Such Is Life

03 Jun
Will's brother, Walter.

Will’s brother, Walter.

Summit, NJ
Jan 11, 1898

From: William A Gray
To: Ruth Barrell

My Dearest Ruthy:

Your playfully interesting letter reached me tonight and in reading it was lifted from
ordinary things to the higher pleasure I always enjoy in any nearer relation to you. I am
glad to hear of your happy thoughts and glad my Ruth is still capable of doing and saying
that which brings her to confess she is a “silly” girl. Of course — I am not silly myself, but I
do like to see the trait in others. (you)

Well Ruthy, this has been quite a busy day for me and my hand seems cramped
from so much writing. One day it is typewrite all day, and the next push the pen, and so the
weeks go on the same thing over and over again. I don’t mind typewriting much as it
doesn’t tire my hands as a pen does and I’ve gotten so proficient that I can work away and
think of you at the same time. It seems so long since I left you Monday that I have been
looking forward to Wednesday evening as a time when I must see you again, but Farmer
Dunn comes out with the information that it will rain all day tomorrow and if this is the case
I will be forced to forego our meeting in the evening.

If it doesn’t rain beyond a drizzle, Ruth, I will not mind the walk and you may expect

I can imagine the amusement those boys of Bessie must have furnished, and would
have enjoyed being with you to share the entertainment. Yes, Ruth, I do like children,
especially little children, and never have any more fun then when I am catering to their
amusement or having a couple crawling all over me displacing hair, necktie, etc., and
having a good time generally, seemingly at my expense but rather to my enjoyment. I
would like very much to see Helen and Graham once more, little Austin too, and have
some of the old time fun. I presume too their little minds often revert to last summer’s
experiences and the mysterious Mr. Gray and Ruthy and the chickens, and Mack. All of
which must seem to them more of a dream than anything else, by now. 

I haven’t read the story in McClures you speak of, but your mention of it interests
me and it will be my amusement going down tomorrow. I will then become acquainted with
the poor “Grand mother” and little Teddy, and since they have your sympathy, can have
mine already.

Am glad Ethel is well and hope she will not be so busy as in any way to interfere
with her remaining so.

Had a letter from Walter today and from his description of his work thus far he must
be kept hustling: He said he arrived just in time Monday morning to assist with an accident
case. A young fellow was caught in the belting of some machines in a tannery which nearly
completely tore the scalp off, fractured the skull in three places, and broke the fingers of
one hand. Walter says “I gave him ether and they fixed him up. We thought he would die
before we got him off the table but he rallied and now has a good chance for recovery.” He
says he had about 4 hours sleep last Saturday night and describes the nights events as
follows: “I was playing cards when I received an ambulance call. Went to the Central RR
shops and got a man with a badly crushed hand which had to be amputated above the
wrist. We got through with him at 2 A. M., but I had to stay with him until he came out of the
ether. We had hardly gotten through with him when a fellow came in with a cut head, which
had to be stitched up. I got to bed at 3:30 A. M. Rose at 7:30 and had just finished shaving,
when the telephone in my room rang for me to go out on the ambulance; this time I brought
in a woman with a fractured knee pan. While at dinner had another call to meet the 2:20
train on Penna R.R. from Rahway, which had on board a boy who had been run over.

Found him in pretty bad shape from loss of blood and shock. We gave him subcutaneous
injections of salt solution to replace some of the blood. The poor fellow was conscious all
the time. He was about Bob’s age (our Bob). He told me he had not cried a bit. His right
leg was crushed up to the hip joint and the left below the knee, necessitating a double
amputation, about two minutes after which he dies.”

Ruth this is horrible stuff to be writing you and if you like you can destroy this sheet
after reading. I only quote Walter’s letter to give you a glimpse of what his life at the
hospital will be for the coming year. And I can appropriately add your quotation “Such is

Well my dearest Love it is getting late and I must think about going to bed. I wish I
had a room all my own fixed up as I should like to have with everything that can whisper
any little message of love from you Ruth, in plain evidence. As it is, your photo is in my left
hand vest pocket, handkerchief case in bureau drawer where dust will not corrupt and
most other little remembrances I have from you are likewise carefully laid up for the day
when we can be partners and with our combined resources try what a mutually pleasing
little nest we can fix up. O day of fullest joy.

I am getting silly Ruth, so had best kiss you good night and see what my dreams will
do by way of keeping me as near you as I have been while writing you this letter.
I hope to see you tomorrow, Dearest Ruthy, and until then good-bye.

Please pardon every fault of this letter including paper envelope scratching, etc.,
the latter being partly the fault of the pen and partly due to my tired hand. Overlooking the
faults, Ruth is meant to convey only the deepest and truest love for you dear.

Hoping you are very well, I am

As ever yours


(Will have to ask my Summit friend to mail this as I have no stamps in stock, but will
not forget to caution him not to forget and carry it to Morristown.
My eyes have about 5 blinks left and then I am sure they’ll refuse to open again

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Posted by on June 3, 2013 in Family History


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