Time to Grumble


    1930: Gladys wrote to her father from Mulberry:

Dearest Dad of Mine—

    I’ll write you this morning and tell everything I forgot to tell Mama.  John [Clarence] has a job now and it is about to kill the family.  I’m so glad I don’t know what to do.  Mrs. Hall just cried and talked to me about how awful it was.  I told her I thought she ought to be thankful to have her kids as near her as she has, but John is too far away to suit her.  He is in Bonham.  I told her I’d want my kids to go away and learn something (then I dodged a little, afraid she might get mad), but she said I didn’t know what I’d want when I got her age.  She is too old to be changed so I shut up.  John took his car too, and that’s about to kill the girls [Lelia and Vera], but I don’t blame him.  It’s his!

    Make Mama’s Mother’s Day a happy one for her.
I love her so very, very awfully much, more than anything in the world.  I love you too—so write to

me and tell me everything because I’m lonesome to see you and talk to you.  Love to all.  Gladys 

    Hasn’t this rain been something terrible, but I suppose it isn’t much worse than it was last year.  I thought it would never stop the other day.  I was all alone—as I usually am, and such a rain came with lots of wind.  I don’t know a bad cloud when I see one so I didn’t go to the storm house.  I wish you all would build you one.  Why don’t you?  We have been reading of so many storms.  It seems that you can never tell when or where it’s going to hit.  Twenty-four funerals in one was to be held at Frost today.  The little town on the other side of Fort Worth.  I think of the school a lot and wish for its safety.

    I hope you go get your dress made because you need a new one.  I wish I could hear your program, and give the reading I plan to give here.  But Mother’s Day is sort of sad like—making those who have Mothers realize how much we owe to them, how much we love them—then causing the ones who don’t have Mothers to think back on past days and—so—I’m just kind of glad I won’t be there because I’d be sure to cry—& cry—& cry!  It’s bad enough away—but it would be worse at home I know!...

    Got a letter from you and Dean both today.  Sure was glad to get both.  I wrote her today and told her all the news and asked her not to tell, that I would wait until I was home to “open up,” but since news is so scarce without it, I’ll ask the family to “gather around,” and get quiet—and I’ll begin!

    I have a school!  Here are the facts.  Salary $105—and perhaps more.  Term—7 months.  Distance from Mulberry—10 miles.  Two room school.  I am Principal.  Will have 10 or 15 students.  Don’t know exactly what grades I’ll have.  But I guess it will be 7th 8th 9th 10th.  Clayton and I are going to study on the Arithmetic this summer.  I applied at Boyd when I first started out on my rounds.  It was just luck.  I saw a strange man at Wear’s store and I asked him where he lived and if there would be a vacancy in his school.  He told me there wouldn’t be but that the Principal of Boyd was leaving, and he used to live there.  On Monday I went to Boyd and applied.  Saw one trustee and he said they had already practically decided on a teacher, so I didn’t go to see the 2nd trustee, but stopped to see the 3rd and it happened that the 2nd was there.  Just luck!  I got to make one speech do for both of them—and had little hopes.  I hadn’t planned to see No. 2 because he lived off the main road and catching him at No. 3’s house was mere luck.  That was about 2 or 3 weeks ago.  Last Tuesday they came to see me.  It was morning and I was in bed about half asleep (morning nap), and while they were coming in I went to powder my face and comb my hair.  They asked questions and I did too and it was agreed upon.  When they left I just danced all over the house.  I started down in the field to tell Clayton but he was so far away I had to turn back to the house and wait until dinner.  When he came I went to meet him and told him to guess who had come.  He guessed Mina and others—but I told him no.  When he came in I introduced him to the Principal of the Boyd School!  He sure was glad and surprised.  I’m going to light house keep, I think.  I can have more what I want to eat. Clayton will have our washing and ironing done each week and I will have my school fires made.  Clayton plans to ask the man Principal here to stay with him.  Won’t cost him anything but half the groceries and that won’t be much.  I want him to because he will be so much company for Clayton.

    I went to Bonham Wednesday and signed the contract.  I’m so happy about it.  You see—I wouldn’t at all—and Clayton wouldn’t let me, but we must get out of debt.  That $700—and the last payment on the Catarina land.  [Clayton had bought land in south Texas.]  The $700 comes due March 1, 1931—then it will be paid for!  I’m glad to think of teaching again.  I’m anxious to begin but of course must wait until Oct. 13.  I have my application in at Bonham—if I get a place there I’ll resign at Boyd.

    Alright!  Now let’s have the comments:  Who will be first?  Wanda?  Ray?  Ma?  Pa?  All speak up and express yo’selves!

    I guess I’ve told all I know to tell.  The Halls are shocked and glad.  I love you all dearly.  Come to see me and I’ll cook you a good dinner.  Love to all from Gladys—Rags

    In the summer of ’30, Wanda, aged 10, visited Mulberry again.  Gladys wrote:

    Dearest Mama, We got your letter Tues.  Glad to get it, and I gu
ess Wanda was too, because she thought everything you said was funny.  We got a good rain Tues. night.  Sure were glad too.  Everything looks lots better and we feel better too.  Wanda hasn’t showed the least bit of home sickness so far.  She laughs all the time.  We act crazy to entertain her.  She seems to be having a fine time.  She is the smartest and cutest little girl I ever did see.  Clayton is crazy about her.  We plan to celebrate some way on the 4th and may take Wanda to a picnic.  I have got dinner started—have the potatoes done and the corn cooking and guess I’ll made some soup as I found some ripe tomatoes and some okra this morning.  Not enough to use any way except in soup.  I have sent for some crackers.  We ate the last of the peas yesterday.  Since this rain we will soon have lots of them.  I’ve told all I know.  Rags

    1930 August 2:  J. F. and Bettie Hall deeded their sons, Clayton and Clarence, three tracts totaling 431.5 acres, including the 82.5 acre Plummer place.  “Love and affection”—$10.00—and “the further consideration that the said J. C. Hall and C. D. Hall assume the balance due on one certain note executed by J. F. Hall and wife, to...the First-Trust Joint Stock Land Bank for the principal sum of $20,000....”  Clayton and Gladys had been married one year and five days. What hope now for getting out of debt?

    Later in the year, Gladys’ mother, Maudie, suffered a broken pelvis when Alvin backed his truck against her and the well curb. A friend wrote condolences on January 1, 1931:  “I received Gladys’ card a few days ago telling of your serious accident. I can’t tell you how sorry I am to hear it....”

    1931 June:  [Wanda wrote from Mulberry again]  Dear All,  I am addressing the letters according to your age.  We went down to Mr. Hall’s yesterday to make Clayton’s pajamas.  Had a good time. Mr. Hall came in and he raved for a long time about you all not coming, and wanting to see you.  He said he dreamed (only he said dreamt), that Uncle John was married; said he hoped he was.

photo: Parents: Maudie and Alvin (left)

with J. F. and Bettie Hall

    Well, I guess you heard about Clayton hitting himself in the eye with a hammer.  After dinner he came in with 3 fingers cut, one cut pretty bad.  We were afraid to let him go, afraid he would get his feet cut off.  We went to Mr. Hall’s then.  Clayton was awful late last night and we expected him to come in with both feet off, as he had been after a wild cow.  At last he came in, his shirt torn all most off of him, especially on the shoulders, and they were scratched.  Last night we had a good time.  Gladys and Clayton were cutting up.  I was washing my feet.  Clayton was prissing around. Gladys had a tea-kettle full of warm water and poured it all over Clayton.  That little Mexican boy thought I was a little baby and came up asking if the baby was a-sleep.  Gladys said no, and called “Baby!”  Then she asked him how long he thought it was.  He said about as long as his arm up to the elbow.  Then I came out.  He sure was surprised, but he still said I was a baby.  Good-bye, Wanda

    [Gladys to Mama]  Strange things are still happening.  Loraine miscarried the other day—is in bed, of course, and they have a negro doing the work.  Just think! last year in February, less than a year ago she had Elizabeth.  My!  My!  This threatens to be the greatest year in the history of the Hall family.  Edna and Loraine are mad at me because I’m not doing my part—but I can’t help it.  Edna is getting better.  She had milk leg in both limbs.

    1932 December 1:  [Maudie Gregory to Gladys, after a visit to Mulberry]   We laughed all the way home about the surprise.... [Alvin’s letter]  My Dear Sister and Clayton, Just a little note to tell you all what a good time I had Friday night and Saturday. I didn’t know I could enjoy a little visit so much.  Just had the best time I ever did, I think, and that breakfast and dinner. My! it sure was good. I haven’t hardly been hungry since and you were so good to us. It sure does one good to know someone loves you so. I’m going to tell you both that I love you both, just like a Father should. We got home in just a little while. Didn’t seem long at all. Made the round trip on a tank of gas. Just one thing would of made the visit ideal, if I had got to listen to Mr. Hall about another hour. Don’t guess he would of run out of something to tell. Well, tell him I sure did enjoy the visit. I sold a few sweet potatoes Monday.... We had a pretty nice S.S. [Sunday school].  Went to Woodbine Sunday night to hear Bro. Jones give history of his life as a Showman.  He made some real good points along. The house wouldn’t hardly hold the people. Next Sunday night he is going to preach on, “Who is Going to Hell from Woodbine and Surrounding Territory.” Guess that means Whaley Chapel. Guess I’d better close. Can look for us most any day or night. Bye, Bye, Dady

    Date uncertain. Gladys set down “philosophies”:

    Mr. Hall—There’s a stock of people just like there’s a stock in anything else and the Hall’s might near bring top price.

    Mrs. Hall—I know what’s right and I know what’s wrong, but let’s don’t have any trouble about it.

    Lelia—I really try to be good, but there’s no harm in a praying woman lying when she gets in a tight.

    Vera—I’ll forgive even tho I’m the most radical person God ever made.

    Allie—I can get along with anybody, so long as it’s Big I and Little You.

    Edna—Many a business man would like to have my ability to manage; think twice before you speak!

    Willie—I’m generous and I’ll accommodate, but sometimes—in other words—I’ll rub it in.

    Clarence—That’s fine—that’s good—but if you get in a tight, watch out; I’ll keep you there.

    Hazel—I’m lots of fun to be with.  I believe in pleasure, for hard working people don’t live long.

    Worth—I know many people but I like only a few.

    Dean—I have a deep love for my family, but it’s none of their business what I do.

    Wanda—My lovely disposition and pleasing personality is somewhat shadowed by a youthful ambition to appear mysterious.

    Ray—Everybody seems to like me because I keep my faults to myself.

    Jo [Joetta Morris, school teacher?]—I’m courteous and nice looking but there’s no use marrying until you can have a home.


The “Red House,” home of Clayton and Gladys (1936)

Stillwell, Oklahoma  July 10, 1936  Thursday

Dearest Rags,  [Dean wrote to Gladys]

... and answer a few questions.

    Your letter came, not as a shock, but maybe a bit of a surprise.  To be quite frank, I was completely upset about so many, many things that you said.  I’m very glad you told me, and if I don’t understand, it isn’t because I haven’t wanted to, and haven’t tried.  Naturally, it would be sort of vague to me, but enough of it is clear that I get the point.  Seems that things like that just come.  They’re unfortunate but not disgraceful.  When I think of it, it seems impossible that you could have stood it all.  I don’t think that I could have.  Also, I can’t see why you did not write me.  I can see how Bernice could mean so very much, but it seems you would have felt better letting the family in on it all, or maybe you wouldn’t.  Where, if Clayton does go to school, will it be?  What will he study for?  It is only natural that new plans, ideas, etc. would make him better.  Mental ill health is caused from thinking
too much and on the same subject.  That is a proven fact, not a fanciful idea.  All of us are insane, and it is my feeling that we are that way much of the time.  Only some of us get away and enjoy diversions more often than others.  That is important and very necessary for us all.  If I can’t get mine one way, I take it another.  Knowing little of Clayton’s family, but being a fairly good judge of human nature, I could very easily figure out that money, money, money was their God.  But I can’t get the idea thru my numb-skull how Clayton could feel so capable in managing the financial affairs for his entire family, yet feel so weak and incapable of providing for one.  It doesn’t seem to fit, so there must be more.  It seems more plausible that the depression, falling in the opinion of others, as a person with money, would come nearer to solving it.  You know, Rags, anything that shocks us mentally and destroys our pride, just about wrecks us, if some kind, far-seeing person does not sense the situation and save us.  A feeling of failure is incomparable.  I know.  I’ve experienced it in a minor form.  It brands us, makes us not care, makes us want to quit and get away from those who know we have failed.  Usually our failure is not so bad, but in a moment of weakness, temptations are great.  There are thousands with less education than Clayton has, and millions with less sense.  I always looked up to Clayton, liked and admired him and his ideals, for certainly Clayton has high ideals, if ever a person had.  He is sweet, patient, kind.  It’s beyond my ability to see why seeing our family should make Clayton so dissatisfied, for we are all truly crazy about him.  Dad and Mama fairly worship him, and so often have I thought that should I bring a husband home, could he ever, ever measure up to the standard Clayton has set as a son-in-law.  Worth, liking really so few people, always adored Clayton, and Ray felt him the perfect gentleman after meeting some of my select.  I’d never had the thought for a moment.  In fact, the idea had never entered my mind that Clayton was not good enough for you—he’s good enough for any American Queen, and far too good for the majority.  If Clayton wants to be like us, why can’t he be—we’re common, poor, but hopeful, everyday people.  I hope to goodness sake you do sell—and move miles distant.  I see your side too clearly; the one time in these seven years you’ve been married, now, if ever, you need his love and care.  I’m sure he’s very ill or he would have been perfect.  I believe and trust in Clayton enough that I can’t blame him too much, because he would not willfully be unjust to anyone.  After all, what does it matter to lose what you have down there, if doing so can bring relief?  And I feel as long as you live there, things will improve only temporarily.

    You are very, very broad minded and brave to offer Clayton an opportunity to come back or wake up.  Of course, I can’t suggest what you should do, for I don’t know how—no one could suggest for me—but home’s an awful sweet, restful place to go when you crave understanding, not sympathy, love and companionship.

    You say Clayton needs something; he needs to be made to feel that he is a success, that he is contributing the greatest thing in life, and that is happiness to one he loves and who loves him.  So for God’s sake, get him away from Mulberry, and don’t leave him at home alone to think, think, think, until thoughts drive him to distraction.  When one is despondent, he says he doesn’t want to do a thing, when really he wants more than anything in the world to do that very thing.  I know; I’ve refused to do things that I wanted to do, oh, so much.

    The next part of this episode, I hardly know how to discuss.  I never knew I was so “far away” from you as a sister, never dreamed you kept things from me that you wished to tell.  In no way can I see that I am in the least unusual or extraordinary.  I am definitely not good, and I try.  I’m really the “black sheep” of the family.  For the first time, I’m going to expound a little on myself.  I have smoked for four or five years, not a lot, do not have the habit, but I can smoke in public without flinching.  I can drink without getting tight, and tho I seldom do, I like wine immensely, and whiskey too.  Those things appeal to me.  Fortunately, I learned to do them late enough in life that I master them, rather than letting them master me.  I have no fear of them because I know myself.  That is what I mean by diversion from the routine of life.  After a little freedom of the mind from serious things, I can go back to teaching with more interest and courage, and endure life, and with much more ease.  Of course, diversion may be in the form of picture shows, etc.  They are numerous.

    Back to Clayton’s statement that “Dean is so free and independent.”  That sounds nice, but nobody knows what that innocent looking phrase has cost me.  To be “free and independent,” I gave up the one and only man I shall ever completely love, or could ever be completely happy with.  Of course, you know that was Audrey Stillwell.  To this day, I love him better than my life, for he was the one person in this whole world who understood my weird ways.  Knowing that I was with him three years, almost constantly, you must know that I knew him well, but not intimately.  Had I my life to live over, I’d marry Audrey and live on a farm near Stanebury to my dying day—Why?—to be happy with the man I love.  Audrey didn’t even have a high school education, but that doesn’t matter enough.  Since then I’ve known dozens of men.  I’ve enjoyed a few and been bored by many.  I go with every type—and every age from 20 to 35.  I’ve an idea the folks think I seldom date and never have an opportunity to marry.  That isn’t true, but I never mention men—no reason why I should.  To tell you the truth, I’ve had a date almost every night I’ve been up here—and only last night a sweet follow I’ve dated rather regularly since I’ve been up here, ask me to marry him.  But I’m afraid I’d soon be unhappy, and so I remain “free and independent.”  I doubt seriously if now I every marry for love.  I wouldn’t want any one to know, but I’ve remained unmarried to help Ray go to school.  I’m not bitter, not complaining.  I made the choice myself and, of course, I’m proud, but I feel I’ve missed so very, very much that I deserved, which now can never be mine.  The nearest I’ve come to love since I last saw Audrey is now, with a married man I’m dating.  He’s the very sweetest, handsome, and has all it takes.  He’s a school sup’t., 28 years old, and offered me a job with him next year.  I refused.  I’ve been going with him since the first of June, of course very much on the sly.  But don’t get excited.  See?  I’m “free and independent.”

    Yesterday a fellow I date left for Berlin, Germany.  He is the National Champion and Olympic Champion Wrestler.  He wrestles for a World title in Berlin on Aug. 2-3-4.  He too gets serious, but he too will have to go the way of the rest, because he cannot fill a certain spot in my heart.  Forgive this outbreak—maybe now you know you’ve a sister, very muchly on earth, struggling for a wee bit of happiness, and covering up much unhappiness with a brave smile.

    I’ve written Mr. Armstrong.  He’s very slow and if he does not have a place, may never answer.  It’s just his way.  I’ll do all I can to help you out, and for God’s sake, burn this letter well.

    Yours, Dean

1936 December 23: Gladys wrote to Clayton:

    After years of hard work along with you, I have learned something about the same things which you sa
y I know nothing [about].  I know, and you know, that my ideas are suitable only to the careful, considering, conservative man.  These ideas of mine mean nothing to the reckless, plunging, man—the man who lives only today.

    I shall use these pages as a means of getting these ideas, opinions, etc., “off my chest.”  However in earnest I may be—however serious—however concerned—anything I say seems to shatter your nerves, and always when I see the pieces fly, I remember “If I had listened to you—”

    So you see, this is merely an outlet for my feelings—a relief, and yet the family circle may remain kind—a warning—for later, I want to feel that I did my part in trying, tho’ to no avail, to be safe in our dealings.  These lines will remain as proof that I know so little about somethings!  Not that it matters so much whether we make money or not—but it does seem that one who has such a god-given chance, should have foresight enough to be reasonable.

    For today’s grumble:  I resent—I dislike—I think it a poor policy to come to the deed-making time and have to borrow money the first whack to pay off.  I’m surprised and disappointed, and am afraid that you are soon going to find yourself too far in debt to be comfortable, ever. 

    Gov. Hogg was very successful in his policy of Pay As You Go, and there’s no law against a Hall doing likewise.  ‘Tis the only safe way.  I’m for it.

Dearest Family, [a Sunday in January 1937]

    The sun acts as if it might shine.  I have washed in the house for three weeks and I’d be glad for a wash outside.

    I made myself a print dress last week.  It is plaid—and I made it like the plaid dress I bought several years ago.  It was worn out, so I cut it up and used it as a pattern.  It is so pretty and looks a lot like the old one.

    My teeth need the yearly repair, so three weeks or more ago I started the siege.  Had one tooth filled and didn’t get to go back anymore until yesterday.  Since it began to look like it would never clear up, I went yesterday before the roads melted out and became impassible.  Clayton, Buttons, & I went.  Grace  came over about 11:30 and stayed with Gregory.  She seems perfectly crazy about him and he likes her a lot.  I felt O.K. about leaving him, for she is so careful with him, and so anxious to do everything just right.  She offered to come and keep him.  She won’t play the radio while he is asleep, for fear she might not hear him should he cry, and the room was cold when we got home.  (She said twas because she had the door open so often going in to see if he was covered up and alright.)  If his gown or slip gets the slightest bit damp, she changes him so he won’t take cold.  In fact, she makes real work out of her afternoons with him.  She has kept him twice for me.  I bought her a print dress yesterday and will make it this week.  She sure was proud of it, but insisted that I shouldn’t have done it, but she is the only one I have to leave him with, and she is so trustworthy about it, and will keep him anytime, that I don’t want to impose.  Many times before, when I’d take him with us, Grace sat in the car and kept him there, while I did my shopping.

    On Thursday a package came from China containing a pair of shoes for Gregory and an album.  The shoes are a perfec
t fit—and as cute as they can be.  They are bright red satin with hand embroidery on the toes, made on the same style of his white slippers.  He sure does funny when we put them on him—you know how he loves red.  He sticks his feet out and just looks and looks, turns his feet from all angles.  His album is about as big as half of this sheet of paper and is typical Chinese.  Doesn’t look a bit like ours, except the paper is black.  It reads this way on the inside fly leaf:  “Christmas present to John Gregory  Nov. 28 (his 4th month birthday), 1936 from your Chinese Aunt  V. T. Pao.”  I’m so proud of it, as it is a really nice one.  It cost her $l.02 to get the package to me—a tariff to get it out of China, postage, etc.

    Sure has been lots of excitement in our household.  We have the following stories to tell you:

    l.  The Story of the Man Who Was Double Crossed

    2.  One Boarder Too Many

    3.  The Climax of a Brother’s Love

    These are long, true stories that have come about since last seeing you, so if you want to hear them, remind us when you see us again, and Clayton will tell you.  We don’t want to bore you with things you don’t care to hear.  To me, they are very interesting—full of lessons never to be forgotten.

    I guess I’ve told about all I know.  Glad Aunt Dora liked the picture.  He is much cuter now—he is so full of life—he yells—he squeals—he kicks—he pulls hair—he laughs—he plays—and he cries!  He’s a real baby—and he has us both captivated!

Clayton added to this letter:  Dear Family,

    Things have been happening since Christmas.  I have had more experience in the past 30 days than I had all last year.

    As to making changes in my mares, I don’t care to trade either of my mares.  The harness.  I expect that I had better keep the extra harness, to replace worn out harness.

    I sold the nice fat heifer in Sherman when we came home Christmas.  The Guernsey bull calf is certain doing nicely.  I carried him to Bonham this past 1st Monday.  Everyone said that he was a fine calf.  I have been offered $35.00 for him in a Bull trade at Sherman.  I am going to trade him & another bull calf for a Registered bull.  I have 22 calves in the feed lot and the Guernsey bull calf is the best one, as to age, and is also gaining in weight faster.  He is certainly a fine calf.  If you see anyone that would give $35 or $40 cash for him, I would deliver him out there, or if they will come here I will take $35 here at the lot.

    I am going to set a 5 acre orchard on our farm this spring.  Ask Walter what kind of price he could make us on peaches, apples, pears and plums?  Tell Walter and family that we would like for them to come down and make us a visit.  I won’t buy any trees until I hear from him.

    I have over 60 head of cattle now.  I am buying and selling most every day.  When I buy one that I like, I keep her and sell the others.  I made a trip to Dallas and Ft. Worth last week.  I have a lot to go with tomorrow, and will probably go again the last of the week.

    I have 85 hogs now.  Seven baby pigs.  I will begin taking these hogs out in about 15 or 20 days.

    I have sold Willie my interest in my [grain] drill.  Make inquire for a second hand drill.  I think that I know where I can buy a good second hand binder.  I need both.

    The advise you gave was good and I appreciate it lots.  I have decided to follow your advise.

Gladys to Clayton. March 12, 1937

    Perhaps it is just as well that I tell you tonight—because I feel that the moment has arrived when I should speak lest it be too late for my own happiness—and my baby’s.  I am very unhappy, very very unhappy over situations and conditions that concern only you a
nd me.  In fact, I’ve never been happy—completely happy, I should say (for really, I can make belief of happiness & do a fairly swell job) since I married you.  The first year was all perfect except for a small wondering if it could always be like that—the other years of teaching grew more tiresome as each year gave tattle tail signs of an increasing willing[ness] on your part to sacrifice our home for money.

    Then, last year will always be an indelible spot in my memory, a year full of my needs from you—yet lacking in the smallest to the largest.

    Then, this year you seemed to have taken things in hand so that the ties are to the breaking point.  What a fair world it would be if in God’s mirror we could see ourselves as others see us!  How often have I tried to put myself in the other man’s place—and even tho’ I don’t always succeed—I have the feeling that it means something to be honest enough to try.  Even when I loved you so, I tried never to go so far but that I could see your side in fairness to all concerned.  Even with your ever-cheating and selfish kith and kin, I have tried to be broad minded enough to see two sides.

    And now, with us, I try even too hard—every night when I’m left alone—and when I say alone—’tis alone that I mean.  My precious baby shortens the dark nights—but even he can’t take the place of a lover, even he can’t make me feel safe and secure.  I feel alone—afraid—I feel so very very much alone!  There seems to have been born into your life an attitude that I can’t quite make out—All the ideals for an ideal home seem to have floated away.  You seem to think it is enough—you seem to think I should be content to have you rush in and out—night and day alike—always in a hurry—always for the dollars—business—business—business.

    Well, it isn’t enough!  You are neglecting, you are allowing the decay of the most precious thing a home affords—companionship with the home occupants!

    You may think that I’ll keep on like this, but I don’t intend to.  As yet, I haven’t decided on a course, but the way will clear up and I will live my life just as you are living yours—according to the principles of an ideal home.  You spoke once of something that I can’t forget either, but that would naturally follow the type of life you insist on living.  All my worry about an ideal home will be over when I learn that you are untrue to the far extent.  Even now the bars between us are heavy enough, but they could be unbreakable.

    Your determined will, your hard headed attitudes, your unconceivable stubbornness may cost you plenty besides money.  I intend to have my ideal home somewhere, somehow.

    Then too, I’m the cause of you losing your religion.  That has made an impression, too, and within my own heart I do not see Christianity in your life.  I’m no judge, of course, but I know that your home life is greatly lacking.  You lie to me, you lie in every way that is available.  I could be so different if you would only be reasonable, if you would listen, if you would act as if I have any say at all.  As long as I brought in the cash, my ideas were partly (but even now I can see how little) respected.  Clayton, you think you are smart.  I hope that you are.

    At this time Gladys received several letters from her friend, Bernice Alder, “Buttons.” When she first taught school at Mulberry, Bernice rented a room with Zona and Perry Parks; then she lived with Gladys and Clayton, sharing food expenses and helping them financially. 

Dear Gladys,

once said that when you were angry at a person you wished to avoid him, or her, as

much as possible. Judging from your manner last night, you must be angry at me, so to spare you

the ordeal of my presence while I tell you this, I will write it instead.

    I feel that an apology from me is in order, so here goes.  I am sorry for my rudeness in

talking over the telephone to you yesterday.  The truth is that I was so amazed, bewildered, hurt,

and—angry, when you said you were not going, that I scarcely knew what I said, and not over half

of what you said.  I am sure that my replies must have sounded much worse than I meant them to.

    That is all—except this—I truly hope that I find, sometime and somehow, that I am mistaken

in what I can’t help believing was the real reason for your decision not to go last night, and the reason for changing that decision.  Bernice

Dearest Gladys,

    These remarks may be somewhat scattered, as I am rather hurried this morning, but maybe you can tell what I am trying to say, and I wanted you to know this now.

    I wonder why you have felt queerly about things.  I have felt a little that way myself, but I didn’t know why, and thought it was just me.

    But what I want to say is this:  I do like you so much and appreciate you.  For several reasons, but chiefly, I think, because you are so different from any one I have ever known.  Then you have been so nice and sweet to me in every way.  In fact, Mulberry has been a different place for me since I have known you.  I only hope I haven’t said or done anything that has caused you to think that I am not real and sincere.

    I haven’t said all that I want to say, but I must start my lessons now.  I must say this much more anyway.  I have wanted so badly to talk to you this week.  Wanted to come to your house, but I didn’t know—couldn’t be sure—that you wanted to see me, or talk to me.  I don’t know why.                                      Sincerely, Bernice

Dear Gladys,

    I don’t want to write, I want to talk.  But I don’t see a chance for that soon.  And I had about decided that you didn’t ever want to talk to me any more.  I didn’t know why, or hardly why I thought it—but I did.  You act so—I don’t know what to call it—queer, I guess, sometimes that I don’t know what to think about you.  Well, you know I said you were different from any one I have ever known before.  Maybe that’s the reason I just can’t understand you at all times.  Anyway, I like you a lot—and don’t know of anyone I would rather be confidential with than you.  But when you act so—well, as if you don’t want to be—so offish or something.  I feel just like retiring, for I can’t bear to seem to intrude.  I’m just that way and I can’t help it.  I know I’m making a total mess of saying what I want to.  So I’d better stop.  Hope I see you in town tomorrow.  Bye, Bernice

Dearest Gladys,

    The fact that I had very little comment to make on your story, did not mean indifference or lack of interest.  On the contrary, I was very interested, and since coming home this afternoon have thought of little else.  I have gone over it carefully in my mind, examined, analyzed, diagnosed, prescribed for, dissected, and treated it, from every angle, and have come to the following conclusions:  (Take this criticism for what it is worth from my very amateur point of view.)  “Time to Grumble”

    1.  Plot—Fairly good, with the exception that it seems to be divided into two rather unrelated centers of interest.  Namely, Margo’s life in the office and the train journey.

    2.  Style—Decidedly good.  No awkwardness of expression.  Good transition and unity throughout the story.

    3.  Choice of words—Mostly good—a few trite words and phrases.  Also a few misplaced adjectives.

    4.  Material—Nearly all good, but some irrelevant and unnecessary incidents related.

    5.  Ending—Excellent.  Because it was an unusual one and a surprise.

    6.  A suggestion from one who is very interested, very desirous of your success and very, very fond of you:  Have someone read your story who is really capable of giving you constructive criticism on it.  Then rewrite it on the lines of the suggestions you receive, send it to a good magazine and await results, and I hope sincerely and with all my heart that they will be the kind that you (and I also) hope for.  Bernice

Margo, Gladys’ best friend at Wesley College, didn’t marry Fladger Tannery; she married instead a doctor she called “Bing”.  On December 11, 1937, she wrote from her parents’ home in Ardmore, Oklahoma:


Dearest Gladrags,

    Even your letters pep me up and I have new “zist” for a spell.  I am so mixed up these days I don’t know what “it’s all about.”  I have lived such a strained, unwanted life—discontented—and yet Bing would say that I should be satisfied, as I was so crazy to get back home and with the folks—but there is a difference in being back “home,” which is anywhere in the West to me, and “with” the folks, which is anywhere reasonably near.  It isn’t in order to not have a home to keep for a husband and child after once keeping one  —it just goes against society—if I had never done it, or if I didn’t have a child, it would be a little different.  I can’t go with the unmarried, and the married do not need an “extra” female, especially without an escort.  The only place I could fit in is the Church, but since I have to earn my bread and butter, I can give no time to that, as much as I would enjoy it.

    People can’t understand why—especially when I say we can’t afford—and sometimes it is a bit puzzling to me why!  I have never confessed so to anyone else—but when I received one of Bing’s very few, far between, and scarce letters, saying to “count him out of the picture Christmas, as he was still in the red, and an insurance premium coming due”—tis a bit hard to take.  It just makes it harder on me to do “more explaining to folks.”  The family even can’t understand it.  I have never told anyone this either—but I think Bing has never forgiven me for moving from Dothan—he is still struggling to get back even to the point he was when he left there, and is still bitter.  I would love to go far away and stay a long time after Christmas.  I dread being here without Bing coming up.  I am just drowning any thots that might try to push up, in thinking about Donald’s Christmas, and just think of nothing but plans for him, and his Christmas.

    If I didn’t have to work, it wouldn’t be so hard—tis a terrible strain to work all day and then come home to feed, bath, bed and do a thousand things for Donald, and the same things before leaving in the mornings—altho I have been fortunate to have a half day job this fall, but it only pays half time too, and since the man I work for works all day at a downtown job, I have had to work so much at night, as that is about the only time he can show me things, or get on to his work.

    I am more than anxious to see you Christmas, and be with you at Gainesville—tis such an opportunity to not let slip by—I feel a good, long talk with you would boom me up to sail far into the New Year!  If you are to be at Gainesville a few days, I want you to spend one with me—more if you can—but if you could come early and stay late, one day we could get in lots o’good words—and if you come by bus or car, I will pay your gas or fare....

    As to your new clothes—I’ll bet you have lots that still look nice—and as I have always found it, if you go into new places your clothes are new to those folks who have never seen you before.  Remember, if you look at spring clothes, to buy warm ones, as we have our coldest weather in Jan. and on to Mar.... I am wearing last year shoes, gloves, dresses 4 and 5 years old—so you see, altho I bot a coat I am ragged otherwise.  I had to buy so much for Donald; he jumped right out of the baby stage and, going to kindergarten, he requires more—you just must see him in little short wool trousers, real men-like shirts, ties, and boots....

    But the idea of [your] teaching in Odessa has almost kept my mind off my working with such planning and scheming—that would be ideal—and I’ll bet Clayton could find work out here too.  Do we dare to dream of such a plan?  I know Bing knows the editor of the paper out there, who should know everyone in town, and maybe thru him could work you in.  You see, Bing doesn’t write letters—never tells me things when he does surprise me with one—I have no idea where he is living, or how—I do know he moved out of the hotel—whether he is staying in his office, or where, I don’t know....

    Hope “Baby” Gregory isn’t old enough to recognize hand-me-downs as Christmas presents yet.  I have a little green suit I am sending him—is in threads as everything I have sent him—but he might get one or two wears out of the pants and a few more out of the jersey.

    I have rattled so long, and still know I could rattle more and maybe more importantly—but am going to take a chance on seeing your around Christmas.              

    In March 1938 Caney Creek overflowed and drowned Clayton’s horse and sixteen cows.  Maudie mentioned the loss in her letter to Gladys:

    It was awful bad about all the cows and horse, but that is just life, and we have to take these things and the less we worry the better off we are and I hope you wont. We are starting our crop all over today. Everything is washed badly.... Kiss Gregory for me. I hope you get a good school....

    [Her dad, as usual, wrote a separate letter the same day, April 4.]

Sunday Night  Dear Sister & Family,

    We got your letters last week. Sure was sorry to hear about all that bad luck. It sure is awful and just at this time too. But when I read in the papers about these Homes blown to pieces and lots of people killed and hurt, I am thankful it isnt any worse than it is. And
you all are well, so that is a lot to be thankful for. It is a good thing I didnt come that Sat. as it really rained here. Our fields are washed pretty bad, and all our work is to be done over. It isnt dry enough to get in the fields yet. Maybe can work in spots tomorrow. We are all feeling some better, in fact pretty good. We nearly finished walling our well last week. Like about two ft. That is a job Im glad to get done. I wouldnt know what to say about the schools, only I would decide and then be satisfied, and I dont like the idea of resigning. It hurts a teacher with the community. Well I know how cute the Boy is. I sure want to see him. I know he changes every day. Wont be long until he will be asking you questions, and lots of them you cant ans either. A baby Boy means lots to Dady & Mother, so keep him good & sweet, dont do things that makes him mad. That makes a bad disposition.... With lots of love to all,  Dady