Monday, February 15, 2021

Hard times in 1939

I was looking through my poem box when I noticed a yellowed old envelope between a couple of pages of poems .  My mother saved a lot of correspondence throughout her life, and this turned out to be a letter written in 1939 from an aunt and uncle.  This must have been the time my dad was a hired man for Ted McCoy, since they were wanting my parents to talk to a Ralph McCoy.  My 93-year-old sister remembers Ted McCoy.  I'll have to ask her about this Ralph, next time I talk to her. 

I didn't know Uncle Raymond and his family very well.  I remember them coming to visit us in Eagleville in the 50's, and then one time they visited us here, in the 70's when my mother and dad were living on our place; Daddy had lung cancer, which usually doesn't end well; so I imagine Uncle Raymond wanted to visit his brother one more time.  They had moved to California in the 50's, I think, and lived there for the rest of their lives.  

 My dad, like several uncles on both sides of my family, made his living working for farmers; they changed jobs a lot during the Depression.  This, of course, is all before my time; I was still five years in the future when this letter was written.

Ridgeway, Mo.

                                                                                                                                                  Jan. 8, 1939
Dear Bro and Sis and Children

Well we received your letter this afternoon and was very glad to get it. 
How are you folks?  We are fine.  Raymond working everyday.  I am not doing much of nothing.  I have been piecing on a quilt the last week.

It seems a little behind time to think about Christmas but we had a swell time and certainly received lots of nice presents and got lots more today.  I certainly got lots of dishes.  Guess that is one of the main things in housekeeping.

Well I think Raymond is getting dissatisfied with his work here.  So he said for you to go and see Ralph McCoy and see what kind of a deal he wants to make.  We want $30 a month, a hog to butcher, and a cow to milk.  For you to find out when he wants us to move in?  Please ans. by return mail or as soon as possible.

What did you folks do today?  We stayed at home.  My folks and the neighbors was over to spend the day. A fine time, first time my folks had ever been to our house.  Our little house isn't very nice looking but we seem to be awful happy and contented here.

We haven't saw Dad Allen's since Wed. night they was down awhile.  Dad Seemed to be feeling pretty good.  Saw Bill and Gladys this eve.  They are fine and they have two awful sweet kids.

Raymond said for you to go up and see him the night you get our letter.  Looks like we're asking a lot but maybe we can do that much for you some day.

Well I will close hoping to hear from you soon.
Write and come down                                                                                                      Oodles of love,      
Raymond and Marie
P.S.  I want him to give me wood to chop

Hard times, weren't they?  


  1. My Grandpa Gaddy had a store and gas Station at Ridgeway, Mo.

    1. Oh my goodness! He might have known some of my relatives! That isn't far at all from Eagleville, Mo.

    2. It's eleven miles from Eagleville.

  2. Oh how I love-love-love hand written letters and the habit of sending (real) mail. This is a treasure, Donna. Thank you for sharing it! ~Andrea xoxo

  3. Old letters are fascinating to read from a personal and historical perspective.

  4. Well, Donna, I just’re talking of Missouri. Grandpa lived at Ridgeway, AR, near Omaha. It’s just a few miles from Missouri, but in AR. Guess it’s two different places.

  5. "$30 a month, a hog to butcher, and a cow to milk and wood to chop." Those sure were different times. How great you have that letter. Letters last. All the emails we send today will just be gone forever.

  6. Reading letters of ancestors is something that will probably die for the most part with my generation. I have a few cards given to me that I've saved but I can't think of any letters written to me that I have saved. Most of those were emails and have managed to disappear over the years with changing email providers. It is a shame.

    I have quite a number of letters written by my great uncle and my great grandparents from a couple different lines in my family tree. They are real treasures that I read from time to time and have digitized them in hopes of passing them on someday.

    1. Ah, but you and I have blogs. I wonder if they'll stay after we're gone.

  7. My parents and lots of relatives were from Crane, Missouri. Mom, dad, and older brother left during the depression to take a job in Placerville, CA, as a ranch hand. Left for the Pacific Northwest for the shipyards during the war, then became an ironworker. Never went back to Missouri except for funerals and visits.

    1. Seems like once people move to California, they stay.

  8. Those days may end soon...what with the raging forest fires.


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