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Memory Book Monday: A rather hilarious letter from 1935

Monday, October 26, 2015



Oh hello again, it's been a long time! Today I have a wonderful letter to share with you from my Great Grandma Alma's teenage memory book but first a little catch up of where the heck I've been all this time!...

I turned 30 on September 30th. Celebrated with dinner at my mother in law's house. A few days later, Olivia turned 6 and we had a big Halloween themed birthday party at our house, our first with school friends! A day later, Pj and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary and it's been a wild month full of Halloween parties and I'm a girl scout leader s we've been selling nuts and candy for our fall fundraiser and I've been spending every other Tuesday night partying with my group of wonderful and hilarious Kindergarten girls! It's been a big adjustment, having my first kid in school but I'm loving time at home with my little guy and I'm excited to kick off blogging again! Anyway, on to grandma....


Before she started dating my great grandpa, Great Grandma Alma dated a boy named Don Gross. Her memory book is full of little notes about him, places they went together and I even found a couple of photographs in a separate album.





 I remember a story that Great Grandma told. After she graduated high school, she was awarded one of two scholarships to send her to college.  In her eyes, the scholarship really should have gone to another student but she believed that she received special treatment because her daddy was the superintendent. She went to the scholarship office and made a stink until they decided to award the scholarship to the boy instead. She told me that without the scholarship, there was no way that he would be able to go to college. Because of her good grades and family's financial situation, she would have gone to college regardless.  I wonder, was Don the boy that she gave her scholarship to?

Summer, 1935


Don Gross, Grandma's beau, summer 1935

friends, Lyn and John "Jay" LaRue, writer of the letter below

 In the memory book was an envelope addressed to Don Gross from one of the boys in these photos. He did not go to college. He got a job working at the Ligett and Myers Tobacco Company in St Louis. You can see photos of the tobacco company building as it stands today at St Louis Patina.  The letter's contents was surprising to all of us, since the Alma we knew was always so serious! She didn't joke around often, she didn't hang around with certain types of people and, as an English major, she had perfect grammar and writing skills.  I've typed out the letter exactly as written below, misspellings, underlines, inside jokes and racism included, as it was back then:








                                                                                                  St. Louis, MO
                                                                                                  November 6, 1935

Dear D.F.G. (Dog Face Gross) and A.F.L (Awful Foolish Leaver).

        I can't see why a big tobacco maget like me should spend his time writing to a couple of school kids, but I find it my duty, as I always try to be polite even to the scum of the earth.   



          I hate to see you too waste your time in a school of learning. You all should join me and attend the "School of Life." (it took me a half-hour to think that up). But don't let this get you down you still have a hope. After you two have been flunked out of school you can come to St. Louis and by that time I'll have Liggett & Meyers well in my clutches. You, Alma. I'll give you a job picking the stems of tobacco with the rest of the Dagos (Wops) (Whatever Joe Castello is) and you Don. I'll give you a nice job as a porter, cleaning out (gaboons), (spitoons) (cusjidors) or something. 

        While you two are studying English I am taking a straight course in Cuss-ology from the members of the old school at Luggetts (Putting all foolishness aside Ah la L.E.S. (you know. Your old man.)
My work at liggetts is very interesting. I work on Granger Rough cut pipe tobacco. I operate 3 machines (All at once). A machine that wraps the tobacco in tin-foil and weighs it-one that put on the Gout and one that puts on the labels. Not so hard but very tedious. Of course you book-Worms (mostly worms) wouldn't understand tho.



I get paid on the number of thousands of pkgs. I turn out in a day. I make good money but not enough of it. 
         As for that crack about my basketball playing. Tom Barry of the Celtics (worlds Champs, (basketballers), tried to sign me up the other day to play with them but I refused. Or was that Art Lewis and the Pacific town team. Well it don't make much difference anyway. I would have turned either of them down. 
          Did you ever try writing with a Buzz-saw running in your ear. Well thats what I am doing. I think. Oh pardon me- that's Bill snoring * How could I stood it. 
As for you getting a couple of gals for me if I come to Columbia.  Nertz. All I can say is that when I start home from Columbia you better have all means of transportation from Columbia to St. Louis stopped or you will notice a great decrease in the feminine population of said fair city. 
          Sometimes at work when everything is running smoothly I think of what fun we had in school last year and wish I was back there. Sniff-Sniff. I got myself crying again.  I shed a bitter tear. 



Pardon the pencil and the awful unpardonable writing. I am writing on my lap. Be sure and write right back at me and tell me what you thought of these 5 pages of senseless drivell.
                        Love + Kisses
                                         Jay





I wonder what happened to Don and Jay. Did Jay ever get to school or did he work in the factories in St Louis all of his life? Did he ever get back to visit Columbia and get his hands on the ladies? Did Don get married and have a family of his own? I bet his great grandchildren would love a peek at their grandpa in his crazy teenage years!  By the spring after this letter was written, Grandma and Don didn't see each other anymore. Grandma was dating Lawrence Vaughn, my Great Grandpa. More on him next time!

5 Responses to “Memory Book Monday: A rather hilarious letter from 1935”

  1. This is hilarious! It sounds so much like some of the letters and notes we have from my grandparents, great aunts/uncles, etc.

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  2. What a jam packed month you've been having. Wow!!! Ours has been a constant go-go-go as well. Happiest birthday wishes to you and Olivia. Welcome to the "30s club"!

    ♥ Jessica

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  3. That memory book is a true treasure. :) And congratulations on everything, what a festive October you've had.

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  4. Hi, I just found your blog and read it to the beginning, when I found this post.

    Didn't you try to find Don ? With internet and a lot of genealogy trees online, it may be simple you know. I'm sure his children and grand-children would be very glad to receive pictures of him, and this story. It's very funny to make such research, I encourage you to try. Old neighbours can also help, if you have time to ask them.

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