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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... As for farming up here it can never be done unless you make every cent you can. There is the interest on the mortgage the 1st. of August and all of the taxes should be paid up this fall. We'll never make a go of it if we start out loaded with such debts. You had better not take any more time off until fall and then come prepared to build us a suitable house for the winter.... We want some chairs badly....
letter to James on July 6, 1932