April 1930

Quite a tale this month of Ruth’s most unusual bridal shower and the horrors of scarlet fever!  As they learn more about Philadelphia, Ruth has to face leaving home.

Ruth 4/1/30

There is so much I want to say to you I scarcely know where to begin.  My mind is so  upset between happiness, regret, and the strangeness of everything that I am totally at sea.  I have been feeling quite cool toward our proposed work until I received your letter this morning, and now I am fired with enthusiasm again.  To tell the truth, the situation is beginning to look too good to be real.  A disappointment of some sort is surely due.  I would like to know a bit more fully what will be expected of me, but no doubt I’ll soon learn.  The only drawback I see is the great distance from home.  I have the queerest feeling when I think of that.

That brings me to another thing which is very selfish of me to say, but I might as well be frank about it.  I half way hope our work there will not begin until fall for this reason.  If we leave immediately after our wedding knowing that we will not be back for a year, it is going to spoil the wedding for me.  Not even my love for you will be enough to take away that dreadful hurt.  Don’t you see – I want nothing to cloud our first happiness together.  If we could be gone a day or two and then come back home for our final leave-taking, I could bear it much more easily.  It is a strange request to make, but you understand, don’t you?

Some of us are fairly holding our breath for fear school will be closed because of scarlet fever and measles.  So many students were absent today in all classes, both grades and high school.  The board met today and is considering the matter but decided not to close. They don’t want school to be held any later in the spring.  I am still wondering about myself.  I know I won’t have the measles (can I ever forget?), but scarlet fever is another thing.  I’m trying to be as careful as possible.

Ruth 4/3/30

We are still undecided about closing school, but I don’t think it will be.  There are a great any students absent but we are carrying on as best we can.  I had another good exposure to scarlet fever this morning.  If I am going to take it, I surely will now.

I had a letter from Ralph this week saying that he is wearing glasses now.  Can you imagine how he must look?  Funny old kid.  He has finally broken with Marie definitely.  For one, I’m glad that is over if he doesn’t get into something worse.

Ruth 4/6/30

I saw Mary Way.  She hasn’t heard anything from the job she applied for in  Philadelphia, but expects word any time.  I do so hope she gets her position there.  It would mean a great deal to me.  You understand it isn’t because I love you less, but it will just be hard to be so far away from family.  I’ll need all the loving you promised.  That is at the bottom of the whole thing.  I wouldn’t be going but for that promise.  It could lead me to the ends of the earth, I believe- just to be with you.

I received a copy of the last letter sent to you and it appears everything is set for us.  I foresee no reason for us not getting this appointment.  Now that I have thought of it so long, I would be very much disappointed if we don’t.  I’m glad you are making all arrangements and I can enjoy the benefits of it.  It is always so hard for me to make decisions on important things.  That is one reason I need you so much – to look after my affairs.  The cost isn’t much if loving is all you ask.  I have an abundance of that to give and there will always be more.

The county agent sent word that the state is offering a free trip to Lincoln the first week of June to someone who has a certificate of achievement and one of appreciation in 4H club work.  I have both, so he thinks I may be chosen.  He wanted to know if I would go if I was chosen.

Ralph intends to be home at Easter time too.  They will be having spring vacation and, as usual, he doesn’t have any work in mind so Dad is having him come home to build fences.  What would the poor boy do without Dad to turn to?  I’ll be glad to see him anyway.

Ruth 4/8/30

It appears as though we are fairly set for next year.  I really am looking forward to it.  Of course, I’ve had to tell the gang about it and they are all excited too.  Most of them are making some change next year, but not a one has as interesting a prospect before them as I.  If all plans work out, our happiness will be complete.

The music contest will be at Wayne this weekend and you might know I’m planning on being there.  I’m driving Dad’s car out and taking several others with me.  Then Ray and Catherine are going home with me Sunday for dinner.  Wish you could be there with me.

Ruth 4/9/30

I shall be anxious for the mail in the morning and yet I am afraid.  I want us to go to Philadelphia, and still I don’t.  To be honest I don’t dare think about it, or I get the blues so badly.    I’ll be disappointed if we don’t get the place, and I shall feel badly if we do.  It is just a fifty-fifty situation.  I feel like weeping every time I go home…..

The free trip to Lincoln is mine.  My expenses are paid – nothing to do but have a good time.  I wish that week would come a little sooner than first week in June, but since it is so; I must make the best of it.   The county agent came up last night to tell me about this trip.

More sickness – I am quite disgusted.  How can we do anything in class work with so many of the pupils absent and then to have them come straggling back to school?  The people around this town do the most outlandish things.  They act as though it is a disgrace to have scarlet fever.  A pupil of mine came back today and her hands were peeling off.  I was furious.  Her mother says the girl didn’t have scarlet fever, but she was sick long enough.  I have been directly exposed so many times this week that now I don’t care.

Merl has accepted the position of superintendent at Dannbrog, Nebraska.  Good for him, yet I hate to think of him as superintendent.  Too much of a dog’s life.  Perhaps he can make people feel differently toward him but I wouldn’t be superintendent for a good deal more than he is getting.  Mother is all thrilled about it.  She has wanted him to try for it for some time.  I surely hope he makes good.

Ruth 4/13/30

After so much foolishness and laughter I doubt if I can get serious enough to write a decent letter.  You will be grateful to know that I feel right with the world once more and can feel optimistic even though I have only 24 pupils left.  I don’t know how to teach with so few children before me.  Lord only knows how they will ever get their work made up before school closes.

Naturally I am glad our work doesn’t begin until September.  However, it doesn’t seem to me it would be profitable to go to Philadelphia for the summer.  It would cost us no more to make the extra trip than staying east, would it?  I don’t care what we do this summer.  You may decide.  Whatever suits you suits me.  I’m yours to do with as you choose so long as you love me and give me first thought occasionally.

Ruth 4/15/30

I haven’t written to Miss Lang in Philadelphia yet for the main and simple reason that I don’t know what to write.  I’m going to wait until I talk with you.  You must tell me what I am expected to write.  I don’t know very much about any of those subjects except music and not much about that.  If I must be your advisor, you must do as much for me.

I’m afraid I’m not as grateful as I should be for our opportunities.  So much has been offered to us.  I read a story last night that might well be concerning me.  About a girl who refused to leave her parents and old friends and the near tragic consequences.  It was like a warning to me.  However, I am glad for the summer in Nebraska.  Seems to me by September I shall be perfectly ready to go after becoming accustomed to living with you.  I will just naturally expect to go with you without second thought.

Ruth 4/21/30

There is plenty that has happened about our town today of which I will tell you presently, but first I want to tell you that I have just penned a letter to Miss Lang.  You must commend me for obeying so promptly even though I neglected the duty so long.  Now I shall anxiously await a reply.

The school has been a bit upset today because Miss Borreson was taken home to Wahoo this morning ill with either scarlet fever or measles.  We don’t know for such which.  She does not plan to be back this year.  I’m afraid it is going to be hard with her  gone.  And that isn’t all. Helen Newlin has the measles too.

Catherine has planned a linen shower for me Saturday evening at her home in the city.  She couldn’t have chosen a more inconvenient time for it as far as I am concerned, but I don’t dare say anything because it will make her peevish to have to change her plans.  She made them all and then told me about it.  Of course it is darling of her to do it, but I’m not especially crazy about the idea.  I want to be home Sunday because of my birthday.  I had already promised Mother.

Ruth 4/23/30

I am so tired this evening that I can scarcely move.  After school Catherine took her pupils out in the country for a picnic.  She asked Miss Cundy and me to go with her.  We had more fun playing baseball, football and what not, but now I am so very tired.  At any rate it is a healthy tiredness.   Ralph came up and spent the evening with me last evening.  He sang and then we listened to the band play at the school.  I felt so badly when he left I had to cry a little.  I have decided to loan Ralph the money he wants and the rest you may use this summer as you see fit.

boys on picnic kids in truck girls on picnic

Ruth 4/27/30

What a weekend!  That’s all I have to say.  So much has happened that I am about wrecked.  I don’t know where to begin.   Perhaps I should begin back to Friday and tell you the pleasant things first.

I think I mentioned that my school children were planning a birthday party for me Friday afternoon.  They were so excited about it and had such a good time.  I let them plan it all just the way they wanted it.  One of the others made me a birthday cake and wrote my name on the top with dark icing.  It was all very lovely.  They called Mother and asked her to come to the party.  That pleased other so much that she baked a big angel food cake to bring up, but then Dad was busy and wouldn’t bring her up.  Mother was so disappointed.

Saturday I went in to take my last music lesson.  It was so rainy and gloomy that I felt like a gloomy cloud myself.  I hadn’t wanted to stay all night in the city, but Mother thought I had better.  After dashing hither, thither and yon I finally went out to Meyers.  She met me at the door with the following story.  The first thing she said was, “the shower  is all off”.  I just stood there while she rattled on.  Three of the girls had called and said they didn’t think they could come because of the rainy weather.  Ray called from Allen saying he couldn’t come because he had planned to go with Kruse and Kruse was involved in so much that he couldn’t go.  Ray and Carol thought they could get a bus but learned it was too late.

Ray reported that Mrs. Ellis’ grandson had died with scarlet fever.  The school board and the health board met and decided to close school for the remainder of the year.  You can’t imagine how I feel.  I can’t make myself really realize that it is so.  There is an actual gloom over the whole town mainly because of the death of this little boy.  He was in the first grade at school and was such a dear little fellow.  The family had been quarantined for several weeks except two girls who were in high school.  They stayed with Mrs. Ellis.  One girl was a senior.  Last Friday she took sick so they took her home.  She just thought she couldn’t bear it because the junior senior banquet was held Friday evening.  She had a lead in the senior play so they decided that day to drop the play.  It is too bad for the seniors; they will be denied everything that makes a senior year happy.  They will not even have commencement exercises.

The only thing left for us is to make out our grades, check in our books and we are free to do as we choose.    This town will be a dead place for several weeks; the churches and theater are closed too.

By the time she told me all this I was completely flabbergasted.  Catherine was just sick.  She had everything planned perfectly lovely.  She was so disappointed she didn’t want to stay home so we went down town to a show.  I didn’t care to go, but thought better not to say anything.  We got home about eleven scared to death because we had seen such a scary show.  There were Nurmie, Vernal, and Miss Hammond!  We felt plenty dumb, but never dreamed that they would come through the mud.  We had a big laugh, and decided to go on with the party.  We had our dinner at one o’clock this morning.  We were too silly for words.  The kids decided to stay all night but we didn’t get to bed until nearly three.  We all slept late this morning.  First thing I knew something hit me square in the face.  Nurmie had thrown a pillow at me, but had disappeared by the time I came to.  Then the rumpus started.  Don’t see how Mrs. Meyers stood it, but she said she liked it occasionally.  It made things a bit more cheerful for her.  Before things were over Nurmie pulled me over the foot of the bed and gave me a birthday paddling. I thought what a contrast to your birthday kisses.  Catherine and I decided to come back to town with Nurmie much as we hated to.  Mrs. Meyers packed up the remains of the party and we brought them out to Nurmie’s.  Vernal fixed it up and we had a late dinner.  You see our party lasted two days instead of one evening.

Ruth 4/29/30

You think of the dearest things.  I thank you a hundred times for the little clock.  I simply love it and would kiss you more than twenty two times if you were here.  You are always getting me things I really want and have been wishing for.  Merl sent me a bottle of exquisite perfume.  Hope you will like it too.

I feel so lost without school duties.  Yesterday I checked in books and all day my throat ached from near tears.  Many of the children I will not see before I leave and it hurts.  Those who have come in for their school things nearly break my heart with the things they say.  All the books are to be fumigated and then they must be put back in their places.  A tremendous task considering all the books in the school.  I wish Kruse would let us go this week, but I guess we’ll have to put away books next week.

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John 4/2/30 

The thought that you might get scarlet fever is too horrible.   Nothing must mar the happiness of these next few weeks.  You ask whether I have forgotten that only two months remain.  Why, Ruthie, that is my foremost thought these days.  It is easy for me to float away in dreams of you.  It is perhaps a good thing that we have some plans to work out; they tend to keep us down to earth.

What Mary said about living expenses is no doubt true.  Guy said that it cost him and Ella about one hundred dollars a month for living expenses.  They had two rooms in an apartment; they paid $40 for these.  I doubt that two could live here on much less than sixty or seventy-five dollars a month.  Dr. Hodgkin said that they asked him $250/mo. rent on a house near where Pendle Hill will be located – not an extravagant house either.  It is probably fortunate that we would have living quarters provided.

Congratulations to Mary.  It would be splendid if she could take the opportunity offered her.  She would be a comfort to you when you begin to feel homesick.  What is Nebraska going to do if all of us young Friends lave?  We’ll have to return and show these people a thing or two someday.  As you suggested I hope we can make our home here.  I love this old state and someday hope to do great things for it.

Miss Thornburg informed me that Penn State and the University of Penn are two different institutions.  They are not are distant, however; perhaps 50 mi or so. (Rachel’s note: wrong – they are 192 miles apart) I learned that largely thru the efforts of Ted Peters and another Quaker at Penn State, compulsory military training was abolished there.  He has some “stuff” in him which promises him success.  Perhaps I shouldn’t say these nice things, but I don’t worry about him now.

John 4/3/30

I know how you must feel at the thought of leaving home even with me – who is such an uncertain quantity.  When I think of being so far away I too feel badly, but it is a thing we must do – better now than when our folks are older.  The question in my mind is where we should spend the few days between our marriage and our departure to Toronto.  Have you any place to suggest?

Mumps and measles are our delight yet these are preferable to scarlet fever.  It would be unfortunate to close school this late in the season.  Do I remember your measles?  Say, I surely do! You have never seen me in quite so terrible a condition, have you?  May you never!

John 4/6/30

Perhaps one reason for my happiness is the letter which I am enclosing.  Please keep this letter for future reference.  The way Bess speaks it seems quite certain that we shall go to Philadelphia.  All my plans are centered on that fact now.  In my letter to Miss Lang I asked her to let us know when we might begin our work and how long we could expect it to last.    In my letter I suggested that if our work could begin in July or August it would save us considerable driving and expenses.  So if that request is granted, we will take a short trip upon the day of our marriage and then return for a visit of a day or two with your folks and mine. (Rachel’s note: it isn’t made clear in the letters exactly when they get to Philadelphia, but there are concert programs in Mom’s scrapbook from events in August.  She wasted no time in finding the cultural events in the big city!)

For some reason I dislike to have everybody letting me know how much they need me here and how badly they dislike seeing me go.  I haven’t told them definitely, but they know it is unlikely that I will return.  It doesn’t make me blue or sad, only I just don’t love their flattering – of course, though, I’m glad they feel like they do.

It was encouraging to note Miss Lang’s satisfaction over the fact that you have musical ability.  It will give you a chance to do the work you love to do.  In fact, the most attractive aspect of the work, after teaching school, is to feel that our time won’t be circumscribed so entirely by routine.  Another encouraging thing is the thought that our financial worries will be greatly minimized.  I won’t know how to spend or handle money, I fear, when we get situated. That is if creditors won’t take every cent we make. I hope we can get a sum accumulated so that our future will be freer.

John 4/8/30

I’m feeling happy and buoyant because I have just returned from the grand climax of our series of business meetings of which I was chairman.  Speaking or doing such things, if I succeed, gives me an incomparable feeling.  How pleasant would it be to have you here to talk to and love.  My mind always turns to such a thought when I’m happy

thank you from Monroe

Thank you letter from the Monroe businessmen.

Now who is fortunate and deserving of congratulations?  It will be splendid for you to have the honor of receiving the trip to Lincoln, if so it be. Have you definitely planned the time following the dismissal of you school?  What plans you make will affect mine in a measure.  I want to work if possible following the time my school is over.  Perhaps I can get in a couple of weeks of soliciting before June 10.

John 4/9/30

I heard from Miss Lang, but her letter wasn’t as clear and definite as I wanted for some reason or another.  She did write more about our duties.  Mine will be largely athletic and club management while yours will be club work, dancing, dramatics and music.  She state that my qualifications were such as to be satisfactory for the work and intimated that we are both hired.  She didn’t state anything about our salaries, the decision of the board, nor did she reply to my inquiry about what things we shall need to furnish for our “home”.  I take it that she understands that Bess told us about these things.

She said our work will begin on the first of September (good!).  If we choose to stay east we can occupy our place at the cottage by the 15th of July and each of us pay $1/day for board and room until September.   The question now is whether or to we should return immediately from Toronto and go back to Philadelphia about the middle of August.    Thus we would have a month and a half to spend I Nebraska.  What would we do is the next question.  I suppose I should solicit students and I would really like to if you would be happy.  When I go to Central this week I’ll talk over campaigning with Guy and see what arrangements can be made.

John 4/10/30

Isn’t it strange how our thoughts have changed over a period of time.  Thoughts of doing other than teaching together next year didn’t enter my mind until one day I got a letter from Bess telling of her new work and some of the opportunities for Young Friends. Rather accidentally I wrote to her and look what has come from it all.  God is very gracious to us when we trust him to help in our needs  He has never failed me; would that my record were as true!

John 4/13/30

Congratulations on your election to go to Lincoln.  You will have a good time, I know. Ralph will certainly enjoy having you visit him.  Your selection as the one to achieve such an honor makes me proud of you.

Mr. and Mrs. Carrell and others of your friends at Central send you their greetings.  They all think that we will very happy in Philadelphia.

John 4/15/30

Yes, we should have all our plans definitely made by Sunday and we shall, no doubt.  No, your work isn’t so much like school, or at least I don’t think it will be.  It will be more or less just living on the playgrounds and in the Guild lending a hand here and there in various activities.  I hope further word comes about the work this week.  Seems to me that things are awfully slow at the other end of the line.  I’m all set for the joys of the summer and for the new work.

We’re working hard on our play though it is difficult to get all the pupils there at the same time to practice.  I wish you could be here one week from Friday to see it.  You remember it, don’t you? “The Eyes of Love”.

John 4/21/30

The roads were terrible, yes, worse than that but we got home at about 11:15.  It was mud, water, holes, hills and what not.  I was fortunate not to have any trouble of any kind in view of such conditions.  I don’t regret at all though that I went to see you, far from it!

Dearest, you are the world to me now, as I told you Sunday.  Sometimes I’m inclined to feel “gloomy”, but for the most part you mean happiness to me.  I’ve turned over in my mind almost every point of conversation and plans that we had and talked about.  The time that I spent listening to you play and sing was so pleasant.  Often I want you to do that.  It was then that your beauty and charm fascinated me.  You didn’t realize what thoughts you were producing, did you?

John 4/23/30

The more I think about it the more I become enthusiastic about spending the larger portion of our time at Niagara Falls.  I plan to write soon for some travel guides that can inform us of the important and beautiful places that we may visit on a journey such as ours.

Sorry to hear of the new sickness in Allen.  Catherine’s plans for you make me realize how soon June 10 will come and how nearly married we are.  Last year I greatly enjoyed sharing in George’s experiences and I wished they too could have been mine.  Now our time is here.

Play, play, play, that’s about all I get done any more.  Thank goodness that it will soon be all over with.

John 4/25/30

Just a few lines tonight in fulfillment of my promise to write after the play was over.  Of course it would rain on this day of all day.  Consequently our crowd was much smaller than it otherwise would have been.  We took in $71.00 of which $40 will be clear.  The play went off splendidly – the cast performed very well.

Play program J sponsor 30

Program from the play performed at Monroe High School

John 4/27/30

Happy birthday Ruthie!  May the little present tick happy thoughts of love to you.  I didn’t select this particular present solely because I felt you needed a clock, but because I thought it was clever and that you would enjoy such an article.  How inadequately it expresses my love.

For some reason I have been thinking this week about your wedding dress.  Have you decided upon it yet?  Will it be white or pink or blue?  In some ways I hope it will be white – you always look so nice in that .  Either will be nice, I am sure.  I shall be anxious to learn about what you decide. I bought the kind of tie yesterday you said you liked.

Since Friday about all I have heard is compliments on the play last Friday.  Everyone talks about how good it was.  Of course I am glad though the part that I played was very small.  Now that the play is over I have some other things to look forward to.  I have to give a toast at the Junior Senior Banquet next Thursday.  Then I have to preach two sermons for Dr. Steward two weeks from today – Mother’s Day.

John 4/30/30

The occasion of your school’s closing is tragic as far as nearly everyone is concerned.  I can’t imagine how surprised and disappointed you must have been to have Catherine tell you such news. Too bad about your shower but it couldn’t be helped, I suppose.  Did I read that you didn’t get to be at home for your birthday?  That, if true, was too bad.  I hope all your plans for marriage will not be so haphazard and disappointing.

Yesterday I picked up my encyclopedia and turned to Niagara Falls.  Don’t you do such a thing unless you wish to become enthusiastic about spending quite a time there next summer.  Really, it must be wonderful – judging from what I read.  I could just see us observing the many physical miracles and floating away I our love dreams in the spray and water.

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