June 13, 1959 Saturday
Letter from Grandmother to Mother
Have so much that I want to say these days – that I may be writing frequently. I love your letters which let me “share” your ventures on the homestead. I am so torn between my desire to go up for a visit and the wisdom of remaining here and putting money toward your project instead. I go “around and around” in my thoughts.
Like you and Bill it seems that your chief problems are road; water; and the school plans for next year.
Ever since your last letter of to-day came talking about the school problem and Cindy’s great desire to go to school – I have kept it in my thoughts all day. As you know I find that the first four grades are horribly important foundation for all the higher grades in school. Due to the educational situations and the conditions under which you will live, if in the Jamesway, it would be very hard for you to take care of three of them alone and teach them too. How I wish I could afford to take the next year off to live in Anchorage and help until you and Bill get the house situation really under way. But right now my conclusions seem to be that children must go to that good school in Anchorage next year. No matter what anyone says about you being a “sissy” over living in town in the winter, I beg you to consider it. I will pay $100 a month toward a Government Hill apartment, where you’ll be cozy and warm and well taken care of from now until school closes next spring. When feasible you can _week-end” on the homestead! It’s better and wider than pay for each child – tuition – and them having worn out and weary gong back and forth, as well as Bill and yourself on the daily grind in [can’t read word] inadequate housing against mid=winter storms.
So with this in mind I’ve been thinking that we could think about this. Talk it over with Bill. Get permission for tutoring until you get title in November. Then going there into school for winter months. Oh please, Mil. You know that their good sound foundation is very, very vital to their whole lives. Also, they need the social contacts with school affairs, children, scouts, and John’s choir etc. You do too.
Then I could help with work-books preparing them for your tutoring in the fall months. Could this be done?
If this is done, Bill would not have to worry and work so desperately hard on the house-building until next spring. He could put efforts and money on road; piping water and clearing land.
Oh Mil if I could go up we’d be able to can and make jellies etc. I might even be able to stay September – if it would help you. Right now I want to dream about going up in August –
My heart is so much in this with you and Bill. You’ve done so well so far. It’s a tremendous undertaking – but it must not deplete Bill so much physically that he gets ill or loses his job through weariness and inability to keep his mind on his career-job. Right? You’ll be able to save so much in rent and expenses for those 7 months, that you’ll get settled up a little, if the machines will only behave.
Having $$ all important on those machines. If you are in apartment during cold months you’d save on laundry and on children’s morale. They should be in school in town somehow or other.
When you get settled with water, house (even small), toilets etc. it will be different. Also, schools will have to be closer if settlers going in all have children. But your children need stimulation and competition with children of their own mental calibers. See what I mean? You see if you and Bill offer me a corner for a wee cabin for summers – let me do my share in the winter – apartment – plan for the children. We’ll make the money writing this summer I know!! But if not we’ll find a way.
With this trip as a goal (if possible and you don’t need the money I’d spend in fares) I plan to teach, tutor etc. through month of July at least! Then we’ll see if I could get up in August – or middle of August to middle of September or something.
I will not accept plane fare from you and Bill. Don’t think of it! I’ll have enough for a two-way fare or I won’t go! You and Bill can pay back anything you owe me – in the future – after essentials on homestead are all taken care of slowly but surely and well. Each step must be good and sound not makeshift, or you’ll lose out in end by doing it over again. Bill will have job enough to get Jamesway water proofed and safe for storing your things for winter. By having apartment you can take something from storage to apartment and some to homestead.
The more I think of it, this is the most practical, sensible plan. As you say there are only a few months to work in. In this plan you would not feel the pressure and dread of being unprepared for this winter. It would be “too much” to do all at once, I think. It would have been so very different if you hadn’t been handicapped by that old road and the car troubles. But all those trials have provided you with the “conflicts” as well as “thrills” which Bert Anderson says is so very necessary for good writing. You can write articles, or lectures, and put them all together afterwards in book form. Oh I must get up so you can have a little time to yourself for writing.
Which takes me to the other explanation for waiting until August. I am to begin next week POSTIVELY typing off the lectures, and having interviews again with Bert, so we’ll have everything ready for you to use – you can begin next week – at least one or so hours, I hope. We must earn the $$ when I see the BOOBS who do. Oh me, oh my! What’s the matter with me? Lack of confidence and lack of regular hours for writing day in and day out – like any job!
You made yourself appear on time for those plastic parties. You write so well, dear. You should have been one of first to get Alaska articles off. Don’t do as I did – fill drawers with materials.
John’s drawing of the homestead, I love. I’ll write and tell him so. Also Cindy’s, and Linda’s, and even dear Sharon’s letter to me. I adore you all. You never have reason to think you don’t get oodles and oodles of my whole-hearted love, day in and out, for you and yours!
I, too, hold visions of good future prospects for the homestead, if you take it easy and slowly. I simply sang in my heart at the report of your gardens and the children’s plantings. That picture of [can’t read word] on a tractor on that Eve Post cover was on the table when Dr. Norwood has been to treat me. I told him it was for John and about him. He replied and said: “It’s a great life for a boy.” And it is, Mil, if he works hard on his books too. Let him do the workbooks in the sunshine – and he’ll love them – the girls too.
Oh how I wish I had the $$ to run up now – but I want to get some of this summer money and get writing in line. Probably best I haven’t got $$ because I’d just enjoy myself loafing, perhaps.
Oh, Mil, your Shangri-la or Hidden Valley sounds wonderful! I wouldn’t mind ending up on Jeep – or sleeping on blanket on floor. You know that. Remember us sleeping in car on way out to save money? [from Boston to L.A. during WWII] It was worth it, dear. I’m often sorry you had to be dragged across country because of me, but it must have been part of Destiny for us all. [My mother was 19 when they moved to L.A. for grandmother’s health.] I shall be deeply humble and grateful if you have found the place which makes you and Bill content. You know me – anywhere is O.K. if I’m well and with my family. Watch the health for all of you.
I’m so happy that you’ll have fresh vegetables this summer. I bet your tomatoes will be better than any we ever grew. The soil must be rich. If I get there, I’ll weed and weed for you!
And the flowers and the trees. It sounds wonderful. We must hold it for you. As soon as I get my rent together and pay Norwood $75, I pay 2 payments on car – I’ll count the shekels to see if I can fly up. Have even wondered if I could drive. Why not if those other women did? What say you?
I don’t want you to give up the Station Wagon unless you have to. You need it for town. You cannot look homesteaders like McCrary (sp?). I just loved hearing about your quick-change acts at the Motels and at Army Base showers. Loved hearing Mrs. Bockstahler wonder. Others will wonder too. Don’t tell how you mange it all. Let them wonder, and I hope marvel, if you could get on for awhile without garage bills.
Have the Buttners, Pollards etc. had as much hard luck with their cars as you have had?
Three cheers for the little old fellow who has helped put the road in shape so that you can go up and down with the Jeep. Think of draining the water. Just fine work. How do you pay him? Have you paid him some already? What do the others think who say it was all impossible? Oh how can I bear to sit here just waiting to know the progress – and wanting to be there? Just as you all can do it – that’s the way. Determination to remain and stack up a few $$.
Yet quite desperate after reading about your plantings, the blue skies, the trees etc. and determined that I’d rent the house furnished for summer, or take one or two convalescents in for a month. I may at that – would pay the rent – and testing and tutoring would be “gravy” as they say.
Please be honest and tell me all your reactions to the various plans – and which seem wisest to you – Are they impossible or impractical? Also tell me about your payments on various machines now that Bill’s check was short last time. Can you make out, or do you need a payment to save the trailer or tractor or jeep? I’d send another check now – but want to wait and check payments with Pacific, due 9th, and see if they paid as the did last month. If they did not I’ll pay it. Don’t worry about Pacific – they have promised to let me know if money does not come in so I can pay. Of course they’ll be nice – to themselves.
Thank God for the Jeep and tractor and that Bill is able to get some boxes of stuff to you. What a celebration if he ever gets the trailer up to you! Happy day.
Children are wonderful. Let them sleep lots and lots and make up what they lost that will put flesh on Johnny too. Did I suggest a goat – for goat’s mile? Very nutritious and people get used to it and love it. Like yogurt –
Want you to keep up your courage and not be lonely. The Pep Kid will try to visit, if she can!
What film does your camera take? Perhaps Charlie could buy it cheaper down here. Lots of pictures and short descriptive paragraphs of your homestead problems would go over, I know. You are so right. Time is flying. Here it is the 13th. John’s birthday in two more days. A year has gone by since I was there. In many ways it seems like 2 years.
Caltech called me yesterday and told me definitely I can remain until April – maybe until June. Since 3 boys will return (my underclassmen one has been here 4 years will return for his master’s degree) I think I should hold house unless I do something more lucrative and fascinating. Could run house anyhow. College opens about September 20th, I think. Right? Then after next spring I’ll be able to plan ahead again, I hope.
Am feeling much more like myself. Have worked hard right through the whole month, much to Charlie’s disgust. But now I am glad because my work did not get too far behind. It is awful when it does. I am taking those vitamins I believe they do it. Will send more if you say you’ll take them.
Remember the old striped umbrella on pole that could fold up and be carried anywhere. We used to have it in yard in Melrose and took to beaches too? I saw them in Sears last year for about 15. Would you like one? It would be good and colorful and give shady attractive spot for you all during day outside. Also mark my words Bockstahler’s or some one from Eagle River crowd will have to appear this summer to look you over. So let’s give them an inexpensive eyeful – O.K?
Can Bill hire a man to pipe water up there from creek below? Or how much to drill a well? That is absolutely important and will save lugging water for washing etc. Good for gardens too. You need water all summer! Please tell me about this. Watch springs that might carry typhoid from mosquitoes etc. etc.
How I rave, as if you didn’t know! Forgive and overlook it!
Sorry you and Bill could not go to that office farewell party. If I ever get up to baby-sit you two must get out a little. At that you know C and C never go anywhere together – either – always have children and take them wherever they go. Don’t even go to Byron’s-Elsie’s about once in 6 weeks. Play cards with the neighbor couple over the fence. They bought a croquet set. Play that or ping-pong or work in garden after dinner. C has to work about 2 nights a week. And weeks go so fast.
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