Category Archives: 1930

She Wore His Pin

At the end of the Spring semester in 1930, Jim finished his final exams and moved out of the fraternity house and into the Senate Apartment Hotel at the corner of Armour Boulevard and Troost Avenue in Kansas City.  He was beginning a summer job working with the Missouri State Highway Department.

May was a busy month for Mary.  A trip to St. Louis for the Fairmount Derby.  The end of the school year class picnic.  A flurry of bridal showers and bridge parties. Before Jim left town, she also made one last trip to Columbia with her friend Helen.  While she was there, she enrolled in classes for the Fall term and reacquainted herself with her sorority sisters at the Tri Delta house on Richmond Avenue.

When she returned home to Jefferson City, her relationship status changed.  She wore his pin.

Postmark Jefferson City, MO

May 28, 1930 10 PM

Wednesday

Dear Jim:
I hope you are getting along all right with your work.  It is really warm here this afternoon.  If you stay out in this long you will get a good suntan.

The breakfast was so nice this morning.  I hate to have to come down to toast and bacon in the morning.  We had strawberries first.  Fried chicken.  Gravy.  Baked Apple.  French fried potatoes.  Jelly and hot biscuits and coffee.

I weighed today and guess how much?  I am 98 pounds.  I’m so proud of myself.  I have gained 3 1/2 pounds in a month.

Helen and I went to the baseball game this afternoon.  It was very exciting and when we left Henry was ahead, that is his side was.

Mother went on a picnic so she came in all tired out today.  In fact we are all lazy.  It must be that we are getting old.

I wore my white dress and blue coat today.  It had your pin on it and several girls saw it and thought it was quite nice.  However they thought I had had it a long time.  Just wait until some Tri Delta sister gets a look at it.  Anyway they can’t collect until next fall.

I talked to Mrs. Lindsey today.  She said she wanted to see you so much.  She is very fond of your folks.

Jim-I surely wish you good luck and I’ll write more tomorrow.

Henry was sick last night.  So guess you did the right thing by going on the first train.  Helen was dead and I wasn’t feeling extra.  So guess it was best but I hated to see you leave.

Love, 

Mary

When a young man gives a young woman his fraternity pin, it is a sign of his affection and a symbol announcing that later they will become engaged.

Jim was a Lambda Chi Alpha.  This was his pin.  The pin she wore.

I happened to marry a Lambda Chi.  He was a member of the same chapter at the University of Missouri.  (He and Jim both served as treasurer of the chapter.) My husband never owned a pin.  So, I never wore his pin.  But before Jim died, he wanted to be sure that my husband had his pin.

Pinning may seem like an old fashioned tradition in the world of social media.  But it is still a romantic notion signifying a change in relationship status.  The biggest difference is that when Jim pinned Mary, he fastened a lasting connection that extends beyond the limits of a timeline.

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I’ll Have Another

This past Saturday was the 138th Kentucky Derby.  The thoroughbred I’ll Have Another won the run for the roses.  The winner of the 56th Kentucky Derby in 1930 was Gallant Fox, who went on to win the Triple Crown.  Gallant Knight finished second and Ned O. finished third.

This is correspondence Mary wrote to Jim on her trip with her Dad to the Fairmount Derby at Fairmount Park near St. Louis.  The winner in 1930 was Gallant Knight.

Wondering if Mary bet on Gallant Knight with Jim in mind?  Either way, she clearly picked the winner and wouldn’t have another!

Postmark St. Louis, MO

May 16, 1930  10 PM

Friday

Dear Jim:
Well, I am about half gone I think-I wrote you a letter today and lost it somewhere.  You get it but again you may not.

Jim-Henry is going home tonight.  He is driving down with some boys.  He has talked to me twice lately.  He will be with Helen alright.  I think maybe Henry is in a good humor now.

Jim-I am writing this while waiting to leave for St. Louis.  

We have a nice big Drawing Room on a special car.  So, we couldn’t be fixed better.  I hope we have as big a time as we are counting on.  Dad and I are pals when it comes to sports.  Mother just looks on and says nothing.

Margaret Enloe couldn’t get a pass.  So she didn’t come.  She sent some money for me to bet.  I am not going to put up much just enough to say.  I have won or lost on the Derby.

I surely wish you were going.  We would have a big time.  Henry wants me to call him tomorrow night and I think he wants to take us for a ride.

The party last night was grand such good food and so much fun.  All the girls were really happy for some reason and it was a gay party.

I hope that you have a grand time at home and don’t have to work too hard at school next week.  I’ll write or send you a night letter for Sunday.  I may send it to Columbia.

Remember me to your Mother and Father and Bill.

Love,

Mary

Postmark St. Louis, MO

May 18, 1930  9 PM

Sunday

Dear Jim:
We are on our way home.  It was certainly a grand trip.  We won on every race a little-but one-it was all so much fun I didn’t mind the loss of 2.00-

It didn’t rain but a little and wasn’t hot either.  The weather was fine for a good race.  I called Henry about 9:00 P.M. also at 7:30 Couldn’t get him.  Finally when I did his father said he had gone down town.

Jim-I am going to a party every night this week I think unless I turn down the one Wednesday.  

Have you heard from Henry?  I think he is alright now-but believe he is angry at his girl-because he wasn’t going to be with her that all.  I couldn’t find out.  Please don’t mention it to him though.

I imagine you will be plenty busy this week.  I’m sure I will.  If you don’t hear it is because I couldn’t get time to write.

This weather today looks bad for May.  Maybe I won’t have to take the children out for a picnic this year.

It’s almost train time so must quit. 

Love,

Mary


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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

 

Monday

 

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.

 

Love, 

 

Jim

 

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Say What?

 

Postmark Jefferson City, MO

 

April 21, 1930 8:30 PM

 

Monday

 

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?
Love,

 

Mary

 

 

 

Postmark Columbia, MO

 

April 24, 1930 5 PM

 

Thursday

 

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~~~~~~~~~~

 

Love,

 

Jim

 

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.

Love,

Mary

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

Tuesday

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.

Love,

Mary

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.

Love,

Jim

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.

Love,

Mary

How grand!

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