Saturday, March 30, 2013

Today is Columbus Day

Gene, Renee and Harriet on the grounds
of the Salt Lake City Temple
October 12, 1962

Dear Perry, Gene & All,

Today is Columbus Day, but school goes on there as well as here, I suppose. If Columbus could have known the honor he would have received in a few hundred years, it would have helped him to stand the trials he had a little better perhaps. [Perry had been doing research on the 4th voyage of Columbus and sharing with his family what he'd learned. He then wrote a book about the High Voyage and used it for his Master's thesis at Claremont Graduate School.] By the way, how is the work progressing, Perry?

We are still enjoying the "surprise" and wish such things could happen a little more often. Mrs. Sperry told us how pretty Linda is and how she seemed to enjoy surprising everybody. She said Linda was in her Primary class. Do you remember that, Linda? I am glad you went to Bryce Canyon. No person from Utah should miss that.

Hope and Grant were here recently for a short "hello." Hope says she may come up and stay while Grant goes on the deer hunt. The wind has blown here for three days and nights and this is the fourth. But it was nice most of the time for Conference. Had one shower.

June is having quite a time with the flu. She gets better and then goes back to bed again. She said this morning that Kerry Dee has a sore throat now, but it will be hard to keep him down. I can't think if there is anything new that I haven't told you, so I guess I had better seal this and get it off in the mail. Love from Mother & Dad

Enjoying a surprise visit with cousins
David Hilbig and Kerry Dee Andreason
November 28, 1962

Dear Folks,

When you wrote, you were so busy painting, etc. Did you get it all done? Glad Grandma Fast could be with you. Next to going "Over the River and Through the Wood, To Grandmother's House We Go," is have Grandmother come to your house.

The three families here in Salt Lake went to Richfield and had a wonderful time. We up here took pies and salad, etc. Hope and Grant roasted a huge turkey and it was perfection itself--so tender and juicy. The next morning Hope and Grant served one of their professional breakfasts with Grant's pancakes. It was a real good trip and the sun shone both days.

Venice wrote a letter which I took down and read which made everybody laugh, and I am sending it on to you. I think you will get a real kick out of it.

Gene with Leona at 1190 Elgin Ave., Salt Lake City
After you folks were here this fall, we had a terrible hail storm--the biggest hail stones I have ever seen. It sounded like huge rocks being dumped on the roof. Then, in a few days, a terrific wind blew most of the shingles off from the south side of the roof. We supposed there was no insurance as Hazel hadn't said anything about it. When I asked her, she said she thought it was transferred to their new house. I asked her if she would investigate. The result is we will get $200 on it. It cost $250. There was a $50 deductible clause. So we are very glad for that. It was necessary to have it re-roofed before the snows came and there is a new one on it now.

Frank Slaugh's wife died and I went to Vernal Saturday with Owen Slough and wife. I was very glad to go for I got to see so many people I haven't seen for ages. All of Frank's family was there, also all of his brothers and sisters. Owen Slaugh, while traveling, told us a story--an experience he had when he was hauling gasoline to Vernal. We came upon a certain turn in the road and he said, "Here is where I helped John Dillinger out of the snow. There was quite a lot of snow piled on either side of the road, and the car--a red one--was stalled in a snow bank. There were two men and a red-haired woman."

Owen said the men were swearing and cussing. Owen got out his chains, etc. and pulled them out. They hurried away without even thanking him or saying a word. Owen got in his car and started out and turned on the radio and heard the broadcast: "John Dillinger, who is wanted by the law, we have learned, is traveling thru Utah from California on his way east. He has a red car. Another man and a red-haired woman are with him."

Owen said he was sure of their identity and two days later, Dillinger was shot as he was coming out of a theater in Chicago. I said, "Owen, you should write that story down and perpetuate it." And Fern spoke up and said, "Yes and name it, 'Be Kind to Everyone.'" I thought you would enjoy that story. Please write again soon. Love, Mother & Dad

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Bear in a Barrell

[Perry wrote a short children's story for each of his kids. Perhaps inspired by Dale's prowess capturing wildlife in the neighborhood, he wrote this story for him.]

A Bear in a Barrel
by Perry Manwaring

David moved into a new house near the mountains. All of the houses were new. the lawns were new. The streets were new. But the mountains were old. The trees were old. And the brush that came down almost to David's house was old too.

"Do any bears live here?" David asked his sister, Mary.

"No, silly," answered Mary. "No bears live here."

"Are there any bears in the woods?" David asked his mother.

"No, dear. There are no bears in the woods," his mother answered.

"Are there any bears in the mountains?" David asked his father.

"Maybe," answered his father without looking up from his newspaper.

"I am going to catch a bear," said David. "Could I catch a bear in this box?"

"No, silly," said Mary.

"A bear is much bigger than that," said Mother.

Father looked up from his newspaper. "Maybe," he said, "if it was a baby bear."

"Tomorrow I am going to catch a bear," said David.

"All right," said Father, and he went on reading his newspaper.

The next day David walked up the street. Mrs. Saladino was trimming her roses. "Where are you going?" asked Mrs. Saladino.

"I am going to catch a bear," answered David.

"A bear in a box?" Mrs. Saladino smiled. But David kept walking up the street.

"Where are you going?" asked Mr. Bushinsky.

"I am going to catch a bear," answered David.

"A bear in a box?" Mr. Bushinsky chuckled. But David kept walking up the street.

Mr. Derryberry was planting flowers. "Where are you going?" asked Mr. Derryberry.

"I am going to catch a bear," answered David.

"A bear in a box?" Mr. Derryberry laughed. But David kept walking up to the end of the street.

Through the brush he walked until he saw some tracks. They were like this:

"Bear tracks!" David said. "I will catch a bear here."

He put some bread crumbs in the box and made the lid so that a bear could walk in. Then he hid behind some brush and watched.

Soon something moved. Something came walking through the brush. It sniffed this way. It sniffed that way. It sniffed its way right into David's box.

David ran and picked up the box. "A bear! I've caught a bear!" he shouted.

Through the brush and down the street David ran. "I've caught a bear in a box!" he shouted.

Mrs. Saladino stopped trimming her roses. "A bear in a box?" she said. And she ran down the street after David.

Into the house he ran with Mrs. Saladino right behind him. Mary was playing with her dolls. "Mary! Mary! Look what I've caught!"

Mary jumped up from her play.

"I've caught a bear in a box!" and he slipped the cover off.

Mary jumped back. "Oh, dear!" she screamed. "What is it?"

"It's not a bear," said Mrs. Saladino. "A bear is much bigger than that. It's an opossum."

"An opossum?" said Mary. "What can we do with an opossum?"

"Call the animal shelter," said Mrs. Saladino. "They will take it back up into the mountains."

So they called the animal shelter. But David said, "Tomorrow I am going to catch a bear."

The next day David walked up the road. He was carrying a sack.

"Where are you going?" asked Mrs. Saladino.

"I am going to catch a bear," David answered.

"A bear in a bag?" And Mrs. Saladino smiled a big smile. But David kept walking up the street.

Mrs. Bushinsky was painting his house. "Where are you going, David?" asked Mr. Bushinsky.

"I am going to catch a bear," David answered.

"A bear in a bag?" Mr. Bushinsky chuckled a big chuckle. But David kept walking up the street.

"Where are yo going today?" asked Mr. Derryberry.

"I am going to catch a bear," answered David.

"A bear in a bag?" Mr. Derryberry laughed a big laugh. But David kept walking up the street.

Up to the end of the street he walked, through the brush and through the bushes. Soon he saw some tracks. They were like this:

"These must be bear tracks," David said. Into the sack he put some peanut butter. He held the sack open with some branches so that a bear could jump in. Then he hid behind some bushes and watched.

Soon something moved among the bushes. It sniffed this way. It sniffed that way. It sniffed its way right into David's sack.

Quickly David ran and grabbed the sack. "A bear! I've caught a bear!" he shouted. Through the bushes, through the brush, and down the street he ran shouting. "A bear! I've caught a bear!"

Mr. Bushinsky stopped painting his house. "A bear in a bag!" he exclaimed. And he ran after David.

Into the house David ran with Mr. Bushinsky right behind. "Mother! Look what I've caught!:

Mother jumped up from her sewing.

"I've caught a bear in a bag!" he shouted. And he opened up the bag.

His mother jumped back. "My goodness! What is it?"

"It's not a bear," said Mr. Bushinsky. "A bear is much bigger than that. It's a raccoon."

"What can we do with a raccoon?" asked David's mother.

"Call the pet store," said Mr. Bushinsky. "Raccoons make fine pets."

So they called the pet store. But David said, "Tomorrow I am going to catch a bear."

The next day David walked up the street. He was rolling a barrel.

"Where are you going, David?" asked Mrs. Saladino.

"I am going to catch a bear," answered David.

"A bear in a barrel?" she asked. And she smiled all over her face. But David kept walking up the street.

"Where are you going today, David?" asked Mr. Bushinsky.

"I am going to catch a bear," David answered.

"A bear in a barrel?" asked Mr. Bushinsky. And he chuckled right out loud. But David kept walking up the street.

Mr. Derryberry was planting petunias. "Where are you going with the barrel?" asked Mr. Derryberry.

"I am going to catch a bear," David answered.

"A bear in a barrel?" And Mr. Derryberry laughed so hard that he dropped his petunias. But David kept walking up the street.

Up to the end of the street he walked. Through the brush, through the bushes and into the trees he walked. Soon he saw some tracks. They looked like this:

"These are bear tracks," said David. "I will catch a bear here." He rolled the barrel against a tree and put some honey in it. Then he walked away so that a bear could walk right in.

Soon something moved among the trees. It sniffed this way. It sniffed that way. It sniffed its way right into the barrel.

"A bear! I've caught a bear!" David shouted and he ran toward the barrel.

But just then the barrel began to roll. Away from the tree it rolled, through the bushes, through the brush. Down the street it rolled with David running behind shouting, "A bear! I've caught a bear!"

"A bear in a barrel!" exclaimed Mr. Derryberry. He dropped his petunias and ran after David.

Down the street the barrel rolled, down past Mr. Bushinsky's and Mrs. Saladino's. "A bear in a barrel!" called David.

Mr. Bushinsky dropped his paint brush and ran after them. Mrs. Saladino dropped her trimming shears and ran after them. They all ran down the street after David, and David ran after the barrel.

Round and round the barrel rolled, faster and faster. Down the street and past the houses it went. Across the new lawn it went until it came BUMP right up against David's house.

"Daddy! Daddy! I've caught a bear!" David yelled.

His father jumped up from the lawn he had been weeding.

"Look!" David called. "A bear in a barrel!"

Just then something came staggering out of the barrel. It walked in circles round and round.

"It's a bear!" said Mr. Derryberry.

"It's a bear!" said Mr. Bushinsky.

"It is a bear!" said Mrs. Saladino. "He is dizzy."

"What shall we do?" said David's father.

"Call the zoo!" said Mr. Derryberry.

"Call the newspaper!" said Mr. Bushinsky.

"Call the mayor!" said Mrs. Saladino.

WHISH! They all came at once.

The bear was so dizzy he just lay on the grass, but his eyes were still going round and round.

"An American Black Bear!" said Mr. Derryberry.

"Ursus americanus!" corrected the zoo keeper. "What an addition to our zoo."

"BOY CATCHES BEAR IN A BARREL!" said the major. "What a story I will have to tell at the next council meeting."

"BOY CATCHES BEAR WITH BARE HANDS!" said the newspaperman. "What a headline for my newspaper." His camera flashed while David stood beside the bear. He stood tall and straight, but the bear's eyes were still going round and round.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Marian passed eighth grade with all honors again

Did we all forget how to say 'cheese'?
May 21, 1962 (Monday)

Dear Mother,

I miss you here in Claremont. It was nice being able to pop in on you whenever I had the car! Guess I'll just have to plan to take a day off here and drive into LA and visit you. Maybe I can plan to do it while the kids are still in school.

Yes, I received an announcement of Ricky's graduation too. Must send him a nice card--wish I could do more! Did you ever hear from him?

Yes, I have your sewing machine and bench. They are in my room. I am not using the machine, I am so used to my own. If you want it, I'll bring it to you?? Whatever you say.

Yes, Perry's folks came in last Friday evening (May 11th) about supper time, so I fixed more supper and served two shifts. I did this every meal thru Saturday and Sunday. They left Sunday night late. There were six of them plus our eight here, so you see I was cooking for an army every meal (or so I felt). Ha!

It was so cold, we didn't go anywhere, just stayed home and visited. But I was on my feet most all the time plus taking my Sunday School class early Sunday morning. When they left, I ached from head to foot--put the kids to bed and collapsed in my own--slept a lot the next day after I got the kids all off to school. It was about the most strenuous Mother's Day I ever had I think. But I think they all had a good time--enjoyed the kids so much and had a good visit with Perry too--so I'm glad.

Marian had a girl friend stay overnight with her on her birthday. She planned her own birthday dinner and I made her a chocolate cake. Got her some play clothes, pajamas and a big beach towel for her birthday present from us all. She liked the overnight bag you gave her. Thanks so much.

Thanks too for all the Blue Chip stamps. I'm going to get me some sheets and pillow cases with them. I need them most. My twin sheets and pillow cases are all warn out. Your Relief Society magazines finally came--all in one package--4 of them, Feb., March, April and May. I'll read them and bring them to you when I come to see you. Only one more lesson, the social science is left. Then we'll have one work day each month thru the sumer. Hope you can get started there in your Manchester Ward soon. I'd like to attend with you when I come to see you.

Your place sounds so very nice. I'm glad you're all squared around again. What do you hear from the folks back East? Write me again. We all miss you. Love, Gene

Renee admiring Dale and Jan's feats of engineering
June 17, 1962 (Sunday)

Dear Mother,

Perry got your nice Father's Day card yesterday. We all enjoyed it very much. Harriet got inspired and made Daddy a card with a rhyming verse. He got a card and a tie from some friends, and the kids gave him a box of chocolate mints. All in all, he was very well thought of. Ha!

But then he got a telephone call this afternoon from the stake president asking him to replace a fellow high council member this evening in our ward and give his talk. So he really feels on the spot just now. So I am writing you while he studies.

I also received a long letter from Betty which I will send to you. I answered her yesterday. She enclosed one of Ricky's graduation pictures. I told her I was glad that Ricky was getting to visit Emily [Ricky's birth mother] but hoped he would return soon. (I know he is better off in his father's home than he would be with Emily!)

Mother, I know I gave back the news clippings of Aunt Minnie's kids the day you moved back to LA. I gave them to you that Saturday morning when Perry was moving your things from the apartment here. I hope you can find them. [Signs of alzheimer's disease in Leora's behavior, which slowly became more and more advanced until she could no longer live alone.] Hope you get your money back for the moving expenses too--let us know.

Marian passed from the eighth grade with all honors again. She has another honor society certificate. (She received one last year too.) She is working towards a scholarship. She wants to be a home economics teacher.

Linda is an excellent typist--got an award in this. Wants to be a good stenographer. Dale finally pulled thru the seventh grade. He will take math in summer school--think this will help him.

Perry is in the midst of research and study towards writing a book which he hopes to complete within a year. Must hurry this off to you. Surely do miss you. Haven't forgotten the $1 you sent me. I'm trying to make plans to come see you! More later. Love, Gene & all

June 21, 1962 (Thursday)

Dear Gene,

Received your letter, I think yesterday, or maybe it was Aunt Edith's letter, and yours may have arrived day before. At least I answered Aunt Edith's yesterday and dropped it at the post office. That is about the same distance from me as the one in Claremont, but I have sidewalks all the way. It's on Manchester between Budlong and Vermont, so I just walk east 1/2 block to Budlong and up to Manchester, then about 1/2 block to the postoffice and there I am. We have a Safeway on Vermont between 88th and 89th, so yesterday evening from the postoffice I walked south to Safeway. While I was out and shopped a little there, I got a ride home with a neighbor that was there too. [Leora moved from Claremont and returned to LA because she missed the convenience of walking or taking a bus or light-rail when she wanted to get out.]

Seems to me I do remember you giving me the envelope of newspaper pictures of Aunt Minnie's granddaughters. I'm just wondering if I was crazy enough to send them back to you and thinking you hadn't seen them. Did you look in all the letters I've sent you since I'm moved here? Anyhow, I cleaned out my desk and looked everything over and didn't find it.

So Perry was called on to make or give a talk on Father's Day in the absence of someone else, but that should not have been too hard since he's a father of 6 active members in your family. This would have been a good time to have mentioned what our forefathers of the Church means to us as to the gathering of our ancestors and doing the temple work for many of our ancestral fathers that were never LDS. Might make some of the LDS more conscious of those they are neglecting in not being interested in this work of their forefathers. . . .

I notice Betty seems to be worried because I'm here alone, as she thinks, but I'm used to this big city and buses can take me everywhere I'd choose to go. Probably will have a chance to go to the temple more again since moving back. . . .

Leora's twin sister, Leola
Ricky is not a child anymore. He is 18 years and is considered a young man, beginning himself to realize he will be out on his own and will try or should try to make his own decisions. I know what it means, but I lost both my parents at age 10 and then had to live at that age with a person really too much older than a mother would be and Aunt Bell was too dominating. I should have decided at the age of 18 or 19 to have done the things I wanted to do without too much domineering interference.

There were two things I wanted or would have liked to have studied--one, to have been a trained nurse, but was not encouraged in that. Aunt Bell said, "Oh, that's a life of slavery," and of course I'd liked to have studied more music and voice. I had the talent of a great singer, but never received the encouragement. That would have taken more cash than I had, but she didn't help, so after all, when she is dead and gone, strangers get all her estate that was left.

So I wish Ricky was around me now. I'd encourage him to go to the college of his choice and by taking a prep course, maybe he'd discover what he'd like or whatever his talent might be and go through school. Ricky loved to read a lot and could always relate so well what he had read. Pepperdine College is near me here. He might make a very good instructor if given a chance, but he should get away from the family now, for he'll be made to feel he'll have to still do babysitting for the family.

Aunt Bell always let me go and visit my grandma and sister and aunts and uncles and cousins. Of course, my sister Minnie always was along with me. Later, as I got older, I'd go see them alone. She trusted me for she knew I'd come back home. . . . Better close, Love, Mother

Jan and his Green Hornet
June 30, 1962

Dear Harriet Lea, Renee, Jan, Dale and Marian and Linda Lou,

Dear grandchildren, we look back with pleasure to our visit with you and try to picture in our minds what you are doing now that school is out. Your yard was so pretty, yet I know that it takes quite a lot of work to keep a yard pretty. so I know the boys will have some work there keeping down the weeds etc. When do the apricots ripen? By the way, Jan, everyone who looks at your picture thinks it is of David.

One day recently, Grandpa and I went to Hazel's house. I suppose David's dog still remembers our car for he rode in it a few times. So as soon as we stopped and I opened the door to get out, Laddie, David's dog, bounded in and up on the back seat and laid down with his head on a pillow I had put in there for occasions when I wanted a back rest. He is a big, brown beautiful dog, and it was laughable the way he stretched out there on the back seat. David scolded, but he wouldn't come out, and David had to get in there and pull him out. David and Walter came down here to get some manure that they had hauled here several years ago from your father's chicken coops. Grandpa was glad they came and asked for it.

I have picked some sour pie cherries, but the robins are so greedy, they won't let them get ripe even. The other day, I went there wearing my big straw hat and a bucket tied around my waist, but the robins were not at all scared. I picked up a big stick and struck out at the branches, but one robin flew around on the other side of the tree and kept on picking at the cherries. Another one flew away with a ripe cherry in his bill. I suppose he was taking it to his nest. Oh well, I like the robins, and I guess I shouldn't mind if they and their little ones have some. I don't think we would want all of them. Harriet and Renee, I'll bet you could draw a picture of me and the cherry tree. Haha!

What did you do with the little kittens? Did you keep them all? And if Jan and Dale can help keep the yard nice, Linda and Marian can do a lot of work helping with the house work and sewing and mending. It takes a lot of mending, it seems, to keep clothes going. On our way home from California, Kerry Dee was telling how he and Dale and Jan changed all the sheets and pillow cases downstairs when we were there. He thinks you boys are real workers.

Well now, I think I have told about all the interesting things I can think of. Love from Grandma and Grandpa

Saturday, March 16, 2013

I always had a happy birthday

January 25, 1962

Dear Mother & Dad,

We were glad to get your letter yesterday with all the news. We were sorry to hear that you have had so much illness during the moving. The moving is certainly a trial enough.

The old Pomona Ward LDS chapel
We had our stake conference Saturday and Sunday also. LeGrande Richards and Henry D. Taylor were here and our stake was divided. We have a new Pomona Stake. I am a member of the new high council. Our stake will comprise just five wards to begin with. It is surely a lot more compact than it was. Now we won't have to travel 30 miles for stake meetings. Although, we don't have a stake building within the confines of our stake, so we may still go to Riverside for a while. I guess a stake building will be our first major project.

We have been having some real cold weather here lately. It almost reminds me of Utah. There has been an unusual amount of rain and snow has fallen in the foothills just a few miles north of us. So we really have a wintry atmosphere. I will say the mountains are beautiful. I want to mail this this morning and I must leave now. Love, Perry

May 1962

Dear Family,

I read the letters with the utmost joy. It took me nearly an hour to read all of them, but a pleasanter hour I have never had. Gene enjoys them too as well as all of the children. That speaks quite well from our end of the line for their continuance.

I've been sitting here thinking what I could write about. Yes, I've been busy (very). It is getting hot. (You all know how it can.) The weeds are growing profusely (without any effort.) School will be out on June 16. The children count the days twice daily. But Linda and Dale have decided to take a summer school course--typing for Linda and a science class for Dale. . . .

[At this point, Perry mentions enclosing something he has written. He doesn't give the title, so, since it is near Perry's birthday, I'm including something he wrote about his birthday.]

Happy Birthday to Me

I don't know just how the subject came up, but we were discussing birthdays. In the course of the conversation my wife stated that, as a child, she had never had a happy birthday. I said I had never had an unhappy one until the State of Utah interfered back in 1934. From that time on, happy birthdays have been a bit harder to achieve I had to admit.

With that sketchy bit of information, we extended our discussion into our backgrounds to discover some element of truth which might, perhaps, give us a clue to the brightening of our future birthdays, which after age 50 begins to pose a dilemma. It is remarkable what small things can trigger a discovery. In our short discussion we learned more about each other than we did in our courtship, which was too brief and we were too enamored with each other for learning such inconsequential things as how we celebrated birthdays.

My wife came from middle class; I came from middle class poverty. My wife always had a birthday party; I never had a birthday party. My wife always received birthday presents; I never received birthday presents. My wife never had a happy birthday; I always had a happy birthday. That paradox seemed worth pursuing.

My wife always had a birthday party. The proper children were invited, and they came properly attired, each carrying a proper gift. To her mother, a birthday party was a model of efficiency, the shortest route to achieving a happy birthday. She was married to a time-study engineer--an efficiency expert, and no doubt had picked up some fragments of information which she diligently applied to her homemaking responsibilities. To insure this efficiency, she hovered over the children, carefully directing them from one activity to the next. Everything was neatly programmed and structured because a happy birthday must be insured and she, as mother, knew best how to get there like the shortest distance between two points. Everything moved with precision. Then the finale: "Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you!" They each had a small piece of cake, some punch and then, "Now you may go home boys and girls. Your mothers and fathers will be looking for you." Happy birthday? The child had only been brainwashed. She might as well have been asked to write I had a happy birthday ten times.

Little Perry
In my early years, my birthdays were models of beautiful neglect. Whether this was due to the urgency of caring for a large family in poverty, or whether this was actually supervised neglect I cannot say. In later years my mother only laughed and sidestepped the issue when questioned directly. I suspect she was afraid she might be trapped into an admission that she had not done all she could.

There was a great equality among the people where I lived. There was a small bank in the center of town that took care of the needs of the merchants, and I heard that a few city people even carried bank accounts there. But if one had rounded up all the farmers in the area and had them unload their cash, the disclosure would have shown no more than two or three who had thirty cents more than the others.

That was great for equality, but it made it rather difficult for public services to operate, particularly schools. Along about March, there was always a community stir as to just how much longer school would last--there was just so much money left. Schools usually managed to hold out until about the end of April, and then just stopped of a sudden, like an engine out of gas. At that time, children emerged from their confinement and took to the fields, hills and mountains for their lab work.

But the parents were disturbed by this sudden release of energized bodies and sought some way to give their children an education equal to that in other communities. I listened to all this without sensing at all the knell of disaster which the adults seemed to feel.

Although I was only eleven and considered myself left to moderate as a future voter in the community, I rather favored schools as long as it wasn't carried too far. I particularly liked the way school ended--sudden, abrupt. It gave the whole year's learning a heightened effect like the play whose ending is sharp, clean, right after the denouement. And my favorite speeches have always been those that ended just a few minutes before one expected them to end. Rambling on after an obvious point of conclusion is an unforgivable crime against artistry.

Perry on right with a cousin or friend
But the end of April would have been my chosen time for school to conclude anyway. The end of April is just six days before the sixth of May, my birthday. The thought of going to school on one's birthday was unthinkable. I knew a lot of children who had to do just that. It was pathetic. I saw them coming to school, their heads hanging. Sometimes they mustered a grin and said, "Today's my birthday," only to be interrupted by that jarring school bell. To be forced to work arithmetic problems and list the products of Brazil on one's birthday seemed like a pernicious violation of the human spirit. Their parents should have been more thoughtful.

It takes time and preparation to enjoy a birthday anywhere near its potential. Adults have no idea of the emotional impact it is to a child to become a year older. It is the culmination, the absolute denouement, of 365 days of activity and should be treated with reverence. There should be no wham-bam-happy birthday sort of thing. But adults are terribly efficient.

The preparation for a birthday begins the day after the last birthday. It is a symphony beginning with allegro and gradually, from day to day, week to week moves into other components. There must be ups and downs, fasts and slows. All crescendo exists only in the sickness of addiction. There must be diminuendos, lento con esprecione, and da capo capo capo.

The finale should begin about one week before the birthday. In my case, it began with the simple statement by somebody, usually my father, that my birthday was approaching. That was all. Nothing else. But it heightened the awareness, and with the slight hint gave me confidence that my symphony was not being played to an empty house.

There might be other suggestions through that week and on the eve many of them. "Tomorrow you'll be eight," or whatever. Becoming a year older is so dramatic to a child that he can hardly approach it alone. All this time there were no harried discussions about parties or what they were going to buy. Never did they ask, "What do you want?" I only wanted to be a year older.

Perry tackles a turkey
When the day arrived, it was necessary for me to arise at least an hour early. The day was mine and I chose to lengthen it. As I walked out by the pond, I heard the killdeers say, "Happy birthday." The meadowlarks adapted their usual song to "Happy birthday today." The sheep and lambs walked up to the fence and bleated, "Happy birthday." The old cow, usually quite indifferent, looked my way, nodded a ditto, and went back to her cud. It is true that foxes can talk if you know how to listen.

Language lessons were forgotten. School was only a memory. A whole day. The world called to me. There were nests in the willows, muskrats in the swamps. I was master of my own curriculum. I had to hurry. Bareback on my pony, I would get around as much of it as I could.

By evening there was still the excitement of uncertainty. I yet did not know if I would have a cake. I am not sure if I always had one, but I believe I usually had one. It was frosted with whipped cream and had only a few colored candies sprinkled on top. The books I had read and the pictures I had seen all seemed to strongly indicate that a sugar icing with candles were the proper covering for a cake. But since we were poor, I knew that I could not expect to be just like everybody else. Sugar we had to buy; cream we produced; candles were a frivolity. But it didn't matter. I knew I was a year older, and I knew there could be no retreat.

Then one day--it was March, I believe, 1934. We received word that the rest of the state of Utah felt sorry for us. It had taken a lot of doing--arm twisting, maneuvering, and straight talking, but now, at last, there were enough people who felt sufficiently ashamed that now they were going to share their money with us. School was going to run until May 18!

Of all the dastardly, low-down, diabolical tricks adults could pull on children that had to be the meanest! To go to school on my birthday? And be like all those other kids whose thoughtless parents had them be born in October and February? I believe I still have a residual distrust because of that traumatic event which shattered my world. I know now that when somebody gives me something, I am certainly going to give up something. The exchange may not always be of equivalent value.

Adults do the best they can, I suppose. They certainly mean well. They mean so well that they view children's play as formless, needing structure, without educational value. They seek to thwart it, supervise it and a best channel it far beyond any optimum necessity. They are anxious about free, spontaneous, unstructured play. This is because they do not have good memories or have such low opinions of themselves that they have abandoned their own resident judgements in favor of that of others which changes from season to season. In either case, they are too far removed from where a child's world unfolds, and they fail to see that in play a child is seeking mastery of his world.

Two thought by authorities fascinate me. Einstein is reported to have said that play is the highest form of research. Bruno Bettelheim said, "Through playing out feelings children master emotions which would otherwise overwhelm them."

I have read some interesting research on ants. In this I am particularly interested, perhaps because of the injunction: "Go to the ant thou sluggard; consider her ways and be wise." It seems that ants are not at all concerned solely with building and storing, nor are their movements always the shortest distance between two points. Their lives are full of abundant play. They take circuitous, aimless walks, stop and pass the time of day with another traveler, and occasionally some little thinking fellow will stop and converse with some philosopher and about the height and breadth of a leaf and the wonderful transparency of glass.

Almost everybody gives at least lip service to the value of play. I am sure that more and more we will discover its value. My concern is that the more we recognize its value, the more we will try to supervise it and make it ours rather than the child's. It may be argued that children can't play all the time. That is true, perhaps, but of this I am certain: Whenever we interrupt a child from free, spontaneous, unstructured play, we had better replace it with something terribly good.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I have been thinking of a few songs

Elmer and Leona
November 3, 1961

Dear Perry & Family,

It seems a long time since we heard from you, but we are the laggards this time. It was so nice to get several letters from you and others. Everyday I wonder what you are doing.

Elmer and I have really had quite a few nice things happen to us, or several things we had the privilege of attending. I can't remember if I told you of our going to Manti to be present at Floyd's marriage ceremony. That was a nice trip. Then we went to Nelson's mission farewell here in the Assembly Hall. We saw Darrel Goodrich and wife. Their son was one of the missionaries as also was one of Lorin and Merle McKee's. They were there too.

Then it happened to be Pa's day off, so we went to the temple with Venice and Elvyn when Wilda was married. But we could not go out to her reception. It was a real snow storm here and in the mountains. But Grant, Hope and June went and made it all right. It was a real good reception they said. They stayed all night at Todd's and enjoyed that too.

It is such a dark, gloomy day. I can hardly see to write. We really got some moisture with that snow, and it has rained some since. On Halloween night, I wondered if your neighbors circulate around for "trick or treat" as they do here, and if Dale and Jan and Renee and Harriet dress up for the occasion. We didn't have so many come here--about two dozen. Genevieve came down with Floyd yesterday, and she said they had about 65. Pa quite enjoys it. He bought the treats and handed them out. The bishop brought his children down here, and they gave us a dish of nice homemade candy. I don't know if they gave everyone a treat like that.

I have been thinking of a few songs that I would like to have kept alive in the family, so I think I will write a couple for Renee and Harriet Lea. Then I have a poem for Dale that will go good with his love for animals, toads, etc. What project does he have now? And I suppose Jan is helping him. I am glad Linda and Marian are learning to do things, which reminds me of a talk at a conference by a good speaker who stressed the fact that young people should learn to do and learn to do without. "Too many people today think they can't do without so get into all kinds of trouble on account of it." Perry and Gene, Genevieve brought us a bunch of sweaters to give to someone. They are mostly for girls, and we thought your girls could use them as they use sweaters when they don't need a coat.

About the "Frog's Goodbye," I have the music to it. I taught it when I taught school, and the children used to sing it with enthusiasm. Love, Mother

Leona (far right) with her sisters.
They all played guitar and sang.
The Frog's Goodbye
Goodbye little children, I'm going away
In my snug little home all the winter to stay.
I seldom get up once I'm tucked in my bed,
And as it grows colder, I cover my head.

I sleep very quietly all winter through
And really enjoy it, there's nothing to do.
The flies are all gone so there's nothing to eat,
So I take this time to enjoy a good sleep.

My home is a neat little hole in the ground,
Where snug as a bug in the winter I'm found.
You might think that long fasting would make me grow thin,
But no, I stay plump just as when I go in.

So goodbye little children, goodbye one and all.
Some warm day next spring I will give you a call.
I shall know very well when to get out of bed
When I feel the warm sun shining down on my head.

My Little Grey Kitty
Oh where, oh where is my little grey kitty?
I've hunted the house all around.
I looked in the cradle and under the table,
But nowhere can kitty be found.

I went in the attic and made a great racket
I looked into little Rick's bed.
I've hunted the stable as much as I'm able.
I've looked in the wood-house and shed.

I've hunted the clover, the flowerbeds over,
I looked in the old wooden spout.
I went to the woodpile and stayed there a good while,
But never my kitty came out.

I called little Rover to hunt the fields over,
And help find my kitty for me.
No dog could be kinder, but he couldn't find her.
Oh where can my poor kitty be?

I saw a small boy go away with a basket,
And carry it down to the brook.
Perhaps it was kitty so cunning and pretty
I think I'll go down and look.

At last I have found her
The leaves falling 'round her away on the wall by the tree
Oh there is my kitty so cunning and pretty
Come, come naughty kitty to me.

The Lord's Prayer
Our Father in Heaven, we hallow they name
May thy kingdom holy on earth be the same.
Oh give to us daily our portion of bread
For it is from thy bounty that all must be fed.

Forgive our transgressions and teach us to know
The humble compassion that pardon's each foe.
Keep us from temptation, from sorrow and sin
And thine be the glory, forever, Amen

To the tune of "Home, Sweet Home"

[Gene's mother, Leora, got into a cycle where she moved often--always finding some reason why she couldn't stay in the same place for very long. Since she lived in Los Angeles, her frequent moves created quite an inconvenience for the rest of the family. For a time, she agreed to rent an apartment in Claremont, but like all her other moves before, that only lasted for a short time and then she eventually moved back to Los Angeles.]

November 9, 1961

Dear Mother,

Your latest letter arrived yesterday. Also received a call from Carl Bradley yesterday afternoon. He tells me the place is ready. They painted through out and cleaned the carpets. He has sent the couch out to be reupholstered. It will be out one week and should you move in before it comes back, he will substitute another couch. He asked when you would be wanting to move in, and I said we hoped by the 18th.

Perry and I were sustained Sunday night in our ward as the coordinating committee to work with the missionaries in welcoming new members (newly baptized) into the ward and church. I am really rather in the dark as to what all of this means and what we will be expected to do. But today the missionaries came and asked if they could come in and explain this work to us. I told them we were some of us a little under the weather today. Then I invited them to come back Sunday afternoon after sacrament meeting. So that is when they will come.

Dale came home from school yesterday sick at his stomach and feverish. So am keeping him home today. Now this morning, I feel my old bladder trouble creeping up on me again. So am staying in bed or off my feet if I can. My, those are terrible disasters, terrible fires there in LA. Do hope they have them all checked by now. Some of those fires must be kind of close to our lovely temple.

Grant & Hope Williams
Glad you got home ok Sunday evening. Yes, the wind picked up some here that night too. Yes, so far as I know, Perry will be able to get the trailer and help Pierce get you moved on the night of the 18th. We are all so glad you are moving out here. I feel as though this is the right thing for you for I have been praying about it.  Love, Gene

p.s. Hope and Grant Williams and his brother and sister were here Monday night and left Tuesday morning. They were down here on business and stopped over with us on their return home.

December 6, 1961

Dear Perry & all,

Gene's letter came Monday. We were real glad to get it and get a little more detail of your doings. Sounds as though all of you really are busy. That is a full schedule for all of you. I will try and mail the box of things tomorrow as it is Elmer's day off, and we can take it up to the post office. All of the things may not be usable, but maybe most of them could be used for some home wear. Hazel and I have cleaned some of them, and the others look ok.

Elmer and I went down to Genevieve's the other day. They are busy too. They depended a lot on Floyd as long as he was home, but they seem to be getting along all right, and they are busy too. Lorin has two chapels now to look after. I don't know just what they get for that. Afton does beauty work for a shop down in Provo. Don goes to the BYU at 7 in the morning and comes home at 2 pm and works in the store close by. He gets a dollar per hour. Genevieve says the worst of it all is that they have to run the car so many times a day to Provo and back. Venice and family seem to be all right from what I hear once in a while. She hasn't time to write very often.

Perry, we are sending a check for $10 for Christmas. Put it where it is needed most. I had thought of giving each of the children $1, but maybe they can put it all together toward a suit for Daddy. Your father says not to worry about the other you borrowed.

I am glad you and Gene can work in that church capacity together. That is where you both have ability. I am going to relief society today. I am a relief society visiting teacher now and nothing else. Well, I had better seal this and be on my way. I am expecting June this afternoon to come and type some patriarchal blessings. [Elmer was the stake patriarch.] Love to all, Father and Mother

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Gene, you spoke of financial difficulties

Allen Curtis Fast, center, back row, with his sons
Byron is second from left and Emmett third from left, front row
September 15, 1961
[Excerpt from one of Leora's long, rambling letters]

. . . . Gene, you spoke of financial difficulties. Of course Dad and I had them a lot too, but remember, I never went out to work, but we managed. A few times in Milwaukee, we did have to take county help as to food. Uncle B.M. (Byron Macually Fast, Emmett's twin brother) sure was wonderful to Dad. He helped to pay for your braces. Just read an old letter here he'd written Dad and was much concerned about your teeth, etc.

Remember, though, Dad had about $400 in stock he'd bought on the market. It was of the Associated Gas & Electric Company that Byron worked for so many years before he retired. But I remember Dad giving him that certificate showing amount of shares he had bought, so I felt it took care of repaying him on your teeth care.

When we came to Los Angeles, Dad paid back Uncle E.N. (Edward Nash Fast, Emmett's oldest brother) and Byron the $800 I think it was that they loaned him to start in gas station business. I sure was glad he could repay that, and we sort of got out of the depression by going to Washington DC and taking civil service jobs. It was easier on me at least, working in a department store than trying to run that Sun Oil Station with Pierce's help. Better that Pierce got a job in DC too.

Anyway, we found the Mormons, and I was Pierce's first convert and baptized by him here after I'd studied, but genealogy gave me the first boost. You talk about Perry writing stories. I could write plenty on our experiences and how these hard experiences in life led us to the east to find the Mormons. Poor Dad, it seemed the old devil sure tried hard to get him down through the financial way, for he was always money-minded or concerned in the stocks, etc. Guess it was because Uncle E.N. was such a shrewd financial businessman, but he took a course in business college and taught it awhile I think and was up in world affairs too.

He would have made a wonderful government man in our Capitol at Washington, DC. His handwriting was beautiful. Anyway, he became secretary and treasurer of the concern he worked for and was so well thought of by all the brothers and sisters of Fast family. They all admired him. Uncle W.W (Walter Wyman Fast, another brother) is well-fixed too but not the fine, genteel man E.N. was. W.W. is ok, but like his German fore-bearers, he's blunt and out-spoken. But I liked him. He helped out on Dad's funeral expense.

I want to tell you, why don't you just keep the girls practicing on their music and let down on going to music teacher. They'll learn to play and read their music well if they just keep up a daily practice period and save paying that teacher the cash you need now. It's the constant daily practice period and putting into practice the things they've been taught in music. Marian has a beautiful tone quality in singing. When she gets a little older, it would be good for her to learn how to sing and breathe correctly, posture and tone quality, etc. Singers are usually very healthy people because of learning how to use the voice and breathing correctly and having correct posture they get better tone quality. You shouldn't go in debt but take care of the necessities first and learn to economize--even the children.

Perry with his parents and his five sisters
September 24, 1961

Dear Mother & Dad,

Thank you so much for the money. I will get you paid back just as soon as I can and I surely hope it doesn't put you out. This gets to be quite a long stretch waiting from June to October for a check.

I enjoyed your letter and all the news. I was surprised to hear about Jack Detomasi. I'm afraid it won't be long until Fred goes too. I was pleased to hear about Wilda. That fellow seems to be very nice, and I think she is very fortunate.

We are all back in school now and I have to get up at 5:30 to get Linda to seminary by 6:30. I go right on over to school. The day seems long, but I get a lot more accomplished anyway. I'm glad you enjoyed my little story poem. I'm trying to write something that can be enjoyed by children and perhaps understood by adults. I have just completed another much shorter one. When I get it typed up, I'll send you a copy.

Marian has just completed her part in "Promised Valley." She had so many rehearsals, it became quite a strain. I didn't know if she would be able to hold out, but she did, and now she is real pleased and so are we. It was a real good production.

We are back on standard time now. Perhaps now the early morning hour won't seem quite so early. Please write us soon. Love, Perry

Perry enjoyed writing and shared much of what he wrote with his family. During this time, he also took a creative writing class as part of his coursework for obtaining a master's degree. I'm including one of the short stories here, and I'll include other stories in future updates.


Jessica was born in the old pasture at the McClelland farm. There were fifty other lambs in the pasture and most people could not have told them apart. But to their mothers they were not alike at all. There was Isabelle. Her wool made little whorls down her side and ripples across her back. There was Minerva. Her wool went in little whorls across her back and ripples down her sides. Then there was Roxanna. She had teeny tiny ringlets all over her fleecy body. And Philemon had just a tiny bit bushier growth of wool around his face.

Yes, they were all very different and all of their mothers were very, very proud of them.

Of course Jessica was different too because she had been born late in the season and so she was smaller than the rest of the lambs and her wool didn't go in whorls or ripples. It just stood out straight all over her body. But Jessica was different in another more important way. Her mother was the leader of the herd. When her mother fed along the ditch-bank all of the flock fed along the ditch-bank. When she nibbled on the tender bark among the willows, the rest of the flock nibbled on the tender bark also. And if a strange dog should happen to come through the pasture, she would stand, face the intruder and stamp her feet. Immediately she would be joined by all the others until the baffled dog would trot away in silence. Or if the danger seemed great, she might break and run for the shed followed of course by all the others.

"My mother, my grandmother, my great-grandmother as far back as we know have all been the flock leaders, Jessica," her mother would say to her time and time again. "And when you grow up, I will expect you to be the flock leader."

"But Mother, how do you get to be the leader?" Jessica would ask.

"My dear, how many times have I told you; you become a leader by leading. All sheep want somebody to lead them so all you have to do is lead. It's just as simple as that."

"But Mother," Jessica bleated one day. "I just don't understand."

"Now, now," answered her mother. "You should be out practicing leadership on the other lambs. Why, when I was your age, they always followed me in the games I wanted to play. The time to start is now."

Jessica started over to where the other lambs were playing tag in the middle of the pasture. But just as she was about to join them, they shot past her, almost knocking her down. Isabelle was leading them in a race to the other end of the pasture. Jessica started after them. "Perhaps," she thought, "if I can beat them, then they will let me be their leader." She ran as fast as she could. She passed most of the lambs. She saw Isabelle just ahead of her so she closed her eyes and ran harder than ever. Suddenly, POW! She hadn't seen Isabelle turn and Jessica ran right smack into the fence.

Embarrassed and ashamed, she picked herself up. The others were far away now. Roxanna was showing them how high she could jump, and the others were trying to imitate her.

"I can out-jump any of them," thought Jessica. "Perhaps when I show them how I can jump then they will let me be their leader."

When she got there, they were nibbling on young willow shoots. Jessica started jumping. She jumped high in the air, but the others continued to nibble on young willow shoots. Jessica jumped again as high as she could go, making a half turn to the right and a half turn to the left then landed perfectly on all four feet. The others still nibbled on young willow shoots. Again Jessica sprang into the air, high, higher than she had ever jumped before. And then she did a remarkable thing--she made a complete somersault in mid-air.

When she came down, she looked about only to find that they had run over to the ditch bank. They were playing "Boss of Bunker's Hill," and they were all trying to push Philemon off the hill.

"Perhaps," Jessica thought, "if I can push Philemon off, if I can get to be the boss of Bunker's Hill, maybe then they will let me be their leader.

She ran over and started pushing with all her might. She stumbled and fell, got up, others came tumbling down in front of her. Over them she jumped. She pushed, butted, squeezed, squeezed, pushed, butted. Finally she reached the top, but as she turned to challenge the others, she saw they were off on another race--this time with Minerva in the lead. Jessica stood there sad and alone. She was the boss of Bunker's Hill, but there was nobody left to be the boss of.

Poor unhappy Jessica. She walked away and lay down beneath an old cottonwood tree. She just lay there and thought. She had so many things to think about.

Days and weeks passed and Jessica played less and less with the other lambs. At first she stayed by her mother, but her mother criticized her.

"Why don't you play with the other lambs? How can you ever become the leader? When I was your age. . . ."

So Jessica chose to be alone more and more. When the flock fed in the north pasture, Jessica fed in the south pasture. When the flock fed along the ditch-bank, Jessica fed in the marsh. But Jessica especially liked to feed in the willow patch because there she could really be alone.

Once Jessica's mother searched her out and said, "What in the world is the matter with you, Jessica? This isn't natural. This isn't normal. Don't you know that all sheep stay together? Why are you so different?" But Jessica didn't know why she was different and so, of course, she couldn't answer her mother's question.

One day Jessica was standing by the shed gazing through the fence at the cows. It was early morning and the cows were just getting ready to leave the corral to go out to the cow pasture.

"I think I would rather be a cow than a sheep," thought Jessica. "I would like to join them if only I could get over the fence. I'll bet if I tried, I could do it." So Jessica climbed up onto an old log that stood by the fence and with one mighty leap she landed on the other side.

"That wasn't hard at all. Now I will be a cow," she said, and she trotted off to join the cows.

When Jessica's mother saw what Jessica had done, she shook her head sadly and wondered why she had been given such a lamb to raise.

"I think I like this much better," thought Jessica. "The grass and clover are much taller. Over in the sheep pasture one has to nibble right down to the ground."

So Jessica followed the cows to pasture every day and the cows didn't seem to mind at all. Once Mr. McClelland caught Jessica and put her back with the sheep, but Jessica promptly jumped back again so he just let her stay.

When winter came, Jessica put her head in the manger and ate hay with the cows and her wool grew heavy and thick.

Then one day it was spring. The air smelled of blossoms and the sun was so warm on Jessica's back that she was almost uncomfortable.

Suddenly she heard a lot of noise. There was much shouting and commotion. She looked through the fence. Men were driving the sheep into the corral. When they had them all in and locked up, they set up some strange machines outside.

Jessica stared in surprise and amazement as one by one the sheep were caught. They kicked and struggled to get away, but each one was promptly set down and each fleece was sheared off. Then it was tied into a bundle and thrown into a big sack.

After Minerva and Isabelle were sheared, Jessica could hardly tell which was which because there were no more little whorls or ripples.

Jessica really had to laugh when Roxanna was sheared. Roxanna just sat there so helpless and undignified while all of her beautiful little ringlets were clipped away. And Philemon was really a comical sight when the long wool was sheared away from his face.

The sheep were all so frightened. They crowded back into the corner of the corral--crowding, pushing, shoving--but they could not get away.

When Jessica saw how frightened they were, when she saw how helpless they were, when she saw how strange and awkward they looked without their nice fleeces, she began to feel sorry for them. She felt so sorry for them that she wanted to help them.

"Maybe," she thought, "if I were a sheep again, I could help them." And Jessica longed to be a sheep again.

She watched until the men had sheared the last sheep. They started to put the machines away. then Jessica bleated long and loud. "No, here am I! Don't forget me!"

One of the men called out, "Here is one more." They caught Jessica. She kicked hard, but soon they put her down and her long thick fleece was clipped away.

Then the men took their machines away and the shed gate was thrown open.

But still all of the other sheep were shoving, pushing, and cowering in the corners of the shed. They were so frightened and helpless.

"Well, this will do no good," said Jessica. "Besides, I feel much better now without that winter coat." So she leaped into the air and ran out of the gate and into the sheep pasture. And to Jessica's surprise, all of the other sheep came stampeding behind her.

Then Jessica began feeding in the south pasture and all of the other sheep began feeding in the south pasture. Then Jessica fed along the ditch-bank and all of the others joined her. Then she decided to feed among the willows, and all of the flock followed her among the willows.

After she had fed there for several hours, Jessica decided to go lie down beneath the old cottonwood tree. And of course the whole flock joined her in the shade of the old cottonwood tree.

Jessica lay there for a long time and chewed her cud and thought and thought because she had a lot of things to think about.

Perry's teacher wrote: "This is a rare story. Your intuitive sense of rhythm, backed by an obvious understanding of the habits of sheep, has produced a story for adults and children alike. Please give me a copy. A perfect ending!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

We have all had the same fever

Henry Ewing Calhoun, 1811 - 1900
[I have copies of some old letters written by our ancestors that I wanted to share, so I think I’ll post some of them periodically as I get them transcribed. Henry Ewing Calhoun and Louisa Blanchard Calhoun are Emmett Fast’s grandparents on his mother’s side of the family. The letters are difficult to read, no punctuation, words spelled differently, old-fashion script, so I may not have everything right, but as best as I could, I've typed what I thought they were saying.] 

Letter written by Henry Ewing Calhoun to his in-laws, William Patrick Blanchard and Mary Barham Blanchard. At the time this letter was written he was 28 years old.

State of Illinois
Lawrence County
February 10, 1839

Dear Father & Mother & Family,

I take my pen in hand to inform you of our hard fortune. On the 27th day of November I was going to Palestine for more land and I started in the woods to look at one of the places and was gone til evening. I came home and asked Louisa for my pocket book and she said that I had put it in my pocket when I started away. We hunted for 3 weeks and give it out for lost.

I had sold my land where you lived when you were here and moved across the prairie. On the 2nd day of February, we was planning to start to meeting out to Basdens and in the shirt under my weskit Louisa found my book and money. There was 80 dollars in it.

Ezra came to me and said he was not well on Sunday evening. [Ezra Blanchard, the oldest child, was born in 1935] We come home. He was some better. Huldah appeared to be in good health. On Monday morning she was taken with the scarlet fever and on Tuesday evening she was a corpse. [Huldah was born in 1837, so she was only two years old when she died.] This is a hard word for me to say. We have all had the same fever but not so severe. Ezra is not well yet. He is able to be up a part of the time.

I am grieved to think that you all didn’t get to see Huldah before she departed this life. And if you had of got my letter that I sent last summer, we should have been there last fall. I took it for granted that there was no chance for me to buy land there for me, and I bought land here. I have 2 thousand rails up on my prairie and have six thousand more engaged with 4 thousand of them paid for. I have a set of logs hewed 22 feet and have them on the prairie. I am hauling off rails every day. I have lots of land and timber too and money plenty.

Times is tolerable good here. Everything bore a good price. Corn is 37 cents per bushel, wheat is 75 cents per bushel, oats 20 cents a dozen, hay is 15 dollars a ton, pork is 4 ½ per hundred, salt 150 per bushel. I don't know when we will be there as we are fixed March the 5th day. We have waited to see whether Ezra was going to get better or not. He is now on the mend. There was 8 days tho he never walked a step. For 3 weeks it appeared to be only hopes that he will get well again. He has not been out of the house for days.

I want you to send me a letter and send me word whether there would be any chance for me to get a half quarter of timber land there or not. I don’t know but what I might come there after you kill all the rattlesnakes and mosquitoes. If you will sell and move to the southwest, I will too. I have $200 now by me. I have a good wagon and 2 yoke of oxen and 2 work horses the same two that shod when John was here and a two-year-old colt. I shall not buy any more land until I get a letter from you and hear your mind on the matter if there is any chance for me there to make a living for my family. There is but 3 of us now on the land of the living.

If we was in a few miles of each other, Louisa and us, all would see more pleasure. But I am sure that I am clear for I am sure that I should not have taken her away from you. Louisa wants us to go there to see your county. But if we stay here, I have not time. There is a great many newcomers here and I want to be getting along and not be out of sight behind. And if I go away this summer to see your county, I shall not get in sight again.

These lines to John L B. [Louisa’s brother]: Your girl is not married yet, this you will be glad to hear. We think before many months roll round you will again in old Lawrence appear though you are many miles apart. Your affections being warm that when you mount your splendid gray, you will come if you break him down. This maid is fair, neat, handsome, beautiful, lovely, enticing and mildness of temper. You may hunt over all creation and I defy you to find one to outshine old Lawrence. Nothing more at present, but remain your affectionate friend until death. H E C

This following is a letter written by Louisa Blanchard Calhoun to her parents in which she is mourning the death of her little daughter, Huldah, and missing her parents support and comfort. Her parents live in Peoria County, Illinois, over 200 miles west of Lawrence County. But they had lived in Lawrence County and had moved about four years prior, so they know many of the neighbors that Louisa mentions.

State of Illinois
Lawrence County
March 10, 1839

Dear father and mother, brothers and sisters,

It is with pleasure I take my pen in hand to inform a little of my mind and of the times. It has been very sickly this winter. The scarlet fever is raging. There has a great many children died with it. There has no grown people died with it as I have heard.

On the 29th November I was taken sick. I got gout again. I have since then taken the scarlet fever. I had it lightly, but that all was nothing to compare with my little girl. On Monday morning before day, she took a fever and broke out all over and took a sniveling in her throat. We worked with her and done all that we could but it done her no good. Tuesday evening about sunset her little soul and body parted. It appeared most impossible for me to give her up although now she is gone to rest and ere long I may follow her and one thing comforts my mind, I feel prepared for death. I am going to put a lock of her hair in this letter for you to look at.

I think if you had stayed here, I would have seen more satisfaction with you all. I don’t suppose that you would have been satisfied here. If I could live by you, we could see each other and it would be a great comfort to me. Sometimes I think I never will see all your faces again.

Willis Blanchard [Louisa’s uncle] family is well. Henry and Martha stayed here last night. Samuel Sumner and Jane was here too. She has a little girl about three months old. Think there has been a great many weddings about. Betsy Turner married Ingrim. Jane Canterman married Thom and the widow Snider married John Meur. I want you girls to be cautious how you make your steps and honor your parents. Listen to their advice. I have wished for some of you to be here with me many a time this winter. It grieves me to think that I did not get to come and see you all last fall. Sometimes I think if I had come out there, I might had Huldah with me a while longer, but life is uncertain but death and judgment is certain. I know she never could of went in a better time. It seemed hard to part with her for lifetime tho it may be short. I have but one little son and I fear that the complaint will settle on his lungs and take him off before it leaves him. I want you to keep this letter. It is my own handwriting. You may look at it when I am under the clods. I want you to prepare to meet me after death for I intend to die in the service of my maker. I am your most affectionate daughter, so farewell. Louisa Calhoun

[Louisa was 24 years old when she wrote this letter. She went on to live 40 more years and gave birth to 7 more children, one being Harriet (Hattie) Calhoun who was Emmett’s mother.]