Presentation/Appearance,  Social,  Thomas Gray Haile subcollection

Be good and write often

Thomas Gray Haile subcollection, cards 31, 4, 39, and 35

Introducing Madge.

This is the first card from her chronologically, based on postmarks (unless one of the illegible postmarks turns out to be earlier). It’s addressed to Thomas in Gainesboro, Tennessee. Later cards were addressed to him elsewhere in Tennessee (Oneida, Nashville, Flynn’s Lick) and in Oklahoma (Kiowa). The number of cards she sent him, and her ability to direct them to different locales, suggests these were part of an active correspondence.

The card itself is rather pretty and in decent shape for the collection (i.e. signs minimal mold/water damage). Her handwriting is fairly legible (this was not always the case and/or she wrote in pencil that smudged and/or the damage obscured portions).

“Came to Granville today am having a fine time but am trying to keep my promise. Will try to get home Sunday Maby Saturday. Be good and write often”

Madge [?] to Thomas Haile, 1 August 1907

I don’t want to get into speculation about what she promised. There are too many possibilities. The tone of the message suggests a degree of comfort and confidence. In short, this is likely not the first time they’ve corresponded. The reference to the promise and the closing line can be read as flirtatious, or simple statements of a person’s truth.

Remember the last line, though, as you’ll see variants on it . . . often.

I did mention illegible words and sections, and here’s a good example. If you come up with a clearer transcription, I’d love to see it. Perhaps later I’ll go back and magnify or see if I can work some photo software magic to make sections easier to decipher.

[on front] “Roses [illeg] Thomas[?] Post[illeg] from you tonight and am [illeg] [illeg] [illeg] [illeg] over it I wish it could be this way every night. I [illeg], Dad is Edgar & [illeg] wish [illeg] drawing this afternoon My! how I wished for you This [illeg][illeg][illeg] [illeg] what you was here Sunday[?] Sept 22-07 This has been a long gloomy day and I have wished for you many times”

[on back] “Was very much surprised to learn you are at work in Oneida, wish you would come home I wrote you last night and addressed it to Knoxville not dreaming you had left there, but guess you will get the letter soon enough any way, Madge”

Madge [?] to Thomas Haile, 23 September 1907

This card offers references to a tempestuous part in their relationship. Note the reference to being true, as that will come up again in later cards.

[on back] “10-10-07 Received your card tonight. I feel mean because I said[?] what I did on my last card Please forgive me if I caused you to feel bad I’m very sorry: I wrote you Monday night. I can’t tell why but I have felt all this week like something had come between us. Write often and be good–Madge”

[on front] “I have been true Want to see you real bad”

Madge [?] to Thomas Haile, 10 October 1907

Evidently Thomas reassured her after her concern at having been mean to him on a previous card. And here we have our first repetition (it won’t be the last) of “be good”.

“Received your card last night and will expect a letter tonight. attended church at the Christian church last night the first time since you left I thought all the time of the last time I was there (with you. you know) and crazy to get your letter and I want to see you so. be good”

Madge [?] to Thomas Haile, 14 October 1907

“Be good and write often,” copyright 2021, Alea Henle.

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