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SBButler Letters, February 1917

Feb. 4, 1917
Feb. 11, 1917
Feb. 18, 1917

Pleasantville, N.J.
Feb. 4, 1917

Dear Mother,

Up to Friday this has been the most strenuous week that I have put in since I have been here, largely because of the mid-year examinations. I found correcting papers a pretty long task, when one is trying hard to make sure that the marks given represent as nearly as possible the relative value of each paper. I'm thankful it's over with for the time being, although I hoped for better results than I actually got, particularly from my Senior class in American History. There were other faults beside failure to get historical facts in proper perspective, however, notably in matters of spelling and grammar. Some even of the Seniors don't apparently know how to make correct sentences, and one girl frequently omitted the -ed ending of a past participle verb, such as saying "had gain" for "had gained." The matter of poor spelling is so general in the school, that we have a special five minute spelling drill at the end of each morning in each session room--ten words a day. The worst case of misspelling which I have gotten is, I think, discered for discouraged--I guess you'll wonder how I even knew what it was; from the same student who gave me that spelling I know Carey got the spelling "signs" for "science."

Sam didn't finally come down this week either Thursday, or Saturday, to which latter date he had postponed his visit because his mother was going to be in Atlantic City over the weekend. But it's been very cold the last few days, and his doctor advised him not to come down--he has had another fall on his bad knee, getting off a trolley car, and has been on crutches again.

Monday evening I went to a card party down at the Maelby's [sp?], which Miss Stevens, the kindergarten teacher, who has a room there, gave. Progressive "Hearts" was the game of the evening, there being enough for about five tables present, most of them teachers.

Yesterday afternoon we had our first meeting of the County Athletic Committee at Absecon. I think I told you of my membership on this committee when I was home. Its chief purpose is to arrange a county Field Day for the spring, in which both High School and Grammar School boys and girls compete in various kinds of races & other events. This year it will be held at Hammonton on May 12th.

Our High School basketball team won its first victory yesterday afternoon, beating the Hammonton team 31 to 18. I hope it puts a little new spirit into the boys, as they are inclined to be discouraged over repeated defeats before.

That must have been a pretty big fire in Hartford. I saw the account of it in the Press after getting your letter. The Press sometimes gets here in the morning after it's published and other times not until evening or even the following morning. I get much more of interest from it than I did from the Courant.

There is no visible evidence of any great excitement here over the new crisis in our relations with Germany, and it seems hard therefore to realize that matters are as grave as they are. I feel that President Wilson has done exactly the right thing in dismissing the German ambassador and recalling Mr. Gerard; no other course was possible in view of our threat in the note [vote?] before the German pledge was made last April that unless the German government should immediately declare and effect an abandonment of unlawful submarine warfare, diplomatic relations would be severed with them. They did so declare and effect, but now that their pledge is openly withdrawn, there was no point to waiting for an overt act, or parleying further with the German government, in my opinion. Perhaps the note [?] withdrawing their pledge was only meant to satisfy the German people at home, and their submarines won't be able to do anything; we'll have a chance to see before long.

You didn't receive any postal from me last week so you'll know that I took care of Lucinthia allright; I thought I might as well send her ten dollars as five, while I was sending, so acted accordingly.

Eva Lutz, whom I have spoken of quite frequently, and whom you asked about, is a sort of protige of Miss Tolbert's, at least I suppose one would call her so. They spend a great deal of time together and are very congenial in their tastes, and beside that, Miss Tolbert is very much interested in the girl and her future. The young lady has an attractive personality, she is a girl with a good mind, an original thinker, and a lady to the core, she takes a wholesome enjoyment in outdoor life of all kinds, and has, I think, a great deal of promise.
It's getting late, and I'd better be getting to bed.
With lots of love,

P.S. Would you please look in my class book and send me Hendrickson's address?

Pleasantville, N.J.

Dear Mother,

Most of the family is spending the evening in the kitchen, as since yesterday morning we have had no furnace fire and the rest of the house is like an ice box. The boiler cracked just at rising time yesterday, and as it is a hot water furnace, it has been absolutely out of commission. The necessary material for repairing it was ordered by telephone from Philadelphia yesterday, and we hope the plumber will get it tomorrow in time to get it started again - probably by that time this cold snap will be over. We had quite a storm Monday too, but not nearly as much snow as you probably had. We have great old gales of wind with storms down here, and at other times for that matter; it's enough to fairly blow you out of a bed some nights. We have had the coldest weather of the winter this week, and some of the rooms at the school, one of them being mine, were for two mornings too cold for classes when the morning began; the heating system there is anything but perfect. I don't believe folks down here know how to keep a building warm, probably because they don't get as much practice as New Englanders.

We had our most exciting basketball game of the season last evening with a team from Ocean City, purporting to be High School students, but most of them older and heavier men than could be placed in that category. They had a lead on our boys of 24-15 up to the middle of the second half, and then Pleasantville took a mighty spurt, and passed the other team's score in the last half minute of play, winning by the score 30-29. It was very fast play, and so mighty interesting to watch.

Assuming that I shall be here next year, Dr. Whitney has virtually promised that I shall have all History and Civics work. It will be a relief to get to get rid of the algebra, as it does get rather trying to pound dry mathematical facts into unreceptive craniums, and correct the daily written work that is handed in. That's the only part of my work that I don't enjoy, however, I enjoy the history work just as much as ever, more so if anything, and enjoy all the athletic activities and other school interests I have gotten into.

It was quite a romantic story the Press published Thursday evening about Florence Taylor, "the most beautiful blond in Connecticut", following "the dictates of her heart" rather than embracing the opportunity of "a life of ease." I can't imagine anyone from the Miner and Cabin Box Co. being tremendously wealthy as it is a very modest institution - a small wooden factory on Arch St. in New Britain. You hadn't told me before that Eva was to [be] married at the Hubbard's; it seems strange Mrs.Hubbard should be so anxious to do so. About Eva and Horace Hubbard, I don't suppose you would often see them together, but for no other reason, except that there is nothing to bring them together. It's Curly who has the particular regard for Horace.

This week I have quite a full social program - Monday evening a party call at the Maltby's together with Miss Davis; Wednesday evening a card party at a Mrs.Hughes', quite a friend of Miss Davis'; and Friday evening a valentine party at the school. Tomorrow we have a holiday, and I am going off on kind of a picnic with Miss Tolbert and Eva Lutz, which will include for the most part a walk from Bargaintown over to English Creek, a few miles to the southwest, and cooking our own lunch somewhere on the way.

No one here seems to be particularly excited over the international situation; in fact, there hasn't a single person broached the subject to me at anytime except our friend Cruse and Mr. Winch. This coming week must surely see some important developments in the matter, as there is no doubt left of the German intention to carry out their threat, unless they make a complete backdown, realizing that we mean business, as of course we always have, despite the assertions of the Administration's political opponents.

I am enclosing a postcard photo of our football squad of last fall, which you will undoubtedly be interested in. This wasn't taken until wintertime, and a number of fellows didn't have their suits handy, which explains the makeshift costumes of some of them. The man marked (x) is Mr.Wootton, the coach. The sun hit my left eye and gave me rather a sour look. In the window you will notice dimmly two girls who were looking on when the picture was taken, and didn't know it would take them; the one further back is Eva Lutz.

I have no reason to like Sunshine Villa any less than ever. There is something new every day to make me realize how fortunate I was to get this place in which to stay, particularly as compared with the abodes of most of the other Pleasantville teachers.

I must get a few other letters written and by the way, will you please get from my class book Bob Hendrickson's address in Indianapolis? I am trying to get some information about a college near there for one of the students.
With lots of love to you and all

Pleasantville, N.J.

Dear Mother,

Our Furnace was repaired the first thing Monday monday, so that we have lived quite normal lives again since. Monday was the coldest day of the year, the thermometer registering about zero, and the wind blowing quite a gale. We took our outing as planned, however, and were outdoors all day long. We took the trolly down as far as Bargaintown, where we get off for skating, and then walked west over to English Creek, a distance of several miles; we brought along lunch with us, consisting of sandwiches, cake, fruit, cinnamon buns, pickles and lamb chops, the last named of which we cooked over a fire we made on the shore of a pond there; we also made cocoa. The lamb chops were the first meat I have ever bought, but I didn't get stuck as they were very good. The whole meal was lots of fun, both in preparing and eating it. After it was finished, we skated for about an hour and a half and then walked back again, getting home about six-thirty. It was colder walking over than back, despite the fact that it was nearer the middle of the day, because the wind was a north westerly one, and pretty much in our faces; and as considerable of the journey is across unprotected plain, we got the full benefit of it. Today the same party of us have been walking in the mud produced by the springlike weather of the last three days; it seems hard to realize that only six days ago we had such wintry weather with us and hard ground under foot. The weather in the winter here is, if anything, more changeable than uphome, and there I remember everyone used to complain about its changes. Despite this and our furnace experience of last week, I have had no cold all winter long

Wednesday evening I attended quite an enjoyable card party at Miss Hughes, a friend of Miss Davis'; most of those there were teachers, Dr.Whitney and Miss Collins, principal of the grammer school number one, also included. Progressive 500 was the game of the evening, andit seems to be the favioite game for folks down here. There were sixteen or seventeen people present.

Friday I took supper with a fellow by the name of Davis, down at Northfield. He is principal of the grammer school down there; a young man, my age, I should say, perhaps younger, who is teaching for a year or two, planning to go on further with his education as soon as possible; has ultimately in view a Ph.D. in Philosophy. He is one of the most desirable acquaintances, I think, that I have made here - a pleasant, straightforward , intelligent, mentally alert fellow (and a hot anti-Britisher as many of my friends seem to be.)

Friday evening the Junior class at the High School gave a Valentine partyto the Seniors and faculty; there were many suitable and appropriate games and contests, such as cutting out hearts blindfolded, drawing a heart on a blackboard in the same condition, and an archery contest with a heart pinned on a wall. With one of the Junior girls, who was on the committee of arrangements, I worked that flower guessing game Aunt Lucy tried on us one Christmas; we advertised it as a "Demonstration of Sixth Sense", and all went well until one time Dr.Whitney slyly asked her if the flower we had chosen was the one, as soon as she came in, before I had a chance to ask my questions the proper way to get the right answer. No one guessed what the key to the start was, however. Another stunt they had for the evening during refreshments was to give each person present the name of some other person present, preferably of the opposite sex, and he or she was to write a verse about the name received; after they were written, they were collected and handed to still different persons to read.

Yesterday I spent most of the day down at school working - correcting algebra papers, and so on; although an hour or so of the morning was taken up with a chat with, or better listening to, Dr.Whitney, who happened to be in the building; and in the afternoon I took an hour off at the piano, in an attempt to compose some music for another poem, one written by Eva Lutz herself; she has written a number of very pretty little verses, just because she likes to do it, not for any outside purpose; her ability to do it is part of a very virginal and imaginative mind.

Last evening I attended a party down at Somers Point, at the home of a Miss Higbee, one of the grammer school teachers here. Miss Davis, Miss Valentine, and Miss Hayes also were there, as was my friend Davis of Northfield. Miss Higbee's brother and a friend of his from the University of Pennsylvania were down over the weekend, and were, I believe, the reason for the party. This friend of her brothers, a fellow by the name of Conn, is quite an artist on the ukulele, and funished considerable entertainment with his instrument. Higbee is a Senior at Penn Law School and knows Sam Sewall well, also Harold Saylor, a 1914 Zeta Psi man, who is likewise a Senior at the Penn Law School; for this reason it was of course particularly interesting to meet him.

Nobody seems to know whether we shall have Washington's birthday off or not, but I rather immagine we will, largely because of public opinion here, which, I understand, would concider it rank heterodoxy to observe Lincoln's & not Washington's day. Personally I hope we keep school; the day breaks into the middle of the week, and we need every day possible any way in order to finish up the work of the year, which, Dr.Whitney told me yesterday, will end on June 1st, instead of the 8th.

I had an interesting letter from Geo.Warner this week [ note- this, I believe, would be Uncle Willis' older brother and Sylvester's cousin ]; also one from Miss Dagnall of Portland, the first since I've been away. Thank you for the fragrant little flowers; a frisia, isn't it?
With lots of Love

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