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Thursday, September 3, 2015

The 1916 Wit and Wisdom of Rae Wylie

Rachel “Rae” Wylie was a young woman good at amusing her friends. I have been trying to find out more of her background, but I can’t seem to verify who she is in official records. She appears in a 1917 UCLA yearbook, but only her name and a quote by it. She may be the school teacher who is living alone in San Gorgonio, Riverside county, California, recorded on the 1920 Census. That census says she was born in Kansas about 1895. . . . but there is time and more research that can be done. Meanwhile, our Rae Wylie left Yellowstone in September 1916 and was apparently living with a family of some kind, perhaps renting a room or boarding, but not her own family. The family seems to have had some boys who were of the age to rough-house. Rae worked at a store and was completing her senior year in college.

When her friends received these letters, one wrote to another that they screamed with laughter over them. We may not catch all the jokes, but her wit is apparent throughout.

Read all ye Deaux Drops, if ye want to hear,
A tale about a Heaver’s career,
On her way homeward bound from the Geyser land,
Read, then take your pen in hand, and
Deaux Drop me a big long letter . . . . . . D. D.

Epistle to the Deaux Drops No. 1

1106 W. 77th Street.
Los Angeles, Calif.
September 17th, 1916.

Dear Beloved Deaux Drops:

“Looking at you.” Come on, let’s go and see the Daisy play. She’s a nice old girl.1

Well, you see I am sending a family letter, as I am sure of writing to “you all” once in a while this way. Otherwise with all six it might never happen. Now, if “you all” will please pass this very valuable document on to the next one, I’ll be overcome with gratefulness.

I am so glad “you all” managed to get home safely. Oh! you railroad strike! Believe me, when I get up a strike or anything of the kind, I’ll do better than that, and when I get to running Yellowstone Park, she’s going to stay open the year round and no Dudes to bother.

To begin at the beginning of the end of the most delightful of Summers, after we saw “you all” safely deposited in your private pens on the sleeper, Lloyd and I hurried across to the other depot2 and Bill. We found him, but no trace of Edna and Gula, and have never heard of them. I guess they got on the 1:30 train thinking we were on. Don’t know what they did for reservations, as we had theirs—that word is “theirs.”

Well, we next saw a notice saying our train would not leave until seven, and as we had had nothing to eat and were hungry, we went up and partook of a good supper. We returned and the bulletin board announced our train at nine so still being hungry, we ate again. This time the board said eleven thirty, and told the truth, after so many attempts. We went right to bed and conveniently had upper berths right across, which made it so nice and homelike.

The morning we spent on the observation car and observed what scenery we could find, and really did see some wonderful rocks in a canyon, the name of which I have forgotten. I neglected to say we ate breakfast first. Then came dinner, and afterwards cards all afternoon, except when we came to a town, then we got off for refreshments. Vessie, and Perla, please overlook the card part. You see not being used to Sunday, we could not be expected to know it when it came, at least without a hand organ. Then the cards were a good thing for they had pictures of the park on and really we advertised the place. Got three people to say they would go through Wylie Way next year. I really didn’t know they were cards anyway, but thought they were a collection of views Lloyd was taking home. Excuses are ended.

We ate our supper, put Lloyd off at Victorville to visit relations a day or two, and went to bed—(Had something to eat first, tho.) We got into L.A. at one-thirty, but slept till morning. I got up first and left Bill in bed, only partly dressed. The last thing he said was to wait ten minutes and we would go get breakfast, eats again, but I was headed for home, and couldn’t wait. Thus our eventful trip was ended. We are to meet Thanksgiving Holidays when the boys come home from school, and with Clara, Tillie and Nance, have a Savage reunion.

I got home in time to start for Hemet Valley at the foot of the mountains. The folks were nearly ready to start, so I shook out my dirty clothes out of my suit case, put them in again, and started. It is a ride of over a hundred miles. We went to Riverside on the electric where Mr. Calderwood met us with his car and took us the last thirty miles. It is a beautiful country, with oranges, olives, and almond groves.

Mr. Calderwood has a ranch, but lives in Hemet, a pretty little town. We had everything good to eat, watermelon, casabas , oranges, white grapes big as your head, almonds, ripe olives, and everything. Also five picnics with fried chicken and all the other extras. We went auto riding every day too, and that was great.

Came home Friday and went down to the store to see the girls, and they want me to go to work Saturday. Really, I am so spoiled I don’t think I could ever work in that old store again. I stayed until Wednesday, and school began then, thank goodness.

School is great, only I haven’t done any thinking for so long it makes my head ache. Then our first class is at eight. That makes me leave here at seven and get up early. Cruel world, I wish I were dead. I have fallen in love with a bald headed professor, but he happens to be married and is true to his wife, and don’t return my affections. Cruel world again. If I don’t flunk I guess I am really going to get to finish Normal3 this year. Then hurrah for school next year in the good old North. I keep knocking on wood most of the time about finishing Normal, and getting the school.

Just think, only eight more months and twenty eight days until time to go back to Yellowstone. School is not out until June 21st, but we should worry about a little thing like that.

Perla and Vessie, please do not read.

This afternoon I took our boys and some of the neighbor’s boys out for a car ride.4 They disturb the neighbors Sunday naps so I was in the notion. Such a time as I had and they had. They even threw each other’s caps out of the window, so the conductor had to stop the car, and they threw orange peelings at him when he got off to rescue the lost property. It’s a wonder we were not all arrested.

Have you all started in to church yet? I have gone two mornings, but not to Sunday School yet. Am going at it gradually. Next Sunday I spend with one of the girls, so will be excused. The Young Folks have a social here Friday night. There is also an affair at the Church Thursday night, so life is not as dead as it might be.

The pictures I took at Gibbon and elsewhere are good, with the exception of the one on top of Hotel Utah. You had better get Perla’s of that group. (Be sure to send Bee one.) I will have prints made for you all, dear hearts.

The candy I brought home with me is disappearing rapidly, only one more box left, but it is the three pound one. I hope punch boards are still in style next Summer. Oh! for one good old throw with the dice box.5

Well, do write soon all of you, and tell me any news you know of. Also of your new gowns and fall feathers, etc. I have none. I hope, Dick, you get the baby’s clothes all made in time to get it started into school.6

Cora, did you get your camp stool home all right? I am so provoked that I repented and took the one out of my trunk. Next Summer I will do better. Was glad to get your letter, I’ll say I was, also Dick’s and Bee’s.

I must go to let down my folding bed and crawl in. How lonesome it is with no one to talk to me in the small hours when I take a talkative spell. I miss you terribly, old bed mate, and wish you were here.

I have exceeded the speed limit on this epistle, and hope you are all good enough hikers to wade through the jungles and jump over the mistakes in your way.

I, like Dick, will lay off with the chin music, and bid you all a fond good night. The water pitchers are full, the polly’s empty7, my face is washed, and as soon as Gordon and Phil are gone and the bears have finished their midnight feed at the garbage cans, I will peacefully sleep until morning. It’s Mart’s morning on, and I don’t have to be up until six. So good night.

With oodles and oodles of love to the best bunch what ever was,

Your Sister,

If any of you see Edna Parkinson, will you find out what became of her? She does not have my address, nor I hers.

Los Angeles Calif.
Oct. 1, 1916

Dear Adorable Mother, –

I’ll say you are that. Well what do you know? I was quite upset with all kinds of enjoyableness at receiving your letter, also the pictures. Curses on those two hotel girls who cut in on the picture in front of the Curio Store. Didn’t know much, did they? Not even enough to fasten up the tail ends of their aprons.

Business first—as to those prints, I am sorry to disarrange any of your plans of disposing of them but I am afraid they are mine. Would be delighted to have one of Fergie. Am sending you some which I thought you might want. You know “you all” said to send anything I thot you might want. The business session is closed—now on with the dance.

Clara & Tillie arrived last week & were out here Sun. afternoon & evening. Went flower swiping in the afternoon & came off victorious with oodles of beautiful roses, pansies, and roses. Kept the kids in the evening while Aunt Anna went to church. Clara played all her old dance tunes and I longed to skim along over the glassy Geyser dancing hall in the arms, (or rather on the feet of) the barber and the wood cutter. Nance & her sister are in Long Beach & I have not seen them yet. The “Samples” went to San Diego & will be back this week and can hardly wait until they get back.

School is great and the professor is still bald headed. I have my affections at present centered on another, (fickle woman) a boy in the A Four Arith. class which we observed all week. He is a darling and I think I make some startling jumps in my love affairs. I still love the Prof. too tho’.

Friday night the young folks of our church came out here for a time, we had it and so horrified the weather that it rained that night. Our first rain & so early that it will likely prove disastrous to the citrus crops. Last year we had no rain until after Thanksgiving.

This morning I had to wade water over my shoes or pumps to get to church. Now if I take a cold I will consider it a warning not to attend church any more & act accordingly. I went to S.S. too for the first time. If I had waited until church time the water might had had time to run away, I shall not go to SS. again.

As to clothes, I don’t believe in paying so much for shoes oh! no—but there are some things necessary in this world that you have to do away with your beliefs to get. I have a terrible weakness for shoes as you know & have a $6.50 pair picked out. They are white tops with black patent leather bottoms & black buttons. Can see them a mile some classy. Then I am going to get a big droopy black hat and dark blue suit with two waists. One fussy filmy white one & a dark silk of some kind more serviceable. Am having my red silk poplin made over with gold trimmings for sort of an evening dress. Have plenty of clothes for school & my pink brides maid dress for evening & my white coat. Also my long dark coat no guess that is all I will be able to do for my country. I want a white wool suit so badly, you know we can wear them here all summer. Now if my finances only hold out I’ll be happy.

Alas the candy has departed to regions unknown & I find I have developed a fondness for Hershey bars which almost leads to theft at times.

I had the nicest letter from Dad Eaton and I answered it right away before he would leave Gardiner and join his wife at Livingston where they live this winter. He was wishing I was up there with them & so do I.

Orville is decidedly homesick for the park too. It helps to find others in the same position.

Where is Allan? I want to know all about him and when this affair is to come off. You should tell your daughter if you are going to present her with a new father.

Well I must close. The boys are having cowboys rides on chairs by the table and where they upset & knock the table I and my letter writing come to grief. Write soon dear honey bunch and I’ll do you the very great honor of sending you a private letter again from honor. With geysers full of love,


Los Angeles, Calif.
Oct. 1st, 1916.

Dear Caugheys:

Enclosed will you be pleased to find the pictures I promised. Now, girls dear, I only sent one of each, and if you each want one, you know I’ll upset in my efforts to get it to you. Also, Perla, I can’t find all my films so could not get prints of one or two you wanted. If, however, they ever show up, “Then I’ll remember you.”

How are you, dear hearts? I washed my head, it is improved tho’ still wet, and I feel real spry for an old lady.

Tomorrow I suppose Vessie will be telling all the young hopefuls of Yellowstone National Park, its wonders, curiosities and differences in general from the civilized world. How she visited all the dark places with Gordon the evening guide, how she danced with the wood cutter, that famous dancer, and visited the kitchen in search of—well anything she could get. Then for an object lesson a piece of wood somewhat decayed will aid them greatly in seeing and understanding the process of rotten logging.

I am attending Normal and getting all kinds of ideas. But, oh! their one idea seems to be that we go there to work, and how hard it is after three months of idleness and blissful unconsciousness of unpleasant duties.

Vessie, please give my love to Gordon, when you write, and tell him I still take orders for chaperonage. If he cannot supply me with a position, maybe he can give me a recommendation that will be useful.

If you are writing to Earl Seward, will you please remind him that I want those pictures he took the day we went over the formation. He can either send them by way of you or direct, but don’t think he knows my address. Must have the pictures at all costs, very very necessary to my religion.

How do you like life by this time? I am becoming more contented, but think I am really spoiled for life that is any kind of life but the real life. Oh! you.

Tomorrow I have to get up in front of one of my classes and give an account of a geographical reading. Well I’ve got my reading but can’t find the place I read about on any map whatever. Have decided to settle the difficulty by placing it in India, hoping that our teacher won’t be as well acquainted with that country that she will know the difference. We have to use a map in our description, and the dear only know it’s got to be somewhere.

If I get corrected at the finish I will at least find out where it should be, and my report will add variety to the others by being different. It will be different alright. How I dread the performance.

The boys are driving horses made of chairs, and when the horses get reckless and collide with the table I and my letter writing come to grief, as you may have noticed. I get a kinsetic (?)8 sensation which results in an imaginary visual sensation of the boys in bed, and the sense of speech is startlingly awakened. Please observe the Psychology, it’s quite a new and terrible thing to me.

Well I must close and write to Cora. I am sending you all private letters with the pictures, and from now on I’ll probably resort to family ones.

Write soon and tell me all your troubles. Be good sweet maids, and you’ll be clever, if you’re good long at a time. With lots of love, yea verily loads of it, I am,

Your loving sister,

I am not taking penmanship yet, not until next term. These flourishes are entirely original and done the Wylie Way.

[Undated; had to have been written the second week of November 1916]:

Epistle to the Deaux Drops #2
As it might have Been or May Be.

The six best maids in creation
Landed at Yellowstone station
Two were short, one was tall,
Two were wide, one was small,
They had come for a summer vacation.
Their faces were withered and worn
So soon they had risen that morn,
But they smiled with a will
As we hope they do still,
May they never grow old or forlorn.
Life often the best of plans missles
Its pathway has thorns and has thistles,
But how each managed her plan
To capture a man
Will be told in my later Epistles.

Wylie Way Official Bulletin
Time until June 1917 migration –
7 MONTHS East 0 days West 2 days

My dear sisterettes: --

Writing to you with my feet on a chair rung and the rest of me on my little bed. I have taken to sitting on soft things lately as I am the proud and unhappy possessor of a boil which greatly hinders my rising up and my sitting down. An untimely jolt of the street car and a most undignified collapse on my part, did, it is true, end the real life of the said brute but still it continues at times to be master of the situation, consequently, the bed and any very sudden exclamations. I hope it soon finds out I am no relative of Job’s and will tolerate no such foolishness and take its departure. Otherwise I am in perfect condition. School is very hard, but as I have gained one half pound and no one sympathises with a fat person, I get very little consolation in my troubles.

I cannot say enough in condemnation of the California school system. It is work, work, work, night and day and then “I do wish you could find time to do a little more reading on whether Adam had a Moses apple” or vice versa, however it goes. That’s all we hear. Vessie, I’m with you dog gone it. However, I am learning and there is some hope for me. I know when I sit down suddenly that I react to an exterior stimulus which rises in the bi-polar neurone passes through other neurones, enters the spinal ganglion also cord. From there the impulse travels through medulla oblongata to motor and kinsetic regions of the cerebrum, skips back and forth through various association centers and finally I awake to the fact that I have a kinsetic sensation, or in plain English, my boil is affected. To do away with such kinsetic and cutaneous sensations I must inhibit my movements and react in such a way that certain localities of my body shall not come in contact with sudden or hard objects and thus prevent any external stimulus to overthrow my equilibrium.

Ladies and Gentlemen, behold the great student of Psychology, a study never intended for human beings, either in this world or in the next.

But life is not all so dull as it might seem. We have music in our little bungalow to-night. Kenneth takes music lessons and is now playing the C. scale for the thirtieth some time and we are looking forward to the time when he shall know it well enough to appear in public.

Also, I have enjoyed your letters so much that I will not tire you by dwelling on the subject, but hope you will keep up the good work. No Perla, I have no objections to your writing twice to my once. I really think things in heaven will be run on that plan. The poems were good and I have been wanting them, too. Clara and Tillie spent most of an evening over them. Bee, your magazine was sure great and cute as it could be. You certainly do have a bright head on you and I’m sorry that after sleeping with you all summer my dome doesn’t contain more knowledge. I haven’t shown it to Clara or Nance, yet, as I haven’t seen them since it came, but I hope I’m to be the one what gets it for keeps. If any of you all back there want it, you’ve done gone got to come after it.

Then there was Dick’s answer to my last letter, and such a long one. However did you get time to write it? Believe me, it was, and still is, out of sight.

Before I forget, who in thunder is “Cody”? I don’t remember any such personage and you all talk like I should know he, she or it. I’m curious, and as curiosity once killed a cat, please let me know soon.

You sure do make me feel fidgety when you talk about your gatherings back there. Then I hear from the Newcastle girls and they tell me Cora and Spooks were running around loose up there and they gathered them in and fed them. I sure would like to go in like sixty on one of the Deaux Drop kimono parties or mogie raids. But poor Bee, you are worse off by yourself than I am for I have Clara and Nance and we get together and talk. Then, too, we are going to have a reunion about Thanksgiving time cause Bill Litchfield said so, and he don’t tell stories. He’s afraid he’ll ruin his social position.9

Well, last Sunday Clara and Nance were out, and as house life is too tame for savages, we went down to Exposition Park where the soldiers are stationed until they have been sufficiently examined to be sent home. There are a lot of them there and very friendly people they are, so much so that we soon found ourselves escorted into a tent kitchen and there we dined on oysters and various foods, among them Hard tack. Nuff ced. If the suffragettes do finally take this country, I’ll never join the army. Of course we couldn’t stay off the subject, Yellowstone for any length of time and here to my joy we found one of the soldiers an ex-swaddie from the Park. We nearly embraced him and he got out all the pictures he had taken on the border and we were so interested that it got dark before we knew it. We had to hurry home like good girls and I sailed into the house with my head in the air over the good time I had had only to be brought suddenly to earth. There sat a girl and she very gently broke the news that she had come to take me to Christian Endeavor and to Church. I did the only polite thing under the circumstances, I went. But we will return to the soldiers.

It is interesting to watch them take evening drill and line up and get their meals, but there are other things much more interesting to be found, especially outside the camp. O you rotten logging. Think they must have had a course at Yellowstone. Of course there are no logs or nice benches by a river but street corners and curbstones seem to answer the purpose just as well. Beautiful work was being accomplished on all hands and an audience was or is no drawback whatever. The high school girls are taking advantage of their opportunities and I was surprised to find how weak the growing generation seems to be, as many of them require such touching assistance to walk about the streets. But California evenings are really cool enough for coats of arms or anything else that is convenient.

The Saturday before Tillie went home (She couldn’t get work and left. If you didn’t know, you do now.) I didn’t have to work at the store and Tillie, Clara and I went out to Universal city to investigate the moving picture process. We saw them take parts of several pictures, one, a wild west scene and when they got done with the saloon we got out in front with some cowboy ponies and had Fatty10 take our pictures. I’m sure you have seen Fatty in pictures. He is his name and then some. This day he had on a woman’s apron. We got his pictures but he wouldn’t stand still for a good one. All that helped us was his size. He couldn’t move fast enough to entirely spoil the picture. . . . . . . . . . We stayed as usual until dark came and came home in a car11 with some of the movie people. One of them, Harry Mann, whom you have no doubt seen in villain parts told Clara and I the next time we went out to send him a card the day before and he would see we got a pass in and show us around in places where visitors were not allowed. That was where he made one big mistake for we are going to take him up on it.

Going out to Lady Mac’s some day too. She was at church the other day and I could hug her to pieces . . . . . . . Well I suppose you were excited over the election. I forgot women could vote in California, didn’t register and lost out. They tried to get California dry12 this time and that was more exciting than the other. The Saturday before election the Drys had a big parade, three hours long. Latest way to measure parades. It was very good, but as we were working on the tenth floor at the store and the head lady was wet, we didn’t even get to look out of the windows. Nearly every one on the floor was wet and I felt like telling them they needed attention. . . . . . . .

Wonder what Yellowstone would be like if it went dry. I’m afraid poor old Daisy would miss some of her visitors.13 I’d sure vote wet there, for think of the candy I received from people who were not in their right minds. . . . . . . . . .

Those pictures you all want will come to you soon. Helen Wilson wrote for my films and I sent them to her, every last one of them. She will send them to some of you and you can send them on to Bee. There is no hurry for them and they might as well spend the winter in the east.

I wish, please Bee, if I be good, that I might have another one of Uncle Roy where he is talking to people out on the formation. I’m mad, too cause I didn’t hear from him. I’m going to get busy and write to every one I know and see what happens. So far I have written only to you and two post cards. Some correspondence. I’m sorry Bee that I have no new love affairs to relate. I have even outgrown the old ones. Think maybe I have one in process of construction and will let you know if it develops. I sympathise with you you know, and say, will you please inform me just what kind of letter I am to write that your family will not read. The idea of scolding me for putting things in a letter they could read. How am I going to tell you any other way. Guess I had better write you a private epistle and tell you what I think of you. You know young lady you might need a hot water bottle in the night next summer and I may not get it for you. &&&&&

With Lots and Lots and Lots and Lots and Lots of love, one lot for each of you.
Your most dignifidest sister

1. What her date said to Bee at Yellowstone one night as she started to realize how drunk he was.
2. This was in Salt Lake City.
3. The California State Normal School in Los Angeles became UCLA in 1919. In 1916 – 1917 it was mostly a teacher training college.
4. On the streetcars.
5. Punch boards and dice games were some of the things Rae sold in the Yellowstone camp store; customers who won sometimes bought her a box of candy.
6. Dick (Dorothy) Loeffler had become an aunt again recently.
7. I could not find what this meant, but I think it was probably a chamber-pot, one of those “unmentionables” Rae delights in shocking her audience by mentioning.
8. She probably meant “kinesthetic”—to do with tactile sensation.
9. Bill’s fear for his social position was a running joke at Yellowstone.
10. Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, a famous comedian; he may have been filming The Butcher Boy in which Arbuckle invited 21-year-old comedic genius Buster Keaton to make his film debut. (Arbuckle’s previous film had been released in June 1916.)
11. A streetcar.
12. During passage of the 18th Amendment (Prohibition), “dry” states voted for the Amendment, and “wet” states voted against it.
13. Bee famously allowed herself to be taken out one night to see Daisy by a man who she discovered was very drunk, and her fellow Deaux Drops were not supposed to tell.

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