|At the Gilbert farmhouse, Nov. 23, 1942|
I wouldn't know as much as I do about Ina except that my dad saved letters she wrote to him beginning in the 1930s when she and Grandpa Jack struggled with issues of the Great Depression and loss of market for the crops. In other words, they had debt and limited prospects for the future. My dad didn't like to talk about life on the farm, so I treasure the letters, which I didn't even know about until after Daddy died in 1987. Most of them were written during the holidays, others in the summer and fall, but there are gaps in the information.
And then, about 2000, I made the acquaintance of a second cousin who sent letters written by Ina's sister Bertha, who lived on the adjacent homestead, again dated in the 1930s. In that packet were three precious letters that Ina had written to her sisters (Mabel and Ida) who lived in Drain, Oregon, and those have a different tone than what she wrote to my dad. I'm sharing excerpts from one of those letters here.
Ina wrote the following to her sisters in Drain, Oregon, in June of 1934:
We've been having a good big rain and are very busy canning and sewing.
Mabel -- I’m sending the dress at last. I didn’t cut off seams so you could alter if necessary. I lost the paper having your measures on it. I thought the gray not so good for you so got organdy and made the collar. I put in those old shirts for patches. Shirttails make good sacks. You see you are not the only one who patches. Would have put in another puzzle but didn’t have room. Tell Mona [a niece] she can get a cute thin curtain for her kitchen window in one of the Sear’s sales. It costs 28 cents for the sash ones. Hope you can make use of the old curtains. You tint them nicely by using a 10-cent package of Putnam dye. Orange.
Ida – I think you can alter that coat into a ¾ length and the collar can be turned. It is such nice material.
Have just been down to the garden and found the Drain squashes growing fine but the little beans from Nellie are not growing. Found one hill rotted but I planted a hill of the red ones, too, and so shall wait a little longer.
I’m still enjoying [memories of] my Drain visit. It was so beautiful.
Must close now with lots of love, Ina.
I just can't help but wonder how the sisters in Drain perceived the gift of hand-me-down clothes. Did they need them? Perhaps they did. Was Ina giving of her surplus, or was she giving away clothing that she (or daughter Shirley) could have used? Ina even realized the color of the dress (gray) was not good for Mabel, so she went to the trouble to make it an organdy collar.
As to the garden, evidently the Drain sisters gave Ina seed from their squash and beans. The squash was growing but not the beans. My dad was cautious about saving seed. Sometimes you have better results with professionally packaged seeds. Or not. As far as I'm concerned, gardening is a great gamble. KW
[The photo from left to right: Ida Dickson Patchen (Ina's eldest sister); Edna Patchen (Ida's daughter); Vance Dobson (my dad); Ina Dickson Dobson (my grandmother); Pearl Dobson Sanders (Ina's eldest daughter); and Julian "Jack" Dobson (my grandfather).]