This is an out of order letter that gives my Mother's first reactions to living in the East. Helen mentioned it in her letter of July 31. I thought it might be interesting to some of you right now.
July 15, 1962
It is almost unbelievable that it is the middle of July. We moved into our new home July 1st, and I don’t know where the time has gone. It seems that I never get a chance to sit down for a moment to write a letter, so this morning I stayed home from Sunday School to do it. The rest of the family have just gone. We live four miles from church by the shortest route, but it has taken us 3 weeks to learn that. At first, it was seven miles, then we started going different routs, and found 2 that were 5 miles, then last Sunday someone picked Harold up to take him to Priesthood meeting, and went a different way that is just 4 miles. As the crow flies it can’t be more than 2 miles, but the streets twist and turn, and go up hill and down, and round and round. I have often thought in my young lifetime that the Latter Day Saints did too much bragging about the way Brigham Young laid out a town with such wide straight streets. Now, I know that he did a wonderful thing for the people of the west. Not even in fairy tales have I ever heard of such crazy mixed up streets. Even people who have lived here for 20 years have a street map with them at all times. You wouldn’t dare leave home without one. We have used up 3 already. I mean they are worn out.
I have learned a new word since I came here. I have never seen it in print, but it sounds like this: (ku de sack) It is a French word for dead end street. However, this dead end street may wind round and round, but will never come out on any other street, or highway. Sometimes it is just a little circle drive like the one Uncle Mont’s house is on. I guess after a while we will learn how to get around better. I always have to allow myself a half hour longer than I plan on at first so that I will get somewhere on time.
Willy got hit with a rock soon after we moved in, and had to have 2 stitches taken in his head. The stitches were taken out last Monday, and he is ok now.
When we arrived here 3 weeks ago Betty’s government job had not been given final clearance, and Tom Kimball had given her a job as a typist, which she isn’t. She worked for him more than a week after we got here, then took the next week off to help me get unpacked. Tom didn’t need her, he just didn’t want to see her get so discouraged. I’m sure she did a good job for him tho. Last Tuesday she started work as a Student Trainee in Physics for the Bureau of mines in the Interior building, the same building Harold works in. Jane went to town soon after we arrived, and took her civil service tests in Typing, and failed. She didn’t know she had failed, but thought she had, so went down the next day and took them over, and in several days learned she had passed them the second time. Wed of this week she started work as a GS 3 the same as Betty for the Budget and Finance of the Geological Survey dept in the Interior building. With all three of them working in the same building it will make transportation much simpler. Harold was working an hour later than the girls, but starting Tomorrow they will all three go in at 7:45 and be off by 4:15. Harold hasn’t been getting home till 6:30, and it has made supper very late. When the girls took the bus into Washington it cost them 80¢ a day, 40¢ one way. They are now in a car pool with 2 other men. It means that Harold will have to drive in 3 days a week, but that is better than 5 days. The girls are going to pay Dad the 1.60 a day and he will used that for gas. Actually we are only about 5 or 6 miles from where they work, but the little windy twisty roads takes so long to travel. It is no wonder that the Americans beat the British.
I have had one very diffinate impression since we moved here, and that is that the people here want everything left exactly as it is. They don’t want any change. There isn’t a building in all of the Washington area over 6 stories high. They don’t want their streets widened, or straightened. They won’t even sell a strip of their land along the roadways for a sidewalk. The trees and underbrush grow right down to the edge of the black top, and you can go for miles without seeing any houses, yet the houses are there I’m told, behind a 20 foot wall of forest. I would just like to clear some of the trees away so I can see something.
The town of McLean is just 2 small shopping centers about 3 blocks apart. It is seldom that you find a shopping area as big as Sugar House. And yet people don’t go in to Washington to shop because the traffic is so bad. We live in a new residential area. It is about 5 years old, and we have sidewalk and curbing. However Naomi Thomas has been here for 20 years, and she lives closer in to Washington, I think, but they have no sidewalks.
It is a strange country. Being so close to the ocean everything should be so green and pretty, but no one ever waters their lawns or gardens. If it rains and keeps them green, ok, but if it doesn’t, they let the lawns get dry and brown. If their vegetables don’t grow, they say well, it is just too bad that we haven’t had more rain. Cucumbers, corn and tomatoes are on the market here now, but at fantastically high prices. You can see it growing in places, and yet at the little roadside stands they want 39¢ a lb for tomatoes, 10¢ each for cucumbers, and 90¢ a dozen for corn. The homegrown things they keep high. You can buy them much cheaper in the super market. Tomatoes 25¢ a lb, cucumbers 4 for 25¢ and corn 49¢ a doz. Which still isn’t very reasonable. Next year we are going to put in a garden. I almost feel like putting one in here now. I imagine it would still mature. We will have to dig up some of the lawn to do it tho. Our back yard is a terraced hill.
We have a pair of cardinals nesting in a bush by the back door. The male is a brilliant red, and the female has an orange head and a brown body. They had 3 babies last week. This morning I saw the most beautiful blue bird. We have a little bird house, and we keep grain in it. There are many beautiful birds here. There is also poison ivy everywhere. Harold pulled some out of our back yard the other day. You have to have rubber gloves to handle it.
I have had laryengites since we came here. My throat gets tight, and I have a bad time. When I took Willy to the Dr. he told me to stop drinking anything cold, and to drink hot milk as often as possible. I don’t drink hot milk, but I find that some hot soup relaxes my throat.
Last week we started building a bedroom in the basement. One of the church members came, and put in the studding, and broke out a place for a window. They will finish part of it, and then Harold and Louis will do the rest. We really need 2 bedrooms in the basement, but I’m sure the one will do for a while. They are also going to have a bathroom roughed in. Harold and Louis broke out the cement for that yesterday, and they came upstairs with their clothes as soaking wet as if they had jumped in the river.
Betty and Jane are still planning on going back to Provo. Jane has a room in the Wymore [Wymont] housing unit where she will help with the cooking, but she will have supervision. Betty wrote and tried to get in it too, but they were filled. Betty has decided she doesn’t want to room with Leta and LoLae but she is afraid of hurting their feelings. Leta is so moody, and JoLae so loud that Betty would sooner live with someone else, but we are at a loss as to how to get her a room. I’m wondering if Mont or Helen couldn’t find a place for her to stay. I would really prefer that they find a place in a dorm where the girls would have supervision, that way they have to be in at a certain hour, and they are more nearly under a home-like atmosphere. Helen will you see what you can do about getting a room for Betty? They sent a pamphlet, but no names or addresses of places. They won’t let them get off campus housing by mail, but said they would help her get housing as soon as she arrived in the fall.
We met Miller Shurtleff and his wife a week ago, and they are fine people. I first saw Miller on the stand, and I didn’t know he was there. Half way thru the meeting I looked up, and thought I was back in Wandamere Ward, and was seeing Bishop Shurtleff. Just the way he cocked his head or something was exactly like his Father. They are in the other Ward. In fact there are 3 wards meeting in the same building. The ward we are in, McLean was just organized in Jan of this year. Our Bishop lives about a block from us.
Louis went on an over-night camping trip on the 4th of July. The explorer wents along the Chesapeake-Ohio Canel, and went in canoes. This canel was a brain child of George Washington, and is nearly as old as our nation, and extends along the Patomic River for about 300 miles. It was used for commerce before the days of the railroad. They still preserve it as a canel, I guess more as a tourist attraction than anything else.
Marilyn is expecting her baby August 8th, and I have been wondering about her. I would like to go out, but it is a long way. We were surely glad to see them in Denver the week before we left. Alvin helped me so much with the packing and last minutes errands. They have a loely family, and are getting along fine. They bought themselves a 59 Ford car, and they are still planning on going back to school. However they are anxious to get back closer to the church. Alvin was hoping the Fryingpan Arkansas river project in Colorado would pass the congress this year, and he would transfer to it. The last I heard it was nearly all the way thru. I don’t think final passage has come on it yet.
We are also looking forward to the time when Helen and Mont will be back in this area. He will make a very good representative or Senator. Maybe then we can pay them back for the hospitality they have extended to us in all the past years. Since your house on 7th East went under the plough of progress I have felt that the people here don’t know what that sort of thing means. They seem to be in a state of lethargy. Everything is history, and must remain history. They prop up a broken down building being used for a court house, and continue to use it for a court house even tho it will cost more in ten years to keep it in repair than it would cost for 5 new court houses. I think they need some bold new leaders in this area that are like Brigham Young and a few other Latter Day Saints. We went to get our drivers licenses the other day, and it took 3 of us 2 hours to get thru the lines to take our tests in an old narrow building that lost its usefulness as a thing of efficiency many many years ago. I’ve often heard that all Easterners consider the west as being backwoods, and lacking in anything of value. I have never seen so many things so outdated, and so ar behind the times as I have in this area. Tom Kimball had a house built here, and wanted the contractors to insulate his walls as well as the roof. They were perfectly willing to insulate the roof, but they had never heard of walls being insulted. He insisted, and they did it under protest. Last week I learned that most people’s heat bills here during 3 months of the winter runs over $70.00 a month. Tom’s hear bill last winter went under $50.00 a month. In a way, I have never felt like I lived so cut off from the world. Perhaps in a year when I become accustomed to this area I will feel different, I will try to write often. We have daylight saving time here, and I have often wished we had it in Denver, but not any more. It is daylight till 9 P.M. and we seldom get to bed before 10:30, and we feel tired and dragged out all the time. I’m hoping with the winter we will get some rest. It has been raining all night, and is still raining, and quite cool. I’m going to miss my gas fireplace in Denver when I want to get warm.