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Mary wrote this letter to her family during her first year of college. The letter is handwritten in black ink on 3 sheets of folded yellow paper. This long letter includes Mary's thoughts on her exams, what inspires her, and how her friends perceive her. She also mentions a young man named Paul, who often confides in her. Mary also recounts playing a violin, feeling tired from working at the Tea House, and a toboggan party.
Feb 1, 1925
It is Sunday afternoon and that is almost gone. We have had the “vic” going most all the time and I have been entertaining myself. Borrowed one of the girl’s violin and have been playing it. Mary Beery who plays the violin wouldn’t believe that I had never taken any lessons on it. Sometimes I do feel “alone” but there is no reason why I should.
Your Mary is tired today. This sure is trying to help her way thru school. Was pretty tired after exams but got a chance to work Friday afternoon and all day Saturday. Saturday evening I served a formal dinner of eight. I like that kind of work best. I’m tired tho. Earned $4.00 too this weekend. Of course I could spend all of my time doing this because there were no lessons to get.
Exams went well, in fact much better than I had expected. I prayed before every exam and I know that helped. I never was less worried about exams in my life.- I don’t know why I had such faith in them- Don’t think I didn’t study for them. I really think I learned how to study- in studying for them. I’m resolved to get my lessons more thoroughly and concentrate more this next semester. Of course there are many discouragements- but there are four things which are my source of inspiration - You folks at home, my life work, the ideals some friends here and out in Milwaukee has of me - and the
(2) fact that an unseen presence is always near. This last is becoming to mean so much more to me all the time. Of everything else is not true to me - there is always prayer. It’s wonderful.
Dear family, when I think of how high a few of my friends place me - it simply makes me be my best. The other day “sis” said to me - “Bean, the ambition of my young life is to be the kind of a girl - so that I may be worthy of as much love from you as you give to Boots”— Even that - It just floored me - to her one thinks of the responsibility. Somehow I can’t understand it.
This morning Paul [Richenbach—who pursued her to WV!] took me to church. We had church at the tabernacle-All the churches combined. It was fine. I could tell he had something on his mind. He wanted to go for a walk this evening so I did for about 1/2 hr. Then he told me how his mother was discouraging him to finish school & be a missionary. I can’t quite understand it because she is a missionary herself on furlough. His dad is not loving & of course he is discouraged and he just wanted to tell someone who he know would have faith in him. He’s told me some very personal things
(3) He’s a good clean fellow and is always a perfect gentleman - and I like the type of friendship that is growing between us- I like the way he wants to talk to me. I told him that any time he was discouraged he should come over and we would talk it over - and perhaps it might help. He isn’t exceptionaly bright etc- It’s mostly in the pursuit of helping him that prompts me to be this to him.
Last Sunday Mr. ((?) who has been taking me out often) wanted to take me to church but Pops Brouwer was here then so I didn’t go — however we took a short walk and had a good talk- Just as we were passing Hoover - we met Paul - in a fine minutes- coming back “sis” ran out to me and said Paul was waiting for me outside. Well, I knew he had seen me, and that if he would wait around he wanted to talk about something so I went right back out. Took a 15 min. leave and he just opened his heart to me. He told me that he had been “slipping” lately and walked up to the front of the tabernacle the other day and that he was having such a hard time.
(4) at school. When he left I couldn’t help telling him that I appreciated his confidence and shook his had- don’t know why- just had the impulse. I think he knew what I meant.
Went on a bobbing party the other night. When Pops Brouwer was here he gave us a toboggen. It’s a peach. The first night we went—the new matrons daughter went with us. Some of them were at the bottom of the hill & as we were coming down “Pat” got in the way & the toboggen ran over her. She is now in bed with a broken leg. To think something like that had to happen the 1st time. It was just an accident.
We had a wonderful time when Pops was here. He brot us each a shark’s tooth penant & Boots a string of Pearls from Boston - also brought me a string of beautiful diamond but crystal beads. He also brot us candy & treated the whole dorm with a crate of “delicious” apples one night after supper.
We are having a prayer group up here in our room tonight- so must close now and get ready for it.
Much love from your own Mary Elizabeth
My blue ideas as dandy and thanks for the cold cream
When are you going to send those records?
Some one told me the other day that they wished I would show more of my fun self - with people - meaning that I have too much fun I guess- But I’d rather do of more things naturally than force it upon myself. I thought your fun self could be seen there. one’s happy disposition. Goodness- people don’t know how nervous I really am- I’m glad to have that tho—. Bean.
Letters; Phonograph; Tearooms; Tobogganing; Universities and colleges--Examinations
Behner, Mary, "Letter from Mary to Family- February 1, 1925" (1925). Mary Behner Papers. 22.
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