Hill Country Living
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It’s a Wagner Week and here we have a very rare letter that refers to a domestic cook by her name. This is wild timing because it was only a few days ago I was re-reading the Dupuy/Leland/Panola Streets section of my copy of Dottie Chapman Reed’s “Outstanding Black Women of Yalobusha County.” Now, there’s no way for me to tell if the Katie referred in this letter was Black but one can assume so. She would have been working on Dupuy and a generation or two earlier than the women profiled in the book, I think. Also, of note in this letter is the mention of Starke Young. He was an accomplished playwright from Como. Lastly, I had never heard the word “nutmeg” to mean cheap, imitation or fraudulent. Apparently, the United Sates went through a phase of being obsessed with wooden nutmegs. Never know what you’ll learn in the Wagner Letters!
You need never say anything about Sunday regularity for it seems to me that I find myself writing to you about that day in every week.
Well, school has opened and as far as I’m concerned, I wouldn’t know if somebody didn’t tell me. For all accounts there are more students than usual but not quite so many as the morning news reports. Much to my dissent, Mama has given Mr. Bishop, the English Prof a room here. Have only seen him in the dark so don’t know very much abut him. The Juins have been here moving their things, so of course Miss Ella has had her hands full entertaining them and teaching, too.
Of course, we had to have them over here one night. You should have been here as we had your favorite Starke Young also.
We are about to fall heir to your old cook, Katie. She said she had been cooking for Mr. Wagner, who was a widower with heaps of children. Miss Ella says she knows you sent her up here to spy on me but you forget that thing works both ways.
I haven’t seen Miss Ella scarcely since she began teaching and with company on her hands. She came over last night but everybody disagreeable was here so she gave up in despair and went home accompanied by the most disagreeable, that Methodist preacher.
Am awfully glad you have decided to lend us the light of your countenance once more. It will be a pleasure to know that you aren’t living to catch that nine o’clock train. But guess you will be hurrying off to the ball, so it will be the same in the end.
Did you know that Miss Ella’s beau had returned from the Philippines? Ask her about him when you come up. I’m half-crazy today either with jealously or my eyes I’m not sure which.
Well I don’t like to worry such a busy man with a long letter but do tell us if you have begun to throw in a nutmeg yet. If so Miss Ella and I are coming down to do our shopping.
Sincerely, Elena C. W.