July 1, 1914
My was yesterday ever a busy day for it was Hazel’s 14th birthday. Mama and I were busy fussing over the house and making the cake in preparation for her evening party. Hazel wanted a Devils food cake which has been all the rage around here this year. Mama made the pies and I made the cake. Here’s the recipe I used.
1/2 cup of milk
4 ounces of chocolate
1/2 cup butter
3 cups pastry flour
1 1/2 cups of sugar
2 teaspoonfuls of baking powder
Put in a double boiler four ounces of chocolate and a half pint of milk; cook until smooth and thick, and stand aside to cool. Beat a half cup of butter to a cream; add gradually one and a half cups of sugar and the yolks of four eggs; beat until light and smooth. Then add the cool chocolate mixture and three cups of pastry flour, with which you have sifted two teaspoonfuls of baking powder. Beat thoroughly for at least five minutes; then stir in the well beaten whites of the eggs. Bake in three or four layers. Put the layers together with soft icing, to which you have added a cup of chopped nuts. The success of this cake depends upon the flour used.”
—Mrs. Rorer’s New Cook Book, Sarah Tyson Rorer [Philadelphia: 1902] (p. 619)
One cup of sugar (granulated), quarter cup of water (cold), one egg (only white, beaten stiff). Put water on sugar in a saucepan and let it boil until it threads. Then remove from fire and pour over the stiff white, beaten until it thickens. Put on the cake at once.”
—The Oracle: Receipts Rare, Rich and Reliable, The Woman’s Parish Aid Society of Christ Church, [Tarrytown: New York] 1894 (p. 88)
And if I do say so myself the cake turned out mighty fine. And since not a speck of it is left I’d say others thought so too.
We had a nice crowd over. Since the weather was warm and fine we pot-lucked it outside. And of course, everyone brought something to share. So many good things to eat, smoked ham, biscuits and bread, fresh garden vegetables as well as pickled canned goods, my cake and Mama’s pies. Hazel proudly showed off her new middy blouse Mama had made her. Everyone said it was better than store bought. I’d embroidered some tiny red rose on a new hanker-chief to remind her of all the rose beads we have been making. Ha, Ha. And Daniel saved a couple of his pennies to buy her some chocolates. And she loved the scarf Roy sent her. It was so thoughtful of him to remember her birthday. He is such a good man.
As the sun set the men lit a bonfire and we all sat below sky of twinkling diamonds swatting mosquitoes, talking and singing.
Two of the neighbors brought their violins and played some tunes while we all visited. Vera played her guitar some too, and everyone sang along to it. All the music made Hazel very happy as she loves it more than anything. “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” seems to be the favorite of everybody, not that we sound so awfully good but it’s fun just the same. And as always when the word Irish or Ireland comes up Papa and his siblings have to remind us all the Phillips money woes will disappear once their Irish ship comes in. Honestly even if was and true and his Great Grandfather, Patrick O’hara, was entitled to some great Irish estate, it would be divided so many ways by now it wouldn’t amount to much. Papa himself is one of 13 siblings and then there are all of his many cousins.
The coyotes were yowling at us by the time the party broke up, it must have been at least midnight.
Makes it hard to get up the energy to do much today. I think we will just have some leftover ham and cold biscuits for supper tonight.
July 4, 1914
I have not received your letter yet but don’t supose I’ll get it until Tuesday or Wednesday so thot I would write any way, so you could get it.
Well I wonder what you are doing today, this is the 4th. I will tell you how we are spending it. Yesterday we started up to my Uncles who lives about twenty five or theirty miles from here. We started at seven in the morning and got off the right road and went so far out of our way. At twelve thirty we stopped for dinner and then we drove about two miles when here we meet them coming down to our place. I guess we were all sure surprised and it was fifteen miles on to their place and the roads were so rough that we decided to all come back here so started, and we ate our supper on the river then came on home got here about ten oclock last night and I was never so tired in all my life. We all were. I have not felt very good so I guess that made me worse. Today Grandpa and Grandma came over and we had ice cream and so spent the fourth at home. Aunt Sadie and Bert were not here tho. I wish they could have been. My I was surely glad to see all the folks they have a baby we had never saw and they named her Zeta Mae, so I have name sake.
Well it is getting dark. I don’t supose you can read this so will write more later, good night.
Well here I am today this is Sunday. We are still pretty tired yet. I don’t know when we will get over that trip. We made ice cream again today. I wish you were here. I supose you will be going back to Nagrom today or tomorrow.
I gave every body I saw and some I didn’t see some cherrys and I counted them all up that had some and there were forty, so you see how good they must have been. McDonald’s and Clara and all them said they sent their best regards and would like to see you and have you come see them and they had not forgotten you.
Well I will close. I hope your arm is well.
Authors note: This photo is of a portion of the actual letter and dried flowers still with the letter.
July 6, 1914
Well the fourth has come and gone. We never did get to Hulett as they came here instead. I could have gone back with them but decided not to. The folks can use my help and I hate to have Uncle Will have to go to all the trouble of taking me back.
Oh, and I must tell you if anyone ever tells you that rattlesnakes always rattle before they strike, don’t believe them. I know because one almost caught me this afternoon. Mama had asked me to fetch some cold water from the spring so I grabbed two pails and marched off to get it. I was so busy hoping I’d get a letter from Roy today I didn’t notice the rattler until it was inches from the toe of my boot. I jumped backwards just in time.
July 9, 1914
Today I finally got up the courage write to Roy and tell him some moths got into the beautiful fur cape he gave me and damaged it in a couple of spots. Fortunately, they didn’t get into the hat or muff. Vera said I should tell him for she thought the place he purchased them at could repair the damage. I hope so and I hope he isn’t too mad. It was very careless of me not to take better care of them.
Our old neighbor John came by today with the mail from Mona and a couple of Jack rabbits he had shot. My they were so nice and plump. Mama thanked him and invited him to stay for dinner which he accepted. Then he and Daniel went to work to dress them while we fixed up some baked beans, corn bread and coffee to go with them. Trust me when I say it all smelled so good and tasted good too.
July 11, 1914
The folks left this morning to go to Belle Fourche for a few days. I probably won’t get much of chance to write in you with just me to hold down the fort. Well I will have Hazel and Daniel here for some company. We have had quite a few lightning storms; I sure hope we don’t get another one while they are gone. I worry so about getting a lightning strike on one of the outbuildings or worse the house. It’s hard to be the brave one for Hazel and Daniel when the truth be told I am more scared than they are. I know I have said it before but I hate lightning storms.