May 7, 1939
Dear Distant Ones:
Today has been a real summer day, really hot, almost more like July than June. Yesterday Rusty had the boys, Dick and Dave – – (Ced was working) busy all day cleaning house and beating rugs. I did some work around the grounds, cleaning up behind the barn where we sawed up the wood and straightening up in the vicinity of the incinerator. The next job will be to take down the storm sash and put up the screens. Rusty has spent most of the afternoon painting his picture. He has some arrangement with his dentist to paint him a picture in return for getting his teeth fixed up. Dave has gone to the Young People’s (a group organized by the Trumbull Congregational Church) and Ced has gone on a picnic with Red (Sirene) and Jean (Hughes) and I think Bar (Barbara Plumb).
Lad’s Packard and Mack
Ced hasn’t said much about his job. I don’t think he likes it much and it is pretty strenuous work, hard on his hands, etc., But he hasn’t complained. He has made some arrangement with Arnold (Gibson, Lad’s best friend) who is working on the Merritt Parkway over Stratford way, to drop him off at the Tilo factory on the way to work each morning. Ced has not had enough money to renew the Packard’s registration, so the old Packard is having a vacation.
Ted (Uncle Ted Human, a Civil Engineer who was placed in charge of the project to build a road from Caracas to Maracaibo, who brought Lad and Dan to Venezuela to work for Inter-America Inc. He was in a serious car accident in March and has returned to the U. S. to recuperate in Trumbull, and is fighting to get paid by Inter-America, Inc., who is in serious financial and legal troubles.) seems to be coming along slowly. He was walking around outside today a bit, sitting mostly in an easy chair in the shade with Aunt Helen ((Peabody) Human, Grandma Arla’s next younger sister) hovering around him. She tends him like a hen with one chicken. I don’t believe he can even blow his nose without her offering to assist him. Rusty and I have been secretly amused because it is carried to a ridiculous extent, and I believe annoys him at times.
The only letter I have received from Lad this week was the one acknowledged in my last, telling his adventures with the cow. Dan’s letter was one written just about the time he wrote the airmail letter which I have already answered telling him Ted’s advice on quitting the company’s employ.
Next Sunday I rather imagine we will have a house full of relatives as Saturday, I believe, is Grandma’s (Grandma Peabody) birthday and all the New Rochelle clan are planning to come to Trumbull to celebrate the event Sunday. I don’t yet know all the details.
To date, Dan, ten colleges have sent catalogs. Before you can intelligently decide upon the best college to attend, you should decide whether you are most interested in eventually taking up mining, oil, paleontology or teaching. Mining is also subdivided into coal, metals, cement, ceramics, etc. Rusty says the main topic taught at the University of Alaska is mining and metallurgical, as the future of Alaska, many believe, lies in its mineral wealth and much of its territory needs exploration, and there is only a comparatively short summer in which to do this sort of work.
As I sit here in front of the radio with Rusty in the other chair, Dave on the sofa and Mack licking his front paw, just an ordinary Sunday evening setting, I am wondering what you two boys are doing in your respective parts of Venezuela at this moment. Possibly, Lad, you are listening to the Ford hour on the Radio although I do not know, of course, whether you have a radio at the camp that gets the N. Y. Stations. I am pretty sure Dan has not. By the way, Lad, what do you do on Sundays? Is there any work or do you have a complete day of rest, and if so, how do you spend it? Do you suppose if you spend very much time in the tropics with natives who are at the other end of the scale of hustling, and where no one expects you to do anything other than the way the custom of the country expect, do you quickly lose the Yankee habits of energy and speed and efficiency and over time in order to get a job finished on time and all those other things that mark the difference between a Northerner and a South American, or do they still keep their American habits to a large extent. It would probably take years in this environment for an American to entirely switch over and turn native in this regard, and probably even then he would have to be temperamentally lazy to start with.
The lilacs during the last few days have made considerable progress and it looks as though they might be out in a week or so if we have a few more days like this and some rain along with it. The trees have not made any considerable progress yet as far as leaves are concerned, but buds are swelling, the grass is beginning to grow and in general spring is here.
Rusty says to tell you not to get your feet caught in the machinery, and Lad especially is to lay off of that bull about the cow. Privately, Lad, he thinks it is the mesquite you must have been drinking that is responsible for the tall story you wrote us. He says however, he can forgive you even this as he has received letters from both of you and was very glad to hear from you.
There is no news of any moment for me to record at this time so the wisest course under such circumstances is to quit, anyway, Rusty is waiting to use this machine to write some letters, so I will close with Dan’s favorite phrase, hasta luego.
For the rest of the week I will be posting a three-page letter from Grandpa to Lewis & Clark.