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SBButler Letters, March 1917

March 4, 1917
March 11, 1917
March 18, 1917
March 25, 1917

Pleasantville, N.J.
March 4,1917

Dear Mother,

Today is the seventh in a consecutive series of stormy ones, and has been the worst of any of them, so that I have been indoors all day long. I wonder if you have had the same kind of week up home.

The past week has been another busy one, and one devoid of any social activities. I have been especially busy at school this week, because I have had charge of the newly instituted extra study hour for delinquents between three and four in the afternoon for the week. It's been going for three weeks now, and the different teachers take weekly turns at it. It is designed to bring up the Scholarship of those who are deficient in any studies, but also is held over the heads of recalcitrant pupils who are disinclined to do the proper amount of work, in a punitive light. I had about half a dozen algebra students spending the week up there while I was on duty, and so the week has been one grand revelry in algebra - poor folks! despite the impossibility of preserving perfect equanimity while attempting to cast algebraic lights thru their mental fog, I can't help sympathizing, I should be like the ungrateful servant who took his fellow servant by the throat, demanding payment for a shilling debt when he had just been excused from a ten thousand pound one, in the scriptural parable, if I didn't sympathize with their confused efforts to wander thru the algebra maze, when I recall my own struggles with the analytical geometry, and my inability to the last or to this day to see what it was all about. [note - Our grandfather has a penchant for long, run-on sentences; sort of stream of consciousness stuff. This last being a perfect example and the next being a close second. -- Susan Czaja]

Last evening I went over to Atlantic City with Davis and attended a lecture in the Atlantic City High School, the first in a series of six university extension course lectures on the place of music in education, given by a Mr. Surette, an authority on musical education, who is connected with the music department at Harvard, I believe, but has some other connections, such as active membership on a committee which for a couple of years has been working out a series of songs and programs of musical study for each grade in the Boston public schools. Last evening he spoke on music for the earliest grades, and I presume will lead up from there in the other lectures of the series to more and more advanced grades. It seems probably a rather strange kind of thing for me to be attending, and I probably shouldn't have thought of going ever if Davis hadn't called me up yesterday and asked me if I'd care to go over with him. But I rather think I shall enjoy them, and expect to attend the other lectures in the series; my natural interest in music, and the value of familiarity with all educational matters to any teacher are either of them sufficient justification for the time spent in this way, I should say. He of course illustrates his lectures at the piano, and last evening had a singer, a Miss Kennedy, who sang some of the child songs, which he gave as illustrations of the right kind of thing to interest children in music, in a very simple and unaffected, and therefore pleasing, manner. Mr. Surette has a rather superior Harvard-like air about him, and didn't mind insinuating that many in his audience had musical standards of low order - for instance he announced that he would play two children's pieces which were to illustrate the right and wrong kind of thing for children, and asked the audience to listen and say which was the good one, and which was the bad one. The first one he played was the bad one, full of these sentimental chords we get in present day agony-music, as I call it, such as a dreamy drift from a chord composed of notes D, A flat, and B natural to one made up with E flat, A flat, and C; the second piece was a simple, direct, genuine little thing, which I should think any one would choose as the better - but as might be supposed there were some in the audience who chose the first, and after he had seen the show of hands he proceeded to ridicule the bad piece, which it probably deserved, but could have done without previously enforcing some of the audience to confess what he later implied, by ridiculing the piece, to be bad taste.

Yes, I'll go in with Lucinthia on a present for Church and Eva, if she wishes, and thank you for getting it. The check I am enclosing ($3.25) allows $1.50 toward this, the rest being my postage bill, which it was just as easy to repay you for now as anytime. If there is anything left over from the $1.50. then you can apply that on necessary parcel postage in the future.

I must confess I haven't yet begun studying for the April examinations, but shall do so this week. I hope Ralph will enjoy his Boy Scout work. I was interested in the clippings about the New Britain fires. Thank you for the apples and maple sugar included in the laundry case; they went right to the spot. Good apples are a scarcity here; none that the Winch's have had have been in the least way palatable.
With much love to all

Pleasantville, N.J.
March 11,1917

Dear Mother,

It was interesting to see the program of Mr. Dyer's recital, and I am sure it must have been very enjoyable. Thank you for sending it. I haven't seen anything in the Alumni Weekly about tearing down all the buildings in the block the clipping you sent me told about, for the purpose of putting up new dormitories, but its not an unnatural thing to do; however I hardly believe Pierson Hall would be torn down - an entrance could be cut on the other side, so that it would face the new campus.

Have I told you about the new boarder we have had here since the first of the year? I don't believe I have. She is a Miss Taylor, who rooms next door and eats here; a new teacher in the grammar school who just came after Christmas. She has had good education and traveled around a great deal, but I don't believe is any different to-day than the day she first left her original rustic habitat - which must be sometime ago, as she appears to be on the shady side of 35, at least. Her appearance and bearing suggest such a name as Samantha Perkins, and in general, it is inevitable that she should be the object of a little merriment when she is not around. Within the past week she has gotten off a couple of remarks, which have incidentally brought a little fun at Carey's and my expense. The first was on Carey; I've forgotten how it started, but for a day or two we had been carrying out a pretense that Carey was courting Miss Davis and it had gotten to the point where Carey was pretending despondency over supposed rejection, when Miss Taylor comforted him by telling him that there were others still left -- coming from her with the natural implications we put on it, after she had left, of course, we thought we had one on Carey. But I came in for my turn yesterday morning, when Mrs. Winch, in the course of some bantering at the breakfast table, asked me something like had I been spooning in the moonlight the previous evening, which I countered by the remark that if I had, I'd been spooning with myself. Miss Taylor wanted to know if I hadn't been a little selfish -- and I shall probably never hear the last of it.

There was no lecture last evening, the next one to be given next Saturday, and the rest to be put ahead one week each. Just what the reason was I don't know. To-day has been very springlike, although it rained in spasms thru the morning and early afternoon. Later in the afternoon, from about half-past three to half-past six, I took my weekly constitutional. Have you seen any robins or bluebirds as yet? I saw a robin, a nice big fat one, two weeks ago today, while out walking, but since then I haven't seen a one.

I rather plan to spend a couple of days of my Easter vacation of 4 or 5 days (including Saturday & Sunday) up at Philadelphia. Of course I could get up home, but it's such a short time that I guess I won't try; besides, I don't feel as though I could leave my work thru the whole time. Think of it, it's almost the halfway time between Xmas vacation and June. I am naturally giving considerable thought to ways and means of spending a Summer, but have taken no active steps toward solving the question yet.
With much love to all,

[laundry list]

7 shirts (2 soft)
7 undershirts
9 underdrawers (6 BVD [I'm not sure that this is the
(3 Balhiggen) <-- correct spelling]
2 pajamas
7 prs socks
14 handkerchiefs
2 large towels
2 small "
1 washcloth

[newspaper filler]

A Superfluity

"One wife too many," exclaimed Mrs.
Jones as she glanced at the headlines
of her husband's paper. "I suppose
that is an account of the doings of some
"Not necessarily, my dear," replied her
husband, without daring to look up.

Pleasantville, N.J.
March 18,1917

Dear Mother,

Before your letter came, I had already received a letter from Eva thanking me for the shears and paper-cutter, so that I already knew what you had gotten; she seemed very much pleased with them, the way she wrote, and I am certainly much obliged to you for doing all the work.

Binky [Ernest Binks, "Ern" in the first letters] wrote me a letter the first of the week, spurred on by your hint. He seems to like his law work, particularly the trial end if it. I judge he is spending a pretty lonesome winter in Cromwell; says he hasn't even been up to the Sage's since Christmas. His family have surely had a time of it with both Mary and Tom going thru sieges of pneumonia during the winter.

I have written to Bert Phelps, c/o L.F.& C., New Britain, which is the only address I know for him. They send mail out to him every day, so it will be forwarded to the proper address immediately; only I'm afraid you won't get the bottle in time to give it to Aunt Lucy exactly on the 23rd. I told him to send you the standard type bottle, full metal plated, quart size, which I think will be what you want. I suppose the prices on them are quite a little higher than they were when I left, but I guess it won't be any staggering figure.

We seem to get a new sensation served up to us every week, don't we? Surely these are days of great events. I hope the new order of things in Russia will be permanent; also wouldn't mind seeing similar events transpire in the empire to the west of Russia. I don't believe the Russian revolution will have any ill effect on the military situation as far as the Allies are concerned, in fact it may help them, as there were unquestionably many of the old reactionary leaders who would have welcomed a separate peace and an understanding with Germany - even the Czar himself may have been under this influence; I don't imagine he would be a particularly hard man to influence.

Last evening I attended with Davis the second of the lectures on music's part in education. I was a little bit mistaken in telling you before what the lectures were to cover - I believe I said I thought they were to cover merely what kind of music should be taught in the schools from the lowest grades up. I enclose a program of the series which will show exactly the scope of the course. Last night's lecture took up especially the education of children in music in the home & with private teachers - it is his view, and the view seems to me for the most part well taken, that the chief aim of musical education is to teach one to be musical and to appreciate what is good in music, and that to do this children should be started at once on simple pieces with good musical themes, with just enough work in scales, exercises, and so forth, to acquire the necessary technical skill in playing. He maintains that a musical sense is much more important than technique. I am finally not going up to Philadelphia at Eastertime, as I had a letter from Sam this week, saying that he'd have to beg off on account of approaching examinations. I'll probably need the time myself on my own examinations. Ern expects to be down at Bridgeton a few days at Easter, and I am going to see if I can't persuade them to come over and see me for a day.

Our friend C. Collard certainly got plenty of advertising in connection with his latest escapade. I noticed the article in the Press about Mabel Carlson's coming to Atlantic City on her honeymoon - didn't you tell her, too, that I was only five miles from here? I can keep my things here at Mrs. Winch's thru the summer, and shall leave as much as I can; a number of my books I shall want to carry around with me, but there are also a great number I can leave here.

I enjoyed the licorice dandies, the apples, and the crackers very much; nibbled at them most of the day yesterday, as I worked at my desk. Please tell Aunt Sarah I'm very much obliged. Also wish Father many happy returns of the 20th for me.
With much love to you and all

Pleasantville, N.J.
March 25,1917

Dear Mother,

This is a most beautiful sunshiny spring day here, only it needs a few trees and hills to set it off. Are you still having winter up home?

I haven't seen anything of Church and Eva down this way. Does anyone know where they did go? I had a letter from Marie Hollister this week and she mentioned that her father had gone up to Cromwell to marry them. I was glad to get Aunt Sarah's letter the early part of the week - Cromwell has been building right up this winter, according to her.

Last night the musical lecture was on church music, as you will see from the program which I am enclosing this time if I don't forget it. What is good and what is bad music under the various kinds he takes up seems to be the main theme of his lectures. The singer, Miss Kennedy, was with him again last night, and sang three or four simple but beautiful anthems which Mr. Sevrette believes to be the right kind of thing for congregational singing. He took a fling at paid quartets, and believes that all church music should be such as could be understood and sung by congregations.

Wednesday I took an evening off and went down to Northfield to see Davis. We spent the evening over at his school, part of the time going over some pieces with violin and piano together, part of the time he was trying to teach me some dance steps with victrola music, and the rest of the time listened to some good musical records of his that he keeps at the school.

We're beginning to work on graduation programs now, and I have got the task of supervising the boy who delivers the class oration, which means, I suppose, that I write most of it, as his literary abilities are, to say the least, hidden. However, I shall of course try as far as I can [to] keep within my proper sphere of suggestion and criticism only.

It is making me "hump" to complete the year's work by the 15th of May, which is the time examinations begin. In Mediaeval and Modern History I can't begin to do all the work, and shall have to do not a little skipping of less important facts; it would be so interesting, too, to go over in detail the events of the last three years with them, but that will be out of the question. As we started so late, and the textbooks were two weeks later in coming, incidentally having proved a disappointment in not being very suitable for my Sophomores who take it, making it impossible to catch up. I find this skipping necessary.

It looks as though a revolution in Germany would be about the only thing which would keep us out of the war now, as far as our navy is concerned at least.
With much love to yourself and all,

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