Wednesday, December 30, 2020

July 30, 1944: What is Grandmother's Deal?


Letter from Opa to Grandmother, July 30, 1944.


St. John,
July 30, 1944

Dear Margie,

As you see, my typewriter got here yesterday, and so did the radio. Somebody did an awfully good job crating them, for they arrived in perfect condition. The whole gang was in my room last night and we played records until my landlord complained about the noise.

Why can't you spend the whole weekend in Newton? When I was in Kansas City and we saw each other near every week, you could be there two days, and now, where we haven't much of a chance to see each other at all, you can spare only a day. What's the matter, now, Margie? You know what size town Newton is; there won't be a place where we can be alone, unless we have a room; also you know how much it means to be together in the evening and at night. Suppose it rains; do you want to spend the whole day in a drugstore or at the movies? I am going ahead to make hotel reservations for the night August 5 to 6; if you still insist, we can cancel them, but please get there on Saturday; it would be silly not to. There is a Santa Fe train leaving Lawrence somewhere around three, and one at about six in the afternoon; please find out theme when you arrive in Newton so I can meet you. I am pretty sure that I can get away on Saturday; one of our trucks needs to be taken to Hutchinson on Saturday morning, so I shall go that far without expense. I shall be able to be in Newton about noon on Saturday, so please get there as soon as you can. As I said before, we can always cancel the hotel reservations, but it certainly would be foolish to make a long trip like that for a few hours in cafes and picture houses. If we were sure of good weather it won't be quite so bad, but you know Kansas.

Three of us boys are contemplating renting an apartment for the month of August and do our own cooking. It would be quite a bit less expensive, but rather inconvenient since we work all day; we will have to cook at night and fix lunches in the morning. So far, we haven't been able to locate a decent apartment yet for such a short period of time, but naturally we cannot give any guarantee that we will stay longer than a month. One the other hand, my room is nice and cozy now; I dug up an old cardboard typewriter table, have my radio and phonograph right close to it, the K-State pennant and some pictures on the walls, and it approaches a home-like atmosphere as much as can be expected of a furnished room. My landlord is getting tired of my moving the furniture around every other day, but continuous improvement is the only way to perfection.

I have a notion I am not going to be here in St. John very long; they are transferring people from party to party, and Bob thinks they will probably send me into different territory, so that I shall become familiar with different types of shooting; possibilities are Wyoming, Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas. On the other hand, I may remain here as long as our party does, which means till at least Christmas. I personally would prefer that, for I think that I can learn under Bob more than anyone else could teach me about the business.

Our party chief had me over for a game of poker, and I had a good talk with him. He is married and has a little boy (one year old), and I asked him how he manages to take his family along on the many trips they are making. He said it took both him and his wife quite a while to get adjusted to the great amount of traveling, but that now it has gotten "in his blood," and he prefers it to a desk job where he remains at the same place year after year. When his boy gets older, though, i.e. in about four or five years, he plans on going back to Dallas to work in the laboratories, so that the kid will have a steady home. I don't think that it will take us as long time to get adjusted, though, since both of us like to travel. Anyhow, if it shouldn't work, there would probably be a place for me in Dallas, too.

Let me know how much you paid for having my stuff crated, and I shall repay you. I surely appreciated that, honey; I know it was hard to find somebody who would do it.

No letter from you today, so I am hoping for tomorrow. There will be something to look forward to all week; and Saturday night, there will be many things to talk about and to get straightened out.


I know Opa was particularly happy to have his typewriter, but my eyes are also very happy to be transcribing typewritten letters again. Opa is very appreciative of the efforts that went into sending his things, and is sweet to make sure Grandmother knows.

Now we move on to another edition in the saga of "What is my  Grandmother's deal?" It is SO hard not to know what her letters are saying because all of this may be very clear with her side of the story. But from Opa's perspective, I'm at a loss too. She is acting weird. It's like she wants to marry Opa and be with him, but like maybe next year. I will say that Opa could have made the hotel reservations a long time ago if it was easy to cancel, there was no reason to put pressure on that part. 

I can't tell if Grandmother is trying to be frugal and it's translating poorly, or if she's genuinely acting weird. This is the weekend they are supposed to talk about the wedding date, so maybe she's trying to avoid it? Opa wants to know what's up, but it doesn't stop him from trying or forging ahead with the plan he wants. I'd love to know if Grandmother is being too subtle in her communication, or if Opa is oblivious in receiving clear signals. It may be somewhere in the middle.

Opa is slowly making a home in his little room in St. John, Kansas. A bachelor pad of the 40s with a cardboard desk, radio, and turntable for the raging tunes... I wonder what he listened to? I feel like it was classical music but maybe he had some more modern music in his collection.

Opa tells Grandmother about some potential traveling in their future, and shows that he cares about her and any potential family by asking his chief boss how he and his family manage the travel. It sounds like the answer is that they got used to it and have plans to settle when they need to. Opa is appeased by this, is Grandmother? Opa seems to be more and more invested in his job as the days go by. He's met lots of higher management folks and enjoyed getting to know them. He has the work gig in his room for record listening. He's settling, even though he knows his time in St. John is likely not very long.

Opa ends his letter with a little bit of foreboding language, depending on your perspective. This weekend is the weekend for them to settle on a wedding date one way or another!

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