*Age 7 – Mother’s Letter (#2) April 14, 1959 – The Homesteading Obsession Grows


April 14, 1959

(there’s a #2 written at top, but don’t see the #1 letter to grandmother)

Dear Mother,

Been ‘back in’ 8 days.  Keep letter!!

Here’s the letter I promised only – here in the tiny trailer as elsewhere time flies!  I get up at 5:00 A.M. and did take a 2 hour nap today with the girls – my, I’m tiered – but today flew.  It’s almost 6:30 P.M. and time for the ‘others’ to come home.  1 ½ hours it takes!  I’m glad school will be over before too long – this would be much to much for them.  [Linda note:  I am in 2nd grade, John is in 3rd grade, we are going into Anchorage with Dad to finish the school year.]

Linda got her report card yesterday.  She got the only 100% in the class on their term test.  I’m proud, aren’t you? – and so is she.  She’s doing fine.  The principal is strict and I agree.  Makes them eat all lunch or no recess, no wet shoes and pants (even during break-up) and for that I’m especially grateful now with a long ride back.

[Linda note:  I remember that principal!  She made me take my canned peas out of my milk carton and eat them.  I had squished them all in there because I hated them the first time around.  I REALLY hate them now!  We couldn’t leave the lunchroom if we didn’t finish lunch.  They played a record all lunch period, same record all year long.  “Swanee River” on one side and “Down By the Old Mill Stream” on the other.  I’ve never forgotten those songs, either!  It was enough to drive a kid MAD!]

Trailer is warm and cozy and bright.  Coleman Lantern lights up room BRIGHT – BRIGHT.

Monday – everyone came home and I never got back to letter.

By now you’ve received one letter from me and one from John.  We stopped at Parson’s Hotel in town at 3:00 P.M. and they left at 11:00.  Now I know where I can get a clean room and bath for 8.00 – will go there.  [Linda note:  I remember this place!  I remember walking silently on the thick plush dim-colored floral patterned carpets, the dark heavy old wood furniture, the way the place smelled without opened windows and fresh air.  I remember it as a place of mystery, like a part of memory stayed behind even though a person’s body left there.]  I had checked all over town and 15.00 one room and up to 35.00 per our family!  We had only had sponge baths and I was desperate.  It would cost 1.25 for shower in Chugiak at Washeteria – 1.25 each – so room wasn’t bad.  I haven’t told a person and don’t want to.  Let them guess how we’re managing!

Oh Mom, when I’m home all day it isn’t bad at all.  I have time to squeeze everything in and make dinner and place cozy.  But when I leave with Bill and then all day in town and then party and home at 1:00 or 1:30 A.M. it’s murder.  Pollards seem so settled and smug about it.  Will we ever be?  Trailer is O.K. – cozy and warm but oh, so crowded – no table to eat on – I’m going to try to get card table out of storage and one chest tomorrow.

I ramble on and on – and tell you nothing.

I’ll itemize and try and answer questions.

Right now I’m melting snow for dish water – ran out of water last nite.  Bill will bring more back in.  (Excuse awful scribbling)

We have 3 gallon metal containers [Linda note:  They were five gallon Army metal Gerry cans] – 3 or 4 and carry water back in in jeep.  Truck broke down again [Linda note:  Do we have 3 vehicles, the jeep, the Ford station wagon and a truck at this point?] – maybe another cracked block – we have more troubles!  He took my jeep last 3 days – thank goodness for it.

So that much for water!  I ran out because I’ve been scouring and scrubbing and waxing the floors here.  They were terrible. I’ll never feel right until it’s just so!

Road is still too icy and snowy for even tractor to go up!  What will we do?  I don’t know.  Bill and I fuss a lot – he’s so matter of fact about it all and gets discouraged so easy.  I admit he has good reason but I also know him.  He never thought a trailer could get back here.  He never thought we could homestead at all.  I am determined to have that land!  I love it back here – the road is worse than I ever could have imagined!  But after break-up is over (ha, ha it snows every other day!!!) we’ve told Frarey [sp?] to build us a decent road.  If only I’d followed through the day I took you down there we’d have it now.  As he says, “If I’d built your road you’d be driving up there now!”

Bill says he’ll live up there and we’ll all live here ‘til Frarey builds our road.  I know people and it will never stand up – never!  We’d never get our land then.

Yesterday Mrs. Pollard said she doesn’t like where we’re going – Mom it’s beautiful and it’s ours.

I get so frustrated fixing up this trailer – working so hard and is there hope to get on our land.

I tell Bill I’ll leave him if we don’t make it and I might too.  It’s all important to me – there isn’t anything else I want and I feel he has failed in his part.

Oh for a mule or donkey to ride Sharon and supplies up.

Oh Mom, thank you for all your help.  I’ve hired another plastic dealer and am working to be ‘Unit Manager’ and then get 5% of their earnings – is it worth it.  Had 3 parties last week and 3 this week.

We’re all tired and nervous.  Kids got report cards – excellent.  Linda got all As and John fine in reading now, almost A – but has arithmetic problems!

They’re best sports ever – even Linda!  [Linda note:  “Even Linda.”  I can hear the derision in my mother’s words as I read this, and feel how they tied in knots around my stomach.  The 6 of us are living in a 1949 trailer that was MAYBE 8’ by 25’, with no bathroom, water or electricity as we were parked in a neighbor’s field because we could not drag that trailer up the steep mountain disaster of a road to our homestead.]

They love it here BUT don’t laugh I hate being so close to my neighbors – now that’s funny.  But this isn’t our land —  Oh Mom, what I wouldn’t give to see you.

I can’t advise about school except to say we both hope if we get there we want you to come summers – we’ll make all this up to you YET.  If we can’t get up there nothing matters now!

Surely you can see that.  I’ve done all I can do – except walk up!  Jamesway still isn’t up.  I feel like screaming and banging my head on wall.

What can I do now?

I’m so mad at Bill and he doesn’t know why!

Oh, I’ll write later – must melt more snow!

Oh kids [John and Linda] go in with Bill – lady cares for them for 50 cents an hour before and after school.  School lets out May 22nd.

This is the darndest Spring I’ve ever seen!

Love, Me


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