Box 01: Folder 06

Letter from Caroline Henderson to Rose Alden

Letter from Caroline Henderson to Rose Alden
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Eva, Okla, Dec. 15, 1931

Dear Rose:

I am hoping that this may reach you before you leave Newark for your holiday vacation. Your friendly note was the first intimation I had received that the Atlantic had really made use of our little harvest story. Though they had accepted it promptly and paid me too much for it, I had heard no more about it and had begun to think they had come to themselves and that I should have to recover and return the amount of their pretty blue check. It was most kind of you to write and a few messages from friends old and new who felt interested in the wheat situation have helped wonderfully to brighten what has otherwise seemed a pretty trying experience. Very many thanks!

As to your implied question about other work, there isn't much to tell. I think I sent your mother a little account of one of our short vacation trips published in The Christian Leader. The same paper published a short account of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the founding of the Unitarian church in Lawrence, one of the very first churches established in the new territory of Kansas. But I didn't write it with any idea of publication. In fact it was really prepared for an English class, and I just thought the editor might be interested as he is a former Kansan -- used to teach English at Emporia.

I rarely feel any impulse and never any consciousness of ability to write for publication.


It really seemed as if some one ought to try to suggest the human side of the wheat situation and it was, I think, only a fortunate accident that caused the acceptance of so matter-of-fact a narrative.

Conditions are still difficult , in some ways increasingly so, because as the months pass without any important signs of improvement, we begin to fear that after all we shall have to sacrifice our wheat for whatever it will bring. The price is now hovering around thirty cents, which represents a definite loss if ones' time and work are worth anything whatever. And the real hardship here arises from the fact that while wheat is not a sure crop, with reasonable management it comes nearer to certainty than the crops which depend on summer rainfall. For several years now rain in the growing season has been scarce indeed and spring planted crops invariably fall short. Cattle, hogs, and poultry products have gone on down with wheat, so it is a real problem how to pay taxes and keep up expenses.

We are so glad that Eleanor finished her course at Lawrence before things became as bad as they are now. The Commencement program was most impressive. I have rarely seen a more lovely setting for such an event. It is the custom there to hold the exercises in the early evening and I could never forget the scene as the long


procession of graduates filed down over the green slope from the Administration Building to the stadium just as the sun was setting. President Glenn Frank of the University of Wisconsin gave a stirring address on "The Crisis of the Western Spirit."

Eleanor had been invited to join the Phi Beta Kappa and had already received the promise of technician work in one of the laboratories if she wished to return for graduate work, so we felt very proud of our little girl, and I think it was really a very happy time for her. She and her best friend, also a Zoology major who has a fellowship for this year, have a little apartment together and are getting on comfortably I think, though they have to be careful about expenses. Eleanor thinks she would like to be a laboratory technician for research work if she can get sufficient training. This year's work, both her coursework and the experience in the laboratory, should be a help to her.

In August we took a week off for a very pleasant vacation. The little red second-hand Ford took us over about 900 miles of wonderfully varied and beautiful country in Colorado and north-eastern New Mexico. We revisited Mount Capulin with its deep crater in such contrast with to the luxuriant greenness of the vegetation where the cindery mass of the mountain has weathered on the surface to life-giving soil. We picked up marine fossils on Raton Pass about nine thousand feet above sea level. Around Trinidad we passed through


several coal-mining settlements and I recalled Miss Soulis saying that the substitution of some other source of energy than coal was one of the great problems of a better civilization. We camped over night in sight of the beautiful Spanish Peaks. About noon the next day we crossed the mountain range at La Veta pass, one of the loveliest and most impressive parts of our journey. The crest of the pass ^{about 10000 feet} was set thick with aspens but still higher, far above the timber line, rose the serrated ridge of the great mountain toward which we had been driving all morning, its sides scarred with great earth slides which had swept away the struggling pines and cedars. At the foot of the pass on the west side we ate our lunch by a lovely little brook in plain sight of a perfectly closed fold of a syncline, the thick strata being bent directly back upon themselves -- {drawing of several nested U shapes} -- something like that, a most unusual sight for us, suggesting the tremendous forces which had been at work, there; I mustn't try to tell about the little purely Spanish villages of the San Luis Valley, the Indian pueblos at Taos, or the wild grandeur of the gorge of the Rio Grande which we followed nearly all the way to Santa Fe. Indeed, I couldn't give any adequate idea of it or of the variety of interesting experiences at Santa Fe. I want to go back again some day for it was of course absurd to have only one day to spend in a place where one could spent a month with interest and profit.

Now we are looking eagerly forward to Eleanor's home coming on Saturday. I have washed the curtains in her room


and made up her bed with a fresh blanket. The geraniums and one carnation are blooming nicely ^{the Christmas cactus is budded -- also some narcissus bulbs} and we anticipate a happy time together even if there is much to be anxious about, not only for ourselves but even more for many people we know who are under even heavier pressure.

I wonder how your brothers find conditions in Iowa and New Jersey and what do your people think is the way out. Hoover seems to me too complacent. He insisted too long that everything was all right when we all knew that much was altogether wrong. The mere fact of a nation like our own with every natural resource in abundance going billions of dollars behind in current expense in time of peace doesn't look right to one of Scotch + New England ancestry.

Does the disturbed condition of the times affect your work in any way? I hope you are gradually recovering from the effects of your operation and gaining strength for all the heavy work. There is surely nothing that requires more constant effort than teaching and I doubt whether I could do it again at all.

The fire is out and the room is growing cold so I really must stop.


I shall try to write to your mother by Christmas time. If you are there for the vacation you will perhaps hear from us again through her. I am sending a little picture of our girl which is a very good likeness o f her. How she would admire your curly hair! Her very straight hair has always been a trouble to her, but I have never felt sure we should like artificial way waving so we haven't tried to inspire her in that way.

We hope you may have a good vacation with whatever you most need of rest or other recreation, of society or solitude. With every good wish for Christmas and a better year for everybody in 1932 I am still

Your old friend Caroline A. Henderson

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