Douglas, Tender and True

27 Mar

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.  

Next — I give you the words of the Summit Herald, “It is announced that Mr Duryee
aged about 75 years of Morris Co, will soon lead to the altar a blooming bride of Union,
aged about 25 years,” comment unnecessary.

James, Ed, John (Walter), Will, and Dave

James, Ed, John (Walter), Will, and Dave

The above was written in Summit Monday evening, Nov 5th and was interrupted by
the arrival of Dave and Walter to take me home. The night was dark, the wind blew, and
the rain fell. Just below Van Cise’s, an extra heavy gust carried off my hat, and as the night
was dark and the horse had gone quite a distance before we could stop, it took us over
half an hour to locate it (the hat). This delay made my arrival home so late that I was
unable to finish this letter then as I had hoped to do. This is Wednesday night and a
beautiful, clear, moonlight, one it is too. Just the weather for a straw ride, isn’t it. Will this
moon last until after Thanksgiving Day? I haven’t an almanac at hand, so I ask you, one
who has probably made herself acquainted with every thing bearing on the date. By the
way, we are getting delightfully near it, aren’t we?

Mrs Barrell told me Bob was going to be patriotic enough to remain in Montana until
after his vote has been polled, so he is probably homeward bound by the time this reaches
you. His journey is a little more extensive than yours, isn’t it?

Yesterday was a great day for our side everywhere and particularly in New
Providence, wasn’t it? I believe the Republican majority here was greater than the entire
democratic vote, not barring the fact that MacElligot came all the way from New York
to help along the lost cause.

We had a joint Christian Endeavor meeting Sunday night, a great many Methodists
being present from the fact that Mr Bice was at Union Village conducting revivals there. I
think it was the first occasion I ever had of seeing and hearing Mr Burnett, senior at our
Endeavor meeting. His address carried us back to his childhood and from then up to date,
(quite a long period), so you will not be surprised when I tell you your cuckoo clock
registered 9.45 when Walter and I arrived at your home that night.

When we were returning home, New Providence seemed to be in an uproar. There
was a couple of wagon loads of people being unloaded at different places and we
wondered what it all meant until I was informed by Charlie Patterson that it was the return
of the revivalists from Union Village. It seemed to me more like the return of a picnic party
than anything else.

The “Douglas Industry,” as you call it hasn’t developed very great proportions yet as
I have only found market for one and the profit on it was so small, I’m afraid I couldn’t
afford to pay the makers a very attractive salary. But if you knew the world of happiness
that second Douglas furnished for the small boy who received him you would consider
yourself fully repaid for the trouble of construction. To make the gift more impressive I first
made a pair of Romeo slippers to measure, then a coffin shaped box, into which, I gently
laid Douglas. I made the box resemble a coffin as much as possible by decorating it with
black ink etc and then wrapped all in paper, and sent word to the boy that his Douglas was
ready and he didn’t lose any time in getting him either. The boy lives in Mrs Seals house
and next morning in driving past, I noticed white tissue paper laying near the road, a little
farther on was the lid of the coffin and further still was what seemed to be the remains of
the coffin, but Douglas himself was nowhere insight.

His mother told us later that he prized the doll very highly and treated it with the
utmost tenderness.

It is now 12 midnight and this epistle on the doll must have tired you out so I will
close. What day are you coming home and what train? Perhaps if my wheel is in shape
and the weather good I might ride over to Farmwood. Does the train you are coming on
stop at Plainfield?

Very truly yours
W A Gray

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Posted by on March 27, 2013 in Family History


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