Monday, May 3, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: McPherson History, Letters from Uncle Ralph, Sep, 14 & 24, 1980

Amanuensis: a person employed to take dictation or copy manuscripts.

I read about Amanuensis Monday in Heather Rojo's blog "Nutfield Genealogy," who read about it in  Randy Seaver’s blog “GeneaMusings” and he read about it on John Newmark’s genealogy blog “TransylvanianDutch”.  That said,  for me this is a great way to transcribe and post my Uncle Ralph's letters.

I am changing my plan for posting the letters that my Uncle Ralph wrote to his sisters.  I started out with his letters to his youngest sister Olive Lorraine  - mainly because I had fully transcribed each of those letters. I decided that it made more sense to post the letters to both Verna and Olive in a chronological orders, which means that I now have to do a complete transcription of the letters to Verna, rather than just the family highlights.

The following two letters, written by my Uncle Ralph to his sister Verna, has his usual daily health, weather and sports reports, as well as his views on local San Diego issues.  He also expresses his concern and worry for his dear older sister Bertha.  Bertha's is probably in the early stages of Alzhiemer's and her daughter has moved Bertha so she is closer to the daughter, Cleona.  Bertha has been placed  in Osage Manor, a nursing or retirement home, which is worrisome to Ralph. He also mentions his sisters, Olive, Betty, and Helen.  Ralph as the eldest son seemed to take on the role of a watchful brother when they were children and continued that role through out his life.


Dear Verna & Rowe,

Just sitting here & listening to the ball game so thought I'd drop a line to you also. Hot in the desert as you know mostly around 110 but has been up to 117.

The races at Del Mar are drawing record crowds this year & I guess owners like to bring there nags down here also because they have stables for 1875 horses. They had over 5000 applications They call the 5/10 set up the pick 6 – 2nd thru the 7th race 120,00 to 200,000 in the pot each day 1st day 3 winners 36,000 a piece 2nd day 1 winner 89,000 & yesterday 27 winners 89,000 a piece of course the usual numbers of consolation prizes.

Was a little worried abut Bertha with that heat wave but she said she had air conditioning so guess she will make it altho as we get older we dehydrate more. I know I do so a person has to be carful.

Wrote Helen, that should surprise her, tell Olive will write soon & not to leave Betty out I'll surprize her one day.

I see by todays paper a lot of the Dept stores have gone on shorter hours to save money as business has really dropped off & forgian banks are absorbing the banks here this last week theyve taken over 1st National & Crocker banks.

Well have to go see the Dr the 15 Aug but I feel fine in fact better then I have the last couple of years, but if that urologe clinic is making as much off the rest of the patients as me they will get wealthy. Take the 1st time in there was 1280.00, this last time was over 1700.00 pretty good pay. The Hosp wasn't behind either, they sent me a copy of there bill 138 a day for the room, 450 for the operating room so much for the recovery room & those pills about 10 a day with price of Vit C tablet @ 4.00, 2200.00 total. Good thing I'm not paying it.

Not much to write about, hope you guys are getting a lot of work done would like to of came up but couldn't this year, Say Hi to everyone,


Ralph & Sally


Dear Verna & Rowe,

Nice to get your letter & also to hear your voices. I could hear Olive real plain but Helen & yours it was a little hard to pick up especially Helen as over the phone she has a soft voice. Its hard to understand her sometimes.

Verna, no I don’t remember any of us being sick out of the ordinary except for colds s& so forth, you were sick for awhile when you first had the skin disease on your legs but here nothing serious, of course I was gone quite a bit of the time in the 1920s, but surely if you had contracted it thin it seems in 50 years time, you would of known about it. The only time we were real sick was in 1918 when the whole (before your time) family had the Spanish flu. I may of told you Sallys papst smear showed positive & also the xrays but the lab tests showed negative.

How is Rowe, I hope feeling OK guess if you had a house warming the house must be just about complete & of course with only one channel to choose from it cuts down on the football games. Had a full complmint of San Diego teames Sat and Sun. The sockers, Padres, Aztecs & Chargers were all on TV & all lost except the Chargers & it wasn't decided until overtime. You may have seen the Chargers & Aztecs they were both on reginal network TV.

It got a little chilly last nite so there is a touch of fall in the air & we haven't had any Santa Anas yet this fall.

Went to the Dr the 9th & he said everything was looking good. I won't have to go back until just before Xmas. Those scopes are not pleasant & I have to take pain pills for a week or so, but I feel a lot better & it doesn't bother to sit down, so maybe I will be able to come up next summer if everything is OK.

While I think about it, a person with TB never has a weight problem – only & always look kind of drawn out & emaciated.

Glad Helen has quit smoking. Maybe she will get to feeling better, I sure hope so, I know its hard to quit but Helen is smart enough to know whats good for her even if she doesn’t like Drs any more than I do you have to take their advice.

Guess I've said enough so better quit for this time

Love and say hi to all

Ralph & Sally


  1. Thanks for the Congratulations by the way.
    I have a couple of thoughts I'd like to express about your blog post.

    I was wondering how you got the letters.
    And I was just musing that maybe the parents said to him when his first siblings were born that it was an older brother thing to do. that's Kind of thought provoking about the times or something done today too? Not sure.

    These letters are a good find. And they sure do reflect the times.

  2. Hi Joan,
    Thanks for your kind comments on my Of Trolls and Lemons posts for the COG! I see you have a very nice blog yourself. I love old letters. The last few months I have been working on transcribing my grandfather's diary, and it is hard work! He wrote it during his 1915 - 1916 school year, when he was 15 years old, and it is in old-fashioned Italian (and old-fashioned handwriting). But I love every minute of discovering someone else's thoughts. It seems you do, too. Best, Astrid.