*Grandmother’s 12-3-1959 Letter to Mother

December 3, 1959

Letter from grandmother to mother

Dearest Mildred:

I shouldn’t write to you when I feel like this, because I can’t pretend today that I am cheerful or happy.  I too am blue, sad and discouraged though the sun is shining and I should control my mood.  If I were only there to share and to help you in some way!  It’s hard enough to have financial problems, but to have Nature refuse to budge!  That is something to worry about.  Today I wish you had said good-bye to the homestead last summer, had taken that $1000 and put it down on a home somewhere instead of machines which continually break down.  No wonder the garages make money!

Whenever you think the time is right with you to come down here – say the word.  You know how I’ll love to have you with me – as long as I have a roof over my end – and that is no joke when I say it!  Where will I go?  Will I have a roof over my head when I leave here?  Oh Mil I get blue and scared for the first time in my life when I realize we both have such terrific problems.  You ask what I plan to do?  I don’t know.

The whole situation here will knock my business right out from under me.  Also lately, this year it’s awful anyhow.  All people are watching any extras.  My business has been cut down 50%.  I find all doctors are down at least 25%.  No one knows just why, except general fear of conditions everywhere.  I am the same.  I don’t need to worry about finding a house – rentals are everywhere.  I would worry about paying my rent – after having had it paid for me for so many years [by room renters in her house].  I never could think of having an expensive apartment all by myself.  If I ever take a big house – I’ll have an apartment to rent or some income from it, I hope.  Even if Charlie bought a house and let me pay him, it would be the same.  I hate, hate financial worries.  I want peace and contentment for us all anywhere, anyhow.  So I’ve decided not to think about it all until I know what goes with you up there in Alaska.  I get a month’s notice – enough time to worry in.  I can put things in storage or month or so, if I wish.  They still say April 1st – but may be later.  I have notion they may wait until college is over – in last of May.  But I can see what I want in that time.

Meanwhile you ought to know just what you are going to face and do.  Even if you come down after April 1st – and I have to move, we could move together – or go to that nice Motel you were in the last time here.  Just as you found that nice place, you’ll find the right way out of this muddle too.  I want to [can’t read word] if you need me around during my transition period.  My business has to be completely reorganized from scratch.  I knew that last summer.  That’s why I dared not remain longer that two weeks in Alaska.  I also knew this winter would be slow and I’d have to get every little penny I could.  But anywhere I go, I can do well on tutoring as I get the testing built up.  Moreover that is why I am going to try this Spelling Program and also lay out a research project which can be done anywhere on my own time – if I can plan and [can’t read word] the idea.

So your own solution to your own Alaska problem means much to you all and to me.  If you need me to help you a few months in the transition period, I’ll be ready and eager.  I only wish I had gone by idea I suggested:  namely to go back to you after I got boys settled here. – and return if February.  You’d have had your time in and all would be well now.  Oh damn.  It would have been double fare – but worth it.  So now I say if you want me March 1st – I’ll jump plane and be there so you can put in March7 – April 7; April 7 to May 7th.  I’d have to know as soon as possible on this end – so I could leave things right here.  Then you could return here for a month to help me get settled – or whatever seemed best at that time.  That May 7th is your dead-line, isn’t it?

Unless you, yourself, go down to the land office and beg them for “advise” about “how to get up” so you can “put your time in.”  Register the fact that you’ve had the children out of school (with permission) for the period requested, but you can’t get up there.  I think they should have some way out of it – in delays like that.  They want the land to go to people like you and Bill that have the nerve and willingness to face such hardships.  You have and are willing.  What’s the use of having that “friend (?)” in the land office, if you can’t talk to him?  Have Bill go with you, but you go anyhow.  You could even go to that Governor to “fight for your land” and help to get some help on the road to get you up there.  I think that is an Alaskan duty to the struggling pioneers.  Stand up and fight for your rights – if there are any!  You “want it” – go get it.  I’ll help any way I can.

I bet Bill never wrote about those tires for the Jeep to go on ice which are fastened to Jeep tires.  I wrote in October about them when boy in Caltech, knowing about the road, brought address.  You have to try to find out.  It would be good advertising for the company, if they worked.  Write anyhow.  Here’s address again:

Terra Engineering Co., Inc.

P.O. Box 254

Lexington, Mass.

Should have given address to Carolyn and Chas. When they went East.  Send it to dear Daddy!  [evidently to Mother’s father out east]

Anyhow boy said he read article and he thought it would work on your road – He is an electrical engineer here in house and understood your road problem.

Would be worth it.  Was supposed to go through creeks etc.  Might work in March.  No harm to put problem up to them to see what they say!

You’ll lose everything otherwise.

Can’t the Army suggest anything?  Army Jeeps go on Artic Ice.  I suppose on skis and sleds.  Can’t you get help from the Camp?

Then afterwards, if Bill has these tire gadgets he could be sure to go up and down.  Imagine if you’d been up there alone with the broken plate – or something else.  It’s just not right for you to be alone there with 4 children.  Better put them back in school until March.

Anyhow those records will be there at school of your willingness to do the job!!  Seems awful if you don’t get it.  But government would only say you should have put in your oil supply for those 4 remaining months, plus food etc. and stayed there.  You would have if the road would allow it.

Oh well what do I know about it?  I really only wish it were all over as you do.  I can’t say I wish you hadn’t tried it, because now you both know what it is all about.  Certainly you can write about it as an authority – from experience – whether you get the place or not!

Really I’m afraid to have you and children up there in January and February – alone in case oil stove or something doesn’t work – or someone is ill.  It’s like the road – you can’t just ignore dangers when 4 little ones depend on your wisdom and plans, dear.  Oh, Mil, it’s a terrific problem and you’ve been so brave I want you to win.  I’m afraid I’m not helpful at all.

Have been trying to work, but my heart is not in it.  And money is scarce.  I broke the bank having a little typing done.  They are so slow and only “copy” what have written so that’s hard to pay for after doing all the hand work myself!  But I do have to have a little help.

Carolyn and Charlie came home last Sunday.  Glad to have them back even though I only see them for hours a week.  Yet I can talk to them if I want to, wish you and I could do that too.  I wonder, often, whether Alaska has given you all you desired, Mill.  When you didn’t call Thursday I figured what happened.  Wise.  I was missing you all and thinking of you too.

Got your mental messages!  Terrible about that tooth – to destroy things at time like that especially.  No wonder you cried!  But that price is simply ridiculous.   Told Carolyn on ‘phone and she said that that fellow Charlie knew in L.A. years ago only paid $2,000 to have all teeth removed, special enameled tooth put into gums individually – a real operation!  And Carolyn had all hers out and complete upper for $350.  I had lower for $150, but no teeth out.  So you certainly could have it for $350 here!  Thankful for temporary repair.  Eat soup from now on!  What more can happen?  Move very carefully, honey.  You are all so very precious.

To get back to C and C.  Trip was awful.  Struck the cold months.  Rain and snow.  Only ½ day of sunshine.  All caught colds right away.  Charlie never gets down with a cold, but he had cold and fever when he left and it got worse.  Had to lay around all of first week – and never got to New York at all.  Decided he never wanted to make any pictures or commercials in East after that spell of weather anyhow.  So just made from Boston calls and messed around.  Except for Thanksgiving and Carolyn he would have returned at end of first week.

He says business is terrible there.  Carolyn’s father hasn’t had a decent deal in a year – you can’t expect “dear daddy” said too.  Charlie says Boston people and city are depressing.  Everybody talks pessimistically and [can’t read word] but remain.

[writes of east coast people] ….No other news.  All sad, sad.  Haven’t seen them long enough to know whether they went to old houses etc.  Only there 2 hours.  I was tired and so were they as I “ate and ran”.  Tell you more as I get it….

No more now.  Just live for your letters even on or two pages to let me know that you are well and what goes on.

I mean every word.  I just live for day to have you here on a visit, or get up to help if I can.  Doing nothing here that counts.

Must get to typewriter.  Give children love and say Hi to Bill.  Glad “Daddy” came across for Xmas.  Stiff old letter sounds like him.  [evidently Mother’s father wrote to her – surprising]  Loads of love ever and always, Mother.

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