[undated; a satire written probably upon arriving home from Yellowstone, September 1916]
My darling Bee:
Here I am at the Wylie Geyser Camp, and my such a place! I do wish you could be here in this wonderland. Among the many wonders at this camp are the Geysers, which play at intervals varying from a few minutes to many days. Among the most noted of these are the Giant, better known as Stoddard, playing without an interval of rest; the Riverside, otherwise known as Perla, playing a little all the time, but heap big much every week; Old Faithful, nee Ed Gordon, whose volume is great but shoots for small distance; the Oblong whose former name was Rae, saying little but meaning what it says. I do wish you could be here for a time and know these as I am having the pleasure of knowing them. The various homes in our camp are very interesting also. Imagine yourself in Tent 60, Bunk House Rear, any hour of the Day, but especially just about time for curfew, when all is quiet, and in twilight, produced only by the wee flickering light from our toy stove. This scene is enhanced only by the scanse [sic] of two charming people whose kindness keeps them in “Deaux Drop,” that all might be cosy when the children come in.
I must not neglect to tell you of our camp slang. Do you get that? One handsome young man insists on making the “Baby a Shirt,” much to the disgust of his Frau who true, devoted, [and] wife-like wants to do it herself. Others are always “Coming to You” and “Lookin at You,” so that the girls being so bashful and unused to such courtesies just naturally hie to some secluded cosy little spot for a siesta with the Bears.
The animals here, especially the Bares, seen only in shadow through the tents, when one happens to be out late, well about ten o’clock, are quite tame. They do nothing but flit around and jump into bed. Some class, eh!
Sure enuf I shall not take time now to tell of the camp help further than to mention our beloved laundress Mrs. Mueller, who is a human question box. Really, to see her is to love her, but oh! to hear her or give her cause to make you hear her is superb when accompanied by the washer; and Mird whose midnight editions of the “Hungarian Rhapsody” and “Melody in F.” are charming. Sure this is just a glimpse into the Bigness of the Best Camp in the Park, but shall tell you all when we meet again for a lovely siesta.
Received your letter yesterday and the news that I owe you a Brief. Nicht war?1 Sure thought I had answered your letter in which I was presented with “A bouncing ------------ money order.” However, it seems not, so thanks awfully right now. Get that.
1. Really Bee there is nothing the matter save work, and gradually becoming acclimated. We, or Helen rather, got a new Victrola, and strange to say several of our records make me so homesick for what? Well, it just really un acclimates me. I never mention it but just scoot off to the hay or bath room and suffer in silence.
2. Yes, Bee, several shirts have been made since I started, but it now looks as if there will never be an occasion for their use.
3. I have Thirty-Five wee kids, twenty of which are of foreign birth, but clean and just as good as any little American.2
4. Ed has been down twice, that is, two Sunday Evenings. Last Sunday he was on his way home from Pittsburg, and stopped over. He informed me that Miss Johnson was to have all our camp bunch from around here, up there soon. I think that is all he said, and then ran home. That, of course, was due to his Park training.
5. Yes I went to the Masonic dance and had a lovely time but oh! so different from what I had learned to love.
6. The “Man I Left Behind” is fine, if I get your meaning. Was that right? I do not see much of him though, for he works most every evening knitting socks for the Belgians. Gee! don’t you wish you were a Belgian?3
7. Got my money O.K. Thanks for the allowance. Am sorry George can not provide better for me, as it was not thus to be. However, I think it will soon be better.
8. Homesick for “Deaux Drop”? Are you not ashamed? That to me is sacred!
9. Gym has not started, but does Nov. 4. Wish you could be among our ranks.
10. What you mean, snow? Hardly snow.
11. Our Savage Roundup is not until the Holidays.
12. Fergie & I had a lovely time together, before she went to Pittsburg. She certainly thinks the Wylie Co. did dirt on us. She says we were fools for not sticking up for our rights.4
Sure I love you. Is it necessary to tell every savage that you love them in the same old way. I thought that applied to One only.
No this is not enough. So I shall let you in on a Secret. Ready eh! Mird has called me up eight different times for a Savage Date. I could not make myself say “Yes.” Expect he will call tonight again so will cut out the “chin music” and make ready for church etc. Assuring you that I do love you in the same old way.
[undated; spring 1917]
My Dear: --
Will you really and truly forgive me, if I, seated here on the floor, beside my open trunk, clearing up some of the remains of last summer’s affair, write you a line or two with a lead pencil? After seeing the terrible things that I was capable of doing last summer, you will be surprised at nothing I do. Seems ages since I have heard directly from you, but knowing that “distance lends enchantment” and “that silence is golden,” I have no fear that your love has grown cold.
Your Feb. edition to the D.D.I. sure was a peach. I have laughed and cried over it, by turns. And now, just to show you my generosity, I will share a letter with you. Hope you will enjoy it as I have. This spring I have just thought and thought about you two girls, looking forward to seeing you soon. But now, as Rae says, ’twill only be a year longer to wait.
Our family have experienced some changes this spring. My oldest brother Ed committed matrimony two weeks ago. Marie Norris, who formerly lived here, but recently of Los Angeles & a cousin of Edna Parkinson, was the unfortunate. Helen my next sister is to be married in two weeks, and Ted my second brother is to be graduated from Geneva College.
This war business sure has killed all life round here. Even I have lost all pep. Had a wisdom tooth drawn last week. It has healed off & on all winter. ’Twas a thing of beauty & a joy forever. I have willed it to Perla to wear as a charm.
Now you may move on to Rae’s letter.
[Undated, written in December, probably 1917]5
My dear Bee: --
Have you begun to think that I am leaving you be? Three different times I have begun to answer your letter, then was interrupted. Now will write a few lines.
Had a teacher’s meeting this evening and made plans for a community Xmas service to be held in the Alhambra Theatre. We are to sing the Xmas Carols and Patriotic Songs. Suppose you have learned the new words to America, too.6 I think they are beautiful. Our vacation begins next Friday, lasting for two weeks. There is plenty of patriotic work to be done, such as work on the draft boards, Red Cross Campaign work etc.
Spent Thanksgiving with Ted at Dayton. Surely did enjoy it muchly, although I spent the biggest part of two days on the way. Left here Thursday Morning at 7 arrived in South Charleston where I was to meet him at 6.10 (train due at 3.). Sunday left there at 8 and reached B.F. at 12. Midnight, and the biggest part of it I stood. Babies cried the whole way home and oh! ’twas music to my ears.
My Mr. has been at Jersey City in the Signal Corps. Saturday Morning he asked if he could get a furlough Xmas, and the big boss said, “Man you’ll be -- -- -- at Xmas.” You’d better go home now. So he left Saturday at 2 arriving here Sunday Morn., then left Monday. Well, ’twas cold, so cold. Our water was frozen and the pipes busticated. ‘Twas water, water, everywhere and not a drop to drink.’ I had a time deciding whether or not to go to N.Y. and -- -- -- but sent him away singular. Several of our teachers committed matrimony this year, and the kids can fitly say “Mrs.”7
Our third bunch of drafted boys left this morning, Ruth’s man, also one of the Arnold boys, among them. ’Twill soon reach all the drafted ones.
We all have been knitting. Mother finished four sweaters and five pair of socks. The boys say the Army socks are not warm, and upon examining them, I, too, decided that. I finished a pair of grays, and am quite proud of myself. Have decided to cut out my Xmas and use my money for yarn. Bought 9 skeins today.
Last evening a friend of my Mac’s called to see me, as Mac had asked him to do so. He surely was a blusher and so bashful that, Bee, let me, let you in on a secret, “he went out of the room to change his mind.”
We surely enjoyed Rae’s letter immensely, but have not written her yet.
We enjoyed Fergie’s little visit with us, short but sweet. Tonight’s paper—[attached is a newspaper clipping:] “Miss Maude Ferguson, a Red Cross nurse, who recently visited her father, John M. Ferguson of this place, left Pittsburg last night for Washington City, where she will report for duty at the Walter Reed hospital.”
You asked about those table tops? They are not making them in B.F. now but at their factory in Frankfort, Ill.
Will ring off now with oodles of love and best wishes, I am
February 9, 1919.
Lookin’ at you in the shape of a letter. To the tune of “Will you remember, (Sweetheart)” for Ruth is drumming it now, and I think ’tis all together fitting and proper that here on the enameled top by the dining room window, with those strains in the air that I spend a little time with thee. Now, frankly, do you remember, sweetheart? Was just looking over my Yellowstone trophies, and you know the feelin’ one gets. Had a letter from Ed last week. He said he was working like a tiger and had enough money saved to buy Yellowstone Park, the whole thing. I hope if he invests, the deal includes “Summit Lake.” “Oh! fair one rave on for ’twas a dark and stormy night and the bottom fell out of the hack.”
Now, Bee, going back to the all important question. Sure, my heart is in the right place, but for several reasons, I must say “I can not be there, when the roll is called.” First, I feel I, being in the Pittsburg district for the first, and having only a seven weeks vacation, had better not plan for such an elaborate time; secondly, you know the boys are coming back, and I am interested in One or Two; and thirdly since I am a family woman with many responsibilities, I know, I am persuaded, I am convinced that I must cling to the ship. Now, our Ruth, being unattached, entertains a feeling that she will write Miss J. later in the summer, for a place in the Park.
|Peggy Wood, star of “Maytime”|
Well, what do you think of everything or have you ceased to think? I am only afraid the powers will not give Germany her dues. I would divide the nation among the other countries, with no more Germany, and as for the Kaiser, to hell with him. Of course, I did not say where that Hell is. Oh! these are strenuous and trying times in which we live. Won’t we have some tales to tell our grandchildren? Oh! yes my brother Ed has a boy, Edward Donald Loeffler, born Jan. 30, 1919. Now call me grandma? My oldest sister has one girl and five boys.
To the same tune, “Do you remember (Sweetheart)?”9 I shall make an ending, for I must write a letter to France. If you girls do not go to Y.P. hope we all may be able to go to the lakes or somewhere for a week or two. Now, before I saw “Au revoir” I must ask you, “If a Ford were chasing a Ford in Ireland, what time would it be?” Yes, tin after tin.
Besides, Bee, if men’s under clothes are B.V.D’s what are women’s? Yes, you guessed it right. E.Z.P’s.
And now unto thee and thine I shall say “So long” until later.
With oodles of love and best wishes.
1. Brief means “letter” in German. Nicht wahr means roughly “is that not so?”
2. A strong sense of nationalism and prejudice against foreign-born people was usual for this time period.
3. Despite Dick’s facetious tone, when neutral Belgium was invaded by Germany at the beginning of World War I, many of the people of the United States were sympathetic to the plight of the Belgians and sent what humanitarian relief they could.
4. Because of a threatened railroad strike that ultimately did not materialize, the Wylie Camping Company canceled most its summer employees’ promised trip around Yellowstone Park at the end of the 1916 camping season and sent them home instead. Beatrice and her tent mates missed out on seeing more of the Park than just the Geysers Camp area.
5. This is a replica of the header Dick typed on this letter using a blue ribbon. She made a row of little soldiers by cleverly combining keystrokes on the typewriter. It looks best in the typewriter font she had, but the computer version of Courier does not work well. There is a poem about these little soldier images, apparently written at the time and published in newspapers everywhere. I will put it in this blog later on.
6. The poem by Katherine Lee Bates was first published in 1893, then the words were changed in 1904, and they were changed again about 1913.
7. Dick’s romance did not last; we don’t know what happened. She never did marry.
8. The stage operetta of Maytime ran from 1917 through 1919, starring Peggy Wood, who decades later was the Mother Abbess in the film The Sound of Music. The story concerned sweethearts who are parted but remember one another all their lives; some sixty or seventy years later their descendants meet and marry.
Chu Chin Chow was a musical tale of Ali Baba and his forty thieves. The women slaves in the production were said to have been dressed quite scantily for that time, which may be the source of Dick’s disgust.
Atta Boy poked fun at Army life, but it ran for only 24 shows before closing, so Dick must have seen one of its last performances.
9. “Will You Remember (Sweetheart)?” was a song from Maytime. Check YouTube to hear Nelson Eddy and Jeanette Macdonald singing it in the film version (which has a different story).
Dorothy Loeffler died in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, in 1962.