I been here 23 years. I [have not] heard of any flux or
typhoid fever. Tell Pearl to [take] fern root and make a tea
for baby - the kind that grow up on dry hills with three prongs
on it. Tell her Dad said so.
This was a very, very bad time. Pearl is my grandmother and her baby is sick with the "flux," i.e. diarrhea probably brought on by dysentery. The next letter came soon after:
Well, little Fannie I just received your much welcome letter.
Was more than glad to hear from you, and sorry for Pearl. If
she had been here would not [have] lost her baby, as there is
no flux here.
The baby died on November 20 at a little over a year old. He is buried in Chambers Cemetery near Orville, W.Va. in an unmarked grave. Our family and Uncle Frank's lived on the same run at this time, and of four children born between 1928 and 1930, my father was the only one who lived past two years old. It was the Depression and they hardly had food, let alone medicine.
You wanted to know about the kids here ... The oldest [is]
Gary, [He must have liked the name Gary because he used the same name for two different sons] next Gene, next Josephine, [next] Teddy Ralph is his
name; they call him Teddy, Bill the baby [?] years old. Tell
your girl she can call Mintie ``Grandma" if she likes. [Fannie's girl was my dad's favorite cousin, Nita Hall. Mintie is Arminta, the girl J.R. took off with.]
Well, the coldest spell in years just now broke up. Everything
is dead here now but the soup [superintendent?] told me this
[mor]ning that by spring we would have the best times we ever
had. If that is so we will [?] again and I hope it is [?].
Well, Gene was smoking some salmon and left them too long
without fire and they spoiled. I can't send one now. When the
steelhead run I will send you a whole fish if the railroad is
close to you so I can send it by express.
Well, I am not working any now, don't know when I will be, but
I get groceries laid down in the house every day. It don't
take long to get in debt or out when times is good here. If
you and Frank don't come here in the spring I will come and see
you if I live till then, and I will tell you all. If they knew
everything they would [not] be so hard on [me], but they never
will. [But he never told all.] If I could see you I would do you like you did me when
you was a tiny girl. I would kiss you all over the face. If
my mind don't change I will send you my picture, enlarged, that
was made 22 years ago but it don't look like I do now. I am
getting very gray, too gray to suit some people. [He was 25 years older than his wife.] Don't say
anything about it in your letters as [?] them all. I am just
waiting to see what turns up. I will tell you all later. I
got a good rep[utation] in this country...get anything I
want...work and I will do that, and they are going to build a
lot of railroad soon but that is [the] lowest pay of anything
here. But I will get something better when they ... logging. I
work in the shop when they are logging. Well, I will have to
close as this is all the paper I have. Well, God bless you
all, write [soon],
Your poor old dad, J.R. Edwards, Elma, Washington, Schafer's Camp.
I have to say that the self-pity in this letter bugs me. Did he forget that he opened the letter remarking on his grandson's death?