Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 17: PMSS Publications (Published by the School)

Dear Friend Letters 1929

CONTENTS: Dear Friend Letters 1929 April

Dear Friend Letters 1929 consists of one 4-page letter that includes the following subjects:

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Letterhead listing Director, Associate Director, President of the Board, and Treasurer ; school year has been good, with fifth grade through third year of high school ; quotes student who was encouraged by Miss [Katherine] Pettit to attend school ; two plays are under way ; photographs of great-grandmother and folk-dancing ;

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assembly, meals and Sunday Chapel are only times when the School gets together as a family ; classes are at different hours to make time for the students’ industrial work ; boys’ and girls’ glee clubs ; historical characters ; photographs of mountain home and weaving room ; hoping for electric power to replace costlier and less efficient Delco ; Kentucky Utilities and neighbors are cooperating ;

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costs of the electric line, clearing of tract, and power rental ; Darwin D. Martin, board president, offered first $1000 ; school is also behind on bills ; need for more light and power and annual subscribers ; signed by Angela Melville ; postscript describes flood that damaged roads, bridges, garden ; students request rice and cocoa dinner to save money ;

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three photographs of flood ;

GALLERY: Dear Friend Letters 1929 April

TRANSCRIPTION: Dear Friend Letters 1929 April

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Miss Katherine Pettit

Miss Angela Melville

Darwin D. Martin
Marine Trust Bldg., Buffalo, N.Y.

C. N. Manning
Security Trust Co., Lexington, KY.


April, 1929.

My Dear Friend:

“The first butterfly of spring, if hit’s yaller or if hit’s blue, brings you good luck all the year through”, said the old neighbor at work in our garden. We had just seen the first one of the spring, a lovely orange yellow, flitting from the purple to the yellow crocuses which had blossomed out on the sunny, sheltered side of the house, and somehow the old superstition fell in very nicely with our spring-time hopes. Spring had really come, for, on March 13th, we had planted peas in the garden by Laurel House, the harrow drawn by Nell, our handsome work horse, and ridden by one of the boys, leaving a trail of fresh earth behind it.

Our school year has been a good one, with splendidly trained, enthusiastic teachers and a fine group of boys and girls from the fifth grade through the third year of high school. “I don’t like school but I like what it makes you bee” wrote a boy whose chances for any sort of schooling have come to him late. After telling how Miss Pettit had persuaded him four years ago to leave his work in the logging woods and come back to school, he added: “Encouragement is a great thing for young boys.”

Several plays are under way. “The Courtship of Miles Standish”, written by some of the boys and girls, was given most successfully for a Friday assembly. “Julius Caesar” has filled the upper school with fervor so great that a big boy wanted to make a coffin in the workshop so that the funeral scene might be more realistic!

[Photograph captions:
“Teaching School at 13 when ‘certificates weren’t necessary, only the knowledge'”
“Riding 16 miles at 85 to see her great-grandchildren in school at Pine Mountain”
“The joys of folk-dancing”]

Assembly on Friday is a great occasion for us. It is the only time in…

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…the week, except at meals and at Chapel on Sundays, when the school gets together as a family, as the classes must go to school at different hours, to make possible the doing of the industrial work necessary to keep things going and to permit the children to pay what they can toward their expenses. Lately we have had some lovely singing at Assembly by the boys’ and girls’ glee clubs. On one Friday we had historical characters. There had been a heavy snowfall the night before and it was a sight never to be forgotten when Daniel Boone came marching through the snowy woods, ‘coon skin cap on his head and an old flint-lock rifle over his shoulder. Paul Revere on Nell (she is a versatile creature!) dashed by the glass doors which form the back of the stage, shouting, “The British are coming!” Martha and George Washington made us realize the marvels of our Property Room when supplemented by the skill in a housemother’s needle. La Salle kept us guessing for some time, in spite of his key words, “Let us find the source of this river.”

[Photograph captions:
“A mountain home and road”
“The weaving room, where beauty grows”
“The eighth grade”]

One of the hopes of this spring-time is the bringing in of electric power. Our always over-worked Delco is now just worn out. Either we will have to reinstate it this summer at a cost of nearly $1000.00, or build a line over the mountain, two miles, from the Kentucky Utilities main line on the Cumberland River, and so get a permanent and adequate supply of power. The Company is cooperating with us and neighbors are giving the right of way. This line will give us a third more power than we have had and make it possible to put needed…

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…machinery in the shop, laundry and kitchen. The cost of the line is estimated by the Company at $3564.08, without the clearing of the tract which they estimate will cost another $750.00, making a total estimated cost of $4314.08. Rental of power will be less than the present upkeep of the Delco plant. Mr. Martin, the President of our Board of Trustees (which meets here in May) has, with his unfailing faith and friendship, offered the first $1000.00, so that leaves our need $3314.08. We ask our friends not to divert their gifts to running expenses into this channel, however, as we are $6392.70 behind on bills payable on March 31st, with all the spring and summer to live through, only one-third of the needed expenses pledged.

More light and power and more annual subscribers are our two great needs as this annual appeal goes out to you. “Encouragement is a great thing”, not only for boys. And the first butterfly was yellow!

Sincerely yours,
[signed] Angela Melville

P.S. This message is written two days after the above letter was sent to the printer. We hope he will get it in time to add it so that you may know of our disastrous flood, the worst in our history. The roads through our grounds, built up so laboriously, are washed out and some of the bridges are badly damaged. All the coal and slate dug at the coal bank — thirty wagon loads — has been swept away. Our garden is largely under water and much of the spring planting was been washed out. Boys in bathing suits are standing on the creek bank and in the creek where the current is not too swift, pushing the logs back so that they may not pile up against what remains of the bridges. Instead of a constructive program we may have to content ourselves this year with a remedial one — we cannot yet estimate the damage. As we go about our work we are thankful that things are no worse and the thought of your friendship sustains us. passing the weaving room just now, a big girl ran out to say, “Please announce at dinner that the students want to have some rice and cocoa dinners to help the school with the const of repairing all this damage.” (We save $420.00 when we have rice and cocoa dinner). So that, before the waters have abated, our first help has come to us.

[Photograph caption: “From the post office door, we see the mail wagon arrive. What has it for us?”]

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[Photograph captions:
“The creek came up over the playground”
“Trying to save the school-house bridge. It went”]