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Monday, June 13, 2011

Family Letters from Fall of 1931

Just returned from seventh Annual House Girl Cousins' Reunion; it was close. If things had worked out on a slightly different time schedule, I may not have been able to go.  But as it was, DH was very lucky, and I was lucky to get to go to the reunion, too.

Our Uncle Jim passed away in March, and his son sent along several paintings Jim had done, as well as family pictures and bundles of letters: love letters between our grandparents dated 1900, and another bundle of letters written to our Uncle Ernie by his two sisters and mom, dated 1931. I am enjoying reading them, and am going to scan all for the other cousins who want them. Thankfully, our aunts and grandmother had legible penmanship, so they are quite easy to read.

Things were very tough, financially, in 1931, much like they are today. My grandmother was being nagged for the ten dollar washing machine payment, and my aunt had to pay her creditors half of what she usually did. At one point, my grandmother was in danger of having her electricity turned off. One aunt and uncle and their baby had to move back to the little house next to her parents, and she ate lunch with them everyday. Being invited to eat at someone else's house made groceries last a little longer. One of the letters gives prices for flour and sugar, and I'll post those later.  Mills had cut hours to six hour days and three on Saturdays, and they'd cut wages, as well. All this has a familiar ring to it as teachers in WA state where I live had a 1.9% pay cut this year--the first pay cut ever in my recollection. It's hard not to worry, but it's also encouraging to read these letters from 1931 and see that my relatives found ways to deal with hardships and go on to thrive. We can do that, too.

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