New Orleans, LA
April 11, 1909
From: William A Gray
To: Ruth (Barrell) Gray
My dearest Girlie Ruthy:
Easter Sunday night and miles and miles away from all I love best of all on earth.
Away dearest in the flesh only, but in spirit so close that I know as I lie down to sleep I
shall feel your sweet head nesting on my breast and catch the perfume of your breath
against my face.
Last Sunday night. What an ocean of sweet memories surrounds me as I look back
tonight over the score or more Easter days since my life had been blessed with the
companionship, help and guidance of the purest and best girlie in all the world. This day of
all others, while apart from each other will be most fittingly closed by having a nice long
chat with you before going to bed.
I received this morning your last letter to Dallas dated April 6th, also one directed
here dated the 8th. Your letters come to me in the morning, and like the dew of Heaven
falling upon the drooping flower, causing it to raise its head in renewed life, so your letters
lift me up and make the day easier to face, and give me sweet peace of mind.
Of the days events — I have been good, bad, and indifferent. Went to church this
morning, The First Presbyterian, taking Clay and George with me. The morning here was
clear and beautiful. Sun shined brightly, foliage all in bloom, birds singing. Comparable to
our June in the North. We thought we would be treated to a good musical programme, it
being Easter Sunday. The church is a large one about the same size as Dr Vand’s.
Imagine our surprise to enter and find almost no floral decorations, and only an ordinary
service in every respect. This city is suffering from just that sort of thing. They are asleep
here both in business lines and religion and should wake up. A church cannot be
successfully conducted at this day and date as it was 40 or 50 years ago.
After lunch we took in a ball game. Quite a wide gap between this and our morning
pastimes. This was a sort of compromise with the boys. They agreed to go with me to
church in the morning if I would go to the ball game in the afternoon. After the game we
walked three or four miles, winding up in a cemetery which was quite interesting. The
foliage and trees in the place were magnificent, and there was not an ordinary grave in it.
Nothing but rows and rows of mausoleums. Such old Southerners as Beauregard and
Albert Sydney Johnston lie there, and there is a queer mixture of names. English, French,
and Italian. The place was very beautiful and there were many fresh floral decorations, this
being Easter. We enjoyed our walk very much and returned to the hotel feeling that living
was worth while and sat down at seven to a dinner fit for a king — and we did it kingly
justice. This morning sitting down to breakfast at 9:30, the first thing served was three dyed
eggs each and to night the menu was an Easter souvenir in the form of an egg. This I will
bring or send home to you. While walking in the pretty green places this afternoon I was
thinking of you as I cast my eyes down over numerous patches of clover. I looked in vain
for a 4 leafed one to send to you in this letter. I was never lucky in finding these — you
always were able to light on them without much searching. You are the lucky one and
whether I am or not, as long as I have you, I live under the influence of your good luck and
all is well with me.
Speaking of church this morning, I didn’t want to convey the impression that we got
no good from it. The minister was pleasing, elderly, kindly, sincere, and talked of Easter
day and what it meant to the world and to sinners like we three. I felt that it was good to
have been there.
Am glad to note from your letter that all is going nicely with you at home and that the
dear youngsters are as well as usual. Am glad you have gotten to the bottom of Billy’s
trouble and that he will soon be perfectly well. He is a fine boy and we must do everything
we can to make the physical side keep pace with the mental and moral.
There is no necessity of your running too close on money. Get all you need from B
& J. There is I guess a plenty in the bank. I received $300.00 from them today. This wiill
last the trip. Cost about $700, when we get back.
Am pleased to know that you are getting some pretty new things for your self. Surely
the money you have spent on yourself since we’ve been one has been a mere nothing and
no one on earth could want to see you better provided with nice things to wear than I. I
know your new dress is going to be pretty and simple, and I long to see you in it.
I read a whole book since I left you. What do you think of that. It is a new novel by
Richard Fox, jr entitled “The Trail of the Lonesome Pine.” One that some young lady sent
to Clay when he was leaving. She was at the steamer to see him off. I read it mostly on the
steamer, then did not pick it up again until yesterday and finished it tonight. It is in many
ways a very nice story, somewhat improbable but, on the whole, interesting and refreshing.
I liked the last chapter as the characters of chief interest reminded me of you and I. I could
hardly aspire to the character of the hero, and I don’t think you could be as silly as the
girlie in the story, but the story had a climax just as our careers had a climax when we
married, and it is always interesting to read of true love when you know what it is in your
My heart goes out to my girlie tonight. I want nothing else in the world but her dear
self, including of course the little detailed chunks which have gotten to be numerous. I long
to be alone with you all, under circumstances of utmost simplicity where we can have each
other, and who cares if nothing much else.
As I move around in this world and see what little there is to be seen, it comes back
to me over and over again that the only things worth having are wife, home and children,
and when a man is blessed with a wife like you Dearest and the children and home which
come in natural sequence. I rest perfectly content with my lot, except that I long for the
time when I can see more of you all and have you constantly with me. To bring this about
will be my aim during the next few years.
Dear One, it makes me happy to know that you can carry your load so lightly. Having
so much physical discomfort and yet content. The years will fly and for every moments
pain, there will be hours of the most sublime happiness.
Well Ruthy, I have rambled on. I don’t know whether you will make any sense out of
what I have written. I will not read it back, but send it along to you knowing that you know
what I mean. I wish I could exactly write what is in my heart for you, Dearest, but I never
will be able to tell you in words how much I love you.
A week from tonight we should be somewhere off the Jersey coast. On Monday
morning 10th, I shall be in your arms, back with a new grip on life, having seen what life
means in its broadest sense and ready to take up afresh our life work “hand in hand” and
“heart to heart.”
You are perhaps writing me just as I write this letter. It will be the last I shall receive.
Your Friday message will come tomorrow and Saturdays Thursday. Your letter written me
as I write this will arrive Wednesday morning just before leaving, giving me comfort and
courage to face the trip.
It makes me happy to know that my letters are a source of pleasure to you. I get lots
of comfort out of yours. I remember how my heart throbbed when I got my first letter from
Ruthy Barrell from Trenton. These were our first love letters, altho we little knew then what
the future had in store. If in an effort to make money to make our lives comfortable, I have
gotten far away from the simple paths we trod back in those days when we were boy and
girl together, I want as means accumulate to gradually work back to those ways of
simplicity, and wander with you in the woods among the flowers, hand-in-hand.
Ruthy, if I were close to you tonight I don’t believe I’d go to sleep very early. We
would talk and talk and talk, do our loving and wooing all over again and it would be all just
as sweet as tho it were a brand new love.
It is getting late and I must be up and going tomorrow. This is a dead — and alive
town. Horse racing has been cut out by law and business is not good. It is not the
flourishing city that some of the Texas towns are. I have some appointments for tomorrow
and may take some business out of here, but it will be slim.
Had two letters from the factory this morning. All appears to be OK there and now
that they can get along without me I suppose I will be out of a job when I get back.
Dearest Ruthy, this letter will have to take my place close to you until I get back to
you. Kiss and hug all the babies for me, and with my fullest and best love believe me to be
P.S. Will write you Monday & Tuesday. We sail for N.Y. Wednesday at 10 A. M.
Good night Love; good night Sweetheart; good night Pet.
I go to bed now and will read and take your last letter with me.
W. A. G.