The Letters That Frances Wrote
Tuesday, June 3, (1958)
This is such an exciting week but I must not neglect the weekly in our exhilaration. The children are in high spirits because tests are over and it’s graduation time and picnics and desk clean-ups and “book-covering.” I saw no evidence of any studying, and last night was graduation and Patricia’s picnic during the day. Today is Billy’s class picnic, tomorrow is choir girls and altar boys picnic and Thursday is Kathy’s class picnic. Friday at last is report cards and winding up my nine months of freedom. I have “things” I must do yet before I get tied down to staying home or escorting four live-wires along.
Graduation was beautiful. Billy and Kathy were in the “show” and we were so proud and excited. Mary hasn’t been going to school the last three weeks so she wasn’t in anything. And sweet Patricia lost her chance to perform when her class did, earlier this year, by displeasing Sister with all her happy, irresponsible manner. Patricia, with wings and laughter, who sooo loves to act and play and be-in-everything, and yet forfeits such rights by her happy disregard of rules and commands. Even I lose patience with her and how could Sister do anything different when she is confronted with over forty young ones. Anyway, Patricia never lets her disappointment get her down. She is too busy already into some other thing to bother with regrets. She is a very interesting, adorable child.Til, you know that beautiful dress, pick, accordion pleated shirt you left here? Well you should have seen Kathy last night. All this time she has been deviling me to shorten it and I have insisted it was far too lovely for a little tom-boy like her. But at last, for this graduation program Sister said the girls would need pastel dresses. So I ripped it out at the waist to shorten it. The blouse fit perfect. Oh she looked so grownup and lovely. And Rose, those pearls you gave her a couple years ago, they too had been put away, but she wore them for the first time. She didn’t look like our tom-boy but a strange “Miss Lovely.” She is going to write you of this.
Mary has not been well. She gets tired before noon and quits her play to lay down on the davenport. It’s evident she will need that surgery sooner than Dr. Fulton hoped. Soon as school is over we will take her for another exam to see if he advises that, or what.I have taken her on my social calls, our guild work and she putters around. She looks so well, except for that purple hue on her lips and finger nails. But she has little energy. She requires afternoon naps and often a morning one too.
Today my friend Marian drove us to one guild members home, who has had a stroke and we should have visited her ages ago. Then we went to another home, a new baby, their sixth.Yesterday I didn’t have a chauffeur so I left Mary home with Grandma and I walked a couple miles to check on De Nottas and Calchinas, good Italian names and should be Catholic. They were. The DeNottas sighed up for membership in our Guild; Calchina didn’t as they are in an invalid marriage and everyone is very happily Methodist. But even that was interesting. I like people.
Last week when Marian was too busy to drive me I walked around and found four new members and enjoyed visiting with them. One is a Louiso family, Italian. He hasn’t gone to church in years so his Protestant wife brought the children up in her church. She is a very devout Protestant. We have struck up a friendship for she is a lovely, hospitable person and before I left she signed up and paid the dues for Mr. Louiso to belong to our Guild because as we both agreed, everyone should have a Faith. They need it. And she thinks it’s time for Mr. L. to get interested. I don’t know what we will do with him and Mr. Piercinni who also joined. Mr. P’s wife is not a Catholic either. But it’s been our aim to scout our all the Catholics in Central Park for the purpose of being united in the practice of our Faith and working on church projects is a means of keeping alive even a spark of Faith. In time they might get back to the practice of it. The Jehovah Witness’ work this territory over so ardently it’s spurred us to copy their zeal. So this week we want to wind things up and still there are about six families to go.Mother had hoped I would be free to pack stuff. She gets that fever when first of the month brings her pension check and she feels rich and busy. She stayed at Eddie’s from Thursday night until Sunday night and come back with so many clothes for Poland. A neighbor of Eddie’s learning that someone would make great use of old clothes, ferreted out two huge boxes, and everything is so good. Mother is delighted. But she is resigned to wait until next week when I will stay home and be glad to work on her boxes for Poland.Pat made her Retreat last weekend and Eddie is planting his first 3 ½ acres of peas now. In five days he puts in the next 3 ½ acres and then a week later his last batch. That’s so they won’t all ripen at once. He is working steady now so he does his planting in the evenings.
Mother has had a bad cold and sore throat most of last week but is over it now except for a slight cough and a few sniffles. Today she went outside to hoe somewhere. I saw her heading toward the chicken coup wearing those heavy knee boots that indicate she plans to hoe.
Something killed half our young chickens last night. Weasel maybe. The Chief found them stacked in a corner, dead. They weren’t in the brooder room so whatever killed them, hauled them into the barn and stacked them up. We bought fifty chicks about three weeks ago. The Chief better get some poison and hope.
Anne, I must quote this part of your letter as all would be most happy to share in the honors Carol has earned. “Carol won the Outstanding Girl trophy that stays at the school with her name engraved on it. She also got the Award for Highest Scholastic Achievement, with her name on the bronze plaque that hangs in the trophy case. She also won the $75 Scholarship Award, (presented by the Hubbard’s Women’s club), besides the U. of O. dads honorary award and U.O. mother’s award which carried $222.” What a girl! Congratulations Carol.
Oh Anne, you and Peter should enjoy these honors; all of you have worked together. And Sis while you are basking in these achievements, give a thought for these daughters of mine who are “squeezing” a promotion to the next grade. Both Kathy and Patrice said they are relieved because Sister didn’t say anyone failed, but both have justified reason to worry what the report card will show, since both have been threatened by their teachers over their poor “lessons.” [Editors note: I am the “Kathy” mentioned in this paragraph. I passed. I think Patty did too.]
Anne, I can see what you did Memorial Day vacation … working in neighbors hop yards and then picking berries and into pea harvesting now.But good to know Sister Bede had her day at home and Peg’s, Tony’s and all other relatives were over to enjoy her.And the next big Oregon event will be Donnie’s wedding. We got the invitations. I haven’t heard if anyone from the Harbor will be going. She sounds lovely and we hope it will be a very happy wedding.
Sister De, Anne wrote your last newsy letter that you sent here arrived there on the day Sister Bede was home and so many of the family too. They all enjoyed that. Sister I know you must have felt you lost a cherished friend in the death of Cardinal Stritch. I read the story of his life and that you lived under his leadership and even made your vows before him.I am certainly screwing up my grammar, rushing. It’s late now, Kathy came home to say “You don’t have to make anything for the picnic Mama but some of the girl’s mothers are doing some things. It would be nice if you would make me a chocolate cake to bring to the picnic. Nobody else is bringing any cake, just spaghetti and wieners and rolls and stuff like that.” Well, what can you do? Especially when that particular daughter is some day going to be in far off Africa, where you can’t do her any more favors. [Editors note: At the time I was almost 12 yrs. old, planning to become a Maryknoll missionary and spend my days getting Pagan Babies baptized.]So I made the chocolate cake and fended off the family all evening. They were supposed to be happy eating up yesterday’s pie. And I did promise tomorrow I would make them a cake but human nature is obstinate. They gave Kathy and me a rough time for saving this masterpiece which they claimed was big enough for us and the party.Til, we hope you and Ruben had a fine time in the mountain retreat on Memorial Day. That sounds like wonderful fun.And we hope all the rest of you had a nice time too. Though the Murphy’s and Steincamp’s were rushing with end of school, and moving.
God bless you all,Lovingly,Mother and us(signed) “Fran”