Life in St Petersburg, Florida (10) – Dog Races and a Firing Squad – April, 1935

My Aunt Biss (Elizabeth) was staying in St Petersburg, Florida with her Aunt Anne and going to school while helping Anne with her children, Don and Gwen. She tried to write to her father every week but she wasn’t as faithful in writing to her two younger brothers back in Trumbull. 

EWGZ - Biss and Mack, 1933

Monday evening

6:18 PM

Dear Dick:

It certainly has been a long time since I last wrote either you or David. I wasn’t going to write to you and Dave tonight, because I didn’t have time. I was going to mail the

Don Stanley

Don Stanley

letter about 15 minutes ago but Aunt Anne said she would mail it when she went downtown tonight for then it would leave St. Petersburg tonight so of course I consented. Therefore, I have to steam this letter open so I can put in yours and David’s. I only have one stamp on now but I will of course have to put on a second one for it can’t possibly get to Trumbull for three cents. I’m still not positive that I can get in both letters before Aunt Anne goes out. We’re going to eat in about five or 10 minutes so I don’t think I will be able to finish this letter.

The other night I went to the dog races. The dogs were greyhounds and were, of course, perfect beauties. There is an electric rabbit that runs around the side of the track and all the dogs chase it. The rabbit of course is never caught for the officials pull a curtain across the pathway when the dogs have gone around in the first dog to pass the winning line wins. People place their bets before the race and it costs two dollars to place a bet in if your dog wins you gain. Different dogs are worth different prizes, so of course it is nicer to have a better dog when. One dog, rather two dogs together, brought in $42 and some odd cents. Tonight is the last night for the races and I wish very much that I could go but I was up late Saturday – at the dog races last night – ask the boys – I don’t know which one I told it to and Aunt Anne hasn’t had a chance to see them so she is going to go tonight and someone has to stay with Don and Gwen so I am going to. If there weren’t all those reasons – besides the reason that there is school tomorrow – why perhaps I would consider going tonight for it is the biggest night. Well I have to eat now so I will finish it after supper. Aunt Anne is getting ready to go to the dog races so I am afraid I won’t be able to write a letter to Dave or have time to steam the envelope open either so this will have to go separately – if it does go with the bunch you will know it is because I had time.

Love,

Biss

Monday evening

7:03 PM

Dear Dave:

It was Uncle Burton’s birthday for you know his birthday comes on April Fools’ Day. Did you meet Sewell Nelson while you were down here? Well he goes to military school now and at present is home on vacation. He has to go back to the school tomorrow. Well, of course, he knows all about the signals and since he has been home on his vacation we have been playing firing squad. Yesterday I was a bad man and I had to be killed. They marched me to the front of the house and shot me. I landed a little too hard and got a headache and full of sand spurs.

Gwen Stanley

Gwen Stanley

It was so much fun though that they marched me out into the alley (so I could have a soft spot to land) and asked me what my last request was. “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country” was my answer. They then shot me. We tired of that soon so I started marching with the rest. Bill Garlington came along to take me to church but I didn’t feel like stopping so I let him wait while I finished playing. We went by the porch where Aunt Anne was sitting and she asked me if I had seen Bill – she was quite disgusted that I would leave a guest standing doing nothing while I finished playing.

I turned around and was talking to her when Sewell – the commander – said “Halt, one, two”. I was turning back as he said that but hadn’t been listening so I kept on walking and banged right square into Donald’s gun. <The gun went off because I saw stars and it cut my eyebrow off so that today I have only one eye – the other is the size of a football.> Where those marks are I began to use my imagination. To tell you what really happened – I banged into the stick (Don’s gun) which was on his shoulder, I mean, over his shoulder and I hit my eyebrow. It’s quite sore today although it doesn’t show one speck. I’m glad I didn’t get a black eye for everyone in school would be asking me who I had a fight with. I’m going to steam the envelope open – ask Dick how it is done – because I have time. Aunt Anne is getting ready to go so I had better hurry up – don’t forget to answer this letter – tell Dick not to forget to answer his either.

Love,

Biss

 

Judy Guion

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4 thoughts on “Life in St Petersburg, Florida (10) – Dog Races and a Firing Squad – April, 1935

  1. Tom Parks says:

    The firing squad letter is a complete delight. What a treasure. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Etta Madden says:

    Wow! Aunt Biss was really a trip!! I wish I could’ve known her when she was younger!!!

    • jaggh53163 says:

      Etta – Yes, she really was a trip. Arla and I have a few very special memories of a drive with her. This is one of the reasons why I love sharing these letters. You can learn so much about a person by how they write, what they write and how they express their thoughts. I can’t help finding things that explain their behavior in later life, or perhaps traits that I remember seeing. It truly saddens me that so few people write anything anymore. So many things on the web will be lost in space but the written word, whether a newspaper, a personal letter or photograph, will still be around a hundred years from now.

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