A storyteller always has the advantage over his audience in that he knows how things are going to end up and where the story is going.
Unlike the proverbial storyteller, in this series of letters I am about to share with you, I do not know where this story is going. I struggled with waiting to share until I knew what the direction would be and in which order to take it. Hopefully, you’ll be glad to know I’ve decided to throw such caution to the March wind instead of waiting for April showers to make way for those May flowers I won’t be planting if I keep sitting here, mulling over which order to use in presenting some hundred-year-old letters. I’ll be adventurous and let the story unfold for me as well as for you.
With that decision behind me, I’m reaching my hand into the pile of letters from the personal papers of my husband’s paternal grandmother, Agnes Tully Stevens, and pulling out what I hope will be a “plum.” Although I can see the name of the letter’s writer, I have no idea who this person is, or what significance he holds. Perhaps, if I’m lucky, I’ll stumble upon that information while I’m going through the process of posting these transcriptions.
Today, I’m starting with a letter from a gentleman who signed his name as “Dan E. Reilly.” He was writing Agnes Tully (at the time, she was not yet married) from his location in Tucson, Arizona, although I get the feeling that he either had previously lived in her home town of Chicago (most likely also attending the same church as she did), or that of her older sister’s family in Ohio.
Whether it is the jovial nature of the letter writer, himself, or the manner of written communication at the time, I am not sure, but Mr. Reilly certainly sounds quite friendly and familiar with Agnes, personally. The opening paragraphs of this letter make me want to know much more of the details of young Agnes’ life and that of her correspondent.
Tucson Ariz May 19 ’09
My Dear Agnes
Well you old bummer you took a sneak [?] away from St. Anne’s down to beautiful hilly, inviting, home-like New Lexington where you will I hope spend your time in building up and getting strong and above all in forgetting – forgetting one that is not worthy of a pleasant look from my little Agnes.
Remember honey that many a young woman who allowed herself to run down was beyond the life line before she knew it. So cast care and worry and seriousness to the winds and in the loveliness of your young and bright womanhood be cheerful and happy both for yourself and for those around you.
Stay there just as long as you like and if any one complains just tell them that you’ll report them to me.