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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Tufting Comfortables

Letter Image 1896 Flowers

Summit, NJ
May 3, 1896

From: William A Gray
To: Ruth Barrell, % Mrs James Myrick, 279 Gates Ave, Brooklyn, NY

Dear Ruth:

This morning dawned very dark and gloomy and continued so until your letter
arrived, which seemed to me to be an agreeable substitute for the sun which has failed to
appear thus far.

Your letter was the first intimation I have received of the postponement of your visit,
until Wednesday, but this is not strange, in view of the fact that I spend 24 hours of the day
in this isolated place (Amber Lodge) and am almost as remote from the affairs of the rest
of the world as though I were an occupant of the planet Mars.

I must confess my ignorance of what you mean by that peculiar past time “tufting
comfortables.” I should rather call it, tufting uncomfortables, as it seems to have the
tendency to give one a head-ache. Isn’t that work rather unseasonable for now? The mere
thought of the weather we’ve recently gone through would have given me a sort of
incurable head-ache. I confess it isn’t so today, for I could have used a couple of them last
night without having felt any different than their name implies in the singular.  Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2013 in Family History

 

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A Hand of Silver is Better than a Hand Full of Rheumatism

LetterImage

Summit, NJ
Oct 1, 1895

From: William A Gray (ill at home)
To: Ruth Barrell, New Providence, NJ

Dear Ruth:

I presume your conclusion after not seeing me at any time on Sunday was that I was
again victimized by that pet disease which I have been nursing for some time back. Of
course that conclusion was or would have been quite correct for yesterday was the first
time since Saturday that I have been able to use my right hand.

I had the presumption to anticipate spending Sunday rather differently than I have
for some time back and you can imagine my disappointment when Saturday evening came
to find that my hand and wrist were so united that one would think that some of Sunday’s
nights frost had gotten into it. It made me think of the afterward conclusion of the story you
read aloud “A hand of silver is better than a hand full of rheumatism”   Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2013 in Family History

 

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Tied Up in Red Flannel

Back: Joe, Bessie, Ruth. Front: Dolly, Bob, Ethel 1895

Back: Joe, Bessie, Ruth. Front: Dolly, Bob, Ethel 1895

Summit, NJ
Sept 28, 1895

From: William A Gray (ill at home)
To: Ruth Barrell, New Providence, NJ

Dear Ruth:

I am not a sort to appeal to the aesthetic at this moment. Completely tied up in red
flannel, my head and finger ends being the only exposed parts, to say nothing of the triple
harvest of ______? that exists on my countenance and seems to be crying out for the
reaper, or sickle or something else.

Words can hardly express my gratitude and appreciation of your kindness in coming
so often. I am on the mend and promise to be presentable the next time you call, which
occasion I shall await with pleasure.

I was going to say something else, but since you started playing my thoughts have
all been on that Shadows on the Water and Plymouth Bells and the middle selection all
arouse the sweetest memories. I will stop trying to write & listen which lately I can at least
do well.

Sincerely as ever

Will

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2013 in Family History

 

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A Strange and Novel Experience

Manhattan, 1895

Manhattan, 1895

(Ruth did not return to school, so the letters now jump to July of 1895. Will was working in New York at this time, and often stayed in the city. Because the first letter here is short, and he writes again the very next day, I have posted two letters today.)

327 West 32nd St
New York, NY
July 13, 1895

From: William A Gray
To: Ruth Barrell

Dear Ruth:

I will not be in New Providence, or Summit rather, over Sunday as I have concluded
that under the circumstances it will be best for me to stay here.

Tomorrow will be the first Sunday in weeks that my presence will have been lacking
in New Providence, but if I can’t be present personally, it is still my privilege to let my
thoughts wander in that direction, a reverie which is indeed very pleasant to me.
I hope you are enjoying the best of health and every other desirable condition.  Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Douglas, Tender and True

11-05 letter

Summit, NJ
Nov 5, 1894

From: William A Gray
To: Ruth Barrell, State Normal School, Trenton, NJ

Dear Ruth:

I rec’d your letter last Wednesday Eve, just previous to my calling upon your family
and home.

We played a game of Whist, and to my great surprise our side won. The
arrangement was Mr Burrell (Uncle Charlie) and Dolly versus Bessie and myself. I think
the receipt of your letter upon All Halloween brought with it my change of luck. We didn’t
duck for apples, eat half an egg-shell full of salt, pour melted lead into a basin of water, or
do anything of that sort, for the Whist, including the Deacon Pottering etc, took up the
entire evening.

Lack of time would be a poor excuse on my part for not answering your letter more
promptly. I could have answered it the same eve, or the early morning of the following day,
but the material was lacking and I think I’m not very well equipped tonight, but I’ll do the
best I can. (Bear in mind the organist.)

I hope you will not think me so exacting as to expect you to be prompt in answering
my letters, thereby occupying time which is demanded by matters of far greater
importance. I can’t fully realize, but I think in part, just how fully you are occupied in school
work and how few and far between your leisure moments are, and then when an interval of
rest from study does come, I can imagine the accumulation of letter answering, etc which
has piled up and what a good economist you must be to make everything fit in.

Yes the vicinity (I mean New Providence) is becoming famous for its eccentric
marriages, past and to come. I believe that it is quietly rumored, although not publicly
announced, that Miss Ackerman and Jones the musician are to be the next to participate in
the sea of matrimony. Whether they will founder in the eddying currents of the whirlpool of
failure or caught up in the smooth tide of happiness and content it is premature to predict.   Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2013 in Family History

 

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Wanderings

State Normal School

State Normal School

New Providence, NJ
Oct 22, 1894

From: William A Gray
To: Ruth Barrell, State Normal School, Trenton, NJ

Dear Ruth:

I am the honored recipient of your letter of the 19th and I wish to dispel right here
any ideas you entertain about your letter being uninteresting; to prove the contrary, I read
it over quickly, and coming suddenly upon the end, reread it to make sure I hadn’t missed
a word.

The weather today is decidedly in contrast with that of last Friday, the day on which
you wrote and indeed I do not blame you for taking liberties so earnestly prompted by the
pleasantness of the day. Your walk to the station must certainly have been pleasant and
beneficial, rather than anything else and I would strongly advise a repetition of the
medicine as often as opportunity afforded.

Yesterday was an agreeable one here in every way but the weather. I surprised
myself and everybody else by going to church, together with Ed, Dave and Walter. The
attendance was about as large as I have ever seen it, although just about 50 miles from
being complete. I met Miss Bessie Runyon there and also today, in Summit. She remarked
how strange and unreal it seemed to visit here without seeing you.   Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2013 in Family History

 

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Don’t Shoot the Organist

Grayletterimage1894

New Providence, NJ
Oct 10, 1894

From: William A Gray
To: Ruth Barrell, State Normal School, Trenton, NJ

Dear Ruth:

Your letter arrived on time and I take the first opportunity to reciprocate to the best
of my poor ability.

I am very glad to hear you are enjoying good health and hope you didn’t take
seriously my joking about your loss of weight being due to your not getting enough to eat; I
don’t think any body ever loses weight on that account but the old chestnut tells us “A little
nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest,” so I, having a minimum amount of
wisdom, am licensed to indulge in a great deal of nonsense.

That your birthday was an enjoyable one goes without saying. It must have been
pleasant, to have been treated so generously by everybody at home. I think I saw that
combination letter you speak of just previous to its being mailed. It certainly was a
whopper, and worth its weight in gold.  Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2013 in Family History

 

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