Wise and Gracious and Kind

Thursday 5-09-57

Dearest Sweetheart,

How good it was to talk to you last night — and so much excitement. The folks came in just as we were working on supper. Danny fortunately turned the oven off, or the chuck roast would have been done and we would have eaten before they came. As it was, we hadn’t eaten and Mother had brought some steaks from Howe – delicious – which we broiled; along with some fresh beans, we had a delicious supper. Set the table in the dining room, and Danny wondered what was up! Not Sunday. And now my supper is all cooked for tonight!

They left about 10 this a.m. Wolcotts came over to see if they could help get the car carrier on top and so we visited somewhat longer, but it was good fellowship. Mother dug a bag of dandelions to take home for their supper. [what?!!]

Danny seems to be back to normal this morning. So good to have him that way. He really loved his granddaddy.

How I would love to come for the banquet and I would feel so proud to be beside you. I was thinking this morning about how I could manage it, but anyway you look at it, it would mean a lot of maneuvering, unless there was someone to just come in and take over.

Mother said to tell you to call Wayne Sorenson about the house, and if it is what we want, to inquire about renting it until we could get a payment ready. They want to sell, and talk like they would just dispose of their things. Mother says that there is an apartment upstairs in that house that the Rogers stayed in when they were home. The folks need a place to call home base, and we seem the likely ones to provide that. I’d love to. They would like to just give us the things from their house that we could use. Perhaps the Lord is going to work this all out so that when they can sell, we can have a place to move to and take their things. Norwood meeting [a Plymouth Brethren chapel in suburb of Chicago] would be nice to attend, although I believe it would be good for us to be in a smaller place that needs building up, i.e. La Grange.

Of course, Daddy reminds us of the high cost of living there, taxes, etc. and told me that Harlowe’s house is for sale as it is costing them too much to maintain it – taxes being raised in Wheaton again this year. Said we might get it!

While the folks would be glad to use money from the sale of their house for a down payment, I believe it would be better if we would ask the Lord to help us meet that ourselves. [GO MOM!] Perhaps that is pride and wanting independence, but I would feel that it would be a clearer leading of the Lord that this is the place for us.

You are tired now and the thought of camp seems too much, but if this house deal doesn’t develop, it seems to me that we should plan to go up to help, if they still need us. I believe it could be worked out so that you could get as much studying done there as you could here at this house.

While the folks are willing to sell out in order to be more free to serve the Lord, I don’t believe that will be necessary. As long as the children are little I’ll be home bound and would love to help out in their ministry by keeping a place for them and doing what I can for them to lighten their load. While it may be cheaper to live the way we are now – that is only figured in dollars and cents and not in cost of the need of the family or your physical strength being used to come back and forth.

Now I must close — lunch time. The boys were in a little while ago with an apple to eat. Guess they had inside information that it was near noon! I love you, Sweetheart, and we are surely praying for you these closing weeks of school. Get as much rest as you can. The work will go faster when you do get to it then. Cut down on the exams — the students are tired, too! Ahem!

All our love,
Nellie

My Tummy Isn’t What It Was

Saturday 5-4-57

My Dearest John,

I just got home from shopping so will get a note off to you before I start lunch. Spent $18 on groceries this week, but quite a bit of it went into the deep freeze so I guess that is not too bad. Lots of day-old bread on sale, a half gallon of ice cream at 59¢ and a pork roast in the freezer. Also go fryers for 29¢ for dinner tomorrow. I guess that I should have gotten a couple for the freezer, but the pocket book wouldn’t take that.

Perhaps you are wondering where the money came from. The Lord directed others and are needs are being met – the enclosed letter from Wheaton explains $30 that was sent here yesterday, and Kreimes sent $24 for insurance that I used. Got the rent paid, groceries for today, and enough for offering tomorrow. Still have the utilities, gas, and telephone, plus insurance that will have to be paid this coming week, so if mail comes from you today, those things will be taken care of.

Danny stayed with the girls this morning without complaining much. He is feeling much better, but still has a bad cough, cold, and measles on his body. But the temp is down a lot and he wants to get going, though he tires easily. I won’t take him out tomorrow and it is the rally for CEF [Child Evangelism Fellowship] which disappoints the youngsters. They will go, but I won’t hear Dorothy’s Welcome Speech.

Got the whole downstairs cleaned yesterday – really cleaned, floors even waxed. It won’t last long, as sand is tracked in by the shovelful. It is beautiful pure sand that they dug up from the sewer hole, and the children play in it and bring it in. This afternoon while Danny naps we hope to start our garden.

Have had a good fire going yesterday and today – a cold wind blowing – so different from the first of the week.

I have a terrible headache. Dieting always causes constipation. Guess I’ll have to choke down some all bran today. Dr. said to take mineral oil or milk of magnesia whenever I wanted it, but they are both terrible, too.

The package came from Sears that Mrs. Warner ordered. Two lovely dresses – dark blue with a white collar, lovely for Sunday, and a navy blue with pink-rose top that is lovely, too. Smock type. David keeps kidding me about starting in to wear them. Since I’ve lost some weight my regular dresses still fit, though I guess my tummy isn’t what it was.

David just brought a pup in. The eyes are open now. Two weeks old today. My typing is horrid, but I guess you can take me by what I mean and not what I write.

As much as we would like to see you and are waiting for summer, I still think that you had better stay near school next weekend and try to get caught up with your papers, etc. It should all be done soon, and if it goes to the last week, you’ll be a wreck for the whole month of June which is no good. Another thing about staying near school this summer — perhaps you could work on the radio programs that Dan Ball has been working on. Camp still intrigues me, but unless we ate in the dining room all summer I can’t see where with our size family we could get much done outside of taking care of them. I keep looking for ideas in case we do go, and at the same time, work on things here in case we move to Chicago. We are praying and planting as though we will stay here! Quite a situation! If we do stay, let’s think about a trip to Washington.

I can day dream and suppose a lot – eh? Well, I had better close and get down to realities – plenty of them around here. I love you and marvel at the Lord giving me such a patient, loving husband, when I am so much the opposite.

All my love,
Nellie
xxxxxx

It’s Convenient to Have $$

Saturday 4-13-57

My Dearest,

Your sweet letter came yesterday. I surely appreciate it and having you get the money here. With music lessons, eggs, etc. it is really convenient to have it.

Yesterday I heard on WMBI radio school of the Bible – Bill McDonald’s course on “Good News.”

As soon as the youngsters hear “Back to the Bible” we are going to town. A few bargains this week – sugar is one.

Psalm 37:5 [Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.] came to mind as I am praying about this summer. We need to also be concerned about deciding in time so that others concerned will not be inconvenienced.

The ground is white with frost every morning. We still haven’t gotten outside to clean up.

Margaret is OK today. David has a sore throat. We played checkers last night. They can beat me without much trouble!

I’ll close now and try to get a letter off the first of the week. Guess I shouldn’t write on the back of this paper; rather hard to read. Thanks again for writing – I surely appreciate each letter from you!

All my love,
Nellie

Down to a Few Cents

[No date. Between 4-8 and 4-13]

My dearest John,

About time for me to get another letter off to you. I didn’t intend to wait so long, but each morning has been busy and I’m no good in the evenings. Makes me wonder if I will be good at anything this summer. Just now I was sweeping — rather, trying to get the downstairs swept up in time to get a letter written before the mailman came. And suddenly I broke out in a sweat and got so weak that I had to quit. I’m glad that I go to the Dr. on Monday and maybe he can help me out.

Margaret is home again today. Had a little temp. but nothing much seems to be wrong outside of that. So many things are going around that I decided that I had better keep her here and see if anything develops.

More snow last night. It seems that spring will never come.

I’ve been thinking about the summer. I can think of worse things than living at the school [In Oak Park, IL] all summer. Just being here without you for instance. With a gym and swimming pool handy. An office for you to study in when you wished. I suppose we’d be eating and cooking in the kitchen for those around. The little ones could play down there. Perhaps eating with others would be good training for our mannerless crew. Might be embarrassing for awhile, but they are not so dumb but that they would catch on. And you will be in the position to get ready for fall better than if you were at camp. Of course being out at camp all summer seems almost ideal, but I actually doubt if I would be up to taking Girls Camp responsibility.

I’ve just been thinking on the typewriter. I’ll be glad when some decision is made as I’ll know what to do and what to work towards.

Tomorrow I’m invited to a shower for Wanda Garden down at Twitchell’s. They are the folks across from Millimans. She is expecting next month. I want to go because it will be a chance to get acquainted and I feel that I’ve not been a very good neighbor and you certainly can’t witness if you can’t neighbor to them.

Looks like Easter [is when] Fluffy is going to have her family, if she waits that long. A big mess all over the place again this morning. Yesterday we had wash water all over again. Just one mess after another. If she has them in the house some day, I’m likely to do something drastic, even if it puts me in the dog house!

I hope to hear from you today. No mail tomorrow under the new postal curtailment plan [?]. And we are down to a few cents. Rather awkward needing the money here when it all goes to you there. This is really the first time this has happened though. Usually there has been more here than I need. And if I don’t hear from you I’ll not be surprised as I know you have that income tax to work out this week besides all your other tasks.

Well, I’m about at the end of the page, and I’ve quit trembling so much, so I guess I had better close and get back to the work here. I love you and miss you so much. I would like to have a week or so together with no other responsibility but to catch up on all we’ve missed this winter. But we can only dream of such a time with all the cares of this world upon us. Take care of yourself – I’m afraid you’ve been going too hard and it will tell on you sooner or later.

All my love,
Nellie

Shoveling coal like mad – 1/18/57

January 18, 1957

My dearest John,

Just a note today and will enclose some letters that have come. I meant to write yesterday but got busy running the sweeper and didn’t get it done. Really got cold Wed. night. I couldn’t get the car started and so called Dillons, and they came after us. David wanted to run to Milliman’s [a neighboring farm] but it was so terribly cold, I didn’t want to get them out, when I knew that some of the folks at the chapel would be out anyway. 2 below zero at supper time with a good wind blowing. The boys’ room is closed up and they are on the davenport. That helps to keep the other two rooms upstairs warm. It got to 10 below that night and, while not that cold, it hasn’t been above 15 above zero since. Shoveling coal like mad (16 tons).

Yesterday Milliman’s went up and down the road starting the neighbors’ cars with the Jeep. The bus wouldn’t even start so Heitchers down the road picked up the kids and took them to school. Herb McLaughlin brought them home in the old greyhound the school owns.

We have been way off schedule this week since the youngsters are home every afternoon. Seems like another vacation. And it has been nice not packing lunches. We get a decent breakfast this way. Guess I should start earlier in the morning, but it is so cold. I have to get up though now in order to have a fire. I put 4 big shovelfuls of coal on last night at 11 and at six this morning there was just enough fire left to start some coal burning. And the house wasn’t above 65.

I delivered your message to Ralph. I think that he will write Mr. Little. At the farewell the young people gave Millers two beautiful lamps. The chapel gave them one of those pictures of Christ that have a bulb to light or plug in to put a light behind the picture, and a nice electric skillet. For such a cold night and such short notice, quite a few people turned out. Not as many however as if it would be on Sunday night. They would have had it then, but word got out that they were moving on Sat.; in reality it will be Tuesday. (if they can get a van – that hadn’t been arranged yet yesterday) Margaret Snook suggested that Harpers move in the house – if they do consider that, what shall I say? Since it is on sale perhaps they will not consider it.

Danny has an imagination. He calls that little peg thing that the rings fit on his “this I know”. He puts the rings (records) on and twirls it around! How about that?

Now I’ll close – . Oh, about the money, don’t bother to send any now. I have plenty for a while. Damers gave me 10, Moores handed me 10, and the check from Cathers was signed to me, so there is plenty. I have acknowledged all of those already. I don’t know if it was impulse or the Lord bidding – but all day Sunday I felt I should give Arnie $10, so just before I left on Sunday evening I saw Ralph and asked him to give it to Arnie anonymously. I was going to skip it thinking it was probably impulse but as I drove out of the yard and nearly bumped into Ralph, I had the thought to handing it to him to give – now how do you know?

I went to the book store in La Grange yesterday to get a little more material for Wed. nights and bought the youngsters a few more books. Wanted to get Milnot [evaporated milk] but forgot. Did get some day old bread and gas at Howe. Gas goes sooner when you have to run the car a while to get it warmed up each time.

W.S.T.R. has already sent your income things here. Mike Strong is taking your place at night. Dick Bunce won his ninth match last Wed. night. Sturgis plays East Lansing tonight – they are tied for first place so it is a big game. Millers invited the girls to go and David is about dying he wants to go so badly. They might ask him if he and Pat weren’t so goofy about each other. But I can’t take him, so he is mad and says he won’t even listen on the radio! But I’m going to!

Now I will close – Loads of love from all of us. We sorta have our hopes up that you’ll get home the 27th. But don’t do it if you are to preach someplace else – Unless you have the whole weekend it is too much. It is almost too much to come so far to preach and get back. Would you consider the train to Elkhart – I’d come meet you there. It would be so much easier traveling that way. Could study while riding.

As I said before, I must close. The chicken backs and necks for soup must be overdone by now.

Lovingly, Nellie

Troubles, troubles 12-17-1956

Monday, 12-17-56

Dear John,

Troubles, troubles, – sure did need your shoulder to bawl on Saturday:: Had a letter from Mother with a $25 check in it and lost it. Completely out of money I needed it for Margaret’s music lesson which I was to take her to town for. I must have absent mindedly filed Mother’s letter in the waste basket instead of on the desk. Although it runs in my mind that I put it up some place where I would not lose it – but I can’ find it now.

We scoured around and found some change and went to get the car started and it wouldn’t start. Mrs. Warner had been out and we talked so long that we were late as it was. So I had to call Gerturd that we could not make it in. So I sent David down after some eggs and to ask Marvin to look at the car when he came by. The chapel fellowship Christmas banquet was on Sat. night and we were going to go to that one we didn’t make it to your banquet. Marv. came up and told me the spark plugs were dripping wet from condensation since the weather had warmed up so abruply and I hadn’t used the car since Tuesday. So he pushed me and we got ready to go to town and hunted the whole house over for Jimmy’s shoes. He finally went to town with just boots on. David brought the eggs in and handed me a check and some change. He said “Mr. Milliman handed me this and wouldn’t let me pay for the eggs!” Nearly six dollars. So we got a $2.00 tree and had money for the banquet. Margaret just beamed and said, “See Mother, it pays to trust the Lord. He knows all about the messes we get in and takes care of us anyway!” I hadn’t gone to pieces as I wanted to and sorely wished for you to help us out, but had told the children that none of these things happen but that the Lord knows about it and will work it all out for good. And when Margaret spoke out I just about bawled for sure – from joy this time. And at the banquet, Jean Mead came up and told us not to put anything in the basket as we were their guests! So we had offering for Sunday – only David ate so much at the banquet that he was sick all night and only got relief towards morning, which mess I cleaned up and gained his admiration as he can’t stand that. So we didn’t get out on Sunday morning. But by evening he was feeling good again so we went to hear Don Taylor. And last night I received a card with $25 dollars in it from the Warner, Kribs, Wolcotts, McLaughins, and SMith’s (Karne’s Folks).

We tried to get the lights on the tree, but can’t get the bubble lights on. By the end of this separated living you’ll be so appreciated for all you usually do that we’ll put you on a shelve and not let you do anything!!! I promised cookies for the Good News Club parties so must go to town today to deliver them.

About the Christmas plans I know nothing more. I guess it is up to you about what you do on Friday – whether tyou stay there or come home. The Nash is to be fixed on the 28th – early in the morning. I suppose that I should be home for prayer meeting on Wed. night, unless something imp. keeps us in Wheaton any longer. Danny loves the tree – keeps tugging at one or the other of us to see it with him – talking a steady stream of Dutch all the time.

[Handwritten] Wrote about 20 cards notes & letters today so I’ll make this short. All my love, Nellie

Financial Advice for Sons

In a sentence: real estate trumps wheels

When we took car trips our teenaged boys used to scan the horizon looking for cool cars.  Their heads swiveled as they yelled, “Jaguar!” with whatever mysterious letters that are part of car models: XK, SE, GTS, CLK, MKS, MKZ, yadda, yadda, yadda. 

They saved their paper route and lawn care earnings and bought their first car or truck when they were 15 or 16.  Rule # 1 was that they had to pay cash for the vehicle (a rule we have followed ourselves).  Money is the number one struggle for many marriages. We wanted them to learn to wait, especially with an optional purchase, and to view voluntary debt with disgust.  No car payments allowed. 

Beyond that, I was attempting to change their view, persistently persuading them to think house instead of car.  If you drop all your available funds into a car, where will you find a down payment for a house?  I explained the tax law which is quite favorable to handyman-guys willing to build up some sweat equity. 

You can purchase a house, a junker; live in it for at least two years while you fix it up into a cute starter home; sell it, and reinvest your gain into another house.  The gain, if you reinvest, is tax free.  The sticking point is getting into the first house/trailer/shack.   It’s tough.  It takes long-term perspective.  But it can be done.  Our oldest son bought a home when he was nineteen with minimal assistance from us.   

Higher education plays a considerable part in the puzzle.   It is expensive.  I prayed that my  middle son would graduate from college debt-free, and the answer has been  “No.”  My intention is to do a better job researching avenues to ameliorate the load for our youngest.   Our assistance has been  minimal – part of me wishes it were more. The other part likes the independence and strength that develops when you put yourself through.