Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.
The below letter was written by my grandmother Myrtle's sister, Willa, to their father Melvin Van Every. The year was 1916. Willa died one month later on July 8th. There's a lot of slang I have difficulty deciphering, but it is clear she is not happy with the man she married, and is only staying with him out of a sense of duty. When Willa dies, it is clear from other letters Willa's daughter is raised by her maternal grandparents, and not by her father.
June 6, 1916
My Dear Papa
Well how are you all to-day? I am not feeling so very good to day. I bet you are enjoying yourself on that good sleeping porch to day. I say that is the life.
I have not answered your letter any sooner because news is scarce here. Every one is in the grass pretty bad, but cotton is pretty. If it does not rain in a few days corn will not amount to much. We are eating roasting corn now. We also have beans, squashes and radishes in garden to eat. My tomatoes are large as eggs. I am glad you bought my honey. If I can get off I want to come home. I might make some money next week chopping cotton. Agnes Lee is fine, she surely got scared when I read that tiger story to her, she never got out of my sight for 3 or 4 days.
Did mama go to see Evva? Is Myrtle coming up here on a trip? How’s that trouble with your lungs? I do hope you are getting better. The people are surely moving out of the country about Robstown and Alga Dulce, The Woodmen here sent after one fellow that was nearly all in, and lots are coming back on their own hook.
How is Aunt Let and Red making it? I hope all OK. We went to a picnic at New Braunfels last Friday. Sure had a nice time. We played some 2x2 last night. Pa taken the kids all to the picture show. Agnes Lee talks every day about all and especially you. She is surely anxious to come down there.
Well I don’t believe the Mexican situation looks bad to these people around here. There has been no disturbance whatever. I wish they would go to war and quit this foolishness. I think something exciting would be fine. Maybe a war would kill off a whole lot of these parasites that is always digging the other fellow and never pays his debts.
Say, Lex has sold his crop and for just what our store account is. At least they just took up his debt. He carpenters some and chops cotton. I hope we don’t starve. Sometimes I think I ought to have done like you suggested and never come back up here.
Duty is all that made me come. As far as love is concerned, that is a thing of the past with me. But it seems like I am not giving Agnes Lee a fair chance. I do believe she’ll be ashamed of him when she’s older. I am now. That’s one reason I hate to come back down there. He owes everybody and told so many lies, that I do hope the people don’t blame me. The worst part of all is he has not got any chance to pay any of his debts this year. It’s just disgusting. He has no management whatever about him.
Well it gives me a headache to think of all this mess. I don’t know nothing to write so I will close with lots of love to you and mama and Myrtle, and love and kisses from Agnes Lee to you all. I am as ever your little girl Bill.
Willa is the author of the poem, Mother, which I posted last August.
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