Great Nebraska

Naturalists and Scientists

Edith Schwartz Clements

Letters, 1911

Sept. 19, 1911



Dear Family:-

Our arrival last evening by about six o’clock was celebrated by a series of delightful
surprises. First of all, was a spick & span shining-clean house. Sara had labored mightily to get everything done in time. She had a woman to help, who
is crazy on the subject: at least it seems so. She insisted on working until twelve
& one o’clock at night, for only a day’s pay. She scrubbed every crack with tooth-brush
& orange-wood sticks. One night, when Sara, worn out, & unable to curb her zeal,
when to bed. “Crazy Annie” kept right on, even moving the bed on which Sara was trying to sleep, around the room! She seems to have been the mistriss, ordering
Sara & her sister or friend who might be helping, around at a great rate. As a result,
we have never been so clean & probably never will be again! That was a lovely surprise,
wasn’t it? Here, I have nothing to do, but enjoy the luxury. The next lovely surprise
was a nice


fat letter from home! I certainly do wish we could have dropped in on you all: I am
just starving for you! We could have done it, as far as money goes, for what do you
think, we came back with over forty dollars!, but the time is lacking. School opens
tomorow & everything in the department is in a state! However, some of you have got
to come up & see me. I want you all! But I know that can’t be, so I’ll accept a compromise.
Julia has got to continue her role of angel, & to prevent any backsliding on her part, I enclose
check to get her here: the getting back can be considered later. Pack her off while
the house is clean & these delicious days last. I want Marmee “dreffly”, but she has already had her share of self-sacrifice & I know how hard
it is for her to leave the dear old home. I can, therefore, only hope humbly that
she will come for a little while on the way west. It won’t be too late to go, the
Northern route early in November, will it? Snow slides occur only in the spring, &
you ought certainly to take that trip. You ought not to lose these autumn days either,
& if you have



so much of the sea, it will certainly pall, long before it’s time to return. I can
now sympathize with her weariness of the seas — though I still love the shore. As
for my little Kit-sister — I am so hungry for her! I still cherish the hope that she will come & live with me again
indefinitely. I saw a girl on the boat, who did her hair the way Kit used to & I would
sit & look at her back & try to think it was Kit. Of couse Elsie & C.C. can come any time, & I would rather have them alone, as C.C. would h not enjoy the kind of times “we girls” would have. What I long for, most ardently,
is that they could come & settle here. The auto business is immense for the two cities.
I think I shall ask cousin Grace to come while Marmee & Jule are here. She said she would like to visit me, when we saw her in Chicago, a year
ago last Christmas, & this would be a fine chance, what with the Vincents whom she knows to give her social entertainment, & all the doings connected with
the inaugaration. These are to be quite “some” as every member of the Faculty is requested
to get a gown for it & their func-



tions! Won’t I be gay with dark blue hood to mine & the scarlet & cream trimmings
of Nebraska? I’m sure we can give her a good time, even if it is not what she is not used to. The inauguration is the first, so I’ll write her soon & shall look for you
any day.

The third surprise came after Sara had gotten us a delicious, simple home supper — oh! how good it tasted! She suggested
that we go up to see Miss Tilden, & we said we intended to, but it was too early yet. So we unpacked & “fooled around”
unsuspiciously until eight o’clock, Sara suggesting innocently once or twice that it was time to go. Her concern was explained
when on ringing the Tilden’s bell, who should open the door but Iva Downey! I thought for a dazed moment that she was helping Miss Tilden house-clean, as I saw no Tilden furniture & the rooms looked a little bare. Then the news was broken with exclamations
of surprise & delight on our part, that Miss Tilden had bought a house at St. Anthony Park & had moved! first moving



Sept. 19

Heaven & earth to get the Downeys in the flat as she knew we wanted them & they were flatless! Weren’t we glad! There’s
no one we like better than the Downeys! The next thing was to go over their flat & admire. It certainly looks pretty with
fresh paper & paint & their simple furniture: the Tilden’s is so old fashioned & sort of “cluttery.” They have made the front bedroom into a
study & Fritz was envious at once. Sara insists that she give up her room for him! And they have a new, beautiful Steinway
player-piano! While we were rejoicing & exclaiming, Prof & Mrs. Pike came in to welcome us & then Mrs. Downey‘s sister, Mrs Bollinger, & little Virginia. By the way, Mr. Bollinger died in California a winter or so ago. It was hard to tear ourselves away from all
the excitements, but Sara insisted that Miss Tilden would be expecting us. So off we went to see her new abode. She was watching for
us, & came running out with a warm welcome & ushered us with pride into her new home.
It is certainly delightful! We had to look at everything from the back porch, garden
& cellar, to the last



nook & corner upstairs. It is beautifully furnished & compact & convenient. The owner
had built it for himself after building several others, then had to sell because of
reverses. Miss T. paid, or is paying, rather, $8,000 for it. I think that must include the lot, which
is very nice, with quite a vegetable & flower-garden behind. Another surprise was
the announcement that Dr. & Mrs. Rosendahl had bought the house just adjoining behind & were moving in. Mis T. has set her heart on our buying the lot next hers & I very much inclined to consider
it. It is just the location we want & I’m afraid we will never really be satisfied
until we do build. I spent most of the day on the train wishing we were returning
to a porch & a summerhouse & a garden. If only I could get some of you to live with
me, or visit a large part of the year, I would not hesitate a minute: it would be
so very worth while then! When Sara for house-keeper, it would not be at all a burden.
Then, probably I’d



adopt a little girl or so. Oh, I saw such a darling on the boat — I coveted her most
wickedly; a little cherub of three, with golden curls, blue eyes, sweet mouth & rosy
cheeks, & the sweetest ways imaginable. Her mother said she was without price, despite
the fact that she had two other little girls & if she gave her away she would have
to divide her into many pieces, so many people wanted her. You can help me decide
about the lot when you come, & Marmee can give me ideas about the house. Marmee ought to build her a bungalow in California, then she would enjoy it so much more, spend the winters there, & the summers here
in our house. I do think you-all ought to come my way, now that Murray is leaving & you are foot-loose. By the way, the lots Miss T. wants us to get, are next her house & also next to the Freeman’s lot & new home, so with them, the Tildens, the Rosendahls & ourselves we would have quite a botanical colony. Mr. Huff of the department has also moved



into a neighborhood not far away. Wasn’t that a nice lot of surprises? We had a delightful
trip on the train. I thoroughly enjoyed leaning back at ease on my pillow & watching
the beautiful red & gold landscape fly by. We had tickets from Montreal via the C.P.R. but the customs took so long, we missed the train & so exchanged for the Grand Trunk
Special The with Great Western from Chicago. The train started an hour late & reached Chicago three hours late, thus losing our
G.W. connections. So again we changed tickets & got the 2:45 a.m. SOO train, reaching here at 5:30 p.m. Some young girls from the boat, coming this way,
were so grateful to be in our care at Chicago when we had to change at such an unearthly
hour! We had

I certainly think Kit ought to be allowed to try her wings & can’t you let her? It would be a splendid thing for her in many ways & I think this opportunity
should not be neglected.

Best of all love