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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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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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Girl Trip

I only found the one letter Jim wrote to Mary during the month of January.  In fact, it is the only letter I could find from him until the end of April.  My mother recently came across another bundle of letters.  A few from Mary postmarked 1930 but most of the envelopes are dated much later.  Just a reminder that it is really rather remarkable that so many letters were saved to begin with, and even more remarkable that the existing letters didn’t get lost somewhere along the years and the many, many moves to the homes where they lived.

This is a short letter from Mary, who is in St. Louis with her mother to visit her aunt and good friend Frances at the beginning of February.

Postmark St. Louis, MO 

February 6, 1930 6 PM


Dear Jim:
I received your letter this afternoon and was glad to get the date bar recipe.  I’ll try my luck soon.

If nothing happens I think I can come over for the dance the 28th.  Larry will drive over I’m sure with me.  Will they dress formal or not?
Frances-a girlfriend of mine went all over town with me tonight-just acting silly.   So she took me up.  We ate everything Crown offered.  We bought Valentines and then Frances got real serious and bought some pillow cases.  She plans to use them in her old maids apartment.

I am going to a bridge party tonight.  I am so dirty and tired am afraid I’ll never get fixed.

Mother and I will probably stay in St. Louis Saturday night-if her sister insists. You send my special here though and I’ll be home about 4:30 p.m. I’ll send yours from St. Louis.

This will be a big weekend for you.  I hope you will enjoy it.

Jim if I send letters so you will get them where you room on Monday, Wednesday, Friday is that right?  Tuesday and Thursday at the Lambda Chi House.

Well you will get a long letter soon from me-even if the last two have been short-honest.



Girl trip!  I picture Mary and Frances giggling at the counter of the Crown Candy Kitchen eating a grilled cheese sandwich and drinking a strawberry malt, then sampling the heavenly hash. My grandmother loved that candy concoction of milk chocolate, marshmallow and pecans.  It was her very favorite candy, and Jim made sure that she always had a box of it!

Crown Candy Kitchen is vintage St. Louis.  The soda shop opened in 1913 by two best friends who came to America from Greece.  The Crown Candy Kitchen Challenge since that time is that anyone who drinks five shakes or malts in 30 minutes gets them free and their name on a plaque in the store.  The challenge was attempted on the Travel Channel’s Man Versus Food Series in 2009.  Locals and visitors still line up to have lunch and buy the hand dipped chocolates for themselves or their special someone.  We’re left to guess if Mary also bought Jim a Valentine while they were there.

I can also envision the girlfriends browsing the shelves of Famous-Barr Department Store for linens to go in Frances‘ “old maid apartment.”   Famous-Barr is now Macy’s.  Seems like all the department stores I remember from the different places I’ve lived are now Macy’s.  Don’t get me wrong, Macy’s is great; I especially love to visit the flagship store with its wooden escalators in the heart of Manhattan.  Definitely a girl trip destination! But I long for the local department stores where Mary shopped.  The kind where sales clerks would have selected dresses off of the rack to show her; also help her choose which one to wear to the dance.

Special.  Speaking of special…Mary and Jim are about to send each other “specials” for the first time.  What’s a “special?”  And, I want one!

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