Monday, August 24, 2009

Amanuensis Monday: The Letter that Followed

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

Two weeks ago in the series of Western Union telegrams I transcribed was one my grandmother, Myrtle Van Every, received from Agnes and Phil Gates, telling her that they had been married. In part, the telegram said, "letter follows." Here is the letter that followed.

At the office
March 13, 1930

Dear Aunt Myrtle:

Well, we have gone and done what you told us not to, and I know you are good and peeved. But, I suppose I am not responsible, because people in love are not.

Really I don’t have any good excuse to offer for not telling you before hand except that Phil or I [n]either wanted a big wedding, and that is just what we would have had. We did not tell any of my folks or any of his, but had we have done so you would have been the first I would have told. I told you I would do that, but I .. we couldn’t wait TWO long years.

We were married in Alamogordo, N.M. on the 27th of Feb. One of my girl friends and her husband went along as witness. We had a ring ceremony, and were married by a Methodist Minister. We intended keeping it a secret for about two months, but naturally it had to come out in the papers. However we did keep it secret until the 10th of March.

I was surprised that Teva wasn’t ready to murder me, but she wasn’t. Phil’s folks have been perfectly lovely about the whole thing. His aunt cried and said that she was losing her “baby boy”, but she is over that now.

You won’t approve of this, and neither does Phil but his aunt wouldn’t hear to any thing else. We are staying at Phil’s house. It isn’t bad really. We have the nicest room, and the bedroom suit{e] is ours. His dad and Aunt Sue gave it to us for a wedding present. Also a nice blanket. Phil wants to move off to our selves, but I don’t think it would be best, as he is only making about $35 a week, and sometimes not that much. This summer I am sure we will be able to live alone. We pay Aunt Sue $15 a week for room, board, and laundry. That is all of our expenses except for the car. Aunt Sue seems thrilled to death to have us with her, and the whole family is spoiling me something fierce.

I am still working, but Phil doesn’t want me to keep on. Neither does his aunt. She says I must eat some real food and rest. I wouldn’t mind that, but I think if I am away all day I will get along with “all concerned” better. You know “absence makes the heart grow fonder”.

Gee, Aunt Myrtle I do hope you won’t be too mad at us for getting married. Just so you forgive us I don’t give a “whoop” what the rest say. I suppose I have been a “bad girl”, but I am sure we will be happy. Phil is such a dear. He is already “henpecked”.

I am enclosing one of the clippings. Teva gave me a party, and we had a lovely time. I didn’t like this announcement, but you know the papers. I.T. raised H because the punch was spiked, but only drank eight glasses.

I am going to see “Hamlet” tonight with my new sister-in-laws. Phil is playing as usual.

Well, I must get ready for lunch. Please write soon and tell me if you are going to murder me or just naturally dis-own me. My new address is 715 N. St. Vrain St.
Lots of love from both of us even if we are disobedient,

Agnes and Phil

Attached News Clipping:

Married in Alamogordo

Miss Agnes Lee Roberts became the bride of Phil Gates at a ceremony in Alamogardo, February 27. Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Bishop attended the couple. The marriage was announced at a party given by the bride’s aunt, Mrs. O.A. Herrin, Monday night. They will make their home in El Paso.

Teva has to be Myrtle's sister, Evelyn (or Eva). Agnes was six when her mother, Willa, died. She was first raised by her grandparents, and then her Aunt. "Aunt Eva" must have been elided into "Teva."

At that point, Eva was married to IT Herrin. I haven't figured out what the IT stood for, and the newspaper clipping strangely provides the initials O.A. instead.

It's clear Agnes was especially fond of her Aunt Myrtle. Possibly since Myrtle was the youngest of the sisters, and only ten years separated her from Agnes. At their marriage, Agnes was 19 and Phil was 22, so it seems they had been told to wait until Agnes was 21.

Finally, in her signature, I noticed Agnes also used the vertical "and" I have found throughout my great grandfather's letters to my grandmother, and also have seen in a letter from a daughter of Eva.
Here's a photo of Phil and Agnes with their daughter Phyllis, who was born in 1932. (source:

If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post below, or in the comments.

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