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Claude to Anna, June 4 1928.
Claude to Anna, June 4 1928.
Yukon Archives: 91/112 f. 3, MSS 365
Ross River mailbox

Ross River
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 and Fall.

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?)


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