This Uncomfortable Marchiness

23 Jun

New York, NY
March 31, 1898

From: William A Gray
To: Ruth Barrell

My Dearest Ruthy:

It is now just 9:30 and have only reached here. Did not work as very late, but walked
up leisurely and had supper on the way, and so used up a good deal of time.

Your nice long violet perfumed letter came to me just after I had returned from
lunch, and I spent a very delightful interval reading it. Before going to bed, and when very
near you, I shall read it again. How can I repay you, Dearest for writing me such nice
interesting letters, the only real sunshine of all the long week for me, and that do so much
to lift one’s mind from this busy whirl out to the pure wholesome country, and its quiet and
loving associations. My Dearest Ruthy, I can only accept this along with all the other fine
things you do for me, nourishing the hope to repay you in like, in no very distant day.

Am glad you have been able to take advantage of what little fair weather we have
had this week. Your trip to Summit must have been a very interesting one, and I enjoyed
your description of attractions. Perhaps you may have a ride to Summit this week upon
which you will see the one (the only one) you didn’t see on Thursday, and if you like, have
the additional proximity with that person of carrying him to your home and taking care of
him for a day or so. This day will be Saturday Dearest, and the time will be when the 3:20
or mail train from N. Y. arrives, for I am going to work to-morrow night, but break
thoroughly loose Saturday afternoon and have a real old time afternoon with the dearest
girl in all the world. Adjust the weather Ruth, so it will be just right, make it a little warmer,
and remove some of this uncomfortable Marchiness, which is still lurking about. 

Mama is very much alone now adays and is not very well either, and would be glad
if you would lend the brightness of your presence with her, as often as convenient. She
was always used to having us around, and I’m afraid our absence, coupled with her not
being very well, will make life quite a heavy drag.

I haven’t read any stories Ruth since those I read aloud to you, so of course do not
know how a man and his family lived or existed on $400.00 a year with $200.00 to spare.
How did they do it. I alone, with no very expensive habits can’t seem to save anything on
$780.00 and I’ll be glad if I can get a few lessons that will be of service. Of course potatoes
and coffee, the mere mention of this combination excludes us from living within the diet
limits at any rate.

Read me about this Saturday. In this connection I might say that the change of diet
for me would be a great one, taking today for example: For breakfast I had oat meal and
milk, corn muffins and a glass of milk. Cost 10 cents. Sir Louie steak dinner, fried potatoes,
spinach, bread, butter and water. Cost 35 cents. Supper same as dinner, less vegetables
cost 25 cents. 365 days at 70 cents is $255.50 only for 1 year.

Well dearest, I am tired and sleepy and must be fresh, for to-morrow will be a long
day and although I would love to write you a great deal more, doing so now would be
against your wishes, so I will go to bed. Have changed my room and now occupy one on
the 7th floor, quite a luxurious apartment with two windows and an electric light.

I shall say good night to you dearest and send you many kisses, until Saturday
afternoon. Don’t come after me love, if the weather is bad. In that case I will go to Murray
Hill on the 3:50. I hope this will find you in usual health, and hoping to see all the pansies,
crocuses, violets, chickens and most of all your own dear self, I am

As ever yours



Posted by on June 23, 2013 in Family History


Tags: , , , , , ,

5 responses to “This Uncomfortable Marchiness

  1. Genealogy Lady

    June 23, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    It is hard to imagine living off $780 a month! Let alone a whole year. 🙂

    • Jenny

      June 23, 2013 at 9:51 pm

      I can’t believe he only spent 70 cents to buy 3 full meals in New York City!

      • Genealogy Lady

        June 23, 2013 at 10:04 pm

        I love looking at the 1940s newspaper as research for my blog. The grocery prices are sweet. I can only imagine how cheap things were 40 years previous to that. (1898)

  2. currentdescendent

    June 24, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    Reading the details of the finances makes my head spin like Annette Funicello in Babes in Toyland.

    • Jenny

      June 25, 2013 at 2:14 am

      Haha 🙂


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