03 May 2012

George is feeling testy?

George doesn't usually express much emotion in his letters -- his language is always so civilized -- but in this letter (No. 20), a little testiness and frustration leaks through. It's subtle, even if George does come close to swearing at one point.

"I wish to goodness we could do something with that blessed amplifier, but seemingly it is impossible to dispose of it."

You could hardly blame him, though. The letter if full of examples of how the Depression is hitting the family. Keith and Rex are barely able to hold onto jobs. George is hoping that Joyce can stay in a free school, and is having to drop piano lessons for the girls. The YMCA's finances are a mess.

And here is George's youngest son, half a world away. He knows Noel is extremely low on funds and he hasn't heard from him in two months. George scrapes together $10 to send to Noel, and laments that he can't liquidate the amplifier, which is worth about $300.

The Argus (Melbourne),
Tuesday 17 November 1931, page 7
But that's not the only example of testiness. When talking about Henley Day, George issues a rare complaint.
"I personally would rather have gone to Henley-on-the-Yarra, but mother has determined to go with the kiddies so I suppose I will have to do likewise."

Of course, I had to look up Henley Day, and it turns out the Henley-on-the-Yarra was a huge regatta on the Yarra River, attracting up to 300,000 in 1925, according to a history site about the Yarra River. It was also a major social event.

So when you consider what an avid sportsman George was, it seems only natural that he would complain about missing a major sporting event.

Maybe I'm just getting better able to read George now that I'm 20 letters into this project, or maybe the stresses of the time are getting bad enough to bleed into the letters a little bit.  I'll be interested to see what other frustrations leak out in future letters.