Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Grandma's leters, December 1916-February 1917

Well, it’s been a couple of weeks, I know, but I’m back on track (again), and we’ll finish Grandma’s letters today. Then it’ll be on to something else from the Henderson Reunion Web site. (If you have any suggestions for topics of discussion, please let me know.)


The Dec. 4, 1916, letter, she mentions a little business I don’t recall her ever referring to before: People like her being paid to play music at the dances. I suppose it stands to reason she would have been paid; I just never thought about it. Indeed, if she was paid each time she played at a dance over the years, it must have provided some extra money for her.


She mentions, too, all the imbibing going on at the post-Thanksgiving dance, and names names.


In her Dec. 8 letter, she makes a statement that was still hitting home to me in the early 1970s when I was a boy going to school in Big Horn County: “I wish you were going to be here for the basket ball game tonight. I expect Cody will beat the boys pretty badly.” In Basin, we were a class B-sized school, and Cody was either class A or AA, and we’d play them every year in the role of sacrificial lambs. The worst beating was a football game; we showed up one cold, cold Saturday morning to find about 12-14 inches of powdery snow on the football field, and the officials took snow shovels to clear the five-yard lines up and down the field. It was a cold day, made miserable by the snow and having our opponents double our score. There’s nothing quite like playing sports for such a tiny, rural school.


She also mentions she doesn’t like teaching school much.


In her Dec. 10 letter, there’s a bit of a surprise – arguably her most blunt expression of love for Grandpa that I recall seeing in any of these letters:

“Dave, if you just knew how much I really do love you, you’d never doubt me again. I know that no one could love you more than I do, sweetheart. You are dearer to me than anyone else in the world. If I could just please you always, dear, I’d be perfectly happy.” But then she expresses regret: “But I disappoint you so many times, dear, and I try so hard to please you. I’d give most anything if I could see you tonight.”

And that’s the last letter of any consequence that she wrote to him – that we have in our possession, anyway. There’s a letter from Feb. 13, 1917, but it just details travel plans. They were married April 11, 1917, and their first child, Uncle Rip (David Ira), was born a year later, April 30, 1918.


It’s been really interesting to read through these letters. I’ve learned a lot about my grandparents that I would not otherwise have known. If you want to do more reading about them, Rip makes mention of them in his entertaining, detail-rich memoir, as does Mark in his. (I’ll post an edited version of my own mother’s memories soon.)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Grandma's November 1916 letters

Can it really be that I haven’t posted anything since August? Well, sorry about that, although I didn’t get many messages asking where I was or begging for more. That ought to tell me something, I guess.

Still, I’m determined to finish off this letters project, and then maybe move on to other items that a couple of people besides me might be interested in.

So, let’s pick up where we left off, in November 1916.

In her
Nov. 1 letter, Mary reveals that she won’t go to visit a married friend because her husband is “too precise. I’m always afraid of doing something he wouldn’t consider proper.”

Then she writes of the fun she had at the Democratic Party rally, and talks about dancing with “Judge Metz.” If I’m not mistaken, that would be the judge who lived in Basin, where I grew up. I was acquainted with his widow, and I think Neil Lamont’s late father-in-law, Metz Smith (a really good man), was named after Judge Metz. I hope someone will set me straight if I have that all mixed up.

Here next letter isn’t until
Nov. 13. She notes that it was 18 below zero (Fahrenheit, no doubt) in mid-November. That’s one of those details that makes me not miss Wyoming so much.

She also notes that she’s been stiffed so far on payment from the Democratic Party for music she provided – apparently for money – at the rally mentioned in the Nov. 1 letter.

As I’ve mentioned before, some of Grandma’s letters are maddeningly cryptic, and this one’s no different. In the Nov. 1 letter, she says she’ll need to tell him something in person the next time she sees him. Apparently she did, because in this letter she writes,

“I need you, ’cause when I’m with you, I never think of doing some of the foolish things I do when you are gone. I don’t want to disappoint you anymore, sweetheart. I’d much rather have you disappoint me. It wouldn’t hurt me as badly as it does when I’m the cause of it, and I don’t enjoy disappointments, either. I’m afraid I’m a failure in some respects, and I try so hard to be good, too. You’ll have to help me, dear, to be stronger. I can’t do without you; I love you too much to think of it.”

So, any guesses? It does make the mind race, doesn’t it?

Next up is
Nov. 18, and it starts right off with a continuation of the previous letter. She has received a letter from him since her last letter to him:

“You haven’t anything, dear, to be forgiven for. I didn’t blame you one bit for being disappointed. I did do something bad, and it makes me furious to think I’m so foolish at times. I think that must be the trait that you dislike, and I dislike it, too. I couldn’t help telling you about it. I was afraid someone else might before I had the chance. I could never even try to keep you from knowing things like that, Dave. I want you to know my faults, dear, and help me to be better.”

This letter also marks, I think, the first time she actually mentions marriage.

“Carol is busy planning things for me when I get married. I believe she is almost as interested in it as I am.”

Then she writes about things that are certainly familiar to members of our church. It’s kind of interesting to hear it from her perspective, though:

“After the dance last night, Mother and I had a long talk, and she advises me to do just what I told you I was going to do. She would rather have me married in the Temple, of course, but I can’t give you up, dear, because of that. I could never be happy without you, sweetheart. I love you too well. I don’t think you want to get along without me, either. I don’t want you to, anyway.”

If I’m understanding this correctly, her mother wants her to be married in the temple, but since Grandpa wasn’t yet ready for that step, her mother is OK with a civil marriage. The temple sealing, of course, would come years later, just before Grandma passed away – although nobody even knew she might be ill at the time.

In the
Nov. 26 letter, Grandma writes of being thoroughly disagreeable – with everyone, all the time. She claims to have a real problem with her bad moods. I wonder: Was she?

Next week: December 1916.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Mary's letters, October 1916


If I’ve ever had a busier summer, I don’t remember it. An unrelenting string of little things, mostly, that have foiled all sorts of plans, from travel to projects like this one, the Henderson Reunion blog. But now I’m back on track, for at least this week. So we’ll pick up where we left off, in October 1916.

In her letter of Oct. 9, she expresses the same sorts of frustrations I think most of us feel when it comes to church service – or any type of service, really. She’s in the Primary presidency, but says the president doesn’t get much support from Mary and the other counselor. “I don’t blame her either,” Mary writes. “I think I’ll resign” because all she does is “neglect” Primary anyway.

As I mention frequently, I love the slang she uses. In this letter, she asks if Dave has caught the cold that’s going around, saying her mother and Uncle Ira have colds, and that “Almost everyone you see is barking.” That’s funny.

With the Oct. 11 letter, we’re reminded, too, of the mundane tasks they had before more modern conveniences like vacuum cleaners became widely available. She speaks of washing and cleaning, and wishes Dave was there to “beat the carpet. That’s fine for exercise. It’s great for building muscles.” And I find myself complaining about having to run the vacuum once in a while.

As you read her Oct. 15 letter, it reminds you of how much time the extended family and friends spent together. She writes of a popular game called “Whist.” And while she’s writing, she says there’s an intense game of it being played by Roah and Gert against Carol and Fon – and, she notes, Carol and Fon are losing.

The same letter also mentions what seems to be the most unromantic of marital proposals. She says a man, Joe Christopherson, has married his housekeeper and that Roah is disappointed because she had been approached by him the year before to move to where he was living, teach school and take care of his children. My guess is Mary’s being ironic, but I can’t be sure.

Also in the letter, she talks of a horrible “infection” plaguing a Mr. Bryant:

“The infection is going down his spine. Wherever it breaks out, the flesh all rots and the nurse says it is going all thru his system.”

Yeesh.

Speaking of irony and sarcasm and that sense of humor she so often displays, there are a couple of fine examples in the Oct. 20 letter. After a litany of piano-playing and singing assignments and rehearsals, she deadpans: “So, this week has been a continual round of pleasure.”

Then, the first sentence of the next paragraph: “I’m compiling (notice the big word) a book of cooking recipes for future use.” Funny.

Next week (I hope), we’ll head into November 1916.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mary's photo postcards

Dear family,

OK, I've posted the photo postcards on the Henderson Reunion Web site. Click here to go directly to the page.
Please let me know if you recognize anyone else in the photos, and I'll add and/or update the captions.

There are many more photos -- I'm sure they include other family members. I'll try to post them in the coming weeks.

Please send along your comments, too.

Don(nie) Porter
Helen's son

Friday, July 24, 2009

No letters this week, but there's other good news

It's been another one of those weeks, and I didn't make time for reading through more of Grandma's letters. Sorry about that.

But here's what I dd do: My brother, Tony, and I have been helping my dad, Don, sort through long-packed items in a storage shed. Lots of these things we haven't sorted through since before we moved to Utah from Wyoming in 1973.

On Saturday, we found a box with a weathered old photo album containing postcards -- page after page of them from about, oh, 1905 to 1920 (roughly). This adds to the number I already have, about 150, that we located in a shoebox last year and that I've begun to feature on this Web page. They're all really great, with lots and lots from Grandma's McIntosh siblings, cousins and friends.

While that's cool enough, among the postcards in the book are a number of photo postcards -- apparently it was popular during that era to take photos, then have them made into postcards you could mail to friends and family. Among these picture postcards are several of Grandma that I'd never seen before. So, as soon as I can get around to it, I'll scan them and post them on the Web site -- I'll announce the postings here.

I sort of skimmed the writing on the backs of the cards as I was removing them from the haggard old book, and was hoping for our version of the Holy Grail: Maybe one from Grandpa to Grandma. I didn't see one, but that doesn't mean one isn't there. I'll look more closely in the weeks and/or months to come.

I'll let you know if we uncover any more treasures as we dig through the storage shed in the weeks to come. This one was completely unexpected.

I should also add that my mother, Helen, let me borrow her copy of "Sagebrush and Roses," the thorough history of Otto and Burlington, Wyo., written by Carla Neves Loveland. I'm about 200 pages into it, and it's a lot of fun to read. There is at least one photo of mother and her siblings that I've never seen before -- I'll post it here sometime soon -- and plenty of Old West intrigue: Like the time Ira McIntosh -- brother of Mary and Roah -- watched a man get shot in the back and killed outside the Garland Hotel over some dispute; our Great-Grandmother Nancy Lena Guhl McIntosh forbade him from testifying after the killer(s) threatened his life.

And this was in 1910!

Friday, July 17, 2009

The September 1916 letters

After weeks of letting everything get in the way, I’m back to Grandma’s letters. Let’s pick up where we left off, In September 1916.

In the Sept. 3 letter, she writes of her sister, Roah, bringing her a gift – a signet ring. But, she notes that while she’s “quite proud of” this ring, “I don’t like it like I do my other one.”

I’m wondering: Is she referring to an engagement ring? Had Dave, by this time, given her a ring? Are they engaged? I ask because none of the previous letters ever mentions it. Do any of you know?

Her Sept. 7 letter is a gentle scolding to Grandpa for not writing letters often enough.

I have to admit I get a special kick out of her Sept. 10 letter, since she might as well be writing about her grandson Don:


“I’m getting disgusted with myself when I go to church. I can’t stay awake any more. I nearly bobbed my head off this morning.”
Later in the letter, she makes reference to someone who may be a rival – or not, maybe she’s not worried, but simply teasing:


“And I’m not much afraid of those Alabama school marms, either. I don’t believe she’ll look as good to you as some other people do. I hope not, anyway.”
I’ve said before that I really like these little tidbits of information about daily life that she drops into her letters. In the Sept. 17 letter, for example, she mentions she doesn’t want to travel to Lovell to a church conference because the car in which she’ll be riding is unreliable – it gets stuck and the headlights don’t always work. (Sounds like some of the automobiles I’ve owned over the years.) Also, and this is probably just because I grew up in Basin, Wyo., I like this paragraph:


“Ira and Uncle are going to Basin in the morning to get some coal and take in part of the fair.”
I like the detail that reminds us they had to use coal for heat – if you haven’t read Rip’s recollection of his youth, you should – and appreciate mention of the county fair, since that was always the high point of our year as children in Basin, with rides, exhibitions, a rodeo, games and many, many more opportunities for mischief.

Grandma also makes another mention of the “school marm” she referred to in the previous letter:


“I’m awfully glad that school marm didn’t come. I was a little bit afraid she’d beat my time but now I can rest easy. I don’t believe anyone is going to take my place, tho. They’d better not, anyway.”
It must have been another woman who was supposed to teach school there, but who never showed up. That’s just a guess, anyway. Still, it was enough to give Grandma the jitters.

The Sept. 21 letter offers quite a few more details about attractions at the fair and life in Basin during the celebration.

I got a bit of a surprise reading the Sept. 25 letter. Grandma writes of seeing a famous political figure:

“Saturday afternoon we left convention [in Lovell, I think] and went down to the
train and listened for five minutes to
William Jennings Bryan. He is sure a homely old scout. Bro. Kirkham said what he admired about Bryan was that after every defeat, he came up smiling.”

That’s all for this week. Next week we’ll wade into October, at least, and maybe beyond.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Apologies, etc.

Hey, family members,

Sorry I haven't posted since a couple of weeks ago. Been a hectic life the past little while. Things are settling down, a little, but since I'll be out of town most of next week, too, I may not resume posting for another week or so.

Meantime, Happy Fourth of July!

Don(nie)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Grandma's 1916 letters, part 3

Another week, another batch of letters.

As we've seen in the weeks leading up to this one, Grandma's letters are becoming more and more romantically overt -- she's expressing love and longing out in the open.

Her Aug. 9 letter is a good example. She writes of going to town -- Burlington, I guess -- to visit the post office and get a letter from Grandpa. Someone named Inez was kidding her about his letters, and wondering if they contained any kisses.

"I said you never sent any, that you always delivered them in person an I wouldn't have them any other way."
I also love her descriptions of lazy afternoons in the age before TV and, I guess, radio. She writes of "Bro. Preator" taking her and a bunch of her friends -- Mandy, Margaret, Susie, May, Sylvia and Gert -- to the river (probably the Greybull River?) for swimming and a picnic.

"May and Sylvia took a freezer of ice cream, Susie a cake and Gert and I some sandwiches. We were sure hungry after our swim. The water was fine, but I nearly froze for half an hour after we got out."

As we've seen in earlier letters, Grandma gets downright melancholy when she can't see her beau as often as she'd like. Her Aug. 13 letter is typical of this. She writes of severe disappointment that he couldn't travel to see her over the previous weekend.

"I wish I could be with you. There's no place I'd rather be than where you are. I believe we could get along alright. We'd try to mighty hard, wouldn't we?"

There are other bits and pieces that might be interesting to some of you, too, besides the lovey-dovey content. In the Aug. 13 letter she talks about politics a little -- specifically, the school superintendent race. She even escorts a candidate she favors around town to do some shoe-leather campaigning.

In her Aug. 17 letter, she mentions that they've begun Sunday closings of the stores and pool hall. I'm sort of surprised that wasn't the norm to begin with. Burlington was a Mormon town, always has been, but views of the Sabbath and commerce have definitely morphed over time. We've become a bit more sanctimonious about its observance in recent decades here in Utah, I know.

Speaking of religion, Grandma makes continuous references to attending church, or not, but I think her Aug. 27 letter may be the first of the whole bunch to note that nobody bothered to go one week. She also refers to a dance at which many of the men were drinking, so much so that one, Chauncey, was "hardly able to mount the stepladder to put out the lights." That also reminds us that they didn't have electricity in that part of the Big Horn Basin then; if memory serves, it wasn't until the 1930s and the Rural Electric Association that power lines were strung through the area -- at least that's what they told us in grade school.

Well, it's been a busier-than-usual week for me, so I'll end there. Didn't review many letters, but maybe I'll get to more next week.

Take care, all.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Grandma's 1916 letters, part 2


I’ll continue with the 1916 letters this week, picking up with the July 20 letter. She’s less and less inclined to hide her devotion to Grandpa. And not the least bit shy about letting him know he should stay away from other women.


“The next time a nice young lady comes to Renner’s, you’d better come straight home, or I’ll be minus a man. Still, if you looked as badly as you said you did, she probably didn’t lose either head or heart. I think you’d be safer at home, though, if any more red-haired girls happen up that way. I know your failing for red hair. Ha! Ha!”

Then she teases him with this anecdote, about trying to get a young man to take her along to somewhere lots of other people are going:


“I smiled hard as I could at Amandus, thinking he might take me, but it didn’t affect him at all. I can’t imagine why, either.”
By July 30, she’s quite lonely and not a bit shy about telling him:


“Every where I go I miss you, so I hate to go anywhere. I’ll be mighty glad when you’re home again. I feel as though I never, never could let you go again, dear. I’m too lonesome without you. It’s not quite so bad during the weekwhen I have to keep so busy but Sundays are fierce.”
Later on, she talks about reading an article in the Era, a church publication, titled the “Measure and Destiny of Woman.”

“It is a dandy piece; telling all that a woman should be in her home. If I could just be as I ought to be, dear, I could make a happy home for you, but I’m afraid I’m lacking in lots of ways. And if I shouldn’t make you happy, sweetheart, I believe it would kill me. I wouldn’t want to live, at least, if you weren’t happy with me.”
Well, that’s about as explicit an expression of love – maybe even scary, don’t you think? – as we’ve seen in any of these letters.

Then, the very next day, she talks of a letter she got back from Grandpa:


“I’m glad, dear, that I am so dear to you. I don’t know what I’d do if I wasn’t. I never doubt your love for me, even if you do think sometimes that I do. And you’re dearer to me, Dave, than anyone else could ever be.”
Sweet, isn’t it? And then we segue into this:


“The negroes gave a show tonight. I didn’t want to go very badly, but Jack wanted me to go with him, so I did. The show was pretty good.”
It must have been a traveling band of performers, I’m guessing. Probably not too many people of color in those parts of Wyoming then.

Then, after no mention of race that I can recall in her earlier letters, other than the one just previous, she writes in the Aug. 2 letter:


“I’ve been picking gooseberries and making jelly today. Any time you run out of work, come down and I’ll give you a job. You ought to see my hands. They look like they might belong to a negress.”
I realize she’s just referring to the darkened color of her hands after working with the berries, but still it’s a little jarring.

Finally, in her Aug. 6 letter, we get confirmation that she kept Grandpa’s letters – at least some of them.


“I’ve just been up reading your letters. I keep the ones I’ve got since you’ve been up to Fenton in my handkerchief case in one corner of my dresser drawer. Then when I get real lonesome, I go upstairs and read them and then I want you more than ever. Since Carol left, I’ve been sleeping alone upstairs and usually the last thing I do before I pile into bed is to go through your letters.”
(Fenton, Wyo., is about as far west of Burlington as Otto is east.)

She closes the letter with this:


“I wish I could talk to you instead of writing. If you were here tonight, I’d sit on your knee until you were good and tired. That wouldn’t be all I’d do, either, would it?”
Well, that’s all I have time for this week. I’ll continue with more letters from 1916 next week.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Grandma's 1916 letters, part 1


The first letter we have from Grandma to Grandpa in 1916 is from May 23. It finds her lonely, and grieving for a lamb. Like the previous year, she’s working at a sheep camp.

“I had a little black-faced lamb, the cutest little thing you ever saw. I was going to keep him here until I got ready to go home. But I had to tie him up to keep him from following the men off and I didn’t have any better sense than to tie the string around his neck and he choked himself to death, night before last.”

By June 4, she has another lamb or two, and they’re surviving an unusual diet. She also writes that she’s making baby bonnets again:

“I’m crocheting one for Nellie’s baby, then I have to make one for Lottie’s. Lottie named her baby Lena. It tickled Mama half to death. She didn’t expect a namesake.”

On Independence Day, her letter doesn’t mince words about her love and affection for Grandpa.

“You don’t know how glad I was to get your letter last night. I’ve read it till I almost know it by heart. And I’ve been lonesome, too, dear. I hated to see you go back. I tried to get Caroline to go up town that Monday morning, but after I saw you I was glad she wouldn’t. If we had been somewhere else I would have liked that hug. You would probably have gotten something, too.”

The later, in the same letter:

“… I came home to write to you. I wish I had you here by me. I wouldn’t write much more, I’ll bet.”

In the same letter, she makes reference to geography, and I’m trying to figure out just what she’s talking about. By this time, she’s back in Burlington, having concluded her work at the sheep camp. She writes:

“I don’t want you to cross the river any more when it [sic] so high, sweet-heart. It scares me for you to. I couldn’t get along without you, so, you see, you’d better be careful what you’re doing.”

The she sort of backs into a subtle warning to him about spending time with other women:

“I’m just as glad as you are that Billy did so much interfering. I don’t want you going over to see Nina, either, young man, or I shall come up and investigate.”

Her letter of July 9 offers a funny bit of trivia. The big July 24th celebration that year – the 24th was the date in 1847 that the Mormon pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley after being hounded from the United States – was to be in Otto instead of Burlington, and the Otto residents were so excited they “say they are going to send up all their cars to bring us down to celebrate and they are going to have a pavilion to dance on.”

I guess the attraction and convenience of riding in automobiles would be expected to boost the numbers in attendance.

She also mentions that “Jim Yorgason has a new Hupmobile.” She adds that “Della does the driving. Jim can’t handle the car at all.”

I should also mention that she refers to all sorts of family members and neighbors in al these letters. She lets go with good and bad about everyone, so I hope people aren’t offended; she must be on the other side cuffing Grandpa upside the head for saving all these letters, and apologizing to her friends and family members for some of the unflattering things she wrote about them.

In the July 13 letter, we get a sense of what must have been Grandpa’s mischievousness in his letters to her:

“I’m going to quit making ‘baby clothes,’ especially if it’s going to remind you of Bro. Packard’s sayings. You’re a bad boy and I’m going to try and box your ears nicely when I get hold of you again.”

Then, in her July 16 letter, she writes something that puts me right back onto my childhood in Wyoming:

“There are certainly lots of cars going through to the Park now.”

She’s referring to Yellowstone National Park. And in those days, it must have been unusual to see so many automobiles. In my youth, 50 years later and in a town 30 miles east of Burlington, the cars themselves weren’t at all unusual, of course, but, like her, the warm months were spent seeing tourists from all over the nation heading to and from Yellowstone – or, as everyone in that part of Wyoming still calls it, “the Park.” One of our pastimes was to look for cars that were from as far away as possible: Florida, East Coast states, etc.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Grandma’s 1915 letters

MFB_page4d While there were so many letters from the 1914 stack, there are few from 1915. My guess is that, as I’ve mentioned earlier, Grandpa probably just wasn’t very good at saving them. I say that because as you read these letters, one thing comes through clearly: Grandma liked to write – to Grandpa and everyone else.

The first letter is from March 30, 1915. It’s datelined “Stringtown” – where is that, again? Somewhere between Otto and Burlington? – and is quite intriguing. She’s reading the Congressional Record, but just why is never revealed. Was there some burning issue in the area that was of concern to Big Horn Basin residents? I guess we may never know; it just seems so odd for them to be reading the Congressional Record.

Her next letter, dated May 9, is all about her cooking and cleaning at a sheep camp somewhere near Cody, Wyo. She speaks of being able to see Sage Creek and camping at “Red Cabin” one night. I’m not sure where that would be; maybe Rich could narrow down the location for us.

In her May 24 letter, Grandma takes of life at the sheep camp, but also reveals that she’s been keeping a diary.

“I have been keeping a diary since I came up and Willis likes to slip in and read it once in a while. Henry laughs at me for keeping it, but I don’t care. It’s lots of fun, sometimes.”

I’d sure like to see that diary, if it still exists. Anyone ever heard of it before?

The May 30 letter tells quite another tale of life at the sheep camp:

“You never would guess what  did today, I know. I shot a badger. He was in a trap, though, and I missed him the first time, but the second I shot him between the eye and ear. Don’t you think I’m getting brave? We saw him several days ago ad Chester tried to kill him but he ran down his hole. After dinner today, Mr. Baker chased him down his hole and set a trap for him. Then when he got caught, Henry and  went over and I shot him. He was just across the lake, about a quarter of a mile from the house. He was a pretty one.”

She then transitions from the badger story to the beauty of the camp area. She speaks of the flowers, and “pressing” some.

“If I just had you here, I’d be perfectly happy, I believe. I’d give a whole lot to see you tonight.”

Then it’s back to walking up the mountain with a .22-caliber rifle and shooting “picket pins.”

By June 23, she’s getting lonely and spends most of the letter trying to convince Grandpa to ride up over the Fourth of July to spend it with her.

Finally, in the July 2 letter, we get an echo of what Grandpa wrote to her:

“I’d like to box your ears for telling me that I could realize all my ideas of perfection in Collins. Theresa may like him but he lacks a whole lot of coming up to my ideas of perfection, I can tell you, and you know it. He can’t compare with someone else I know.”

But she likes to poke right back:

“I think I’d rather make a hit with Mr. Phelps than Jim, cause he told me this morning I could make better coffee than Theresa could. He’s old enough to be my daddy but that ought not to make any difference.”

The boredom of being on the mountain and dealing with so much rain led them to do some odd things, too:

“Yesterday morning it rained so hard they couldn’t shear so Henry started to mount a weazel [sic] he killed the other day and I helped him. We had a great time. You’d ought to see our work. I’m afraid you’d laugh at it though.”

Next week we’ll begin on the 1916 letters.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Mary Anne McIntosh's 1914 letters, part 2

This is a photo of Mary Anne McIntosh with her students at Otto, Wyo. The date is unknown. Does anyone recognize a face besides Grandma/Mary? Click on the photo to make it larger.

As I take up where I left off with Grandma’s 1914 letters, we get evidence right away that she doesn’t much go in for the gooey romantic prose. In her Feb. 26 letter, she refers to the letters her roommate receives from her “beau,” a fellow named Paul:

They beat anything I ever saw. If you wrote one like that to me, I’d have you sent to Evanston [where the state mental hospital is located] by return mail. I never read anything so slushy and to think of getting one every day. It’s more than I could stand.

We – or should that be “I”? – also get an occasional lesson in medical lingo. In her March 24 letter, Grandma says they had dinner at Larsen’s’ because Norma Larsen has “quinzy” and Ruth has been doctoring her. I looked it up: “Quinsy” is “a recognized complication of tonsillitis and consists of a collection of pus beside the tonsils.Ick!

But that’s not all. Guess what they had for dinner? “Fried rabbit, and it surely tasted good.” OK, if she says so.

I also get a kick out of reading slang in her letters – especially if it’s slang that persists to this day. In her March 31 letter, she writes of not having much good to eat, so “Ruth went down to Sprague’s and bummed something to eat.” Honestly, I didn’t know that use of “bummed” predated the Great Depression.

When she wasn’t teaching – in the spring and summer – Grandma had to find other work. Her May 17 letter talks a little about the job search. She’s been helping with the mail at the post office, and:

I have the offer of another job, too. Jack Pierce wants me to go up to Newcomers for a week or ten days to cook for [sheep] shearers. Don’t know yet whether I’ll go.

In the May 24 letter, she teases Grandpa a little:

Jack told Carol he’d like to beat your time, so next time I see him I’ll bet I make eyes at him. Don’t be surprised if you hear of us eloping.

Then, later in the same letter, she notes that Grandpa has been working as a sheep herder:

I sold Marion [Grandpa’s younger brother] a pound of butter the other day and he said if it killed him they’d have to send for sheep-herder to come home and farm. I told him I didn’t care if it did, then. I’d kind of like to see my sheepherder.

Once in a while, too, her letters contain little oddities like this one, from May 31, 1914:

There is a man and his wife, their dog and donkey in town. They have walked from New York to San Francisco and are on their way back. They give some kind of shows as they go and are going to give one here Tuesday night.

I’m not saying I have – or will take – the time to go looking, but wouldn’t it be fun to see if anyone’s journal or news article mentions those people? I remember when I was a kid growing up in Basin, Wyo., we would meet people traveling through town and think they were so exotic just for living somewhere else, or having traveled across the country.

Grandpa did work to make the relationship last from his end. Of course we see her references to his letters, but also this from her June 21 letter:

I received your letter and the candy O.K. and surely enjoyed them both. I sure wished that you were here to help eat the candy.

In the same letter, she makes reference to an "Iva" who came to help eat the candy. My guess is that would be our Aunt Iva who married Grandpa's brother Marion. (Iva and Marion lived in the home behind us in Basin, Wyoming, when I was growing up, having moved there after retiring from the farm in Burlington.)

Later on in the same letter, she hints at some possible romantic intrigue between Grandpa, a woman named Theresa and herself. But she does so with a cool confidence that Grandpa is hers, and hers alone. She says that Theresa has gone to where he's working the sheep operation, but that she's not worried, then casually mentions that another man, Jim, didn't try very hard to sweep her (Mary) off her feet, and that anyway she thinks he and Theresa are a better match. It's all quite subtle and interesting to read.

Her June 28 letter is sort of a rehash of the June 21 letter, in some respects, since she discovered the earlier letter was forwarded to Burlington, and not where Grandpa was working. But she does tell him she longs for his company:

It is such a dandy night tonight that I wish you were here to take me for a ride. I don't think you had better stay away very long. It's too lonesome.

The same letter offers another window into her personality. It's a little long, but I'll quote this section in its entirety:

The Bishop had Iva and I arrange for a party to be given by the choir. We were to issue special invitations for it, but I didn't have time to write them so I told everyone about it. The Bishop and Jim and Nellie wouldn't come because they had no special invitation. I sure was wrathy. We had a short program, ice cream and cake and then played games until midnight. I wished all day that the Bishop would ask me why we didn't invite him and I would have told him we didn't want him to come. but he never mentioned it.

Now I know where I get it from. She also speaks of a "picture show" to be screened July 3: "One Hundred Years of Mormonism." I wonder if it was a church-made film, or independent? It would have been silent, of course, but I've never seen a reference to it before this, and I've read quite a bit in years past about Mormons in film -- especially during the silent era. I wonder if any copies survived?

The next letter we have is from Nov. 10, so Grandpa must not have been very good at saving them between summer and fall. That's too bad, but there is a difference in this very brief letter from all that have gone before it. She signs off with this:

Lots of love from Mary
I think that's the first letter she ends with the word "love." It's usually "Write soon to Mary" or something like that. Anyway, it's a little thing, but also maybe a big one, too.

And that concludes the review of 1914. Next week I'll begin on the 1915 letters.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Grandma's 1914 letters, part 1


First up, a little housecleaning: I heard back from our McIntosh cousin Sue McIntosh Adams about my May 2 question: "She speaks of a dance she’s been 'advertising' for, and calls it a 'Basket Dance.' Does anyone know what a basket dance was/is? I don’t have a clue."

Sue responds: "I believe it is probably the same as a box dance. What a box dance was is that money needed raised for whatever occassion and they would hold a box dance to raise it. The gals would fix a picnic lunch and go to the dance. Sometime during the dance they would auction off the box, with the gal as company, to the highest male bidder. This would raise money and the guy and gal then shared the food and conversation and a dance. Anyway, that is what a box dance was and as I say, a basket dance was probably similar."

So, there we have it. I'm sure she's correct. Thanks, Sue.

Now, for the 1914 letters. I'm afraid I've been getting a little carried away, and so I'll mae this partial posting, then come back later and get the rest of 1914. Please read on ...

As I’ve mention time and time again here, going through Grandma’s letters to Grandpa – OK, they weren’t yet married, but they would be – I really appreciate her sense of humor. I find myself comparing it to our considerably coarser way of conveying humor and sarcasm nowadays, and I wish I was more like her instead of more like, well, me.

A good example of this is in her first letter of 1914. On Jan. 5, she wrote of being invited to supper at Otto’s hotel (for those of you who know Otto, it makes the mind fairly spin to imagine a day when it could support a hotel, of any size) by her friend Ruth, who was spending time with quasi-boyfriend Wayne:

“They ate supper at the hotel at Mr. Daley’s expense. He is a friend of Ruth’s from Hyattville. I think she wanted me to go over so she wouldn’t have to entertain both of them. I don’t know which one she would have turned over to me.”

She skewers them all pretty well there, but does it all so politely that you almost overlook it.

Her mood could turn from sarcastic to downright depressed, though. In the same letter, she writes of her mother literally worrying herself sick over Ira, Mary’s brother. Her mother suspects he may be going “drinking” after basketball practice, and she gets so worked up she has to be medicated. She doesn’t hold much back when she describes her feelings to Grandpa:

“I surely will be glad when she is well again. I can hardly stand to stay down here when she is sick. It worries me awfully. It is bad enough to have to stay here when everything is all right at home. I get pretty ‘miserable’ at time[s]. Something like I was for a while last summer at Thermopolis.”

Reading that kind of wakes you up, doesn’t it? She must have battled the “blues” or worse while working the summer in Thermopolis (Ther-MOP, as everyone in Wyoming refers to it). It’s the not knowing that makes such lines in these letters to intriguing but frustrating, too.

In the Jan. 20, 1914, letter, she speaks of her culinary talents, or lack thereof:

“If you can’t read this, I’ll interpret it when I come home again. I was frying doughnuts tonight and burned three of my fingers. Consequently, I can’t handle my pen quite as well as usual. I made doughnuts enough to last a week. If you get hungry, I’ll send you a few by parcel post. I’m afraid you wouldn’t want me to send very many, though. They aren’t the ‘kind that mother makes,’ you know, and they might be hard on your digestive apparatus.”

Grandma’s letters also provide frequent peeks into the world of rural education after the turn of the century. Read this, from the Jan. 27, 1914, letter to see if anything seems different than today’s school experience (I’ll not pass judgment one way or the other, since I took a good whacking myself a time or two in Wyoming schools before corporal punishment was outlawed). She explains three of her male students have been misbehaving badly:

“I had the Board come down today and straighten them out. I’m to take them for a week on trial if they ask my forgiveness. It was a pretty serious offense, so if it is repeated, I’m to send them home and not let them come back. Harold Kirkpatrick was one of the boys. His father went out and got a switch and whipped him awfully hard before me and the rest of the Board. Then he made Harold tell me he was sorry and ask my forgiveness. It was more than I could stand. I squalled, of course. Mr. Hartman told me he was surprised to think it would affect me like that to see a youngster whipped. I never could whip one like that, I know.”

Does anyone know whether she stuck by that after she had her own children? I know Grandpa called for the children to “go cut a switch” when they misbehaved, but did Grandma?

In the Jan. 28 letter, she also speaks of being used as a pawn in someone else’s girlfriend-shopping. She speaks of going to a dance with Wayne, but:

“He wouldn’t have taken me only he knows his girl was coming up from Basin with another fellow and he wanted to get even. If I had known I wouldn’t have done it. He treats her shabby enough anyway, without me helping him out. I used to like him [Wayne], but he’s too badly stuck on Wayne now to suit me.”

Like I said, I really enjoy her wit and sarcasm. She doesn’t spare anyone she doesn’t care for, as in her Feb. 3 letter, when she allows that not only does she not care for a young man named Albert Welch, but that:

“I hate the Welch’s [sic] anyway, … and I wouldn’t think of going with such a thing as he is. You try to make me think, sometimes, that you are a bad boy, but if you were like Albert, I’d believe it and I don’t think I’d like you any better than I do him. As it is, I think you are a pretty good boy.”

We have to remember, too, that she’s 22 years old as she’s writing these letters. Dave is, if I have my math correct, about 30. That puts some of her comments into perspective.

In the Feb. 18 letter, as in others, she describes what novels she’s been reading. She likes the writer Gene Stratton Porter, and recommends both the books “The Harvester” and “At the Foot of the Rainbow.” I haven’t Googled those titles or the author, so is anyone out there familiar with those titles or the author? She says “At the Foot of the Rainbow” that the “hero is a Scotchman and he’s all right. I like Scotchmen, anyway.” As well she should with a name like McIntosh and a beau named Henderson.

And now, an answer to an earlier question: Did Mary ever whip the kids? In the Feb. 23 letter, she writes:

“My kids were pretty unruly this afternoon until I whipped two of my boys. Then they straightened up some. I hated to do it but I had to. Ruth thinks it’s foolish to use a switch, but I felt much better after I had used it, so I guess it helped some.”

Finally, some honesty about the whipping! “I felt much better after I had used it.” Wow.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

2009 Reunion “postponement”

First, sorry about not having this week’s bog entry about Grandma’s letters up and going. Between travel to Chicago and illness, it just wasn’t happening. I’ll resume by next weekend, if not before.

The big news, though, is that our official Henderson Reunion, edition 2009, will not be happening – in Burlington or anywhere, I’m afraid. Scheduling, health issues, travel arrangements and all the little things have conspired to do away with this year’s gathering. I’ve spoken with Merla, and we decided that next year would be better.

Now, what I need to know from all of YOU, are preferences for:

1. Location:

2. Date:

3: Format: (Should we continue doing the luncheon only, or should we try to expand it a little bit?)

A apologize about this being so short. Please e-mail me or call me and let me know what you’re thinking. We really want to keep this reunion going, because in the coming years it’ll be about keeping the cousins in touch.

Take care, everyone, and please contact me with your thoughts.

Don(nie)

(Helen’s son)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Grandma’s 1913 letters to Grandpa

Picture 298 OK, it’s week No. 2 for the discussion of Grandma’s letters to Grandpa. This week’s topic is the letters from 1913.

As I mentioned last week, I tend to be interested in the littlest details Grandma reveals in her letters. They tell me about her personality – the things she likes and doesn’t like. Take the Jan. 7, 1913, letter. In it, she talks about receiving photos of “Jack and Wilford”:

“Jack wears glasses now. He looks so funny. I hope I never have to wear them.”

And she allows that she doesn’t know how to play a game I had imagined was about the first one anyone ever learned as a child:

“Everyone here plays checkers now-a-days. I guess I’ll have to learn how.”

Others are just plain puzzling. I’m not sure what to make of the opening line of the Jan. 15, 1913, letter:

“Was awfully glad to [receive] your letter and didn’t get a bit hot before I got done with it. You can write just as many of that kind as you want to.”

Now, doesn’t it just kill you that we don’t have his letters to place that in context?

It’s also funny to see her drop in non sequiturs like this:

“I think if I was a basket ball player, I wouldn’t play when either Amandus or Glen played. I’d be afraid ‘me good looks would be spoiled forever.’ ”

It’s funny to see what she writes about other people, too. In the Feb. 12, 1913, letter, she lets fly:

“Do you know Mr. Grout? He’s about as batty as Bill Von Hess. He told us he was coming over to spend the evening last night. He wanted me to sing for him, the silly old thing. So Tella and I went up to Neta’s. Sister Sprague said she would send him up there and we were afraid she would.”

There also are comments about things that just seem to spring out of nowhere. In the Feb. 19, 1913, letter she talks, not all that seriously, about someone reading her fortune.

“After you folks went up to practice that night, Bob told our fortunes. They were surely funny. He told me I’d be a flirt if I could ever find any one to flirt with but, of course, that is a mistake, ’cause Billy will flirt with me most any time. He told Roah [Grandma’s sister] she would be married. She said, ‘More than once,’ and he said, ‘No, Roah, you’ll do darned well to get one.’ He didn’t tell us anything that was very complimentary; some of it was true, though.”

That, people, is a good sense of humor and a pretty fair writer, too. She makes me laugh out loud. More evidence is in her March 18, 1913, letter, in which she relates her experience at a local dance:

“We had one awful time. I fell down on my knees in a quadrille. Frank Gould’s feet got in my way. I told the kids his feet stuck out farther behind than they did in front. He’s sure awkward and so am I.”

Like I said: funny.

Picture 265 But there are also rough patches between the two of them. Her May 20, 1913, letter is short and to the point:

“What have I done that you should treat me the way you have lately? If I can make it right I will gladly do it. Will you please tell me what it is?”

Again, wouldn’t it be informative to know what he was writing to her? Her next letter, on June 2, 1913, comes from Thermopolis, Wyo., where I think she worked at least one summer, maybe more. They still haven’t sorted out whatever the conflict was, clearly:

“I received your note tonight. I was quite surprised to get it. I thought you weren’t going to answer mine. I looked and looked for an answer before I came over here, but was disappointed.

“Now, tell me what you heard. I couldn’t imagine why you didn’t come up after I came home, until one day Lilias told me some things she had heard. Then I wondered if you had heard something, too, so I sent you the note. I am sure I haven’t done anything for you to be angry about. I wish I could see you and tell you about it instead of writing.”

In her Oct. 21, 1913, letter, Grandma expresses some frustration about “fastening down” the desks in her Otto classroom. Apparently, someone named Kirk was supposed to do it, or at least be helping her.

“My hands were so sore I could hardly use them when I got through with it. I’ll bet Kirk’s ears were pretty warm all the while I worked, too. He’s the limit.”

Reading her letters sometimes takes a bit of surmising to figure out exactly what she’s saying. In her Nov. 3, 1913, letter, for example, she writes about what I guess are two guys who get drunk. It’s interesting the way she phrases it:

“Billy and Ed Harris went to the barbecue at Basin Friday. They got home Saturday about noon and Oh! They were feeling fine. It took the whole street for Ed to walk in and Billy was almost as bad. I never saw anything so disgusting. Billy was too silly for anything. I kept my front screen fastened so he wouldn’t come visit me.”

The very next day she writes another cryptic letter:

“I think you’re mean, though. You know very well that isn’t the reason I wanted you to release me up home. And I’m not teaching in the same department with John, either, so there! You think you are smart. If I had you here (and I sure wish I did) I’d box your ears nicely. You’re a bad boy, but I rather like bad boys, anyway. You don’t need to worry about the Bishop giving me a recommend, for I’m not going to ask for one. I don’t want to join this ward.”

I’m also intrigued by the snippets of stories she sprinkles throughout her letters. In the Nov. 8, 1913, letter, she writes one paragraph that’s frustratingly vague, but also a little haunting:

“I feel sorry for Bro. and Sister Reid. If I had a child that would treat me so, I’m afraid I’d use a club, too. I’m glad you helped them out, for they surely need it.”

And that’s it. Nothing more. A child? A club? Grandpa helping them out? I’d love to know what that was all about.

Another thing: I haven’t taken a count, but I’ll bet the word she uses most in all these letters is “lonely” or “lonesome.” Being a school teacher in Otto must have been isolating. She’s frequently quite blunt about how she doesn’t like to be alone, and she wishes she could be surrounded by family and friends. From time to time she even writes about her moods. One example is in her Nov. 11, 1913, letter, which she lightens with a reference to Grandpa:

“I’m glad you can’t see me tonight. Ruth says it tickles her to look at me, I look so cranky. I’d probably put on a different expression, though, if I saw you.”

In her Nov. 19, 1913, letter, she speaks of being close to a “hermit,” and says she does OK in the daytime, but likes to stay home at night and not go out at all. Taken altogether, she paints a picture with dark clouds hanging overhead.

And, as I’ve said before, the terminology in some of the letters is fun to read. In her Dec. 1, 1913, letter she refers to what we now call Germany as “Germania.”

In the same letter she speaks of going to a dance for which all the females are expected to bake and take a pie to be raffled off. Likewise, she speaks of a dance she’s been “advertising” for, and calls it a “Basket Dance.” Does anyone know what a basket dance was/is? I don’t have a clue.

She flirts with a romantic line from time to time, too, as in the Dec. 8, 1913, letter:

“Many thanks for the bill you sent. You are a dear, good boy. If you were here I might thank you in the way I’d like to.”

Also, she keeps mentioning “Stringtown,” but I still don’t understand which town that is. Does anyone know?

In the same letter, she writes of a dance for which she played the piano: When she ran out of tunes, the dance ended, but everyone stuck around to pull taffy.

And there is a reference to corporal punishment in her classroom in the letter:

“My youngsters were kind of bad this afternoon; Lou Blakesley and Frank Welch, especially. I whipped them both just before school was out.”

I know this is, as they say, a long drink of water. But I hope some of you find it useful or interesting. It’s been fun for me to read through the letters, and I hope some of you have been taking the time, too. Next week we’ll review the 1914 letters.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Grandma Mary's 1912 letters to Grandpa Dave

At the same time she was writing her letters, she was keeping a travel journal that’s also on the Web site. In spring 1912, she had taken the train to Utah to visit family she left a dozen years earlier. It’s fun to read the two together.

For me, the most interesting items are to details about life in 1912. From her first letter, dated
May 5, 1912, with a Tooele, Utah, dateline, she acknowledges receiving a letter from Dave. Then she writes,

“… I am going to attend Vie’s [who is Vie?] Graduation Exercises tonight. Tomorrow Lilias [who is Lilias?] and I will go sightseeing. Friday convention [what convention? An education convention?] begins and will close Sunday.”
In the travel journal, she records:

“After supper I pressed my silk dress, then we went up to the Odeon to Vie’s Graduation Exercises. We couldn’t hear the speakers but the music was fine.”
Later in the same letter, she notes, “I went to four dances in St. John. They have such small crowds. Last night and the night before I went to a show. It was vaudeville entirely but it was pretty good. When I get to Salt Lake I’ll see the good shows.”

In a letter dated
May 20, 1912, she makes reference to another letter she got from Dave, containing this tidbit:

“Was glad to hear you could almost put your fingers together. You’re improving wonderfully. You’d better be careful, though, with that razor or you won’t have any fingers left.”
Also in these letters, she mentions endless family names. This is where, I’m thinking, we could really use the help of our McIntosh cousins to fill in some blanks. For instance, she speaks of going to the “Dymock ranch” – obviously of the Dymock family our Great-Great-Grandmother Caroline Elizabeth Caldwell McIntosh Dymock married into late in life. Grandma talks of going to the ranch and staying there for a couple of days.

By July, she’s back in Wyoming and writing from Basin (the town where I grew up). It’s obvious she never meant for anyone but Grandpa to read these letters. Using this
letter as an example, here’s what I mean:

“Bert Mortensen and Leon Lewis were there visiting. I didn’t hardly know Bert; she is so fat. Fatter than I am, even. We had a good time down there.”
Or, this paragraph, which in my reading of it implies a little smooching? Or, perhaps, a lack thereof?

“I haven’t taken the mumps yet so I think there’s no danger, now, of me having them. Lilias tried to make me believe I’d sure take them from you but I told her she didn’t know quite all about the mumps.”
As you can see, her sense of humor is pretty dry, sometimes, and sharp. In this Aug. 20, 1912 letter, she talks about going to a dance:

“I couldn’t find a beau. I smiled hard as I could at Sqintus but all for nothing. He evidently doesn’t like me as well as he does Caroline. I had a good time anyway.”
As with any dating relationship – and especially one conducted over long distances, relatively speaking – Mary and Dave didn’t always get along. Look at how she opens her Aug. 22, 1912, letter:

“Whatever have you been hearing that made you think I was angry? I just got your letter about two hours ago and was quite surprised. If I had you here for about a minute I believe I’d ‘box your ears.’ Why, I haven’t a thing on earth to be angry about, and I hope you’ve decided by this time that I’m not.”
About a month later, on Sept. 24, she tells him the story of another suitor and how she spent her Sunday afternoon dodging him. Later in the letter, we learn his name is “Willie.” She doesn’t seem too keen on him:

“Sunday after church ‘my bargain’ was right on hand to walk home with me. I thought I would never get rid of him. After we got home he went to help Sister Sprague feed the pigs and Tella and I slipped out and went down to the river. He went up to the store and got a horse and followed us. We started back home and he took the horse back up town and came back to Sprague’s. We saw him coming and went down to the garden and stayed a long time but when we went up to the house he was still there talking to Bro. Sprague. Then we got Lois to take us for a ride. About sundown we came home and Willie was gone, for which we were truly thankful. He’s sure a stayer.”
Willie [Tolman] turns out to be something of a pest. I guess they had stalkers then, too. From Oct. 1, 1912, she writes Dave there is to be a Democratic Party rally and dance, and she wishes she would have known about it earlier so she could invite him to Otto, where she teaches school, to go with her. She worries that Willie may show up:

“If Willie Tolman comes for me to go with him, he may not get out of the house alive He worries me awfully. He was up here again Sunday and I asked him if he wouldn’t go home and stop bothering me but he didn’t. He was back again Monday before I had breakfast.”
We learn, too, that the primary mode of transportation in 1912 in the Big Horn Basin was still by horse or horse-drawn carriage. Grandma is always writing about going one place or another if she can get a “team,” or about waiting for the “stage” to come through town with the mail.

And, as we noticed a little earlier, she mentions political parties from time to time. From Oct. 23, 1912:

“They had a Socialist Rally here last night but I didn’t go to it. Mr. Iliff and Amasa Tanner were down in the car. There are quite a few Socialists here.”
Once in a while in the letters, we get an echo from one of Grandpa’s letters to Grandma. An example in the
Nov. 7, 1912, letter:

“I don’t agree with you. I think school teachers aren’t hard customers and that you aren’t simple; so there.”
I take it Grandpa must have been teasing her a bit. More of the same in the
Dec. 3, 1912, letter:

“You said you pitied Willie if I went to conference with him. Shame on you! You know he would have enjoyed the trip; so would you or most anyone. Ha! Ha!”
She also swerves into politics again – or at least democracy:

“Who did you vote for? I voted, for the first time. I told them when I got through that I felt like a citizen now.”
I also get a kick out of the way she turns a phrase:

“I felt bluer than indigo Tuesday night at the dance.”
She’s not above being a little mischievous, either. In the
Nov. 25, 1912, letter, she’s writing from Basin, where she’s gone for a teachers’ conference. But, she explains:

“The Worland High School Basket[ball] Team is here and are going to play with Basin tonight. I think I’ll go and watch them instead of going to the lecture.”
That’s my grandma, all right. Must be where I got my love of the game … or my aversion to education.

Finally, in the
Dec. 16, 1912, letter, she writes of trouble at the dance:

“Some of the ‘wild bunch’ got smart in the Hall and broke up the dance. I guess they acted horrid. Some of them were shooting around last night. [I assume she means gunfire.] They are talking of having them arrested. I hope they, for the way they act is a disgrace.”
Well, that takes care of 1912. Next week I’ll skim through the letters of 1913.

That’s what strikes me in the letters. I’m interested to know what jumps out at you?