Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 17: PMSS Publications (Published by the School)
Dear Friend Letters 1925
CONTENTS: Dear Friend Letters 1925 – April 1, Pages 1-3
Dear Friend Letters 1925 consists of one 3-page letter that includes the following subjects: Letterhead listing Executive Committee and Treasurer ; twelve years since School began ; letter of appreciation from ex-student Fair Annie ; how the School helped the Ambrose and Nancy Shepherd’s family’s medical conditions ; appreciation and request for contributions ; signed Ethel de Long Zande ;
GALLERY: Dear Friend Letters 1925
TRANSCRIPTION: Dear Friend Letters 1925
Page 1 [[dear_friends_1925_04_001.jpg]
Security Trust Co.
PINE MOUNTAIN SETTLEMENT SCHOOL, INC.
PINE MOUNTAIN, HARLAN COUNTY
April 1, 1925.
My dear Friend:
It is a dozen years since Uncle William Creech, looking over the deed he had just made to the new Pine Mountain Settlement School, said, “Now, that’s fixed it; thar’s bound to be a school here now, less’n some furrin power comes and wipes this country up”. We are bewildered by the number of things we would like to tell you about this twelve-year-old school; our fine family of boys and girls, every year more loyal, our serviceable equipment, our financial struggle day by day, our children’s children, many of them named after a Pine Mountain housemother or teacher or nurse, to whom the mother writes, “I am always thanking you all for everything you have ever done for me”, — our former students, who write us of their studies, their teaching, their nursing. But we aren’t going to send you a booklet on Pine Mountain today, only sample nuggets by which you can judge our ore.
Fair Annie came to us five years ago from the headwaters of Cutshin Creek, a fifteen-year-old girl, slim, shy, absolutely untaught, but with a mind her mother describes as “sharp as a brier.” Next year she is to teach one of our county schools, a capable, ambitious young woman. At Thanksgiving time she wrote us:
“Can you realize that five years ago I entered the Pine Mountain School in Grade 1 to learn my ABC’s and multiplication tables? And now here I am in Berea College, a senior in Home Economics and a Sophomore in Academy. Who should I thank for all this? Pine Mountain, of course, its teachers and donors. Can I ever pay my school all I owe it? No. Well, what can I do to please her most? Go back to my own community and help those who have not yet had a chance to go to Pine Mountain.
Where would I have been today if I had never gone to Pine Mountain? I know where I’d be, exactly, — back on the head of Cutshin, not knowing my ABC’s, not knowing a single thing that is going on in the world today, knowing nothing whatsoever about table manners, how to act in company, and how to express my thoughts if I ever had any thoughts. But could anyone have thoughts if there was nothing to have thoughts about? Any one might enjoy the beauties of Nature without knowing much, but I never did. I didn’t know what nature was till I went to Pine Mountain and studied about it. People so seldom passed our little cabin that we would almost get scared when anyone did pass.”
Page 2 [dear_friends_1925_04_002.jpg]
Last summer Fair Annie worked at Chautauqua, and with full appreciation of her opportunities she managed to visit a former teacher in Massachusetts, to see a great deal of the Old Bay State and its colleges, and to spend a day at Niagara Falls. Not many mountain girls can make their first school as interesting as fair Annie will.
Three months ago the Shepherds moved back to our neighborhood from ten miles away, to a little house set in a hollow among the hills, with no neighbors nearer than a mile. If you could only walk the three miles with us to see them! The path runs along the top of the mountain, then down through a lovely rhododendron thicket and across a tiny clear stream not a stone’s throw from the house. If Puck wants to dabble his toes in the brown pools under the laurel bushes, he need not be shy of the little Shepherd brood that may surprise him at his good times, for they are as “strange” as he.
They were hardly settled in the midst of such unsullied beauty before the father came to us with his troubles, wearing his old blue overalls, his face like a Stuart king. This was his extremity: a one-roomed house, a wife wretchedly sick for the last three years, a sixteen-year-old boy partly crippled as the result of fever in childhood, devoting his days with rare patience to the care of the two-year-old baby, a twelve-year-old boy puny and ill because of bad tonsils and extreme malnutrition, two other little ones not big enough to do the housework, no way of giving the mother any care, and she perhaps dying to T-B.
Our nurse, after repeated visits, concluded that nothing could be done for them at home, and we got places for the mother and the twelve-year-old in Louisville hospitals. The L. and N. Railroad gave them passes, and Ambrose, who had once ridden fifty miles in a wagon, had the fearful responsibility of looking after his two sick folks on an all-night railroad trip. He came home fairly shining with gratitude for “King’s Daughters” had met them at the station and helped them to the hospitals, and then had shown Ambrose the sights of Louisville and taken him across the Ohio River to “furrin soil”. He had set foot in Indiana!
But he and Nancy both suffered cruelly in the next few weeks because they could not read or write letters for themselves. For the first time they knew what it meant to be illiterate. Poor little Josiah, too, tried to run home like a shy rabbit, and the nurses had to hide his shoes to keep him from slipping out into the city in the January weather. Again and again we wrote for Ambrose, desolated by the fear of losing his wife, and concealing the fact that everybody at home had the grippe, “Be well contented. I want your life to be a joy to you again. Don’t worry about us”. At last came the decision of “Doc Abell, the greatest man in the world”, that Nancy’s condition was due entirely to hookwork and pyorrhea. She was being cured!
Page 3 [dear_friends_1925_04_003.jpg]
In his many visits before Nancy came home, a different woman, we came to know well the gentleness of his spirit, his exquisite feeling for his wife, the struggle of his existence since his father’s death when he was seven, his own headaches and the hurting of his side, so that he hadn’t see a well day in fourteen years. But now a new day is coming to them all. Ambrose is going to Louisville to be fixed up himself, the sixteen-year-old boy is to see an orthopedic surgeon. In six more weeks Josiah can come home, able to eat like a normal child. With Mammy well, the children can go to school next winter, and Ambrose and Nancy aim to learn reading and writing themselves.
Some of them will never know how their lavish giving of themselves inspires us when we are discouraged or anxious. “I will in some unforeseen manner manage to scrimp up a little more this year, and add four dollars for your present emergency, sending my check for five dollars instead of the usual one. When I tell you that my ability to earn my own running expenses is about over, and that I am still wearing a winter coat relined in 1912, you will see that I have to count the pennies now”. Then our eight wonderful old ladies. “We are here in the Methodist Home for the Aged. Only three or four of us have any money except what friends give us, but to be faithful stewards, we feel we must give some of this for the Master’s work. I think that most of those that have given now will do so another year, but as three or four of u are over eighty, they may not be here. We send you five dollars, and pray that many may become interested that will do much more than we”.
There are many more Fair Annies and Shepherds who need Pine Mountain’s neighborliness and inspiration. “Thar’s bound to be a school here” still. Our pledged givers, those Rocks of Gibraltar, send us enough to run the school on an average of ten days each month, and the unpledged gifts are far from sufficient for the other twenty days. We are behind with the expenses of this school year nearly $7,200.00, with only enough subscribed for eight days of April.
Won’t you do like the old ladies, — pray, and also, send us a check?
Very sincerely yours,
[signed] Ethel de Long Zande
Return to DEAR FRIEND LETTERS – INDEX