About alivingpencil

Hi, I'm Carol. My life is full of solid joys, deep sorrows, and aggressive hope. I search for truth, beauty, goodness, amusement, and comfort in books, music, worship, photos, conversation. I'm fond of the *idea* of gardening, writing, exercising and practicing scales. Cooking is the best fun with a friend. I like to talk, but it's harder to write.

Like a Deflated Balloon

January 9, 1958

Dearest John,

Uncle Sam really outdid himself and got your letter here on Thursday. And it was so very good to get it. I was wrapping books [it’s a thing we did – cover books in plastic to protect the covers] when the mail came, so I went downstairs and got the one that you wanted and wrapped it. I sent Betty [my Dad’s sister in South Africa] her books and am returning the one to Gene Bollinger that Daddy sent ot me.

When your check came I went to town as soon as the youngsters came home to get a vaporizer. Carol’s cold has been worse since Saturday night when we were at Damer’s. Today she was coughing and choking some which means that she is not any better. I hate to spend the money, but still it will be used plenty in our size family. Dorothy has a cold too, so she is sleeping downstairs with Carol tonight. Or with the vaporizer, I should say. I bought a $9.00 one and now am wondering if I was penny-wise and pound-foolish. It has a glass container for the water and the $14.00 had a metal container. With care it should not break, but so many accidents seem to happen in our household. I also got another case of Similac. I have been using the Olac that Jennie gave me and Carol does not spit up with that at all. I am going to ask the Dr. about that. It is certainly nicer to not have her spitting up all the time.

I haven’t received the money from the Chapel. But I won’t need it this week at least since you sent this. However, I’m not counting it until it is here. While they have never failed to send it, I still am looking to the Lord for our needs and not human sources.

The information about a house interests me. I was quite surprised about what you had to say about the apartment house. I have been praying that the school could get it so we could live there! And here you told them to count you out! And the house you looked at — did you mean 6 room house or 6 bedroom house as you wrote of? We can get along in that size house if there is some place for storage and a basement or place for the washing. As far as repair and redecorations are concerned: every place we have lived in has needed that and we seem to manage without getting it done. So that shouldn’t hinder us. Not that we wouldn’t like to have it done, but we just don’t do it. When I think that we have lived over two years here and have done nothing about the wall at the foot of the stairs…I think we overlook a lot of dirt and it doesn’t worry us.

I started cleaning the basement today. But I hardly know where to stop and start. I want to clean it enough so I can put what is left of the linoleum in the girls’ room down there and put that new roll in their room. By using the sweeper on the floor in the basement occasionally I think the boys could play down there with their trucks, etc. when others come. I know they would be happier some place where they didn’t get pushed around by all the big kids and grownups. And we all would be happier with their things out from underfoot. It is O.K. when I’m here by myself, but when more come it gets congested. The basement is warmer than their room. I did get the plastic up in their room and it helps to keep the drafts out.

After this vacation I can better understand some of the problems your folks have had. Remember several years ago when we talked about their adjustments, or I guess we called them maladjustments? I find that after just this long of running things myself here, it is hard to adjust to doing things smoothly when we are both home. Hard on us and hard on the children, for they feel they have two masters so to speak. Of course, the root of it goes deeper. Keeping our hearts in constant tune with the Lord, so whatever happens we can take it in stride. But with the situation now, there is the waiting and anticipation, building emotions for you to come home and the let-down when you leave with a lot of frustration in between. I’m not satisfied to have you home only occasional weekends, but it is too wearing on both of us the way things are now. I wonder if it is worth your coming home so often. You can’t get your work done and that gets me upset. And you see all the work here that needs to be done and you get upset. Personally, I always end up feeling like a deflated balloon: a mess of a housekeeper and Mother. I’m not asking for sympathy, nor do I expect you to even be able to understand. Just chalk it up to me being a woman. I can only imagine what you feel like – but is it much better? It must not be, or you would not talk about leaving school unless things improved.

I hadn’t meant to write all that, but perhaps it will help to clear the air. I’ve been trying to keep up on the daily Bible reading on the calendar. Reading it carefully and spending time in prayer. Dr. Culbertson this morning asked Does the Lord Jesus feel at home in your heart? That is the core of the matter. And by more time in the Word and in prayer, I’m trusting to get the heart cleaned up so He will feel at home there and perhaps He can then show me how to keep the house cleaned up. [Handwritten addition: Don’t expect any change – I always fail.]

Now I must close. It is drawing near the midnight hour and that is too late for me. Six comes early and I usually have to get up then to fix the fire and the baby and the lunches. I love you dearly, and pray that our circumstances will not draw us apart but closer together. And I’m not sure in my own heart which it is now. Last year I was sure. Perhaps I’m still tired and depressed from the vacation activities, but I wonder about it all now. I think that is one of your troubles, too. Tiredness, I mean. The Lord can give us what we need for this next semester and perhaps your teaching will be easier in another year. I know you have a heavy load now. Don’t try to come home for just a Saturday. That is too hard. We pray for you several times a day here and know that He will help you with your work there.

All my love,
Nellie

Diving into the Laundry

Wednesday, January 8, 1958 [first letter of 1958!]

Dearest John,

Time flies by and if I don’t hurry you’ll not get even a note this week. Really, no news. But I suspect you’d like to know that things are normal. Cold out — the house is comfortable when it is calm. Did blow one day, however.

Still haven’t got the Christmas tree down. I dived into the clothes on Monday and yesterday. And today I have had a relapse and can’t get started. After all that work the baskets are still full. I suggest we move south or all wear blue jeans seven days a week.

Carol’s cold is worse, so I cancelled my appointment for Tuesday. I’ll go next Tuesday.

I suppose it takes a long time for answers, but I’d like to know how the auction on that house turned out.

Dorothy made her brownies for 4H. Very good. She’ll make a good cook. [That prediction came true!] She usually does a beautiful job of cleaning the kitchen on her turn at dishes.

Danny just heard one of “your” song’s “record” on radio and is in ecstasy. **

I hope you are catching up on your sleep better than I am; but knowing you, I doubt if you are. The children are getting caught up, but both Jimmy and Danny have turned into bed-wetters.

Mail man is coming so I’ll close.

All our love,
Nellie

** Danny became a tenor who sings professionally. Here on YouTube is a recording of him singing O Holy Night about twenty years after this letter was written.

Putting the Tree Up

12-18-1957

Dearest John,

Just a note that I should have written several days ago. I’m busy as a bee and still a lot is going undone. I can’t remember what we decided about your folks’ gifts. I got the things off for Washington (her relatives) and Wheaton (his relatives) and sent a check to Harold’s.

Mrs. Grif. told me that Gertrude was operated on and they found a malignant tumor and just had to sew her up again, and in their tests they also found that she has Hodgkin’s disease. She doesn’t know all this. I took time to write her a letter.

We got our tree and put and lights on this a.m. Changed furniture around some. Danny is so happy — children will put other decorations on tonight.

Don’t stop to buy groceries on the way home. I bought considerable to stock up and we’ll need the money. I’ve been paying bills and getting gifts—goes so quickly. Afraid the Lord will not get His rightful share of this Christmas.

Now I must close. The mailman comes early. What shall we get David? He wants a horn or a watch. I have got most of the other children’s gifts. Clothes from us and trucks, etc. from what Grandma gave us.

Lovingly, Nellie

P.S. I’m busy but want to tell you again how much I enjoyed the banquet and appreciated you bringing me home. Hope you get back O.K. and get ready for Monday’s classes. The banquet was such a treat – from beginning to end.

The Stress of Christmas

DSC_9875

Tuesday, 12-17-1957

My Dearest,

How good it was to hear your voice on Sunday night. I should keep a notebook by the phone so if you call I can refer to it and ask the things I always forget in the excitement of getting a call.

Mrs. Wolcott heard from Daddy [I only know one or two people who call their father-in-law Daddy. Was this a common habit?] that they would probably be through here on Tuesday or Wednesday. So I’m trying to hustle around and get things ready in case they come today. If they don’t, I’ll have to do it all over tomorrow — you know our house. I’m washing. Yesterday I fixed up a Christmas lesson for Mrs. Rose and in the afternoon took the children to the chapel for a combined CEF (Child Evangelism Fellowship) class where Miss Beverly Saunders spoke. She is going out to Venezuela soon. Then in the evening I took David into the chapel for basketball and practice for their part in the Christmas program. Randy promised them a malt if they would all come to practice. They got it at Fenners. I took Dorothy to Sunnyfield Road for a 4H meeting or party. Hesper went after the girls then.

Danny has learned the art of using scissors. He sits on the floor and cuts everything available. Have to teach him how to pick it up!

The coal bin is empty and I don’t want to order more when two tons are not paid for as yet. So I’m asking the Lord to send in money for these bills before I make any more. I added it up last night and we need $200 to pay bills and take the Lord’s money out of, i.e. $160 for bills and $40 for the Lord’s portion. That doesn’t include anything but due bills and no groceries. That is the doctor and dentist, too. I haven’t heard from the Red Cross yet so I don’t know if it will be more than $50 or not. I would like to pay it ourselves as the chapel is low on money, too. I think that is one reason that they have been having local brethren do the ministering lately.

I don’t imagine that you have been able to do anything about Christmas gifts for the folks since you haven’t had any money either. Should the Lord see fit to send in some gifts this week, I’ll send down things for Bob and Ruth with Nita when she comes down on Friday. Marion called me last night to see if I would have anything I would like to send down to you with her. I may also send some clothes to the PGM (Pacific Garden Mission) if she doesn’t mind taking them. She could give them to you and you could deliver them on your way home next week.

If we get out any cards this year I’ll be surprised. I don’t think that I can get around to it — at least the way things look now. Part of my trouble is that I’m disappointed about not getting any pictures taken and I just don’t feel like sending out the same old things that I have sent out for two years. And I don’t feel like buying new cards when there are so many of the old ones upstairs yet. Wonder what folks would think if we didn’t send any?

Well, Carol is waking so I’ll close. She isn’t much good as an alarm any more – sleeps too long. I got up at five this morning to check the time and was afraid to go to sleep again as I knew I would oversleep then. It is almost dark when the bus comes now so I can’t wait until it gets light to wake up.

I’m praying for the banquet and for the speaker. I have to ask the Lord to keep me from being jealous of Nita and Ruthie as I would so much like to be there. But I am happy that they can be there. I’d just like to be there, too! May it be more than just a good time: a real blessing to all, the speaker included! Would love to hear you…

Carol is being insistent, so I’ll run.
Love all of us, me especially,
Nellie

Daddy Come Home to My House

 

Thursday
12-05-1957

Dearest John:

You must wonder what is wrong with me for not writing more — but honestly, the time just flies by and there is so much that never gets done as it should. I have a little time before the mail man comes and I’ll see how much I can get written.

Yesterday morning and this morning Dorothy had dentist appointments. That takes about two hours time – really more if you count the extra effort to get the youngsters ready to go along and then unloaded at home. Tomorrow afternoon it is a trip to the Dr.’s so a lot of time will be gone then.

Sorta looked for a letter from you yesterday as I knew that you would send any money you can in order to pay the rent. But Tuesday a letter came from Joyce Miller with $25 in it for us so I sent a check down that night to pay the rent. And last Saturday I didn’t get gas. It slipped my mind and by the time I got the things needed I didn’t have much more than enough change for the Sunday School offering. I could have written a check but gas never entered my mind. We had been riding on zero for a long time. Sunday night Nita handed me $10 —although she gave the impression that it was not from her but she wasn’t saying whom. On the way out of the chapel Dorothy asked me about gas [yay Dorothy!]. I still hadn’t thought about it, but I stopped and got some. And a dollars worth didn’t even budge the needle, so we must have been completely out. The Lord took care of that for me. I’m glad that He does take care of me as I get so confused by myself.

I believe the washing machine problem is solved. The other soap worked wonders. The machine hummed along beautifully ever since I have used it. Dale was out and I asked him about it. He said that Maytag tells the customer to use a low suds soap on the suds saver models. The reason is that when the suds returns, the agitator is working and it beats up such a storm of suds that the machine gets what is called a suds lock. I don’t know why they didn’t mention that when giving instructions. Dale came out to see if he could get the car to work on the clutch. I’ll surely appreciate that, because on the icy spots I have quite a time getting started.

Jimmy wanted to take some cut out cookies to school. So one morning we took time out to make them. Takes time but those things mean so much to him. Only he said the boys and girls asked him to do that again some time – but I’m not so sure.

The house looks like a tornado struck it, so I had better get to work. And my time is about up for writing. Danny took the key from the front door and lost it — and it is locked. Let’s hope it turns up or I’ll have to learn the art of breaking locks (or picking them is the term, I believe).

Bye now, Honey. I love you, and am certainly not neglecting you on purpose, but there is so much to do and so much that is always waiting to do. It is the same with you, I know. Poor Danny came down on Sunday a.m., took one look around, and cried. Daddy. Daddy, come home to my house. After about 30 minutes he seemed to snap out of it and accept the situation, but he sure hoped it wasn’t so when he woke up.

Lovingly,
Nellie

Shoe Through the Window

11-29-57

Dearest John,

A snowy Saturday morning — and the house is buzzing with restless children. I guess that we’ll get something done, because some mail came for Granddaddy [my dad’s dad who was a traveling evangelist] and so he must not be far behind. So that gives us all an inspiration to give an extra push.

We also got a package from Aunt Betty [my dad’s sister in South Africa], which reminds me that we haven’t sent her anything for this year. [I think they sent support $$]

The doctor yesterday found most things in good shape. As far as my heart he said that everything seemed good. But for the record and to see if anything had happened, he recommended an electro-cardiogram. I didn’t make any appointment for it: said that I would wait until the holidays when you were home to see about it. I was afraid to ask what it cost. Money is getting to be a touchy subject!

Mrs. Warner was out on Thursday and left the chapel check here with me. Then Friday a.m. Kessler and Emerson came out to put the new control on the dryer. Monday I about called them to check it again as I couldn’t get it to start at all. Then, later in the day, I tried it and it went without any trouble. Well, his bill was $32.08. I debated whether to charge it or pay it, and decided to pay it. Since we don’t have an account there, it didn’t seem good to start one and then have a hard time getting around to paying it. So by the time that was paid, the Lord’s portion taken out and a few groceries bought, I have not much left. Three dollars for eggs and Sunday School offering, and milk money at school.

I guess that it is a good thing that you didn’t come home this weekend just from the point of traveling expense. The Lord must have some purpose in it. Maybe we didn’t prove faithful in using all that He sent us last year. We certainly spent more on ourselves than we would have in secular work. Well, whatever it is, I hope we learn our lesson, so that this will let up. To have so many bills, and right at Christmas time when each time I turn around it is someone needing more money for gifts, etc. Teachers, bus drivers, etc. all around.

Well, I don’t think I’ll write more now. David kicked off one of his black shoes and it went through an upstairs window. [!!!] That is not fixed yet. I should have done it yesterday, but the wind was so strong that I hated to take it out and I was short on time. We had a flat tire one morning when due at the dentist. Dorothy and I were hustling and changing it, when Mr. Milliman drove up and he helped lift the tire on. I had it fixed and David changed it. Dale fixed the clutch and in addition filled the gas tank and put a quart of oil in it. I certainly appreciated that. Clutch works fine now.

Johnny just came to tell me that he and David are going to help now and try to be peacemakers. They are doing the bathroom. Well, I must close. Jimmy says that he has been talking to Carol [awwww!], but she is fussing anyhow. She is tired so I’ll get her to bed. Sure do miss you but we are looking forward to a nice long Christmas holiday. Would like to have a birthday party for Margaret this year [12/28] — she always comes out short on the birthday celebration.

Love from us all,
Nellie

Glad You Could Hear Her Coo

11-22-1957

My Dearest,

Just a note today for Jimmy to take to the box when he meets the school bus. It was good to talk to you last night. Funny about all the things I could think of after we hung up. I couldn’t think of a thing important enough to say on a phone call! I wonder about your clothes. Is Bill responsible for getting them? What color suit, etc. When do you plan to go to Milwaukee? [For a wedding?] And should I call the Hoyts or Millers about Thanksgiving? I think that I’ll go ahead and call Hoyts first. It has been some time since we have been together with them, and it seems easier to be with the Millers. Although I suppose that Dale would be happy if he knew we shared his turkey with the Millers. I’ll see what I shall do.

We may have the Goodpaster girls with us during the holidays as they have to go up north to get Hesper’s mother. She is going to stay with them this winter. They would be very crowded if the girls went; they will bring down all the things that her mother needs to stay the whole winter, which includes her walker. Good of the Goodpasters to just naturally expect to take her as their house is none too big.

I started Carol [not quite two months – yikes!] on cereal yesterday. She doesn’t quite understand about eating from a spoon, but we managed to get it all in. I was glad that you could hear her coo last night. She was happy after being fed.

Rather cool around here, but I’m thankful that the wind is not blowing. It has been so stormy. We want to go to the meeting tonight as it is the last night. We stayed home last night – everyone just gets too crabby when missing even an hour’s sleep every other night.

Not I had better get this in the envelope. Danny wants to go out and see the bus driver and I have to dress him. We just found his shoe. We have trouble keeping track of those shoes — no wonder he has a runny nose again. Love from all of us, especially me. The youngsters miss you heaps, but I think that I miss you more than they do. Maybe it is just my point of view, but I know that we do miss you so very much.

Lovingly,
Nellie

Keeping On In Our Feeble Way

Thursday a.m.
11-21-57

Dearest John,

I certainly am tardy in getting a letter off to you. Something is always getting neglected. I’ve been trying to get the house work in better shape than it has been in the past months, but in doing that I haven’t written a letter for several weeks. And while some of the work is done, no one but me can see any improvement.

We did not go to the service on Sunday night. I had thought that we would, but after you left we all seemed more tired than we thought, because of being out Saturday night. So we stayed home and then we all went on Monday night, stayed home on Tuesday and all went on Wednesday. He spoke on prayer last night. Judging from some of the conversation after the meeting, we all agree it is a good thing, but don’t do it.

Monday morning the mouse trap was gone. And we haven’t been able to locate it. I hope that the mouse got away from it. So I set the other trap that I had and we have been getting a mouse a day. It is getting disgusting to have so many of the animals around the place. And flies, too. Having these pigs eating (and they are feeding them grain right on the cement by the house) right out here must be part of the reason.

The insurance (hospital) was due yesterday, and as you know it didn’t get paid. I didn’t send a check this time; guess my faith is failing. So that is out of effect now. Dorothy is about freezing in her light coat and last night Nita Zollman saw her and said that she had a coat that Dorothy might be able to wear.

We told Danny that you were going on the toll road when you left on Sunday night. So now when something is to be told you he goes to the window and looks towards the toll road and we hear, “Daddy, Daddy, you on the toll road! Jimmy hit me” (or: here’s some dessert for you, or today he decided Marvin was wearing your red winter hat.) But I think that we have persuaded him now that you are off the toll road and at school. This morning he was playing with clay, fixed up a cake of it and put it in the skillet in the oven and told me he had a burger in the oven!

Well, I guess that I had better close. Carol should be waking up and it is time to fix some lunch for Jimmy. So far this morning I haven’t earned my salt, but have eaten much more than that. Unless I quit nursing the baby you folks are going to be way ahead of me in this losing weight business. I have gained several pounds in spite of my efforts to not do so. Hate to think what I’d weigh if I let myself go on eating now.

Oh yes, Gertie King told me that she ate at Patterson’s last Sunday…

We’ll miss you this weekend, but it won’t be long until Thanksgiving vacation. I guess that we’ll be staying home here, although that doesn’t sound very exciting to me. Sounds more like work, unless everyone would be satisfied with wieners. But I suppose when the time comes we’ll get more enthusiastic. We all do love you and are glad we can look forward to you coming home. We’ll be praying for you this weekend, but after reading about Hyde, I wonder if our prayers do much. But we’ll keep on in our feeble way.

Always yours,
Nellie

Going to Chicago

Wednesday 11-8-57

Dearest John,

Lunch time, so I’ll try to get a note off before the mail man comes. I hear Carol, so a little will depend on how insistent she is. She shouldn’t need attention yet. She is back to normal now – at least waking up to know she is fed and stay awake a little while. Monday she scarcely opened her eyes even during feeding.

Last night Danny put his coat and hat on (backwards, of course) and announced that he was going to Chicago to see you. It was bedtime and he wanted to sleep with you. He has no idea how far you are. Just down the road, according to him. David told him you were really West and he had a fit. NO! You went the other way! We all get so tickled at his antics. He stays good natured even when determined that he must see you.

Mended and altered clothes all day yesterday. Doesn’t seem that I get much done when I do that. It takes a lot of time and not much to show for it.

David got a $4.00 check from Grandma Stover to divide with Danny for their birthdays. David has tossed around all the ideas of what he wants for his birthday and I guess that it will be shoes for the gym. Tonight he is going to stay and play the last football game.

My heart still skips beats; it’s a queer sensation. It hasn’t happened as often as it did on Sunday a.m. and there are no other aches and pains, so I’ll let it ride until my check up.

Margaret got her permanent last night. Was she tickled about that! It was really curly this morning and I hope that it does not come out this time. Her hair doesn’t take a permanent very easily.

The service man is here now to look at the machine. Something slipped, he said, and I hope he can fix it. Well, I will close now and try to get a note off to Mom yet. All my love to bestest husband and sweetheart in the world.

Nellie

A Sharp Turn of Events

Monday 11-4-57

Dearest John,

Johnny expressed my sentiments this morning: “I sure wish Daddy could be here every day.” When I suggested that perhaps we had better pray for a house near school [the college where my Dad was teaching], he agreed, adding, “Only one thing is wrong, it is awfully hard to go to new schools.” Which I heartily agree. I changed once in the 5th grade and for weeks I actually felt ill and begged to stay home in the mornings.

A sharp turn of events in our laundry this morning … and after all our rejoicing over it last night. The first load went fine and was in the dryer. I went down to check the second load (diapers) to give a second deep rinse. Water was running all over the floor. I don’t know what happened, but the water did not seem to shut off after filling the deep rinse. That or it kept draining out the suds saver hose as fast as filling up. Anyhow the suds saver tub and washing machine tub were both overflowing. I pulled plugs and drained what I could. No, later I did that. Carol was crying for food so I went upstairs to her and to decide what to do. I also had found that the dryer wasn’t working. Pilot switch wouldn’t go on. “He that thinketh everything is perfect — take heed.”

After Carol was cared for I went down again to analyze the situation. Behold, the dryer started working. “Thank you, Lord,” I said. So I turned to the washer. It is a strange noise and the water all pumps out the suds saver hose. The hole in the floor won’t hold it, so I had to stop experimenting to locate the trouble and wrote to Kendallville [a town in eastern Indiana]. The diapers are done, so I can wait to do more washing until after Wednesday.

Cheer up ………………..!

Carol is sleeping all the time and not eating so much. Her cold may have something to do with that. No new aches for me – but I am going on a fat-free diet, for general principle’s sake. Will close to meet mail man.

All my love,
Nellie