In the best of health but working like a beaver
Katheryn McMahon Newton album, cards 64-65
More ships, albeit not naval cruisers. Both of today’s cards, as usual, went from Fred to Katheryn. First up, a rather pretty view from northern Oregon versus northern Washington. Fred posted it in Seattle, so either Oregon views were for sale up in Seattle or (equally likely) he picked it up while down in Portland (or Astoria, for that matter).
In this case, he’s tossing a bunch of different topics into the message–writing a postcard instead of sending her a letter because he’s tired.
Seattle Apr. 3rd 1908 Dearie: Just in from Green Lake a small town about 18 miles from here. Made a trip out their to see a man on business. It is now 12.15 and if it was not so late + I was not so tired, would have written you a letter. The view on opposite side is on the beautiful Columbia river + is just across from Portland. You did not mention how that R.R. “affair” turned out, why didnt you say or tell me of the outcome. I am in best of health but working like a beaver. With BestFred Newton to Katheryn McMahon, 3 April 1908
I’m replicating Fred’s grammar and spelling in transcribing his messages–but I admit it’s hard not to change his “their” to “there.” Ah well. These are small details.
What’s more important–and irritating–is that he doesn’t name either the man he went to see in Green Lake or the business he wanted to see him on. Why? There are several possible answers, any one of which may be true alone or in conjunction with others. Perhaps this is top-secret (early corporate security), or he feared the name might catch a postal worker’s eye. Or it doesn’t matter to him whether or not Katheryn knows–indeed the only business connection he’s named in the postcards so far is Mr. Sears (presumably Lewis Sears of the L. Sears Paper Co.). Then again, Sears has been kind to Fred and even had him over in a social setting, something that if Katheryn were in Seattle she might have attended as well. The short space of postcards constrains what can/’t be included–but this may be a taste of how much about his business Fred eventually shared with her. Or not. In the end, we’re not going to know.
Likewise, we will never know what R.R. affair Katheryn evidently mentioned in one of her communiques. R.R. probably refers to railroad–and there might be many such affairs going on in Chicago. Even today, Chicago is a major rail hub.
The other card for today went off to Katheryn a week or so earlier. There are two, fairly distinct messages on it.
The front of the card is not a random image, although he may have picked it up on the spur of a moment (or had it to hand). One of the two steamers (the S.S. Flyer) Fred traveled on in an excursion to the naval yards at Bremerton. He’s kindly marked it for Katheryn.
And then there’s the message on the back. Since there’ve been so many references to him wanting messages from her and not getting them, he devotes nearly the whole of the message to receiving a letter from her. (Not just any letter, a “sweet letter.”)
Dearie: Your sweet letter recd this A.M. There is so much that is precious to me to write to you about and your letter was so dear I am stealing just a few minutes at the P.O. to let you know at once by return mail of its arrival. I dropped you several cards recently + one I wrote yesterday I mentioned I had not recd letter so thought it best to reply at once + not cause you to think it went astray. Will write you tomorrow eve I am going to a 30c vaudeville show with a fellow this eve I treated him to lunch + he is getting back at me. Mail me a card or two. Fred”Fred Newton to Katheryn McMahon, 26 March 1908
Note that he is modeling the behavior he wants from her–instantly writing back to her (while in the post office) to ensure she doesn’t have to worry. In addition, he immediately follows this by explaining why he won’t be writing her that night (I admit to being tickled by the wording of the other fellow “getting back” at Fred for a treat by giving him what should be a treat considering how many times Fred goes to the vaudeville).
Next post: some of the cards Fred sent Katheryn while courting her! (Don’t have expectations for lots of flowery language, though. Seriously, don’t. These are . . . short.)
“In the best of health but working like a beaver,” copyright 2021, A.R. Henle.