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JAILHOUSE LETTERS to Andrew "Merle" Cowan

These are letters, cards, etc. written to Andrew "Merle" Cowan when he was with Sheriff Fred H. Brown as his deputy at the Jail (Old Rotary, only one in nation that is still working and there were very few built. Really, it was a very dangerous one but interesting nonetheless).

Fredericktown, Ohio Thursday - Jan __ 1920 Dear A.M. - Don't you think I'm good but I'm writing in view of the future. In the next two weeks I have not only six weeks test & grades but also finals and final grades. Woe is me. If I eve rrecover I'll never be the same.

It is perfectly beautiful weather. The snow fell all last night & occasionally today & again tonight it is snowing rather heavily. It isn't cold & is beautifully quiet. I'd give anything to have a sleigh & a good horse. Monday & Tuesday I was beginning to have spring fever. Yes, so early. For it was cold with none of the pleasures of winter. But now I've recovered, altho I do love Spring - March winds, April shower (sic), May flowers & all, even June weddings.

I'm anxious to hear whether you've gone back to school or not. Teaching school is a terrible doom to have visited upon a person. In a few minutes I am due over at the HS. Yes I spend morning, noon & night there. My basketball people are having an inter-class basketball game tomorrow night & so we have to practice tonight. They're all full of enthusiasm today for the Mt. Vernon HS team just called & asked for a game a week from Saturday & a return game later. They have quite a team down there.

And then I'm going coasting. Doesn't that sound good to you? It does to me - makes me think of the days when I was young. I suppose you're going to work hard now that football is over - provided you're back in school. I think you'db etter work next summer instead of loafing like you did last summer. Goodby Marian

Fredricktown Jan 6, 1920 Monday - Dear "Boy", I suppose if I'm your little girl, you're my little boy. Is my inflerence correct? Do you know Andy I think you're a dear for answering my letters the way you do. I was awfully glad to find your letter waiting here for me. I think if it hadn't been for it I would have been sort of blue coming back to this old berg with five long months of teaching without any relief in way of vacation to look forward to. This was one terrible day for me - I really wasn't fully able to come back for ever since New Years I spent practically most of my time in bed. And several times today I thought I couldn't stay over there another minute. But I stuck it out. I guess I danced too long last Wednesday eve - it was only three o'clock when I got to bed. Now, I suppose you'll say I shouldn't dance anymore if I want to live to a ripe old age but I have an answer ready for that too. Rather a merry short life than dry long one, am I right?

Do you know I'm writing with that same modern style pen as you said you were using when you wrote your last letter & it surely is exasperating. I'm rather suspicious - do you know for the last several letters your pen has gone dry. Have you been writing letters to some one before me & been using all your ink.

No, Andy, you needn't worry about any "old Reliables" at home. They don't exist. The only fellow there whom I have had any dates with recently is sore at me. I had quite a few dates with him last summer and he took me to the Thanksgiving Masonic banquet & dance & after I came back here from my Thanksgiving vacation I didn't write. He owns a drug store at home & as soon as I get home he expects me to rush down to see him - but I didn't at all. So he doesn't love me any more.

I did see a good old pal of mine, tho, whom I hadn't seen for over a year. He's a Phi-Delt at W&J. I don't suppose you know where that is but it's a boy's school in Pennsylvania. He is, too, by the way, quite a football man. But, he's no old reliable of mine altho he always does show me a good time when he's around. I'd like to see the girl who could put thoughts of settling down into that fellow's head. She'd have to be some girl

Well, here I am raving on as if you were interesting in those fellows - and I know your (sic) not. And neither am I.

Do you know, Andy, if you or your mother'd write me I might come over to Indiana next spring after school is out you said I never would come near in that direction. I am thinking very seriously - in fact I actually intend to go to Akron this next summer as soon as school's out to work. You know it one of Ohio's most active cities and there's lots of work at high wages. The only trouble is that the place is so crowded that one can't find any place to stay. But if everything comes out right that's where I intend to be next summer. Wellsville's entirely too slow for me. But I might come to Indiana before I go to Akron if you won't come here.

You tell the fellow who has my picture to either give it to you or send it back to me. I never intended him to have it.

My birthday is in that magical month of September when "school bells ring" - only it's the twenty sixth instead of the first, and last September gave me my right to vote as soon as the men do. Now you know my whole history & pedigree. Farewell. Always, Mary Ann

Dear Farmer: (Fredericktown Monday)

I'm back once more in the old "burg" and on the job which is more than can be said of some of the faculty. Let me tell you what some of them did - two got married and one of our HS teachers isn't back yet & I wouldn't be at all surprised if the same fate is hers you know about all the faculty here last year got married. I tell you this is a dangerous place - Even school teachers are going back on time-old precedent of single - blessedness. However as a recociling piece of news I'll not fail to say that the teachers who got married here last year had to teach twenty or more years before the opportunity presented itself. And one of the teachers who just recently did the deed had been teaching ten years. So, I guess there may be a chance for me yet. Did I tell you that it was reported around here that I was to be married while I was home during Christmas vacation. I had forgotten whether I had told you or not - but for some reason the man never appeared on the scenes. It was really funny how the report got started. The lady with whom I board (a genuine typical spinster - and a very observing one at that - ) noticed that when I read the magazines at her house I always seemed extremely interested in the sections devoted to interior-decorating, furniture, etc. As a result she was thoroughly convinced that I was on the verge of committing matrimony & informed several people of the fact.

Well I guess I am conversing on dangerous topics. We school teachers are considering asking the board for a raise. So many of the schools around here are raising the teachers salaries. Dear only know, we need it. Did I hear you say (or rather read it) that you were going to teach school. If you ever do, I want to see you long enough to tell you what you are (blank - probably doing). It would never do to put it down in black and white. Why you could get lots more digging ditches or slinging hash. Don't ever do it - you'd better show that one hundred & ninety pounds of yours some good honest labor. Listen, AM for goodness sake don't get plain fat!

I think it would be loads of fun if you would come to Akron - that is, provided that I go. It looks at present as if I'll have to leave the city alone. My cousin is getting cold feet. She hates to quit her present position for anything so uncertain & I haven't heard from that roommate of mine since she resigned & went to Cleveland. But I'm still strong for going. You had better come along - we could have a good time at least. I'd teach you to dance - now isn't that some inducement.

That reminds me - I just returned here from a second visit in Columbus where Ruth & I took in a couple of valentine dances. Real nice ones, you know, invitation affairs. One was a K of C and the other a fraternity dance. I'm afraid I can't follow your advice about dancing. Awfully sorry but not sorry enough. They surely are having a great time in Columbus about the dancing down there. They have guards all through the public halls & the private dances are rigorously chaperoned. Shimmying is entirely abolished and the war is being waged now on cheek-to-cheek dancing. I can't see any harm in either, myself. I surely will tell Ruth what you said about coming down there to see her rather than mefor she has it in for me anyway. The fellow who took her to the K of C dance is coming up here toi see me & she claims to be jealous. Ruth always asks about you & expands upon your vitues but I always turn a deaf ear for I claim to know you better than she.

Just what training is this that you are talking about - and how binding is it? Do you mean to say that you have given Uncle Sam another chance at your life. You know what I told you, don't you. The next time you go sailing in the clouds, I'm going along. Isn't that right?

I have a cold & my adopted mother here has just wished some genuine ginger tea upon me. It tastes like old time fire-water. I guess she's afraid I'm getting the "flu". I'm sort of scared myself. It certainly is cold here. Last night when I got off of the train, it was three degrees below.

There are two incidents which you mentioned in your letter which seem to me to fit together remarkably well. You went riding & upset - ou know what they say about a bunch of fellows who can't manage a car - and now you are in the county jail. What would naturally be the conclusions! One other thing I wish to comment upon before I close and it gives me a feeling of foreboding. It seems to run in your family to get married more than once & you know my father was married twice. And we're only the first generation. This letter is a hoodoo. Good night. Yours, Marian

Feb 10, 1920 - Wellsville, Monday - Dear AMC

Did I tell you in my last letter that school closed at Fredericktown on account of the "flu." I can't remember whether I wrote before or after we received notice but I rather think it was before. Well, anyway it closed a week ago today - was closed all last week and is closed for this week and maybe next. I just got home about two hours ago - therefore the reason you haven't heard from me before is that I've spent the last week visiting or waiting to visit. My last year's roommate has been at my heels to get me to take a vacation & go to see her. When I found out the school was dismissed for at least a week I decided that was my one & only chance to see her. So I wrote & told her to let me know immediately whether I should come or not. And I waited in Frederick all last week for an answer - but none came. Since then I learned from her brother that she resigned her position at the end of last semester. I went to Cleveland while I was waiting to hear from her I spent the week visiting Wagners and you can be sure I had a good time. Saturday morning I started for home and landed in Columbus where Ruth, as I suppose you know, is in school. By the way she is pledged Tri Deltdown there. We almost had a "gang" reunion for a couple of the Delaware girls were out and Lucille was up for the week-end & of course Ruth & I were there. I surely was glad I changed my mind at Newark & took a train west instead of east. The board are to let me know when to come back - it surely is grand and glorious to have a vacation like this on a salary and we don' thave to make up the last time either.

I'm going back to Columbus Friday as I have a bid to a fraternity house-dance that I don't want to miss and if school doesn't open next Monday I'll probably either hang around Columbus or go up to Delaware for a few days back at the old alma mater.

It seems like a long time since I've heard from you, Andy. I suppose there's a letter waiting over there at Fredrick for me. If you write to me before Thursday you had better address me at 763 W. Town St, Columbus c/o Mrs. Jos. Brown. This letter is sort of dumb but you'll let it pass this time, won't you? I think a lot of you, Andy, but I do wish we could see each other once in awhile. Yours, Merry Ann.

February 24, 1920 Fredericktown Ohio

Dear A.M.C. Yes, time does fly. We teachers think of the rest of this school year in the smallest terms possible - we have it figured down to two more six-weeks finals after these which are to come off next week. I am all enthusiastic about Akron again. At a dance last Friday I was talking to a lady who had a daughter married Christmas to an Akron fellow & of course they are living in Akron. I knew Helen & she was awfully nice. Her mother says she is sure Helen would love to have me stay with her so is going to inform her immediately. Which of course was the very thing I was hoping for as it is extremely difficult to find any place to stay there. You & your friend had better come to Akron - maybe the government won't call you until late in the summer. You know that would just be fate for you to hang around all summer waiting for Uncle Sam to see fit to call you & lose about two months waiting. Of course if you get that positioin with th Curtiss people - that's different. But don't take anything that requires flying.

This ink is terrible. It's lost all its color. But maybe you'd rather have a colorless letter than none at all. Do you know, A.M., I don't have any pictures which really do me justice. Ahem (?) if I ever get any which are such a poor image of me as to be good looking, I think I'll have a whole read made. What kind of a picture do you want? Another Kodak picture? That's the only kind you could possibly get as I guess it's the only kind you had better want. If that will do you any good I'll try to get you one - two or three of my school girls have taken pictures of me & I'll try to get some of the negatives. I'll tell you why you don't like that other picture of me. It isn't as good-looking as I am - I decided that a long time ago. Don't you think I'm terrible - I think so myself. Speaking of pictures - I don't like the only one I possess of you either. And besides that is an aviable picture & so is away out of date now. We'll make sort of a receiprocity affair out of this. Now listen, A.M. you know I wouldn't be so cruel as to do the thing you suggested in your last letter. I'll at least attempt to let you down a little easier than that. What ever has happened to mnake you think as cynically of us as that? One of these deep, dark pasts? You know there's safety in numbers - as long as this date business doesn't shift down to one fellow things are pretty safe & I think I could name eight or ten men around this burg that I have had an occasional date with. Maybe that sounds bad too but don't get any gray hairs over it. I know you're not - I believe you're a pretty good old sport and you know if you were here you could have as many as the rest put together.

Well, I must get to work & read "Intimations on Immortality." Be good so they'll let you out of mail on good behavior.

Yours always, Merry Ann

March __ 1920

Dear A.M. C. - Will you forgive me if I write to you with a pencil just this once. My pen scratches and makes me nervous. Do you know - of course you don't - that I have been sick. Not dangerously but just enough to feel wretched. I suppose you wondered why you weren't hearing from me. I missed school all day Thursday and against the advice of Mrs. Shimsberry went back Friday and what was still worse, went to a dance Friday night. I promised her I would only stay a short time but I forgot and danced the whole evening. And last night I went down to Mt. Vernon & wandered around in the cold and as a result feel the consequences today. I'm all set for your advice - I've been stuffed full of it all ready. But it's like pulling tacks to keep me in. I'm just real disappointed this week. It seemed almost like spring several days ago and now it has turned as cold as it has been any day this winter. I'm just simply dying for spring to come. I always have hated winter but I never wanted spring to come as badly as I have this last month. It is exactly twelve more weeks until school will be out and they are going to be such busy weeks that they will fly like everything. My basketball girls are having a game next Friday & they want a week of good heavy practicing. The Juniors and Seniors each have a play afoot. THe "owl" staf is beginning work on the commencement number of their book and commencement week is beginning to loom up with its problems. The board of Education kindly did away with orations this year much to my delight for as I have the Senior English all that monotony fell to my lot.

I thought I would write you a nice long letter but honestly I don't feel like I can write another work (sic) so I am going to stop. I don't know as I meant you to take my advice about reducing as literally as you seem to have done. Good by. Sincerely, Marian

March 18, 1920 Fredricktown, Ohio - Mr. AM Cowan - Washington & Spring St, Crawfordsville, Ind (jail address)

Dear A.M. - Wednesday - I'm returning good for evil - turning the other cheek, but please remember that I only have two. I was getting awfully worried about your neglect of me - had visions of some other girl dangling your heart on her string or of that one hundred nine pounds all sick with the flu. And here you were only peeved at me. I'm awfully sorry -- I didn't realize that it had been so long. You'll just have to forgive me, Andy, for I can't help it. When I do write letters I just put duty behind me to do it. Right now I have at least six sets of papers stacked up here for grading not to mention lessons to prepare. And last night I had not quite five hours sleep. I know I do things & go places which I could give up but it isn't my nature. Tonight I am missing a High School party just because I can't see the time. And if you want to punish me go ahead - I guess maybe I can stand it amidst all my other troubles. Life's sort of a hard old place, isn't it? You get lots of knocks and bumps that you don't deserve. I feel sort of blue and still I don't know why. Everything has been going beautifully and I just got a nice letter from you & you dont love someone else. But somehow I don't feel righ t- the world seems sort of empty. Did you ever feel that way. I believ eyou must have been afflicted in some way when you wrote for you said some awfully queer things. Why should you say that you liked to hear from me even if I dind't like to hear from you. I don't see why you should say that. It makes me feel bad for I feel so much as if I've done something to hurt you. Isn't it funny that it's the people who like each other best that hurt each other most. And it hurts most because it comes from someone we expect to shield us from troubles. Most loves I guess are selfish loves but still self-preservation is the first law of nature.

Anyway, to change the subject, you (sic) letter was an awfully nice one, appreciated all the more. I suppose because of scarcity. But I don't deserve a very long punishment this time, A.M.

Now I am going to change the subject. Yes I am still thinking very seriously of going to Akron and even more so if you are going. I have been sort of holding back because I hated to go alone for I've heard so many wild tales about the place. But if you're going to be there to sort of take care of me I certainly will be there. I think I told you, that I had a place to stay, didn't I? That helps matters quite a little. You know it would be terrible not to know anyone for I probably wouldn't dare be out at night alone & that would mean that I'd have to stay in. I do know several fellows up there with whom I have had a few dates who might still take care of me but I'd lots rather it were you. And I do soft of want to get acqauainted with you sometime. I think I'll write to the Goodyear soon. I certainly am anxious to get away from teaching. I'm sick of it absolutely. And it gets worse every day. When spring comes there'll be no living for I never could work in school in the spring and teaching will be even worse. I'll be so glad when it's all over - only I will hate to leave Frederick for I like some of the people here awfully well. Mr. Davis, the superintendent asked me yesterday whether I would come back next year and I gave him a rather indefinite answer, I hope I like Akron too well to teach anymore.

I was in Columbus over the last week end Dorothy Wayne & I went down to see "Hamlet" and to shop. I'm all decked out in a new suit. You should see me. That reminds me - a bunch of us took some pictures last Sunday & if any are good I'll send ou some. I have one, one of my school girls took which isn't so bad. I guess I'll put it in, maybe you might like to have it. I think I had better get to work. Be good - Yours, Marian .. PS Pardon the variety in stationary.

Easter - Dear Andy, Everybody has gone & I'll have a few minutes breathing space. We celebrated a third wedding anniversary here today & had lots of company. By the way I guess I told you that Ruth went home to get married. It really happened too. I had an announcement a week or two ago and she is "at home" in Chicago. I'd love to go up to see her & if I ever get as far as Crawfordsville, Ind I surely will.

I believe you were a little blue when you wrote your last letter. I wouldn't think with all the work you have that you'd ever have time to feel that way. You can just bet that everybody is looking out for themselves. I believe that even when I'm not a bit down on the world. And the person who isn't is very likely to get left. I'll admit quite frankly that I am for I havne't anyone else to look out for me and I'm ready to get out of this old world whatever I can. There's lots of ideas as to the means of doing that & I'm not going to philosphize. But don't be saying "Eventually, why not now" already.

Congratulations to old Wabash for her achievements along oratorical and basketball lines. This is of course dropping down a peg or tive (?) but my girls are as important to me as your college is to you - my baksetball girls played and won their last game Friday at Centerburg. I feel pretty proud of them - they haven't lost a game this year. However I certainly am glad basketball is over - it took entirely too much of my time. We're trying now to get a couple of tennis courts made but this rainy weather is queering everything.

You don't need any assistants out there in your registrars offices, do you. I'm on the trail of something to do this summer besides rusticating in Wellsville. Mr. Wagner says I must stay here to take Bertha's place while she is away this summer. I'd like to if I had something to do.

This has been a busy week - I don't think I've been asleep before twelve or one any night all week unless it was Monday. Did you have an Easter vacation? We didn't but quite a few of the teachers went home. Bertha & I were in Delaware two weeks ago to the State High School Basketball tournament. It doesn't seem possible that I have been graduated two years this spring. I don't feel like it. We stopped in Columbus Friday & saw the "Bird of Paradise." Sure would like to be down there this week for the "Follies." I guess I'll have to hunt a school nearer Columbus next year for I break myself up getting there now. Don't work too hard fo ryou know I'd hate to have the daisies frost-bitten. Sincerely, Merry Ann

April 6, 1920 Fredricktown, Ohio - Mr. AM Cowan - Washington & Spring St, Crawfordsville, Ind (jail address)

Dear A.M., I just bought myself a new pen so I have to use it. Of course that isn't the only reason. Isn't this weather terrible. It seems as cold here as any day we had last winter. I suppose it's the contrast but I nearly freeze everytime I look out. I don't see why it can't stay warm when it gets warm - it's terribley disappointing to get white clothes out then have to put on furs & dark blues again.

You should have seen me for the last two nights - I've been driving a car. Before Friday I never even had both hands on the wheel & Friday I went so far as to try the whole business all my own self. And last night I drove again for quite a long time - and I'm awfully crazy about it. Just enough to make me want a car like everything. I think I'll have to get mother interest - if I'd get one tho, I'd have to stay at home and that doesn't appeal to me at all. I have a date tonighnt with a fellow who has a Hudson and I think maybe he'll let me drive if I want to. He's reckless enough himself not to car whether I run into the ditch or not. But I suppose maybe it's too cold - that's what makes me mad.

Are you having your spring vacation - I know now that your not for I remember you said last time that you were having a glorious time during your facation drinking sugar water beer. That reminds me - I had some of that last Friday night & I never had heard of it until you mentioned it but Friday I was with a fellow who lives in the country & we went to get curtains for the car as it got cold and so I got some beer - it was sort of good - I liked that tingly taste.

I have sent in my application to the Goodrich Rubber Co. I'm afraid I don't know enough about office work to get anything but there's nothing like trying. Where are you expecting to work. I am sending in an application to the Miller too as Mr. Lewis worked there & thinks that's where I should apply. But I'll be awfully disappointed if I don't get to go for I can't imagine Wellsville for three whole months.

I just got a letter from a fellow the other day from Akron who says he's planning on some dances with me this summer. You see what's going to happy if you don't learn to dance - and this fellow is the classist little dancer I've dance with for a long time. I was at a dance Thursday night & I haven't had as good a time for ages. So many people were home from school for the Easter vacation.

I suppose you get tired hearing about these Fredericktown dances but they're sort of events here, you know and there's nothing much else to write about except school and that wouldn't be interesting at all.

I suppose you won't take your little touring trip west this summer if you go to Akron, will you?

Well, A.M., I'm awfully glad you're so sensible about my last letter. I can't see things any other way at present. You mustn't let me waste too much of your time - of course don't forget me - but you know what I mean. And if everything turns out all right we'll see each other this summer. I'll have to stop and get dressed so good by. Always the same, Marian

Wellsville June 12, Thursday 9:00 p.m.

Dear Andy, Didn't I tell you I was going to write & write to you this summer. This proves it for here I am writing before I have even heard from you. But I am of a more forgiving nature than you? I know you are busy & I'll overlook the omission. Besides I have nothing much to do. Before long I may be unable to write. That's merely a suppositiong & I hope not a possibility. My sister is upstairs with the scarlet fever, at least that's what we think it is. Our old family doctor has retired, but we persuaded him to come down because we knew he would tell us the truth & not quarintine us unless absolutely necessary My sister isn't terrible sick but she has a high fever, a bad throat an alarming rash, which I suppose you know are accusing symptoms. And I think she is frightened which is an important factor - so are all the rest of us, not so much for her as for ourselves. Her case is only a light one but they say scarlet fever goes alternately light & heavy. I think one thing that is trouble sis most is a fellow. Mother has never let her have dates until lately & a fellow has been taking her to a show two or three times a week. She had to break a date last night which I think troubled her. You know dates are terribly important things when you're just beginning to experience the thrills. I'm terrible don't you think - I talk like an old woman. Dates still have thrills for me tho, if they happen to be with the right person. Which is rather seldom, don't you think? Here I am raving again when I told you not very long ago that I didn't even know who the right person was. Do you know, Andy, I just have to see you this summer - whether you have to see me or not! Wouldn't we have a good time? I tell you. You enlist in the aviation at state & I'll enroll for the summer session again. That isn't very satisfactory tho because those officers have too many evening engagements with you, to please me. You haven't told me yet about Akron - whether you are going or not. I got a letter from Dorothy today. She's such a will-o-the-wisp. She's thinking now of going to Cornell to summer school & of course I'm not crazy about going to Cleveland alone. She isn't at all sure about going tho & said she'd let me know as soon as she heard from her home. So here I am still undecided. I only know two things. I hate the idea of staying in Wellsville all summer & am all set to go any place where I can have a good time & find enough work to keep me from starving. Secondly, I'd like to be someplace where I can see you. Now if you can see the solution, let me know. The only thing I see is for you to get a job with the railroad strike - breakers over here. The town is over-run with them. They certainly are a tough-looking lot - not meaning that you are in their class or anything like that. Set that good brain of yours working & as soon as it's going on high get a pen & some stationary & set your hand working, that I may know the results of your labor.

I'm awfully tired & when I'm tired I get nonsensical, so I'd better close before I any worse. I have to work so hard when my sister isn't able. I had to do the dishes three times today & I just know that's the reason I'm so tired. We had company for two meals too & that made jus that many more. It's awful not to have a job. You have to wash dishes & iron (I ironed yesterday) & do most everything when you don't have one. I think I'll go in search of one tomorrow. I told you I would get worse.

If you don't hear from me anymore send some carnations & shed a few tears & always carry my picture nearest your heart. Foolishly Marian

June 23 - Dear A.M. This is Wednesday morning & I just received your letter. As I'm terribly busy & can't go uptown to the telegraph office at present, I'm taking a chance that htis will reach you tomorrow. Everything is all right here as far as scarlet fever is concerned. Esther has been up for ten days & is perfectly well.

I would like to have you come before you go to Akron but if it doesn't make any difference I'd prefer you'd come Friday instead of Thursday. Mother & I are still cleaning house & it will take us today & tomorrow to get straightened up. I will be looking for you Friday & Thursday too in case Friday doesn't suit your Akron arrangements. Be sure and get off at Wellsville Shops not Wellsville. Hastily me

July 5 -- Dear A.M. You'll pardon the shortness of this for I feel in advance that it's going to be short. I don't feel inspired to write but felt that I should take advantage of this opportunity.

It's too bad that your plans at Akron fell thru. I got a letter from Dorothy several days ago with a plea to go somewhere or anywhere with her. Something may happen to us yet.

Yesterday a card came to me from South Bend Ind. from a girl who used to live here & who has been in California for the last several years. She's in school at Notre Dame & I surely would love to be there to see her. Yu might run up. I hope yur family were all pleased at your early & safe return. Good day. I'll write more some other time. Just me

Wellsville, July 10 - Dear Farmer, I'm tryhing to write this out on the porch by the street light but I suppose I had better go in as you probably wouldn't approve of me straining my eye.

...I'm in, but this is the next night. I stopped writing but no one was around so I curled up in the swing & dreamed (partly day & partly night dreams)until Miller & Esther came home from Liverpool & distrubed them. By that time I was too sleepy to write any more. As far as that is concerned this may be continued tomorrow night. Esther, Max & I planned to go to bed realy early so we could get up early in the morning and play tennis. This morning we intended doing at six, mother came in & said, "Marian, don't you want to get up." I was so sleepy I couldn't think of any possible reason why I should want to get up so I turned over & went back to sleep. As a result we didn't get to the court until eight bells, when the sun was up nice & high & hot. You should see us; my face is scarlet, I think the skin will peal off my nose. No wonder, we played up there straight from eight to twelve.

Sis & Max are just learning & are quite taken up with the game. I could hardly get them away. Yes we have been in swimming several times but not at the park. I havne't been over there since the Sunday we were there. I was in the river on the Fourth & scared myself stiff. The dam was open & the current terribly strong. I walked out to the end of the raft & dived off down until stream, not realizing the current was any more swift than usual. THe dive put me down stream a litlte & it was all I could do to get back for it was almost impossible to make any headway against the current. Of course it wasn't very serious, but I was scared. There's a plan on foot now to have a picnic either Sunday or Tuesday. The boys want to go to Beaver & the girls to the park as the swimming won't be so dangerous. And mother doesn't want to go on Sunday, which is the only time the fellows can go; and Mary McSweeney (Walter's girl) wants to invite a girl that Esther doesn't want along & between all the difficulties I have an idea there'll be no picnic. This is a terrible place to have anything; there are little bunches & you can't get them to mix on a bet.

Pretty soon this will be a regular history - all the news items of the family. If I've omitted anything let me know. Miller & Kelley were down Sunday & Monday nights (is that news?) Esther & Miller were at the show last night; Walter & Mary Mc are there tonight & the Invincible Four (Max & Kelley and Sis & Miller) are bound there for tomorrow night.

I guess I haven't mentioned Billy - he made me play checkers with him all evening because it rained & he couldn't go outside. I think I had better stop this rambling or you might be sorry you met this family of mine.

You didn't tell me what your mother said about you when you went back home so soon & without a wife. Good night, Marian

July 28 - Dear A.M. C. -- It's been sort of a long time since I have written, hasn't it, old man. BUt last week I didn't care if I never wrote a letter. Sometimes I hate the sight of a pen, so I just waited until the spell passed over & I got some inspiration. I suppose tho that you've been so busy out there in the hay fields that you never missed my letters. Now don't say that you didn't for it might make me feel bad & I know you wouldn't do that for anything. Do you know, A.M., that I wrote you the biggest, fattest letter just las tnight but I"m not going to send it. Couldn't you just kill me for telling you but I couldn't resis. I have been thinking ever since you've been here instead of writing & last night I sat down & wrote four folders full of some of those thoughts. But you know a woman's thoughts are supposed to be capable of changing over night & mine did. So you'll be minus four folders & some of my precious thoughts. I'll tell you what it was all about but don't ever ask me what it was for I wn't ever tell. I told you just why I liked you & why I didn't Wouldn't that be exciting! That statement sounds rather contradictory but I guess you know what I mean. Did you ever have truth parties. We used to have them at school & altho they were sometimes harmful to a person's pride, we enjoyed them anyway. I guess they knocked some of the conceit out of us & above all things I hate this self-asserting, let-me-talk coceit just as much as I admire quiet, dignified pride.

I have an invitation from Dorothy to visit her for aw hile in Mansfield. I'm awfully crazy to go but I'm not sure whether I will or not. This town wears worse on my nerves every day, so I'm crazy to get away. All I do is swim & play tennis & do you know that when they formally opened the new playgrounds they even came down and asked me to enter one of the exhibition tennis matches for the evening. I guess they didn't know very much about my playing or they wouldn't have made such a mistake. I have been teaching Max & Sis to play.

You should have been here last Wednesday to have helped me cook - you're such valuable aid. I had a little eleven o'clock dinner for Sis & Miller, Max & Kelley & Walter & his girl. It was lots of fun - more fun getting it than eating it, I think. I'll tell you my menu. First COurse - fruit cocktail. Second C - Meat Loaf, Potato Nester, Cucumber Salad in Tomato Cups - Corn a la casserole. Third Course - Spanish Cream Devils Food (assume cake - only says Devil's food), Coffee. My color scheme was yellow & white & I sent Sis & Max out for yellow daisies & they came back with some queer-looking yellow buttercups or at least some kind of a yellow flower. I guess maybe they knew the difference - I'm not sure.

I believe you need some help out there with all those acres of hay or straw or whatever it was. Don't you want me to send Billy - he likes the country even if I don't only he likes Mamma along at night. Goodnight. Sincerely Marian

Saturday Oct 4, Ferdricktown, Ohio - Mr. AM Cowan, Washington & Spring St, Crawfordsville - Dear Cowan, I've just been sitting around doing nothing all morning but watch Puss & Mrs. Wagner clean chickens & make meat loaf, so I decided I'd stop killing time. I just was finished reading a letter from Linville Le Saye. She said Ruth was back at State this year & having a fine time. I probably will hear from Ruth in due course of time.

I'm glad to hear that school is going so well. I hope you make the regular team & everything else you want to make, but don't get hurt. One of the boys I helped graduate from High School last year came back from Dennison U. yesterday where he had made Fresh football squad & the Phi Delt frat. He took me to a dance here last night & invited me down to Dennison for the Thanksgiving frat dances. He's the right kind of a pupil don't you think.

You seem to be interested in Mr. Fiher (Fiber?)). He left Wellsville just a couple of days after we saw him. He never does spend more than a week there at most. Wellsville impresses us both the same way only the fellow has the advantage when it comes to action.

I got a letter from Esther a day or two ago. She says that she & Miller had a free for all scrap & they're all mad. I expect mamma thinks it happened very opportunely for studies otherwise would probably have suffered.

I'm still enjoying myself altho things have quieted down since the younger crowd have left for school. I was at a card party Wednesday with a man from Annapolis Naval Academy. His siter was entertaining for him & another man friend ANA in a farewell party. Had a good time - got five punchs in my tally card out of eight progressions. Wasn't so bad for me was it.

Dinner is just about ready so I'll have to close. I didn't wait so long this time, did I. Be good, the same Marian

Fredericktown, Ohio Nov 2, 1920 - Monday Eve - Dear A.M. - I intended writing ages ago to tell you how sorry I was about your sprained ankle but I suppose it is all well now & condolences would fall flat. I try to watch for Wabash football news but some way or other I miss it. Did you win at Chicago? All my interest at present is centere on our State winning the conference I was at Columbus this last week and I went with the crowd to get the returns from the Chicago State game. The crowd just broke loose when the seven score came in for OSU. I'll never get over it if I miss the Michigan - State game next weekend. Of course tickets are all sold & the only way to get one is to pay a fortune for it. I have a bid to a frat dinner-dance at the Virginia next Saturday & the man who is taking me is trying to conjure up a ticket for me. I'm praying he succeeds. It's going to be one great game for that week-end is tate home-coming. I think if I can't get in I'll have to find a knot-hole in the fence. Then Sunday Ruth & I are going up to Wesleyan. It's home-coming week-end up there too.

I guess I told you I was there this last week-end with Ruth & had a large time. I, at last, found my way into the forbidden barracks. Went to a dance there last Friday night but can't say very much for the place as a dance hall. The floor's too hard & rough. You aviators wer ehard on it. That makes me think - we had a plane here a week or two ago taking passengers up. I was crazy to go but had too many other things to spend ten dollars for. That should be a chance to "get rich quick, A.M. or are your ambitions higher."

Something else I mustn't forget to tell you. You rmemeber my mentioning the engaged man I had dates with last winter. He's went & did it several weeks ago. Sad, isn't it! I just received an invitation this morning to open-house at their home Wednesday afternoon & evening. Then after the reception there's an RR club dance.

Please excuse this scrawl but I'm too tired to know much & I'm going to go to sleep the minute I finish. Haven't had a real sleep for the last four nights. What I should take a notion to invite myself to Indiana over our Thanksgiving vacation. I'm not sure that I could come, but I just happened to think of it. Would you still like to have me come? Tell me the truth. Esther wants me to stay here so she can come over to see me & Fredericktown. If it weren't so short a time after that until Christmas I wouldn't hesitate to go home but it's hardly worth while when Christmas vacation begins so shortly after. Some more news. Ruth is engaged again to a man from her home. It's a terrible case at present. I hope it lasts but Ruth is pretty changeable. Goodnight Merry Ann

Mr. A.M. Cowan, Washington & Spring St, Crawfordsville, Ind - Fredericktown, Ohio Nov 13, 6 p.m. 1920 Thursday - Dear A.M.C. This is going to be not much more than a note for I'm so tired. I really havne't had a good sleep for ages. For the last two weekends I have been in Columbus. Two weeks ago I got to leave Thursday night (maybe I told you but I've forgotten ) but last Friday I had to stay here & referee a girl's basketball game so couldn't leave until Saturday. I got to see the State - Michigan game. I was hoping & praying I'd get to see it & for once my wish came true. It surely was a great game. I only wish I could see the State - Illinois game especially if it gives OSU the Western Conference championship. But I know it's useless to wish. I went down to Columbus for a frat dance at the VirginiaSaturday night & didn't get back until Monday noon. Last night & the night before Wagners had two dinner parties - Tuesday night a dinner & musical program & last night, dinner & cards. Tonight's sleepiness is the result. And tomorrow I take my b.b. girls to Danville for an afternoon game & then am due back here in time for a dance. To come to the point, I'm sorry to change my mind so often but I can't come to Crawfordsville. Just received word that Esther has been terribly sick with typhoid fever & a temperature at a hundred & six. I can hardly wait for these next two weeks to pass so I can get home. I'm sorry. I hope nothing more prevents you getting your letter in football. Sincerely Marian

Fredericktown Dec 6 - Saturday, Dear A.M. I'm in a writing mood tonight & it's about time I acquired that mood. I owe everybody from 'a' to 'z' except you, I guess so I'll just pretend that I owe you a letter too for the sake of making the record complete. I have already written five - am trying to write all I owe & ever one I don't owe. It's dreadful outside - raining & blowing like hoary winter himself, & I'm here all alone listening to all the creaks & rattlings and have managed to keep brave this long - there's Puss now. She tapped on the window & tried to scare me. And by now she's reached the kitchen &* has fed Homer & me some grape wine so if this letter is incoherent you'll know it went to my head. I think it has gone to theirs already for they're out there laughing like two "its." Do you know I've been home & I was never so anxious to get any place in my life. Do you know I've been absolutely homesick. And this board of education had the nerve last night to vote us only one week vacation. We have to teach up to the Friday before Christmas & I won't get home until Christmas Eve. Don't you think that's mean - I think it's perfectly horrid. Do you know I've been a little worried about you.The last time you wrote you had a sprained ankle & evidently a firm determination to play in all the rest of the football games this season - and that was November the ninth & this is December the fourth. Has something happenedd to you. Don't get yourself all broken up for the sake of a letter (meaning a football letter). If you want to relieve my fears you'll write in a terrible hurry and tell me you're still alive.

Did I tell you that my sister has been terribly sick. This is her eight week out of school & when I was home Thanksgiving I never saw anyone so thin in my life. Mother certainly was worried for a while for her fever was a hundred and six and mother said one night she actually thought she had stopped breathing. She was getting along beautifully when I left & I imagine will probably start to school Monday .... This is Sunday & I've been both to Sunday School and church. DON't you think I'm good - I go to Sunday School amost every Sunday I'm here & they're even trying to get a bunch of us roped into the choir. I'm afraid however that they won't succeed for they have a couple of impossibles who never fail to punish the congregation with bawling. And in addition an organ that squeeks. Well A.M. supper's about ready & I'll have to close. I hope you got your letter but, if you din't stick to it you'd might as well try again. Next year is your last year, isn't it? What are you going to do then - farm or go somewhere else?

I think I'll go to Columbus next weekend; Robert Mantell is there all this week and on Friday night appears in Macbeth. I hope I get to see it. This place here is beginning to wear on my nerves - I'm beginning to seize every available opportunity to get awy. Wright to me, Marian

Wellsville, Ohio Dec 20, 1920 (post mark but she must still be in Fredericktown when writing it)

- Mr. AM Cowan, Washington & Spring Street, Crawfordsville, Ind - Dear A.M.C. - I don't know when I'll get another chance to write if I don't do it now so here goes even altho aobut thirty five papers are lying here to be graded yet this evening. Tomorrow night Mr. & Mrs. Wagner are to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary & Friday night the HS hav their play & a dance. Ruth wants me to come down there Friday to see the musical comedy "Mary" but I don't just see how I can. The board are having a meeting tonight to decide when our vacation begins - if it begins Saturday I'll sail away home & if it doens't begin until Friday of next week I can see a busy week for me in attempting to buy where nothing pleases me. Talk about busy weeks last week took the cake. I had to get my basketball girls ready for a game Fri. So I had basketball practice Monday and Wednesday nights. Tuesday I took a party of six of my Seniors to Columbus to see Mantell play in Hamlet & didn't get back until Wednesday noon. Thursday night I was at a card party until one bells. Friday, three of us went back to Columbus to see Macbeth two more joined us Saturday mornig & we wore the Columbus Streets threadbare & well as our pocketbooks. Everybody came back here Saturday evening except me. I stayed with Ruth Saturday & Sunday & roamed in here Monday noon. Ruth surely is one girl. I guess I told you she is engaged to a man at home & it surely is a bad case. She says all she is doing now is grooming the third finger of her left hand. She is to get her diamond this Christmas & thinks she will be married shortly after her graduation this spring. Can you imagine!

Yes, Esther is much better & has started back to school but I had a letter today from home & Billy has it with a fever of a hundred & six. The doctor here thinks I should be vaccinated before I go home again but I feel like taking the chance. Poor Billy won't have a very merry Xmas. I'm sorry I can't come over and give you the opportunity to prove your statement about those wonderful feeds. Not that I doubt your word at all - but you see how I'll be needed at home. I expect I'll be elected cook. I was Thankgiving & had the best time cooking pretty things. That's my chief failing - the looks means more to me than the taste & my hobby is salads.

Well, A.M. I'm sorry about all your foot ball troubles. For the love of all the elements don't get any gold teeth. I'll never write to you again if you do. I must close - I'm terribly sleepy. Have a real, real Merry Christmas. Sincerely Me

Dec 31 Wellsville, Ohio - Dear A.M.C I feel like writing you a real letter - are you glad or sorry? I think it has been a long time since I really have written anything but a mere chronicle of events. I think I've almost forgotten how to write anything else or even talk anything else for I have so gotten into the habit of swallowing my thoughts & feelings tha tit has become a habit. When I think of all the things that have happened to me that I never have told to a single solitary soul in this wide, wide world I wonder how girls ever got the name of telling everything they knew. I think I had just as close friends at school as anyone ever did but somehow ? has ever cut very far below the surface. Not that anything very scandalous happened to me ever but - well I guess there's just two "mes." The one you see & the other one. I'm mostly the latter tonight.

Do you know that washing dishes gives one the best opportunity to think. I believe if housekeepers just had the opportunity to express themselves they would ahve something worth saying. I just finished washing the dishes & I thought so hard I can't remember whether I washed the pans or the cut glass first. You see it's evident that I don't do dishes very often but it's really lack of opportunity more than anything else. Maybe, judging from the results it's a good thing I don't have the opportunity very often.

First, let me say A.M. that I hope you didn't think I forgot all about your Christmas for I didn't at all. Secondly I'm glad for the manner in which you showed me that at least I had a little place somewhere in your memory. When fellows are in school, I know what happens - I have a brother there. You remember Kelley - he got Max a cameo ring for Christmas & has to stay out of school next semester & work in order to be able to go back next year.

And, thirdly, A.M., I hope tha tyou & I aren't going to drop each other. I see no reason why we should unless you wish it that way. Really I appreciate our friendship as I do no one else and I'd be dreadfully sorry if anything should happen to it in more than sorry. I'd feel lost. What you suggested last summer is as impossible now as it was then for me and, I think for you as well. I expect you think I'm funny, Andy & I guess I am. Something is dreadfully the matter with me - I can't decide what it is. I wish you could discover for me. I neve rhave been so utterly discontented in all my life as I have this last year. There's no use bluffing myself any longer I'm absolutely unhappy. If I didn't keep myself so busy in Fredericktown that I don't have time to stop, I'd die. I keep going & going & that keeps the feeling down. When I'm there I'm homesick & when I'm here I'm - something, I don't know what to call it. Do you know any remedy? Wagners are thinking about going to California to live as soon as Puss is thur HS (that is in one more year) & they say they are going to take me along. I don't know whether it would help any or not. I guess the chief trouble with me is that I don't have any idea what I want to do & as a result I'm restless. One of these days maybe I'll discover & then watch me. And right now I'm going to sleep. Write to me, please. Sincerely, Marian

6 Feb 1921 Fredericktown, Ohio Saturday - Dear Cowan - That certainly was a nice big fat letter you wrote me. I won't guarantee that this will be quite as weighty a letter because if I don't get to bed pretty soon I'll never have the strength of will to get up for church tomorrow. I have been playing five-hundred all evening and am the only one here who is not peacefully sleeping. I don't believe I slept more than two hours last night. My basketball girls played the heaviest game yet last night and I was so anxious for them to win it. They havne't lost a game this season. It was a fight but we won thirty to twnety one. I was so excited and tired too (for we had a dance afterward) that I couldn't get to sleep. I don't believe however that I'll have any trouble tonight. But if I don't write to you now you'll probably not have one from me for a whole week. Tomorrow, I'm invitied out for dinner & I probably won't have two minutes to myself the whole day and next week looks like a busy one. Wednesday I'm going to a Knight Templar Banquet and dance in Mt. Vernon and probably won't get back here until sometime betwen three-thirty and four thirty. You should have seen me all "diked' out a couple of minutes ago in "all my glory." That reminds me. I guess I havne't written to you since I was in Columbus last. I was there two weeks ago. Ruth is preparing to be married early in APril & doesn't intend finishing school. She only has this next semester to go but intends to give i up unless her mother creates too much opposition. Ruth went home today & I expect a letter early next week wtih all the details. If she's married in Columbus I expect to be there - otherwise Huntington will be too far away for me. I guess her "to be" is a very nice fellow. I've never met him but I certainly have heard a lot about him. The teacher here who was married Christmas sent in her resignation today. I don't know what we'll do without her, for none of us can take any of her classes.

Andy, I'm just too sleep to write a word more. If I have time to finish this before Monday I will. Otherwise I know you won't mind if I stop right now. Good night, Marian

Mr. A.M Cowan, Washington & Spring St, Crawfordsville, Indiana Feb 26, 1920 (postmarked Fredericktown O) - Sunday

Dear A.M.C. I think you are a very busy man. First thing you know you'll be president of Wabash or be elected to the chair of philosophy or something else as terrible. Are you still assistant sheriff too? I believe you'd better let downa notch or two or first hting you know you'll be "pushing up the daisies." You didn't look just like a corpse the last time I saw you.

It's a good thing this isn't football season, isn't it? How's the play coming along? Didn't you mention having a role in one. How's it come you carry so much work Andy? What's the idea of twenty hours. Do you still have work to make up or does Wabash have so many desirable course that you have to overload ourself.

I am thinking just a little of going to school this summer - just for something to do. P. Schamles my roommate wrote & asked me if I would consider going & I said I would if I couldn't find anything else to do. I'll never spend this summer in Wellsville. Did I tell you that I'm taking typewriting & hope there's lots of work for steneographers this summer. I've got to do something - can't keep still two minutes at a time. I received a letter from Lucille LeLage Friday. She says she's going to Arizona next winter to teach & wants to know if I wouldn't consider going along. At present I don't think so. Pretty soon I'll be like a fellow in Mt. Vernon - always talking about some wild journey that never happens. ? was up here for a few minutes this afternoon - at present he's waiting for his passports to Edinburgh Scotland. It will be a sujrprise to me if he ever gets there or even gets out of Ohio. Dorotha & I are going to Delaware in two weeks. Wesleyan is having its annual basketball tournament these three weeks and Mt. Vernon is one of the two towns from the Northern Division to return to the finals on the twelfth. Dorothy wants to go for them & I'm anxious to go just to see old Wesleyan again.

Ruth has left Ohio SU and is getting ready for an April wedding. Browns, Ruth's aunt & Uncle with whom she stayed in Columbus are South for these late winter months (more appropriately called early SPring months) so I havne't been in the fair city for quite awhile. I was down for just an evening to hear Tosconini & his Italian orchestra.

It's might nice of you to ask me over for your commencement week - I don't mean "yours" but your college and I'd love to come but I couldn't tell you now whether it would be possible or not. But I won't forget about it and I'll tell you later whether I can come.

I mustn't forget to tell you that my cousin (you remember the girl at our house while you were there) is wearing a nice big diamon on her left hand. So you thougth I might's have time to answer your letter did you? I don't see what would make you think that. Don't work too hard..... Sincerely, Marian

THIS IS THE LAST Of the many letters from (not but one I think) and to (lots) Andrew Merle Cowan while he was in the service and at Wabash College. - thanks so much to his son, John who shared them with us - transcribed by kbz



The website management appreciates all the contributions provided for use here. When using something from this site PLEASE use the following citation as your source :) THANKS MUCHES - kbz

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Data contained within this website may only be used with permission of the copyright holder(s), for non-commercial research and educational activities, and for personal genealogical information. © 2017... ++++ by Karen Zach, and licensed to the Indiana GenWeb (INGenWeb) Project and The USGenWeb Project. May be used in personal research with a citation.

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12 October 2012