Je t’aime beaucoup, beaucoup

The only baby picture of me that I know of, probably taken around Christmas 1957

Tuesday 10-5-1957 10-8-1957
[one week after I was born – see the next post for the 10-7 letter]

My Dearest John,

It is such a beautiful day that I feel like working in the yard – but not really as my back is not yet strong enough for that.

David is feeling better this morning and wants to go to school this afternoon. Their room has a football game this afternoon. But this morning they were fixing shredded wheat and a bowl of the hot water tipped on him —his stomach— and really blistered it. A large patch just above the navel. So he won’t play. He had hoped to even though I said that it was too soon for that after being sick. [A Harper weirdness? We ate the pillow-shaped biscuits this way: pour boiling water over shredded wheat, let it sit 30 seconds, drain off the water, add a pat of butter and a spoon of sugar.]

Dorothy went to a 4H meeting last night to see what it was about. Hesper took her and Norma, for cooking and sewing. They would enjoy it, but I was disappointed when she came home smelling like smoke. She said the leader smoked right during the meeting.

Mary Dillon came over last night to see if she could help any. They had a CEF [Child Evangelism Fellowship] class at her place yesterday – 19 children came out. David was home sick and Dorothy didn’t stay, as I had asked her to come home to do the washing, which she did. They have really been helping out very well, and I have been getting my rest. Little jobs are piling up, but I hope to soon be able to do more and get at them.

I made some home-made noodles last night. The children really went for them with some boiling beef. I’ll have to do that from now on – very simple and good.

Strat Shufelt has a 15 minute program on WSTR this week – 8:30 a.m. I didn’t know about it until Margaret mentioned it. So I listened today. I think he is using some of his own recordings of music and then the message part is live. I am going to try to get out on Friday night. I haven’t told the youngsters yet, but if I feel up to it, I will try that.

Now I must get lunch ready. Scrambled eggs for my invalids. Danny, the clown, holds his stomach and groans, so that he can crawl up on the davenport with David! That was yesterday as David has been up today doing school work.

Je t’aime beaucoup, beaucoup – that will fool David; he has been looking over my shoulder.

Always,
Nellie

Got Up and Managed

Monday 9/16/1957
[The last letter before I was born, later in the month]

My Dearest:

Just a note – no news but we’ll let you know how things are going. We got and managed even Bible Reading this a.m. but not without scolding and quarrelling before we were ready. I’ll feel we are getting somewhere when we get going without all that.

Mother did the washing and I did some ironing this morning and got Jimmy off on the bus. Same seat as always.

Danny woke up and dashed down for records. Lay down on the sofa with me and cried or fussed because they were gone [the portable record player went back and forth with Dad]. Woke up this morn and said,
“Ki Yi Yippie” [From a record, Songs of the West, a family favorite] in Chicago.
“Bow Wow” [the dog? a record of dogs barking?] in Chicago.
Everything worthwhile in Chicago.

Missed the carrier. Got a notice from Blue Cross of increase in rates effective next month.

We are wondering how you are making out – when Hebrew class [now Dad is teaching Greek and Hebrew] is, etc. Be good to see you again this week end – although I feel bad about you traveling so much.

All my love,
Nellie

Lightening Came Out the Plug

Monday 8-05-57

My Dearest,

Just another note today. Dale’s father called and said you arrived about 4 p.m. I was glad to know that, but wondered what slowed you down.

Yesterday we went calling [canvassing neighborhood] for VBS [Vacation Bible School] but didn’t accomplish much. Looked like a slim crowd today [at VBS, I guess]. I didn’t stay. Danny is worse – on a water, cottage cheese and gelatin diet strictly until better. My stomach rumbles today, too.

The storm Saturday afternoon knocked our corn mostly flat, lightening came out the old electric stove plug in the kitchen twice [!!?!], but it really cooled things off and I feel 50% better already. Mr. Ibbottson spoke yesterday and picked out all our children as Harpers. Said they knew you when at Curly Hill [in PA].

King [a dog, whose dog?] is here and keeping Danny company while others are at VBS. Looks like I lost the battle of a dog again.

Danny wants to go see you every time we get in the car. He is confused – as I am, but about different things!

Writing “Thank you” notes today for the shower – 42 of them – whew!! David certainly seemed to enjoy this camp more then Jr. Boys – and said that Bruce told him he was a “good sport” — which helped his morale.

Much much love,
Nellie

A Hot Sultry Day

Saturday, 8-3-57

My Dearest,

I just returned from town — took your magazine in to the library (and Dorothy checked out two books), and took the keys over to Bert Smith to take up to camp. Mary said that he was going up this afternoon for a board meeting. I also asked him to bring David home with him, if David was still there when he got there.

What prompted me to write so soon was that I found your flash attachment under the chair this morning. I imagine that you meant that it should be in your brief case. I’ll not mail it up, but if, after looking the situation over up there, you decide to stay the second week [what?!! The woman is 8 months pregnant; I’d be saying “Get home now.”], drop me a card and I’ll send it up with Bunces for the second week.

Danny can’t understand where you are, but he wants to go see you. He thinks that you should be in camp or Chicago, and this new place is a little confusing to him. [I don’t know where Dad is; I’m guessing another Bible Camp in the Upper Peninsula.]

Mary asked me to contact the folks along this road about Vacation Bible School next week. Duane Jacobs requested that, as he used to have classes in Bogen school. I don’t know how much we can get done today and tomorrow, but we will try. [Again: 8 months preggers!]

It is a hot sultry day again. I hope it is cooler for you going north. Store up a little of that for me!

Well, I’ll sign off and get these letters out to the mail box and get some lunch ready for us. All we feel like doing is drinking something cold, but I suppose that when we get to the table we’ll do better than that. Got to get those scales down this week —.

Lovingly,
Nellie and children

We’ll Get There Yet

Tuesday, 5-28-1957

My Dearest,

You will not likely get this until you get back from the retreat on Friday. At first I wasn’t going to write and then I thought you would probably like some mail when you got back and would be wondering what I am going to do.

As far as I know I will try to come down for commencement. Wolcotts want to go out to Arlene’s for supper, or to get cleaned up before the meeting. However, if we get there a little ahead of time, I would rather stop at the school and eat supper with you. But this far ahead, I can only plan and wait until the last minute to see if anything else turns up. More scarletina, etc. Snyders have planned for so long and now they are sick with some of this, either measles or scarletina and don’t think that they will get down for commencement.

The car problem [dropped tail pipe and muffler, oil leak?] didn’t seem right and I asked Ralph yesterday if such a job would be one that you could do. I know that you like to tinker with the car and to save some money if possible. He said that he had tried it once, but had to end up taking it to the garage to finish it. With older cars some of the nuts get so rusted that it is hard to work with, and unless you have a place to drive it up on, it is really hard. The money problem was holding me up, too.

Then a letter came from Fields [a missionary organization]. I glanced inside and thought they had made a mistake and sent Bob Harper’s [My dad’s brother] receipt to us. So I laid it aside and later my curiosity got the best of me, wondering how they could make such a mistake. Behind the paper which is the same size as their receipts was a check of $25 from Bob and Jennie. So with that I called up Arnold and Don’s and they said they could take it today—so they have it now. He said he thought there was exhaust trouble too, and estimated the cost at $20, and I asked him to grease it while he had it.

By the time I paid insurance, sent out some Lord’s money, and had to get David some shoes on Saturday, I was glad to see that check. Wonderful how the Lord times the needs and the supply of them. So I hope that this meets with your approval – I figured that you would have plenty to do here in the next couple weeks, and if possible I know they would be able to use you at camp helping to get ready to open up. Beds, etc. all have to be set up. All of us could go up some days. Wash woodwork, etc. in readiness for this.

Frosted last night, but today is lovely. The two boys are outside playing. The last day of school for the others. David is going to work in the garden this afternoon. So I hope that I get to see you on Friday night. I just finished typing the programs for the recital. Now I must get to a huge washing.

Danny made me laugh this week. He pointed to your navy picture on the dresser: “Daddy’s picture” — then he chuckled. “In a dress!” Danny also had another milestone — he asked me to take him to the bathroom yesterday! But the next time he forgot. We’ll get there yet.

Love from all of us. We do love you, and are looking forward to summer. You would enjoy a big croquet game going on outside the window here – Danny and Jimmy. Nothing like it on record!

Always yours,
Nellie

I wrote Bob & Jennie a thank you for the gift

Dropped Tail Pipe and Muffler

Monday, May 27, 1957

Dearest John,

Monday morning and I am not getting a thing done—sorta let down after yesterday. After reading your letter and hearing about your visit to the Millers, we decided that we would go down for a visit. So Sunday afternoon we ate our dinner then drove down and got back here in time for church. [Sunday evening service] Ed Dillon Jr. had the pulpit yesterday. [Plymouth Brethren share the pulpit between local and visiting preachers] We got to all the morning services, too. So it was a full day for us, and we were all too tired to get up this morning. For all that I am getting done, I would have done better to stay in bed.

This afternoon we (or I) go to the doctor and Mrs. Wolcott is going to take care of the two boys for me. The boys right away asked if they could take “Stories for Children” along to play on her record player and I said that they could.

Winne wants to drive down to commencement on Friday night and then drive right back right after that. If I can work it out I will come along—and leave the children here. That way I will be back in time to get things ready here for the recital on Saturday and straightened out for Sunday. But judging from past weeks, so much can happen in a few days that I am not counting on coming until I am on my way. We’ll not get there much ahead of time, so it will be a short sight of you, which will not be easy. But knowing that you’ll be home Sunday will help.

Yesterday we must have dropped the tail pipe and muffler along the road somewhere. I was careful not to drive above my regular 45 [mph] so as not to have oil trouble, etc. But on the way home the car began to sound horrible. And is it terrible now. I thought of taking it in to Don and Arnold’s but didn’t know if that was a job you would want to do or not, so I’ll stick close to home after today and wait until you get here, unless I hear from you to go ahead and get it done.

There are several of the young people that really need special help and prayer. I feel that that is a ministry I could do and am not doing and so far am certainly just wishing that I would; but haven’t the back bone to buckle down to business in intercessory prayer.

Miserably windy cold day today. I should make a fire, but I keep hoping it will warm enough so that I don’t have to do it.

Dave told me to get the youngsters’ registrations in to camp this year as someone in the meeting is going to pay for them, so I must do that today. They surprise me and are rather reluctant to want to go. They had hoped that we would be there for the whole time, but unless more buildings get finished that is out for at least the first of the season. Rain again most of Saturday at the lake so not much building could get done. It rained here in the afternoon – just when the parade for Michigan Week was to begin. They went on with it, bands playing away in a downpour. I took the youngsters in for it; we sat in the car to watch.

Well, I will close and make an effort to get things straightened out here before I go to town. When problems come up like the car, and a few others, I feel so helpless in knowing what is best to do—and how glad I will be to have you home. Like Jimmy says, “Daddy can fix anything.” But it is not primarily a handy man that I need here. To have your love and fellowship in person will be appreciated more than ever after these months. And still I must marvel at the way the Lord has worked things out this winter and taken care of us.

Always yours, Nellie

P.S. Jimmy and his questions. “Do we have ragged clothing?”
“The shirt you have on now is, but most things are good.” (I thought someone at Millers had said something. I don’t know how he wore that one there.) “Why?”
“Well, our teacher says, God said our clothes are filthy rags.”
So, I tried to explain that.
This morning – “How can we give our money to the Lord?”
“By giving it to people working for the Lord like Aunt Betty or Mert and Jane.”
“Well, how do they reach up to the Lord?”
More explanations. One thing is sure – Jimmy thinks.

Clothes Conundrum

Nellie’s great-granddaughter, Aria, modeling in 2014

Saturday, May 25, 1957

My Dearest,

Johnny brought home this story yesterday. Mrs. Lewis told them to write what they wanted and sound out the words they didn’t know how to spell. Not bad, eh? [I wish I could read it]

Haven’t been to town all week so I must go today in time to get to the bank. I started cleaning out drawers, etc. yesterday and today feel swamped with work. Keeping this size family’s clothes in shape is a huge task. If we only lived in the mountains where jeans were proper for everything.

Windy and cool today – I may have to start another fire. Except for colds, the family seems about back to normal. Jimmy has the worst cold now.

I asked Gertrude if there was anything I could do for the recital and got the job of writing out the invitations and typing the programs. So I must get that done today.

I expect you feel swamped right now too with all that is coming up. In a way I’m sorry you have to speak on the second [6-2-57], but there wasn’t much you could do about that. It will rush you. We’ll try to be good and let you sleep a lot the next week!!! That’s a hard assignment for us!

Now I’d better close and get to town. David is with Marvin but the rest are going with me, which really taxes my patience in town. They haven’t gone for a long time and in the long run I feel better taking them than leaving them home alone.

This seems hasty to send, my sweetheart, but the only reason I’m writing is that I do love you. Anyone else could wait. And I miss you so very much.

Always yours,
Nellie

Some Household.

May 22, 1957

Dear Daddy,

I am home today and probly tomorrow with scarletina [strep throat with a rash or scarlet fever]. Margaret has lost her voice and Jimmy has the measles. So I am writing you instead of her writing you.

Mrs. Wolcott came over last night and ironed lots of clothes for us. I can’t spell nothing today [n-o-t-h-i-n-g, haha!]. I as asking Mother everything.

[Mom’s handwriting] And she asked me to finish it! Ralph [Wolcott] had a meeting so Louise came over here and how it helped out. …

Jimmy is not very sick yet, but I can’t keep him down. Danny can’t throw off his cold. The girls are not so sick but, you know—just bad enough to not stay in bed all the time, but bad enough to be restless and cranky. Some household. Wish I didn’t have prayer meeting tonight – hard to get prepared in this atmosphere.

How I miss you—last night we had a terrific storm. Rain and wind. Children slept through it all, but I didn’t. Ralph suggests we go to commencement and return that night in their car as he gets off work that night. It is the only way I could come, as the girls have a recital on the [page cut off]. I’ll have to be here.

Talking Faith with a Salesman

[No date]
Another hard rain last night

My Dearest,

Lots of confusion around here. While I was getting ready for prayer meeting yesterday Dale Sowers [Fuller Brush sales guy?] came in – and talked and talked. He always brings up scripture and the sum of it was 1. Can the Bible be all true? 2. He believes Jesus is God’s Son – but not God. Sounds foolish to us that have always believed, but I can understand that.

What seemed to impress him most was just before he left he asked about your salary – not what it was, but what denomination paid it. When I told him how it was received he really gasped. “You mean – before I come back to deliver you will have to ask the Lord for enough for this?” I said that that was precisely what had happened the last time — and it came in the mail before he came!! “Now,” I said “Do you see why I can unreservedly believe the promises of the Bible as God’s word and true, and that Jesus is God?” But I sometimes feel his interest is insincere – just a good salesman. He actually sees no need of a Saviour.

As he left Danny came downstairs from his nap – with a case of diarrhea drooling all over the room. Just cleaned that up when David came in from school white as a sheet and dropped down sick. So I called up and said I couldn’t get to prayer meeting. David was back to normal this a.m. and went to school. Jimmy seems to be getting over the measles like it was the three day ones. Dorothy is up today. I’ve been mending.

Counting the days,
Nellie

Phone Call and Flowers

Monday 5-15-57

Just a P.S. this morning. I forgot to take the letter along to mail on Saturday and then the beautiful corsage came so I wanted to write more – and then your telephone call came. How nice of you to remember me in so many ways. The girls were as thrilled as I was with the corsage. They didn’t know that they made such beautiful things. And Dorothy about split when she answered the phone and it was you. Danny wouldn’t say a word but surely grinned and talked about it all evening.

Jimmy seemed to be so perky in the afternoon that I decided that maybe he wasn’t getting the measles, but just a cold. Even the cold seemed to have disappeared after his nap. But I checked his temp before started to dress for church and he had a whole degree so I left him home with the girls and went with David and Johnny. These longer evenings they don’t mind staying so much. They locked the doors and I left instructions about what to do if an emergency should come up. Be best to call the Bogens or Twitchells as they are usually home and it is hard to reach anyone at the chapel.

Arthur Hart, Jr. is to be at the chapel on Thursday night, so they are postponing prayer meeting until then. So if Jimmy is too sick for me to go the youngsters will be upstairs.

As I told you on the phone, Mrs. Warner brought out some records for the family. 45’s and 78’s. A lot of Bev Shea, too. She seems to gradually getting back to normal.

When I went to Howe on Saturday afternoon, I saw some nice tomato plants and, as it had quit raining, I bought a dozen to put out. I have never planted them so early before, so wonder how they will do. They look alright so far, if we don’t have a cool week before June.

Lots to do today, so I had better get to it. Danny crumbled cookies all over the davenport and Jimmy is sweeping them up this morning while I type this.

I surely did enjoy hearing from you yesterday and since you had called on Wednesday night, both the flowers and the call were very much of a surprise and such lovely surprises. Thank you so very much, sweetheart – you are surely good to me, so much more than I deserve and certainly giving more than you receive. I do love you with all my heart.

Always yours,
Nellie