Peabody Singing Tower

 NORTH MANCHESTER HISTORICAL SOCIETY
 North Manchester, Indiana

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Source: NMHS Newsletter Aug 2006

Letter of Memories

A letter from Bertha Stine to her sister, Ida Winger (Mrs. Otho) dated July 15, 1936 loaned by William and Eloise Eberly)

My dear sister.-- Wouldn't it be pleasant this morning if we could board a fine modern airoplane and sail off to some nice, cool country where we could be young again, and strong and well and disillusioned? Since we cannot do that, how would it be if we could enter a comfortable little cage, press a button, turn a wheel and take a trip into the future where we could see the world as it will be in the time of our children and grand-children and great-grand-children? Well, since that, too, is impractical, I know what we can do. "Let's take a trip in Memory's ship, back to the by-gone days", when "you and I were young." Agreed? Ready? Then here we go. - - -

First stop. An old, unpainted frame house on a hill, furnished very simply but comfortable, tho it has no modern conveniences. A young mother goes about her many tasks and leaves the dinner dishes for her two little girls to wash on the shaded porch. Long before the task is done the little girls drift off into an imaginary country of their own, the dishes are forgotten and "Kittie" and "Flossie" are encountering grand adventures of their own under the old crab-apple tree in the orchard. Even on Memory's ship we cannot recapture all the thrill and the romance that lived in the old orchard.

Next stop. A hot afternoon by a shady creek in the woods. The old swimming hole resounds with chatter and laughter and care-free gaity as five little girls splash and float and dream the hot hours away. We can see them in memory, but here again, the beautiful fancies, the fairy-like dreams of a future that could never exist in a world like this, we can now but vaguely recall.

Next stop. A sandy country road, a shining summer sun that burns and blisters the men toiling in the hay and harvest field. Blithely tripping barefooted through the sand we see again the five girls as yet untouched by sin or care or sorrow. Their heads are decked with big pasteboard sun hats gaily trimmed with long streamers of paper ribbons and their shoulders shaded by capes make of dock and horseradish leaves. Where are they going? What will they do when they get there? Of what are they so happily chattering? Oh, Memory, you may carry us back for a moment but you cannot re-capture for us the joyous spirit that animated us in those happy days.

Another stop. At grand-mother Miller's home by Long Lake. As an unexpected favor we had been permitted to walk the three miles to that place and told that we might stay over night. Grandfather getting bait ready to take us fishing when in the evening Pa came driving over in the old spring wagon and said there was a new baby boy at our house. How our hearts leaped with joy and almost doubt. How slow the old horse travelled on the way home. Do you remember?

Again. New neighbors had moved near us and they had a girl nearly our age. They were not "Brethren" people and Myrtle had a flounce on her dress. How we begged for dresses with flounces too until finally Ma agreed to make us each one. She made the gathers so very scant they could scarcely be detected by critical church members, but what cared we? They were flounces and we walked on top of the world. Remember?

Last stop. At the old school house. Everyone dressed in Sunday best and acting as unlike everyday school children as we could, for it was "The Last Day of School." We loved school and we loved our mates and our teacher, Mr. Ward, who was not returning next year. On this account this last day was for some of us a day that marked for us the very end of everything. We shed tears openly. We gave him a present of a fountain pen bought with money begged from unwilling parents. The big dinner but partly assuaged our sorrow. The day ended. The old school house door was closed. Childhood was over.

Smash! Slap! Bang! The ship has vanished and I hear only the banging of screen doors and the swatting of flies as the hired girl performs her arduous duties in the kitchen. I am no longer the care free "Flossie" of a by-gone day, but an old woman whose strength is failing and who can see more clearly in Memory than in Prophecy.

Best, Loving Wishes, always, My Little Sister. Bertha