What Worries Me

1-24-58
11:30 p.m.

My Dearest,

Mother [Dad’s mom, Margaretta Harper] called about 30 minutes ago that she was still coming on, so while I’m waiting for her I’ll get something written to you. Your letter came today and I’m very honored that you took time this busy week to write — and ashamed that I haven’t written.

We have been watching for Mother since Wednesday evening, although she called Tuesday evening and said if the roads were bad she would stop overnight in Detroit. They weren’t bad then, but they are terrible tonight. Danny got up on Thursday morn, mad. “Where’s Grandma?” “Grandma gone already?” After I persuaded him that she was still coming he cheered up a bit. He’s so comical when his dander’s up.

Finally this afternoon I put through a call to Buffalo. They had line trouble and it took a couple of hours before the operator called back to say that Mrs. Harper had left this morning for California. Got the information I wanted anyhow. [We carried this tradition into our marriage. After a trip, we would make a collect call to family, and they would not accept it. It was a free way to let them know we made it home fine.]

Incidentally, our phone bill came today. $20. [With inflation, that would be ~ $180 today]

I’m going to stop and sweep the steps; the snow’s getting deep and it is still snowing.

Wolcotts were out Monday evening. I asked about [for privacy, I’m not including her name.] Her husband’s divorce was not legal so their marriage was annulled and she is expecting soon. She has a job of housework and caring for a little boy now. Her folks are hard up as her Dad is sick in bed for sometime now.

So she is not going to keep the baby, but go home to live, get a job and help her folks out. What worries me is that baby. Is not keeping it the right way out? Am I wrong? It seems to me that she’ll regret that later. I’ve stewed and prayed over it long enough that I’d be willing to take it for her until such a time as she could keep it. But perhaps, living in the same place, she wouldn’t hear of that. With your consent I think I’ll make some inquiries.

Sat p.m.
Mother drove in as I finished these two pages. You know how we talk and work around when Grandma’s here. She was tired and slept awhile after lunch. So did Danny so we could give the record player a rest.

I went in town this a.m. and bought enough dishes to make a set of ten. Had to take turquoise and yellow as I didn’t like the tangerine, etc. Your phone came: how good it was to hear you. As I said, I got Jimmy p.j.’s, overshoes, a shirt and mittens — all 1/3 off. I was so glad to get these things and so was he.

Mother has to leave early in the morning and it is late now, so I’m going to send this with her and start over on Monday.

Love from us all, me especially,
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.

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

A Bawl Game

10-19-57

Dearest John:

What a morning!

We are using the automatic, but we can’t get the suds to return to the machine, so we are lifting it with buckets and it is a high lift. Dorothy just suggested that we may have the hose too near the bottom. An idea and we’ll check at the end of the load. I have a letter ready to mail to Sears if that proves wrong. We are using the new gyrator and it works perfectly so far. And what we have washed dries in half the time it did with the wringer. When we get caught up and organized it is certainly going to make wash day easier.

Margaret was so tearful this morning that it finally dawned on my to check her temp and it was over 101°. By that time she told me she was cold. The house was cool because the wind is blowing, but she was definitely chilling. So I guess she is down with the bug. But you know kids. Wanting to play games while down.

If we have the flu, Mother better not come here and get exposed. With sickness we couldn’t can [we canned up to 100 quarts of applesauce every year] much anyhow, and Daddy depends on her too much to risk getting down with it. Besides, as it is now, I don’t see how we can afford apples and sugar. Perhaps things will change by then. I spent more than I should have yesterday on groceries; also bought a bushel of apples for eating, Jonathans, so we could have them for lunches. They need the fruit and in the long run this is very cheap eating.

David got up before breakfast and dug the rest of the potatoes this morning. A good start for the day, but as of now, I’m sure the day is not continuing or going to end as well. In fact one would thing we were having a bawl game [<<— !!] and I didn’t misspell that. With Margaret down, Jimmy and Danny with nasty colds, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Johnny were getting something. Well, it is no wonder. Dorothy has been a jewel and a lifesaver.

Now I will close and get lunch ready. Tomato soup and toasted cheese sandwiches.

Very interested in Tozier’s message yesterday. Some questions to ask you when you get home. Wonder where women without husbands get their questions answered? I could get along without that, but I couldn’t get along without you and your love. I still marvel that you love me, but so very glad that you do.

Carol Ruth weighed 7# 3oz last Sunday. Today, Saturday, it is 7# 10 oz. so she is going along fine. I got orange juice and Similac yesterday. Can’t get her stuffy nose cleared up.

All our love, mine especially,

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.

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.]