Thursday, November 9, 2017

Mail Call: 9 Nov 1935 (George)

George Potter in Cabool, MO to his daughter Mary Potter in Washington DC:

Coat on the way; "try and not see the ghost of the old hen that went to pay the postage"

Follow-up to Gladys' earlier rant about Dorothy gone somewhat wild; she is engaged to a "nice guy" although one much older and frequently married.  Nothing comes of this, eventually.

"You never say what you think about helping us on taxes, etc"

"Can't get in on gov. work as we have a home and cow and chicks etc, have got to be destitute"

"Dora & Walt & Soph & Bob"  Dora is George's sister in St. Louis, Walt Bremerkamp is
her husband and Bob is their son.  Soph is, as usual, George's daughter  Elaine Potter.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Mail Call: 30 Oct 1935 (Gladys)

From Gladys Potter in Cabool to her daughter Mary in Washington, DC.

Dorothy Potter's earlier visit to the big city (St. Louis) has given her ideas and much attitude; she has taken up with an older man with a kid somewhere.  Nothing comes of this, of course, but it is a running theme in many of the following letters.

(The original of this letter is in pencil and much faded, this has been heavily enhanced (sharpened) to make it legible here.  I don't usually do anything to the scans, but this one was too far gone for that policy to make sense. The odd speckled effect is an artifact of the sharpening process.)

"Dora" is George's sister in E. St. Louis
"Lillian" was George's niece, daughter of his late sister Bessie Johnson.
Lillian was back with Emma Parker in Corry after a stay with Dora.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Mail Call, 19 Oct 1935 (George)

"He who laughs last gathers no moss"

Dorothy is boy crazy, the old Buick is terminally ill (David is researching a junkyard Essex).

Marjorie gets to play "Stink Base" at Sargent School.  Coach Google tells me that this was an Ozark-specific variant of freeze tag, where those tagged frozen had to run to the aforementioned "stink base" and stay there until tagged free by their team-mates.

A tiny sample of 1930's anti-Semitism is quickly walked back; problem bosses come in all ethnicities.

"Emma" and "Em" are Emma Potter Parker back in Corry
"Draughon's" is the business school which is owed much money.
"Dora" is George's sister in E. St. Louis, IL, now at a new address.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Mail Call: 29 Sep 1935 (Gladys)

From Gladys Potter in Cabool to her daughter Mary in Washington DC.

The clock is now broken, with the only time check being from the neighbor's daughter, Mary Brooks, coming over to visit.  Otherwise, just guess.  Convenient for Dorothy, who is coming in really late (but no-one knows how late, since the clock is dead)  Clock has been broken "for over a month."

"I would like a birthday real often if I wouldn't get old too fast."

"making ketchup...full even to the bottles white polish comes in"

Gladys turned 47 on September 25, 1935.

"Mary" is neighbor Arch Brooks' daughter.

"Dora, Walter and Robert" are Gladys' in-laws from E. St. Louis, the Bremerkamps.
Daugher Elaine is still staying with them, but Dorothy has come home.
Clipping enclosed in letter:  "Out Our Way" 17 Sep 1935 J.R. Williams (fair use claimed)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

19 Sept 1935: Letter from the Securities and Exchange Commission

On September 19, 1935 Mary Potter finally had a permanent job at $1620 per annum.

She worked for the SEC in Washington DC, Philadelphia for almost nine years.
On May 2, 1944 when she enlisted in the WAVES, with orders on June 15, 1944.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Mail Call: 14 Sep 1935 (George)

Elaine Potter (21) and Dorothy Potter (19)
in St. Louis, Sept 1935

George Potter in Cabool, MO to his daughter Mary in Washington, DC

The school tuition issue from earlier letters was not resolved in the Potter's favor; Florence ("Flapper") and Dave can go to Cabool High School but Marjorie ("Peg") is stuck in the country school at Sargent.  This is financially a problem, as the drive to/from Sargent is costly in the long run even though the cash was not available to pay Marjorie's tuition up front.

Mary has evidently spent Labor Day with her then-boyfriend Art and his friends in New York  See the 1 September post for some mementoes. "...but how can you lose so much sleep?"

Elaine is in St. Louis; Dorothy evidently visited at some point in September, 1935, which led to attitude once back home...

"Too young"...George is 60 at this point.

Verna Madison:  identified
Katie Brown: Arch Brook's son Roy's wife Mildred's sister.  Really.

"Dora" is George's sister in E. St. Louis with whom Elaine is staying
Dorothy is, I believe, in Springfield doing domestic odd jobs.

Friday, September 1, 2017

1 Sep 1935: Mary's big day in New York City

Mary Potter saved, among other things, these relics of a quick trip to New York CIty over Labor Day, 1935. Most likely, this was the idea of recent boyfriend Art, who had grown up in Huntington, NY.

The Pennsylvania RR bargain fare is to leave DC just after midnight on Friday (by then, Saturday, Sept 1) and return at noon on Monday (Sept 2), as checked off on the flier at the right.  After sitting up all night in the train, that left all day Sunday plus Monday morning in New York City.  Sunday night, perchance, at the Parents?...could have been a shock, as the Mother of Art was from seriously high-class roots in Chicago.

There is also a flyer for Jones Beach, so perhaps that was the agenda for morning before Radio City.

Pencil notes on the back of the excursion flyer:

"Sat Nite: Elks convention returning, Hershey Bar, 5:30 AM New York!"
Mon. Nite: "Crowded train, Juicy People, Rainy Weather, home at 6:00."

I hope "Juicy" meant drunken; the image is unpleasant.

George, in his next letter on 14 Sept 1935, will be worried about his daughter getting over-tired and gently re-inforces the urgent need for cash.

Labor Day Excursion Fare DC-NY-DC! $3.50!

The Grand Organ (still grand in its way), plus
Symphonic Orchestra and Glee Club
(Friml composed "Rose-Marie" and "The Vagabond King" among others)
Radio City show for $0.99!

The Corps de Ballet (still a thing) and Glee Club (reprise)
Finally, Rockettes.

AND, after all that, the movie...Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in "Top Hat"

(I am intrigued by "The WIVEL", a "Glamorous Scandinavian Cabaret,"
unfortunately, it does not seem to have been on the itenerary)

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Mail Call: 31 August 1935 (George)

From George Potter in Cabool to his daughter Mary in Washington DC.

One of my favorite old letters, this tells the tale of Gladys Potter tangling with the Cabool School Superintendent over a tuition bill which may keep Marjorie in the Sargent school while David and Florence get to ride the bus to school in Cabool.  The tale is interrupted by other matters but then continues on Page 4 with Gladys coming home in a rage over her disrespectful reception by the Super.  A map showing the Sargent school is at the bottom of this page.

Note: "Draughans" is the business college which Mary had attended in Tulsa.
"Miss Elam" is evidently in charge of bill collection, as Mary's student debt is much in arrears.
"Art" is Mary's boyfriend, whose hometown was Huntington, NY
"Vera" otherwise unidentified.

Sargent School Location..driving Marjorie one way while Dave and Florence take the schoolbus to Cabool
Potter farm was approx. at the end of the yellow line in the NW corner of  map, N of the road. and W or the train tracks.
Credit:; fair use claimed of detail of much larger topo map.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Mail Call: 27 August 1935 (Gladys)

Gladys Potter in Cabool to her daughter Mary in Washington DC.

Lining up a business course for David after high school graduation; Marjorie doesn't want to go to Sargent school...and won't study.

Gladys planning to look into a room in town to avoid the costs of driving to/from the Sargent farm.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Mail Call: 19 August 1935 (George)

Letter from George Potter in Cabool to his daughter Mary in Washington, DC.

Written on "liberated" Department of Agriculture letterhead which was probably used previously to wrap up the $10.00 contribution from Mary.

Gladys Potter recommends "Bee Brand Powder" for bedbugs in Mary's Washington DC apartment.  The old farmhouse in Berryville, Arkansas was similarly afflicted.  "Bee Brand" was a pyrethrin natural insecticide, which still reportedly scares off bedbugs (but can't kill them any more.)

"Good Night/Sleep tight/Don't let the bedbugs bite"

Note:  Mary's birthday was May 24, so Florence was upset much too late.
Note: "Gregory" is not ID'd.
Note:  Will Rogers , humorist and actor, died 15 Aug 1935.
Note:  "Art (Stewartson)" was Mary's new boyfriend who she would later marry and divorce.
There are no pictures of him.
Note: "B.Bs" are, from context, bedbugs.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Mail Call: 18 July 1935 (George)

Letter from George Potter in Cabool, MO to his daughter Mary in Washington, DC.

Marjorie Potter is surprised by spin-the-bottle (Ozark version) 3.

Note:  "Pete" not ID'd

Note:  "Gregory" and "Ruby Tayor" and "Overacre"  and "Ness Snow" not ID'd.

Note:  Oren Kennedy is George's cousin on the Hasbrouck side in PA

Note: Room mate, size of:  see below.

Note:  Explanation of room mate size joke on page 6...a scrap of a letter from Mary, with George Potter's response.  

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Mail Call: 20 June 1935 (George)

Letter from George Potter in Cabool, MO to his daughter Mary who has just reported to her new job in Washington DC.

The stationery has been "liberated" from The Lee House hotel, where Mary stayed for a night when she first arrived on June 17, 1935.  A room there cost $3.00 for the night, $17.50 the week.  She started work on June 18 at the Department of Agriculture, Personnel Division.

Note:  Arch is neighbor Arch Brooks
I cannot identify "Greg"

Sunday, June 18, 2017

18 June 1935: Mary Potter arrives in Washington DC

Mary Potter kept a set of postcards in an envelope with the label "First Impressions of Washington." For some reason, she never mailed the cards.  She stayed the first night in the Lee House hotel, and kept these post cards and some stationery which later was used by George to write a letter.  She had already reported for work at the Department of Agriculture.

Card to Dora Potter Bremercamp, Mary's aunt.  Mary had stayed with Dora for a while in E. St. Louis. Dorothy Potter ("Dot") is evidently visiting Dora but will be back in Cabool soon.

Another card not sent to Mildred Lee, evidently Mary's landlady in St. Louis while Mary was working at a bank.

The travel arrangements which Mary Potter had made to Washington were preserved: receipts and timetables in her scrapbook show that  Mary had paid $18.00 for a ticket on the Pennsylvania Railroad #66 express, "The American," which left St. Louis on 9:00 AM Central time on June 16, 1935 and arrived in Pittsburgh about twelve-and-a-half hours later at 10:40 PM Eastern time.  The connecting train to Washington DC, #533, left Pittsburgh at 6:00 AM and arrived at Washington DC at 7:30 AM on June 17, as the postcard to Dora tells us.  Mary reported to work immediately.  At least "The American" was fully air-conditioned and had all amenities available, although Mary probably did not pay for such luxuries.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

13 June 1817: George's great-grandfather George Valentine, whaler, comes ashore.

Two hundred years ago today, third great-grandfather George Claghorn Valentine returned from a ten-month whaling voyage on the brig Sally to the whaling grounds off the coast of Africa (probably south of Maderia).  He had signed on at age 18, the youngest member of the crew. He never went whaling again, instead moving to Collins, NY in 1835 with his wife (Mary Green, married 1821) and six children (four more were later born in NY).

A whaling brig christened Sally
(probably not the same one mentioned below)

This was not a particularly successful whaling voyage.  The captain, Fred Arthur, got ill and left the ship at some point. The remaining 13 crew members continued on but returned with only 250 barrels of whale oil, probably from ten or fiftten baleen ("right") whales.  The per-crew share, or "lay" is not listed for the Sally nor is anyone's rank below captain.  George probably got little, either way.

Note:  I believe the return date in the following Federal tables (13 June)
rather than the 16 June in this transcription, for what difference that makes.
Credit: New Bedford (MA) Library whaling archives

Detail of right-hand facing page of federal fisheries report, continuation of Sally's entry is underlined.

Source: Starbuck, A.: "History of the American Whale Fishery from its Earliest Days to the year 1876"
pages 218 and 219 (details) on ht

Detail of left-hand page of federal fisheries report; Sally's entry  is underlined