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

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.

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

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

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

Spiritual depression

Monday a.m. 5-09-57

My Dearest:

It was so good to get your letter on Saturday and the money enclosed will take care of all bills to date. How faithfully the Lord has supplied our needs this year. The news of the house sounds encouraging, however, I haven’t even mentioned it to the children until you know more about it. One thing I have noticed is that they often pray for a house now, and before, they just weren’t interested in one at all. Leave it to Mother to find a place.

My heart aches when I read about how down you feel spiritually. I know exactly what you mean, but I somehow believe that the physical has something to do with it. Read Mueller – the appendix – on getting the needful rest for the body. And then one of the reasons he started the orphanages was to show people that the Lord would supply what was needed, because in that day people were working 14 to 16 hours a day, leaving only time for a hurried prayer and a verse a day. He believed they should cut down on the work, even if it meant trusting the Lord for some of their needs so that the inner man could be fed and grow.

Teaching all week, traveling on week ends, with trying to take your place as a father in the home is perhaps more physically than you can do and keep the spiritual life warm and vibrant. I’m praying that your need will be met – if it is more than this, may the Lord show you and help you to yield all. Both of us lack self-discipline and I know that leads to defeat.

I stayed home from all services yesterday. I never thought, but I could have left Dorothy with Danny during morning meeting and gone and then taken them to Sunday School. Next time that happens I will do that, as I miss not being out – three weeks now for me.

Danny is up and around, but his eyes are still weak and he tires easily. Has a great ‘My’ complex. ‘My Daddy’ tops them all and no one else can shout him in that claim. He also claims the bike, which causes Jimmy some trouble. Jimmy still has no sign of measles and declares he is not going to get them.

Mary Lou MacPherson brought me about six lovely m. [maternity] dresses. I’ll be the best dressed for this one than I have ever been. Maybe the Lord is providing in case we are going to be working more in the public this summer.

The rally was fine yesterday according to the children’s report. They enjoyed it all and Dorothy gave her Welcome O.K. she said. Her brothers tormented her about being so nervous, etc., but she said that she really wasn’t. Had the center section of the auditorium filled.

Beautiful weather again today – makes me want to forget the house and get outdoors. I will do some while Danny sleeps this afternoon. Now I had better close. I love you so very much and do pray that we can be together not only this summer, but this coming year. More perhaps tomorrow.

Always yours with love,
Nellie

He Throws Off Trouble

[The last post (4/18) was out of order. This one, and the next, come before it.]

Monday, April 15, 1957

My Dearest,

This will likely be just another note as I have several irons in the fire and have to be at the Doctor’s office at 1:30.

The weather is so lovely. I have to mention it, although it got down to 11° last night. We must get the yard cleaned up.

Gertrude took the girls to the auditorium yesterday to hear the American Piano Trio. They got autographs on their program. I had to laugh — Dorothy went out without a hat and Gertrude wouldn’t take her that way!! Fortunately, Mrs. Wolcott had just given her one or she would have been out of luck.

Lennie Noss came out and said that John and Bill McPherson and Al had spent a long day at camp on Wednesday and poured all the footing for the new cabins – a huge day’s work donated. She brought me two M. [maternity] dresses – and has she ever lost weight. She looks grand.

David was home with a sore throat yesterday a.m. so we just went to S.S. [Sunday School] and only left him alone that long. By evening he felt good, so we all went. He is really healthy and throws off any trouble in a hurry.

I dread the ordeal this afternoon (at Dr’s).

Now I must get to work – washing. Wish I knew how the income tax was coming along. The youngsters want to drive down early Sunday (Easter) and come back Monday a.m. They have no school Friday or Monday. I’ll tackle it if you O.K. it and let me know by return mail. Lennie has asked us to dinner on Easter and I have to let her know. Would be wonderful to see you, but quite a trip for me and the car! Now I must sign off.

All my love,
Nellie

Measles

Thursday, 4-18-57

My Dearest John,

After yesterday’s sketchy note, I will try to do a little better today. I have three youngsters on the sofas in various stages of measles. Johnny causes me some concern as he has more fever and quite a cough with his. Margaret will soon be better and Jimmy is just starting a little fever. I take it for granted that he will be next. Dorothy stayed at home with them last night while we went to prayer meeting. I don’t feel quite right about leaving them, but I couldn’t get anyone to take the class. Not so many out either. Lots of sickness around.

Your reply certainly came back promptly. It came in Wednesday’s mail. A long time since service was so good. But as you have figured out, with the measles we’ll be staying home. Some of them may be better, but you never can tell when they will pop out on one of the other youngsters. I had hoped to plan a surprise for the youngsters and drive up to camp one of these days, but that is out, too.

I reported the furnace draft again, and Mr. Blanchard put another one on today. Because we have not had good draft there seems to be a lot of soot, so I’m going to buy some that stuff to clean that out.

Fluffy is getting huge – really wobbles around. She has been demoted to the porch again. She won’t stay in the house long because Danny won’t leave her alone and she is touchy.

You’ll have to buckle down and get your work caught up. Rather have a Hoyt reputation than a Bauman one, eh? A lot more satisfaction in the job done, also. Good thing that you are staying there because there is not much joy with sickly scrappy youngsters. The house gets a mess in a hurry. They are not sick enough to lie still and keep things in order. I guess that you know what it is like.

Millimans have changed to diesel tractors. Mrs. Milliman said that they figured they could save in fuel in three years the price of the tractors. Green John Deere’s.

I stopped taking the vitamin capsules, and take just the mineral tablets. Those vitamins seemed to increase my appetite, which is totally unnecessary. Dr. Fiegel told me to go ahead and diet and even gave me a prescription for capsules to take away my appetite. Everything seems to be O.K. with me. But I sure feel icky most days. I carried Danny too much on the weekend and hurt my back…so from now on he is walking on his own legs.

Almost forgot to tell you that he is progressing in this training business. “Big boy,” he says. But just part of the time now. He won’t let anyone sit on one of the dining room chairs at the end of the table in the kitchen. that is what you always use and he fights to save it for you!

Now I must get lunch. Tuna salad sandwiches. Only starch I’m supposed to have is one slice of bread each day. Leave eggs out too, unless I want just the white. Report cards came yesterday, but only Dorothy’s showed improvement. David brought one up and went down in two. I surely miss you and look forward to summer. We’ll be praying for you on Easter [4-21-57]. And we will surely miss you on that day. Love from all of us, me especially.

Nellie

The Oil Gage Flopped Down

March 18, 1957
Monday a.m.

Dearest John,

The bus has come and gone and breakfast is over. Jimmy has even had his little sit on my lap which is almost routine every morning.

Before I get to rushing around today I want to get a little letter off to you. Saturday was a nice, although a little cold, day. I decided that we would go down to see the Millers in the afternoon. I knew that we have been promising that we would come some afternoon, probably Sunday, and it was almost two months since they had moved, so we took off. Had no trouble finding them and it was like a family reunion. Bill has to come up early tonight for his glasses, so they may all come up here for supper. It is an effort [for them] to do that on a school night.

I’ve been watching that oil gage like a hawk because I can’t understand how that [?] happened. But something is drastically wrong with our oil consumption. All of a sudden just as I got to Elkhart the gage flopped down, so I stopped and bought a quart. But that barely kept the gage where it is supposed to be. And when we got home the thing showed only about a half inch of oil and it took about four or five quarts to fill it. And that all in one week. I noticed that whenever I slowed down it really put out a smoke screen. So yesterday I kept my speed down to about 30 or 35 all the time and the smoke screen was not as bad. The man in the station at Elkhart said he could see no leak and I haven’t either. So is it rings that we need? The floor has rusted out — we can see the ground from the inside — I almost feel that we should look for a trade-in in better condition. Or get moved where one car is all we need.

We had a nice time with Damers yesterday. My admiration of those folks goes up each time I meet them. The youngsters really had a good time and didn’t want to come home. And Becky cried because we had tea!

Sturgis was beaten on Friday night by Greenville. And Dick didn’t get the title because the coach would not let him continue wrestling on Friday and he had to forfeit a match. He had been quite sick and it was too much for him. They were all pretty disappointed, but I think they accepted it as from the Lord. I did not get to talk to any of them.

Dorothy has to have some cupcakes for a school party today and i want to get ready for Millers, besides doing some washing, so I had better sign off. I think I have covered the news. Except to let you know again that we surely do miss you and look forward to seeing you. We thought of you a lot yesterday out at Wheaton. I do wish that telephone calls weren’t as expensive. I love you and I just can’t get used to having you gone so much — howbeit the Lord has given joy and peace just to know that you are busy for Him.

All my love,
Nellie

[In honor of my Mom’s 100th birthday on March 23, 2020, I dug out her letters to my dad and started reading. In 1956 my dad took a job teaching at Emmaus Bible School in Oak Park, IL. The college was young and didn’t have funds to pay a regular wage. So there wasn’t money to move the family from Sturgis, Michigan to the Chicago suburbs. So Mom stayed at a drafty farm house with six kids: Dorothy 10, David 9, Margaret 8, Johnny 6, Jimmy 4, and Danny 2. She was pregnant with me.]