Tuesday, December 1, 2015


Ina poured a cup of tea from the little brown teapot and sat down at the dining room table to wait for Jack to bring in the mail. It was mid-afternoon on Tuesday, and she was weary from ironing all morning long.

Ina, c. 1940
She and Jack always looked forward to the mail. The remote farm in north central Idaho was ten miles from the nearest town but sometimes Ina thought it just as well be a thousand. Horse and buggy transportation was now outmoded by automobiles, and Jack no longer wanted to hitch up the old horses and take her to town. But, the mailman came regularly up the steep and winding grade from town, bringing news of the “outside” world and also supplies if need be.

Just then Jack came through the kitchen door, announcing the arrival of Ethel’s letter. Ina would take time to savor it before beginning her evening chores. Ethel’s letters were always a joy to read for they were long and newsy – and typewritten. Jack pulled several gingersnaps from the cookie crock and joined her.

Ina began to read the letter aloud:
“Ernest’s present assignment has come to an end,” Ethel wrote, “and it may be several months before he is reassigned. Meanwhile, we’re strapped financially. We wonder if we could come and stay with you at the farm while he awaits word of his new position. We’d arrive before Christmas, of course, and it might be an extended stay.”
Ina's dining room

It was music to Ina’s ears all over again. “Isn’t that wonderful!” she said. Of course, she was sorry to hear of the financial setback but nevertheless delighted that they were coming. Here at the farm there was always plenty to eat, and it didn't take any more heat and light for five than it did for two. Best of all, six-year-old Sadie would be the delight of their Christmas. And though Jack said little, being gruff in his ways, she noted the spring in his step as he crossed the yard to the barn to do the evening chores. She knew that he was inwardly as happy as she. 

The house in the '50s looked much the same as in the '30s.
Ina felt light as a feather as she set about preparing the house for their evening comfort. It was already dusk as she went upstairs and lit a fire in the little woodstove in their bedroom. Reflecting her mood, it responded cheerily. The little fire would take the chill off the room. Jack had already tended the fire in the fireplace and it was burning well. She added two small sticks of wood to the kitchen stove in order to cook the evening meal. Feeling like celebrating, she decided to use that piece of leftover pot roast and make stew for supper. And she’d make cornbread, too. Jack loved cornbread and honey. Now to light the kerosene lantern in the kitchen and get to work. KW


Hallie said...

I love the old Christmas cards like the one featured. I didn't find true inspiration in cards this year (at the right price, anyway). I wonder if Ina really did like a typed letter.

Chris said...

You are such a great writer! I'm pulled right in and looking forward to the next installment.

Kathy said...

Well, obviously I think she liked a typed letter. Ethel had some business training, I believe, and she must have had a typewriter because her letters are typewritten.

Thanks, Chris. What can I say? I got a "C" in freshman comp at U-I.