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Hill Country Living

Candy And Cakes Deter Studying


The bone-chilling weather lately has really made me think of those without adequate heat — namely myself. My store isn’t climate controlled and one of my heaters broke at my house and, well, there was a good couple of days there where I could see my breath anytime I wasn’t in the Piggly Wiggly, which is the only other place I go besides work and home. 


It’s a Wagner Week and I often wonder how awful life was back then when you had to build a fire to get warm. I realize that some of you all are in this situation currently and I am sorry you are living like it’s 1850. Yes, your fireplace is pretty and warms the house quickly and crackles and smells good, etc. But what about the person who has to get up early in the icy cold and build the fire? How do you all decide who does that? A duel? Because that’s what it would take for me to do it. Also, what happens if the wood won’t light or something? Does crying help in that situation?

My point is, everyday conveniences like we know them today were not afforded to the Wagners yet they were still the richest folks in town. Here is a Wagner Letter from warmer days.


Water Valley August 8th, 1883


My Dear Son,

Your letter reached me this morning, am glad you are so pleasantly fixed in the way of roommates, am always glad when you are with good people and hope you will be benefitted by their example. It is 8 1/2 o’clock at night, Calista is standing at my knee watching my write in her gown, says tell John “I want to see him.” Says “Why don’t you come back home?” She says “Did you have a good trip?” Jessie has suffered greatly and she can’t sit up yet. Her neck was lanced last Sunday. She has had an awful childhood. We should all be so thankful for our health, especially when we look at her.


Your father sent money to get the things you need. Does each boy have a lamp and table of his own? It seems like three in a room would fill it up. Explain everything when you write. Tell me what is in your room and everything about yourself for I am anxious to know how it is. 


Hiram comes occasionally but  don’t stay long. Seems lonesome. You must remember my son that it is impossible to humor so many boys in their eating and if you were full of cakes and candy you would not feel like studying. I’ll send you some for your birthday, I guess. You know it is a long time to get there and costs money besides, if you will deny yourself awhile you will not think so much about it. We have not had a bit of cake since you left. 


I wish often I could see you and miss you very much. It seems very quiet, the children don’t go down to the pasture and come back covered with mud and with a lot of catfish anymore. I don’t know any news to write so I will close. Be sure and write and study and try your best to improve your opportunity. Be a good boy and don’t be tempted to do anything you would be ashamed for your parents to know. 


Lots of love & kisses,

Your Mother

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