The Summer of 1923

1923 Ad for Chevrolet

The car that Ethel likely drove in up to Grand Falls, N.B.

About a year ago, my boyfriend bought a 1920’s sewing desk at auction.  The sewing desk had several drawers that still contained many items, some dating all the way back to that time.  One of the most interesting things we found was a hand written letter.

The letter was written by Ethel who was writing home to her parents about her adventures in a place called Grey’s Mills, New Brunswick.  The time? The summer of 1923.  Prohibition was going strong, the automobile was slowly taking over horse and buggy.  Ethel’s friend Herb was staying at a boarding house owned by a Mrs. Duffy who had just bought a brand new Chevrolet. The three of them along with Mrs. Duffy’s son Watson went on a road trip all the way up to Grand Falls.

The letter consists of over 1600 words and is beautifully written in penciled hand writing.  The art of letter writing is long gone.  Handwriting a letter even more so.  There was no envelope with the letter.  We only know that Ethel’s parents lived in Boston.  We can assume they were middle class, not poor, but not extravagantly wealthy, either.

The interesting thing about reading this story is that some of the places mentioned in the letter no longer exist.  Even the town of Grey’s Mills does not show up on any map.

The fact that this letter survived all this time in that sewing desk makes me believe that I was somehow meant to find it.  It  has touched me so much, I plan to pen a novel around it.  I am even planning a trip up to St. John this summer with my boyfriend so we may be able to see some of the places Ethel would have seen.  That and my sister has been bugging us to visit her in PEI.

For now I will give you a little snippet of the letter.  I hope you enjoy…

Grey’s Mills, Aug. 5, 1923

Dear Ma and Ruth, Received your letter and was glad to hear from you and Ma.  Very sorry to know that Ma has been sick.  I hope she is better.  It must have been awful to have such a sore back.  Clifford wrote to me that he was down and she was a little better.  A lady in St. John told me there had been a big fire in Chelsea.  It is certainly is a horrid old place for fires.

We are well and having a good time.  We are going to St. John tomorrow morning down on the riverboat so as to be Tuesday morning to meet Clifford.  We are going to Oakley house and stay one night.  I hope Clif has a good trip.  I just wish that Albert could come down too or something this summer.  It would do him lots of good having the change and the good air.  He deserved the scholarship for he worked hard for it and I was glad to know that he won it.

I hope Ma has had some rides lately.  By what I hear it must have been very hot in Boston this summer.  I guess you will be very thankful to have cooler weather again.  It is comfortable here all the time and hardly any thunderstorms at all.  We came very near having one last night but it scattered away somewhere else. There has been very little rain here. I suppose you received the post cards of different places I was in on our auto trip.  I did have the time of my life and everything went splendid with us.  No accidents at all.  We went about six hundred miles in all, were gone three days and two nights.  We left St. John half past nine Tuesday morning.  July 24th.

More to follow soon….


One thought on “The Summer of 1923

  1. I am a fan of letters. Having saved an entire suitcase of letters from/to my mom thirty years ago, my memoir is based on that “ancient art of communication.” I wish more people took the time to put pen to paper these days. Enjoyed this post and looking forward to reading more!

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