September 3, 1914
The evening light is fading as I sit amid my garden. Like the light my garden too is fading, won’t be long until fall is upon us.
I am feeling rather blue tonight. I just returned from Vera’s where I spent the afternoon, helping her pack a trunk for her move to Belle Fourche. She has found a job in a boarding house working as a cook. I know she is glad to be setting off on her own but I can’t help wishing I could be on my own too. Except I know I’d miss everyone here terribly and they surely need my help.
Vera and I had such fun this past summer trading our secrets, singing with her guitar, and just talking and talking.
I am still hoping we will move to Belle Fourche this fall but so far Papa has found neither a place for us to stay or any work. If we don’t go I will surely miss her company as there is no other girls around her my age who haven’t married. If only Roy hadn’t promised to wait until I was 21 before he would entertain marriage, things could be different. Three years seems forever and I know he won’t go back on his word to Papa. And I also know he is the only one that will ever be for me.
Sep. 5, 1914
I heard from my two brothers over in the harvest fields this week also. They were both getting along pretty good though they were having to work pretty hard.
Grover West is also working with the same machine. I hope he comes over here when threshing is over for I would like to see him.
I haven’t had any letter from Justin yet, but I had a letter from my Aunt today and she said that Justin was away digging clams and that Lillian was staying at home and had been picking berries. I suppose Justin must be over on the place at Arletta though she didn’t say. I don’t see why he won’t write to me, guess he must be mad at somethings, though I can’t think of any reason.
Well I guess Amber Winter is now Mrs. Henry. I heard they were married a week or so ago. Mother said they had a big time at Henry’s in honor of the bridal couple, wish I had been there and helped them had a good time. She promised me an invitation to the wedding but they must have forgotten me for I not got any.
Well here I am once again for another talk if you have the time this evening. This is only Sat. evening but as I am going to work tomorrow can’t wait till Sunday this time. Letters have to leave here on the morning mail or you don’t get it until the Tuesday’s mail.
Well how is the Little girl this evening and what are you doing? Wish could drop in and see for myself. I am feeling as well as usual and am getting along first class. My knee has been hurting me some all week but is better now and I think it will soon be good as new, hope so any way for I don’t want to be laid up any so long as the weather is fine, or at any other time so far as that goes.
Your welcome letter reached me last Sunday and I was so glad. I also got one from Mother and one from Frank Risher and a card from Leah McDonald and yesterday one from Vera. So, I guess I can’t complain now about not getting any mail.
Mother said that everyone at home was well. Said she and Lida were just ready to start hop-picking. They are going to pick up about Orting somewhere. They expect to be gone about 3 weeks and were going to have a good time and make lots of money, hope they do. I guess the folks have entirely given up going to Missouri and I am glad.
Frank said he had been to bush to write to anyone lately. Said he had given up making beads and was now making some kind of cookies and selling them on the street and was doing quite well at it. Better than he did with the beads. He said if he could manage it was going to business college in Sheridan instead of Rapid City as he first intended. Hope he is succeeds for he certainly deserves it. Most people in his condition would be to much discouraged to try to do anything for themselves but he seems to be just as ambitious as any one.
Well it is about time to call it off and go to bed for I expect you are tired of my foolishness.
Tell Vera hello for me and give my best wishes to all the folks. Good-night and pleasant dreams.
As ever Roy
Sept. 5, 1914
Exciting news! Grandma Smith just called; Sadie had her baby this morning. A little girl, they have named her Iretha Mable, both mother and baby are doing well. I am so happy for them. I can hardly wait to go and see her but suppose it will be a couple of weeks because I am going to be busy for the next little while cooking for the thrashing crews.
Vera rang a bit ago, too. She isn’t leaving for Belle Fourche this week as planned. She decided to wait until after Clarence leaves for Nebraska later this month. And she said there is going to be a farewell dance for the Waddington’s on the 11th so everyone can say good-bye. She wanted to be sure I could come. I most certainly plan too as it will give us another chance to have a good visit.
Sept. 7, 1914
I am sitting under some scrub oaks at Uncle Tom’s cooling off a bit before the threshers come back out of the fields for the evening. Hazel and I are here to help with the cooking. It is crazy hard work but fun because I get to visit with lots of folks I rarely see.
So, imagine if you will, a row of porcelain washbasins all lined up outdoors for face washing. When the men come out of the fields they line up to take turns dipping their hands into the water and scoop it up over their faces and head. Then they lather up with soap and scrub their necks and face, splashing to rinse it all off. When they are finished they empty the dirty water on the lawn and fill the basin up for the next person in line.
After washing they proceed to the dining table where we have set full glasses of tea, lemonade, and water. And let me tell you they are mighty thirsty; I’d say each man usually drinks at least 2 full glasses a piece. And oh, my do they ever have appetites. It does not take them long to demolish the heaping bowls of potatoes slathered in butter and gravy, vegetables, platters full of meats sautéed in cream and butter, and the fresh bread and rolls we have set out. Then they put a big dent in all the homemade pies, cakes, and puddings we make, too.
Then it’s back in the fields for a long afternoon of work while we wash and get ready to do it all again for supper. Such hot busy work, I think we women are just as tired as the men when the day is done.
Generally, the main food is provided by the wife of the farmer but Uncle Tom has no wife. So, he was very appreciative of Hazel and I coming and helping to organize everything. He even gave us a small payment. I did not want to take it but he insisted and I surely can use it.
I won’t be cooking for the threshing crews tomorrow; Mama needs me to help with canning, but I probably will go back to cooking after that. Such a busy time, getting ready for winter is tiresome work.
September 11, 1914
Clarence was working on the threshing crew I was cooking for yesterday. He told me he doesn’t know how he can bear to leave Vera behind. I told him if he really felt that way he should tell her. I would not be one bit surprised if he doesn’t have her come join him in Nebraska as soon as he has a chance to get settled. Maybe he will tonight at their farewell dance. I am sad to say I won’t make it there tonight. Just too much harvesting and canning left to get done for us to spare the time to go.
Vera said it was okay that she’d make sure we had some other time together before she leaves, too.
Roy wrote that he had hurt his knee jumping out of the way of a rolling log. It makes me feel so anxious, what if it had rolled over him? I could never bear it if something happened to him. Mama says I worry too much about things that may never happen. I know she is right but when it comes to Roy I can’t help it.
Sadie just called to say they had weighed little Iretha and she’s weighed in at a robust pounds. It’s the first chance I have got to talk to her since the baby was born. She sounded tired but happy. Grandma Smith is still here and plans to stay a couple of more week.
Well, I’d better get back to helping Mama dig up the carrots and turnips. Hazel and Daniel dug the potatoes earlier and are loading them into gunny sacks now.
Sept. 12, 1914
Dear friend, –
I will write you a few lines as I have all my work done for a while.
How are you any way by this time. I am fine. Daniel has gone to the post office and perhaps I will get some mail. I hope so any way.
I got a letter from Lida a few days ago. She said she and her mother were going up some where to pick hops so I won’t answer the letter for a while or until I think they are home. There was a dance at Donald last night, but we never went. I guess they had a fine time though.
Vera has been staying a few days at Rob Waddingtons, she is going down to Belle Fourche to work, is going Friday. I am glad she is going for I think we will soon move down there too. I will miss her while we are there tho. But it won’t be very long I don’t think. Papa and Mama are going down Monday to look up a “location” there (or a house) and as soon as we thrash we will go.
Oh yes I must tell you about Aunt Sadie and Bert’s baby girl, she is awful nice. Is almost a week old. I haven’t seen her but will soon. I am surely proud of her. Her name is Iretha Mabel.
Well Daniel has come with the mail and I have read your letter. Was glad to get it. I was glad to hear you were better but sorry you got hurt. You must be careful as you will get hurt pretty bad for it is dangerous in the woods I think for so many get killed or hurt so often. I hope you will be careful. I have not heard from Frank for a long while but I know he is busy as a bee. And I never do hear from Lillian and Justin. My I could just pull all their hair out if I could see them. I had not heard about Amber and Ode being married yet but thot they surely were.
Well I don’t know much news. Only McDonalds have a new car and are real proud of it of course.
Well I guess I will stop for now.
With Best Wishes as ever Mae.
( China letter inside this envelope, translates to: I am looking for you xmas and I think Clarence is coming and that is our secret so don’t say a word, Be careful don’t get hurt just us four know it, Yours Mae You must burn all these letters for my sake.
Mae talks about a cousin visiting with a new car, still a new and exciting invention in 1914. What are your memories of the first car you remember, or your very first car?