March 14, 1926.
Good evening everybody! Now this is to be a regular cleanup letter. I have wanted to write to several of the Cousins this winter (it is still winter here) but have been prevented by circumstances, so this will have to do for everybody.
Every time I read over the Cousins' letters, I can think of so many things to say to the various Cousins, but when I begin writing I cannot think of anything.
This has been a real winter here in Nelson. My pump has been frozen up most of the time1, but I have good neighbors so we have managed to survive up to now. This has been an eventful year, in the Cousin families too. Sorrow, sickness and joy for some.
Well, did you ever see a finer looking bunch than the ones at Minnie Clark's2? It was a terrible day, and of course I had a broken rib, but everything was alright after we got into the house.
Of course you are all interested in the Old Church3. We have a fine Minister now, in fact we always do have the best kind, but they are always moving up so we have a change all to frequently. Last fall the men had a new roof put on, and this Spring the "Ladies Aid" will do the rest and clean up on the inside. How we do love the Old Church, but our generation will soon be gone, and will our children and their children remember it?3
1. Lots of people in small towns and farms then did not have indoor plumbing. A well in the yard, near the kitchen door, would have a long handled pump. Usually they worked pretty well, but sometimes a leather gasket in the pump would dry out and you needed to have some water available to pour into the pump, to "prime" it. And some models of pump were susceptible to freezing when the weather got unusually cold.
2. The 1925 Campbell Cousins dinner was held at Minnie's home in Osceola.
3. Nelson's Beechers Island Presbyterian Church.
4. Stella's generation and their children are long gone. As of 2013, those of their grandchildren who survive are, like me, elderly. /after the relocation of Nelson to make way for Cowanesque Lake, the remaining population was too small to support both a Presbyterian congregation and a Methodist congregation. They combined, used the Methodists' building, and eventually the abandoned Presbyterian building fell into disrepair and was demolished about 40 years ago, so the number of people who attended a service there, or have even seen the building with their own eyes is rapidly shrinking. But the resulting congregation remains. See: United Church of Nelson.
I thought last Spring that I would surely write to Carrie and Mary Hughey right away, but I did not do it. Aunt Lib's little house next door to me is for sale now, and if I could spare the money would buy it and fix it up. I can remember it so well, and I think the first dollar I ever earned was there. Aunt Lib was sick in bed and Herby had the measles, so I stayed a week and helped and Uncle Dan gave me a silver dollar. Shortly after that, I went to Osceola for a visit and I bought a calico dress from Truman Crandall's Store. Those were great days. And now I think that this Cousins Letter scheme is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened for us. Just to sit down and read over the letters, it brings us all together so easily. Now when every one is so busy, there isn't time for a good visit with any one.
It has been so icy and cold all winter that Inez has not been here as often as usual, and Ann Owlett, is "ruined entirely", for ever living in Nelson again. I think Tommie is the only March Cousin there is, and from all I hear they don't have March in Florida.
Well I must ring off and give some one else a chance5.
Cousin Phil's death was a blow and my sincere sympathy goes to his family.
Everyone around here enjoys reading the Cousins letters. My books are all down to Charlie Lugg's now.
Love to every last one of you.
COUSIN STELLA WILBUR
5. An analogy with the "party line" telephone service that was the norm back then. Four to eight houses would share the same telephone #. So, you had to finish your conversation and hang up, before any other household sharing that line could make a call. For the same reason, anyone in the other houses sharing your phone # could pick up and listen to your conversations. Each household had a distinctive ring, so that when the phone rang, you would know if it was for your house or for one of the other houses.
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