Now I Must Close (x3)

Friday 10-18-1957

Dearest:

It was good to get your letter yesterday — and I should have had one in the mail to you, but I didn’t. Listening to Paul Harvey ruins my letter writing time. I used to do it as soon as Jimmy left on the bus and would have time to finish before the carrier came. Incidentally, I don’t think Paul Harvey sounds as good on these broadcasts. The commercials are evidently taped and it gives an unnatural ring to them, a change of quality in voice.

The radio has been on the fritz today. I managed to hear most of Tozier’s message by staying right there to punch the buttons or do otherwise to get the contortion out of it – not on the line, but in the radio. Danny is good at tuning it in. He has also been a good dish wiper this week. His cold isn’t any better – just get some improvement when he plays in the water or runs outside without a jacket.

The mailman just came and brought the part for the washing machine. I don’t know whether to try it out by myself or not. I’d hate to ruin something or get water all over the place. Later I’ll go down and see how things go. I want to finish this and then go to town to mail it, as well as spend some money. Since I have been so pokey about getting some money sent to you, why don’t you just put in the overseas Lit. money that you get on this coming Sunday. I’ll still set aside $25 for the Lord’s work: put part in here on Sunday and send some to the Fields for B. McDowell as we have mentioned before.

I’ll pay the telephone bill today (that is nearly $8 – several long distance calls on it). And then the rest will get some gas, baby food [Similac, see below], eggs, and groceries. Sort of hard to figure out just what are the most important things on the list.

You asked about bills. Besides the car insurance, your insurance notice came yesterday. Two months of milk bills, the gas bill make up the most important. Dentist, rent, etc. will come next. We will have to get some winter clothes for Dorothy and John. I don’t know about overshoes yet – we haven’t tried them on to see who has outgrown what or if they have grown into any!

It would be nice to get some meat in the freezer. It has really been going down when we are eating out of it instead of buying much. Mr. Milliman took the 24 chickens out that he had in, so that left a gap, too.

Had a card from Mother – guess I’ll just send it to you instead of trying to tell you what it says.

The youngsters are out of school next Monday and Tuesday for Institute. [?? who knows what that means?] I’m just itching to take off to visit you Tuesday – but of course I won’t. If wishes were horses, you know — or in this case an airplane! I did ask Marion if she would consider going then so Chuck could visit the school, but she said he has to stay for football practice. Game is canceled for tonight because of Flu. It is on the increase in the school here. Each day more out, and our youngsters have all been exposed now with someone in their room coming down with it during school and being sent home with a temp of 103° or so. I refuse to worry – I could get sick just thinking about what would happen if we all got it. I have been trying to see that we all get the necessary rest and been using plenty of orange juice and vitamins to keep their resistance up. It is in the Lord’s hands and He gives strength when needed. You cause me more concern by your irregular living, if you should get it.

Now I must close – surely do miss you. Guess I didn’t write partly because I was just too lonesome and didn’t want to sound sad. Those spells come when I feel as though I just have to see you and anticipating a weekend without you seems too much. I just must not think ahead to weekends but take each day as it comes. And the thought of you using so much time and energy and losing out on your studies just to come home doesn’t cheer me either. All in all it is not the most satisfactory situation, but it is the best one for us now or else the Lord would change it, of that I’m sure.

Now I must close. Danny has been dialing around on the radio and is quite amused at some of the programs. Jimmy has learned how to do something new. I said I would write you about it, but he suggested I write about something else so he could tell you himself when you get home…so you will have to wait to find out.

Carol continues to be good. One night and one day she was fussy, not from losing sleep, but the day I did the washing myself seemed to be what caused it. Dorothy said she would do the washing tonight so that wouldn’t happen again but I’ll get some Similac to help me out or help Carol out, as the work piles up too high when I have to wait on the children for all such jobs. Her nose is still stuffy too. She broke out with prickly heat on Monday from being too hot so much of the time. This has cleared up now.

For the third time, I must close; I love you honey, we all do, and we are praying for you daily.

Always,
Nellie

I’ve been reading my instruction book on the washer and I guess I’ll give it a try tonight.

Rutabagas and Our Rat

10-09-57
Wed. a.m.

My Dearest,

Oh, it was good to hear your voice and so unexpected. Lots of times when I pick up the phone I hope it will be you, but last night it took me by surprise and you sounded so close that I could hardly believe you were still in Oak Park.

If you got my letter of Monday on Tuesday than the mails are improving. [!!] You should get these letters before you leave. I’m sorry that you will miss the meeting on Saturday night. I know how you enjoy them and how comparatively few support much missionary endeavors.

Cloudy today – looks more like winter is around the corner. We went out to the garden this morning just to look around. I did bring in a cabbage head and two rutabagas. In case your folks come in they will be ready to fix — but can’t you hear the family yell clear down there! I fixed squash on Sunday, like we had at Bad Axe [a city on the “thumb” of Michigan]. They ate their spoonful when I put it in their mouths. Johnny and Jimmy, that is. So yesterday I put the rest into pies. Johnny tasted it and was sure that it was pumpkin pie and enjoyed it. Jimmy wasn’t sure and wouldn’t eat it. But then Jimmy never has liked spicy things like pie or spice cake.

Our rat [??!!!??] still evades us, but we do know that there is some way for it to get on the back porch from the basement, and perhaps from outdoors by way of a tunnel under the porch. We saw it on the back porch and it acted slightly sick then [??!!!??] but it disappeared and we don’t know how or where.

I’m feeling better each day which is encouraging. The youngsters have been doing very well in helping out. David is going to make a good fireman – he has done it all this week and the house has been just fine all the time.

The baby is waking up for her feeding so I’ll close and get this out to the box. She has certainly been good — we’ll have to get the scales down this week to see how well she is gaining. I’m sure she is.

All our love,
Nellie

Waits for Baby to Wake Up

10-07-1957

My Dearest,

Though there is not much in the way of news, I do want to get a note to you, so that you will know that all is going well — and that we are wondering how you are making out. I did hate to see you leave when you weren’t feeling a bit good, but I felt that you wouldn’t get much better around here. So hard to keep down.

The baby continues to eat and sleep — imagine, not one crying period yet. She even slept through the night feeding on Saturday night. Her cold is a little worse, but really not bad.

David is home today with whatever you had. No temp, just a sore stomach. He was fine when he got up, was helping me with breakfast, when all of a sudden he turned white and said he didn’t feel good. He was on the davenport, but when the bus came he said he felt OK then and went to school. But at 9:30 he called me up and I had to go after him. I asked the Lord to make the gas last for that trip as I had no money with me and it registered zero yesterday when I took the children to Sunday School. I don’t know how long it has been there. David is sleeping now. His teacher said he didn’t look well, and he admitted that he didn’t feel too good!

[postnatal symptoms] that started Friday was worse yesterday and my abdomen felt sore, so I asked the youngsters to come home and do the washing. It does seem better today, and I want it to continue that way.

Hesper took the three older youngsters to the chapel on Saturday and Sunday nights. She certainly has been good to us and willing to do all that she could. They enjoyed the meetings with Shufelt and I guess that the crowds have been good.

Mrs. Bunce and Mrs. Wolcott came out on Saturday evening for a while.

Danny came in from seeing Jimmy off on the bus and, grinning, said that the driver said he was cute! He sits for periods of time on the footstool by the baby’s bed and watches and waits for her to wake up.

Don’t feel you have to leave the Homecoming to get home this weekend. I would love to have you here, but I feel that I have had more than my share of your time so far this school year. And I have certainly appreciated having you home and helping out. But if you can stay and get a little done on your classes for Monday you had better do that, as preaching here will make you a very short night’s sleep. Mrs. Bunce said she thought Dick would like to come home if he can do that.

I wondered if you could have taken anyone along with you to Davenport to help drive when you felt badly – or maybe you didn’t even go if you felt worse.

Going to sign off now, don’t want to miss the mail carrier. I miss you here — really seems lonesome without you — just a few weeks like we had in September spoils me. But since I love you so much I know that it will always be that way. I don’t get used to you being away. I just wait for you to come home.

All my love,
Nellie

[I messed up and misread the date of the letter I posted yesterday as 10-5, when it was really 10-8. So *this* letter is the first letter Mom wrote after I was born.]

A Letter to Mom

I wrote a poem using the Golden Shovel form that I learned from the poet Nikki Grimes. This form uses the words from one poem to create a new poem, using the original as the last words of each line. I was looking for a Mother’s Day poem, and happened across the words my son Carson once wrote to me. Thank you, Sonny! I honor you for the hard work, blood, sweat, and tears that you poured into me as a child; and want you to know that these have been small seeds planted in my life, but they have reaped a bounty of blessings on me.

To Nellie Harper (3/23/1920 – 5/7/1968)

Your letters to Dad came to mind as I
longed for a way to love and honor
your memory, your rich legacy. You
never imagined that strangers would look for
your quotidian news with pleasure. The
grace with which you accepted the hard
reality of separation and leaned into your work
kindles my affection and warms my blood.
You were never one to sweat
the small stuff, nor did you melt when things got tough. And

though you confess to getting depressed, tears
on your face are no memory that
your children hold. You
made tuna sandwiches and poured
milk with good cheer, not going into
a dither when money ran out. For me,
I wish I had studied these letters as
a young mother. They are a
fount of wisdom in child
nourishing. And

though we lacked funds, there was no want
in faith, in affection, in friendship. You
took your youngsters to
Sunday School, taught them to know
God, their Heavenly Father, and trust that
He would provide all of these
needs. What wealth we have!

Your story has been
full of love for people, both great and small.
You scattered seeds
of kindness and planted
strength, courage and truth in
my siblings and into my
beautiful and blessed life.
I miss you fiercely, but

I am grateful for your letters. They
remind me again of all we have
been given. Your investment in lives has reaped
a harvest whose yield continues, a
compounding bounty.
You sang a song of the faithfulness of
God, of morning’s new mercies, of blessings
all mine, of bright hope for tomorrow. On
this Mother’s Day I thank you for loving me.

The brothers: Jimmy, David, Danny, Johnny
The sisters: Margaret, Dorothy, with Carol (me) in front
The parents: Nellie and John Harper

A Walk to Remember: 12th Street

Bonnie and I walk together in the morning. Walk and talk. And soak in the lavender joy.
We encounter deer close up every day
Rock walls, the work involved, and artistry: a wonder
Looking up
Our small town university nestled in the valley
A profusion of Queen Anne’s Lace
Emily! (Mt. Emily)
X-raying a sunrise through a house
No filter! Just glory!

A Walk to Remember: Fox Hill

DSC_1033
I’ve long had an idea for a series of posts
entitled A Walk to Remember.
I’m a moment-hoarder,
a memory-grasper,
knowing how easily they get
plowed under by the thrum of life.

DSC_1036Two things were special about today.
I woke up at 4:25 a.m., a personal best!
For a lifelong night owl,
that’s a victory in itself. {laughter}

DSC_1037To be precise, it’s not unheard of
to wake up with a 4 on the clock.
But to get up and walk out the door?
Unfathomable.

DSC_1041My co-workers are fitness gurus.
The kind that participate in Warrior Dashes,
look for “Fun” runs (???!!!  #interrobang)
and organize triathlons.

DSC_1043The only “selfie” I took.

 

DSC_1045Last summer they started walking up Fox Hill
on Sunday mornings.

DSC_1049I couldn’t join them because it conflicted
with my music commitments at church.

DSC_1055They decided to hike up Fox Hill on Friday
this week, so I could join them!

DSC_1056This is a picture of endurance.
I needed it today!

DSC_1061The second special thing? I made it to the top!
Eastern Oregon doesn’t resemble the lush green
images of Oregon that most people imagine.
These high green hills will soon be dun.
But today they are simply splendid!