1898, February 7 – Letter (and a very old piece of gum!) from Rosalie Bauwens to Lewis Hesse

Rosalie writes a long letter full of flirting, exacting requests & an analysis of his recent dream.  Also in this envelope is a piece of gum in a wrapper, which she sent to him despite the dangers!  (see notes after her signature).  Read a transcript of the letter below (original misspellings & all) or click on the image links to view the actual letter. As you read the transcript of the letter click on the links to view information & images about what they are discussing.


Click on a link to view the image: (some images can be further enlarged by clicking on them once they open)

Envelope Front     Envelope Back      Letter Page 1      Letter Page 2-3     Letter Page 4-5     Letter Page 6-7     Letter Page 8-9     Letter Page 10-11     Letter Page 12-13     Letter Page 14    Note Page 1     Note Page 2     Gum!


Transcript of letter:

St. Louis, Feb. 7, 1898

Dearest Lewis:

Say you bad boy, see that you don’t get your dates mixed any more, for you caused me no end of worry by it, as my letter before this will show.  And another thing Lu, of course looking for rooms is a very important matter and a real good excuse, but I’m afraid that with a ring of young men acquaintances  and club houses, and one thing and another, you will many a time be asking to be excused for short letters or a scarcity of them.  I don’t like that much see.  Dear old boy, I don’t want to be disagreeable with you so I’ll begin all over.  I came home this evening and my first question was, “A letter for me?”  Mamma said “2”.  Well I first put on a wrapper and then I first opened the little one and just glanced over it, then I opened the other one and found that piece of gum, well Lewis I laughed, and said “bug house”, but Lewis that laugh was mixed with tears, for I knew right there, that you was not sick.  I put back the gum and letters, put them both in my pocket-“nit”, and ate my supper.   After supper I read first one and then I chewed that piece of gum.  and I’m still chewing it and intend to keep it a while.  Then I read the last letter, and as I already answered the first I will now answer the last as well as I know how.  Well dear I already told you in my last letter that Saturday was a bad day for me.  My side don’t let me forget it here lately for my cough likes me so well it just can’t leave me.  My big toe is right well thank you.  And if it was sick don’t think for one moment I’d cut it off and send it to you to be cured.  “Aber nit.”  Even if turn a bout is fare play.  You see “Circumstances alter cases” – Shakespear.  Passibly good humor than you most kindly, no blues at present.  I told you in my last letter about my Saturday’s shopping.  You seem to be anxious to know my exact opinion about your two short letters, well Lewis I only thought poor fellow finds it burdensome to write to me.  Yes and I did think you just a little stingy.  Well one way or the other I’m not angry now.  Each and every one of the folks are alright.  Ida has a cough and a slight fever now and then but she is getting rid of that too.  Julie is healthy.  Tom cat is fat and dirty, he don’t think it pays to wash himself, it is too exerting; never the less, he sends his love and feels flattered at being remembered.  The birds are enjoying perfect health and send their regards.  I didn’t see Clara S. and Louie B. since I wrote to you about them, but I guess they are “O.K.” If you get a tie from Louie or Clara, it will be a big surprise to me dear, for they are both stingy things, Clara more so than Louie.  Joe S. and Will G I haven’t seen since you saw them last, and they don’t know that you are gone as far as I know.  Jack Crawford & his girl I have not yet seen to-gether, although he will bring her with him some time he says.  he himself is big and fat.  The whole push ?? are all right.  I will give them all your regards as soon as I see them.  Now I’m real glad you are through with your questions, just see to it dear that all of my questions are answered as faithfully when I ask them.  Now Lewis dear, don’t jump at conclusions in regard to forming new friends, see dear it is always best to keep a sharp look out in that respect, and if you find that they prove themselves worthy it will be time enought to openly trust them.  You must tell me more about them when you get to know them better from day to day.  Lewis if you join that club you were writing about, be careful with yourself, you write about a bathing pool; don’t if you join, be careles in regard to it.  I’d sooner  you’d never go near it than to be in fear for you of the many dangers connected with it.  I know you are smiling, but laugh all you want, you know I am right anyway.  To tell you the truth-although the Club is a nice thing and is in many ways profitable no doubt, and helpful & pleasant I don’t like it.  I have my reasons for not fancying it.  One is, that when I read about it for the first time, there was a certain tightening of the chest and a kind of a painful and fearing dread stealing on me, Lewis, believe me, I can be guided by that feeling, it never yet payed me false.  But by guided by your own feelings, you must know best, all the men join it, no doubt, as you say.  Lewis dear, now for the dream.  It was queer, the first one anyway.  I hunted up the meaning of the things you dreamed about, and will write them to you; you must apply them to your dream and in that way find out the meaning of the dreams.  To see hay – an invitation to a festivity.  To see hay wagon – Hinderance in your employment. To dream of hay at all isn’t very good.  Hay – means abundance.  To ride on a wagon – Meeting luck; bettering of your circumstances.  To travel in train – Headway made in any undertaking.  Once dream book says:  Hay or any kind of dried feed – If of a good smell, denotes pleasure, domestic happiness. if of bad smell or without smell, loss of goods or clothe.  To have anything stolen – denotes the death of a dear friend or relative.  If you dream of shoes that are old and worn – denotes shame & loss to be endured; to lose your shoes means – poverty.  The weather is not as cold as it was and we had a light rain this evening.  Now look here you silly thing, don’t think that because I thought I found a cure for the blues that I wrote you about it to have you try it, you “bug house”, I won’t tell you any morefoolishness like that any more, for I can plainly see you think I’m a silly thing.  Lewis I’m sorry you got the headache writing to me, it seems as though it’s a terrible burden to you.  This writing to me, honest I’m sorry to be such a trouble.  Your letter was a nice one and I spent the evening pleasantly over it.  I hope the walk you said you’d take did your poor head some good.  Well I think I have answered your letter don’t you, bad darling you?  I told you about myself up to Sunday afternoon 3 o’clock in my last letter, didn’t I.  Well just after I mailed that letter the Pullens and Frances Miller came and staid till 5 ‘clock, but when Mammie & Jennie get together and talk to me, I generally get discouraged and get the blues to boot.  Well the little ones gave us lots of pleasure.  Willie D came about 4 oclock and we had some music. The folks all seem to remember that you are gone and I must be lonesome and I appreciate it.  But Lewis, would you believe it, the larger the crowd the more lonesome I am?  That’s a fact.  When there is a lot of people, I feel like crawling into a corner all alone and having a good cry.  When the Pullen’s went home, Ida Price an little aggie came for about half an hour.  Then we had supper. After that I felt I was going to get the blues for true; our boys sang so fine, and little Myrtle was so sweet that I begun to think of the time that might come when I couldn’t see all that, and might be all alone, you either working or perhaps finding fun elsewhere, beg pardon Lu, I don’t want to misjudge you, but that is really what gave me the blues.  Well W. D. asked teh boys and I if we would not go to his father’s house and spend a few hours?  And although I did not feel one bit well I went sooner than be left alone to my thoughts.  We spent a real nice evening, and came home about 15 to 10 o’clock.  I slept well and felt pretty good Monday morning.  Our foreman was sick again to-day adn didn’t come down at all.  I felt better today than I did since I was sick, and if it wasn’t for my cough I would get well quick, but that holds me back.  This evening Edd brought his two musical friends here for about half an hour and I compt to several pieces.  Now you know almost all and it is 15 min. to 11 o’clock so I’ll quit for this time or you’ll get awful tired of reading so don’t get your dates mixed any more, be a good dear old fellow, don’t gorget me, and take care of yourself adn pray for me.  I’m tired now, good night dearest.  I wish you could come to see me once in a while.  Well good night dear old fellow and think of me always as Your own

Rosalie B

My own darling Lucy good night dear.  The small letter was received at 8am and the larger one at 11 am.  This is a piece of the gum you gave me before you left.  Your Dody.  I cut that gum flat, so that it would not be noticed in the letter, as I heard if you are caught sending anything but writing except money through a letter you can be arrested.


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