Tag Archives: correspondence

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


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.



Postmark St. Louis, MO

May 18, 1930  9 PM


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. 



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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




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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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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Lucky Girl

Postmark Jefferson City, MO

March 3, 1930   10 PM

Monday Night

Dear Jim:
I hope you didn’t freeze going back last night.  It seemed so cold for you to ride in an open car so far.  I surely hope you didn’t catch cold.  Dad and Mother thought it was so bad, they just knew you would be sick from it.

I went out to see Frances Millspaugh, the girl that writes to George.  She was so thrilled over you knowing him.  She said when George comes we can get together.  Frances is a lovely girl and from all accounts George hasn’t always been as good as he might be, however he says he is acting better now for a few years he was in a “don’t care state,” and I guess was really wild.  Frances has known him for five or six years.  She has been sick with an attack of appendicitis and is still in bed.  She will have to be operated on but is waiting until George makes his visit.

It has been so cold today.  My room wasn’t warm all day.  Just about 64 this afternoon and about 50 this morning.  

I sure hope you got along alright with your quiz today.  I will be to blame if you didn’t.

Jim, I had such a good time in Columbia Friday night and I enjoyed having you here so much-really I’m getting spoiled with so much attention.



Mary had many friends.  One her good girlfriends while she lived in Jefferson City was Frances Millspaugh.  They both taught at Broadway Elementary School.  Frances was the daughter of Missouri Congressman Frank Millspaugh.  Mary writes Jim and Frances writes George, who apparently was a wild and crazy guy.

Who is George? Why is she waiting on him to have her appendix taken out?  Where is he coming from?  How does Jim know George?

Jim knows George Furtney from engineering school.  George graduated and went to work as an engineer for Wired Wireless Radio Corporation in Cleveland.  He is getting his act together.  George is going to ask Frances to marry him.  How do I know?  Time and more letters will tell.

Today is Friday the 13th.  I’m not one for superstition.  I’m not around ladders enough to walk under one.  We crossed paths with our black cat, Minnie, for 13 years.  Double trouble?  Actually no real trouble.  She caught a mouse once and brought it to the back porch.  Unlucky for the mouse…and for me who had to dispose of the deceased rodent.  Lucky for her, though.  I’ve broken plenty of mirrors so I can’t even begin to count how many years of bad luck.  Mental math isn’t my thing.  Plus, I figure if I don’t know it doesn’t really matter.

There is one superstition I can’t help wondering about today.  In 1903 University of Missouri engineering students decided Saint Patrick should be their patron saint.  The shamrock became a symbol and emblem for the school.  A stone with the three leaf clover is embedded in the sidewalk in front of the classroom building.  Tradition says that if you walk across the shamrock stone, you’ll marry an engineer.  Did Mary walk across the shamrock stone?

Mary is being spoiled with so much attention from  Jim.  Lucky girl.  But it sounds like Jim is going to need good luck on his quiz.

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The Letter Box

My Grandparents' Courtship Correspondence

The courtship between my grandparents took place largely in letters.  An old-fashioned, romantic notion for those of us who live in the modern information age of technology.  Most of our interpersonal communication is electronic.  Cell phones, email and text messages were conventions barely known to my grandparents. Their social media consisted of stationary, a fountain pen and a two cent postage stamp.  For nearly four years, from 1929 to 1933, Mary Potter and Jim Kunkler wrote letters to one another every day when they were not together.  Sometimes twice a day.

Some years ago my mother happened upon a bundle of letters while cleaning out the basement of my grandparents’ home in Ohio.  It wasn’t surprising.  My grandmother was a saver.  She kept everything.  We found trunks filled with all kinds of stuff like World War II ration stamps, old baseball game programs and powder puffs still in their original packaging.  Newspaper clippings with names of people she knew were tucked within the trunks of items for someday use or reference.  The bundle of letters, though, were a valuable find, a true keepsake.  Further sifting and sorting.  More letter bundles were discovered.  My mother had uncovered virtually all of the letters my grandparents’ wrote to one another during their courtship, along with some additional assorted correspondence.

My mother boxed up the letters and gave them to me for safe keeping.  She also urged me to “do something with them someday.”  I put them in the attic.

Someday came a few weeks ago when I realized that this treasure might be too easily lost forever like a deleted email.  This cherished piece of family history, the story of Mary and Jim and their letter writing courtship needed to be shared with my children and preserved for future generations.  Now was the time to do something about the letters.

So, I climbed up in the attic and began to rummage around the cardboard boxes and plastic bins.  Our attic is a repository for cardboard boxes and plastic bins.  We have a varied and extensive collection of cartons from such moving companies as Mayflower, United Van Lines and U-Haul as well as numerous shapes and sizes of Rubbermaid containers. (I guess I must be a little like my grandmother.) Finding the box with the letters was going to be a challenge.  After an hour of searching and almost giving up that they were gone, I found the box.  Behind the Christmas decorations, next to our daughter’s American Girl Collection and underneath a box with my high school yearbooks and memorabilia was the box of letters.

This correspondence has been read by only two people.  Until now.  As I read these personal letters, my twenty-something grandparents are both well known and strangers to me at the same time.  The letters are like reading a conversation between two people that loved each other and that I happen to love, too.  I just didn’t know them then.  Strange but not fiction.  How I wish they were still here to ask about the friends they mention and the funny anecdotes they record!  Still, like any great mystery or adventure, there are clues to be explored to point me in the right direction that somehow will lead me to understand, just maybe, a little more about them.  And perhaps myself in the process.


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