ll have all these sometime, but I’m not so sure the last of those will be as rewarding as you think.

More work!  The town, or group of business men of Monroe, have recently decided to put on a six week’s good will drive in the rural communities around Monroe.  This is to interest people who seem to be drifting away as a result of the bank failure.  They have asked me to give an address on all of these meetings – six or eight altogether.  They want me to emphasize the necessity of good will, cooperation, etc.  It is a big job but I gladly consented to do it.  I’m eager to make use of any such opportunities, even though I can’t do them very well.

John 2/25/30

We had our meeting across the river tonight.  There were about 125 people there and we felt the meeting to be very successful.  I talked for about thirty minutes and had the time of my life in so doing.  Things went well for me as far as I could see.

Word reached me last night of my aunt’s death.  She will be buried Thursday in the cemetery at Grand Island where her baby is buried.  I am going to Columbus tomorrow evening after basketball and then o to Kearney with the folks.  This event together with the tournament Friday and Saturday makes a very full week for me.

I was interested in what you had to say about Waterbury needing a superintendent.  Do you suppose it would be well for me to make application there?  It is going to be hard for me to leave Monroe next year and the more I enter into the community life the harder it will become.  How I wish they would hire us both.

John 2/28/30

The funeral was very pitiful.  Aunt Bertha was only 41 years of age and it hurt her husband and daughter terribly.  Grandmother and father took it very hard.  Poor Grandmother is not likely to see another winter.  My uncle has had so many doctor bills that he is destitute and my Grand folks are terribly hard up.  You see the only money they had was lost in the bank failure and Grandpa can’t work.  He has his property there in Kearney.  If I had the money I would buy his property – not because I desire it so much but to help them.  I think one could purchase this property reasonably and by remodeling the house have an excellent home.

I’m baffled, so to speak, when I consider what we shall do next year.  I dislike very much to apply here for you when you would rather not teach at all.  Further, I dislike to encourage you to teach against your desire.  On the other hand, I must go on  to school and I will if I have to work and scratch for the next ten years to do so.  We have undertaken two or three big things which we shall need to accomplish: get married and be happy, second, continue our education.  The first is a settled matter and the second will have to be worked out.  I want so much to talk to you about these things.  Writing is a poor way of expressing my ideas and desires.


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