Dear Mother – 1929

January 26th, 1929

3726 Florence St.
San Diego, Calif.
Jan. 26, 1929

Dear Mother, –

Will write a few lines to say we are all well and hope you the same. We read of the hard winter you are having and wish you could have our sunshine instead. It is colder here than usual and we had a frost last night. It may damage the gardens in the “back-country” a little and the oranges and lemons some. We have very nice days now after a week of rainy weather.

Last night was graduation night at the Senior High school and 200 graduated. Lloydine was one of the “flower girls” who gave each girl a boquet of roses and other flowers, from the school. She had eleven girls to help her as she was in charge of that. All were chosen from the Honor Roll. The flowers were from a florist shop, and were given out after the diplomas and before the ‘benediction’. There was maiden-hair fern and sweet peas and carnations, etc.

Lloydine passed in her studies with a “1” in history, 1 in Cooking, 2 in Latin, 2 in English, and 2 in Gymnastics. Monday begins a new term She will have the same studies except in place of Cooking she will take Chemistry.

What is the coldest weather you have had this year? We have been wondering how cold it gets in Kansas. I have not known it to be more than 18 degrees below zero and that was only once. Zero is bad enough.

I got a letter from Mrs. Oscar Bergstrom a couple weeks ago. She said Oscar had been so sick with the flu, and they had lost a good deal when their hogs had cholera this fall and they had to burn 140 of them. She had a lot of company at Xmas time, as usual. She wrote a nice letter.

Mrs Randel, Mrs. Chaffee’s sister, has been in Los Angeles several months with her son Ralph. Her son Floyd sold out his Drug store and moved out to a small town to sell automobiles, last month. We are going to see them soon.

The fleet of warships and 200 airplanes left here last week for Panama taking several thousand men along, to be gone three months. That makes a lot of vacant houses but the tourists from “the East” will be coming here to get warm and soon will fill them up.

We saw “Question Mark” plane fly 150 hours without coming down and saw it go East to Washington D.C. last week.

Guy’s parents were glad to get your greeting and they send you their “very best wishes”.

I will have nice gladiolus plants I know. I have planted some and have plenty left to plant. We are going to have big beds of them and each bed a different color this year. I am going to send you a real pretty one when it is warmer. One that we got from Michigan so it will be different from any you may have. I will wait until March.

The meadow larks are singing out doors – several of them. I guess they spend the winter here.

I must close and do some housework.

Greetings from us all and Love from, Hemmie, Guy, and Lloydine –

P.S. Lloydine thanks you for the nice letter you sent to her. We were all glad to hear from you.

Note: “Mother” refers to Hemme’s mother Carolina Wilhelmina Eckkel [Hedman] Backlund, born September 14, 1843 in Gefle (Gayle) – Sweden. She is 85 years old at the time of this letter, her husband (Hemme’s father) died in 1923 at age 86.

[1929.01.26 / day – HNB to CWB in Lasita, Kansas.]

Happy New Year – 1929

January 6th, 1929

3726 Florence St.
San Diego, Calif.
Jan. 6, 1929* – *See, I remembered the new date.

Dear Bro John, –

Well here it is the New Year and Lloydine wrote you last year and asked me to enclose it. You see how behind I am. But I have had what was only a bad cold this week and thought every day I was getting the flu, but now I am pretty well over it and glad it was not real flu. So will write today.

I want to thank you very much for the fine Christmas gift – the best anyone can get. It came the 24th which made it a real Xmas present as we get our things Christmas Eve just like the Irish don’t. Guy can hardly wait that long for his. We had a tree too and Lloydine and Guy decorated it. But I made cookies with holes in them and hung them on and apples and Calif. oranges too, etc. Then the cat came in and the fun began. But he learned to leave it alone and laid down under it and went to sleep.

We had a good Xmas and the day was fine. Santa was good to us all and I even got a new station on the radio – Dallas, Texas. Also got Milford, Kansas, again that night. Today is rainy and cold. First bad weather for quite a while.

There is an airplane flying overhead, now days. It has been in the air since New Year’s morning without coming down. It is the “Question Mark” and is re-fueled by other planes while flying very high. They spill a good deal of gasoline. Today the engine is missing and they may be forced down. The records are all broken even now. It flys from here to Los Angeles and then to Imperial Valley and back and forth. Has been over 112 hrs. in air. There are several pilots in it to take turns.

I read today of a blizzard in the mid-west. I believe that is where you live?

I got a letter from Mrs. Bergeson from Kans. City where she has lived four years. She had lost my address until I sent her a Xmas card. She says Ruth was married Aug. 31 to the son of a minister of the 1st Lutheran church of K.C. – a doctor, Carl Lindquist, and is at Halstead, Ks. where he is a doctor and with another Dr. in a Hospital, too. Viola (Mrs. Maxwell) had them all for Christmas at K.C..

Between chasing chickens and going back and forth to Dugan’s sale you must have noticed your wet weather. It is good you had your threshing done.

Well now that is something – a boy and a girl at Monty’s. And the worst is that the girl can’t ever get one of these long-pants suits that her brother will get some day. At least that is what Guy’s mother said, for she was once in the same boat. Her twin brother lives in Oregon now.

Well, it is the bottom of the page and supper time, so I will close. Many thanks and wishes for a Happy New Year from us all.

Your sister, Hemmie

P.S. I got a nice letter from Lloyall a couple of weeks ago and one from Maude before that.

[1929.01.06 / day – HNB to John Backlund Jr. in Lasita, Kansas.]

Hemme Martin letters – 1929

January 1st, 1929

~ An Introduction.

I come from a long line of writers, most notably on “my mother’s” side, most notably my mother and my grandmother. They were “letter writers” mostly, though my grandmother was also a journalist and an essayist of sorts, not the widely published type, but “articles” about things worth remembering I suppose. But the strength of her writing were her letters, family letters mostly although there were many letters written to countless friends over the years, most (of those) probably never saved.

The letters herein contained were saved, passed on in time to me, the details would ruin the story. Let us begin by saying that “Hemme” was born on August 5, 1887, in Kansas, to Swedish homesteaders living on their 160 acre farm. She was their youngest child, given the name “Home” in Swedish, putting words to hope. In 1908 she ventured west to attend the University of California (there was only “Berkeley” then), she became a teacher in California and soon met “Guy” who she married. A year later she had a daughter “Lloydine” (my mother), her only child.

Hemme’s oldest brother “John” ran the family farm in Kansas, helped the parents in their work. He was born in 1870, never married, no children, but was always loyal to his parents and to his roots (and animals, perhaps). There is a subtle humor that I have inherited honestly, though perhaps less subtle now.

We pick up their story in 1929, a year we all remember now, but did not necessarily plan to remember then. It’s New Year’s Day, or Christmas perhaps, just passed, you can read the words. I have read them, I’ve learned a lot, each line makes sense and a little more sense of a time poorly understood, in a nation now poorly understood (as I believe).

My family was neither “rich” nor “poor”, Guy was a builder at the time, buildings and houses mostly, many still stand. Hemme was, well she was “Hemme”, no excuses, no apologies, she took what life might offer and asked for “more”, always with a deep and abiding kindness and compassion and probably understanding. She was a keen observer and saw value in everything she did. There’s more of course, and then you can decide.

There are not a lot of 121 year olds blogging now, probably never were. But her letters are like a blog, so that’s the way I will share them, one “post” at a time that really were once “posted”, and read and reread over the years before there ever was a “net”. I think she would approve. She always liked new things, like airplanes, TV, and satellites.

In 1929 she turned 42 (years of age), her husband was a year older, her daughter just 16. “Brother” John was 59, had a limp in walking, an old accident on the farm but could still hitch up the buggy, go to town, get the mail, harvest all the crops. You’ll see.

Each letter is presented as it was written, no censorship, no omitted lines, just the truth, each word, each spelling. Names are left as they are, (now) other peoples histories perhaps , no need to gossip, it wasn’t gossip then – though it might seem boring, marriages and all, deaths and graduations, the fill and fodder of peaceful peoples lives before the age of television replacing “everything”. The “neighbors” news came from caring, from following the lives of those whom you knew, you grew up with, you shared life with before you moved along – have things changed so much?

I must go now, there is a knock on the door, someone has a parcel of letters they want posted, got to get busy….

[2008.10.24 / Friday – HNB letters Introduction]