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Hill Country Living

Daily Life, Death Recounted In Letter To Son

By Coulter Fussell

This is a Wagner letter week for my column and I like to try and relate the theme of the letters I choose to something current. Well, the big thing that went down in Water Valley this week was Art Crawl and I knew I definitely wouldn’t find anything having to do with art in my letters. So I decided to play this little game I like to call “I Wonder What Was Happening in Water Valley On This Day About 130 Years Ago?” I can always count on Maria Young (wife of Daniel, mother of John Henry) to give me a full and thorough report.

Water Valley
Sept. 22, 1884
My dear son,
Your letter and also to Grandma came today, and your report. I was pleased to hear from you, sorry you are homesick and sincerely trust you are entirely over it before now. Your report was pretty good, perhaps at some other school it would have been marked higher and yet been no better really. I feel sure you deserve all you get on your reports; for I think Maj. is that honest, he had rather be so tight as to slack, and that is a good way. Their parents can tell how their boys stand exactly.
Capt. Merrin has moved to Florida. How do you like the boy from Hernando? That was a terrible offense, to be guilty of stealing. I am sorry to hear of any boy doing so, but I think he ought to be expelled. To steal and then lie is a terrible sin.
You remember Shack (one leg negro) he died this week. I took Grandma and drove over to Ms. Mayes Thursday evening after school. Oh my ain’t Ms. Mayes a talker, Lillie had a grand time. She said was so sorry when it was time to come home, she had her fingernails painted & polished, putting on style ruse.
I had 2 letters from your father, last one from New York, will be home next week – a week from today I think.
Methodist Ladies gave an ice cream festival last night. I did not attend, had no escort, – and it was a dark night. John Smithers is still in the shops. Always talking about quitting and growling but he is still there. Gene Young gets his Sunday school at home now, I am glad of that, he has the local north, one of them. Hiram is well again, will go to Knoxville next week. Miss Sallie Smith spent the day yesterday with us. Mrs. Dupuy ate dinner & spent the afternoon also. I don’t know of any news. Mr Castleberry brought his Jessie in to have her tooth pulled and when Dr. Askew got hold of it she hollered and Mr. Castleberry said “Turn loose!” several times. Dr. A did not do so and he drew back and hit Dr. A in the forehead and knocked him back in the corner and said “That’s my child!” I thought it was so funny.
Mr. Will Hamner has charge of the store or oil room, the position Mr. Morrison had. They wanted Mr. Morrison to do the work of 2 men & get $15 less his old salary & he laid down his pen, so Mr. Hamner has it now.
Uncle Charley is living in the yard, his old woman milks & helps me, we churn 3 times a week.
We all want to see you so bad you must cheer up and study hard or after a while you will be sorry you did not. Write often and be a good boy,
Your loving Mother

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