Thursday, August 28, 2014

Letters from Esther, Letter 2

I am writing up a series of letters my grandmother, Esther, sent "home" to her siblings in North Dakota as she traipsed around the world working for the State Department as a working woman before it was chic. This letter is the next letter I have from Esther by date.

57 M Ridge Road
Greenbelt, Maryland
March 13, 1958

Dear Jennie and all:

It was so nice to hear your voices on Saturday night. I don't know why it was such a surprise to hear Lois was married -- but you know how it is, you keep thinking of them as such little kids when you don't see them very often. I called Ida Mae the next day to see if she knew about it, but she didn't -- somehow their correspondence has lapsed recently, she said. [It could have been because she had two young kids and was about just starting her pregnancy carrying me.... just sayin'...]

I feel like I have earned a little rest from my work here as I just completed a new Form-57. The last one I had made up was way back in 1946 when I went from the War Relief Board to State, so you can imagine how out-of-date that was. I needed a new one now in connection with the job in Saigon. It looks as though I may go in about a month -- at least one of the things that was slowing it up was the fact that the office in State to which we were transferred was not willing to let me go until they got a replacement. Yesterday the Chief of that office called to talk to my boss, who was out, so he told me is the problem and when he was finished with that, he said he was aware that I was planning to go overseas, and asked if I had something lined up and I told him, yes, but that the job might be filled if I didn't get a release from State soon. So he said he would be glad to do anything he could to help and agreed to write a memo to their Personnel saying that they would have to have a replacement for my job within a month because I was leaving on the 14th of April. So I don't know what will happen now, but when I told the people over here, they said, "that's all we need."

I haven't had a physical or shots or anything like that as yet. Yesterday though I decided perhaps I should get an eye examination so I went for one and you'll never believe it but the dime-store glasses I'm wearing are just about what I need -- exactly right for the left eye and not quite strong enough for the right. And I don't need any for any other purpose than reading. Anyway I decided to get bifocals so that I don't have to keep taking my glasses off so much, but the top part will be plain glass. The doctor said my eyes were in excellent shape and doubted that I would ever need any except for reading. [She was, at this time 52 years old.]

Carole just called. Robbie is completely O.K., running and as active as ever but the doctor had told him to stay home from school for a few more days.

Its snowing here again, has been for a couple of hours now and is sticking to roofs and car tops but not the street. I heard it was probably going to snow Friday and Saturday so did a quick wash this morning and hung it out -- it'll be quite a mess by night. [So I checked it out -- she was writing this on a Thursday, typing it, so she got up that morning, did laundry, hung it out to dry before she left for work, and was typing this letter at work, probably on her lunch hour.]

I have been doing a little sewing off and on, in preparation for my trip -- its all summer clothes out there.

I have also practically finished my spring housecleaning -- including new [wall]paper in the bedroom, painting woodwork all around, including the kitchen cabinets inside and out, re-upholstering a couple of chairs, etc. Larry plans to stay on in the apartment and perhaps get someone to share it if he finds somebody he thinks he would get along with o.k.

I painted another picture this past week-end and it turned out very nice -- its a sort of a copy of one by Paul Cezzane, a French artist, from a photograph that appeared in the last Ladies Home Journal -- I think it was called The Marne.

I am trying to brush up on my French since that is the official language in Saigon but I think I should take some real classes cause what I really need is to be able to understand it when someone else speaks it. Its not a bit hard to read but it sounds so different -- not at all like Finnish which is spelled like it is pronounced. [That's an opinion I find it hard to share, as I speak French but am struggling to learn Finnish...]

Wasn't that a surprise to hear about Helen. Have you heard anything more? [I have no idea who Helen is...] Well, I hope it all works out for the best and I hope the kids don't suffer by it. [Now I need to do some research on I guess to find a Helen...]

I feel very guilty sitting here typing this when there is so much to be done, so will wind up for now.

I may be seeing you in April -- but will let you know when I know for sure.



[Mailed in an envelope marked:
E. Holien - 305-M
International Cooperation Administration
Washington 25, DC
(with "Official Business" scratched out.)

Addressed to: 
Miss Jennie Efraimson
Perth, North Dakota

It was mailed with a 3 cent Liberty stamp.

I wonder if that would still get to someone nowadays, if I mailed it to my relative who still lives on that farm, "D. Odegaard, Perth, North Dakota". Ya think? My son in law confirms that there are still places where that is all the information one needs to put on an envelope for it to get to the intended person. Not where I live, that's for sure!]

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