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.”


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.