100 Years Ago Today in Oysterville

Oct 9, 2013 | 3 comments

This letter was written by my grandmother to her fourteen-year-old daughter who was away at boarding school in Portland:

Mama 1913

Mama c. 1913

                                                                                    Thursday Evening, October 9, 1913
My dear Medora,

It is an awful day.  The bay is lashing in foam and the wind howls and there is all winter ahead of us. It is wintry enough now so that we keep a fire in the bedroom all of the time and in the fireplace a part of every day.

 I was glad to get your explanatory letter regarding P.A. and am glad you are satisfied…

About your dancing, couldn’t you manage to save four dollars.  I simply can not ask Papa for that much just now when he is so worried. There have been some unforeseen things occur that make money even in small amounts unobtainable.  The bank has called for a payment of a certain note that Papa had not expected to meet so soon and he is distracted.  This is confidential.  Don’t say a word to the Ruths or any one else.  Can’t you save on your laundry?  Do your own stockings, bloomers, handkerchiefs etc. and an occasional slip put into Ruth’s wash.  Tell her what you are trying to do and she would gladly help you.  Then when you have the money saved, pay it down in advance for your lessons.  Where is it you get these eight lessons for four dollars?


Medora c 1914

I am reading “The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come” and tho it is fine, I think it most too sad to be enjoyable.

My leg has been so “gimp” that I have had to sit down off and on through the day, so am doing more reading than usual – so far have read just essays and famous authors, which I greatly enjoy.  Yesterday picked up “The Little Shepherd” and am in it now.  Did you read “On Christmas Eve” by the same author?

I have ordered ingredients for chili sauce to put up next week. It is going to be a task, but we all enjoy it so much that it is worthwhile.   The pears are all gone.  I have three crocks of pickles…     I made my first doughnuts yesterday and they turned out fairly well for a first attempt.

It is nearly ten o’clock and I want to get up reasonably early to do some needed cleaning tomorrow.  The kitchen floor will have to be gone at with a hoe.

Take good care of your dear self.  I wish you were here for a good night kiss.

                                                            Lovingly,  Mama


  1. Nancy

    Teared up a bit reading this….the letter must be in “Dear Medora”….time to re-read it. Although “mama” is dearly departed, her descriptive manner of expressive writing has remained in Oysterville, expressed through Sydney Stevens. Wondering if email has, indeed, replaced the fine art of letter writing. Thank you for the post.

  2. Louise Labby Carroll

    My how I enjoyed this entry. I’m with Nancy. Letter writing is fast becoming a lost art.

  3. Stephanie Frieze

    It is so sad to think that Mama’s dear Medora would not live to maturity, but nice to read a letter that takes us back to another time, which is why I love your Dear Medora book!


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