It’s a Wagner Week and as I write this the morning before July Fourth, I’m reminded that the Wagner Letters started when the country was less than 100 years old. So when Maria was writing school compositions and would, in just a few years, meet Daniel; which would lead to John Henry and sweet, deaf Cousin Hiram; and funny Katie Becton, who died in childbirth; and the weird affair with Cousin Minnie; and feisty Gussie Avant, the socialite from Oxford; and Frank the Horse Who I Thought Was A Human For A Decade and so on; our country was only 74 years old. That’s younger than my dad!
The country was less than one human lifetime old and there’s only been about two more human lifetimes lived since then. The country was basically formed, like yesterday. We sure can pack some major stuff in a small amount of time, can’t we?
July 4th, 1887
My Dear Jno.-
Your letter just handed to me a few minutes ago and you can just bet how glad I felt to hear from you, my pardner. I had been thinking perhaps you were so awfully glad to see your girl that you could hardly spare a minute’s time out of her presence, especially, remembering your having not seen her in so long. 10 minutes is a powerfully long time for a fellow to be away from his best love. I’m sure you stood it better than I could have done. I really believe I would have kicked the bucket, don’t you? Tell the truth, be honest, give it to me straight.
Well, talking about my little Bess K, I don’t know what to say. I haven’t moved a peg yet since you left. We are on a stand still. Just like we were except she was down here tonight at suppertime and we merely spoke to each other but I am mad at myself for acting that way.
By the way, I’ll come down shortly if I can possibly get off driving the old Mule. John, be sure and have the Brass Band sent out to meet me, we will certainly arrive on fast schedule time. Well you can’t imagine how much I worry and tease Minnie Kennedy about the trip up to the country and I tried to tease her about you but I made a lame come off, because I thinks she kind of liked it.
And you say you have picked out a sweetheart for me, well just tell her all you know about me and what you don’t know I’ll tell her about myself just as soon as I get there. Give her my best love etc etc and tell her I would give lots to see and meet her. If you picked her out I’ll be willing to bet she will suit me but you forgot to tell me her name. You ought to have given me an elaborate description of the lady in question. John, I know you nearly died on the moonlight walk — cream and peaches once a week — and you kiss your girl on the right hand cheek — if you did it’s good luck, if you didn’t you will have the worst kind of luck. I always kiss them on the right hand, no I mean right square on the mouth.
B & myself will have to make up. Minnie says we just shall and you know she been kind of bossy lately and if that is low and gospel, I’ll tell you the proceedings hereafter. Love to you all, your affectionate cousin,