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LETTERS FROM MONA -Part 42 – March 18 -31, 1915

March 18, 1915

Dear Diary,

We just got back this morning and I am so tired. We went to the St. Patrick’s dance after all. Papa says it was only fitting as his great pappy was no other than Patrick O’Hara a right old Irish gent. I don’t know about that but I am getting tired of the Phillips relatives talking nonsense about how rich they will be when their Irish ship comes in. Ha, Ha that will never happen.

However, the night did have its humorous moments. Someone purposely spilled pepper in amongst the straw on the dance floor and it set off quite a fit of sneezing amongst the dancers once the dancing really got going making me glad I had decided to sit the dances out.

Signs of spring are starting to pop up around here. The grass is getting green, soon the wildflowers will be blooming. I am more than ready to say good-bye to winter.

We got a call earlier today that Minnie Mowery died of dropsy. She is one of Papa’s cousins I tell you I am related to almost everyone in these vicinities.

Tomorrow I am going to start on making myself a new frock for Easter. It’s more complicated than any I have made before and with no pattern you may need to wish me luck. I saw one like it in our spring Sears catalog. I found some similar blue pastel cotton crepe while we were in Belle Fourche. If f I can pull it off it will feature the newest jacket effect, elbow length sleeves and a yoke type skirt with two tucks going around the bottom. I have already crocheted the blue buttons I will trim the waist in. I am going to update last year’s panama hat with a band of matching fabric and I have a new pair of gloves to wear with it.  It should look very chic at least I hope it does.

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Nagrom, Wash.
March 21st, 1915

Dear Mazie, Well how goes it by now? Fine tho I trust. Well I am back in at Nagrom again. Came up here last Tues. so was home only three days.


I have been just about sick ever since I landed in Wash had the La grippe I guess. I have been trying to work since I came up here but haven’t felt like doing much. I have a terrible cold on my lungs and have had a fever ever night, except last night. I feel some what better today, tho I feel pretty tough yet. Have been trying to use Christian Science, but it don’t seem to work very well.

The camp started up the ninth of the month but they put on only a few men. I didn’t get the same job I had before, am bucking now. I think I will get my old job back after awhile tho. I think times are going to be pretty hard this season. There isn’t very much work going on and there is so many men. The wages here are not so good as they were last year. Joe and Richard both intended to come up here, but couldn’t get work, so will have to go some where else.  Mr. Cook is here tho. He and I have a room all to ourselves so we have it pretty nice that way.

 The weather here is just perfect. I’ve never seen prettier weather at any time of the year. It is as warm and nice as it generally is in May. The trees are all leafing out and the green grass is almost a foot high in places. The old timers here say they never before saw such a spring. It seems queer that I should get such a cold as soon as I got to where it was warm. Guess it was the sudden change that did it tho.


I didn’t get time to do much visiting while I was in Puyallup. Was there such a short time and I felt so bad all the time, that I stayed pretty close to home. I was over to Henry’s for supper Sunday evening. Saul and Anne were there to, so we had a pretty good visit. I didn’t go down to Perkinsens at all. They sent word that they wanted me to come down and tell them all the news from Wyo. I intended to go Tuesday evening, but they sent for me to come up here to Nagrom, so I didn’t get to go see them at all. I suppose they won’t like it so very well for they will think I sleighted them on purpose, but I can’t help it if they do and will not let it bother me so very much anyway.


I expect a letter from you today and I can hardly wait until the mail comes in. Am so anxious to hear how you stood the trip back home and how your tooth is.


Well I guess you will have to excuse me for now. I feel so bad that I can’t think straight, so hardly know what I am writing. Will try to do better next time. Give my best wishes to everybody that I know.

As ever,

Roy

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March 31, 915

Dear diary,

I haven’t written you for a while. I just have been awful busy. I just finished putting the finishing touches on my new Easter dress. It looks quite nice if I do say so myself. I just need to give it a final pressing and hang it up for Easter this Sunday. I hope we have good weather that day so I don’t have to cover it up with last year’s spring coat.

We have been having an awful lot of rain this spring. All of the rain is making everything so green but the roads are still so rutted and full of mud. Not too many cars trying to venture out this way yet because of it.

Daniel and Hazel have not been able to go to school much this month. Both have been so sick with sore throats. I sure hope they perk up soon.

Seems March is the month of birthdays around here. I have been to several parties. It is fun to get together with other folks but it also makes me feel so lonely and blue. I miss having Roy at my side so much. His last letter said he had the La Grippe but he had gone back to work anyway. I’m worried he’s going to get worse or even catch pneumonia working too hard. I’d feel better if I knew he had his mother nearby making sure he wasn’t over doing it. He’s not one to give into to feeling poorly easily. A harder worker I never saw.   

LETTERS FROM Mona – Part 41 – March 11- 13, 1915

March 11, 1914

Dear diary,

Here I sit by the warmth of the stove feeling so lonely I could cry. Actually, I have been crying a lot just not at the moment.

This stove was part of the historical museum collection in Hulett, Wyoming

Roy left yesterday. Mama and I took the train with him as far as Belle Fourche. I can still feel the warmth of his embrace as we kissed good- by. I wished we could have stood there forever, that he never had to let go and board the train.  I tell you; it was all I could do to stop myself from running after him and yelling, “Wait! Take me with you.” Instead I stood like a brave little trooper with tears rolling down my cheeks and waved good-bye.

Why did he have to give his word to Papa?  Yes, I do admire a man who stands by his word but I tell you in this case it’s enough to drive me nearly wild. Why, oh why, does 21 have to still be 2 years away?

In the meantime, I know I must be sensible, I just don’t want to be. I know he has to make a living; I know having a nest egg is a good thing so we can build our own house. But why can’t there be work around here? So many folks are leaving. We might as well go back to Washington if only Papa wasn’t so stubborn.

And another thing that bothers me, we aren’t actually betrothed. We have talked plenty of a future together but…  Sadie says he has to be crazy besotted in love with me to come here every winter and we are as good as engaged anyway, that he is just waiting for my 21st birthday to officially pop the question. She’s probably right it’s just I am so tired of waiting.

In the meantime, what if we go join that awful war in Europe and he has to serve?  Will he come back? Will some other girl catch his eye? Honestly, I must stop thinking like this, for as Mama says it’s no use worrying about what hasn’t happened. It’s just sometimes I can’t help it.

I know it’s too soon to hear that he has arrived home safe and sound but I won’t rest easy until I do. I know his folks are expecting him but I would feel better if he wasn’t traveling all alone.

There is one piece of good news though, my tooth has finally been fixed, hopefully once and for all. I had an appointment with the dentist the same day Roy left. He will be happy to hear It has finally been fixed. He hates to see me suffering. Another thing I love about him, his compassion for others.

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March 13, 1915

Dear diary,

I was just over visiting with my Great Aunt Lib. She says my visits help her to feel better. I wish there were something more I could do, it’s not fair she has to suffer so. She lives with our closest neighbors, Papa’s Waddington cousins.  Somehow those Waddingtons are all wound up with Clarence Waddington’s family. I tell you nearly everyone out here on Mona road are connected in some way. Speaking of Vera, she wrote they have started building a house like the one she and I dreamed of last summer. I wonder if I will ever get my dream house. I guess it doesn’t much matter as long as Roy is in it, still a girl can dream.

A lot of the folks around here are busy putting in gasoline lamps but my dream house has electric lights. I guess that means I am a modern girl.  So many new things to wish for, electric lights, automobiles who knows maybe someday I’ll even fly in one of those aero planes we keep hearing about. Now wouldn’t that be something.

There is going to be a St. Patricks’ day dance at Donald on the 17th.  I don’t care much if we go, without Roy at my side I wouldn’t enjoy it anyway. Besides all the mud filled ruts make for bad traveling right now.

Roy should have arrived back in Puyallup this morning. I hope nothing delayed him, it is so hard to wait to hear if your loved one is safe and sound.

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Puyallup Wash.
March 13, 2015


Dear Mazie,

 Well here I am safe back in Puyallup again. Got here on scheduled time this morning. I had a fine trip and am feeling fine. The folks were expecting me alright and had been for several days. I found the folks back in the old home. And they sure seem glad they are back.

 Mother is feeling quite a lot better than she did but my Father is just awful bad. He is just awful sick and looks terrible. He has lost forty seven pounds in weight since I last saw him. I am so afraid he is not going to pull through. He came awful near losing his hand and it isn’t near well yet. Tho it is somewhat better and he is also suffering from Bright’s disease and you know that is a bad thing. He looks so different from what he did that I hardly knew him and don’t think I would have known him if I had seen him anywhere else beside here. Mother looks pretty bad to but not anywhere near so bad as Father. I think she will get through alright, but I am sure afraid for my old Dad. The rest of the folks are as well as ever.


I believe Lida looks even better than she did. She has started to school again. She got quite a lot behind her class so I expect she will have to work pretty hard to catch up with her studies.
Joe and the wife are still here at home. I don’t know what they are going to do. Joe is
talking of getting a job in the woods somewhere and taking the wife with him.

I sure found lots of different weather along the road than I expected, but it was better than I thought it would be, it was an agreeable surprise. I never saw a bit of snow after I passed Billings except of course on the mountains at a distance.

It is sure fine weather here. It is cloudy today but is certainly nice and warm and I tell you it does seem nice. The rose bushes and raspberries are leafing out and some flowers are in blossom. The folks have made some early garden and I see some others in the neighborhood have been gardening some also. Every one says this has been the nicest winter they have ever saw here but I hear that quite often.


Now I am going to tell you something that you may scold me for but I can’t help it if you do. I lost all of your letters and Mrs. Blakes card. I don’t know for sure how it happened but I think they were stolen from me. I had them all together in my overcoat jacket. And they disappeared while I was sleeping so I am almost sure someone took them, they could hardly got away in any other way as my coat was never moved from the seat. I am so sorry it happened but please don’t scold me to much and I will be more careful another time. I should have put them in my suitcase but I never thought a word of anyone taking them.

I told Sade about her letter and she said she would be answering it anyway. I haven’t had time to talk with any other of the neighbors as yet. I took Mrs. Henry’s jar of fruit over to her and she sure seemed glad to get it. She was just ready to go to church so I didn’t get to talk to her very long. I was over to Hugh’s a little while ago but there was no one there but Lodie and Iretha Ann is working at the box factory and Saul and Hugh were away somewhere. I may go over there a while this evening. Lode has been sick with a cold for a few days and isn’t well yet but is better, so she says.


Well the camp at Nagrom hasn’t started up yet so I got here in time after all. I think it is going to start next Monday. I am going to call them up this evening and find out. Richard is still here yet. He has been working in my berry patch and has it in pretty good shape, so there is nothing for me to do there now, so suppose I will go to the woods as soon as the camp starts and if that is Mon. I won’t have much time at home.


My old uncle is not any better than he was I don’t suppose he ever will be either. He can hardly speak a word yet.


Well Richard is getting ready to go down town so will hurry up and send this down to the office by him. I hope you get this on the Friday’s mail and I suppose you will to if it is not delayed. I sure hope you got home all right and that your tooth is all right. Tell all the folks hello for me and don’t forget to write as I will be anxious to hear how you are.

 Well this will be all for now as ever,

Roy

LETTERS FROM MONA – Part 40 – February, 1915

February 5, 1914

Dear diary,

This has been a dry, cold week. This morning, while eating bowls of steaming, hot porridge, Papa announced it was time to start harvesting ice for the summer. Roy immediately offered to help. Papa said that would be great and there would be no need for the rest of us go go along to help like we usually do.

Now I sit next to the window all warm and toasty writing in you while I watch them hitch up the work sled to our horses. I know I should feel grateful for being inside instead of out in the bitter cold. And yes, Roy will be far more help than the rest of us put together would ever be except , I want to be where Roy is at. And if that means standing in the frigid cold next to an ice-covered river so be it. Besides he warms my heart so I probably would never notice the cold.

 I wonder if sawing ice into 100-pound chunks feels anything like sawing down big trees. I’ll have to ask Roy when he gets back. He’s been complaining he’s growing soft without his hard logging work. Well those muscles will surely get a workout today lifting those heavy blocks onto the work sled.

In the meantime, I think I will mix up a batch of Roy’s favorite oatmeal cookies. You can be sure come late this afternoon when I catch sight of them turning into our yard, I will be the first one at the icehouse ready to help them cover the ice with sawdust. We do that to keep it from melting too fast when it warms up.  Somehow chores are more fun when I do them with Roy.  Maybe I can even accidently fall into his arms. Ohhh, wouldn’t that be fun.

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February 10, 1915

Dear diary,

Here I sit beside the stove trying to keep warm. The weather is still so cold. It is keeping everyone at home trying to take care of their stock. Feed is getting scarce around here too. Fortunately, we don’t have much stock to worry about.

Papa and Roy are out cutting more trees for firewood as we are going through it plenty fast. I am sure right now Papa is appreciating the assistance a real logger offers compared to my help. Still I wish I were at the other end of Roy’s crosscut saw. I’m not sure I’d be much help though, for I’d always be stopping to gaze into his dreamy blue eyes. Am I ever lovesick or what?

Saturday night we hitched up the sleigh and went to the dance in Donald. Hazel went along, that girl surely does love to sing and dance. Okay, I did plenty of dancing too or maybe it would be better to call it swaying. It feels so nice to be in a special someone’s arms, wish that feeling could last forever.

Another dance is scheduled this coming Saturday for Valentine’s day. We might go if the weather permits.

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February 14, 1915

Dear diary,

It’s a good thing we have a rope strung from the barn to the house. Roy and I just came in from doing chores out there a bit ago. Even though Roy was right ahead of me, all I could see was whiteness. When I reached the porch I all but fell over him, not that I minded his warm arms setting me straight again. We surely looked like Eskimos all covered in snow. Took some stomping and shaking to get it all off of us.

Now we are huddled next to the stove with the rest of the family trying to stay warm. The blizzard came roaring in yesterday afternoon just as it was beginning to fall dark. I am sure glad we decided against going to the dance in Donald. I hope everyone going made it there safe. Maybe they aren’t getting as much snow as we are here. I sure didn’t get much sleep last night. Every time the house shuddered from the wind I thought it was going to take the roof and me along with it.

Despite the weather Roy presented me with the loveliest Valentine card and box of chocolates this morning. And at the rate we are eating them this afternoon they will soon all be gone.

Mama just popped us some popcorn which I am now washing down with hot chocolate. Outside of taking turns doing barn chores we have done nothing but eat all day.

Roy still hasn’t heard anything back on that possible logging job. He says if it falls through he will have to return to Washington. No decent jobs of any sort have turned up here.

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February 15, 1915

Dear diary,

I awoke this morning to blessed silence. I guess the storm blew itself out around 5 this morning when I was fast asleep. It is still cold but the sun is out so hopefully, this afternoon we will get a chance to go for a sleigh ride, we’ve been cooped up inside together for too long.

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February 25, 1915

Dear diary,

 I feel so blue. Roy got word today that the logging company will not be hiring any new men soon. His only choice now is to go back to his old job in Washington. He looks to leave the first part of March which is much too soon, only about a week. How will I endure him leaving yet again? I must make the best of the time we have left and think of the future when we can be together forever. If only my family would give up this place and move back to Washington. I already miss him and he hasn’t even left yet. My heart is breaking, how can I go another year before I see him again.

LETTERS FROM MONA – Part 39 – January 1915

January 2, 1915

Dear diary,

Happy New Year! And it looks like a fine year indeed, if only the war in Europe would end. Folks said it would be over by now but it rages on. More and more there is talk of our boys joining the fight.  I cannot bear the thought, so I am not going there. 

We went to the dance in Donald, New Year’s Eve. My, what a big crowd, it was the biggest group we’ve had in a long, long time. And was the second floor of that barn ever hopping. I was hopping too with Roy as my dance partner. How I love being in his arms, gazing into those blue eyes, sometimes just looking at him takes my breath away. And yes, we did find a few private moments underneath the mistletoe to wish in the new year.

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January 5, 1915

Dear diary,

Roy and I rode home with Sadie and Bert after the dance to spend a few days here in Aladdin with them. I am so glad Bert and Roy have hit it off so well for I surely like spending time with Sadie.

It took a little while for little Iretha to warm up to Roy but now that she has she just lights up every time she sees him and he does the same. I’d be a bit jealous if she weren’t so tiny. Besides, I know he’s smitten on me. He’s going to make a wonderful father someday.

Lots of folks are down with the La Grippe around here. We had enough of it last year to last a lifetime so it had better stay away from us. 

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January 10, 1915

Dear diary,

We are back in Mona. Last night Lizzie Sullivan invited Roy and I to a card party in honor of her husband James’ birthday. We had such fun playing a newer game called Touring. The idea is to run a race of 50 miles in an automobile.  We played the progressive version which means there were 4 tables of 4 all playing a game simultaneously. So much groaning and laughter filled the air as we played bad cards against our opponents. I kept running out of gas while Roy kept on having punctured tires and collisions. Of course, we threw the same cards back on our foes.

After the games we finished the evening off by singing Happy Birthday and enjoyed a chocolate layer cake over coffee.

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January 20, 1914

Dear diary,

This morning Uncle Tom stopped by to pick up Roy. He and Aunt Helen Cady are going to Spearfish on some business and Roy is hitching a ride with them. He is hoping to be able to hire on with a logging outfit near there. My toes and fingers are all crossed hoping he returns with the welcome news he has found work. I will surely miss seeing him for the next couple of days.

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January 27, 1914

Dear diary,

Goodness is it ever cold this morning. Hazel and I nearly froze to death last night despite all the hot stones and water bottles we went to bed with. I even put on my old drawers made from a blanket. Now I’m glad to be huddled next to the warmth of the stove and here is where we are all likely to remain the rest of the day. Roy and Papa just came in from the barn and said the thermometer showed minus 32.

Roy didn’t find any logging work while he was in Spearfish but they might have something in February. I sure hope so.

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January 28th, 1914

Brrrr! It is still cold and snowy. The icy snow makes for good sleigh travel, though, so today Roy and I took it out for a ride. I stayed quite comfy and warm all snuggled up close to Roy. I tell you it felt like there was magic in the air.  Perhaps it was the music of the sleigh bells mixed with the sound of the runners gliding over the glistening snow, or maybe it was just love.  Either way it’s a ride I shall never forget.

Time to put this writing down. Roy and I are going to play a game of Progressive High 5’s with the folks before all pull in for the night.

LETTERS FROM Mona – Part 38 – December, 1914

December 1, 1914

Dear Diary,

I haven’t written in you for over a week. We went to Donald for the Thanksgiving dance and then on to Aladdin to visit Sadie and Bert.

Iretha has gotten even cuter than the last time I saw her. I didn’t think that was possible. I could just snuggle and hold her forever. I can’t wait for the day I have my own child to wrap my arms around.

Papa used the time to go to Belle Fourche to see if he could find a situation for us this winter. He found one possible prospect but nothing is for sure. It makes me feel so nervous not knowing where we are going to be, it nearly drives me wild.    

Meanwhile it is hog butchering time around here. We have 3 pigs that we have been fattening up. Papa’s brothers are coming tomorrow to help him out as it is quite a job. Soon our smokehouse will be a smoking. The meat will surely be welcomed if we end up staying here this winter.

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December 3, 1914

Dear diary,

Mama and I walked over to Grandma and Grandpa’s Smiths today as we heard the Derrickson’s were coming over. I took my knitting along to work on while we visited. I have 2 pairs of socks finished for Roy, and one for Daniel but I am still working on the pair for Papa.

I plan to make a pair of mittens for Roy also. It would be terrible if he got frostbite while visiting me. We are getting some cold weather now but thankfully no real snow yet.

It was fun visiting with the Derrickson’s. They are some of the old timers who came in the 1880’s when our family came. They have a fine place now. Mrs. Derrickson said they added a picket fence around the yard this fall to showcase her flower garden next spring. My, won’t that be a pretty sight. She promised she’d give me some of her seeds to make a flower garden of my own. I doubt mine will be as pretty as hers but I’d love to try.

Mr. Derrickson said the Pannells are building a new ranch house. It’s going to be a good deal larger and modern compared to the one they have now. Won’t that be dandy. I’d like a modern house, too.

Grandma fed us a delicious hardy black bean soup, yeast rolls and apple pie for dessert. I hope someday I’m as good a cook as she is.

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Dec. 7, 1914

Dear Diary,

We got word today that the situation Papa was hoping for fell through. We will stay here in Mona all winter after all. Papa is out chopping wood. It will take a lot to keep us warm this winter.

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December 12, 1914

Dear Diary,

Goodness is it ever cold, outside the wind is howling, snow is falling. Except for the necessary trips out to the barn to care for the animals we are staying cozy next to the wood stove reading and playing cards. I bet we get several inches of snow.

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December 13, 1914

Dear Diary,

We awoke this morning to a bright sunny day. The snow outside the window glistened as though a bottle of sparkling glitter had been spilled upon it. Beautiful yes, but oh so cold, it made me shiver just looking at it.

We decided it was too frigid to venture off to church. Instead we took turns reading bible passages aloud while Papa made us his special flap jack recipe. He uses a combination of freshly ground wheat, oats and corn and we topped them with buffalo berry jam. Yum! It was so good.

This afternoon Daniel and Hazel persuaded me to go sledding with them. It took us some time to find our old sleds and goodness did they ever have cobwebs growing on them.  

The snow was the perfect depth and the sun gave it the perfect icy crust for sledding.  Such fun zooming down the hills and into the yard. I felt like a kid again without a care in the world. Now though, I am surely glad to be sitting by the comfort of the woodstove like an old lady. Ha, Ha.

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December 14, 1914

Dear diary,

The weather has warmed, the snow is beginning to melt. It’s also washing day. Mama and I will be busy with all the boiling and wringing soon. I have not heard from Roy in a week. I worry something has happened to him or he has decided not to come. Oh, how I miss him, he simply must come, I can’t bear the thought of going through a winter without him.

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December 15, 1914

Dear diary,

It is evening and I am writing to you by lamplight. This morning the snow was mostly melted. Mama said she could handle the ironing on her own and sent me out with Papa to gather more logs. Usually one of my uncles help but they were busy and we must have enough fuel to keep us warm this winter.

Papa hitched up the team of horses to the farm wagon and we drove about a mile to Firewood Canyon. We call it that because it has plenty of birch, quaking pine, and aspen trees, our favorites for firewood.

Goodness, if only Roy could have seen me operating one end of a two-man crosscut saw. I know these trees are puny compared to what he falls but just the same I felt like a logger. Papa limbed the trees and then we loaded them into the wagon to haul home.  Papa and Daniel will be busy the rest of the week chopping them into pieces small enough to fit our stove. For some reason it is satisfying to know I am contributing to keeping us warm this winter.

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December 18, 1914

Dear Diary,

 We have been too busy to get up to the Mona post office this week. I was anxious to see if I had a letter from Roy so this afternoon I walked up there to fetch the mail myself.  Now I am dancing a jig, I had not one but two letters from Roy. I took the time to read them in private before I came home. I am so relieved. He should be on his way here any day now and in time for Christmas.

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December 19, 1914

Dear Diary,

Today was another meeting of the Book and Thimble club. This time it was at the Barrett’s.  And my, did she ever entertain us in Christmas style such a feeling of warmth and cheer filled the house.

She had decorated with holly and berries. Over the dining table hung a large Christmas bell and the centerpiece was a bouquet of ferns and pink carnations. Napkins, adorned with wreaths of holly, marked each of our place settings.

All the ladies brought goodies to share, we surely had a feast of sweets. Afterward Mrs. Massie played the piano and led us in singing Christmas carols.

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December 23, 1914

Dear diary,

I am getting nervous Roy should be here any time now.  Every time I hear a sound I run to the window hoping to see Roy arriving but it is always Papa or Daniel making some noise out in the yard.

He never did say exactly what day he was leaving so I am not sure when to expect him, I just hope it is by Christmas but that is only 2 days away. I will not be able to bear it if he hasn’t arrived by then.

It has been snowing ever since the twentieth so papa hitched up the sleigh for us to go the Christmas party up at Mona last night. Daniel played a shepherd in the Christmas pageant and Hazel sang Silent Night as a solo. She did a fine job and while I do love that song I am glad she’s finished practicing it. That girl does love to sing. And of course, it ended with Santa coming and the sharing of goodies.

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December 24, 1914

Still no Roy and it is Christmas Eve. I feel so blue as soon it will be dark. We have been industrious all day making the house look festive and baking. Boughs of pine adorn the windows and the tree is ready to decorate this evening. Scents of vanilla, cinnamon and spice fill the house and an oyster stew simmers on the stove. It would be perfect if only Roy was here.

We are going to go to the Christmas dance at Donald tomorrow night and I will be so miserable, thinking of the wonderful time I had there with Roy the past two years. I would feel better if I knew just where he was. He never did say exactly what day he was leaving and I worry something might have happened to him along the way. I am going to be so nervous until he gets here or at least I hear he is on his way and all is well.

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December 26, 1914

Dear Diary,

Today I could walk on air I feel so gladsome. Yes, you guessed it, Roy arrived. Yesterday I awoke feeling so blue, I could barely muster up a smile and a thank you for the gifts my family gave me. I only picked at the breakfast Mama had worked so hard to make.

I knew I had no choice but to go to the evening Christmas supper and dance but all I wanted to do was to crawl under the covers of my bed and cry. And plenty of silent tears I did shed once I was buried deep in the straw of our wagon box with the buffalo robe pulled up over my head. Meanwhile the rest of the family merrily sang Jingle Bells and other songs as we glided over the snow making me feel even more glum.

When Papa shouted whoa to bring our sleigh to a stop at the dance barn I shuddered. How was I going to face all the merriment and well-wishing? How would I ever be able to sing and dance when I felt so cheerless?

But as I peeped out from under the buffalo robe what to my wondering eyes did appear but Roy, all bundled in tweed, dashing to my side. I fairly leaped into his waiting arms when he got there.

Everyone told me he had been pacing out in front for quite some time afraid we’d decided not to come. His train got held up in the mountains for two days on account of snow and did not arrive in Belle Fourche until late yesterday.

Fortunately, he found someone going to Aladdin this morning to hitch a ride with and from there it was easy to find folks coming to the dance. He sure was a sight for sore eyes and the best Christmas present ever. He hopes to find some work here so he won’t need to go back to Washington in February. That makes me feel so happy but nervous at the same time. I’ll be so disappointed if he can’t find work but I know jobs are so scarce here.        

.    

LETTERS FROM MONA – Part 37 -November 15 -November 30.

Nagrom, Wn.
Nov. 15th, 1914

Dear Mazie,

Well as I have nothing else to do this evening guess I will bother you a little. Wish I could look in and see what you are doing this evening but that is a little farther than I can see, all I can do it wonder.

I am still as well as ever and also as lonesome as ever and hope you can say the same, except for the lonesome part.

Got your letter the other day and of course was glad. Sorry that your Mother isn’t well and hope she will soon be alright again you must take good care of her and not let her get bad sick for that is a bad business.

It is nice that you are having such fine weather in Wyoming this fall and hope you will have lots more of it. The weather here has been fierce all this month, about the worse I ever saw in November. It has rained thirteen of the fifteen days so far; not bad record is it? I wouldn’t mind the rain so much if it wasn’t so cold and windy with it. There hasn’t been so very much snow down here in the canyon yet but there is plenty of it all around us and not so very far away either. There hasn’t been any rain or snow today but it is awfully cold and frosty. I walked up to the hotspring this afternoon and almost froze.

The camp is going to close down for the winter in four weeks from now and I won’t be sorry when that time comes either if the weather is going to continue like it has been lately.

This camp and I guess most all the camps in the country are going to be closed down all winter, so guess I will have quite a long vacation. Will probably have more time than I will know what to do wish I could spend it as pleasantly as I spent my vacation last winter.

The folks say they are sure going to Misoura about the first of the month if nothing happens to prevent. I have been trying to get them to put it off until spring but guess there is nothing doing. If they don’t get away before the camp shuts down I may decide to go along and spend the winter in Misoura myself.

If you are not going to move to town right away do you think you will get moved before Christmas. How are you going to spend Thanksgiving- Day? Do you remember Thanksgiving day a couple of years ago?

I suppose I shall spend it at home this year provided the folks aren’t going way before I get through work. If they don’t I won’t go down until the camp shuts down.

Well I guess I have told you about all there is to tell so will ring off and go to bed.
Give my regards to all the folks and keep some for your self.
As ever Roy

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Mona Wyo
Sunday Nov 16, 1914

Dear Roy,-


How are you today I hope fine. I am pretty well. And all the rest.
It is some what cooler than usual, but not so bad when the sun shines.
My Aunt that old lady I have spoken about, is here. She is 87 years old and oh dear she just suffers so much with her head their is nothing to do for it for she is so old so she just has to suffer and she just walks the floor and groans and asks us what she will do. Oh my it almost make me wild some time for she suffers so I feel so sorry for her. She was so glad to come over to see us and we just think the world of her. A person never knows what they will have to suffer before they die. But I hope I never live to be so old as that tho.

 I was up and got my tooth fixed a week ago Saturday and I didn’t get home until I was nearly crazy with it. I just about went wild for two days and nights and so Tuesday I went back and Mr. Barrett fixed some more so it has been some better but he can’t fix it for good for some time yet, but can keep it from aching which is the main thing.
I wish you was here today I could talk but it is hard for me to write for I am so nervous today. There was a dreadful fire got out just above Mr. Harrington’s house up on the hill above or old house, down at Donald and it burnt down as far as the straw stack. My it was awful. They thot it was going to burn them all up but they finally got it stopped.


Have you heard from home lately I supose you will soon be going down there soon won’t you?

Hazel went to see her chum. She stays in Deadwood and is coming home today to stay a few hours and wanted Hazel to come up too. I wish I could go and visit with my chum for a few hours but I don’t supose I will for a while. I got a letter from Vera a few days ago and hear from her quite often she is pretty good to write I hope she will always be good that way.

(China letter: Your letter never was noticed I was lucky. You had better come to Wyo to stay for I never can stand to part again. Mae)

I got your card the other day. Was awful glad of course I looked for a letter but was glad any way. I don’t write as often as I should but you must excuse me. Well I will stop my scribbling and comb my hair as we are going to have lots of company and I wish you were coming. I don’t know just when we will move to town. Well good bye
As ever Mae.

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November 19,1914

Dear Diary,

Today we finally got around to making a new batch of soap as we had a lot of lard saved up in our old caste iron pot. Mama never lets any grease go to waste; any we have left over goes into that black pot. In the fall we put it into a large kettle saved for soap making and add lye. It is a hot business boiling it over a good fire while stirring constantly until it flows from your stick like thick molasses. Then we pour it into molds and let is sit for a day or longer before cutting it into bars. Nothing cleans laundry better than Mama’s good lye soap. It cleans just about anything else too. But for my baths I kind of like the scented store-bought stuff.

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November 24, 1914

Dear Diary,

I got another letter from Roy today. I opened it with trepidation so much did my heart fear he was going to say he decided to go to Missouri instead of coming here. Sometimes it is hard for me to read between the lines because he knows my folks see everything and he must be careful in what he says. Fortunately, this letter also had a china letter written in the envelope. They never look at those. Though, it seemed an eternity until I had enough private time to decipher it.  I can breathe easier now, for he said he intends to come visit no matter where we go this winter. I do not know how I am going to wait another month which is probably how long it will be before he gets here.

There was a turkey shoot and dance over at my Uncle Herb Phillips, place but we did not go. It’s kind of far when it is cold and it is freezing out now.

He is having another one for Christmas maybe we will get to go to that one.

There is a dance and dinner in Donald on Thanksgiving. We are planning on going. I am already blue thinking about it. I know I won’t be able to get Roy out of my mind at all that day. Instead I will be wishing I were in Puyallup with him like I was a couple of years ago. I must keep my sights on late December when I will see him again.

And so, I best put this writing aside and start on those socks again. Sadie gave me wool enough to make several warm, toasty pairs. I suppose I should try to make a pair for Papa and Daniel, too. I know Roy said he still has his scarf and hat from last year but maybe he could use another pair of mittens. They get more wear and tear. So, knit one, purl one, away I go.

LETTERS FROM MONA -Part 37- November 1 to November 15, 1914

November 1, 1914

Dear Diary,

Here it is a new month already. I was so busy in October I hardly had time to catch my breath. I feel plum tuckered out today. We went to the dance in Donald last night and didn’t get back here until this morning.  Last night was a special campaign dance so we also had to endure listening to the long-winded speeches of the different candidates before the dancing commenced. It makes me yawn just thinking about it now. I will probably find it more interesting when I’m 21 and can vote.

Of course, there was also lots of talk about the war in Europe. I cannot bear the thought of our boys having to go to war.  And God forbid what if Roy had to go?  What if all this waiting is for naught because a bullet takes his life. I must stop thinking that way, for as Mama says it’s no use brooding over what hasn’t happened.

There also was talk at the dance that Black foot disease is showing up in the cattle around here again. Such a nasty disease and kills the poor cattle so fast. Hopefully, the vet gets out here to inoculate the ones that need it so there won’t be much loss.

We still don’t have a firm date on when we are going to Belle Fourche. Papa has not located any work so I guess we will wait as long as possible to go so we don’t have to pay so much rent. So far the weather has been good just a little snowstorm that melted right away about 2 weeks ago. So much to arrange though, our neighbors have agreed to watch after the few animals we have. We will butcher our three pigs before we go. And of course, our horses will go with us.

But this not knowing when and where we are going is leaving things up in the air with Roy visiting this winter. In fact, he is wondering if he should come at all. I think Mama and Papa would be happier if he didn’t visit. But I can’t bear that thought he just must come. I adore him with all my heart I could not bear the rest of the year if I didn’t see him this winter.

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November 5,1914

Dear Diary,

I am sitting here by the window watching it pour outside while inside te air is filled with the yeasty smell of freshly baked bread and the heat from the stove envelopes me like a warm shawl. As soon as the bread cools a bit, I am going to slice a thick hunk, slather it in clotted cream and sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar. I tell you there is not a better treat to have alongside a fresh brewed cup of coffee. Then I should get busy working on dinner preparations. Mama has taken to bed; she is not feeling well. I sure hope she does not have another bad spell like she had last winter.

Hazel and Daniel are helping Papa get the wood chopped and stacked for winter. They surely will be starving when they come in. I think I will fry up some big hunks of ham and make some baking powdered biscuits and open a jar of green beans. I am getting to be a mighty fine biscuit maker even Mama says so.

Guess I best venture out into the rain and rustle up that ham and those beans so I will be ready to make dinner when the time comes.

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November 7, 1914

Dear Diary,

Here I sit with the worse toothache I ever did have. It’s so bad I can hardly think, it is as if the whole side of my head is about to explode. I made a big mistake going to see if Mr. Barrett could fix it. He’s not a real dentist but has a little training. It didn’t feel bad when I got up to leave. But all the jostling and bumping of the wagon coming home set it to throbbing. By the time we turned into the barnyard it hurt so bad I was ready to go wild. It’s a little better now that I am sitting quietly and have a piece of ice on it. I am afraid I may have to have it pulled.

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November 8, 1914

Dear Diary,

My tooth still hurts, I nearly went wild last night. I spent the whole night sitting up as it was the only way to get even a bit of relief. I hardly slept until it was almost daylight, then for some reason it started to feel better. I decided a distraction would be good so I walked with Mama over to the Sim’s place for our Book and Thimble club meeting. I took the socks I am knitting for Roy along with me. I am getting to be a surprisingly good knitter much better than a year ago. I would never been able to make a pair of socks that someone would wear then. Still I prefer sewing. I love looking in the Sears and Roebuck catalog and trying to create the same thing. I don’t even need a pattern anymore.

We have been reading the “Chronicles of Avonlea.” I really felt for poor Theodora, she sounded a bit like me. Except I surely hope I do not have to wait 15 years for Roy to propose, waiting until I turn 21 seems like an eternity as it is. Roy and his darn word. He wrote that he thought it would have been a shame if Clarence had left Vera behind, yet he leaves me at the end of every winter. I know there is no work for him here. If only he hadn’t promised papa he would wait until I was 21 to ask for my hand in marriage. I know Roy loves me and will always cherish me. I am so tired of waiting; I am ready now.

Speaking of Vera, I had another card from her. They arrived in Nebraska 10 days ago. She said the only problem they had the whole trip is when an auto on the Lincoln Highway near Buffalo Gap caused the horses to run away. They had to stop for 3 hours to repair the damage caused to the wagon. She said she’d write a lot more once they get settled and in a place of their own to live. Oh, how I long for a place Roy and I can call our own. 

The topic of politics came up at our book club. Most of the women are disgruntled with the men who think women should not concern themselves with it. Well we feel differently. We have as much vested interest in what is going on as men do. So, why shouldn’t we vote. I am as smart as any man. I am glad that Roy values my thoughts and opinions and doesn’t see me as some silly bit of fluff incapable of hard thinking.

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November 10, 1914

Dear Diary,

Today was election day. I feel proud that my state was the first to grant women the right to vote. That’s one thing I don’t like about Washington state, women still are not allowed to vote.  

Here It’s sort of a holiday, the schoolhouse gets all spruced up and families go in hand and hand to cast their paper ballots. Afterwards folks have a good time visiting from wagon to wagon exchanging gossip and good things to eat.

I’m afraid we didn’t do much of that on account of my tooth was still bothering me. Papa drove me over to Mr. Barret’s for him to so some more work on it. He says I need to see a proper dentist when I get to Belle Fourche but he did succeed in getting it to stop aching. I bet I sleep like a log tonight for I haven’t slept much the last 2 nights.

LETTERS FROM MONA – Part 36 -Oct. 23 -Oct. 28, 1914

October 23, 1914

 Dear Diary,

I surely have been busy cooking for the threshing crews the past week. First Mama and I cooked for our place then we went to cook for Uncle Will Phillips place. Now I am at Sadie’s waiting for the threshers again. But it looks like we will have a bit of a break as it is raining today as well as yesterday. In fact, the weather was so stormy the dance scheduled for last night in Donald got cancelled. Threshing here won’t happen now for another week. I really do not mind the rain as it gives us all a chance to catch our breath from all the cooking, the farmers probably feel differently though.

Baby Iretha is getting to be so cute. She smiled and cooed at me this morning when I picked her up. It was her first smile and it tickled me to think she saved it for me. She loves to stretch and kick her legs and can hold her head up so high to look around. I look forward to the day I can hold my own babies in my arms. I hope they will have Roy’s blue eyes and maybe one can have Grandma Jessie’s red hair. More than likely they will have dark brown hair, like mine and Roy’s.

 Sadie and Bert have taken to calling her Tootie. I have no idea why, but it seems to fit her.

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October 25, 1914

Dear Diary,

Today is Sunday, we attended a fine church service in Aladdin. Reverend Tracy gave a nice sermon. Lots of politicians showed up to as it is almost election time. There was a lot of politics being discussed in the churchyard after the service, lots of ideas were being exchanged. A big topic of debate was the state of the roads around here and what could be done to improve them. I know Papa doesn’t have the mail route anymore but it sure would be nice if whoever is delivering the mail wouldn’t have to stop an make a section of road passable before they can move on. The was also lots of talking going on about the war in Europe and debating on whether we should get involved. I don’t even want to think of that possibility.

This afternoon the three of us took Iretha over in the buggy to visit the Walters and enjoy a fine fried chicken dinner. I took a chocolate layer cake over which we enjoyed over coffee before we came home.

Sadie has given me some nice wool and I am going to use it to knit Roy some warm socks for Christmas this year. He says now his parents have decided to go visit in Missouri this winter instead of moving there. I hope he does not decide to go with them as he said he’d like to meet his Mother’s family. I couldn’t bear it if he didn’t come here. Maybe he’d even decide he like Missouri and never leave.

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October 26, 1914

Dear Diary,

Since there are no threshers to cook for yet I decided today would be a good day to go out and enjoy the fine fall weather we are having. The fall color is late this year and today was an unusually warm October day. Setting off from the Marchant’s house I headed off on a trail going toward the creek. The sunlight was dancing so pretty against the clumps of yellow aspens that I plopped down under them with my knees hunched to my chest and inhaled the rich aroma of the earth. I watched as golden leaves swirled and pirouetted around me creating a golden carpet. It was as if I had struck gold, the gold that so alluded my great grandpas.

Mona, Wyo

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Oct. 28, 1914

Dear Roy,


Here goes for a few lines I suppose you have been a little disappointed a few times lately for I have been kindy neglectful here of late. But I know you will excuse me if I tell you the reason. We were busy with the thrashers last Mon and Tuesday. Mama and I came down to Uncle Will Phillips and Aunt Sadie and Bert came by for me for they were going to have thrashers but it stormed and so made the corn so wet they couldn’t thrash for a while not until next week now so I don’t know if I can stay or not. Aunt Sadie wants me to but I almost have to go home as we are so busy getting ready. We are down to Mrs. Marchants place here is where they will thrash. I have been here since a week ago yesterday. I surely mis Mrs. Marchant the house seems so lonely without her here. I never got to get my Tuesday’s letter so supose I will have two or three when I go home.


Well how are you getting along? We are all well My I wish you could see Iretha she is a dear. I am rocking her with one hand and writing with the other So I can’t do a very good job. I can’t hardly think of going away and leaving here for I have got so used to being with her. And I believe she is going to have red hair. I hope so anyway. But Bert says he will cut it off. But Aunt Sadie and I will see to that. Aunt Sadie says she is going to have her picture taken soon and will send you one. I got two cards from Vera so far I think they are to the end of their journey by now so I will soon have a letter. I have already wrote to her. My we have had the grandest weather for this time of the year only one snow and it did not last long and one storm. Iretha and I went over to Aunt Sadies place yesterday everything looked quite nice. They will be glad to get back again. I may go home tomorrow. I don’t know just when we will move not for about two weeks tho I think. Do you ever hear from Justin? I believe they are very forgetful. I wonder where Amber and Ode are? Oh yes I must tell you about Iretha and I going visiting Sunday we got ready and she and I went up to Walters she was so good and looked so sweet. Do you remember Miss Hunnicutt (she was to our place once and her sister) well she was married a week or two ago. I never saw the man she married. There is only three girls left in our neighborhood.
I had to stop and take Iretha so will finish. Well I will stop as there is no news so by by.

As ever Mae.

(China letter translated from this letter:
“You must say something about coming back. You must burn all these letters for my sake.”)


LETTERS FROM MONA – Part 35 – Oct. 5 – Oct.13, 1914

Oct. 5, 1914

Dear Diary,

Surprise I am writing this from Hulett. Grandma and Grandpa Smith were going to visit Uncle Will and Aunt Minnie. Since the threshers aren’t getting to our area on Deep creek for a while I decided to go along. I used to see my aunt and uncle often when they lived near us but since they moved to Hulett we don’t see them much. The Smith cousins are all younger than I am and are growing up fast. Eva is 11, same age as Daniel, Chester is 7 and then there is baby Zetta Mae. And she is a sweetie, always smiling and gurgling like babies do. She has already grown so much since we saw her in July.

And oh, speaking of babies, I must tell you I finally got to visit with little Iretha. What a little doll and one month old today. Sadie and Bert just dote on her it will not be long until she is spoilt rotten and I intend to help them. Sadie showed me the gift Roy sent. I think it is the nicest woven blanket you ever did see. And to think he made it himself on some sort of weaving loom he has. It is of the softest pastel yellow color, perfect for a baby. It is something he does occasionally in his spare time, he says it keeps him out of trouble. I am so glad he doesn’t take to drinking when he has idle time like some men do.

I had another card from Vera. They were still traveling through South Dakota when she wrote. She said their covered wagons are bringing out the towns folk when they go through town. Lots of people invite them in for a meal. They usually camp just outside of a town and in the evening some of the folks come out to their campsites. Rob Waddington loves playing the violin and Vera gets out her guitar and everyone enjoys sitting around the campfire singing songs. She said lots of folks like to snap photos of them too. I can just see Vera posing as if she is Annie Oakley. So far they have not had any problems, she sounds like she is enjoying the trip quite a bit. They expect to get to Nebraska at the end of the month.

October 7, 2014

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Dear Diary,

My goodness was last night ever exciting. Around midnight I was awakened by the sounds of the fire bell. I threw back the covers and dashed to the window to look outside. A crowd of people were running toward the hotel, cries of all hands needed for the bucket brigade filled the air. I dressed as fast as I could and joined the family downstairs ready to help. Grandma stayed behind to look after my cousins. Thick clouds coming from main street choked the air as we slipped out the door.

The bucket brigade was already well formed by the time we got there. I joined the end of the line passing the empty buckets back to be refilled. It was not heavy work but it felt good to be helping. I was never in any danger or even close to the fire and I really think the pumper truck did most of the work. The hotel is probably a complete loss but I am thankful it was contained to just one building. I hate to think what would have happened if it had spread. All the guests and staff got out safe and sound. They even managed to rescue the lady staying there while recuperating from surgery by carrying her out on her mattress. I imagine she was some scared.

This afternoon I went with my cousins and Grandma to look at the charred mess. The acrid smell of smoke still hangs over the area. The owner says he will rebuild. Afterwards Grandma took us to the ice cream parlor to enjoy cones. I chose chocolate just like the first one I ever had when Roy took me and Lida to the one in Puyallup. While I enjoyed having one with Grandma and my cousins I couldn’t help but think how much nicer it would be if Roy was there.

I will be going back home tomorrow or rather we will go as far as Aladdin and spend the night with Sadie. I don’t mind that at all as it will give me another chance to snuggle little Iretha. We will go back to Mona the following day. There is also supposed to be a dance at Donald on the twenty-second. I do not think I want to go as it will be one where all the candidates show up to politic for everyone’s votes. Since I can’t vote yet, I find it boring.

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October 11, 1914

Dear Diary,

Sadie and Bert are over visiting with Grandma and Grandpa’s so I went over to join them for a while. Grandma had made a big cherry pie so she dished us up heaping servings to enjoy with some coffee. More than one candidate showed up while I was there to leave their cards asking for their votes. Guess we will be seeing lots of that from now until the election.

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Oct.11,1914

Dear Mazie,

Well here I am once again to bother you some more. How is my Little Friend today? As well as I am and far happier though I hope. I am as well as ever and still getting along fine. Your last letter came last Wed. and of course you know I was glad, but gladder still that you were having such a nice visit with your uncle and aunt. Hope you have a good time, though I suppose you are at home again now.
I was somewhat surprised to hear of Vera and Clarence being married. I was wondering though why they were putting it off so long. I think it was much better for them to get married than for him to go and leave her that would have been awful. Am awful sorry though, that you have lost your chum. That is to bad, but you must not think about that to much. Remember we all have to bear such as that sometimes. I had a card from Frank R. yesterday. Didn’t say much except that he was well and as busy as a bee. Said also that he hardly expected to get to school this winter as he had planned. It will be a shame if he don’t get to go for I know he will pretty much be disappointed.

I have not heard anything from Puyallup but guess every one is alright down that way though. Guess they had a good Fair down there this year. Anyway, they had perfect weather and big crowds and I guess that is what it takes to make a good fair. We have had nice weather here for the past two weeks up till yesterday. It was the wettest day of the season so far. I got gloriously wet, but guess it didn’t hurt me any. At least I don’t feel any the worse today. It is cloudy and dark today but hasn’t rained so far, expect it will pretty soon though. I hope you are having pleasanter weather in your country by now. Seems to me it aught to be cooler there at this time.


 It feels pretty much like winter here in the morning but gets warm enough in the middle of the day. I went fishing last Sun and caught a fine string of trout but believe me I sure earned them. I near walked myself to death and was so tired I could hardly walk, Monday morning though, I don’t think I will go any more this year though as the days are getting to short.
I guess you must have thought I was never going to sell the rest of your beads. I have been slow I know but then I have done my best and that is all anyone can do. I have sold all but one string now. Some of the them I had to sell for less than a dollar so I got only fifteen dollars for the sixteen strings and the two bandeaux. The string I have left I would very much like to keep as a souvenir if you will be so kind as to give it to me I assure you I will appreciate it very much and will keep them always. Well I can think of nothing more worthwhile to say so I will stop for now.

Did you have any luck selling any beads yourself? And what kind of luck did you have. You never said anything about them. It started to rain again looks as though it will continue for a while. Expect I will get wet tomorrow.

 Good-bye

as ever, Roy

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Oct 12, 1914

Dear Diary,

The threshers have still not made it out to those of us on Deep Creek in the meantime Papa is putting in the fall crop of rye at Donald. Lots of that going in around here.

There was a dance in Donald last night. Hazel and I came and spent the night with Papa since he was already here anyway.

One of our neighbors escaped an almost fatal accident yesterday. Seems while they were cutting the grain he drove over a small stump and got thrown from his seat. His foot got caught in the trap lever and hung him up. Fortunately, he had a gentle team of horses and succeeded in stopping in time and got himself extracted. When Papa heard the news, he said that was how his father got killed. I am so thankful nothing serious happened for he has a wife and a young child to take care of.

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Oct 13, 1914

Dear Diary,

I probably will not have much chance of writing in you the rest of this month for I surely will be busy. The threshers are supposed to arrive here tomorrow.

So many ranchers around here are talking of putting up their places for sale and moving to Belle Fourche as they are not able to make enough off the crops to make a living. Wonder if that is what will happen to us?

Roy sent me 15 dollars for the rose bead necklaces Hazel and I made. It was most welcomed by both Hazel and I. She’s already planning on some sheet music she can buy while I think I shall try to hang on to mine for as long as I can. We did not have much luck selling them around here, no one has much extra cash for things that are not a necessity. I do not think I will bother making any more when I can get rose petals again, it is so much work and I don’t think we could sell many more of them. (author’s note: 15 dollars in 1914 is worth 385 dollars in 2020)

I have also given up at least for now studying for the teacher exams as I never seem to have extra time to work on it. Maybe if we do move to Belle Fourche I can find some work there to earn a little cash or time to resume my studies.

LETTERS FROM MONA – Part 34 – Sept.14 – Sept.30, 1914

September 14, 1914

Dear Diary,

You will not believe this but I have been busy today making a wedding dress. No, not mine though I wish it were, it is Vera’s. Here I thought Clarence would wait until he got settled in Nebraska before asking for her hand in marriage. He told her he could not bear the thought of leaving her even for few months and asked her to marry now, so she could go along. She said yes, of course. They are getting married later this week.

 I have been helping her get a new dress finished in time for the big day. It’s nothing fancy but it is the prettiest blue plaid you ever did see and she will surely look like a “worth” model in it. I wish I could be with her on her big day but they are going to get married in Belle Fourche and we have too much to get done here for me to go. I will see her again before they leave as they are coming back to load up the covered wagons. Yes, you read those words right they are not taking a train like most folks do nowadays.

When I told Mama, she said, “well heaven knows it will be easier than the trip we made by covered wagon in the 1880’s. More towns to stop in for supplies and the trails and roads are much better.”

 Maybe so, but I am a modern girl, I prefer train travel. I am sure Roy wouldn’t want to go anywhere by covered wagon either, he did enough of it growing up. He told me his family was always moving and he doesn’t want to do that to any family he has. He wants to stay put somewhere and put down roots, which sound good to me too. My family may not go far but almost every winter we end up staying elsewhere whether it is Donald, Aladdin, or Belle Fourche. The year I was four we stayed in Hay Creek with my uncles, Tom, Solomon, Hugh, William, and Grandma Jessie Phillips all in one little place. I would prefer to live somewhere where we don’t have to move every winter because it is too isolated.

Guess it does not much matter to me if we go to Belle Fouche now though. I will be minus my chum either way. I am trying to feel excited for her but I sure wish it were me. Well not completely, I have no desire to go to Nebraska but I would gladly go to Washington state. Only I would go by train, no covered wagons for me, thank you.

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September 15, 1914

Clarence Waddington stopped by here a bit ago. He said he was on his way to visit Vera but had spotted a Mountain lion and cub walking outside the neighbor’s barn. He is alerting everyone and the men will take up a search for it shortly.

I imagine they will locate her soon enough but just the same I am glad Daniel and Hazel are here at the house today and not out wandering around.

Word is the threshers are not going to get here to Deep Creek until next month, so we won’t be done harvesting for a while yet.

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September 17, 1914

Dear Diary,

I have been thinking of Vera for today is her wedding day. In fact, she is probably already an old married lady, ha, ha. I sure hope things go well for them when they move to Nebraska. I wonder if it will be though, seems to me it is just as dry there as it is here. If only this drought we have been experiencing for the last several years would end. Lots of folks are talking about relocating.

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September 19, 1914

Yesterday Mama and I took the afternoon off to go to the meeting of the “Book and Thimble” club. I was surprised when Mama invited me to go along. So why is it I am grown up enough to go to a ladies’ club but not to get married? It’s kind of a combination book and sewing club and an excuse to get together. They try to meet twice a month when they are able and take turns hosting it. This time we met at the Pannell ranch. They raise the best melons around so we had all the watermelon and musk melons we could eat.

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September 21, 1914

Dear Diary,

Mama and I have been busy canning. Just a few minutes ago I took a bushel basket of dried shelled beans to the root cellar. What a sight to be seen down there at this time of the year. All the shelves are clean and gleaming with hundreds of jars in colors of green, gold, yellow and orange lined up row after row.

It makes me proud just looking at them and knowing I had a hand in all the growing, picking, steaming, boiling, and sanitizing of everything. I am not sure where we will end up this winter but we will have plenty to eat.

Vera and Clarence are back from Belle Fouche and are now a married couple. They dropped over last evening. They brought with them a pound of Oreo biscuits they bought in town. I guess they are now quite the rage. I had heard of them but never had a chance to try one. They consist of two crisp chocolate wafers with a layer of white frosting in between, not as good as my oatmeal cookies but they are not bad washed down with fresh milk from our cows.

I almost lost it when they got up to leave. I hate good-byes so I just turned away and went into the house instead of waving them good-bye like the rest of the family.

Papa is going to miss Clarence’s father. They have been friends since they were little boys growing up in Tama County, Iowa. Really we will miss the whole family better neighbors you could never have. But most of all I will miss Vera. She promised me she would be a faithful writer and I hope she will. Still I would rather have her close by than to depend on the mail.

——————————————————————————————————————————–Sept. 23, 1914

Dear Diary,

This morning I rode Drummer over to the Waddington’s to say good-bye to Vera and the rest of the folks. I wasn’t the only one a lot of the neighbors came to wish them well. So much hugging and talking going on I didn’t get much chance to talk to Vera. With all the talking it was eleven before they had the covered wagons all loaded with their worldly possessions. They are also hauling plenty of oats and barrels of water for they are taking 18 extra horses along. They are hoping to be able to sell them there for a better price.

Rob Waddington was driving one wagon, Clarence and his brother driving the other two. Vera was riding a horse looking every bit the part of a cowgirl with her divided skirt, fringed shirt, leather gloves and cowboy hat upon her head. They said they hope to camp somewhere between here and Belle Fourche tonight.

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September 27,1914

Dear Diary,

You won’t believe who just drove here in a brand-new Ford. It was James MacDonald and his wife Lulu. Lulu is my cousin only she’s Mama’s age. Grandma Jessie Phillips had 13 children so there are a lot of years between the oldest and youngest. Papa is one of the younger ones.

James said he thinks he likes the automobile better than a horse if only he can learn to make it go uphill and stop when he says, Whoa! Ha, ha!

Times are a changing, quite a few folks around here are starting to buy automobiles, though I don’t see how we will ever afford to buy one. And they may work well on the roads from Aladdin to Belle Fouche or Spearfish but so much of the year our roads out here are barely passable with a horse.

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September 30, 1914

Dear Diary,

Believe it or not I have already heard from Vera. She said they were near Rapid City when she wrote. So far the trip has been uneventful. Apparently before retiring into their own cozy little tent she and Clarence enjoy sitting under the stars each night dreaming about their future. She makes it all sound so romantic.

I am tired of waiting to turn 21, I want to be married too. And I don’t have to tell you who, my Roy is the only one for me.

Nothing I can do about it tonight, though so I best go in. It’s been a warm and glorious fall but the days are growing shorter and the leaves are beginning to change color. It will not be long before we wake to some frost.

Tomorrow Grandpa Smith is picking me up and then we will pick up Grandma at Sadie’s in Aladdin and then go on to Hulett for a few days. I will finally get to set my eyes on baby Iretha. I am excited to see her and see Sadie again.