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.)