It has been quite a bit of time since my last post on this blog. I must admit to being quite affected by the helicopter accident that claimed the lives of two Navy pilots on September 22, 2013 that I wrote about in my last post. This accident hit too close to home….Although I did not know the young men whose lives were lost I am sure that my son did, and it could have so easily have been my son involved in such an accident.
However, I am back working on my “Walt & Gertie” project….the collection of pre-WWII letters that I found in a box of craft items that I bought at a yard sale years ago. (See the post Pre-WWII Love Letters: The best yard-sale discovery I ever made! for background…..)
I have made some progress documenting and scanning all of the letters that were not dated. Most of them were written when Walt was a student at the Colorado School of Mines. I believe that he was a junior in the year 1938.
Today I began to document and scan the letters that were dated. I am beginning with the year 1938. The mystery deepens because these letters are dated beginning in March 1938 when Walt should have been finishing his junior year at the School of Mines. But instead it seems he is working for the US Geological Survey in New Mexico on a job that lasts from March – April 1938.
His supervisor’s name is “Mr. Walker” but he also mentions the “big boss” who is related to the job. Walt is staying in a 3-room apartment at a “Cottage Camp” in Carlsbad, NM. He is rooming with Mr. Walker, his wife and two young sons (Charles & Bob). The Walkers are charging Walt $1/day for his room & board, but Walt is happy to pay it because if he rents a room on his own he will pay $36-$40 a month for room & board. (In his words “Boy prices are high!”) An excerpt from his letter dated March 6, 1938 says:
If I got board and room some place else it would cost between $36 – 40 a month. I told Mr. Walker that if my living with him was putting him out that I would find other accomadations. He said that it wasn’t, and that if I could stand the kids I was more than welcome. Because he is boarding & rooming me so cheaply I have been helping as much as possible. Such as helping washing dishes, setting the table, etc.
At this point, I don’t know if Walt has dropped out of school and gotten a job instead, or if working for the US Geological Survey is perhaps some kind of internship. I hope to be able to go up to Golden to the School of Mines Library sometime soon to see what else I can find out about Walt’s tenure there as a student.
In the meantime, I thought I would publish the letter that Walt wrote to Gertie on March 16, 1938. It is particularly “newsy” and has some good material giving us a picture of his life at the time. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did!
(NOTE: All punctuation and spelling are copied exactly as Walt wrote it.)
What a screwy time I have had the last three days. Monday we had a nice (?) high wind with a dust storm. We couldn’t work so layed around the house. I took the kids back + forth to school, and the rest of the time placed rags in the doors + windows. Tuesday was fairly decent and nice and warm. Just after we had started to work I nearly got rid of a years growth. I was walking to the next point whistling and having a good time when I nearly stepped on a rattler. I don’t know whether the snake was scared, but I sure left the ground. I yelled to Mr. Walker, and then tried to kill the rattler. I couldn’t kill him before he went in a hole. He didn’t get me, didn’t even strike, but from now on I will sure watch my step. We ran across another one about 40 ft from there in a sink hole. He also got away from us. I promise you that I will be careful and won’t go out of my way to meet them.
Again today we didn’t work due to more dust in the air. Mr. Walker transferred some of our traverse onto the main sheet while I worked on the truck. During the past few days the boss has been feeling rather low due to the dirt in the air. So far I haven’t been bothered by it, and don’t think I will.
Monday I bought three airplane glider kits (5¢ each), and then made one over. At least it will give me something to do on week ends.
Tonight up until time to do the dishes I helped Charles with his arithmetic. After the dishes were finished I started to write this letter (?).
Keep this under your hat, but its really funny. Mr. Walker has a farm back in Illinois. About all he does during his spare moments is read the Sears & Roebuck Catalog. His wife & I kid him every once in a while by asking him the price of some article. He just laughs, and then quotes the price.
We finally got two new tires + tubes for the truck so now we have a spare tire. Thank gosh! I didn’t like the prospects of walking 14-18 miles into town.
I suppose we will spend the rest of our time in this same Cottage Camp. The Rio Vista Cabins are all taken and paid for two weeks in advance. Rio Vista has fridigaires while this place has a common ice block. If there is an opening we may move, that is I hope we do.
I had a letter from Balvin and the pressure caused by final week must have warped his mind. He wrote the darndest crazy things. Sounded like a nut on a spree.
At the rate we are going this work should be finished about next year, but I think the last week or two in April will be a case of lay around + loaf. We can’t turn in more than 12 sq miles per month. So far we have 2 sq miles filled in and about 20 miles of control traverse run. By the end of this month we could finish our part of the work. If we did that though it would be working ourselves out of a job. So all I can do is let the boss worry about the situation.
Well darling it is almost 9 P.M. so I will have to hit the hay as tomorrow is another day. There is exactly 45 more days until I will be out of here. Each day I draw a line through the day that just passed. Just like a convict waiting to get out. Sometimes I almost feel like one. Please write when you have time as I wait for your letters with all my patience. Remember I love you with all my heart.
With loads of love,