I’m lonesome tonight. Mother called this evening and said she didn’t think I had better go home this weekend. Dad is afraid I might take a germ home. I would go to you if I could get away from my work. It would do me more good than going home, but it appears I can do neither. We have worked like slaves all week on report cards and a hundred other reports that Kruse insists on, and we are not through yet. I’ll venture it will take us most of next week also. We can see no sense whatever in most of these reports. We think he has just given it to us to keep us busy until time for our next pay check. He keeps telling us he wants the books and building to be fumigated, but we are told it would cost at least $200 to do it properly. That will make the board think twice. Many people are afraid to have us come here, but I don’t think we teachers are apt to carry it now. It was much more dangerous I should think when we were with the children. Still, I would rather run no chances with Dad if he is afraid. I would hang myself if I should take the disease home to him. I did so want to see Dale’s class play tomorrow evening but Mother didn’t think I had better go.
Late night we went to a show at Wakefield. Perhaps we shouldn’t have, but the town isn’t quarantined, why should we confine ourselves to its limits? At dinner last night everyone gave me some foolish a little do-dad for a birthday gift like a lollipop, little can of adhesive, a small folding drinking cup, a bar of soap, etc. Had loads of fun.
Catherine has been out to dinner and I am glad. I fear her statement is true concerning me. She said I am an unsocial creature. I almost believe I am. I enjoy being alone – doing the things I want to do without having to talk. I like your company because we can be together for long periods and I do to need to say anything at all. I am not a good conversationalist, I’ll admit, to my own detriment. A good hostess must be able to talk when the occasion demands it. Usually when I am with people I can think of nothing to say and never anything clever. (Rachel’s note: this was surprise. Mom was known for what a great hostess she was!)
Your letter was certainly rich food for the heart. What a joy it will be to live with you always and have you love me like that. The idea of coming to see you keeps playing in my mind; I will come as soon as I can get away. I want to be home for Mother’s Day, the last perhaps for some time. Also I have been asked to play for baccalaureate next Sunday evening at Waterbury.
I would like to see your suit. Won’t you show it to me if I come all the way to see you? I know you will be perfectly handsome in it. When I think about it I have a panicky feeling. I want us to be married at once before anything can happen to prevent it even though I know nothing could happen. I’m impatient. (Rachel’s note: Dad’s wedding suit is in a trunk in the attic. It has a gasoline receipt in the pocket. Gas was 29 cents/gallon!)
An answer has come from Miss Lang (in Philadelphia) in reply to my letter. She explains more in detail what is expected of me. I will not have any regular classes to teach, but will act as supervisor over a number of classes seeing that supplies are kept on hand and that attendance is kept up to capacity and, if not, discover the reason why. I will have complete charge of the library. What that means remains to be learned. She said we would work from 3-5:00 in the afternoon and from 7-10:00 in the evening. Sounds as though all the morning is free to use as we care to. After we arrive, free evenings will be arranged for us which sounds fine to me.
She has suggested a change in my salary and wants an answer soon I want you to tell me what you think best. You remember at first they offered me eighty dollars plus room. Now they suggest sixty dollars plus room, board and laundry. Which do you think is the better offer? It doesn’t seem as though there would be much difference but what do you think?
All the work we have to do about the house is keeping our own room in order and preparing our dinner on cook’s day out. Not much, is it? Then this is the way she described our room using her words: “Your room is fairly large with a northwest exposure – four windows. It has a built in utility closet, wardrobe, desk, chiffonier, three chairs and two cots.” How do you like that? Not so sure about that last statement. What think you, lover? She goes on to say “If you have some blankets I am sure you would be glad of the extra covering on some of our cold winter nights.” I should say so if I must sleep alone (???) Will bring the letter with me and let you read the whole of it Sometimes I think this work is going to be a snap, but again I think probably there is a great deal we shall discover that is not a snap at all.
I was home over the weekend after all. Dad laughed at the idea of me carrying the germs home. Dale came up and took me to his class play Friday evening. It was quite good and I was so glad I could go.
A more disgusted faculty you never saw than the one you would find here if you came visiting. We are all most ready to pull up stakes and leave town and leave Kruse “in the soup”. I never heard of such a superintendent in all my life. I don’t think we are ever going to be through with this fool business. We are having a grand time wasting time sitting around when we are not in mischief. I’ll tell you how much time I’ve put in: Friday morning worked half hour and the remaining time a group of us played baseball. I worked two hours after lunch and then played tennis in the gymnasium with Charlie, Carol and Ray. Yesterday I finished reading a book I the morning and made one report which took about fifteen minutes times. I don’t know what I did immediately after lunch (nothing I presume). From three to six I played tennis again. This morning I killed time down town shopping. Bought the funniest dress. Spent two or three hours on one report today, and that’s all I’ve done. Isn’t it a shame when I could be home helping Mother or spending my time with you?
It is raining again tonight. Lots of it. This weather has turned my hair all on end. Had some of it cut off this morning.
Your suggestion for witnesses is excellent with me (Guy Puckett and Esther). Could never think of anyone I would want more. I wrote to Esther about details last evening. I shall be disappointed if they cannot be there but, of course, I understand how it is.
I was reading in the paper this evening about the uprisings in India due to the imprisonment of Gandhi. I don’t understand it at all. Why Ghandi? Perhaps during some quiet evening together you can tell me lots of things I should like so much to know. Whether or not you answer my questions I should like to hear you talk. When you are really in earnest about a subject you are so lovable. It is so exciting to think that I can always be with you and share everything with you.
Ruth 5/11/30 from Waterbury
I am financially embarrassed. When I sent the check to Ralph, I sent it from my checking account at the bank. Other things have come up unexpectedly making it necessary to check out practically all my account. Last week I sent to Lincoln to draw out an amount from the savings & loan, but they haven’t sent it yet. That is why I am out of funds, and we don’t get our last paycheck until the end of this week. Chances are the money will come in the morning. If so, I will be there tomorrow evening – if not, I’ll not come at all this week, but will wait to see you at commencement. Mother hasn’t wanted me to go at all because she has a lot of work planned here for me to do. Since I am leaving her this summer, I almost feel that I should do this for her.
The roads are in terrible condition because of so much rain which is going to make it disagreeable for the baccalaureate services at Waterbury this evening. I am going over with Dale, but I don’t think all of the family will. A Catholic priest will give the message this year. The town agreed to alternate each year with a Catholic and a Protestant speaker each year. Usually about half the class are Catholic students.
I have been having memories yesterday and today as I “cleaned house” in my room trying to discard everything I thought I wouldn’t want to take with me. I have saved so many things during school days which make me recall lots of things. Have decided it isn’t a wise thing to do reading over old letters and such things. They should better be burned shortly after receiving the. Today I have been putting pictures in my picture album. Pictures are not so bad. I dare say they will afford us hours of amusement when we are far from home and old friends. I wouldn’t take a good deal for all the pictures I have collected of home, family, school and friends. They are a source of great pleasure. (Rachel’s note: Thank you Mom for all the stuff you saved!!)
I must write to Josie and ask for her assistance with the wedding in the menial tasks bound to be connected with such an affair I shall be of no account and Mother will not be able to do all of it. I’ve thought of lots of details that I want to talk to you about. I have had to make a slight change in the wedding due to Mother’s wishes and I must first ask your opinion. I told you there would be no wedding march. Mother doesn’t like that, but now there must be one. I cannot think who to have to play but Helen Newlin. What would you think of inviting Mrs. Newlin too?
Did you talk to Dad about our plans and desires when you were here last? You promised to but I forgot to ask you if you did. I hope I get my pay check today and then can you guess what I would do? I would go to Sioux City tomorrow and buy the dress. Wouldn’t it be fun if you could help me choose?? I’m not setting my mind on any particular color or style until I see what I can get. Oh, it will be fun. Going to take Mother along to help decide this big question. (Rachel’s note: she doesn’t mention the dress after this reference, so I’m not sure whether they were able to make the trip or not given the awful weather. If not, then I don’t know when she bought it.)
We went to the schoolhouse last night for supper and the tenth grade graduating exercises. There was lots of food and a good time was had by all. Lawrence got his eighth grade diploma last night and is so proud of it as well he may be. The speaker was a lawyer from Ponca. He talked so and on so many different subjects that I could scarcely sit still before he finished. During the course of his speech he mentioned the financial situation, banking system, religion, character, home, occupations, conditions in the mid-west, conditions in the east, sights of Chicago, education, means of travel, advancement since his day, and on and on. Will go to Dale’s commencement tonight.
The folks went to Springbank this afternoon to attend Quarterly Meeting The quarantine has been lifted from the churches, but I imagine a good many people will hesitate about coming to the meeting. Several families have the fever yet, but I haven’t heard of any recent new cases.
I have a duty to perform tomorrow which I always dread – singing for a funeral. First I was asked to play, but they needed another to sing and drafted me. That is even worse than playing. It will be the funeral of a man who used to be a barber in Waterbury and now has his home in Hartley, Iowa about a three hour drive from Sioux City. The trip into that part of the country will be interesting for I have never been over in Iowa farther than Sioux City.
You don’t have to remind me of the nearness of the date. I am fully aware of the fact. I can imagine you being very calm and sure of yourself, but me…. Sometimes I wish we hadn’t even planned a home wedding, then I wish it were over and we were living quietly together. Sometimes I feel actually panic stricken although I don’t know what about – not from fear but just everything in general. If I only didn’t have to oversee everything and make the plans. Mother will always say “how do you want this and how do you want that?” until I don’t know what to do. Why did anyone ever start this sentiment about home weddings? Probably it is the proper place and deep in my heart I wouldn’t want it any other way, but the planning and thinking about it is such a strain. No dear heart, I’m not backing down on our plans; I’m just thinking out loud. I want everything to be lovely for us to remember about our wedding.
In talking to Mother about our announcements she wondered if we would rather announce it ourselves because we have so many friends who the folks do not know at all. That is true, but it wouldn’t make much difference, would it? Tell me what you really prefer for I must order them soon. I told Mother I would have them ready before we left and she could send them out a little later. Or would you rather wait until after we return from Canada? Considering the number we want, it is going to be quite an item.
Dad has been teasing me about being hard up. He said he was afraid I was going to have to call it off because I couldn’t afford to get ready. I must confess I’ve been doing some “tall” thinking and figuring today. To make it worse, notice came today of insurance soon due. I wouldn’t tell Ralph of my troubles for anything He would feel terrible. I have to think twice about everything. Terrible state of affairs at such a time, but I shouldn’t have gotten myself so situated. Plain dumbness on my part and now I’ll have to make the best of it.
Cathryn Chase wrote the other day asking for the dates we would be I Richmond so she could make plans for our visit. They have moved into Richmond with his mother. He is going to school during the summer and Cathryn will stay with his mother and maybe work in an office. She hoped we would be there while Clarence was still home. I would like so much to meet him.
Yes, we are scheduled to visit the Capitol building while in Lincoln. I want to be in Central for the June festival and commencement too, if possible, but I must be I Lincoln by noon of Tuesday if I go with the group to the Capitol building.
You are a dreamer and what beautiful dreams. Life will surely be wonderful with you as my companion. Just three weeks from today is the big day for us but I trust I shall feel better than I do now. Only a week from this Friday I will go to Central City. After that the time will be as good as gone.
Don’t feel worried about me for I will surely feel better by tomorrow. It was pure carelessness on my part that I have such a cold, but it is a bit unusual that it should affect me so seriously at this time of year.
All my heart and soul is in your keeping, sweetheart. Ruthie
This is the last letter from Mom. She heads off to NCC for commencement and then on to Lincoln. And when she gets back, it is wedding time!
I’ve just returned from the junior-senior banquet which was a very delightful occasion. It was worked out after the fashion of a carnival and was very clever. I had to give a toast on the subject “masks”. This occasion recalled to my memory one banquet during our Junior and Senior years. We had a good time, did we not? I always enjoy attending such affairs with you – in fact I don’t feel right not to have you. You always look so beautiful and seem so happy on such occasions. Truly you are the idol of my dreams.
I’m glad you like the present. Best of all though is the fact that it’s’ ticks carry my message to you. I thought as I bought it how it could serve as our night guardian and watch as we sleep in Philadelphia. As a general rule I don’t make promises as far as a year in advance but since it is you that asks me to promise 23 kisses, collectable at 6:30 am April 27, 1931, I shall promise This must be accompanied with a proviso, though That is, that on August 22, 1930 at 6:30 am you give me 23 kisses.
Miss Simmons took ill this week so last night she wished me to drive her in her car to Central City for treatment. I did, and when the doctor saw her he advised her to go to bed and remain there because she had a very contagious throat disease. She didn’t return, so I took my time about leaving Central. I stopped at Nortsheds and did – what do you suppose? – bought a new suit for our special occasion on June 10. I feel that much nearer a married man now. I know what you will say, “I want to see it”. But no, not until I come to see you on Tuesday morning, June 10. I want to surprise you, you see.
Esther was brim full with excitement to talk to me. She said that their plans are immature yet. Guy Puckett may return to Nebraska. but on the other hand he and Esther may get married in California. Have you thought of who you would want of our friends to be there if Guy and Esther cannot be there?
For some reason I haven’t felt very well this week end. I was at home and when I came back I’ve had a headache. I’ve had much to worry about this spring and more now but perhaps I’ll get over it with a little rest. With lots of love some of my perplexities won’t cause me so much anxiety. I’ll be greatly relieved when school is out. I suppose I really should rest awhile, but student campaigning isn’t such difficult work. I’ll mix those two weeks with jollities of your visit, commencement, and yearly meeting. Then vacation time will be at hand.
When Edith was putting a hair piece in her hair the other day she missed her hair and punctured her ear drum. Thus she has been quite unwell this week due to the pain. She managed to teach, however, all but one day. She has lost the sense of taste on one side of her tongue but the doctor says it will return and her ear will heal. She is going to summer school, perhaps to Central. You knew they were going to have summer school, didn’t you?
If Guy and Esther can’t be with us June 10 what would you think of having Merl and Lillian serve as witnesses and partners in crime? Had you thought of anyone else?
Chester says he is going to take you away from me. What do you think of that? He always talks about you when I go home. Leonard is still a book worm; he reads continually. Katherine is well now and is a peppy as ever. I laughed at her because she hung a little boy a May basket and pretty soon the boy hung the same May basket on her door only he had different candy in it. She burst out right in the presence of the boy, “why, he gave me my basket back!”. Mother laughed heartily over the matter. The kiddies are all doing well in school; I shall get awfully lonesome of them next year. I’ll not burden you by it though. Lawrence is working as a foreman of a special gang of railroad men now and will do so for the rest of the summer. He receives about $225/mo. for this work. Lawrence and I haven’t much in common now, but never-the-less I get lonesome for him I think I shall write and invite him and Rose to our wedding.
I also received a letter from Miss Lang though she told you more than she did me. All she stated in my letter was that I would have charge of the boy’s work and you would be an assistant in the girl’s department. She also said that we wouldn’t need to go to Philadelphia before September 3 and that we would have plenty of time for adjustment during the first month. Miss Lang told me she would send a contract soon – I suppose before doing so she awaits your reply. I didn’t suppose Quakers, especially easterners, signed contracts – it was originally not a Quaker practice. I think it is wise to have a written agreement, don’t you?
We had a small flood last Tuesday night which was quite exciting to the townsfolk The lower floors of the school were covered with six inches of water, therefore yesterday was declared a holiday. The water was all dipped out and it was quite pleasant again today It has been clear today, but now it is raining to beat the cars.
We don’t seem to have much difficulty to agree with each other about plans for the summer, do we? You have been so wonderfully patient with me in all my uncertainties and then, too, so willing to cooperate I used to wonder whether we could live happily in view of our differing interests but now there seems to be very few differences and toward those we do have we are sympathetic It all seems like a triumph for our long years of courtship.
How different has been this evening from what I had planned. My first thought upon awakening this morning was “today she is coming”. I could hardly wait until evening and I shaved especially for you this morning Of course, I was disappointed when I received your telegram this noon. I don’t know whether or not to be anxious about your welfare, or to plan on you coming soon Of course you will let me know all about your change of plans as soon as possible. I know you too must have been disappointed. Mrs. Sigia said that she heard over the radio that a storm struck the area north of Norfolk last night. Putting everything together, I suppose that weather conditions necessitated a change in your plans.
The sunshine was welcome today after such terrible rains as we have had here. The town was flooded twice and everything has been muddy and wet since. The town of Silver Creek has been entirely flooded for the past several days If it begins again I’m going to build an ark.
Your letter quieted my anxieties considerably. I was a little worried about your welfare until your letter came, though I suppose I should be more worried now after reading that you are broke. I’m reminded as I sit here tonight that four weeks from this time will be thrilling to say the least. It hardly seems possible that the tie is so short yet I don’t have any regrets. In one sense it is fortunate for you to have this extra time in which to complete your wedding arrangements. I’m so busy now studying the League of Nations, the World Court, and Ramsay MacDonald that my mind is kept off of the coming events to some extent I dislike not to be able to dream but it isn’t good for me to do too much of it.
Mary Ida Winder will be at Yearly Meeting this year. I always look forward to seeing her and visiting about her work because that is my work too. Yes, my job in this life is clearer now than ever before – it is in the line of politics and international relations. Come what may I am steering on until I have done what my ambitions demand. The future with all its doubts and problems would not be nearly as promising without you to love and live for. While I must do what I feel I should do I covet the realization of all your dreams for you. I shall be disappointed if our marriage shall deny you what you want most. Now if you feel the same way, how perfect!
Why do you suggest that your letters should be destroyed soon after they come? I may agree after we are married, but I doubt it. Our lives are revealed too exactly in our letters to make it seem right for me to destroy the record. No better diary could have been kept than your letters. (Rachel’s note: way to go Dad! So glad you won out and all the letters were saved for us to enjoy!)
This morning the post office was closed before I went on our sneak day trip so I missed your letter. Though the office was closed tonight when I got home, I went to Kelley’s and had they get my mail. I certainly wish I might be able to grant your request and put my arms around you and tell you all was well. For it is, and I love you as tenderly as ever.
We went to Lincoln today with the seniors and visited all the important places: the capitol, the “pen”, the university, etc. This afternoon we went to a movie which was terror – kept you excited and mystified until the end. I did get to see Ralph. I marvel at the capitol building. Today a guide showed us about and if what he says is true, and no doubt it is, the building is one of the most wonderful in the world. When you are in Lincoln I hope you see it.
What you told me about Merl and Lillian makes me anxious for them to get married before they change their minds It seems that they have a difficult time with their plans and arrangements, doesn’t it? I hope and know that we won’t have any such difficulties. Especially since you and your mother are making such careful preparations. You put your whole soul into what you do. It gives me the most satisfied feeling you can imagine to have you thinking and doing so many things just for our love and happiness.
It is hard for me to realize that school is so nearly over I’m glad though I regret in some ways that I will leave here When I compare these things thought with our plans for next year, there is no choice as to which is the better or wiser. The other day when writing to Bill Thomas I told him of my plans for the summer and fall. He stopped by the school the other day and complimented us on our arrangements. He asked your name and when I told him he responded, “Merl’s sister, if she’s anything like Merl you are to be highly congratulated!”. He asked us to come visit him at Camp Sheldon this summer.
I’m full of ambitions and dreams today and you are helping me perform them all. I see you as a beautiful loving wife a source of inspiration a wonderful hostess, a good mother, and all. Dr. Stuart said this morning that a woman’s greatest service was her inspiration and influence. I can’t make myself believe that we are to be married in about three weeks. Two more Sundays before I go to you to leave you again never.
I don’t want you to feel that marrying me is chaining yourself with undesirable fetters. Life reaches its highest happiness when two are bound together willingly and freely in pursuing their dreams When you say “I do” on June 10 then we shall start on one happy crusade. It’s apparent, isn’t it, that “I’m a dreamer”.
Friday night the pep club gave a party for the basketball team. We had a jolly time. They gave us a beautiful trophy because we won two-thirds of our games.
Yesterday I went home and had a good time with other, Edith, and the kiddies. Edith’s school was closed three days early on account of smallpox.
The seniors tendered me quite a surprise the other morning. They called a class meeting, then called me in and presented me with a splendid bill fold. I was greatly surprised and I enjoyed their expression of like for me. Such things as these together with many “good-byes” make it seem that I’m hurting someone by leaving. I should dislike to leave very much if it wasn’t to take up a happier abode – that with you.
Our bank opened Monday. I haven’t been down to see how my account stands. I think us all have 30% deposited but we can only draw out 10% a month. So, my dear has gotten herself into a financial embarrassment. Well, that doesn’t worry me at all – I’m so used to being so situated that I am confident everything will work out well. I’ll come to your rescue Friday.
I should have told you that last Sunday afternoon I dropped into Suttons Faith and Irene produced a beautiful bedspread, a light blue one, and said it was ours. This certainly was a surprise. I like it so much, you know my sympathy for blue. I know you will love it too. I certainly appreciate the fact that I have gained some real friends here in Monroe. The memory of these two girls will always be a pleasant one.
I had a letter from Guy Solt today assuring me of work for the summer should I be able to give some time. I must write to him tomorrow again and state my terms. I’m remembering your objections to my doing this work, and I shall do everything to make you happy while I labor.
Yes, you can make train connections early Tuesday morning to Lincoln. I think the train departs about 6:00. Phew! That will be early, won’t it? We should get used to it though because we will probably see that hour pretty regularly sometime I don’t like to think of you leaving Central and me on Tuesday morning That is the day of the alumni banquet. I had so hoped you could go with me if not to the breakfast, then to the old student’s dinner in the evening. But if you will be happy to go to Lincoln, I grant that you should go.
Will you welcome just one more letter upon your arrival at home? I know you will. (Rachel’s note: This is the last letter from Dad before he left for NCC, his home in Columbus and then on to the farm for the wedding.)
My thoughts left Central City for the most part on the train that left last Tuesday morning though I was still asleep. I missed you so greatly and even now I want you more than anything else. How happy to know that on five more days remain before we are united forever.
Yearly Meeting is going as usual. Sermons, sermons, and more sermons and they all say the same things, or practically so. I have had a delightful visit with Mary Ida as well as with the Mission Secretary She told me about many interesting opportunities for service in other lands, When we go through Richmond this summer I want us to investigate all possibilities for going abroad soon. Several were mentioned that I think would appeal to you as they do to me.
The breakfast yesterday morning and the banquet last evening were both delightful occasions. The banquet last night was late because at the about the time for it to begin it poured down rain. Did I say “pour”? Literally sheets of water fell. Consequently the lights went out so lamps and candles saved the day again. In spite of it all we had a good crowd and a good time. Because of the heavy rain my student campaigning has been interrupted so all I can get done now is to work tomorrow and Friday.
Saturday morning I need to be here at Yearly Meeting. At noon I shall leave for Columbus. There I shall have my laundry done and also some pressing. Sunday, at about noon, I will start for your place. Then sweetheart, the time will be very short. I hope you will be already prepared by early Monday so you can have your mind free.
Of course I’ve been wondering how you have gotten along at Lincoln. I hope you have fully enjoyed your dear self and also that you have been somewhat rested. We shall get a real rest soon dear but I want you to be “peppy” on our wedding day. Will close now, dear, but only this letter. My love and thoughts shall be with you continually.
Your adoring lover and sweetheart – John
Thus ends the saga of the letters. The next post will be wedding photos and photos of Philadelphia where they begin the next stage of their life together. What a journey back in time their letters have provided! A true gift for which I will be forever grateful. I want to dig around in the boxes in the attic to see if I can find more of what happened from Dad’s days at the Guild and graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania. There are a handful of letters from 1933 when he was doing research at the Library of Congress and Mom was still at the Guild, but it won’t be as easy to piece together. Thanks for enjoying their story with me! ~ Rachel