June 4 th , 1928
My Dear Anna,
Amongst the many copious notes I make from time to time and keep stored on
my desk for reference I find this one – ‘Write to Anna' – so, here goes –
I don't suppose for a moment that our mail will be leaving for a month yet,
but it would be sheer idiocy to leave correspondence until the week before
the mail leaves because I wouldn't be able to touch one tenth part of what
I should if I did that and you know the old proverb about “Procrastination.” So
from time to time I get busy and write. I know perfectly well that you'd smile
if you could take a peep into some of our desk drawers – they're already literally
bulging with letters – and – in my own case with my official correspondence
too. I'd just hate to start in to count the number of letters that Mary has
written during the past three months – but its really enormous – the pile she
has. I think she must have written to almost half the population of the United
States !! However, she gets an infinite amount of pleasure out of doing it – so
why shouldn't she?
It would be hopeless for me to attempt to tell you everything we've done since
I wrote to you last. Mary will, I am sure, keep you posted along those lines.
We've had a very pleasant and very busy spring and have done much work on our
cabin home both inside and out, Mary attending to the latter principally of
course. Everything looks very cheery and bright thanks to Mary's dexterity
with the paint and varnish brushes. We have certainly accomplished a great
deal during our year up here – the place doesn't look like the same we came
to a year ago at all. What with window boxes for plants, young spruce trees
I planted in the yard, and a stone-walk I made to the front door, window-frames
and doors freshly painted – why the place looks quite civilized!
Altho this has, as you will easily understand, involved many hours of careful
planning and much close application, yet we both feel that it has been well
worth it and we feel well repaid for all the time and labor that we have devoted
to it and we both love it more every day. You never saw such a couple of happy
kids as we are when we look around and think of it all. Why we're both so much
in love with the place – with our home and the surroundings – with the whole
country in fact, that we'd never dream of exchanging with anyone – not even
with George V King – or Coolidge – or Ford – or any of those fellows with lots
of money. I bet they don't enjoy life one-half so much as we don in our own
little tin pot way – Not one half!
The fact that Mary really does like it up here is of course, a source of much
gratification to me. You know, I was a little bit afraid that perhaps after
the novelty of the situation wore off, that she might become a little bored:
that the extreme isolation and lack of social intercourse with others of her
own kind, might cause her some slight unhappiness; but – nothing of the kind!
She appears to be as genuinely happy and content now after a year of this life
as she was at the end of the first month: perhaps even more so, because now
we have things so much more comfortable than we had at that time – so on that
score at least you need have no misgivings or uneasiness. She's happy enough.
I feel quite positive of that.
Regarding all the little trivialities of our every-day life – the little amusing
things that happen such as our having to carry our bath indoors every time
we want to use it (we haven't room for it in the house ) – why these things
we must save to talk to you about, when we see you. There are a thousand little
thing that happen constantly, which, to some folk might appear awkward or inconvenient
perhaps, but to us – why we just laugh at them, and take for granted and get
a real kick out of [them.] Well we're both glad that it is so, for if we took
such things seriously, we might be miserable.
As far as her health goes – well, she doesn't put on any flesh at all and
still weighs only about 100 lbs. and looks rather too thin to suit me. I'd
like to see her fatten up a little. She eats very fairly – better than when
we were in Dawson , tho' nothing to boast of even now. She most certainly does
sleep much better tho' and is not nearly so nervous. She still has a slight
cough tho' which she cannot appear to shake off. This worries me rather: she
doesn't like to take anything for it either – at least she doesn't usually
altho' she has been taking some stuff this last few days which appears to relieve
her to some extent. She just hates to take it tho I know and will ‘forget'
to take it unless I remind her.
Personally, I think she ought to take a course of that cod liver oil we brought
up for her, but up to the present she hasn't touched it. Mind you, [I] don't
want you to get the idea that I'm a pessimist or a scare-monger or anything
else equally foolish – nor do I think she ought to become an inveterate medicine
fiend: far from it: there isn't the remotest possibility of her ever becoming
that – not the remotest.
But you know – one of the very first things that our medical man in Whitehorse
asked her when she was examined there this winter was “Are you taking any oils?” Of
course she had to admit she wasn't. And altho he advised her to do so, yet – she
doesn't do it. She's a first-class nurse Anna, when it means looking after
me – or anyone else for that matter: but when it comes to taking care of herself
she's not so very good which is I have heard a failing not particularly hers
alone but of lots of other women with her training. The strange part of it
is – tho maybe it isn't so strange after all – that during the long trip she
made this winter to Whitehorse and back: when she tramped all day on snowshoes – got
in at night probably cold and hungry and tired sometimes: when we slept in
a tent, or out doors under a tree – or in an old deserted log-cabin; when she
was doing this I say, she was fine and when we landed in Whitehorse she hadn't
a sign of a cough and everyone who knew her commented on her healthy looks.
But as soon as she gets back home again for some apparently miraculous reason
she develops a cough again and loses weight. Why is it, I wonder? The doctor
said she was improving fast and – with care – she would be able to become normal
again. But – there's the rub: ‘With care' he said. But I don't think she's
careful enough. On her trips this winter she wore of course, woolen underwear
and sweater and parka which is the recognized thing to wear during the winter.
Then as soon as she gets home she discards all these (I know she couldn't be
expected to wear a sweater and parka in the house of course) and wears nothing
but these flimsy things she wears underneath and a dress that leaves her neck
and chest quite exposed. This might be alright if she never had to go outdoors
but when she as to keep trotting out and in I don't think it is sufficient
protection for her. I don't think so! It seems to me that she ought to wear
something around her neck and chest. We've had much discussion on the question
but so far she's won out. Well, anyway, she'll probably be better after a while
now we can get out more. We shall most likely get out quite a bit this summer
However, you've no reason to feel uneasy about her. She isn't sick or anything
you know but says she feels better now than she has ever done since she came
North, so everything will come out alright I'm sure even tho I do get very
concerned about her at times.
We are both looking forward hugely to the time when we shall be starting on
our long-looked-for trip home to see you all. We talk of it constantly and
are as enthusiastic over it as two school-kids. By the mail that takes this
to you, I am already making my official application for Leave of Absence for
next spring. I must do this early on account of the infrequency of the mails
up here: we may get no more word for some months you see. I am also writing
out for booklets and information regarding possible routes of travel across
the continent. We have not yet decided upon this point but we'd like to cross
by a different route to the one she came over on: it would be more interesting
to her. Altho of course any route will be new to me. We hope to go to Seattle
of course: further than this – we do not know – yet.
Just to show you how much the trip is in our thoughts I might say that I had
the most vivid dream of both you and Mark the other night. I saw you both as
clearly as I ever saw anyone in my dreams. While Mary also had a very clear
picture of both my mother and dad about the same time in her dreams. Oh, I
can tell you that we are certainly looking to that happy day when we shall
see you all – and – time passes very quickly you know.
Well, I think I'd better wind up now. This is quite an outburst isn't it?
Tell David that he must[n't] expect much peace and quiet even in his own home
when we get there. My Mary will just talk his head off: - and I'm not the ‘strong
silent type either – not by a long shot. However, he and I can go somewhere
together with our pipes and tobacco and leave you and Mary to talk things over – what
about it? Suit you?
I guess we could find something of common interest to yarn about. I got no
particular good fish stories tho. There ain't much good fishin' hereabouts – and
besides, we usually fish because we want a change of diet – not solely for
the sport. Not solely!
Love to you both in which sweetheart joins of course.
Yours affect. [ionately] (David won't mind this will he?)