Sunday, September 27, 2009

Black Sheep Sunday

I don't really have a "Black Sheep" in the family that I am aware of. A few naughty individuals, perhaps, no one that I can call a black sheep.

The following letter was written to a distant cousin in 1923, while he was away at school. It seems the poor fella had a penchant for spending more than his fair share of his allowance. Squandering it on frivolities and fun. Finally Mama and Papa had had enough, and this is his Mama's letter admonishing him.

"Waiteville, W.Va.
July 6th, 1923

Dearest Dwight,
Rec’d your letter yesterday evening (Thurs.) and was glad to hear from you, but you put it off quite a while to write. Well, I hope you are getting along O.K. spending holidays.
Your papa came back from his trip with Winfred, and he got another bunch of Summons’s [sic] and had to go to the Cove. He took it horse back this morning. He couldn’t get any one to run the car, for every body is so busy – no one to get. It is so hard on him. He had to go to Laurel Branch yesterday – he went there horse back too - & hes [sic] to go back tomorrow, and has to go the same way. He is just about worn out.
Well, when I got your letter asking for $40.00 more, he just simply walked the floor. It just tore him all to pieces. He said if you kept on at that rate, spending money, that you would be a beggar some day walking the streets begging.

Page 2 –
I Can’t tell you all he said, for I never saw him in such a shape. It is surely hard on me.
Well, Dwight, I said nothing to him – just let him alone – but I’m going to tell you, what I think. There is no use of spending money like you do. I’m ashamed for any one to know how much you have spent. It’s just a perfect shame.
We’re poor people, and will have to act accordingly. You spend money like a millionaire’s son. I’m so ashamed of it. Cary Mc. – only spent about $100.00 in Huntington last year, and that is a city – now you need never expect to buy popularity by spending – popularity will all be gone when your money is gone.
How are you going to get through college if you are going to spend at the rate you have been? There is no use of taking these splurdges [sic] on the train, that you have been taking – and perhaps hiring cars & taking drives – it takes money for that kind business and it will end in poverty. The Bible says “We shall reap what we sow”, and I have been observing it from all points of life – it surely holds good religiously, politically, socially and in fact in every line of life – even in business.

Page 3 –
I have gotten to an age that I can see it now. I see it now in so many homes and even in individuals, for I know the seed they have sown.
So now Dwight remember you have lived an awful fast life, to be no older than you are, and it grieves my heart to the very depth knowing that some day this spending will be felt. You can’t see it as I see it. Your eyes are blinded to the situation. You must remember that your papa and I are neither one able to work, and it has been an awful sacrifice to do without you, but we did for your own benefit. For you have to face the tide of life - & we did not want you to be without an education but we don’t want you to be so extravagant for we surely will reap it, and then the “hissers” will stand off and say, when hard times comes, that we wasted our living. I want to mention a case, but

Page 4 –
I know you’ll “hiss & hiss” at it, but I want to see the difference in 15 yrs. from now.
There is Charles Clarkson riding to Ronceverte to the normal there, starting at 6 o’clock every morning. His mother says they have no money to spend on him, for they are not able, he is determined to go through & he is getting along fine and he helps out through the section where he lives surely commends him for his perserverance. Now I would like to see which one you boys have an undependent living when you are 30 yrs. You spend & Charley saves. You say he does not get anything out of life. Perhaps he’ll get more than we think.
Well, I have written enough about this & if you don’t heed from what I have written, you won’t heed, if I write more. Now please take care of your money and don’t take these splurdges [sic] to the Coal fields & other places, you never tld me anything about these things but others have. Now dear! Don’t spend your money foolishly. You surely have spent a lot this week, for you told me when you left, you had $10.00 – My! My! Where does it go to? Now I’m sending you a check on the Farmers Bank you papa did not have it in the Bank of Monroe. Now make this go as far as you can. Surely $25.00, counting the ten dollars in, should be enough to run you. It surely seems to that $15.00 more should run you.

{Note in margin at top of page 5}
Don’t you think $15.00 more will run you? Your board is payed [sic] up to the ed of the term, and I don’t see why you need to spend so much.

Page 5 –
Now I know you’ll not like this letter, but I have written it for your own personal benefit. And I want you to treasure my advice as a “Pearl of great price”, for I know it is worth something to you. I have known so many boys that lived a fast life to the Tide finally went against them. I saw an estimate of how many boys out of every hundred had an independent living and it surprised me – only, from four to six. I think that is awful, and this number, doubtless may have been called “tight wads” as you term it, but I would rather be a Tight Wad than pauper. Your papa said please, please, save your money and don’t taking these splurdges [sic]. I see in the Watchman where Irma Mc. Of Union & Miss Vanstavern were both hurt – now this is the way a fast life ends. Since I read this I have been so uneasy about you, for I know how well you like to run a car,

Page 6 –
& how you like to have a good time with the girls. Now I warn you again not to be spending your money splurdging [sic]. Please, O please, take my advice. I don’t want you to call this a fussy letter. Please listen to a loving mother, the best friend you have ever had on earth, or ever will have in this world. I would spend my life for you, and willing to go in rags for you [sic] benefit. Now listen to my counsel, & take my advice. I have not been feeling so well this week. If I am not better when you come home, I’m going to the springs – I’ll have to do some thing. Now try to make your money go as far as you can. Your papa says he wont [sic] borrow any more money, but he is giving you this. We want you to have a little bit after your school is out in the spring – if all works well & you keep your health. Now please, please be a good boy – I have always had so much confidence in you, and have had to take a many of an abuse for it – nevertheless I couldn’t help but have the utmost confidence in your being an upright – good moral boy. I only wish you were a Christian boy – am going to write you about last named sometime.
I always write too much – but when I’m give you about get such long letters [sic] , as old mother write – I enjoy writing to you so much.
Be good.
Bye, Bye.
Mamma "

The letter was written to Dwight McCormick [1904-1977] by his mother, Josie Anne Williams McCormick [1868-1953]. Dwight's father was Leonidas Wellington McCormick [1867-1944] [also known as "Bud".]

Bud was the son of Joseph Preston McCormick [1842-1915] and Martha Caroline Bean [1836-1893]. Martha was the daughter of my great-great grandparents. Therefore Bud and my grandfather were first cousins. So, Dwight and my father were second cousins, making him my second cousin - once removed [I think!].

We recently had the opportunity to read through a huge collection of old letters found in his family's old home. What a treat it was! And this particular letter caught my eye.

This is a wonderful lesson for young people today, as well as the lesson you would hope young Dwight received from it!

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