New Providence, N. J.
May 10, 1898
From: Ruth Barrell
To: William A Gray
My dear Will:
Four o’clock and I sit down for a little rest and a nice talk with my Will, for I am very
tired as you may think I have reason to be when I give you my diary for the past two days.
Actually it seems like weeks since I left you at West Summit yesterday, only yesterday
To turn back a page. Jack brought me home in about ten minutes from the time we
parted. (Had to stop just now and pose for our chests, while I swept.) It looks quite
respectable now though there is much sorting and packing away to be done yet. We have
so much stuff in our garret it is a regular undertaking to keep it in order, which it isn’t much
of the time as you can judge for I heard you were up there yesterday, Sunday, I mean.
Bessie and I had to stop and put up more screens, hand sheets over her plants, etc, to
keep them from the sun. They were quite frosted Sunday night and the wind and sun
yesterday nearly used them up, but after our care and the nights coldness they quite
recovered before this morning, and today has not been so hard on them. Finished working
in garret at 5:30 P. M. then fed chickens, dressed, rode up on my wheel for Ethel’s letter
and was ready for supper at 6:45. After supper played some and read a little war news,
then sewed my little American flag on my pillow, while Bessie cut out stars for our big flag,
and Mother read a story. Then came my Bible reading for the day and then to bed and to
sleep with a last thought of you and a last prayer for you before my thoughts lost
themselves in sleep. All this in one short day.
Today I arose at 6:30 and began another days work, chickens, dishes, etc occupied
my attention until about 8:15, then I tackled that old washing machine and for over two
hours worked at blankets, quilts, and wound up with the horse blanket. All this is
developing my muscles and a fine appetite, then to the mail on my wheel. After dinner
cleaned up the kitchen and worked out in the back yard until I decided I was too tired to
work well and then I came to you.
Do not think that I am complaining of the work for I am not. I don’t mind it while I feel
so well and strong and Mother and Bessie work just as hard or harder some times. But I do
wish some times I had a brother to mow the yard or the money to hire a man so I could feel
free for indoor work which is ever piled up ahead of us, and so I could have more time for
fancy work, reading, wheeling, visiting, etc. There is enough work to keep about a dozen
men going on this place. Abe does all he can, gets here some after 5 o’clock in the
morning and does not leave until till about six any evening, sometimes much later. His
work is telling too for the place is slowly but surely improving both in farm value and
I guess I was tired when I wrote the first part of this letter for it has a very
“melancholy” air. Don’t think twice of it. But I am rested now very much and feel so happy
and full of life, if you should happen to step in at any moment, you will find me as lively as
ever and ready for any sort of fun so my attack of the “discouragements” didn’t last long.
O, I wanted to speak of that bicycle question again, dear. You spoke of riding Bob’s
or Joe’s wheel on the 30th and so you could, except for the fact that Bessie means to ride
it and as it is not a tandem, I don’t see how you both could manage it. She means to get a
divided skirt so she can ride that wheel when we both want to ride. I didn’t think of this
when you spoke of it the other morning. Besides, Will, I really think you ought to have a
wheel. I don’t like your reason for not getting one. Couldn’t you get one for about $50? If
you really meant what you said, you make me feel I have no right to accept so many
presents from you while it helps to deprive you of a pleasure. You surely could use a
wheel quite a little. Seems to me while you are coming home, it would give you a pleasant
change to ride to and from Summit in pleasant weather, also when you get home early we
might take a ride on nice evenings and then Saturdays and holidays and your vacation
how can you do without one?
Perhaps you may think it is none of my affairs and I suppose that is so and maybe
you’ll not like some things I said. But I’ll have your just displeasure with the only plea that I
was thinking of all the pleasure you’d miss if you do not get a wheel and for that reason all
the pleasure you’ll make me forgo. For I enjoy more some things we can enjoy together
than things you give me for myself.
This is lovely weather and I long for you to be here to enjoy it with me, but it does
me good to think you get breathes of this sweet air every night and morning. There is a
beautiful dish of pansies on the table beside me, wish you could see them.
Well, it is time to feed chickens now and I must close. I may mail this tonight and will
say goodbye but if not I’ll ride up early in the morning and mail it so you’ll get it just the
I’ll find some blossom to carry a kiss for my Will too. Goodnight and much love from
I hope your cold is all better as Austin says. Don’t work too hard this week Will.
P.S. I’ll mail this tonight for there is something forbidding about the sky that might
develop and prevent my mailing this in the morning.
I picked this pretty violet in the yard this afternoon. It may not be pretty when you
get it though.
Goodbye Will Dear
It is 6:30 P.M. and I must go for the mail right away before supper. A nice little ride
on my wheel. Wish you were here too.