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.
January 5, 1915
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.
January 10, 1915
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.
January 20, 1914
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.
January 27, 1914
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.
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.
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.
December 3, 1914
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.
Dec. 7, 1914
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.
December 12, 1914
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.
December 13, 1914
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.
December 14, 1914
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.
December 15, 1914
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.
December 18, 1914
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.
December 19, 1914
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.
December 23, 1914
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.
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.
December 26, 1914
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.
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
Mona Wyo Sunday Nov 16, 1914
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.
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.
November 24, 1914
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.
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.
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.
November 7, 1914
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.
November 8, 1914
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.
November 10, 1914
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.
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.
October 25, 1914
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.
October 26, 1914
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.
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.”)
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.
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.
September 17, 1914
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.
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.
September 21, 1914
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.
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.
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.
September 30, 1914
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.
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.
Mona, Wyo 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.
I’m back in Mona. Hazel and I came back last evening. My wisdom tooth is bothering me a lot again this morning. I wish it would finally cut through. Mostly it doesn’t bother me that much but today it does. It makes me feel fretful.
I got a letter from Roy. He said he had been helping to fight a fire in the forest. I hope that it the last of those for it sounds like a very dangerous business. It makes my stomach churn just thinking about it. Logging is dangerous enough without firefighting. It’s all so worrisome.
Hazel says she is ready to go plum picking. There are lots of them ripe now. Guess I should go put you away and join her. We need to can a lot more of them for this winter.
Aug. 24, 1914
I received your letters last Saturday. I did well got two at once but they were written a week apart. When you write on Sunday I get it Tuesday and on Saturday I get it Saturday, but we did not get the Tuesdays mail I never got any until Saturday, but was two times glad then.
Was glad to hear you were well and you are still that way. I am pretty well now only have a sore throat and tooth I am cutting my wisdom tooth and Oh, my how bad it has been hurting. It is nearly throu tho it has been for six months. We took in the dance Friday night. Had a fine time most every body did any way. I did not dance much as I got sick about seven oclock and so missed a good deal of the dances. Hazel had a fine time tho. Wish you had been there. Hazel and I went down to Donald last Tues and was there for a few days. We were over to Pearl Hunnicutts you know that is where Uncle Tom and you and I went my we had a nice time. We had a nice crowd at church wish you could have been there too. (Author’s note: Pearl was Mae’s mother’s cousin; Pearl’s mother was another one of the Harden sisters.)
Hazel and Daniel are riding after horses and Mama is picking plums, so I am alone Papa went down to the other place today. He will soon be throu, I will sure be glad for he is not a bit well and I am very worried about him but most every body is sick now. Today is just cold I am almost frozen. Yesterday was just awful hot, that is Wyo for you. My I am glad your folks are not going back to that place for I know you are much more pleased too. Vera was just telling me she got your card. She was much pleased, she says she is crazy over pictures and Lela got your card too. I was there when she got it, she said she had not forgotten you either, I was over and saw Clara and Holley too.
Well I do hope that fire is out by now you must not fight fire any more or I will be worried. Now I guess I will stop and write to Aunt Sadie. I wrote this in such a hurry I don’t suppose you will be able to read it all.
P.S. We may move to Belle Fourche before long,
China letter in this envelope translates to: “I missed you so when I was at the dance and I was sick, O, don’t say a word.”
August 26th, 1914
The supper dishes are done. And I am sitting out in my garden. It’s such a beautiful late summer evening, the air is calm, the temperature mild and soon the stars will be twinkling like diamonds in the sky. Wouldn’t it be nice if Roy was sitting here with me? For now, I can only wish upon a star.
Vera and I went riding with our ponies today. We just let them amble along slowly, their ears a twitching and their tails swatting flies. It was such a beautiful day, the air smelled sweet and clean. Occasionally a hawk or an eagle would soar across the sky looking for lunch in the golden fields of wheat, oats and rye.
I had packed us a lunch of sandwiches and cookies. We stopped along Deep Creek. We tethered the horses to a tree and sat under the shade of some scrub oaks. After we ate we laid on our backs and watched fluffy white clouds move across the blue sky. We began to talk of what the future might hold. Like me she was some worried about the thought of war but supposed that the U. S would never become too involved.
Of course, I said I hoped my future involved marrying Roy and Vera said she hoped she’d marry Clarence. When she asked me how many children I would have? I said a boy and a girl for sure and maybe another girl. Vera said she wanted the same. “And what will you name them?” she asked.
I said maybe I’d name the girl Vera after my best friend.
She chortled and said, “Well I’m not naming my daughter after a month of the year.” She added she might consider Mae for a middle name though. She said her girls would be named Dorothy and Ruth. I said if I had a second girl she would be Mary and I teased; Vera would not be her middle name.
Laughing we decided our boys would be John and James, whoever had theirs first could have first choice of the names. Of course, our girls would be the prettiest ever, the boys as handsome as their fathers. And all would be smart, they’d be able to go to high school, maybe even college. And we’d live in a town where there were proper shops, a theatre and a library.
I closed my eyes and could see it all. Dreaming aloud, I told her about the house I’d have with bedrooms enough for all of us, a big kitchen, dining room with a plate rail to display my fine china and a proper parlor. The front of the house would have a long wide porch across its width, where I’d have white wicker furniture for us to sit on when the day’s chores were done.
Realizing I was getting a little carried away with my dreams I asked Vera what her dream house would look like. When she didn’t answer I opened my eyes and turned toward her. Silent tears were streaming down her face.
“Did I say something wrong?” I asked.
“No, it’s just Clarence, I know he will never write to me. He’s not like your Roy. He’s going to forget all about me once he’s in Nebraska and I will end up an old maid for I shall never love another.”
I tried to reassure her that he would return soon enough, tired of Nebraska and longing for her. But if I am honest I have to say I have the same fear for myself. Will Roy and I ever be together or will he tire of waiting for me to turn 21? I wish I knew for sure; it would make the waiting easier.
After we untethered our horses and headed back out to the road I must confess we got confused and headed down the wrong one. The roads out here aren’t so well defined in places and it is easy to get confused as there are miles and miles of hills and little valleys and only a few ranches. We had ridden quite a way before we realized we somehow got ourselves headed to Hulett instead of the road that circles back to Mona. Mama was getting some worried about me when we finally galloped into our yard.
All was forgiven though when she saw we were safe and sound. She knows with Vera leaving for Belle Fourche soon this might be our last chance to ride together for a long, long time.
Aug. 29, 1914
I am going to start a letter to you as my dish water is not hot enough to wash the dishes yet. Well I wonder how you are this evening, fine I hope. I am pretty well and do hope you are not lonesome for that is a bad thing.
Vera was up today and I was down there and stayed all night last night, and she and I are very sleepy today, so that accounts for being sleepy we talked about half of the night and I guess the biggest half of that ha ha
Waddingtons are going away to Nebraska soon so she will soon be lonesome too. She is looking pretty blue all ready but I tell her to cheer up so when are together we are all right. I think she will go to Belle Fourche this winter and we are going to maybe, so we will be together. I hope we will not get disappointed.
I got your letter today Harvey Plummer got the mail, and I was glad of coarse to get it.
Well it is so dark I must wash my dishes so will close for to night and will write more tomorrow so good night.
Well here goes for another start. I wonder what you are doing to day, fishing maybe. We are going to drive over to the river a while this afternoon and see what we can get there are lots of chickens now and we wanted to get a few buffalo Berrys. It’s pretty warm tho. We had three or four awful cool days but is warm again but not so hot as it has been.
Papa has been cutting the hay up here and he only has one patch of corn to do yet and they will have to stack it and thrash the grain.
Frank Risher is doing fine but is so busy he can’t write to no one hardly. He is going to business college in Sheridan so won’t be home for a long time.
Well I guess I will have to stop and get my bible lesson and get dinner also. Wish you was here too.
I am not working to hard, so don’t say that for I don’t beleave in working hard you know.
Hazel and I are going to cook for Uncle Tom’s thrashing crew. I think so will be busy for a few days.
I haven’t sent that card yet but will soon
Well I guess I have written a news paper all ready. I must stop.
I haven’t written much lately; this is such a busy time of the year I find it hard to spare the time. Mama has never really gotten over the sickness she had earlier in the year and had started feeling rather poorly again so Papa sent her to Belle Fourche to get more treatments from the doctor there. She is staying with relatives. Yesterday we got a note from her saying she is doing some better but will stay a bit longer. I hope she is right about doing better as she hasn’t been good this year at all. It makes me feel worrisome.
Meanwhile Papa is so busy taking care of the farming at both places we hardly see him. This morning he and Daniel left for Donald and will be gone for several days. So Hazel and I are here alone to take care of everything else. Not only do we have to take care of the household chores and garden, but also make sure we feed the livestock and chickens, gather the eggs, milk our 4 cows, get the animals out to graze, put them back in the barn for the night and muck out the stables. To add to that it’s almost time to start picking the wild fruit and canning.
Hazel is pretty good about helping but she is driving me wild with all the singing she does. It wouldn’t be bad if she chose different songs but she sings the same one over and over until I can’t get it out of my head. If I hear her sing by the “Light of the Silvery Moon,” one more time today, she may find herself sleeping under the light of a silvering moon all alone in the garden.
Aug. 4, 1914
Down at the edge of our woods we have a good number of choke cherry bushes and they are beginning to get ripe. Picking them at the right time can be tricky, to early they taste horrid but wait until they are black and sweetest and the coons and birds are likely to get them all. So,we try to pick them when they are a deep wine color. Hazel and I went an picked a couple of buckets today. Growing in large clusters they are easy to pick. They are too sour to eat fresh but we sure love them in jelly. Hopefully we will get quite a few more pails full as they surely taste good in the winter over Papa’s flapjacks or smothered on top of a slice fresh from the oven bread.
It rained here quite a bit last week but with it came lightning storms and you know how much I hate those. The day before yesterday our telephone line got hit and it burned out our telephone. It hasn’t been ringing right for a long time anyway but I couldn’t bear the thought of being here alone with no telephone at all. But our dear old neighbor John, came over to look at it and had a spare part to fix what got burned out. So that is a good thing and the rain has made my garden looks so much better which is a second good thing.
Mona, Wyo Aug. 7, 1914
Dear Roy,- I supose you will be very much put out about me not writing oftener but realy Hazel and I are baching here and was just so busy. I thot John was going to the Post office Thursday but he never so there for I am afraid you won’t get a letter very soon. I expect you think I am very careless and I know that I am too. I will try to do much better tho here after.
This is only Friday, and I supose I shouldn’t start a letter so long before I sent it but I was so awfully tired I just had to stop a few minutes.
It keeps Hazel and I real busy doing all the work and chores and we are picking and putting up cherrys too. My we just got back from picking three ten-pound pails and it is dreadful hot too. My we were surely tired, and Hazel wants to go over to grandpas tonight after supper so supose we will walk over there after supper. I am about all in tho.
I sent you a card and had Edna to mail it Tuesday but she never mailed it until friday so you won’t get that very soon either. My I am awful sorry I wonder how you are today? I got your letter last Tuesday and you know I was glad.
Saw Vera twice today, Mama has been gone nearly two weeks. I am getting real lonesome to see her. I think I will go down next week and stay with Papa as he will have some men working and so he needs a cook. Oh my! Hazel says it is time to get supper so will get busy again I will finish later, so good bye,
Aug 8, your birthday
Well here I am again I have been real busy doing the Saturday’s work and am about all in. Am nearly threw tho. I have only to churn, press my dress, make a cake, finish making my bread, and get supper. My seems like I never get throu. Hazel is riding after horses. My, Daniel phoned and said they were coming home tonight so I am so glad. Mama has been gone nearly two weeks and Papa and Daniel nearly one.
Papa has so much to do and he can’t find anyone to work for him as help is so scarce this summer he is doing all his work alone so far but may be able to get help next week. Everybody wants someone to work but there don’t seem to be very many around here that want to work.
We had several nice rains since I last wrote and some dreadful storms. One time it stormed, it burnt our phone line. I was just about wild. We have it fixed now tho and it works better than it did for 3 years.
My I am glad it is not so warm in Wash. as it is here.
Hazel and I went over to grandpas last night we never started out until so late tho. We never got there until about nine oclock at night. See how brave we are it was awful dark too. There is going to be a picnic at Mc Donalds and a big dance after wards. I (the rest of this letter is missing)
August 8, 1914
I am sitting out in the yard as it is another hot evening. The air feels so dry and dusty, it makes my throat scratchy all day. I do hope the weather cools down soon, I have had enough of this heat.
Papa and Daniel made it back here in time for dinner tonight. I was glad I had decided to bake some biscuits to go with our stew and fresh greens. I opened tinned peaches for dessert. My, did they ever scarf down the food. Daniel said it was a heap better than the pork and beans and corn pone Papa had been fixing all week. He even gave me a great big hug and said he’d missed me. It’s nice to be appreciated.
I am feeling rather blue. I long to be with Roy for today is his birthday. I wanted to send him a gift but I had no way of getting one. I did have a card but have been so awfully busy I had to give it to Edna to mail for me on Tues. Only she forgot so it didn’t get mailed until Friday. I was not one bit pleased when she told me. It was all I could do not to scold her and that would have been bad for she was doing me a favor. He probably thinks I have forgotten him which I can assure you I haven’t.
If he were here I would make him a great big cake. Maybe another angel food as we’ve got plenty of eggs with some berry preserves dripping over the top. He’s crazy for anything with berries. And I’d sing that “Happy Birthday To You,” song everyone has started singing. But he’s not here and that makes me so very blue.
August 10, 1914
Now that Papa and Daniel are back I have a bit more time to write. Last night after the supper dishes were done I set off for the top of the hill to watch the sun set. And oh, what a sight it was with the fields glowing gold and the wind blowing them like waves on an ocean. At least I imagine it’s like an ocean for I have never actually seen one. As the sky turned to a purple dusk, I sat with my hands wrapped around my legs, listening to the greatest orchestra of all. There can be no sweeter melody than the sound of a gentle wind, rippling through the grass, accompanied by the chirping crickets and the song of a meadowlark.
It won’t be long now until those glowing fields are just a memory. If only their yield would be as big as we hoped for.
August 13, 1914
I must tell you about a funny incident that happened last night while Hazel and I were finishing up the supper dishes. Someone left the screen door open and a snake had taken the notion to slither in while our backs were turned to the sink. Hazel turned around to put her dish towel down and let out an ear-piercing shriek. “Snake!” I turned and saw that it was just a harmless bull snake and not a very big one at that, but her screams had alarmed it. It had reared itself up to look bigger and started thumping its tail like a rattler. She ran from the room screeching. I grabbed the broom shooed it back out the door as it hissed and reared at me all the while. Papa and Daniel came racing from the barn to see what all the commotion was about just as I swept it out the door. We all had a good belly laugh afterwards, except for Hazel she was amused and you can be sure she is going to be sure the screen door is firmly latched from now on.
I better stop writing and see what the shouting in the yard is about. Hopefully it’s not another snake scare.
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.
“Devil’s Food“ 1/2 cup of milk 4 ounces of chocolate 1/2 cup butter 3 cups pastry flour 1 1/2 cups of sugar 4 eggs 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)
Boiled icing 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.
Mona, Wyo July 4, 1914
Dear friend,- 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. As ever, Mae
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.