Say, out of a perfectly wonderfully clear sky it started pouring down rain – Does it do that in El Campo?
June 17, 1924
Were you a trifle disappointed because you didn’t get a letter from me today? Forgive me, Fred. I really intended to write, but I just didn’t. There’s no excuse. I just did not write. It wasn’t that I didn’t think of you, for I often wondered what you were doing down in that “forsaken” country, such a long way from me. Do you miss me much? I don’t suppose so, for Mary and your mother should be able to keep their Freddy busy and interested – the Freddy who has drifted away from the old home town and his mother’s arms into the arms of a young girl – a frivolous young creature – oh well, why start that?
To tell you the truth, dear boy, I am awful tired and achy. Got up sorta early and helped put away some of the winter clothes and it was worse than a job. So after getting wringing wet with perspiration, I decided to drown myself in it and so I helped clean up the house. And believe me, it’s clean! Now I’m under the electric fan trying to resusitate (?) myself. Being a one time Boy Scout, and undoubtedly a winner of the merit badges, you should know all about such things.
Fred, I’m so doggone tired I haven’t even the energy to move. I feel like this wreck of the good ship. Oh! and there’s such a lot to do!
Boys think girls have such an easy time in life. It’s true we don’t have to get out and labor all day long at an office or at a machine of some kind, but when a man leaves his office or his work, he’s usually through. A woman’s work is never done! She can work herself insane and then leave twice as much work for the next one who takes her place. Boys have to take girls out and pay the bills, yes, but do they stop to figure that the dress which the girl has on has to be made and paid for, possibly by herself, and that an evening dress which costs 3 or 4 times the price of the dance for the boy, can be worn only half a dozen times before it has to be cast aside for a new one? She labors making the dress, and the boy at times never comments on it. She – oh well, I didn’t start out like I ended. I didn’t intend at all to begin on that subject. Some day we’ll argue it all out.
I’m so glad, dear boy, that you’re going to be here this summer. However, we shall have to introduce some reforms into our present system of love, eh, what? And then things will be just grand! I can write a little more sensibly now. I just had lunch and I’m a little more rested. However, I can’t stay long at this task (did you get that on one or both cheeks?) because I’m “steppin’ out” this afternoon – alone, however, and I have to lay the pleats in my sleeveless dress, so I can celebrate and wear it when you come back to the “arms of your beloved!”
Gosh, I just sliced my hand – a great big gash across the palm. No, I’m not in Africa! or the South Sea Island! I’m speaking of hands not trees!
I’ve got these very wicked pieces on the Victrola going at full blast and it’s ruination to the “sweet” letter you want. You don’t mind, do you? – Red Hot Daddy?
Fred, dear, I can’t tell you how glad I am about your being so successful in the Masons. I knew that you would get in, for who wouldn’t admit Stancliff to their midst? Are you going in for the Ku Klux next? I’m so glad you got in, dear, because it’s going to mean so much to you, and just think you ca wear one of those precious little pins. You know, Fred, let me whisper a little secret to you, I admire you a thousand times more for getting in. It shows your worth while, Fred. It shows you’re something beside a mere human, and oh! I’m so proud of you. Of course, you knew I would be, and I’m so glad, and your mother is just so proud of you that she can’t even talk about it, I bet.
I’ve never ceased to rejoice and thank my heavenly stars that it is you whom I love so much, you whom I have entrusted my heart and soul, and who has taken such wonderful care of them, caused only a few – very few – heartaches, and who is really worthy. If I searched the world over, I believe I’d come back to you, whole heart and fancy free – and say that the world is big – and wide, and there are thousands of men, but only one for me, and that is the one to whom I gave me heart to when I was 16 and he was 20.
Fred, you’ve been so true, and so wonderful that sometimes I think you’re simply too good to last, but I know you will. And I sometimes wonder what I have done in my life to be worthy of such love and real devotion. I don’t believe anyone knows you like I do, not even your mother. She knows you in a different way, of course, and altho you must be wonderful in that way, you are much more wonderful as the pal and sweetheart I know. Just think for nearly 2 years we have been together constantly – 2 years! I can’t realize it, but I can scarcely remember when you weren’t my main thought and hope – But enough of that.
So the old town looks the same! Somehow I imagined it would have a few new stores, or something new. And there’s a depot there, too, with El Campo on it. Say, it’s only a little country town! They haven’t anything there! Is that really where you live? My, my! Haven’t you with your 3 years of college outgrown the town! My, my! You must remember you’re a “city” boy now! and in love with a “city” girl who wears rolled silk stockings Ha Ha
And listen, couldn’t you find a postcard in that town any later than Aug 11th 1917. One can’t judge the present by what happened 7 years ago!
Now, consider yourself squished flat! Those are cute post cards, but don’t they have any of the famous Stancliff homestead, or the Tenth National Bank of El Campo, or their latest addition a 5 or 6 thousand dollar hotel, or their stucco post office. Shucks. I can send you some of Houston which, after all, is only a simple country town compared with the places you’ve recently stepped into! Maybe someday, tho, I can some see El Campo and all it boasts of, myself, I really don’t mean to razz the town, but I do adore to tease the Stancliffs about it. Mary agrees with me sometimes and your mother nearly puts her 207 lbs on my neck and – well, what do you do when I razz you about the home town? The little town with the Spic name! Was that what you left the “protecting arms of your beloved” to see? Oh, cruel one that thou art! I shall drag thee thru the streets by thy mouse colored hair and proclaim that thou art not worthy of my love and affection – thou that chaseth out to a town of a few inhabitants, away from those thou lovest! Ah! you torture my heart! Someday, thou shalt pay, and pay dearly.
However, we’ll talk of that in the dim and distant pars[?]! Gosh! I’ve started another of my insane letters. I hope you can stand it!
So you want me to go to work with you. If you promise to come by and get me in your flivver (which isn’t yet, but is to be) have the firm give me a specially made electric fan for my town personal use and let me work side by side with you. Why I’ll go to work. Tell the man I’m the girl and you’re the boy and I’m why you didn’t want to go to P.A. and I’m sure you could arrange a job for me! How’s that? Listen, you speak of getting stronger. If you do, I shall insist that you do not use said strength on me! If you do, I’ll go in training and we’ll have it out some nite in a pitch battle! tar, too!
Say, what could you do to keep my busy! Please tell me! Can you do what so many others fail to do? Congratulations!!!!!!!!
Say, I know a delicious way to get our names in the paper! both at exactly the same time! But there are only 3 more days in June, and I love June ~ ? So I guess we don’t want our names in for that. Or maybe you could get despondent over my falling in love with another boy, leave a note to me and swallow poison, and – oh! but I believe that wouldn’t work, cause I can’t fall in love again. We’ll have to plan some way to get famous! The first plan was the best! But it couldn’t be a rush one and July is too hot for it, so, well, we’ll let it go. Even tho this is leap year, I can’t do the proposing!
Say, you talk like neither one of us ever had our names in the papers for doing wonderful things. Hoot, man! Your name’s in the paper a terrible lot, and my poems are in the paper! and I was interviewed, etc. And say, watch Sunday’s Katie Daffan Page. You might get a surprise! Ha Ha!
So you’re coming home Sunday! Back to the “arms of your beloved” Ha Ha Sling boloke[?] – Go like hellu allee samee! [?]
No, I take my weakly rest on Sunday afternoon, so I shan’t allow as insignificant a personage as Señor Stancliff to spoil said plans! Hense, I refuse you a date!!!! But you may come Sunday nite – any time after 6:30 p.m.! You won’t get violently lonesome Sun afternoon, will you? Say, listen, don’t you dare let the whole afternoon slip by without calling me. If you do, on bended knee you shall apologize! There;s always a phone somewhere and you make use of it! You know, I’m boss an I insist that you obey orders! See that you do it! Ha Ha
Well, since sling’s bloke can’t go like hellee so must stoppee! I’ve got a million pleats to lay in my dress and 2 billion things to do before I step out! and my guardian says it’s 2:45 so I’ll bid thee a fond farewell.
‘Scuse me for not writing yesterday, but maybe this will make up for it.
I’ve got something deliciously funny to show you! and tell you too, about us!
Give my love to the folks, and keep out only that which you have immediate use for, I’ll give you the rest.
By heck, I’m the North Star’s conscience! What plans you don’t either voluntarily or involuntarily bust up, I do! However, I’m a woman and I reserve the right to change my mind. I’m tirder than my grandmother’s old – no, ‘scuse me, it’s my grandfather’s old clock. I laid 15 dozen (more or less) pleats in that dress and pressed a million other dresses, and now I’ve decided I’ll stay quietly at home and miss the picture show. The one I intended seeing last Tuesday, but I had a heap better time at home dancing with you and trying to give you all you asked for! Now, you’ll have to be real sweet, make lots of money, so you can take me to all the shows I’ve missed during this last year, and ’cause you rush off so suddenly and go up to the other end of the world where you have to turn your watch up to keep up with the time in that fast section. See, we all have to pay for things that we get. Girls are awful expensive ain’t they? Are they worth it? Ha Ha
I’ve thought of millions of things to do this summer! I want to go to Galveston real soon. I want you to learn to play Mah Jongg real well, to play as good a hand of bridge as I do (which isn’t so much!) and learn to dance real well, and maybe on Sunday’s we can go into the woods and have lunch and – oh, oodles of things! No studies – and just Fred to love! And Fred will be here. I can’t realize it. Somehow I can’t believe it! Are you going to stay out at Fay’s or move further out of closer in or do you know?
I guess, tho, you can tell me all about that!
Say, you promised to get me a coc the other day, and I forgot it! By heck, I’ll hold you to it some day soon! Oh, man it’s a good thing you went to work! I’m an awful expense! Ha Ha! My dad surely thinks so!
I’m about to perish! It couldn’t be any hotter down there than it is here! No sir! I’m simply fried!
Say – let me tell you some more excitement! Thursday nite Dorothy Ethel is going to give a party! a dance – boy howdy. Ain’t you thrilled! You really needn’t be for yourself, for it’s a boyless affair, like the one before! We had such a glorious time before in our boy’s outfits, we’re going again as boys! Glory! I’m going to take Nell Harris, of course, she’s only a mere acquaintance but I can’t kick + refuse to take her ’cause she’s heavy to haul around! Ha Ha!!!! I don’t guess I’ll get as much kick out of this party ’cause I know the ropes. Wish we could pull off something real original and real wild! Say, I’ve got a gorgeous idea for a track party – put the shot, the hurdles, the pole vault, etc. Oh man, let’s go?
Now, let’s see. What shall I start on next! I’ve about run out of material!
I got a real kick out of that wedding Wed nite. Wish you had been here! It was an adorable wedding, but I’ll have to tell you all about it. I can’t write it. I had heaps of excitement Wed. Town all morning, the tea in the afternoon, then rushed home, then back to the wedding, then Dot. E _ L.F.S. played Mah Jongg til 10, then went to Bennett’s, then to bed. Believe me I didn’t fail to rush around! Well, I fairly live on excitement anyway. Common place things bore me.
Well, caro mio, I have threatened many times to cease! Now I fear I shall have to take a bawth! and dwess! before the evening meal is swerved!
So, I say, Blain bloke, Run down as the parrot says “Pitch him overboard over ___ board ____d__m f”? Pardon! I merely quote. I’ve gotten in bad habits since you relinquished yourself as guardian.
Well, old boy, remember me in your will. I’d like to have your Olympic medal, your owl watch fob, your bank account and life insurance, your other medals and your funny fountain pen.
Yours in – [?]
I have not read these letters before I start typing them in to post on this site. Sure, I have caught snippets here and there, but I am following along on this journey with you. As I was entering in today’s letter, I was somewhat taken aback by a few phrases that Florence uses; phrases that are quite out of the character I knew my grandmother had. So, being that I was curious to see if I had just uncovered some awful secret about some secret desire to be a part of the Ku Klux I went into talk to Fred Jr and ask him what was up. I told him about the reference to the Ku Klux and also to calling El Campo “the tiny town with a Spic name”
He assured me that there was no undercurrent of outright racism or bigotry, and that it was probably Florence either making some strange joke or talking about something she really did not know anything about. She is 17 at this time in her life and had spent most of it in Houston and the areas around there. She had a busy life, but a rather sheltered one as well. In regard to the El Campo reference, he said, unfortunately, it was a very different time back then. They were not mired in a PC culture, nor did they really realize that some names were derogatory.
The naivete about what she says fits more in line with the grandmother I knew rather than her feeling hatred and bias toward other ethnicities. I spoke with another friend about this and we agreed that this is a story and a snippet of history of the time period and should therefore not be glossed over, edited or altered in order to mold in with how we act and feel today. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on it, not just with the Letters, but also how they are editing “Huckleberry Finn” to appease our more PC culture.