Carolyn E. Cook
A Saver’s Treasure Trove—Edith’s Letter
When relatives and friends lived far away and long distance phone calls were too expensive for everyday chats, people wrote long, newsy letters. Nowadays, in our era of short text messages and emails, I think our personal communication has become only a shadow.
This letter came from Edith Jones, Grandmother’s slightly older sister. She lived in State College, PA, in the large, old house where she’d raised her children. She’d been a widow since 1933 and by 1947, her children were all grown and living elsewhere. But the tone of her writing shows her to be upbeat and even offering encouragement to her sister. She had just marked her 63rd birthday on April 2. I would have liked Edith.
To aid in the reading, the roster of people she mentions are as follows: The Olvers were her daughter Miriam, son-in-law, and granddaughter Dee. Mrs. Edith Campbell was probably no relation. Rev. Jones of the Pres. Church — I think was no relation, also. Jones is a common name. Edwin Dale was a nephew, son of Edith’s and Elizabeth’s much older half-sister, Carrie. Mildred was a niece, also daughter of Carrie. Roy was Mildred’s husband, a WWI vet who came home from war with physical injuries and shell shock, what we now call PTSD. Bob was Edith’s older son and the fellow I wrote about as an Unforgettable Person. Edwin and Jane—he was Edith’s younger son and Jane was his wife. As to Edith's comment toward the end, about going down to start the heater and returning to bed “until all are out,” — I assume she had several boarders to bring in the money.
1947 Apr. 3
Dear Elizabeth and the rest,
Many thanks for the candy. That is a luxury at the price it comes. I’m getting stingy, just put out a little dish and hide the box. I put temptation out of sight.
The Olvers were here last Sat. and we had a nice dinner at noon and they came in with ice cream and cake. Miss Mary Johnston, a teacher was here with a petition for
higher teacher’s salaries, and brought a box of her frozen strawberries. It was a celebration!
Dee is putting more words together and just busy all the time. Soon will be 18 months.
The weather is clear just now but it was cloudy at 8 a.m. Colder weather is promised for the weekend. No one has been able to start garden —
too wet and cold. Last year at this time, lettuce and peas were in. I will not have much garden for myself. Will probably put some back yard in more lawn, then it can be mowed and John Rowland is available.
We may lose Dr. Watkins this spring, and I am blue about it. As Mrs. Edith Campbell says, ‘just a change of faults,’ when we get a new minister.
Rev. Jones of the Pres. Church is leaving May 1st for Grove City, Penna, another college town. He was a chaplain for three years.
Edwin Dale is still holding his own but yesterday we had rain
all day and he was discouraged. Now he has been at home five weeks, but his doctor expected just this in his run down condition.
Mildred writes that Roy is taking a medicine that makes living easier, nothing permanent, but it relieves his dizziness. He now goes to the furnace twice a day and sits in the sunshine on the back porch.
I am nibbling at this cleaning, clean the dirtiest spot first, then every place looks some better. Must do three curtains
today. Celebrated yesterday by ironing.
Bob has rented a three room apartment in preference to the hotel. Town is smaller than Cairo, Ga. Then he can get his own breakfast. He has not told what he has furnished to him. He is better, likes his boss, and Mary Virginia Thompson Stonerod’s brother works there. Told Bob he knew me as Edith Summy. Small world! He is the younger brother to Hutch. Then little Priscilla, do you remember?
I know your house is quiet but you can get your cleaning out of the way. I know you miss them. I get more housework done by myself and less cooking to do. Do not get up until 8 a.m. Go down and start heater and go back to bed until all are out. The life of Riley!
Painters in Pittsburg are asking $2 per hour. No painting of house for me at that price. Still have Dick Rogers for his work.
Now to the mines! Much love to all
Will try to write to Mil
Edwin and Jane will be busy in Madison, Easter
By the day after Edith penned this news and mailed it, she was likely experiencing symptoms of a cold, which grew worse quickly. She went to the doctor on April 9. I imagine he was alarmed at her condition, as she was diagnosed with bronchial pneumonia and hospitalized immediately. It must have been a virulent strain. She died in the early morning hours of April 10.