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Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Heaping Helping of Wylie Savage Nostalgia

The letters to Bee from sisters Perla and Vessie Caughey, two of her tent-mates in “Deaux Drop Inn,” as they called their tent in Yellowstone National Park, are poignant in their nostalgic longing to recapture the magic of the summer they had just spent working as cabin maids for the Wylie Camping Company. In addition, the sisters write the details that allow us to enjoy a look at a vanished way of life in a small Pennsylvania town just before and at the beginning of the United States involvement in World War I.

318 – 12th Avenue,
New Brighton, Pa.
– Oct. 3rd.1916
Dear Bee:

Have thought of you numbers of times, and really wanted to answer your dandy letter instanter, but you know just how it is. You see, I too, will be sending you typewritten volumes, quantity instead of quality. It is too great a temptation to be resisted. Came back to work yesterday, after four months of being a lady, and am now initiated, and at the old stand, refreshments, served at all hours. Sure did enjoy hearing from you, and Rae’s letter, Well! Dick and her man brought it over last Wednesday night after Prayer Meeting (don’t know whether they were there or not, we were not) and we just simply howled. How I wish the Deaux Drops lived closer together, so we could have reunions. We would have a Club all our own, and not take in any more, but be real selfish – unless, of course, our Drivers would come around the loop that night, and they are part of the family.

It is nearly noon. One of the girls had a dandy big box of candy sent her, and I have eaten, well about as much as we did when Rae brought a prize box to #60, and have not the least desire for lunch. Am going to get some Railroad folders, and tear from them their trade marks to paste in the front of my dearest of all kodak books “to be” my Savage One. Yesterday invested three perfectly good dollars in a “Memory Book” loose leaf, and they said at that it was last year’s prices, and a bargain, and had to order three dozen more leaves to care for my precious collection of pictures. Dick’s sister Helen has a grand book of her year in the park—at the Canyon—and she has little rhymes made up to suit all occasions. I thought perhaps we might be as clever—or rather you, you are our wise one, and make up some for our various functions, etc. I am enclosing you a bright idea or two I had, and you can use them if you desire, and should you have any brighter ones, would like to borrow them for my book. Wouldn’t it be great if the Deaux Drops could get together and fix their books up all at once? Alas, “it might have been.” Oran just printed last night, and if I get this letter finished, will send them to you today. Know you are very anxious to receive them. The one taken on the top of Hotel Utah, the man moved the kodak when taking it, and it is one grand blur. It would have been fine, too, had he held the kodak steady. I have a print, simply for the memory of it, and if you wish, will have one made for you, but the picture part of it is a missing quantity.

Bought “Down on the Farm” including the words “I want to go back,” “The Little Grey Home in the West,” and yesterday “Rosemary Waltzes” and “Requiem.” Come back and see us and we’ll mostest think we are home again in the office and dance hall. Would your imagination carry you so far?

We have had some dandy hikes since coming home, Dick, Vessie, sometimes one and sometimes two other girls, and I. First went out to Loeffler’s farm, two miles from the street car line, roasted wieners, made coffee, ate rolls, cinnamon bread, picked peaches from the trees and grapes from the vines, told tales of our doings in the Park, and used all our slang and local expressions, of which we are very fond. Then took two other hikes in different directions, starting about 10:30 and coming home when we got ready. Came down one day along a run bed, which was perfectly beautiful, and wished we had taken a kodak to show people there really was something nice here at home. Then last Saturday night Dick had us up to her house and we went to the kitchen to eat from the enamel top table, sat on benches, poured our own coffee from the pot on the stove, made our sandwiches, and had a really Savage time, yelled so much, am sure her family and the neighbors were shocked. This coming Friday night there is to be a “sure Nuff” Savage party at their farm, to which we are invited. Won’t you come, too? Would be Dee-Lighted!

Yes, have heard from some of the boys. Orville says he knows all Savages have a “feeling down in their toes for Geyser-Land”—Gordon is working on the Railroad from Livingston; Phil has not yet started to work, but is a sport, taking in County Fairs and I believe a State Fair. He and Gordon stayed in the Park for the wrecking Crew, and said it made them homesick to see our tents and places where we had had such good times all Summer torn down and wrecked. Garnet and Elsie Rhodes are teaching out in the Country from Bozeman, I believe it is.

Did you know that after we left, a bear attacked a Wylie freighter—Welch, by name—at Canyon, tore out his arm from the socket, crushed his lung, and when the man with him ran for the Nurse, he died before they reached him. Maude wrote home about it.

This is afternoon and I purchased those little pockets for sticking in the kodak books, and placing the corners of the pictures in them instead of mounting on the page, as I have always done heretofore. We are going to use the trademarks of the various railroads over which we traveled, cutting them out and placing on the inside cover of the book. I am enclosing those from Northern Pacific—I mean C&NW and Union Pacific, to give you the idea, but I do not believe you used either road. We are also going to make a tent from the little Wylie trademarks or advertisements, as on the top of their letter heads and envelopes, to put in the book.

Dear heart, have heaps of work in, so am going to summarily conclude this letter and send it to you. Perhaps will have more time the next edition.

With heaps and heaps of love, from
One of the Deaux Drops,


New Brighton, Pa.,
Oct. 13th, 1916.
My dear Bee:

Friday, the 13th, and I am going to start in and give you a real good scolding. Really, my dear, I thought you had had better training, but then we must not blame it on your training for your parents have never been in the Park, and do not know the fascination there is in that M O O N. Don’t you all know better than to start in that way and make us feel so badly. Cody says there is no moon back here, it is just an imitation, the real moon is in the Park. She was at our place last night, and talk about it, well, that is what we did, talk about it, the moon, park, etc. And Bee, you’d never guess, about 12:30 when we finally started upstairs, what we did, after we had our shoes unbuttoned! We slid quietly outside, so as not to shock and disturb the law abiding and peace loving neighbors and went to see the moon, when lo, it was suddenly become bashful and had hidden its face back of a cloud.

Thanks for the pictures. Sure was glad to get them. I wonder, Bee if you will have a couple prints made for me of the Bridal Veil Canyon? The one showing the rocks up through it. I am enclosing another picture which you had wished. Will see that Allen gets one of those taken at Gibbon. Cody has our negatives now, only wants ninety prints made from them, and I guess there will probably be that many of hers which we will want also. Sure do like the pictures, they make it seem almost like home to look at them.

Last night we sat at the table and talked until after eight o’clock, then went upstairs and read over some Savage letters, back down looked over our Savage pictures, sang our Park songs, “Requiem” [and] “Little Grey Home in the West.” I played while Cora and Vessie danced in the hall, the space so small they met themselves turning around; then Cora and I played duets, had some cake and coffee on the kitchen table; adjourned about 1:00, as per usual, then Cora and I talked until Vessie said she had a notion to come in and tell us to “Send those - - - - - Scissorbills home” so she could get some rest. Did you ever hear anything like that before?

Attended the first number of our lecture course—Weathercross Brothers, who played on the cornet, gave readings, and sang. They surely were good. I could have stayed and listened to them all night, only I didn’t. We have such good courses, seven numbers for a dollar, and 75¢ for reserved seats. Surely reasonable enough, but you know it takes something reasonable for a Savage to be able financially to take it in.

I, too, had a letter from Helyn Fisher yesterday. She had it just chuck full of Savagery and expressions, and said instead of being about to easily make 90 beds in a day it keeps her busy trying to get one made, i.e., her own. I like her so much.

Am enclosing you a bunch of poems. Know you have some that I sent before, but am copying them complete for Vessie’s book, and will make carbons of the bunch so you will be sure to have all when I am through with it. Excuse mistakes as I am not correcting them. What you can’t read, guess at. Did I tell you the balance on the pictures will be forty cents. Cora had a letter from Matt, he is teaching in a little town in Texas, very blue and homesick to go rotten logging. What you mean rotten logging?

Am beginning to feel the call of back to nature. Have had nearly two weeks of work, interspersed with a whole day at Church, and it is nearly more than I can stand. Said last night I just felt as if I had to take a big walk say ten miles right out in the country. It is raining today, and getting colder so the prospect don’t look very good for tomorrow.

Started back with my music yesterday, rather took a lesson, but have not practiced any as yet. You see I will be quite busy when I get things going, as I guess is everyone.

Did I tell you had a letter from K-k-k-atie and she is attending Utah University, has a nice place to stay, doing training work, teaching 32 kiddies in #2, and her Mother is in Montana with her sister? Miss McBride has a position in Cleveland.

We nearly fainted when we read you had a card from Stoddard. Cody said she’d just drop dead if she had one from him. How did it ever happen? Isn’t that picture of yours good of the Deaux Droppers on moving day? Did Shorty Green send you any pictures? You know Vessie paid him for some, and we are still watching for them.

You poor child, with your thumb. Hope it is better by now. Cora’s nail is off and nearly on again. I know how that goes because I dropped the office window on my finger nail some time back, and can fully sympathize.

Did I tell you about our Club girls having a covered dish dinner party? Ending with a bunch of us one-stepping and waltzing? I was dancing with one of the high school girls, who has a sore toe. Afterwards it was worse, she went to the Doctor and he told her she had been dancing, and perhaps will have to have it scraped on Saturday. Poor thing, that’s what comes of being wicked, was it she or I who was wicked?

Will close with heaps of love, and endeavor to arrange some more poems, etc., for Vessie’s book.

Your own sister,


At Home—
Oct. 14, 1916.
Dearest Sister Bee:

I have a lot of Savage letters to write but you may be sure the first ones are going to be to my sisters, Bee and Rae. We surely do enjoy your letters, hon, and the pictures, too, are just great. Perla & I had the dining table covered with scissors, paste, white ink, pictures and our new “Wylie Way” Kodak books this evening—fixing a lot of our pictures in them. Rae’s pictures coming out of the Park are good, too, are they not?

O, dear, I get one picture in my book and then spend ten minutes thinking about what happened that day, etc. Memories—oh, you, Savage days. How I long for them!!

We have not seen Dick for several days now, but talk to each other on the phone quite often. Cora was here for dinner and all night Thursday. We looked at pictures, talked about this day and that evening; sang “My little grey home in the West,” “The Requiem,” “Banjo Song,” etc. Perla and she played duets. Then we took up the rugs in the hall and one-stepped to “Are you from Texas?” To make it seem like a real Geyser evening we did not go to bed until—well, until morning. O, how I wish all the Deaux Drops could be close together and we would have a little club all our own. I don’t believe we would spend very many quiet evenings, either.

We have the best lecture course this year; had our first number last Wednesday evening, the Weatherwax Bros. Quartette. They gave some splendid numbers and then such clever little things for encores. Have been to the movies several time, but, oh Bee, don’t they seem slow after Geyser Life?

This is my day off, Saturday; slept until ten (did I ever do that at camp; hardly that), —then baked graham muffins and Devil’s Food cake, ironed my waists, and read. Doesn’t that sound lazy? O, but, I make up for it on the other five days. I have thirty-two dirty, little, darling ragamuffins of foreigners, Jews, Poles, Syrians, Italians, Hungarians, etc., etc. Believe me, I don’t lead a monotonous life from the time they come into the room until they leave at night.

Have heard from a number of Savages lately; Billie Wilson, Johnnie, Miss Johnson, Bee, Rae, K-k-k-katie, etc.

Ed Gordon is braking on the N.P. in Montana, between Livingston and Helena, and just think they have been having winter weather there. Vic, Red McGuire, Riddle and Smith are all firemen on the N.P., too. Phil & Gordon are together. How is Allen, Bee? Remember me to him when you write. Yes, we will be glad to send him one of those pictures but Cora has the negatives now.

I wish you would teach my S.S. kiddies for me, tomorrow Bee. Positively, I can’t get my mind down to serious things since I have led that carefree, happy life at Geyser Land. We are going to Oran and Jean’s for dinner tomorrow and then if it is a pretty day I think we shall go for a walk. Let’s go to Kepler’s. Are you on?

Say, wasn’t the dance interesting tonight? I just love those circle one-steps; I wish Chip would get in real often.

Well, woman, I must lay off the chin music and seek my bed in 60. Hope it doesn’t rain tonight for I left my rain-coat in the office & you know how our corner of the tent leaks.

Your loving sister,


New Brighton, Pa.,
Oct. 31st, 1916.
Dear Bee:

Last night when I reached home Vessie told me “We received a copy of THE BEST MAGAZINE today.” I have been having so much trouble getting my Womans Home Companion, I thought it was sarcasm, and a second copy of it, instead it was the first volume of the VERY BEST – THE DEAUX DROP INN SPECIAL–. Really, Bee, do you think a bunch of girls could get along better than our six did? We surely had some bunch. Am so glad Rae’s picture of the bunch is good. Thanks for those of Bridal Veil Canyon. We saw more of yours over at Cody’s the other night, and either Vessie or I will send you a list of the additional ones we want. In the course of time think we’ll have them all gathered up. Vessie received those from Shorty Green last Thursday. I got a bunch from Earl Seward (Milk Maid) on Friday, taken at Lone Star, Keplers, and on the formation. He was on his way to Nevada, and said he would probably get down to Los Angeles and see Rae during the course of the winter, which would help some. You know he and Rae were very good friends. Have had several letters and cards from Orville also. He is working up in Montana. Did you know Ed Gordon is braking on the Northern Pacific, and Vick, Riddel, and several other Wylie drivers are firing on that line? Still have the extra leaves for my kodak book on order, and think they will be for some time, from present prospects. Have about 100 or more pictures to put in as soon as I get them.

Friday night the four Deaux Drops were over at Cody’s looked at pictures, exchanged news, talked, (how very strange to do that!) and wished for you two missing links, as we always do. Margaret—my young niece has been informed until now she knows it, that she has six Deaux Drop Aunts. She calls Dorothy “Aunt Dick” and the other day went home all delighted and said “Mother, did you know I have an Aunt Dick?” Then Saturday afternoon Vessie, Dick, another girl and I took our baskets of eats and went out to Loefflers farm two miles from the street car line. There we cooked, ate, and had a good time generally. Am going to meet them, and Dick will be at our house Wednesday night, and Cody if not too tired. Can’t you drop in? Deaux Drop Inn!

Oh, have something to tell you. Was talking to Spooks last night. I think he is going up to see Johnnie steady regular. Have heard of two times and don’t know how many others there have been. He is homesick for the Park, says he is going to put in an application right away, then come down to Salt Lake City and marry his dude there.
“The Beautiful Fair Lady
While singing ‘A Perfect Day’
Not only adds to the programme,
But charms an Actor’s heart away!”
Spooks was telling me he had had a letter from Gula Frew, and while in a Nickolodeon, which she has attended several times, a young man spoke to her, said “Haven’t I seen you some place before?” Of course she did not know, and he said, “Were you not in Yellowstone Park this Summer?” “It was there I hear you sing ‘A Perfect Day.’ “ It now develops he is a Movie Actor, heard her sing that song while touring the Park, and Spooks was accompanying her on his violin. How romantic. Right away I am going to hunt a voice teacher, learn to sing, and go to California. Won’t you go with me?
“Where Yellowstone’s great Geysers
All day long do play;
‘Tis there we love to linger
And pass the time away.”
Cody was in New Castle with Helyn Fisher over the week end, and had a great time, but have not had much chance to talk with her as yet. Miss Johnson—or the New Castle bunch, am not sure which—is going to entertain the local Geyser Savages the night before Thanksgiving. Am getting a new dress made, quite a case of necessity I assure you, as I know you will agree. It is dark blue silk, made full, with a piece on the skirt, probably eight or ten inches deep, running from the panel up on the side, and down in the back. The waist is jacket effect, with a deep belt, and a vest of blue and new shade of grey Georgette Crepe. Then have material for a rather dressy dress, which I can also wear next Summer, deep shade of pink Silk Warp Crepe De Chine, made from a Pictorial Review pattern skirt, three piece, the sides with a frill about the depth where the panel would come in a skirt, and surplice effect. V shaped neck, pull sleeves, deep black velvet girdle, and trimmed around neck and sleeves with ecru lace. Thanks for suggestion about Mackinaws. Think I’ll invest. You know it gets cool in Geyser Land – and
“Over the Camp by Honey Moon Trail
The Deaux Drops love to Go.
To see the Giant great,
When it plays in state,
And other events—you know.”
And you know too, what those other events were, that goes without telling.

The City of Pittsburgh is all dressed up celebrating its Charter Centennial, with Pageants at night at Forbes Field, and on Friday a parade eight miles long. I believe our office will close during the time of the parade, while we go out and watch it.

Dear, dear, what can the matter be? Can’t you see my tears a-falling? I am just shedding them over those rotten logs disappearing. Whatever will we do? Of course there are benches, geysers, trunks, and a few other things, but we never never could do without those dear old rotten logs—well, I’ll say so!

Speaking of your watch, mine has been on a still longer vacation, and now, after nearly a year’s rest (wish I could have that in Y.N.P.) it has again returned on duty to its original owner—charges only $2.25, and you know that means nothing to a returned Savage, oh, no.

Good luck on the Bazaar. We have been having Socials, and this coming Thursday night one of my girls is going to entertain the Sabbath School class at her place. Item of local interest—our Country Club burned to the ground Saturday. It was decorated for a Hallowe’en dance, scheduled, for that night,—but of course it would be a missing quantity. I know it would not equal a Wylie Geyser Heaver and Scissorbill dance anyway, don’t you?

Oh, Bee, speaking of the moon, did you know there is still another one. I wonder if I’ll (say we, rather) will ever get over looking at the Moon, thinking of those in the Park, having a sinking feeling Oh, so lonesome and blue? Whatever would we do without letters. We simply shout over some of those we get, and know we could not survive without them.

Did I tell you I have started back with my music lessons, can’t settle down to practice, and don’t “know nothing’”? My teacher says if I ever loosen up my wrists and fingers we’ll have a celebration and big feed. Here’s hoping.

Am reading Harold Bell Wright’s “When a Man’s a Man.” Get it Bee, do, for while the scenes are placed in Arizona, it is all about the western life, cowboys, and roundups, and makes you homesick, blue, lonesome, wish you were back, glad, and a general combination of everything. I can just hear different people making some of the remarks in it, and sure do appreciate it more than I would have before going out.

Don’t believe I have written you since Vessie and I came to Pittsburgh, attended a combination Yellowstone and California illustrated lecture given by Union Pacific under auspices of See America First lecture, [by] Mr. Leffingwell, very good, and views grand. They were all taken this summer, while we were there, 175 colored slides of the park, and 3000 feet of motion pictures showing all the geysers in action except the Daisy, and I sure did want to go out and see the Daisy play. They showed the Riverside from first across the Firehole River, and you could see the Sagebrushers on the hill beyond—then just across where you would see the formation (also up in there where, just a little beyond, was good rotten-logging). Showed the Grotto, Grand, Castle, Giant, Old Faithful, all in action, colored view of Emerald Pool, Morning Glory, Amethyst Pool surrounded by Biscuits in Biscuit Basin, the inside and outside of Old Faithful Inn, and through one of the windows you could see the camp of Shaw & Powell; and they showed our own dear Wylie Geyser Camp. Just think of that. And during intermission between Yellowstone and California lectures who came over and talked with us but our old “Father” Bierman, of the Union Pacific, who personally conducted us to Omaha. It seemed almost like meeting a “sure nuff” Savage, and we enjoyed our chat very much.

Am going to mail you all the rest of the songs, poems, etc. which I copied for our books—mistakes included, uncorrected, and know there will be a number of duplicates of those you have already received, but you will have a waste basket handy to care for them.

Will close now, with a heap and a heap and a heap, honey, heap of love.

Savagely your Sister,


T H E    P O S T S C R I P T

With reference to a picture of Esther Baxter, yes we do have a picture of her, but you never would know her. It is the one taken the morning we left home for Yellowstone, Ex-Savages and those soon to be. It is pretty good of all the bunch except Esther and me, and we are on the end and blurred. Wish we had a good picture of her, also a good one of Gula Frew. Did you know that Esther has gone to the Braddock Hospital (a suburb of Pittsburgh) to learn to be a nurse? She is so strong, willing, tender hearted she surely will make an excellent one.

Last night when I arrived home found the extra leaves for my kodak book had arrived, so I played with the baby, my brother and his wife came over, and while we visited, I put in a lot more of my pictures. Wish you could see my book when completed. Vessie called “Looking at you” and said she had seen Mird, but she being all dressed up, he did not know her.

Now as to my desires—I am something like a baby wanting the moon—there is something more. If you ever get them, I would like to have a copy of Chick Williamson’s “Rotten Logging” poem, Mird’s letter to Miss Johnson; Chip Samuel’s song about the autos, also about the derned old Ford; and the song “On the Yellowstone Trail” the words, the song, or the name of the publisher and town where published. It is Livingstone, Gardner, or one of the towns very near the Park, I know that. If there is anything we have or can get you, I am yours to command.

In the picture line, I believe these are your negatives, and we would like two each:

Cora, Vessie and Peter Dallas
Dick sitting on log in Firehole River
Bee at Lone Star
Mary, Bee & Pinky on steps
Dick, Cora, Ed, Shroeder, and Riddle beside Coach
Sagebrusher with donkey
Your Rotten Logging picture—Isen & Cora, you and Allen.

I am returning the 40¢ and if this does not balance kindly advise and I’ll remit instanter.

Lovingly yours,


February 8th, 1917
My dearest Bee:

Yesterday your good letter came, and right away—as usual—I got in the chatting mood, thinking of a dozen and one things I wanted to tell you. Inasmuch as a good bit of it is gossip, if I do not send the same to you promptly, it will be arriving during Lent, and then suppose a certain young lady, who has given up worldly things, could not read until after Easter, and as she has previously informed me patience is not one of her strongest virtues, lest temptation prove too strong, am not going to put it in her way—hence:

With reference THE PARK (oh—ooh—yumminy yum, yum, as Rae says,) to straighten out these reports and rumors, which seem to be as complicated as those in connection with U.S. and Germany, will tell you all I know. Rae wrote that she, Nance, and Nance’s sister and Clara were all out to visit Lady Mac about three weeks ago, all on a Sunday afternoon. Lady Mac then said she did not know whether she would secure her position or not (although Rae seemed confident she would.) She had told Miles when she left last year that if Bird Clarke came back, she would not—it would either be MacCartney or Clarke, but not both. She did not like the style of drivers he employed, the Skinner style, you know. Then a Miss Shawe, who seemed to be head of the Shaw & Powell, would not work with a man named Mormon [Moorman] at Gardner, who is very essential in the line of auditing. Rae said before all gets settled there will be a number of upheavals and she feared the Excelsior would play. They have not yet started taking inventory, and do not know how many of their Polly-Anna’s and rugs and stools are scattered over the country, and she had a hunch Y.P. would not be a bed of roses this coming Summer for the Savages. Clara and Nance were not going to apply, and she did not know, but they had better not tempt her too far.

Next, Dorothy heard just after that Lady Mac’s Niece was on College Hill (Beaver Falls) collecting the MacCartney’s worldly wealth to forward to them to California, and said this self-same Miss Shawe had gotten Lady Mac’s place, and she would not be back. Now we do not know what is the latest news, but it is all sad enough. Spooks wrote to Miles about applying (delighted to think Lady Mac might not be back as he said he stood a chance then, but not otherwise) and Miles told him the application blanks are sent out, from letters previously received, about whom they are going to take?

Thirdly: (as the Minister says) Fergie called me up, and said Little Eva wrote her Bird Clarke thinks there will be some coaches in the park (very very few) for those who prefer to travel in that manner to autos. I do not see just how this can be, as the autos are put in against the desire of the Camping Company, but to comply with orders issued by the Government. It’s a cruel world, anyway.

Cora was telling me she had gotten her kodak book, and was so anxious to begin work on it. She thinks it is just about like ours (of course you know now just what it is) We have not done anything to ours for an age, but are getting some new pictures, so will shortly. Have Ed’s negatives and Billie Wilson’s, which Oran (my brother) thinks he will print Saturday night. Billie said she had been holding hers for the N.C. girls to have prints made, but as they did not seem inclined to do so, was sending them to the Valley for the Savages there. She said every time the girls in the west wrote, they wanted to know when she would send them there. Naturally they are anxious. Our negative, Cora’s and Rae’s, as well as your Wylie Way Magazine sent in November, are in N.C. some place. The last I heard of the magazine Johnnie had it. Don’t know when all will get back to the Valley. I would like to have that view of the six Deaux Drops some time, from Rae’s negatives, but suppose it will be eventually why not now.

Spooks says if he does not get back to the Park he wants to go to Los Angeles and work in the Power Plant there. Billie Wilson says all she hears speak wish to go back and are talking strongly that way-ward but with all the changes there seems to creep in a little note of doubt, and Really, Bee, I wonder how many of the old bunch will get back. I rather imagine they can be counted on the fingers of one hand. One by one they are giving up hope. Cora does not intend to do so, nor Ed Klingensmith. Fergie has been called by the Red Cross to go to the Mexican Border, with nine others, on the 15th of the month. She does not know whether she will get down in the Valley to see us or not, but will at least call me up here in town before she leaves. She thinks perhaps now the complications with Germany which have arisen, and the bringing home of so many of the troops may change matters, and they will not now be sent. So many of the girls are commencing to take up First Aid work. The 1st Presbyterian Church in the heart of the City, very wealthy, has started a class. We do not have anything of the kind down home. I wonder what the end will be, and how things will stand when Summer comes? That may most decidedly change our plans, also. As I said to Fergie, probably among the first to be called would be a bunch of our Scissorbills and Skinners. Don’t the very thought of it make you just sick, Bee, for what is the use of it all, and what good will come. Europe has proven it is simply a slaughter, and bringing about of sorrow and misery and suffering.

What will the reckoning be
When the fortress falls,
And the last dreadnaught of the sea
Looms silent by shot-seared walls?

When the last long line of men have faced the guns and died,
When the last beautiful death-winged bird is tied,
When the lust for blood and the maw of greed lies satisfied,
What will the reckoning be?

Oh dreamer, you with lowered head;
O mother, there beside your cherished dead;
O trooper, long by bloody butchers led,
What will the reckoning be?

What will the reckoning be?
Baubles to one—
To others, statues there beside the sea
To butchery well done,
And empty stools beside a lonesome cottage hearth,
And misery and want and woe where once was mirth,
The awful aftermath of war upon the earth.

----W.C. Smith in the New York Times.

[Vessie’s next letter was written in pencil on rough paper that has turned brown with age. She pasted black-and-white magazine pictures on a number of the pages in place of words, and I cannot quite reproduce the effect here. The envelope was a very heavy manila style, four inches by seven, with the name and address cut from magazines and pasted on.]

New Brighton, Pa.
March 3, 1917.
Dearest Bee:

On account of the high cost of living and not being able to afford ink I haven’t been able to write to you before; but yesterday the brilliant idea of making my magazines serve me, came to my rescue—hence the envelope. Yes; we certainly are noticing the H.C. of L. We are not dining upon , & a is an unthought of luxury.

I heard that there was a family in Brighton who had for dinner one day last week and it was not understood at first but later it came out in the papers that they had been entertaining the President. People around us think we are very rich because we keep a cut glass bowl of on the buffet. You may be sure that some one is always there on guard though.

O, I must tell you of our grand banquet we had last Friday night. It was the county alumni of our Alma Mater, Slippery Rock. We held it at one of the hotels in Rochester ($2.00 per). The dining room was decorated in green & white, our school colors and lots of and on the tables. Some menu too, eight courses with everything imaginable that was seasonable, or unseasonable, but everything delicious.

Then we had the toasts and between courses. Your uncle Dudley sang a parody on “A little bit of Heaven”; a “Long time ago” graduate had (written) composed the words; all about how “They sprinkled it with knowledge, just to make its records grow . . . . & peopled it with teachers of good & noble stock, And when they had it finished Sure, they called it Slipp’ry Rock.” We had other parodies on “Tipperary,” Old Oaken Bucket, etc. Then all the pleasure we had in meeting & greeting (and cheating—to make it rhyme) our classmates & former friends. Then to end it up Dorothy, Ruth—Dick’s sister, and I were all brought home in a , or lima bean—as you choose to call it.

Do you remember our ptomaine poisoning episode of last summer and how we talked about the real damage of it, etc.? Well, last Saturday night the valedictorian of my class of 173 from S.R. was at a party, ate ice cream, got ptomaine poisoning and died the next day. I simply can’t get it out of my mind now and think all the time of how fortunate we were in having no fatalities last summer.

We girls, Dorothy, Perla & I, have joined the business girls’ Bible class of Beaver Falls. Cora has belonged for a long time. We meet every Thursday evening about six o’clock, have the nicest little suppers—10¢ per, a blow to the H.C. of L.—and social time with our fancy work, etc., then the Bible hour. Then we are through about eight o’clock so—we really have the whole evening to use as we please. We have been taking in a good movie afterwards. Next Thursday I am on the committee to help get the feed ready; we’re going to have split rolls, and butter, baked beans, pickles, pineapple gelatin and coffee. Won’t you join us?

Had the nicest meeting of our fancy work club this week and the dandiest refreshments; pink ice cream in hatchet shapes with George Washington’s profile moulded on top (I hated to behead the old top but the deed had to be did), then dark cake and coffee with mints and walnut candy and little cherries for favors. We have had our first club baby too; one of our former members is married & lives in Youngstown, so at the next meeting we are going to have a shower for Edward Phillis, then put all our gifts in one box & forward it to him. I know the dear infant will be delighted.

Dorothy was over last night & Cora was supposed to be up but she failed to put in an appearance; don’t know where she has disappeared. Of course, I had to go to choir practice early in the evening and my big brother tried to persuade me to go to a movie afterwards, but I am too loyal a Deaux Drop to stay away from the rest of us, so I hastened my steps home over our beautiful snow, which was yesterday but is not today. Of course we talked of nothing but last summer & next summer, or what we might do next summer. I think we all agreed to send our applications to A.W., for we can’t do anything more than get turned down anyway. O, Bee, wouldn’t it be just grand if “we all” would get to go back?

Have been crocheting a little lately; made a pretty pink yolk for a pink silk camisole and now I’m doing a couple of dresser scarfs in yellow cretonne with yellow lace all around ‘em. Don’t you think we can make good use of them at good old Y.N.P. next summer, on those lovely little wash stands, bedecked with six different kinds of shoe polish, one glass of mustard, two plates of ham sandwiches, and four water pitchers? O, I’ve had my Yellowstone pictures framed too; six of them, so see in your mind’s Vess’s room like a veritable Geyserland itself.

I was a real sport today, Bee; invested in a new spring bonnet, the reason? why yes, yesterday was pay-day. No, it is a very plain affair but just exactly what I wanted; a shiny black with a high dinged in crown, so-so drooping brim and black ribbon around the crown and ending in a tailored bow on the side.

Well, I’m sure you are tired trying to make this out so I’ll stop and leave you in peaces and incidentally get my hand work ready for my S.S. kiddies for tomorrow morning. Have a solo for church to run over again, too. So will say Good night, but next summer when we’re all over at the Canyon I’ll say it to you in the right way.

Your foolish but loving
Savage Sister Vess.

P.S. Just blame this new shade in letter paper on the Beaver Falls school board. V.O.C.

[This letter fragment is from Perla.]

March 7th, 1917.
My Dear Bee:

I smell horse! There must be a Scissorbill around. Ah, lay off the chin music! Close your eyes and just imagine you are back in Geyserland listening to such expressions. Does it sound natural? We have heard so many reports of every kind, that really one does not know what to believe about ‘Home’ and the conditions which are going to exist this coming Season. Dick had a card from Rae last Friday saying Lady Mac was just back from a trip over Utah with the Miles and some Government officials, thinking of opening up a New National Park Camps in the Grand Canyon, and if she did not go there, if that fell through, she would be back in YNP. Then we heard from two or three different sources that the Miles—another time the Wylies—and Lady Mac had been to see about opening up a new National Park in Utah, and Lady Mac would have a better position than in YNP and have charge of it. Also that this Miss Shaw had her position in the Park That they were going to use the sites of S&P at Geysers and Canyon and Wylie site at Lake for the camps this year. That the Hotel Company has charge of all the transportation through the Park, both for Hotels and Camping Company, and the drivers will eat there; that there will be no time regulation for the autos they will have professional help at the Camps, a day and night shift and serve meals at all hours; that Lady Mac wrote to the Bortman girls in Beaver (at Roosevelt this year) and said she would not be back; that she wrote to a girl on College Hill, who teaches in Beaver Falls High school, who applied, and said her recommendations would be good, and would send her an application blank . . . and so on and so on. Now what is true? If the drivers are all at the Hotels, and professional help and open all hours, that queers the YNP for our class of girls. Then, too, Lady Mac may have said to this girl her recommendations were good, and would see that Miles would forward her application blanks, and she herself not be there, but she rarely tells anyone as to whether they will get back until the time for appointment comes. I think to play safe we had better plan our vacations together and count on the Lake Erie cottage in any event, don’t you, and in case we do so, Bee, when would we want to go? They will shortly be taking up about vacations in our office, and we have to decide and stand by our time, so that all may make their plans. I get two weeks vacation, and have first choice, unless they should change it this year and give first choice to one of the girls who did not get any vacation at all last year. When shall we ask for, that we may all be off together for Lake Erie? Of course Dick and Vessie are off all Summer, and don’t know for how long Cora has engagements for dressmaking. I think it would be most important that we two should decide on the time, and that the rest could make their plans fit. If the Park is to be opened in Utah, where Lady Mac was, then Rae is mistaken and it would not be the Grand Canyon, as that is located in Arizona . . . Oh, it’s a cruel world!

Last night Oran (my brother) and I were looking over descriptive folders of various vacation sites—Rocky Mt. Nat’l Park, Glacier, etc. He had two little folders, one descriptive of the Holm Lodge, on the Cody Road, just nine miles from the Eastern entrance to YNP, have log cabins, cottages and tent houses with baths. Alt. 7,300’, daily auto service to and from Cody, rates including saddle horse and board $100.00 per month. They take two horse-back trips personally conducted through YNP each Season including Tower Falls, Cook City, thru upper Clark’s Fork Valley, Crandall

[The letter ends at the bottom of the page and the next page is missing.]

April 5th, 1917.
Bee Dear:

The whole day through, Have I thought of you. If I’d had my way, without this delay, I tell you true, I’d have written to you. This far I wrote, when the buzzer spoke.

Now, I’ll once again make an attempt. Have surely been on the jump all day long. At noon went with one of the girls to the First Presbyterian Church to a noon-day service in our block. Just finished calling up the YWCA about a course they are giving in Base Hospital Work, 10 lessons of two hours each, or fifteen lessons of one and one-half hours, lectures, etc. after which you take the examination. However I could not possibly get home after that time and hate to impose on good nature for so long a period and stay at somebody else’s home. The Trinity Episcopal Church adjoining our building have also a course two nights a week, ten lessons to each course, one First Aid, the other Home Hygiene which fit you for the same work, but they have already started. I surely would like to take up something of that kind, for feel it will be probably needed. With the condition of our country now I see where Fergie is terribly awfully busy, and our little busy Bee busier than ever, not with society, which will probably be a minus quantity, but telling where when and why our men are at certain places. Heard that most of the College Boys have signed up to go if needed. Oh, Bee, don’t it just make you heart sick? Have thought of Kewp and Gene, with their Military training, Doc Condon, our SMU boys, and wondered if Earl, our cow-boy would not enlist. Also of Bill and Lloyd. Oh, how happy we were in Geyser-land last Summer, and what changes a few short months do make, and how many more are liable to be made in the next. We all planned so certainly to go back this year—see all it amounts to. Our Commutation tickets are to be raised the first of the month, do not know to what amount, but our salary remains the same.

Went in yesterday to the Trinity Church and wrapped bandages at noon, learning to make head bandages, which they are sending to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. With so many signs to enlist, to join the Red Cross, classes being started everywhere, and the news as we get it in the papers, it sounds as our Rae said “IT’S A CRUEL WORLD!”
Arrah go way, go way, go wa-an, I wanna go back to Geyser-Lan’ To Geyser-Lan’ my heart will turn – For it all other spots I’d spurn.
The wild flowers are coming out in bloom. Cora said if nice next Sabbath for us to take a walk, but imagine, since she has a new natural shade Pongee suit, she wants to doll up and display it, but since I have nothing new but a coat, would rather hike me to the woods and gather Hepaticas, and try the back-to-nature game. Yes, Cora, is all O.K. She must have thought you owed her a letter for more than once she has said ‘I do wonder what has become of Bee and Rae.’ Dick, Cora, Vessie and I, as per usual, go to Bible Class and Business Girls in B.F. (Beaver Falls, for your edification) and after that adjourn with ye older Savages to the home of one of the girls to send out invitations for our SAVAGE REUNION to which we are just now eligible, and which nearly fell through before we got to attend one of them. Last year they were short in funds, and the committee had to dig down into their pockets to produce the extra amount needed. This year with the increased cost of everything, and the lack of response to some ‘feeler’ post cards sent out, there was grave danger of it dying a natural death, but it did slide over the Holidays, when always held, and resurrected a week ago, when we met with pineapples, olives, etc., regular Savage fare, savage costume, dancing, cards and gossip. Our invitations will run something like this . . . . . .
“Come one, come all, Or the Savages fall. This positively is Our very last call. Be sure to attend As on you we’ll depend. R.S.V.P. With the wherewithal.”
As they said, it is now or never, as with Lady Mac gone, they probably will not take any more Savages from the Valley, and so it just would drop out of existence, much to the sorrow of all loyal Savages.

Met Allie Bortman last Thursday night. She is a beauty. She was Lady Mac’s private Secretary in the Park a couple of years, stayed at the Canyon, and this year had charge of Roosevelt, where her sister was also. One day Dan Miles and family (A.W.’s son) came up in his car, and they went back of Camp, discovered a petrified forest just a half mile away. They left the car and gathered specimens and curios, their sweaters and hats laden with them. The Swaddie became suspicious, came up, parked the car, and said they could not take it back to camp until evening. They left all the specimens in the car, walked to camp, then in the little dump cart brought the Miles baggage to the car, took home their specimens, and he left on the three o’clock schedule on to Gardner. He was furious at the butting in of the Swaddie.

This has been awful all day, high winds and cold dashing rain. The elements were doing their best to carry me over the bridge into the big deep river this morning, and although I am a champion heavy-weight, they nearly succeeded. After battling again with the elements for twenty-five minutes outdoors, three-quarters of an hour train ride, a couple of hours at Bible Class, and then again a journey to the home of our honorable Savage, I am sure I’ll make a hit with any new ones who happen to appear, don’t you? However, they are nearly all tent and D.R. girls, the Scissorbills and Skinners coming from other sections of the country, and the girls won’t care if you don’t look so nice—neither will the others if they like you well enough (?)

Heard Christine Miller sing with Richard Buhlig playing on the piano. He was quite good, and I enjoyed his playing better than that of Harold Bauer, who is considered the world’s greatest pianist of today. Christine’s skirt was very nice, but in the press of business her dressmaker could not finish the waist, so she came without it.

[Note: the United States Congress formally declared war on April 6, 1917, the date of this next letter.]
Friday — 6th, 1917
Good Morning:

Or rather it is not, but is blowing a wet snow which is just like rain and melts as soon as it hits the ground or you, and your dear little fingers get cold holding onto the handle of an umbrella. However, we don’t have any wind around here, not at all. Not when you consider the wind took the roofs off three freights coming down Bozeman Mountain!

Last night there were not many girls at Bible Class, owing to so many churches having services, the out-of-town teachers going home over Good Friday and Easter, and such a bad night. The committee had prepared for sixty and there were only 25 present, so we had a double lot, and paid 20¢ for it instead of 10¢, thus helping out the committee. Dick was not down, they being very busy these days at their house, remodeling it into two six-room houses, expecting to keep one-half, and then building a house on their farm two miles out in the country, where the father and mother will live, but will also retain the town home. Also her sister is going to be married very shortly to a Geyser Savage of many years ago. After Class seven of us met and addressed 150 invitations, ran short, and meet again to address the balance next Tuesday. Of course we will not send out any until we have all of them, and the rest must be printed. Am enclosing one to you herewith, and you will notice they had to be changed somewhat. I think they are real clever. We wished we had had time to get in touch with you for a bright poetic invitation, as you have such brilliant ideas. I wanted to tell you that Allie Bortman (aforementioned) went one year with Red Barrett, was crazy about him; the next year when she went back and saw him, she wondered how she ever could have liked him! Also the funny combination, as she is a Catholic, and he a Mormon!

The Church Bells all over the City are ringing, calling the people to a 10:30 service. Attended the Trinity Episcopal Service on Tuesday, and the first number was a song for ceasing of war, and peace, (#199 I think) The last was one stanza of America, and two other hymn verses to the same meter. We left the Church to the strains of The Star Spangled Banner, and in front were two large flags draped. We found it quite impressive as you may know. Yesterday was at noon service at the 1st Presbyterian and today want to attend the Trinity again. Last night saw a patriotic parade in Beaver Falls, bands, and all the orders, etc. Wednesday night we had Congregational Meeting, reports from all organizations, vanilla and chocolate ice cream, cake and coffee, and a social time. Also all those who wished contributed, and we are going to have a nice big flag at our church.

Tonight one of my Sabbath School girls entertains the class, and we have the first rehearsal (in which I will give them the preliminary training, completed by our pastor) for a play just my class are going to give called ‘Slave Girl or School Girl.’ A friend of mine, and an Ex-Savage is in town and is going to call this evening, but sad to relate will be unable to stay at home and visit her. However, she is probably there for over the week end, so can come up Saturday.

We have a number of new members in our Fancy Work Club, fifteen now altogether, and such a lot of noise as we make. Last time left early to catch the last car on the hill going past our place, and Cody, Vessie and I stopped and listened to the hubbub. We called to Dick to ‘Lay off the Chin Music’ but there was such a goodly supply she never even heard us.

Did I say I am enclosing a copy of Mird’s letter to Miss Johnson written from the Thumb? He wrote it over, and it is not exactly like the first one, nor do I think it quite as good.

Our YPCU Presbyterial Rally is to be held in our church the night of the 20th. The 26th comes a Banquet by the Business Girls’ Bible Class following a contest they have had; and the 27th our Savage Party. You see we, too, manage to keep pretty busy.

We, too received application blanks, and fully intended to fill them out and send, but with the HCofL, changes in the Park, Professional help, and now the War situation we decided we had better sadly and longingly give it up, and perhaps, if all things improve and work out well, we can go to Zion Canyon in 1918, and Lake Erie in 1917. I shall ask for my vacation in August the 6th to 19th, and if I cannot get it then, will notify you as soon as I can. They have not yet discussed vacations here.

No, you had not told us of B.M. Bower’s Montana Cowboy books, and we’ll have to see if they are to be had at our Library. Is he any relation to Johnny’s Dickie Bower? We now have a 5¢ seven-day book from the Library called The Shepherd of the North a tale of the Adirondack woods, the French and a Catholic Bishop. Don’t know whether it is as western as we at first thought, but at any rate it is North. For our style of reading, we’ll take the west, either north or south.

Have not heard from Smittie of the three fingers for some time. Perhaps he is out preparing to help Uncle Sam. Wednesday night when coming home from Church we saw a little bunch—probably 25 to 50 men drilling, black and white,—parading up and down the street in the half darkness, and it seemed so much more real than these parades with bands, banners, etc., it made your heart come clear into your mouth. When it comes to parades that is one thing, and fighting for days in trenches, with the shells bursting all around you, dead and wounded, that is altogether another.

I have gotten a new coat, blue gabardine between a Copenhagen and navy in shade, the length of my dresses, trimmed with a white flannel collar and blue and white buttons. It is quite pretty, and a case of necessity. I debated whether I would get more service out of this or a suit, and my Mother wanted this—so.

As to the negatives, Cora just sent Ed’s home to him; ours are still in New Castle; we just have received Rae’s, and as soon as the four of us have prints made you will get them. Cora says you have all of hers; the former Savage negatives Dick has, and Cora wants some enlargements made, then will send on to you. I too, hope you’ll get them before 1918. We are living in a similar hope in connection with some ourselves.

That surely was some magazine, and we enjoyed it to the fullest. As to the birds and flowers whispering the secrets of sweethearts—we don’t mind them. As Fergie says, how could the old moon ever stand so many secrets, and she imagined it had many a good laugh, but was a wise old moon so would just wink its eye and go off under a cloud. That now explains why we are all so crazy about the Yellowstone moon. I never did quite understand it before. As for electric lights, I think I’ll take mine in the shape of a flashlight and dispense with the bulbs in the tops of the trees. Someone else might want to operate them, and the bears would be sufficiently afraid of our flashlights—if they would work.

Nearly time to go to church, and have heaps of work, so will stop now with heaps of love.



  1. Ivy Perla Caughey was born in February 1888 in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, to Clark and Mary (Bogg) Caughey. Clark was a farmer and blacksmith. Perla had an older brother, Oran Clark Caughey, born in 1884. Vessie O. Caughey, the youngest sibling, was born 10 April 1891. Perla became a stenographer and I think worked most of her life for the railroad company. Perla never married. Vessie became a schoolteacher. Vessie married Ansel Connell when she was around 40 years old. Their brother Oran married a woman named Jean and had four children; one died young. Vessie died in 1963, but I have not found Perla in any records after 1940.
  2. Teddy Roosevelt’s way of pronouncing Dee-lighted had caught on all over the country.
  3. “K-k-k-katie” was the name of a popular song of the time. They used the song title to refer to Katherine Mueller, the daughter of the Yellowstone Geysers Camp laundress.
  4. Cody was Cora Cunningham’s nickname.

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