Warren Kerns writes July 17, 1930: I suppose things are much different where you are.

 

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Warren Kerns

 

Here’s another letter I’ve transcribed from my grandmother’s brother, Warren Kerns. Warren was killed in an airplane accident with his brother, Nelson, 15, on July 24, 1930, one week after this letter was written. You can read about the accident here.

He wrote this letter to his mother, Caroline (called Callie) who was visiting her parents in California at the time. Some of the handwriting is indecipherable and there are some errors but I left them there because I wanted to transcribe them exactly.  To read the other letters I’ve posted, click here, here, and here.

The Charlie that Warren mentions in the letter was the husband of his older sister Rhoda, who was my maternal grandmother. The Nevada is a town about twenty miles away in Missouri.

This is the last of the surviving letters from the boys to their mother. These handwritten letters are priceless to me.  I think about how their hands passed over these pages and how the letters show their thoughts, activities… the things they wanted their mother to know. In the picture below, I wonder what Warren had first written but then erased beneath the words “Write soon.”

 

July 17, 1930

Dear Mama, 

How are you? I am fine. It sure has been hot here the last two weeks. I am home now. I came last Friday to help with the hay. We got through the day before yesterday. I helped Charlie thrash last week. It sure was hot. Nearly all of the corn is laid by. Everything needs a rain. The early corn will not stand it much longer. The grass is almost dried up. I suppose things are much different where you are. How is Grandma.

I had a good time the forth. We went to Nevada in the after noon. I was in the lake about four hours. We got home after midnight. I know you had a good time. This is about all I have to say. Write soon.

With Love,

Warren

 

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The last letter Warren wrote to his mother before he died on July 24, 1930.   Above, I wonder what he had first written but then erased beneath the words “Write soon.”

 

I have a number of items from the two brothers that I will continue to share. Follow my blog to see old grade cards, Sunday school reports, Valentines, monoplane and biplane mechanical drawings, 4H awards, and more.  Click like if you enjoyed this post and would like to recommend it.

Also feel free to comment about any of your own family history, artifacts or ephemera. Thanks for reading.

Nelson Kerns writes July 9, 1930: Radio Springs, mowing hay, and 108 degrees

 

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Rhoda Kerns Goodenough, my maternal grandmother

Once again, I’ve transcribed a letter from my grandmother’s brother, Nelson Kerns, 15, who is pictured below. Nelson was killed in an airplane accident with his brother, Warren, 16, on July 24, 1930. You can read about the accident here.

 

He wrote this letter to his mother, Caroline (called Callie) who was visiting her parents in California at the time. Some of the handwriting is indecipherable and there are some errors in spelling and possibly with regard to the temperature. I think it’s safe to say it was very hot during the last month of their lives.

I transcribed the letters as best I could, letting the errors exist since they do reveal a little about Nelson’s life, personality, and the value of chickens, eggs, and cream.

 

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Nelson Kerns

 

July 9, 1930

Dear Mama,

I have been so busy I have hardly had time to write. How is Grandma getting along? We are almost worked to death. All of our corn is laid by but that over south. We celebrated at Radio Springs the 4th. We are haying now. Breakfast is ready now. Katherine Alexander got the school. Did you celebrate the 4th? Rhoda and Charlie did. Warren hasn’t worked one day at home since school is out. He is working for Charlie. I am going to wash clothes while Papa mows hay. The weather is very hot it was 108 above zero one day. I stayed in the lake about 4 hrs. and got a good sunburning. Well, I must go to work. Write soon.

With love,

Nelson

  • Cream 25 cents
  • Eggs 14 cents
  • Chickens 17 cents
  • We sold 90 chix and recieved ($22.00)

I have a number of items from the two brothers that I will continue to share. Follow my blog to see old grade cards, Sunday school reports, Valentines, monoplane and biplane mechanical drawings, 4H awards, and more. If you found this post enlightening about rural Missouri life in 1930, click the “Like” button and feel free to share. Here’s a photo of Nelson’s letter:

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87 years ago today, Warren wrote to his mother

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Warren Kerns (right) with his brother, Nelson

Below, I’ve transcribed a letter from my grandmother’s brother, Warren Kerns, 17, who was killed in an airplane accident with his brother Nelson, 15, on July 24, 1930. You can read about the accident here. He wrote this letter to his mother, Caroline (called Callie) who was visiting her parents in California at the time. Some of the handwriting is indecipherable. I just transcribed the letters as best I could, leaving out editing marks to avoid distraction. For example, I’m not sure that the first word in the last sentence is “Play.”

It’s eye-opening to read how life was so vastly different back then in southwest Missouri. My ancestors worked hard. Their days were consumed with difficult, laborious, time-consuming, hot, sweaty work. This will be even more evident in other letters I have and will eventually post. True, we work hard today, but with much less exertion. My ancestors also enjoyed relief from their work-filled days in the simple joys of ice cream and socializing.

June 10, 1930

Dear Mama: 

How are you getting along. We are all getting along fine. Charlie and I have been plowing corn most of the time since school was out. I sure was glad when the last day of school came. It rained today and is rather cool now. I s’pose it is nice and warm where you are. We went to two children’s day exercises Sunday. We went down home Sunday and had all the ice cream we could eat. You don’t know what your missing. I have to wear an overcoat to plow corn in. Where are going to spend the forth of July. It is not very far away. I don’t know where we will go.  Most any place rather than in the corn field. Things sure are cheap here. Eggs are $.16 and cream $.25 in Hume. I am going to a community sale tomorrow, which they are starting in Hume. It is now nine o’clock about my bedtime (sometimes). Well, this is all I can think of to tell you. Answer my letter soon and send me a good measure of California summer. Play like you are receiving kisses through this letter also. 

With Love, Warren

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Watching and Waiting at Persimmon Hill Berry Farm

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My husband wants to pick some blackberries, so he gets another bucket from the shed and heads to the ten or so rows of blackberry bushes toward the less-frequented part of Persimmon Hill Berry Farm in Lampe, Missouri. I wait for him under a cedar tree at a picnic table with our two one-gallon buckets brimming with the blueberries we just picked. It’s a sunny, humid day. Among the rows of Collins, Northblue and other varieties, the air is thick and still. Oppressive. But while I sit in the shade, a gentle breeze chills the dampness on my neck and arms.  I observe and listen to the mid-morning activity of blueberry pickers.

A mother walks purposefully by. She is wearing a stiff, white Anabaptist bonnet and a long, navy blue cotton dress that covers her neck, shoulders, arms. Its hem reaches to her mid-calf and draws my eye to her footwear: hot pink, sparkly flip-flops. Her son wears long shorts, a plaid shirt, and a gray cap. They chatter in a loose and quiet German. The woman’s daughter, about four years old and the younger of her two children, wears a burgundy dress in the same style as her mother’s. Her blonde pigtails bounce with every step she takes in her sandals. She lags behind her mother and brother, dawdling to carefully study three little girls sitting at the picnic table to my right. Like baby birds, they perch atop the table, lifting their freckled cheeks to their mothers to be evenly coated with  sunscreen and dutiful vigor.

The bonneted mother turns for the daughter and curtly calls her to hurry. Drawn to attention, the little girl’s eyes dart upward and her mother grasps her hand, pulling her alongside. The girl stumbles, hops, and dances to catch up to her mother’s long, deliberate strides. They turn into a row and disappear among the bushes near the far-end of the acreage where the berries are at their heaviest and sweetest.

My husband returns with a bucket half-filled with shiny, bumpy blackberries, many the size of elongated golf balls. It won’t take many to make a pie, which is what he intends to do this evening. We gather up our buckets and head for the house to pay our bill. I glance back across the valley of blueberry bushes. I see the mother’s starched white bonnet hovering over bushes and I appreciate her determination to accomplish the day’s tasks with her two little ones in tow.