Monday, November 11, 2013

December 20, 1929 - Aba

In which Coralee raves about the new baby, and describes how she and Ralph acquired Patches the dog. 

December 20, 1929

Dear Family,

[Personal portion redacted.]
Five years have passed since we sailed from New York. It hardly seems possible; it has gone very quickly for us.

These are very hot days here now. We are in the midst of our dry season. Which means little or no rain, high winds all day that dry everything so ugly and brown. The sun gives us extra heat and just about wilts us. Ralph and I notice the sun so here, for it is hotter here at Aba than at Aru or Rethi (1), where we were before. I’ll be so glad when the rains come again and it is cooler.

During the dry season the natives burn the grass on every side. These fires have started and there is fine flakes of burnt grass flying in the air.  One can almost imagine we are in a dirty city by looking at the clothes on the line. These fires make the air very smoky and there isn't any view these days, only a misty smoky haze on the horizon. This burning time is also a hunting time for the blacks. They start the fire over a certain area and the men stand just back of the fire with spears or bows and arrows to shoot any animal that may appear – i.e. rats or anything bigger.

You should see our dog. We've always said we’d never have a dog but here we find ourselves with one and we both confess we like it.  Last month Ralph had to go to Aru to see the medical work there and so I went along. It is 200 miles one way so we stayed over the weekend. On the way back we stopped at the govt. official’s home so I could nurse the baby and found one of his little daughters a bit sick. Ralph gave them some advice and just as we were near to leaving the mother said to the child, “wouldn't you like to give the doctor one of your little dogs”. And she said very promptly – yes Mother and brought her favorite pup. There wasn't anything to do but take it. It is a short-haired dog, black and white, so we have called him Patches. 

It is some dog alright, so cute but so mean. Chews everything. I found him just in time the other day to rescue Edith’s carriage cover. I wouldn't be surprised if he’d chew the baby (2) if he got a chance. Our house boys are crazy about him. All the natives love a dog. They are wealth in their eyes. You have no trouble in exchanging a female dog i.e. pup for a female goat. And goats, especially females, are real wealth for here they buy their wives with goats. So much for the dog, now about the baby.

Allow me to rave a bit. She does seem the sweetest and dearest in all the world to me. She weighs 11lb 14 oz. now and seems so well. So far I have been able to feed her altogether and it surely is a real blessing and so much better for her and less expensive for us. She sleeps thru the night now from 6 to 6. Ralph of course thinks this is quite a worthy accomplishment.

She is outgrowing her basket so I must get busy and fix her a bed. There seems to be such a little bit of time I can hardly get anything done. Seriously I think maybe the day ought to be longer. Maybe I might get thru then.

I know you all are awful busy too and I hate to bother you but I have been wondering if you would do a little shopping for me? [Personal portion redacted.] It’s for the baby. I am enclosing $5.00 that came as a gift and if the things cost more than this with the mailing charges and I’m pretty sure they will, please send it to the Brooklyn office and they will take it from our allowance, which is quite O.K. 

I would like two pair of shoes. Little first step ones. Different or rather progressive sizes and some socks. Several pieces of colored material suitable for little everyday dresses. Also several dress patterns and some transfer patterns so I can touch them up a little, also a good variety of embroidery threads. [Personal portion redacted.] I don’t crave anything elaborate for my girlie but I would love to have her neat and pretty.

Shoes are a real necessity for a child out here for they are apt to contract various diseases going barefooted. So I must plan for her little feet.

It is late so I must go. Thank you so much in advance.  Good night and best wishes for the coming year.

Ah yes – a nice fat parcel is stored away out of sight awaiting the 25th. It left your place some time ago. We will try hard to keep up our resistance until the 25th. It is a real temptation to look alright.

Thank you so much we surely do appreciate your loving thoughts of us.  

With much love,

Coralee and Ralph

  1. Both Aru and Rethy are situated at a higher altitude than Aba. Aba is also located further north and closer to the desert.  
  2. The "baby" is Esther Louise, born August 7th and referred to first here.  

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