a letter from my great-grandmother circa 1925.
edited for length; eccentricities are as they appear.
Dearest Nina -
I honestly don't know what I'd do without your lovely newsy letters. Your latest of the 13th of December came last night, as did Jennis' nice Christmas missive. I surely was sorry to hear that Mr. Galloway had had to go to the hospital. I s'pose poor Jennis doesn't know his head from a hole in the ground between his father, the new house and business.
Believe me - you're going to be 1st class - with showers built in tubs and pedal faucets. When I come to a bridge meeting at your house I shan't wash until I get there. As soon as possible do take a snap of the residence and send it on. I'm awfully interested and I'm about as pleased at your having a house as if twere mine.
Had an announcement from Margaret Requardt - I do hope this venture will turn out better than the other one. I was terribly surprised to hear about the Mill's girls - not as much Edith as Charlotte. Come to think of it - we're rather fortunate in the pair we picked out - even tho mine shoots off his mouth afore he thinks...and yours is Radio Mad.
Here's something to tell (Nanny) Mildred - we've been over the Chinese Frontier! Marjorie Knuckey - Fritz and I with an Indian driver - a Burmese servant - bedding for all - food for 6 days, started out on New Year's morning for Nham Khan. We sent the servant - Maung Po - by train to Lashio - (the end of the railroad in Burma) with the stores and with Tawpah driving - we reached Lashio at noon that day - had lunch there - picked up Maung Po - put him, the stores, and enough gasoline for the trip in another car - and drove on - the road was nothing but a mud track - over mountains and through virgin jungle - we made Kut Kai that night and stayed in the government rest house there. At Kut Kai we saw our first panther - just 150 feet from the bungalow - right then I started to be scared and kept up the good work - till we got back to Namtu - wishing every minute that I hadn't gone. Now of course - that we're back safely - I'm glad I was along. The next morning we started out again, sending the other car back to Lashio - and leaving Maung Po - some of the stores and the gasoline in Kut Kai - in order to lighten the load - as we had a climb of nearly 5000 feet ahead of us (the car was an Overland - nothing but that or a Ford could have stood the racket.) From then on we were beyond signs of humanity or civilization, and 130 miles from the railroad.
We arrived about 6 - found the rest house crawling with vermin and what not - decided we could not sleep there - so left for Lashio - it was pitch dark and we had thick jungle to go through - and very steep climbs - the fan belt was slipping - and the water in the radiator boiling - when we saw a tiger within ten feet. I never prayed so hard in my life - for the engine to hold out. Fritz says he expected his hair to take his hat clean off his head. The two guns were not loaded - and the ammunition was under the rear seat - on which I was sitting - I was too paralyzed to move - and anyway we'd have had to ask the tiger to wait while we loaded the rifle. Fortunately wild animals are terrified and fascinated by lights or fire of any sort - and old Mr. Tiger never moved. About 20 minutes after that we passed a panther so close on my side of the car that I could have patted his head - had I been so inclined. Every minute we expected the motor to give the last gasp. But somehow I think my prayers must have been answered - and we reached Lashio safely at about 9:30 P.M. We stayed at the rest house there - and collected several bedfellows of the crawling variety. The next morning we started on our last lap - to Namtu - a distance of 42 miles - which it took us over 8 hours to do as it had rained the night before (a most unusual occurrence for this time of the year) and the roads were so bad that Fritz and Maung Po had to lash the rear wheels with rope - having no chains - it wasn't mud - it was like thick axle grease. Marjorie and M.P. got out and walked up to their ankles for about 2 miles to lighten the car - but I stuck to Fritz as we were on the side of a cliff with a precipice on the left side - and I was determined to go over with him. Fritz admitted afterward that he didn't expect to make Namtu - ever. If we'd had an accident there'd have been no help and we'd have had to remain all night in the jungle with the tigers leopards and panthers. The rear wheels were skidding so bad that poor Fritz's arms were nearly pulled out of their sockets - and one time we missed going over into the river (about sixty feet below) by a margin of not more than six inches. This all sounds like a fairy story - but its not one bit exaggerated. I can't describe to you how full of thrills and interest the whole trip was. Oh yes - at one part of it Fritz and Maung Po had to cut down bamboos and fill in holes in the road in which you could have buried a cow. Fortunately he had taken Tawpah's big knife away from him when he got drunk (all the natives carry big knives) otherwise Fritz'd never have been able to cut anything to fill in the holes. I still thank God that we're back safely.
Isn't that like Virginia? She never seems to realize that acceptance of every invite entails some retaliation on her part. Goodness knows how many meals (informal) she's had at our house - and I've never once eaten at her house except t'was at a party or something of the sort - I can't imagine how elated you were over the cordial invite.
I had a card from Marguerite H. telling me she'd had a serious operation - what was it - ovaries removed? I would think Don ought to get operated on also.
Mother writes me that for Nov. Frederick was second in his class in everything and got 95 in arithmetic and in Dec. he was in the lead. Isn't that splendid - particularly when you consider how much time he lost last winter & spring.
Isn't Lawrence Baldwin younger than Marie Stack? He had a case on me at one time - I believe it was during my 4th year at W.H.S. - but that he was an awful "dumb brute" - maybe he's changed. Mother telles me that Bert is engaged to a Sally Boggs of D.C. All the old belle's are getting married - It's very sad!
Thanks a lot for your Christmas card. I can't remember whether or not I thanked you in my last letter which I wrote in Namtu - Xmas week.
Fritz is still expecting to answer Jennis' letter by this mail - altho he's been very busy with figures and information to send to the states - as he thinks his Namtu visit will result in a blast-furnace job for the D. C. Co. If it does will be quite a feather in his cap.
I am playing tennis every afternoon down here and there's some slight improvement - I don't think I'll ever be able to challenge Helen Willis.
My hand is becoming more numb with every word I write - so I'll have to quit before rigor mortis sets in.
Best Love to you and Jennis from Fritz
and yours as always
P.O. Box 449