Dear Evelyn and family,
(A letter from Dorothy to Evelyn)
Haven't been able to get at a letter before, but it has been on my mind.
We opened your gifts to us Xmas Eve. You made that dress you gave Elaine, didn't you? She looks adorable in it. Really, I believe that style is more becoming than any other. Anyhow, she is a little darling in it. She is very clothes-concious. Is always draping herself in something. I hope to have use for the towel you sent. Sometime Elaine and I shall have an apartment to ourselves. Right now it is better that we aren't alone.
It is snowing to-day. I have more time that usual--there is a teachers' meeting and I don't have to take time out to go to class. I have been plenty busy up till now. There has been a number of times lately when I have wished I could do nothing but rest. My nerves have been all tied up in a knot--always so tired, and then when I go to bed I can't rest.
I saw Gus and Bert last week. We were down to Atlantic for a few hours.
No, it doesn't bother me to have you mention Melvin. I enjoy talking about him. I hardly know how to analyze how I feel. Everything is so crazy--no reason to any of it. It will never seem right that he had to die for others--no one was more worthy to live! Dale has been preaching on the Beatitudes, and his sermons seem so applicable to Melvin. Most people spend their lives scheming to "get ahead" while to Melvin the personal satisfaction of doing a job well and enjoying the things which he loved were the only things that mattered. Some people need a fine car to support their ego--he didn't. Maybe, that doesn't exactly express what I mean; however that old tinny car of his is rather symbolic of him. He oftentimes became disgusted with it, but its appearance never bothered him too much.
He was an unusual person. I never realized that anyone could be like that when I first knew him. His interest amazed me--me a farm girl, found it hard to realize that there are people who really enjoy the things that he did. He was always urging that I read--"People that allow their minds to vegetate are no better than pigs," he would say. In one instance, he had me read LES MISERABLES. It wouldn't have been such an effort if I had read it in the usual manner, but he would question me as to detailed accounts of certain military tactics, and it would almost seem that I had never read that part. The unusual thing was that he had read that book when he was 12 or 13 years of age, and he still remembered all that, and if he'd lived to be a hundred it would still have been quite the same. He appreciated my reading old classics (which I didn't do enough of) He didn't disdain modern writers but felt that time was more profitably spent reading those that had proved themselves. He read James Hilton's LOST HORIZON and GONE WITH THE WIND while I knew him. He especially liked the former. That was the extent of that type of reading during those years. When we lived in Red Oak he bought a lot of books and can especially remember his reading French plays.
One June (1941) the announcement came out for translators in the maritime service. The requirements included Spanish and Italian which he had never had. Once he had made up his mind he put his whole heart into it. He sent to Chicago for French, Spanish, Italian, and German newspapers, bought good dictionaries, and went to work. He studied in his spare time from July until the first of October when he took his exam. The material translated was rather foreign to him as he knew very little about shipping terms, but the results of that test I have already given to you: French and Italian 95% / Spanish 92%, and German 85%.
It was quite a struggle for me when he tried to teach me music appreciation. For a long time I was lost. He used every penny he could scrape up to buy records, and I had to sit for hours on end (it seemed) listening to something that was pure agony. There came a time though when it began to penetrate, and I began to feel something of what he felt. It used to amuse me to watch his face when he was especially delighted with a certain phrase, etc. I'd tell him he looked for all the world as though he wore a halo. I'm very thankful for all that he taught me. We had planned ahead to the time when we could continue our library of records. I have quite a collection now. One Sat. we went to Omaha with all of $15.00 to spend. We separated for a time and when I did see him, he had a big package in his arms, and a smile from ear to ear--he had spent $10.00 on some more records! That package consisted in part of FINLANDIA.
There are a host of amusing incidents that I shall never forget, naturally. He was a very fastidious person. Every noon he would remove his shirt and really splash. While he was dressing, he'd look in the mirror with the most satisfied expression and say, "Did you ever see such a good-looking guy!" Or he might get ready to kiss me and if it was a concentrated job, he might come out with, "Say, when was the last time you washed you face!" (I assure you that I do wash my face, but my complexion isn't his).
You mentioned getting a suit for Xmas. What color is it? I went shopping Monday for a three-piece affair. It is dark brown. I think it is quite gorgeous.
I can't see that you should feel conscience stricken about Stone. An engagement isn't such a serious thing. You wouldn't have been happy if you had gone on with it. I don't know your Don any more that I do Stone, and if I did it wouldn't be for me or anyone else to criticize you for calling it "quits". Dale spoke very well of you--mentioned going over to your sorority house, and going on double-dates (I believe) in a very complimentary tone.
Gus says you are coming back this spring. In that case we can hold memorial services then. (I dread to think of it) I would like to have Dale preach the services. I have a great deal of admiration for the fellow. Do you know Marjorie, his wife? She is a grand person, we think --rather quiet and friendly. They don't have much money, maybe, but such enthusiasm for his work! We have a beautiful new church.
Elaine has a miserable cold right now--about the first she has had in the last six months. The other little girl got it, so, of course, Elaine did. Elaine is three feet tall now and 22 months old. The Knowltons think she looks like Melvin. I've always wanted her to; however, I can't tell. Her finger nails are shaped like his. She'd better be smart or I'll be SO disappointed! I'm not really worried about that though as the indications are good. I'm very glad I have her; I would be so very, very bitter if I didn't! At least I have that much of him.
(Well, this quite a lengthy letter!) I wasn't proud of my Xmas box to you. I bought few gifts, and didn't put the consideration into them (nor time) that makes for a good gift. I didn't give your aunts anything. I planned to go to Atlantic Xmas Day, but the car that took me to the bus depot wouldn't go, and we coasted all the way. Just as were on the last hill my bus pulled out. It was a very cold day. The next bus wouldn't have reached Atlantic until 6 that evening, and as I thought the Lake City folks were returning about then, I gave it up. I don't think Gus believed my story; never-the-less, that was the way it was.
Thank you for the lovely Xmas remembrances.
Love, Dorothy & Elaine
This letter sounds rather self-centered, maybe, which isn't intentional. Write when you can, and give with the news.