29 October 2012

No. 27 -- 8 Feb 1932

Mr. N.A. Hughes,
C/o Y.M.C.A. College,
5315 Drexel Avenue,

My dear Noel,

Your letter dated Jan. 1st reached us last Wednesday. I think you could probably find out when the Australian mails leave if you get Mrs. Glover to ring up the Post Office. They will be able to give you a list of the mails for two or three months ahead, and in that way you could get the information you need.

We note that you had a very busy time during the Christmas vacation. No doubt this all worked to your benefit in that it gave you a chance to earn additional money at a time when probably you needed it.

We shall be interested in hearing a full report of your grades for the Fall quarter. I think you did very well for your first term. There is no doubt it takes some time to get into the run of the regular school work, so as to keep pace with the lectures, demonstrations, etc. as well as with the practical work. We shall be interested to hear your full report of your term's work. I think you were wise in arranging to take two majors for the winter term, although you will have to be careful that you cover the required amount of work so as not to add to your burdens in your last term. You will be wise to make up your arrears of highschool work as quickly as possible, so as to carry your regular schedule and keep pace with the rest of the students.

We are glad to hear that you received the Money Order safely. We were pleased to know that you had sent so many cards to people in America as well as to those here. I think you are wise to keeop in touch with these folk as they should be of definite help to you in your future.

I am grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Cook for their thoughtfulness in sending their present. By this mail I am dropping them a note and also to Dr. Wilson of the Kenwood Church.

We were greatly interested in the College Handbook, as it enabbled us to visualise conditions a little better and also gave us the opportunity of keeping informed regarding the various terms and the usual college fixtures. The new grading system has a great deal to commend it, although it will be a little puzzling at first to follow the difference between it and the old system.

Keith was delighted to get the extra copy which he is using as a diary, and of course it helps him to pass on information to any of your friends he may happen across.

I must thank you also for the reply regarding Satchell’s parcels which went astray. This information I have forwarded to Plain Clothes Constable Kavanagh of the Police Department, who had the case in hand. It is a mystery which we cannot solve. Nobody seems to have any information concerning these parcels.

The Lawson House YMCA is located in
Chicago's Near North at West Chicago Avenue
and North Dearborn Street. Built in 1931
in the art deco style, the Lawson House YMCA
is 25 floors tall. According to the YMCA of Metro Chicago,
"Today it is the largest single-room occupancy (SRO)
supportive housing facility in the Midwest, providing
housing and wrap-around social services for extremely
low-income or formerly homeless men and women."
An article in the Chicago Sun-Times in 2011
said it was possibly for sale.
Photo by Kim Scarborough via Flickr
(used under Creative Commons license)
The folder and other printed matter concerning the Lawson Y.M.C.A. also came to hand. What a magnificent building it must be! I am making up a small paragraph for “Manhood” giving some of the particulars.

You also were good enough to send a large packet of Conference papers. These reached me the other day and I spent several nights perusing them and endeavouring to catch the atmosphere of the conferences. Months ago I ordered a copy of the finished report, but this has not yet come to hand. However, the papers you forwarded have given me a very good idea of some of the principal findings and I am grateful to you for having sent them on.

We were also greatly interested in reading two copies of the “Association Collegian” of November 19th and December 7th.

I passed your letter on to a number of the staff folk who were interested in your doings. I have not much news to give you concerning home matters. They are much the same as when I last wrote.

We are to have the Annual meeting of the Association on February 25th, when the report will be presented for adoption. I will see that a copy is sent to you without delay.

Your friend, Johnny McRae now runs a motorcar I believe. Rex. has been away quite a lot, but is home just now. There is some talk of him going to Sydney for a couple of months, but whether this will eventuate or not I cannot say.

Margaret Park and Millie Harris both had their 21st birthday this month. Ruth is disturbed that she can not go to either function as she is on night duty.

Edith is greatly elated because she was appointed prefect within a week of the opening of school. She thinks this is a great indication of the confidence her school mates have in her. Joy starts at Fintona on Wednesday. She is full of excitement as you can well imagine.

Mother is in tip top form and so am I. We all unite in warmest love.

Yours affectionately,

05 October 2012

Noel's Commentary on George's Letters, Part 1

Noel in 1982
Since we are 26 letters into this project and have passed the one-year anniversary since the project's inception, I thought this would be a good time to share a document written by Noel in the 1980s.

When Noel was putting together a family history, he used the saved letters from his father, George, as a resource. After the long job of condensing the letters down to just the family history, he was able to look at them anew and paint a general picture of what he saw happening.

I'll only share the first part right now, and save the second part for when we get a few more years into the letters.

Here it as as Noel wrote it:

Commentary on Dad's Letters

The following was written by Noel in 1984 after having read Dad's letters of fifty years ago. There is no intention to be mundane or emotional, but to say it as I see it with the perspective that the years give.

The first several years can only be characterized as very difficult ones for Dad particularly.

Economic conditions were chaotic making the financing of the "Y" almost impossible. The membership decreased significantly, occupancy of the residence declined to less than fifty percent causing Dad untold strain to keep the Association afloat. Salaries were cut several times resulting in a bare bones existence for Mum, Dad and the family. There was a period when the difficulties were so extreme that it was a question whether Dad would continue as General Secretary. However, times became a little better about 1934. The strain of the days showed up in Dad's health. In reading his letters it was obvious that his health had deteriorated considerably, even though he had minimized his illnesses.

Keith too had a difficult time. He was unemployed for most of five years. Fortunately he was able to secure casual, short time jobs with the Texaco Company, the Dryfus company, the Wheat Commission and others which did give him a very limited but undependable income with long periods of famine up to the time he secured permanent employment with the Myers Emporium.

Ruth also had a difficult time when she began nursing -- the long hours, the demands of the hospital and the exacting nature of her work also showed up in the continuous string of illnesses she incurred.

1934 showed the beginning of better conditions and a less stressful living for the family.

Of course Noel in a foreign country, without any financial backing, struggling to make ends meet, particularly in the years 1931 to 1933, and going to college, also caused some turmoil for Dad.

The bright spots in the family during these years were, as Dad characterized them, the "kiddies". They were full of life, vim, vigor and vitality -- shafts of sunlight in the dismal days -- a source of great enjoyment to both Mum and Dad, Keith and Ruth.

Speaking of the two girls, they were opposites in temperament, but in their pre-teen and teenage years pursued similar interests in church and school activities. Edith was more eloquent and excitable, and to quote Father, "Edith is getting more boisterous than ever, greatly to Joy's annoyance. As you know, Joy is much quieter and less demonstrative than Edith, and is consequently reprimanding Edith for her noisiness. However, the two of them get along very well together". "....... going along quietly, that is, as quietly as Edith can go!"

Also, Chas. F. Crosby was a great friend for on many occasions he made his Summer home in the Dandenongs available for the family to have a holiday in the country.

Part 2 to be published at a future date.