Letters to Esther

Letters to Esther is a collection of letters written to Esther Munro of Geneva, Indiana. The letters span from 1900 to the 1960s, with the bulk of them coming from the 1920s.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

October 30, 1919, From Mamma

Home. Oct. 30.--‘19

Dear Esther--

I haven't time to write but a few words. But am afraid you will look for a letter & not get one if I don't write it. Warren has been having a very bad cold.--so croupy. That I didn't have much of a rest night before last nor last night. Papa & I just simply sat up till 12. o'clock, for we wanted to see how he was going to be before we undressed. He seemed quiet after 10-30, so we went to bed at 12 and he didn't cough from then on. Seems to be feeling fine this A.M. tho' cough isn't very loose yet.

The kids--Clark, Ruth and Lloyd went to their box social last night. They got home about 12-30 or 1. Lloyd had the time of his life. He [...] .65¢ with Leora Pusy. Clark bought Clara G. $1.25 and some stranger got Ruth $1.50. Some of the girls told her he was tough so she went off where he couldn't find her. Her box was all was all white with ribbon 1 ½ in. wide, bright red, tied around it & a bow on top. It looked nice. They sold 40 boxes, some went as high as $2.50. They had ordered ice-cream at Berne but water was so high they could not get there to get it then they went to Bluffton, but could get none, then Clark went to Geneva last night and got 2 ½ gals. They sold all the candy the Domestic science girls made, drew everything out of fishpond and wanted more. So you see they did well for such a miserable night as it was. Clark was clerk & he said they took in all of $75. They are trying to pay for "phono graph". Huffinan bought Tressie's. Hers was a white ship. I do not know how soon I'll get to sew any for you. Lloyd is out of waists & I need clothes badly so does every one in family. We did not go to Ft. Wayne. I will try & get the rest of your "stuff" to you sometime. Don't you think molasses taffy would be more convenient to send to you and answer the purpose just as well as molasses?

You better get rid of that Zehring. I must iron, churn & put house in order today.

Bye from mamma


Did you get your clothes O.K.?

Generator for car has not come yet so we could not go down there even if all else were in favor.

Mrs. W. got your letter. So did Josephine.

October 28, 1919, From Mamma

Home. (Tues.) Oct 28--‘19

Dear Esther--

If you want to know everything, then I'll have to jot things down each day as they happen or I'll forget most of them. Besides it is easier to answer your letter when one is fresh in mind. Yours of 19th is lying on secretary before me.

I still have my cold. Don't feel like tearing around at the work. And there is a plenty to do. Did a nice big churning this A.M. about 7lbs. I should guess. Will not churn again until we need more butter. You see we are going to sell our cream now. Papa is taking our first can to town this P.M. Papa is feeling pretty good these days. Almost every day there seems to be something to sell. You see it takes about three years to get started to farming. Now he says things are getting to "going his way"

You can be almost thankful that you are not at home these days, for the flies are thicker in house than I ever knew them to be, in all my housekeeping experience. They are in and I can't get them out.

Had the clover-hullers for supper last eve. There were only Mr. Felber and Emil. But it was the only time I did not prepare when there was the least sign of men staying to eat and almost the only time they stayed. I thought to myself "they never do stay, so I'll just cook an extra amount of potatoes. pretty soon papa came in & wanted to know how near supper was ready and I said the potatoes are not done but if they will just wait a few min. I'll get them something to eat. So Clark pitched in opening cans and Ruth helped me peal the hot potatoes for I had boiled them with skins on.--yes, Ruth really pealed a hot potato or two.

Ruth's Domestic Science class have made white caps and aprons for themselves. She did not get hers finished at school so brought it home last eve. They are to wear them today. They will serve tomato soup and noodles to the High School students for 5¢ per dish. Proceeds go to paying for the soup dishes in which the soup is served. I wish I could see them, I think they will look real nice, nine of them dressed alike.

You asked about kittens. Well, they are getting to look quite like cats. Mr. Farrar took one home with him one week ago Mon. eve. It was the day (or P.M. rather) before the class party, he and his wife made a call. I had been washing therefore put on my raggedest apron, when I met them at the door. I was just sure it was Aunt Maud and Uncle Oscar, and was truly glad it was not on account of preparing for party.

I have not seen to my hat yet. We may go to Ft. Wayne Sat. to get Ruth some new glasses. She does not see good with these any more. I also read in Youth's Companion that near sighted people sometimes lost their sight entirely. So I am trying to get a move on some one.

Clark & Lloyd gathered a lot of walnuts last eve. I've been harping about them too. Our can of cream brought $4.98. I must quit and bake pumpkin pies, then iron. As soon as I can have sour cream will make you some cookies. Do you want them for Sun. eve. lunch? What do you have to eat? What grades did you get in Home Economics and Chemistry? Why have you never sent home any under skirts? Who is Mr. Zhering? No, you have never mentioned him or the "bike". When you have "dates" where do you go? Have you even written to Josephine or Dorothy Sprunger? If I go to Ft. Wayne & if I should see a piece of plaid silk or striped that I think you would like, shall I get enough for you a waist? (over)

Now that I have most of my questions in a group, maybe it will be easier to find them and ans. Will have hay-bailers tomorrow (Thur.) Then we want to harvest the beets. Help is scarce. We have none in sight yet. Mr. Thomas said if we could get local help to do so.

Am sending you an envelope that I picked up the next morning after the party. I waw Rollin S. sitting very quietly in the corner marking on an envelope, so I am quite sure it is some of his work. Pretty good, I thought.

I think I shall have to finish this now. Intended to last night but Ruth had to write a Theme, any how that is what she called it on "The Birds of Killingworth" in "Tales of a Wayside Inn". So I helped her all eve. Yesterday noon I had eight men for dinner, the hay bailers. Mrs. Whitsel helped from about 9-30 till three in P.M. Was glad she did for I still have my cold, especially cough. The Boss hay bailer is Blowers. The one who kept company with Maizie Reffe. Well, I think he makes quite a good appearance and surely is a hustler to work. Forgot to tell you I had those men for supper Wed. eve. and over night, & for breakfast. You know about how that goes here. Clark, R. & L. went down to Whitsel's. I think that birthday card you sent her was thoroughly appreciated.

I must not forget to tell you, even tho' I have to start on another sheet of paper to do it, that Ruth sang "Irene My Darling" at piano yesterday A.M. (at school) as a part of the opening exercises. It was the Freshmen's turn, so Clara asked Ruth what she would do. R. said she could sing. She didn't mean alone, but Clara held her right to it & Clark told her she had to so she managed to do it, and wasn't so badly scared as she thought she would be. Maybe she will come out of the "kinks" yet.

I sent you, but would guess, 35¢. Why do you ask? (Another question). No, you need not thank any one for that candy. Papa got some for Warren and me & that was what was left, so I just stuck it in. I was provoked. I told Clark to get a nice variety for me to send to you when I sent your clothes to you. But he just would not & I had reminded him of it so many times. So I told Papa to get some & have it in the house, so when I sent you anything else, it would be right here & cold send it too. So he got a little box (tin, I think.) I wanted bulk. So sometime you will get that. I must quit & go to work.

Much love from

To day is arbor day & they are going to set out a lot of trees as school.

Last eve, Forest Shoemaker ‘phoned up & asked Clark if he would be satisfied with Mr. Zehr (or Zer) as teacher of S.S. class. C. said yes. So I suppose he will be from now on. He lives near Joe Roth's.

October 28, 1919, From Richard

Purdue, "148"
Oct. 28, 1919

Dear Esther,

I think I received a letter from you today, although I'm not positively sure. I must have lost part of it for I could not find your dear little signature anywhere when I thought I had come to the end. Since I have been courageous enough to mention my fault please pardon me, this time.

It has been raining like in the days of "Noah and the Arc" here also; but today is cold. I too went to S.S. last Sunday despite the rain and all its discomforts. It is not profitable to one's soul to put it to such torture, is it?

Sure, I had a fine time Friday evening, being with a very popular young lady of wide acquaintance. And in that respect anyway, my Friday evening was different from yours. Say, you ought not to treat the I.U. young men so cool like. If you have the time why not take advantage of such fine opportunities and be gentle and satisfactorily "courteous' to the poor rubes. Ha; never allow one to spoil you. Instead, be a help and as much as possible, a Solomonistic Cleopatric Sphinx. See? Luella must have been mistaken when she said all the nice boys were gone. Where have they gone? You will find the same sort of variety wherever you go.--I appreciate all you said though.

Esther, I asked you once whether I could trust you, and you replied (in letters) some way by telling how much you thought of your self. You will probably recall it. I supposed at the time that you meant it to answer my question, and the same now; but just how did it. Would you just like to see how far I would fall? No I don't believe that now, but it's uncertain and probably will be for some time.

Last Sunday P.M., "Roomy" and I went out to Columbia Park (in the drizzle) to see the sights. It is larger and contains much more than McCullohs Park of Muncie. Camels, ostrichs and all such stuff. It is a very interesting place. There is no place at or near Bloomington that will favorably compare with Happy Hollow for beauty and natural wealth of scenery. The deep valley of Universtiy Dam is somewhat similar.--A surprise; I got a class letter from Bertha yesterday.

Best wishes and good luck.

Yours sincerely,

P.S. I don't no [sic] much about X-ray's. So there. Ha, ha!

Friday, March 11, 2005

October 27, 1919, From Josephine

Geneva, Ind
Oct. 27--1919

Dear Esther:--

Surprised did you say I was so surprised when I came home from school and saw I had a letter from Bloomington that I forgot all about my troubles and say I guess Seniors have a plenty. We sure have some school this year. I suppose you've heard all about it. There's something going on every night. What will it be until Spring when there really is supposed to be something going on?

Wed. night is a box-social. Mynnie and I are taking one to-gether & I had the pleasure of making the box. I've worked on it every since I came home and haven't got it finished yet. So you may know there's some work on it. I took an underwear box and covered it with white crepe paper, then I took strips of crepe paper and pulled the edges, making it "crinkley". I tacked these at each corner. Then took red, white & blue ribbon and placed on top of paper with big rosette in middle. Some fussy. This is something the way it looks [drawing of box]

Mamma said she could put an onion in it. Now imagine Enoch Schroll & I eating an onion Ha!

You asked me whether I knew Justine Baker. I don't know her but I sure know her sister Geraldine. She sits in front of me at school. Also her brother William.

Has Clark told you about our Orchestra Glee Clubs, Mandolin Clubs & Ukelele Clubs? Well I was made Sec. of Orchestra and that's as far as it's gone. They had me down to play a violin and now you know my experience with a violin. I'm also one of the H.S. faculty. I keep the assembly from the 1 st. recess until noon every day. Now I've almost taught six weeks and haven't rec'd any pay yet. Believe I'll go on a strike. Wouldn't you?

We observed Arbor Day, planted trees, mowed the school yard, cut weeds with a hoe and various other things too numerous to mention. They dismissed school at noon Fri.

I'm also taking Chemistry this yr. I don't know whether its like yours or not. Tomorrow is the junior-Senior's day to take Physical Training. She told us last week that if we would carry the Victrola down in manual training room (that's where we're taking it) we could play "Scip to Maloo". Think of me. Do you remember the Junior reception? I do. We had a similar time at the Freshman reception this yr. Yes we sure have some Basket-Ball team. My the scores have been like walk-a-ways. Hope they continue.

I'm trying to plan a new dress and I'd just as leave take a whipping.

Dorothy & Arch have quite [sic]. After going to gather 6 years. It was about the same as a divorce.

The class all had a fine time at the party at your house the other night. Everybody seemed out for a good time.

You knew Harry Cooper didn't you? Emil's brother. He's a papa now. Emil goes with Ruth Shoemaker. You know Lloyd Heller used to go with her. I have only saw Gladys S. twice since she came home from school. Her sister Mildred Steiner was married last Tues. eve. at 5 o'clock. Russel left school to attend the wedding.

The Junior-Seniors are having a masquerade Friday night at the school house. I have my false face and that is all. I have my dress spoken for. Mynnie is going to dress like a clown. You can plainly see who I run with by this letter.

I thought I never could get along with out you the first couple of weeks, but I'm getting used to it now. You know Mynnie used to run with Mildred well Mildred runs with a freshman Nema Runyon and that left Mynnie alone. We Senior girls so far have run to-gather but you can't tell how long it'll last. We have a new pupil, Lawrence Fielder perhaps you've heard of him. He goes with Elizabeth Anderson. Clyde goes with Rose now. I talked to Lloyd the other night in town. You know he teaches the Bolds school. Said he had 25 pupils. I told him I was coming to visit him and he said when I did he was going to dismiss school and have a talk by me, so I decided the best thing I could do was stay a way.

I believe I would be just like you Esther about gym. I never have very many clothes to get on but I have to have plenty of time to get on what few I have got. Well I must go eat my breakfast. Now it won't take very long. How do you like the new time? I like it fine. It gives me more time to think about getting up.

This ought to be a good letter I've been on it for two days. This is Tues. eve. Well we got to play Scip to-day in Physical Training. I thought of you. Then we went from there to Chemistry class. I was all in. Well I suppose your getting tired of this so I will ring off. Hoping to hear from you soon. (Write as much as you like and as often as you like.)

Your old H.T.H.S. Pal,

October 26, 1919, From Orlie Penwitt

Hastings Nebr.
Oct. 26, 1919

Dear Friend Esther:

I am sorry I haven't answered your welcome letter before now. But I have been quite busy lately with my studies. I am attending Business College here. Hastings is quite a nice little town of about 15, 000 population. It has a Presperterian College besides the Business College and a Hospital, Sanitarium and the State Hospital for the Incurable Insane. So you see we aren't lacking in Hospitals or the like. I am about sixty miles from home. That seems far enough for me. I was home for an over Sunday visit the last of Sept. I don't know whether I will go home before Thanksgiving or not, I am afraid I will have to go home and get some warm clothes. It is pretty cold here. About three weeks ago it was so cold here that it froze ice about 1/4 in. thick. believe me I don't want cold weather to come till its time.

I am going to begin to play basket ball tomorrow evening. My roommate and I made us some bloomers and we sure have a show around here about every night.

We have quite a time here sometimes there are four of us girls here and what we don't do and think of isn't worth mentioning. We just about raise the roof.

I didn't get to go to Ill. either this summer. I don't know when I will get to go now. If I get a position as soon as I finish my course, which I hope I do, I don't know when I will ever set my feet on ill. soil again.

I intend to finish my course in about six or seven months. Well I must quite, because the other three girls in this room are talking about everything under the sun. So if there is anything out of place in this letter you know why it is so.

Well now don't wait as long as I did to write. I guess a person don't appreciate letters till you get away from home.

Answer soon.

Your Friend,
Orlie Penwitt
1635 W. 4th St.
Hastings, Nebr.

October 26, 1919, From Clark

Geneva Ind
Oct. 26, 1919

Dear Sister:--The rain you had there Thursday came down to give us a visit today all day long and all last night and probably all night tonight.

Do you remember the two strings you sent me? I have the clothes hangers about ready to send will probably send them about Tuesday I have taken plenty of time to make them.

H.H.S. 60 K.H.S. 13
Hartford simply ran away with Kirklin 13-60 I am ashamed to admt that we ran up such a score. Oh! Well it is all in the game I suppose. We have no game this week.

But on Wed. evening there is a box social at the school house and Fri. evening a masquerade party at the School House by the Juniors + Seniors.

Last Fri. afternoon the school set out about 40 or 45 hard maple trees along the west side of the school ground. Say do you Alumni want to set out an Ivy vine around the school house some where if so where. Our class will next spring. Yes we have a game with Petroleum either the 7 or 14 I forget which.

Would that little boy appreciate it if we should send him something to relieve the monotony of lying abed so long at a time.

Alva and I were the only 2 in our class at S.S. this morning. I think you should give us a cromo. and then we get one [...] by a margin of 1¢ which I made up, it isn't hardly fair is it.

I have been reading all day and feel kind of dull so can't think of much else. We had hay balers Thursday and the side walk is finished will take a picture of it when I get a chance and send it to you.

Wishing you the best of luck I remain your Dear Brother
E. Clark Munro.

October 25, 1919, From Mamma

Home. Monday A.M.

Dear Esther--

I will add a little more paper to this envelope Clark has addressed. Ruth vows so often that she will write a big long letter to you; but never seems to get at it.

Yesterday was a very dreary day. No one came and no one went. Drizzled all day & night and it is still at it and it is almost eleven o'clock.

We discussed house. Clark wants to change that plan he drew to an altogether different one. But I stick to it yet & will till I see something better. Yes, give all the ideas to us you can get. [written in pencil in the blank space at the end of the paragraph:] Your clothes came O.K.

Now, about your going so often with the boys, I would say don't go too often. It seems you can always get girls to accompany you where ever you wish to go. It may take your mind off your studies too much and you have no time to spare it seems. I'd rather you would address your letters on outside to me or papa. For in that case I do not need to wait till kids come home from school to open it. I do not think they care at all for I always read your letters to them or let them read them themselves. Lloyd & Warren thought the mouse escapade pretty funny.

How is the little boy? What is his name? You must entertain him all you can for it will be very tiresome for him in bed. Is there anything we can do for him?

Mr. Whitsel caught a pole-cat at S. end of wood-shed last night. He had it in a trap & papa went down after nine o'clock last night (Sun. night) and shot it. Clark is going to skin it. Will try to make those cookies for you today, as I have sour cream now. I think you will surely enjoy that lecture course. Have you any idea if you or any or all of the rest will be home Thanksgivign Day. Warren says he don't remember what you look like.--With love--from

The mail-man came sooner than I was looking for him & didn't get this mailed yesterday.