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May 11, 1919

Dear Esther:

I love to get big letters, but I shall not wish that you stay up all night in order to write a letter to me, unless you think it is really important. I wish, however, that I could write you a longer letter once. No doubt you would be surprised.

Say Esther, your graduation must have been very stormy all the way there. Starting Sunday, I suppose. Everything was calm and peaceful here Sunday evening. Not a drop of rain; or a single tear.

And then the Junior Reception and Commencement night! You don't mean to say that the class sat on the stage alone and the curtain was raised when all were posed as so much stage decoration! You must surely be joking for once. I looked up your program and find that there was a march, so that strengthens my conviction. But then I believe Tressie said that in order to get to hear the exercises she stood up in the back of the room. Some impropriety must have happened. And what do you mean by this statement: "But I did carry one commencement night." Really you are getting "farther" and "farther" each day; or I am absent. It is nice however that you got paid well for graduating. Seven dollars and seventeen cents is not bad, apiece. What memento did your class leave the school?

Sure, I remember the rifle practice that Sunday in the timber. Gee, weren't we sinners? (Were you to S.S. today; I was not.) I wish I was out there shooting now; again. Since I have been down here, I have learned much more about the army than while in it. We had bayonet business the other day. Don't shudder, it is nice to see.

Say, did they use Clark's contraption to get the curtain up? Ha, ha! Pardon me, for it might not be such a happy medium. I am yet in doubt.

I cannot be too rude to you; but are Elizabeth and Laurence to be married on that trip, before or after? I would find great delight in being with you in Indianapolis or Bloomington, but it might be inconvenient. Don't you think it would? The conditions are questionable; in case it is a honeymoon trip. I am speaking frankly to you alone when I say that I prefer different company, if I did get to go. One's associations must be like a ladder, and with the most emphasis placed upon the ideal which is on the higher step. But what I have run into saying is only connected indirectly with the subject of main interest to you, perhaps. On a whole I think the plan you propose is impractical, considering the conditions of us all. Please don't think I am a snob because of this.

I wish it were so that you and I could motor to Bloomington. If you could, or should ever happen to come here I assure you that you should have a very pleasant time. And I also. I may not be here in June, however. Why, June is the month when matrimonial "barks" are launched, isn't it? The first thing I know I shall be drifting from what? into the beautiful, shady lanes of romance. Esther, are you romantic?

I have to prepare an argument for Tuesday on the Philippine question of Independence. Tonight I have a date with a Filipino, for the sole purpose of achieving said debate. Ha. They are certainly cute, interesting people; and easily influenced along the lines of courtship. Last night Rush, Piatos and I with the aid of Conelly called up four girls (different) and proceeded to get stung thrice and very gladly received once. The idea was to play for them over the telephone. Rush & Piatos play mandolins. You should hear our orchestra give its entertainment for the girls' special, beneficial amusement. House, the democrat, went home this week end. I am alone at present. With well wishes,

Still with Sincerity,

This letter means what I intend; but there may be some obscurity.

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[A rough draft of Esther's reply was enclosed in the envelope.]

Geneva Ind.
May 13, 1919

Dear Richard:

I believe I will answer your last letter first. Can't you believe it when I say that the class sat on the stage when the curtain was raised and didn't march in at all? That is what actually happened. I know we had a "March" on the program but those programs were printed quite a while ago. We changed our plans after we found it would be almost impossible to march in. The class was not up there alone however for Mr. Neusbaum, Mr. Walker, Mr. Christian, the speaker, and the minister were there too. We hadn't expected all of them to be up there. Things didn't go according to our plans.

You asked if Elizabeth and Lawrence were going to be married while on that trip to Indianapolis. No, I don't think they will for some time but I don't know any thing about it. I wish Elizabeth would and would invite me for I would like to see at least one wedding before I die. It might be inappropriate to say here that I heard on good authority that Harry Cooper was married. He was at S.S. Sunday with a girl I didn't know. When the services were over I asked who she was and was told she was his wife. Emil told Clark that Harry said they were married so I suppose it must be true. I think he is beginning married life pretty young.

Mr. Snider started the marrying idea in that class, Harry Cooper took it up, now I wonder who will be next. Several of the members of the class are getting to be of an age where such things should not be surprising.

You say you may not be in Bloomington in June. Then may you after all be home this summer? Or do you know yet definitely?

Am I romantic? Some one else would probably be better able to tell than I. I think almost every one, no matter how practical they may appear ordinarily, have something romantic in their makeup.

I wish I could hear your orchestra. Are there just the three pieces in it? Who is Piatos? I don't remember of your ever mentioning that name before. I thought I knew the names of all who lived at the same house you did.

No wonder you didn't understand what I meant by saying , "But I did carry on Commencement night." I think it will all be perfectly clear to you though if you will ad an "e" to the "on". That changes the meaning a little doesn't it?

Now as to the other letter. I didn't get it until Monday. I was somewhat surprised and very much puzzled as to just what you mean. I didn't answer it immediately because I thought I would probably get another letter from you to-day that might help enlighten me concerning the other. I will gladly explain or tell you what ever you want to know if you will just state plainly what. (Pretend I am in the primer class.) I have thought and thought and the more I think the less I know.

E-mail: shelly@cat-sidh.net