*Grandmother’s 10-2-1961 Letter to Mother

This letter is also located with the file +1961 – MOTHER’S WRITINGS.  It gives some insight into how my mother’s mother thought, and how she interacted through letters with her daughter during our family’s ‘Homesteading Era’.


October 2, 1961

Letter from grandmother to mother – very hard for me to decipher her hand writing!

Dear Mildred:

October already. Oh, what shall I do?  Leaves falling here, but not colorful like yours.  Mine two trees keep me hustling trying to clear up leaves – nice even those two.

But honey think of all the wonderful trees and land you and Bill have now.  You both have worked so furiously and steadily that you do not see how near you are to the big thrill of building a “house on top.”  I am so glad Bill is putting floors and roof on!  Darn the $!  But Dr. Hull tells the truth the struggle makes you appreciate it.  I’m with you all the way.

Those travelers cheques I had in my purse were gathered together to loan you and Bill for lumber or what not on a well.  I worked hard and furiously to add to the insurance loan to take the money when I went.  Went down the morning of day I left to turn into travelers so they would not go through bank.  I had hoped I could sell you on a loan for it – even if it did make me low.  It’s not that I want you to have things others have.  Heaven forbid!  I want you to have less worry there you work so very hard to do all this – both of you.  Remember everyone is working for something they want.  I only wanted to help as I never was helped with $ but was with Mother’s loving help, as you know.

Well, anyhow, I was probably wrong.  Darn the Jeep.  Will that stand the strain of the winter trips?  Yes?  No?  Nice to be old Daddy Joe Kennedy.  You do have to admire Mr. [can’t read word] helping the boys – but helping them to live useful lives.

I heard by radio this A.M. that the seniors have just returned from their trip to Rome for blessing of the Pope.  He prays for Kennedy and peace.  Do you know and read that “Protestantism” is getting an awful lot of criticism, left and right, in papers, magazines, etc?  Do you know that it is predicted that all churches, getting together (Pro council of churches) are relenting and [can’t read word] to old days of Holy Roman Empire, that Kennedy will be the [can’t read two words] of the world – and “down” Khrushchev?  That these 2 factions, Soviets and their groups, the United Nations and their adherents (with Kennedy) in lead and the United States of Europe (with Germany strong again) will fight out an “economic cold war” with fighting in Middle East and only skirmishes elsewhere – but whole affair more economic than otherwise.  Those who push these theories (here) assure us there will be no nuclear war as such because no one dares or wants to destroy economic trade etc. but wants power and control!

I hope they are right!

[April 15-21, 1961 Bay of Pigs]

Does Dr. Hull talk about from [sic] the pulpit?  Some do here.  The Presbyterian church here in La Canada split into 2 parts over a sermon by minister against John Birch Society.  In order to find out what I think I go to my first John Birch meeting tonight here in La Canada.

I read a lot but have to see what I think.  I won’t just accept all I hear.  People are terribly confused here.  Civil defense and is just beginning to talk shelters.  Kennedy says next 10 months very critical.

Say we need to be sensible – will be food shortages over the world because must feed all nations.  So, honey, be THANKFUL, you have a house in the mountains – You can retire there and raise food for your family, if food gets out of range entirely.

The house will be a beauty to suit your needs in these trying times.  You have your “feet on the ground”, Mil.  I’m proud of you.  I know how mad and bothered you feel.  You don’t believe it, perhaps, but I am more than you ever could be – but inwardly.  That’s why I had ulcers!!

Did you accomplish what you needed to these few days?  Wish, wish just solid wall all around to keep out winds and storm.  Glad for floors.

What about oil and water?  The beauty and “finish” of house will come next – now I’m satisfied if you are all safe and warm, and if Jeep works.  Should you, could you trade it in.  Poor dear Jeep – It has worked hard for you.

Did you have that “spot” tested for water?  [Linda note:  Uncle Charlie had witched for water.  Our family never dug a well, but once the land was sold I am told the new tenants of the land put their well in exactly that same spot.]  Dying to know about that.

Don’t get mad, please.  I don’t want to interfere.  Just promise to tell me if you need $ to get “ready set go” for winter like the wee animals in their holes.  Who will care about fine houses and cars and possessions if there is trouble?  I only want to be prepared, sensible.  If no trouble, goody goody, we’ll be so much farther along the way.  I pray for peace – [can’t read word] and long.  Wish I had money enough to give time to Red Cross etc.  Right now I am trying to be educated on it all.

Does Dr. Hull talk about the Bible Prophecies at all?  I do hope that Heaven on Earth will come some day.  Does he believe in the Second Coming of Christ.

Poor Kathleen who helps with my typing, you know is a very strong Catholic.  We talked 1 ½ about what Catholics believe.  They do not believe or talk about reform of Christ.  They believe we all go to Purgatory immediately after death – for a testing period.  “How long” depends on our sins.  Might be for endless time.  Then when tested some sent to Hell and some to Heaven.  Never did know exactly.  But she is well founded in it.  [Linda note:  As far as I know my mother told of her mother’s hatred of Catholics during her childhood.  I’ve never known why that was so.  My mother’s same feelings show in her letter when she says “That damn Kennedy was elected.”]

Once more, I want to know what people believe and why.  I am now trying to find out about this split-up between the Protestants themselves.  Amazing, wonderful times to live in.  That good, I have a few, just a few, interested in these things.  But people only live for $ and cars and clothes and food.  Oh, Mil, they must wake up.  I don’t believe in some beliefs of Jehovah witnesses, but they do have healthy questioning disgust for the world being ruled by petty politicians and dollars and millions and power blocs and reds.

[Can’t read this word ] problems I can’t find answer for.

How came all these *millionaire politicians in Washington and elsewhere – so interested in “Socialism” – I’ll send you a copy of some things I “cut out” of papers – if you have time to read and care for them.  I know you do not have time to read magazines these days, probably.  I read after I go to bed.

Perhaps you are not interested.  Tell me.  Don’t know how I got off on this unless due to Birch meeting tonight!  Sorry if it bored you.  But I’m full of it when I see these Reds operating with our young people here.

Tomorrow’s meeting will be on Red’s infiltration into our text books on all levels in schools.

How about your nice teacher?  Is he still there?  How about the principal.  Did Mrs. Erickson scare you about him?

Glad about new boy.  He may make up for loss of Hahn’s [children in mother’s day care center], if they have to leave.

You ought to change – flat rate by week – and make them regular like school.  If they stay home, they lose, not you.  Do you dare?  I always managed.  With you the transportation may interfere.

Did the new school open on time?  Will be better in every way for you all.  No wonder you are all tired.  It’s been a workout.

However, the children are “on their toes.”  That’s what counts.  Every letter I get tells me truly.  Only one letter assures me each one loves school and tries hard.  Loved Sharon’s.  She’ll be able to really write to me soon.  Saved Cindy’s.  Was very, very good.  Neat and clear and rang with love of school.

They have your wonderful example.  Take it easy – a little.  They need you – well!  Think of the difference between yours and Mrs. Hahn’s children.  Whatever happened to her, after homesteading and making that little home which seemed so nice on surface.  Can’t understand.  Is he engaged too?  Awful.  I’m sorry for all.

Forget what I said about Lillian.  I have thought it over and know I could not live with her.  She worries over Bill – and would like me to visit.  Before she wanted me to take a house on desert or at beach with her.  I’d have to give up my own work – There would be no time, because she has no interests.  Like cards.  Is lonely, I know.  Bill is too.  But – I just cannot.  I guess I’m built like Aunt Lusie.  I like people – but not crowded and on top of me.  I like my little room or two with books and papers and own things.  That is life.  They do not have to be solid gold.

I guess I was depressed that day I wrote because I had sold those pieces of furniture and my dryer.  I know how terribly you must felt when [cant’ read word] done it.  But – just “things” easily replaced.  I’d be happy as a lark in a thatched roof cabin I see in pictures of England and Scotland.  Blood tells after all.  [Linda note:  Reminds me of the curved walled thatched roofed houses my son drew repeatedly as a very young child – genetic memories?]

I do love my living-room because it is the duplicate with yours.  Walls and windows etc.  The only reckless spending I have done since my return has been to have those two Japanese vases secured into lamps, and had carpenters working on rear house built in book-shelves in the second bedroom.  I’ve had book shelves here and there and everywhere – closets, even trunk of car.  Now I am relieved and feel certain it will help my nerves when I try to find a book I haven’t needed for a long time.  [Linda note:  The last time I saw my grandmother after I finished boot camp in 1969 she lived in this house, floor to ceiling book shelves lined nearly all the walls in her house.  Filing cabinets stacked with clippings and papers, desks with typewriters filled her house with only narrow pathways to wind from room to room.]

I wish you had a red-cedar or [can’t read word] [can’t read word] like mine there in that Jamesway with you.  That’s all I need now.  How much for lumber for one room like living room at Log house?  Just pick the log house up and carry it up the mountain.  Could you get lumber up easily when snow on the ground and build next spring and summer.  Oh, Mil, I’m sorry there I go – dreaming dreams for you.  It’s none of my business, but I’d help or loan $100 on lumber – even though I never even see it – just for you, no ulterior motive, or shall I buy a house down here – a wee one – No – I don’t want one.

Little Guest House rented to a college student – a friend of owners of new little restaurant opened 3 weeks ago, called “Lloyd’s Kitchen” – but Lloyd is man’s first name.  This boy will go to L.A. State to be a teacher – Has been empty all summer.  Glad it’s rented.

House in rear not finished yet.

Sending note and book to Sharon.  Knew she would love school.  How about Linda and John?  Hope they get teachers they will like in new school.  This ought to be an “extra-good” location after school starts.  Probably more mothers will go to work then.

Not a very bright letter for you or for Sharon.  I’m out of practice.  Am now settled down.  Constant interviews [related to her private career counseling practice] interfered with letters etc.

Once more – do write soon – even a page from you or children spurs me on, Mildred.  Empty mail boxes are awful things when you wish for a letter.

Will try tomorrow for another big box.  Will ship two more blankets.  Still have plenty, Mil.  Love to send my things to you to be used.  Also helps me “to get organized.”  [Linda note:  Grandmother used to rent out rooms in her previous house.]  I’ve talked about it a long time – I feel perhaps I can.

How are those stomach pains, Mildred?  How’s David’s cold?  What size should I get in a knitted suit?  I won’t shop to knit one.  I want to buy one.  I was going to while up there-=- but – – –  Also so many things I wanted to do for you.  Brought 2 pairs of cream – 2 bottles of Jergens lotion – bottle of vitamins for us during a month of treatment.  I needed it.  But I have taken the vitamins and they U helped me, I know.   I don’t “shiver” every time I open the door now.

The little gelatin ones – I had on the trip – for above plans.  They are supposed to be good “pick-ups”.  Did you try them?

Liked the papers so much I enclosed the $ for them last letter – because I know dollars add up.  By sending it and a stamp now and then I feel less guilty about getting them from you.

Will John sell more Xmas cards this year?  If so – here is my order.  You choose 50 for me.  I’ve cut my list down to that this year.  His cards were nicest I ever saw for price, or even more.

Give all love and kisses from me – Dad love [sic] me a lot even if I am foolish and stupid in many ways.  [Linda note:  I think she’s talking about her own dead father here.]You have to love people in spite of their faults, you know.

Write soon, dear.  Lots of love, Mother

I’ll send Sharon’s in separate envelope.  It’s more thrill for her.  You don’t have to for me.

2 thoughts on “*Grandmother’s 10-2-1961 Letter to Mother

  1. Linda, perhaps your grandmother’s anti-Catholic sentiments stem from the Boston prejudice against Irish-Catholic immigrants.

    • There’s a ‘fairy tale – myth’ somewhere in the family [mother’s] that ‘way back when’ an Irish priest ran away with a French nun. That would have been the end of the Catholic connection.

      We have no information about the background of mother’s father whose name seems to have originally been O’Cahill which ended up with a dropped “O” and perhaps suggested Irish descent. My mother’s mother’s side of the family was definitely Scotch and came into the country through Prince Edward Island.

      Mother was allowed to date a Jewish boy, Joe Haltmeyer (sp?) through high school, but not allowed to date Catholics.

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