In her 80s, Martha Linsley bought a small typewriter from Montgomery Ward, taught herself to type, and began to transcribe the hundreds of letters she, her children, and her husband James wrote to one another from June, 1932 to August, 1934.
Their correspondence may very well comprise the most extensive written insight into the day-to-day lives of a family dealing with the challenges of the Great Depression.
James lived in Minneapolis while Martha, Ruth and John set up housekeeping in a tiny cabin on a farm near Nevis, Minnesota. With no running water or electricity, the cabin remained uninsulated through two Minnesota winters. They wrote to each other almost daily.
Their dream of farming was never realized, but they were all transformed by the experience. And over 75 years later, there is an odd resonance to their struggles and concerns, and possibly a lesson in the way they often found comfort and entertainment in the simplest of things.
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... Just a few lines to keep you posted. I got a copy of the Schools Laws from the County Supt. yesterday. We would be subject to a fine of $50.00 if we don't send the children to school without getting an excuse, so I wrote to him that I would bring the children to school. Mr. Shaw changed the oil in the car for me this morning and started it by cranking and it runs just fine...
letter to James on November 28, 1932