Laura's Letters - 8
I am sorry to hear in your note that you and Carl have separated. But if you were unhappy, that was the best thing to do. I’m sure that you will find someone else to love in time.
You say you are enjoying your work at the State TB Hospital. I wish you were here so you could give me your opinion on Mildred. She coughs such a lot, and is so weak and skinny. I am fearing that she might be getting TB. They say the North Dakota climate is good for curing it,
so I hope that is true.
I expect your work as a State board of Examiners for Nurses keeps you busy.
Just to keep you up to date with happening back here.
Mildred finished with her country school and got her certificate in June. She did real well in grades – all in the 80's and 90's. But when it came to September, I needed help with having Laurence now as well as everything else, so we had her stay home rather than starting in
Pettibone High School. I don't like the idea of her boarding there in the winter. Maybe next year when she is that bit older.
Benjamin and Caroline have had their 5tth baby this year, and they called him Walter.
My brother and sister-in-law had another boy, and they called him Ralph.
I heard that Oscar had another son too, called Ronald. I can hardly keep track of all my nephews and nieces. I think that makes their fourth - all boys.
Richard started school in September, and Chester will finish high school in May. He is the President of his senior class and is having such a good time there. He has been accepted with a scholarship at Jamestown College. He wants to learn Chemistry, which his father thinks is a
great waste of time.
Feb 14, 1929
Well, I have something to write home about. Or at least to a sister. Today I became a midwife. I helped my sister-in-law Lydia deliver her baby girl - on Valentine’s Day, no less. There was a big confusion, and no one to help, so I had to do the job. It was quite an easy birth, and she is a lovely little girl. Eileen Eleanor they are calling her. Another neighbor was there too, Mrs. Dahle. We were so nervous, but it all went well, thank goodness. The doctor from Woodworth was
unable to get there because of a snow storm.
Mildred is now going to Pettibone High School. She is boarding in the same place as Chester does, so he can keep an eye on her. She has started going to church now each week, and she really values that. Nick is so bitter about religion, and on the few times that I have taken the
kids to church or sent them to Sunday School, he and I have had harsh words. But now at least she can go to Church each Sunday without that tension in the family. I wish I could go, but Nick would be so difficult that it just isn't worth it. She was all excited about going over to the theatre at Woodworth to see the movie, Cyclone Sally. Chester took her, and another girl, who I think is his current girlfriend.
Mildred says that she wants me to get a cylinder for the player piano of the latest hit that both she and Chester like so much. It's called, “That's My Weakness Now.” I suppose I'll have to try, but I was rather hoping they will be more interested in classical type music.
Not much else to write about.
What a lot I have to tell you about. First of all we went to Chester's school play earlier this month. It was called Mummy and the Mumps - and Chester had the leading part of Lord Chelsea and he had some love scenes with a girl called Myra. We all enjoyed it.
Then on his birthday, his friends had a surprise party for him and he was out till 3 a.m. I know that he is a man now, and I can't watch him every minute and have to trust him to be sensible, but I was so worried I couldn't sleep until he got home.
Then we had his graduation. It was a very pleasant do, and we got to see many of his friends that he has talked about, but we hadn't met before. (pictured above, Chester on far right)
We met the Principal, she's called Mrs. Helen St. Jacque. She seemed a nice enough person. Then we met the President of the School, a man called Albert Marquart, and his daughter, Elizabeth who seems to have quite a crush on Chester. All the girls seemed to be fussing about
near him – Toots, Ruth, Annie, Myra, Thelma, Ingrid, Gertie, Ella, Pearl and the one I think he is most interested in is called Harriet.
There was one I remember in particular, because her family are moving to Jamestown, and she will be going to Jamestown College too. She is called Irma Adams.
They all talked about what a good sportsman Chester was, and although we knew he was playing basketball and doing track events, we hadn't realised how well he had been doing. Nick couldn't wait to tell his brother Len about it, because Len was the one who was always involved
in races. In fact Nick used to set him up in races way back when they lived in Chicago – and took bets, and then when Len won, as he nearly always did, they would split the money because it was Nick who organised it all. In fact, when they first moved to North Dakota, Nick and his dad had come out first – and when Len finally arrived, having travelled in a cattle car with some stock, he found out that it had been arranged for him to be in a race with all the local lads here – practically the first thing he did when he arrived, and, of course, he won that too.
Chester, as class president, gave a little talk about what he had valued most about their years together. I think it was the friendships that he thought was most important, but he said how much he had enjoyed the writing work he did for the school newspaper. They seemed a very
I feel that he is grown up now, and things won't be the same once he has left home in the fall.
North Dakota's most severe windstorm ever was recorded with 1,847 buildings damaged. The old territorial Capitol was destroyed by fire on December 28th. In addition to stiff competition and falling prices, the farmers are becoming plagued by insects, drought, bankruptcies and foreclosures.
Chester has gone off to Jamestown College. He is the first in our family to
go to College and I am so proud of him. He writes often.
He has taken an interest in being part of the Collegian, the College newspaper, which is now a weekly publication so takes up a lot of time.
He really enjoyed their Homecoming this year which is the biggest social event of the year. The College is celebrating its 21th birthday this year so they talk about it coming of age. In only two years, Chester will come of age too. I do miss him so.
Allan has decided he is quitting school after this year. There is no compulsion for him to carry on and he is not at all academic. But he is quite gifted when it comes to mending cars, and that is what he hopes to get a job doing.
My mother-in-law, Teuntje, has sold her house in Pettibone and moved in with Len and Lydia. She has pernicious anemia and is on medication for that. She also has had a few epileptic attacks in the last years. Once she had one at the dining table and sometimes she falls while
walking in the yard. She doesn't want anyone to know about them or to even mention them to her. As if it was something to be ashamed of. She can't help having them.
Love from Laura
We enjoy having Len and Lydia's little girl Eileen comes around to visit us. She has such fun with the animals. She likes the baby chicks and turkeys and little goslings and isn't the slightest afraid of the horses and cows. Nick gave her one of our kittens, and you would have thought he had given her a gift of gold. He also said she could bottle feed one of the lambs whose mother rejected it. She named it Sue.
Hope all is going well with you and the rest of the family.
Now that your divorce is over and done with, you can get on with your life.
Mildred is finishing school this year, but she hasn't actually got any plans for next year yet. She would like to be a teacher, I think. She has been sickly so much of the time, and needs to make up quite a bit of missed work in order to graduate on time. But she works very hard, and has a good brain.
My baby, Laurence started school this year, and he is coping pretty well. And my eldest, is also doing well. Chester sent a picture of himself with his friends, which I will send on to you. He is the one on the far right. He is always talking about a girl who at the College. She enjoys playing cards and Chester has taught her how to play bridge. I wonder when he has time for such frivolity.
I hope he isn't getting serious, as he is too young. He is working his way through College by being a milkman before class.
The only news around here is that my brother-in-law and his wife have had their second little girl, who they called Delores. Lydia is entertaining her parents, and the children are so frightened by her father, Carl Netzke, who is a crusty old German, and is 76 years old.
Come to think of it, Lydia's children are frightened of their grandma Wyngarden too, when she says to them that if they don't keep quiet she will call the police.
I've been having some bad stomach pains lately, and have made an appointment to see the doctor in Bismarck. Nick will take me in.
Love from Laura
November 10, 1931
Dear Mary and Bertha,
I wonder if you could let the others know. I have to go into the hospital in Bismarck. They don't know what is wrong with me, only that it is serious. They will be doing an operation on my stomach tomorrow. The pains are getting worse and I can hardly stand it. We have taken Mildred out of school to take care of the other children. I know it is her senior year, but there didn't seem to be any other choice. I have asked one of my friends, Pearl Smith she is called, if she will come and help her out with the housework and such like until I am back home and able to do it again. Of course, I might never get home again. I have a bad feeling about this pain. Pearl is a lovely lady, about 30 now but never been married. She is working for some people we know, but Nick
has agreed that we can ask her to work for us, part time too. She is very good with the children.
If things do turn out for the worst, I hope you will keep in touch with my family. Especially Mildred, as she values the contacts from family so much, and having only brothers, she might need somebody to go to for advice when she gets a bit older. She is a good girl, a hard worker and I know I can depend on her, but I don't want Nick to turn her into his housekeeper, if something should happen to me. She need to have a life of her own too.
I'll let you know how things turn out.
January 15th, 1932
Dear Aunt Agnes,
Pa said I had to write this letter to Ma’s sisters, but I am writing to you, because I was partly named after you, and because you have been the best letter writer in the family. I’m hoping you will pass the message on to the others.
It was such a shock when Ma died. She'd been in the hospital for a few weeks, and then when she had the operation, they said she had stomach cancer and it was too far gone and there was nothing they could do. So she just got weaker and weaker and they gave her morphine for the
pain and she pretty much slept all the time and then she died, in the night. Pa was there with her.
The funeral was so sad. She had such a lot of friends. Everybody around here knew her and liked her. We were all crying. She is buried in Pettibone, alongside our grandfather.
Ma died on the 7th. She was only 46. Pa is very upset, and he drinks a lot and takes it
out on us kids. I suppose I will have to stay for awhile and take care of the rest of the kids now. Chester is at college, and I want to go back and finish high school but Pa says not to go making
any plans just yet. Richard is 11 but Laurence is only seven, and he still needs a lot of looking after. Pa isn’t used to having to do things for kids. I have to do all the cooking and washing and
cleaning and everything else. We've had Pearl to help out for the last month or so and I told Pa that I thought he should hire her permanently as a housekeeper, so I can go back to school in
September, like I planned to do. We all like Pearl very much and Pa gets along with her too.
I’m also worried because Pa drinks so much. I go and empty out the bottles whenever I find them, but he just hides them somewhere else and gets really mad with me.
So that’s about all I have to say. I hope somehow I can work this out.
We do miss our mother so.
Love from your niece,
Mildred Agnes Wyngarden