Monthly Archives: April 2012

He Ran Out of Gas

It’s Monday and I’m reflecting on all the wonderful weekend moments.  How is it that Friday-Saturday-Sunday passes so quickly and Monday seems to drag on so slowly?  It’s the beginning of the week and I already feel out of gas.


Jim writes to Mary shortly after he returns to Columbia from visiting her in Jefferson City.    Sweet moments recollected in his correspondence filled with sweet nothings.  Oh, and it sounds like he ran out of gas…literally.  At least they were well chaperoned!


Postmark Columbia, MO

April 28, 1930  5 PM




Dear Mary-


I got here about forty five minutes ago so I’m afraid there won’t be much of interest to tell you this time.  Maybe tomorrow there will be.  I hope so.


I surely enjoyed the weekend with you darling.  That slipped.  Really though it seems that every time I am with you I enjoy it more than I did the time before.  “Funny dear what love can do.”  Now isn’t it? —


I hope your Aunts didn’t think I had gone crazy or something similar yesterday.  Really though, I don’t know how they felt, but I enjoyed the bridge game immensely.  Next time, I’ll try to act so that the rest can enjoy it.  Do you suppose I could do that?  I hope that you aren’t too tired by night.  Take care of yourself this week and don’t go until you can’t go any more.  That is no nice way to act is it.


I hope that your father didn’t get too disgusted last night that he won’t go anyplace else with us.  Really Mary-I would hate that.  Tell him that it probably won’t happen again in ten years.  I’ll see to it next time that we have plenty of gas.  You can bet on that.  I don’t care, but I know how he felt.
I didn’t get a letter from home this morning.  I think they have forgotten they have a son.  I guess I’ll have to write home and ask for money.  Then they will know they have one.  I’m going to call them tonight and see what the trouble it.


Mary you do just what you think you would rather and what you feel that you should about leaving your mother on Mother’s Day.  I won’t blame you a bit if you want to stay there.  Do as you think best honey.  That’s the way I want you to do.


I must stop and do a bit of studying before lunch.






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Say What?


Postmark Jefferson City, MO


April 21, 1930 8:30 PM




Dear Jim:
Well-I haven’t very much to say.  I am really not as angry as I might seem, however I felt better after you came by last night.  I was surprised though that you did.


I worked hard today and am tired tonight.  I tried to get my art ready and did but it’s a big job.


I had a letter from Helen she said Lillian Rogles told her that Henry said he want to be Helen’s next flame.  Now I am sure he didn’t say that, just what he said I can’t say.  Helen said she was sure Lillian got her wires crossed.  Anyway Helen wants to come up this coming weekend, but on account of some parties and all, I am writing to her to come later. She really wants to come the 9th but I think that’s when we can go to Clinton.  I believe from now until school is out I’ll be busy.


Jim-the flowers are still pretty.  They were so sweet Sunday morning.  I will forgive you for most anything when you are so thoughtful as to send flowers to me on Easter.  I think you’re real sweet.  


Write soon–and when will you be over Saturday afternoon or when?






Postmark Columbia, MO


April 24, 1930 5 PM




Dear Mary-


I just finished reading your letter.  I am sure Helen would understand if she wants to come that weekend.  As for going down home is concerned, we can make the trip anytime, or leave it out if you are too busy.  I’ll tell mother not to plan any party for you for about a week and a half yet.  By then we should know for sure.  Then if something happens that you can’t leave she can call it off alright.  Don’t worry yourself about that.


I wrote an eight hundred word paper last night.  I wrote it, corrected it and copied it over by midnight.  I didn’t get started until eight thirty.  I hope the thing is satisfactory.  I have to read it at the banquet tomorrow night before all of the Tau Beta Pis and all of the faculty of the Engineering School.  I’ll be glad when that is over.  I have an examination in Heat Machinery at one o’clock and an exam for Tau Beta Pi at four o’clock.  I don’t know how I’ll come out in either one of them, but I don’t really care.


Tomorrow classes are dismissed for the funeral of the former President of the University, whatever his name is.  That means I don’t have any classes at all tomorrow.  I think I will put the whole day in on my Graphic Statics.  Maybe I can get caught up on some of it.  I have a Heat report to write tonight and an electrical report to write up before Monday, so  you see, I really have plenty to keep me busy for some time.  I’ll be over there Saturday about 5:45 P.M.  


Really Mary I am just about out of something to say, so I guess I’ll have to quit for this time.  You’ll forgive me once more want you?  Please~~~~~~~~~~






Henry called me from downtown last night.  He had a date and two couples over here.  He didn’t come out here though.



Two people without much to say, but their letters say a lot.  Parties and plans and projects and papers.  And tittle-tattle about Henry’s romantic life.  Just exactly what his romantic life is…who can say?




The correspondence leaves out a lot information.  I guess we’re better off not knowing the particulars of what had Mary annoyed with Jim.  Kiss and make up.  The flowers were a nice touch.


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Making Sense Out of Nonsense

Postmark Jefferson City, MO

April 18, 1930  7 PM

Dear Jim:
I was glad to get your letter today.  It must seem good to be all up with your work.  I wish I could say that, maybe by Monday I can be.

Mrs. Nixon and I have just returned from the greenhouse.  We bought some flowers to put out in front of the house.  It is so nice out you want to mess around in flowers. 

I bought a bag to match my shoes today.  It wasn’t very expensive yet rather cute.  I wish I had some money to get several.  There are so many cute ones now.

Jim, I really am sorry not to get to come to Clinton.  I wanted to come so much.  I’ll be glad when I can.

Say, I have gone to bed every night by 8:30 for the last few nights–ever since Sunday.  I should get fat at this rate.

Jim, I hope you get to K.C. alright.  If you can help your Aunt Sally I guess it’s alright, but it seems to me she should should let the Homer go-to and stay put.

Well I must close.  Write soon.  I hope you had a grand time with your folks.

Love, Mary

I had a long letter from Leon-He is fine.  Said he was glad everything was off.  He and Elinor are through for good this time.



It is the end of April (2012) but the weather has been like the end of February. Snow flurries were flying just the other day. They call this “Blackberry Winter.”  I think it is because the blackberry canes are beginning to bloom and the cold snap sets the buds to bear fruit. Right now, it doesn’t make much sense to me, but I guess the chilly weather will be worth it when the berries come in.  Jam.  Cobbler. Muffins.  Compote.  YUM.

Finally, today the sun is shining and the breeze is warm.  Well warm-ish.  This letter inspires me.  Tomorrow I am going to buy some plants for my garden.

And maybe some shoes and a matching purse.

(Just kidding, honey, about the shoes and purse.)  My husband and I call each other “honey” like Mary and Jim did.

What is all the nonsense about going to bed at 8:30 and getting fat?  Or Jim’s Aunt Sally and the “Homer go-to”?  I promise I read and re-read the letter at least 18 times just to be sure I made out the handwriting correctly.  Nonsense.

Getting caught up on work and planting flowers and a matching bag to go with new shoes all makes sense to me.  So, I won’t try to figure out what doesn’t make sense.  Kind of like a “Blackberry Winter.”



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Some Things Change, Some Things Stay the Same

Postmark Jefferson City, MO

April 17, 1930  11:30 PM


Dear Jim:

Well, I got along real good today.  The children were rather wild. After a strange teacher  has them they often get some bad habits.

Frances got her ring.  I didn’t go out to see it but will tomorrow.  She isn’t going to wear it until after her announcement party which will be the 26th of April on Saturday.  I can hardly wait because so many people are going to be surprised. Just about four people have been told.  The rest of the girls think she is about to make up with Louis.

My shoes came from I. Miller today.  I guess I’ll keep them.  They fit fairly well.  At least feel good, that’s a lot.

I have been feeling real good all day.  Tonight, however I’m a little tired but I expected that.

Mother and I went to the Missouri [Hotel] for lunch today.  I ate quite a lot for me.

The doctor said I was run down and needed to rest a lot and not have any responsibilities.  Lots of fresh air and sleep.  My tonsils are not all to blame he doesn’t think.  He said he would give me some medicine to take before meals and whatever I do not to work hard.  If I have to quit and forget about it.  So I guess I will mind him, if I can.  He said when I built up he would say whether or not my tonsils should come out.  Must stop and eat dinner.



Some things change.  For example, the practice of medicine.  Tonsillectomies were routine surgery beginning around the 1930s.  Mary’s chronic colds and sore throats indicate the possibility her tonsils must come out. But Mary is not at a healthy weight to have an operation.  The prescription?  Fresh air and rest and something to help her throat so she can eat good meals.  Today, tonsillectomies are rare.  Chronic colds and sore throats are still common but the prescription is much different.

Another interesting change is the way things get announced.  In 1930, an engagement was announced at a social gathering.  It was usually a big surprise to everyone at the party.  Frances has been engaged for a few weeks and only a few people know.  Mary hasn’t even seen her ring yet.  Today, when there is a change in relationship status, it gets announced through social media.  My daughter’s friend Kathryn recently became engaged.  She posted pictures of the engagement and her ring just hours after the proposal.

Some things stay the same.  Students behaving differently (or even wildly) for a substitute teacher.  Also, a girl can never have too many pairs of shoes.  Mary ordered a pair of shoes from I. Miller, a shop dedicated to beauty in footwear.  The shoe store has an interesting history.  Israel Miller began his career designing and making shoes for theater folks performing in shows in New York City.  The flagship store was located on Broadway in Times Square.  I. Miller’s fashionable shoes soon became popular with a variety of women throughout the late 1920s until the early 1970s.  Before he became a pop artist, Andy Warhol was a commercial illustrator and he drew advertisements for I. Miller.

You can still buy I. Miller shoes from online vintage sellers on Etsy.  The ones below probably cost less than $10 brand new in 1930; today they are $70 plus shipping and handling.  Oh, and they’re used.

Some things stay the same, but some things change.

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How Grand!


Addressed to:

Miss Mary Potter

312 Washington Street

Jefferson City, MO

Postmark Columbia, MO

April 10, 1930  10:30 PM

Dear Mary-

Gee honey, I’m sorry you have to be sick now, just terribly sorry.  I had hoped that you could get by until you had time for an operation before you had any more trouble.  I hope it doesn’t last long this time.  Tell your mother to be sure and write me just how you are.  I don’t know why, but when I got your letter this morning I just felt that you were really sick.  That is why I called.  If you want me to come over Saturday or Sunday, I can stay with Henry and not cause your mother any trouble at all.  I can come tomorrow any time if you would like me to, so just have your mother call me or write or any way you want it.  I’ll do just want you want me to, honey.

Don’t worry any about that dance.  Your mother said today that you wanted me to go on without you.  Well, if I am in Columbia, I’ll do that, if it is what you want me to do.

This weather is really too hot for comfort today.  I have been suffering from the heat since noon.  Your room shouldn’t be so hot though so I guess the heat won’t be bothering you any.

I think I made it fairly well on the examination I took yesterday afternoon.  I hope I did, anyway.  I had a letter from home today, and mother is expecting you Easter.  She said that she might try to arrange a small bridge party for you Saturday afternoon.  She isn’t sure about it yet.

Oh yes, did you get to have your club last night or did you call it off?

Say, I think I’ll have a way to ride to Jeff City and be back tomorrow evening, just for the evening, so if you want me to come, have your mother call me between 4:15 and 5:45 tomorrow afternoon at 4593.  I’ll be here all that time.  Don’t think that I am attempting to hint for an invitation, because that isn’t the case at all.  

This town is really all upset.  The school election comes off tomorrow and everything is in full swing.  There are going to be mass meetings and serenades and everything else tonight, and of course tomorrow will be a large day.  This time we don’t have any posters stuck on the walk and the red campus is free of signs.  Thank heaven for that.  I must sign off.  I surely hope you are better by tomorrow.



Finally!  A letter to Mary from Jim!  How grand!

Sounds like a big weekend at the university in Columbia.  Mass meetings.  Serenades.  Elections.  A dance.  But, it seems Mary is not well enough to make the trip to Columbia this weekend and the dance.  This news is not so grand.  She must be so disappointed.

Postmark Jefferson City, MO

April 14, 1930 7 PM

Dear Jim:

Well I’m feeling lots better today.  I have slept and also had a meal at Noon.  So I am getting alright.  I have had a long rest this afternoon and think surely by tomorrow I can teach.

I haven’t any thing to write about as I have been right here at home and the doings are nothing interesting.

This weather is ideal.  I wish I could sit out and bake in the sun.

Mother and I are going to take a drive and we will come back by Dr. Clark’s office.

Jim be sure and write your folks and tell them if it suits we will come in a few weeks.  I hate it because I can’t go.  Really I do.

If you hear about the dance write me.  I hope it was a big success.  

Well I’ll try and write more next time.

You were sure mightily appreciated this weekend–and were grand to me.  I hope I can get through being sick soon.



How grand!

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The Case of the Missing Lipstick

Postmark Jefferson City, MO

April 8, 1930 7:30 p.m.

(Two letters in one envelope…)

Read this first.  I wrote this at school in case someone saw it they wouldn’t think it was a letter.  

Dear Jim: 

I can’t find out from Dad yet what I can do about driving our car over Saturday.  He thinks he might want it.  I am about ready to go to sleep.  I can’t get enough it seems.  Tomorrow night I have bridge club and I’ll be glad when it is over believe me.  Somehow I am not so fond of the girls as I am the other bunch.  Next week I am going to have another club.  Then I’ll be through for awhile.  Please excuse this paper but it is all I have at school.  I might not get home in time to write one.  I am going to see Frances.  She is at home now.  I really am anxious to go.  She has something interesting to tell me.  George had his folks came see her Sunday.  Mrs. F said “She was glad George was going to marry such a good woman.”  Frances said she thought that was a funny way to express her feelings. 

Jim, I have a slight cold today but I can’t blame you, can I?

The weather is so pretty I wish I could get out and walk about two or three miles.  I might get some energy.

Well I must quit.  I’ll finish when I get home and read your letter.


Dear Jim:

I was surprised to get your letter.  I mean the kind you wrote.  You are really grand to me and I am so glad you have the ideas and ideals you have.  I hope my actions are always like you want them to be.

I have been out to Frances’ house for about an hour and half talking hard and fast.  She is up and walked out to the car to meet me.  It was been eight days since she was operated on.

I was glad to get my lipstick.  I couldn’t decide just what I did with it.  I really didn’t think you took it back with you.  

Well, I am glad you wrote the nice long letter.  It was a real surprise.



The letter box is full of mystery.  This letter has mystery galore.  Starting with the furtive note written during school on manilla art paper with a pencil; so no one might suspect she was jotting a letter!

It is important to pay attention to the clues each letter holds.

Mary is hostessing her bridge club tomorrow.  Who will attend?  What about favors and food? Given the date of the letter, I was able to locate this newspaper item about the party.  I am guessing the girls listed have no clue Miss Mary Potter is not as fond of them as she is the other bunch.

Frances and George Furtney are engaged.  Whatever it was Frances had interesting to tell Mary has their tongues wagging.  No clue.

Mary has a cold.  Her suggestion that she perhaps should blame Jim hints that they’ve been close enough to share one another’s germs.  A kiss?  The missing lipstick is another mystery that might provide the proof!

The grandest mystery is the letter Jim wrote to Mary.  I have not yet stumbled upon it to open up the secrets it contains.  The ideas and ideals he shared.  The thoughts and feelings that make her want to make him happy and proud.

How I hope now she gets to drive the car on Saturday!


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Big Things Happening

A month has passed.  No letters to be found written from Jim to Mary. What few letters from March 1930 are written from Mary to Jim.

It seems that they are spending more and more time together.  Jim visits Mary at her home in Jefferson City.  Mary attends a dance with Jim in Columbia.  Big things are happening!

Mary has her hands full teaching school.  She has 32 energetic students in her class!  This leaves her with little energy to make date bars and fudge or attend her bridge club.

Jim is studying hard.  Heat Machinery and other classes have been giving him headaches.  Mary worries about this.  Henry worries Mary, too.  He’s been telling her Jim’s parents are worried he is “going too much.”  Now she is worried that Jim’s folks don’t want him to come over to Jefferson City very often.  Big time worry!

Worry for nothing, it seems.  Among the news in this letter is that Jim has been inducted to Tau Beta Pi, the second oldest honorary society (Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest) and the only honor society for engineers.  Buzz Aldrin (astronaut), Frank Capra (movie director), Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon) and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg are notable members. Guess he must have come out alright on that quiz!

Postmark Jefferson City, MO

April 4, 1930 6:30 PM

Tuesday 2:30 PM

Dear Jim:
It looks as if I can’t ever get time to write a good letter.

I’ll try to take my recess period for it this afternoon.  Some one will just about get their nose hurt or fall down.  That always happens when you don’t want it to.  

The school board is supposed to visit this afternoon.  I guess they will land some time soon.  My children will probably act like wild animals for them.

I had a grand time last night and I got to ride out in a new Packard Sedan.  The car really is a beauty.  It is so big and the engine is perfect.  Lillian Tweedie drove it.  It belongs to her father.

I am thrilled over Tau Beta Pi.  I guess Henry won’t say you didn’t study from now on.  He just used his imagination too much along some lines.  He took a girl to a dance Tuesday night.  She is just an infant and I have always thought her rather fast at least she has that name however she is cute looking.  Henry is sure hard for me to figure out in some ways.

Mother and I are going to be busy tonight getting linens and spoons and things ready.  I’m glad we only have this once a year.

The little boy that was hurt is getting along fine.  He will be back Monday.

I am having my club next week on Wednesday night.  I am going to a party Thursday night, I think, so I’ll be real busy.  This week has been rather quiet.  It is almost five minutes past my recess.  I must quit for now.  I’ll add some to this after I get your letter this afternoon.  I. Miller sent me some grand shoes but the heels didn’t match.  I can’t imagine why.  I had to send them back.  They were real pretty.

5:00 PM

It will be alright to come over Saturday night Jim.  You can call me about six.  I think the folks will all be gone by then.  You could stay at Henry’s until then, couldn’t you?  We won’t have dinner at home I’m sure but you understand why.  So it is alright to call me and if they have gone soon enough maybe you can eat dinner over here but I doubt we can get through in time.



This letter is full of big news.

Big visit from the school board.

Big ride.  A 1930 Packard Sedan…

Big honor for Jim.

Big date for Henry!  Although, it sounds like the girl has a pretty big reputation.

Big party to prepare for.

Big mistake with the shoes.  Mismatched heels might lead to a big trip up.

Big weekend coming up!

Even bigger Spring ahead…

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