Saturday, December 8, 2012

And then there were four

Perry & Gene with their first three children
Gene did join Perry in Vernal bringing their three small children with her. Vernal was in the Uintah Basin, the area where Perry had grown up. He loved the small, farming community and knew many of the residents. But Gene felt lonely and isolated in their little rented home on the outskirts of town. So after about six months living in Vernal, and with the pregnancy of their forth child, Jan, nearing term, Gene and the children left for Salt Lake City to stay with Perry's parents again. There she was able to get some family assistance with childcare and be closer to the Holy Cross Hospital in Salt Lake City where Jan was born.

The following are a few letters Perry wrote to Gene during this time. They are addressed to 1139 Elgin Ave., Salt Lake City, Utah where Perry's parents, Elmer and Leona Manwaring, lived.

Vernal, Utah
April 15, 1951 (10:30 pm Sunday)

Dearest Gene,

Just got back from Roosevelt. I helped Venice and Elvyn get some sheetrock put up Saturday. We got the ceiling of the front room and the kitchen done. Also one partition to separate the front room from the rest of the house, so it is a little more livable and a little better looking now.

Went to church at Ballard this morning. I surely enjoyed seeing some of the old-timers, and I think they were glad to see me. The bishop insisted I come back and speak at Sacrament meeting. You can tell the folks that our old home burned to the ground yesteday. Jack Rasmussen was burning weeds and the fire caught on to the house. I drove down to look at it this morning. It made me feel rather sick in the pit of my stomach.

Baby Dale
How are you and the children getting along? I don't know how I'm going to wait another week to see you. I thought I had a ride but at the last minute the people changed their minds about going. I would have come on the bus, but didn't have sufficient finances. I will be out this weekend for sure though.

Please give my sweet little children a big hug and a kiss from daddy. I hope your mother is there by now. If so, I shan't worry because I know you are in good care. All my love, Perry

10:30 pm Monday

Dearest Gene

I received your letter just today and was shocked and surprised indeed to hear about your father's illness and the fact that your mother is unable to come. I certainly pray for your well-being and that you will be able to keep managing the children alone ok. Don't hesitate to call on my mother for help. It's mostly in the evening when you need it.

I'm going to try and get this letter off to you airmail, special delivery and hope you will get it tomorrow. [Tomorrow would be April 17, the day Jan was born. But of course Perry had no way of knowing that as Jan wasn't due for several more days.] I got to thinking that you may not get the letter I wrote last night until Wednesday, and I certainly didn't want you to think I "didn't care" as you hinted you might.

I too miss you all the time and am really counting off the days now till I can be with you again. I'll write a better letter later, but I wanted to send you the $5.00 for Continental. The check was $7.27 so thought I should keep the rest for my own necessities. I'm looking for a ride out but no luck as yet. Can't afford to take the bus on what I have. I'll be out there this weekend for sure though. Hope the baby comes about the 20th or 21st. I love you very, very much. Give all my sweet little kids a kiss for me. God bless you. Perry

(Letter to Linda and Marian on the other side.)

Dear Linda and Marian,

Daddy wants you to listen real carefully while mama reads this letter to you. Daddy sure does miss his two little girls and his little boy. Daddy wishes he could see all of you, but I will see you soon in just three more days. Just this many I I I.

Now daddy would like you to do something for him. Will you do something for daddy? Daddy wants you to help momma all you can. I want you to be real nice to each other and not make each other and Dale cry. Daddy wants you to do what mommy tells you. Go to bed when she tells you and eat when she tells you. Can you pick up all of your toys and clothes so mommy won't have to? You'll want to do all you can to help mommy, won't you?

We loved to play Cowboys and Indians
Jan's riding the horse
If you can do a lot of things to help mommy then I think pretty soon she can go to the hospital and then bring home a pretty little baby brother or baby sister. Wouldn't you like that? Please be real sweet girls so mommy won't have to get a real bad backache or tummy ache, will you? I know you will because you are my little sweethearts. Love and kisses to you. Daddy

Perry missed Jan's actual birth, which was on Tuesday, the day he wrote the above letter. However, in those days, mothers and new babies stayed in the hospital after a birth much longer than they do now. So Perry did get to the hospital a few days later where a nurse at the front desk informed him that he had a little girl. Then, seeing Gene, she insisted that she'd given birth to a boy. Perry then went to the nursery where he found that indeed little Jan was a boy.

The difficulty of getting transportation back and forth must have prompted Perry and Gene to buy a used car as the following short letter seems to imply.

Postmarked April 23, 1951

Dear Gene,

Just a note to let you know I arrived ok and safely. The little car purred along just fine. My generator wasn't working very good so I ran the battery down some. Elvyn worked on it and it charges a little now. I'll probably have to have that worked on next, but I feel quite lucky to have made the trip that well. [From Salt Lake City where Perry's parents lived to Vernal is about 170 miles--a three hour trip for us now, but probably a much longer trek in an older-model car in 1951.] If it can make one more trip over the mountain, that will be all I can expect or hope for, for a long trip.

Hope you're making it ok with Jan. Aunt Leona and Thelma surely didn't like the name (ha!) I had supper with Aunt Mary last night. I'm enclosing a money order for $5.00. Hope you can hold out for a while. Love, Perry

Vernal, Utah
April 25, 1951 (10:00 pm)

Dearest Gene,

I received your letter tonight. It was good to hear from you. You didn't tell me much about the baby. Does he have colic? I certainly hope not.

It doesn't look as though I will be out this weekend. Can't locate anyone who is going out and I certainly can't afford the bus. Good thing I have a place where I can stay because I am virtually penniless. I will be out for certain the next weekend though.

Marian giving Jan a ride in the swing while a
little neighbor girl, Kathleen Caddy, looks on
Surely glad your mother is there to take over. I haven't any feeling of anxiety as I did have. How is she making out with the children? Do they respond for her? Do you feel that you are recuperating? Be sure to obey the doctor's instructions about lifting, etc. Don't even try to stand and hold the baby. Please! We certainly don't want any prolonged complications.

Nearly everyone here inquires about you and asks how you are. Also they remark what a perfectly balanced family we have. Give the children all a kiss for daddy. Love, Perry

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