Dolph’s Letters – June 1909

Dolph Barker

Dolph Barker

Wednesday Evening
June 30th ’09

My Dear Lois:-

As it has almost grown to be a habit for me to write you on Wednes. night, I will endeavor to ans. your most appreciated letter I received yesterday.

There is nothing I enjoy more than reading your letters. They kindly remind me of by gone days when we had better opportunities to converse than we have now but I will try and content myself by writing and looking to the future, hoping that I may some day (and that in the near fut.) have another opportunity of seeing you and fulfilling that pledge that we made on that fatal Sunday night. I did hate to leave you that night for I knew that it would be a long time before I would see you again. It was not mysterious to me why the hat was left in the buggy. Was it for you? I haven’t been at the pond since. It has no attractions for me now. I suppose though that it is still there judging from the direction the new quartet drives out every Sunday afternoon. Wish that it was so that we could accompany them but at present, Fate seems to be against us. But I have one consolation. Aug. will soon be here and I will soon know whether you are game to back up your pledges or not.

Please don’t think for one minute that I am doubting you in the least, but sometimes great things that are not expected happen in less than 30 days. Still I hope that we will be fortunate enough not to let anything come between us to cause either of us to think of breaking our vows. I know that I will not, and I have confidence enough to believe the same of you.

I don’t know what time I can get away from here now. Expect it will be about the 15th of Aug. Will let you know in plenty of time to meet me at Nashville. I intend to go from there out West. That is if I don’t get broke and if I do you need not look for me until I get a position. I am going to buy peaches and I am liable to make and I am liable to lose. I think I have sold out. Will know this week. Daisy will keep you posted in regard to my financial condition.

I have promised to take her out dining Sun. P.M. and I am going to try to entertain her so that it will be a day long remembered. She seems to be very anxious to know whether you are going to make application for this school for another year or not. I could tell her but I will not for I do not aim for you to teach school another year if I can prevent it. That is if you like house-keeping better.

You said something about writing you every Wednesday night. I will have to get mighty busy to fail but through shipping season I generally haft to go day and night and if I should fail you will know the reason.

I expect you will be visiting at Ashland at that time and it will be immaterial with you whether you get a letter or not. Let me know when you go and I will try and send you and Dick a crate of peaches.

I am very sorry that you will not get to see the Dr. play ball. Am satisfied you will enjoy the game immensely.

Everything is ready for the camping as soon as peaches are over. I am anticipating my last big times in Ga. on that trip. Hope I will not miss my anticipations. If you were only here I know I would not. We will not be gone more than a week. Will have some Chattanooga girles with us. I like Chatt–. Think I will make it my first home provided I can get you to consent but you dislike the Times so that I don’t know whether I could get you to live in the town.

You said that you would like to know what I told Gert that night. You must know what she ask me. She wanted to know if we were going to marry and I told her that we were. I would like to know what you know about that night in Apr. If anything happened to mar Newt’s happiness I do not know it. I think they will marry if no one interferes. They seem to be devoted to each other very much.

I hope you will make a grand success of your entertainment. Am satisfied you will have everything up to date. How is the old maid coming? I suppose this hot weather kindly frets her. You have said or done something that has caused her to suspision you. It may be that she has been noticing you Sat. letters coming so regular. We will call on her when she gets in La. Probably by that time her hair will be smoother.

I know my letters are very entertaining for you on Sundays for I know that it takes you most all day to read them and for fear you don’t get through with this one and haft to continue on Monday will close expecting to receive an ans. in Tues. mail.

Devotedly Yours

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Remembering A Tragedy

I just received an email from NewspaperARCHIVE pointing me to the Stars and Stripes European edition for December 21, 1988. I couldn’t see which articles were included in the message, but the date sent a shiver up my spine. It was the day that Pan Am flight 103 was blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland. Why do I know this? We were stationed in Germany at that time. People from our unit were on that flight – headed home for the holidays. It was a shock to people in the U.S. but it was very personal to every military family stationed in Europe at the time. We were well aware of the terrorist threat we faced daily, but most of our threats were from European groups. This was something very different – and very frightening.

We would leave Germany in 1989 – on the Fourth of July. There was a threat alert regarding a possible attempt to shoot down an American flight leaving Frankfurt on that day. Fortunately nothing happened to mar our trip home and we were delighted to celebrate at least part of that Independence Day in Charleston, South Carolina. Fireworks never looked so good!

Stars and Stripes wouldn’t report the tragedy until the next day’s edition, but to this day December 21st is a day of mourning to those of us who lost friends, co-workers and family flying home for the holidays.

Col. Davy Crockett

Samuel Albert Link, my great grandfather, was an educator and an authority on 19th century Southern literature. This sketch comes from the second volume of his book, Pioneers of Southern Literature. Originally published in 1900, the sketch of Col. Davy Crockett was included in the chapter titled Southern Humorists.

Davy Crocket

Davy Crocket by Chester Harding

“Truth is stranger than fiction,” says the adage, and it is verified in the case of Col. Davy Crockett, who fell among the last of the immortal band struck down at the Alamo.  No character in all American fiction stands out in such life-like proportions as Col. Crockett, and yet his adventures were real.  If courage and patriotism had not made him famous, his unswerving integrity, shrewd common sense, and quaint humor would have perpetuated his name.  Davy Crockett was born in Greene County, Tenn., August 17, 1786.  Being brought up as he was in a log cabin, he received little education, but early became noted as an expert marksman, trained in the lore of the forest.  He commanded a battalion of rifles in the Creek campaign.  He lived for a time in Middle Tennessee, but finally settled near the Obion River, in West Tennessee.

Col. Crockett, after having served in the Legislature, was elected to Congress in 1827, and served two terms.  He was defeated for the third term, but reelected later on.  He was a Jackson man at first, but, like John Bell and many others, disagreed with the national policy of Old Hickory.  So firm a stand did he take that in a tour through Northern cities great crowds turned out to hear him arraign the administration of Jackson.  Crockett picked up information rapidly, so that if caught unawares upon any point he sought information, and was soon in position to speak advisedly upon the subject.  His motto was “Go ahead,” and he never fell below his motto.  In 1835 the entire power of the administration was put forth against him, and Crockett was defeated for Congress by a small majority.  As he had previously announced in case of such event, he immediately set out for Texas.  His dauntless courage at the Alamo is known to all the world.  Crockett gave out his “Reminiscences” for publication because others had invented adventures for him.  Even now it is next to impossible to determine the veracious from the fictitious, as almost anything of a comical nature which has happened to any one is credited to Crockett.  Eccentric and unique he may have been, nevertheless his racy humor lifted him out of the ordinary, and his courage and straightforward honesty made him an honor to the State which seemed to drive him into the wilderness.

When his “Reminiscences” were published he gave the following account of the affair:

I don’t know of anything in my book to be criticized on by honorable men.  Is it on my spelling?  That’s not my trade.  Is it on my grammar?  I hadn’t time to learn it, and make no pretensions to it.  Is it on the order and arrangement of my book?  I never wrote one before, and never read very many, and of course know mighty little about that.  Will it be on the authorship of the book?  This I claim, and I’ll hang on to it like a wax plaster.  The whole book is my own, and every sentiment and sentence in it.  I would not be such a fool, or knave either, as to deny that I have had it hastily run over by a friend or so, and that some little alterations have been made in the spelling and grammar; and I am not so sure that it is not the worse of even that, for I despise the way of spelling contrary to nature.  And as for grammar, it’s pretty much a thing of nothing at last, after all the fuss that’s made about it.  In some places I wouldn’t suffer either the spelling, or grammar, or anything else to be touched, and therefore it will be found in my own way.

A glimpse of Col. Crockett in Philadelphia throws into bold relief the man as he was:

Early after breakfast I was taken to the waterworks, where I saw several of the gentlemen managers.  This is a grand sight, and no wonder the Philadelphians ask everyone that comes: ‘Have you seen the waterworks?’ Just think of a few wheels throwing up more water than five hundred thousand people can use — yes, and waste, too for such scrubbing of steps, and even the very pavements under your feet, I never saw.  Indeed, I looked close to see if the housemaids had not web feet, they walked so well in water; and as for a fire, it has no chance at all.  They just screw on a long hollow leather with a brass nose on it, dash upstairs, and seem to draw on Noah’s flood.  The next place I visited was the mint.  Here I saw them coining gold and silver in abundance, and they were the rare e pluribus unum;  not this electioneering trash, that they send out to cheat the poor people, telling them they would all be paid in gold and silver, when the poor deceived creatures had nothing coming to them.  A chip with a spit on the back of it is as good currency as an eagle, provided you can get the image of the bird.  It’s all nonsense.  The President, both Cabinets, and Congress to boot, can’t enact poor men into rich.  Hard knocks, and plenty of them, can only build up a fellow’s self.

The backwoods philosopher was equally at home in New York:

From thence I went to the City Hall, and was introduced to the mayor of the city and several of the aldermen.  The mayor is a plain, common-sense looking man.  I was told that he had been a tanner.  That pleased me, for I thought both him and me had clumb up a long way from where we started, and it is truly as ‘Honor and fame from no condition rise,’ that ‘It’s the grit of a fellow that makes the man.’

No one can read the life and autobiography of Crockett without having a higher appreciation of one of nature’s noblemen.

Source: Link, Samuel A. Pioneers of Southern Literature Vol. II. Nashville, Tenn: Pub. House M.E. Church, 1900. Print.

Portrait: By Chester Harding (1792 – 1866) (cliff1066) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

A Golden Word


Sunrise on Matanzas Bay

Sunrise on Matanzas Bay – from the author’s collection on Flickr

As I went farther and farther north and it got colder and colder, I could see why Florida is a golden word. The very name of Florida carried the message of warmth and ease and comfort. It was irresistible.

~ John Steinbeck