CHAPTER Thirty-three: LIVING APART

 

-Greg-

Sunday night, Sept. 12

Hi Love, I’ve only been home a couple hours, so not much to report yet. I’ll start to write now, because I wanted to tell you that I love you. I’ll finish this letter tomorrow, after I talk to your dad and find out what’s on tap for this week.

   Rather than take the route home through the refuge, I decided to take the long way through town. That way, I could report to your folks, even if it did mean having to drive the god-awful road back to the refuge. As it turned out, your mom and dad had gone to a movie, but I visited with Mandy for a while. I told her more about the day than I would have told your folks, but still said that I’d let you fill in the details.

   I’m ready for bed.

Monday evening, Sept. 13

   Here I am, again, after a relatively busy day. When I saw your dad first thing this morning, he talked about needing to get ready for the upland game bird hunting season. I knew it was coming – it opens next Saturday - but I hadn’t paid much attention, because the refuge isn’t open for hunting those species. Even so, he says we will probably get quite a few visitors – hunters out prowling around, looking for places to hunt – particularly during the first few weeks of the season. We don’t have enough sage grouse to attract hunters, but we do have a fair population of “Huns” (gray partridge). Apparently, there is a temporary gate that we erect just beyond headquarters, so people can’t drive out into the area. Tim and I will set that up a little later in the week. Also, I learned that we put a chain and lock on the east boundary gate until Fish and Game moves in to set up for the waterfowl season. It probably wouldn’t deter anybody who really wanted to get in, but if we caught somebody, it would be a clear trespass, not any mistake. Either Tim or I will take care of that later in the week, and will also be sure our east boundary is well posted with “closed area” signs.

    Should you want to loosen up your shotgun, the bag limit for “Huns” is 10 per day. Charles Blake, the Idaho Fish and Game biologist, says it looks like it could be a good year for both birds and hunters. The early spring let the Huns get a jump on nesting, and let the young ones fledge before the summer rains. When the rains came, they kept the grasslands lush and just right for the growing birds.

   The season on Huns lasts through the end of the year, but we don’t need to worry once Fish and Game sets up their waterfowl check station. Fish and Game will be around until everything freezes up, and then we won’t be attractive to anybody.

    I had closed up the duck traps Saturday, because I knew I’d be with you Sunday, going to Pocatello. So, this morning, after I finished talking to your dad, I went out and got both traps set up, again. I also toured around to see what wildlife was showing up. It looks like there might be some movement of migrant ducks, but still not many. We have been a little colder the past few days, which might start some migration if it is cold north of us, too, but it’s still very dry. I did see a big bunch of northern phalaropes, so it looks like there is some new shorebird movement through the area.

   I had dinner with your dad (thanks to your mom sending enough food for any army!), then we went out together to check the duck traps. We had a pretty good haul – about two dozen, mostly mallards still, and only a few re-traps. We came back, and played a few games of checkers. He beat me three out of four, I think. It’s not really my game, but it gives us a good chance to relax and chat.

   I may have mentioned this before – I can’t remember – but he said that you played checkers with him, but preferred chess. He said he finds that too much brain work for him. I suggested I might play with you some time, but then he said that you are “very good” at it. I don’t know if my male ego could take being beaten by a mere girl. I’ll have to think about that before I challenge you.

   Tomorrow, I’ll check the duck traps early – being sure I leave this letter to be picked up by our mail carrier – then probably work with Tim. This is his last week.

   Today, your schedule says you had some placement tests. I expect you passed those with flying colors, and will be selected for some advanced – enhanced -  courses. Tomorrow, it looks like you meet with counselors, and get more orientation. Also, a steak fry? I’m anxious to get my first letter from you, with all the details.

   I’ll write again, soon.

  Your loving (almost) husband,

  Greg

***

-Vic-

Very late, Sunday night, Sept. 12

   Greg, I’m exhausted, but wanted to say thank you for a crazy, wonderful trip up here. I love our rings! Nancy saw mine immediately, and asked if we had got married. I said no, but you and I know that we are, mostly.

   We had the convocation this evening. I gather that “convocation” means that a lot of big-people-on-campus talk a long time, welcoming us all to the new school year. There was a lot of orchestra music, too. It was okay, but both Nancy and I were so beat, we didn’t take much of it in. She’s in bed already, and I will be, shortly.

   When I started to unpack my suitcase, I found that somebody had been in there, ahead of me. I found three books – I think we talked about them one time, but I have the impression that I was falling asleep during the discussion, and don’t remember a lot about them. They look interesting (but I know you wouldn’t have given them to me, if they weren’t). It’ll probably be a while before I get to them, considering what goes on here over the next couple weeks.

   I also found a rather suggestive and provocative note tucked in with my pajamas – the ones with the little pink roses on them, that you have always admired. (At least, I have assumed that it was the flowers on them that provoked your admiration). The note was unsigned, but from the subject matter, I have to assume it was from you. So, yes, I wish I could do something about that, also.

   There was another note – again, unsigned – suggesting that I not go out with college boys when I’m on a spree. It seemed an unnecessary caution on several levels, but I’ve only been here a day, so….  I didn’t tell Nancy about the first letter, but I did the second. She surprised me by suggesting that I eat an apple every day, and get to bed by three. Getting to bed by three is a given, I think; I don’t know about the apple. Then, she asked me what bootleg hooch was; I think I gave her the correct answer, but I wasn’t entirely sure, myself. I’ll have to look it up.

   I love you, my darling Greg, but it’s hard to write when my eyelids keep closing, so I’ll stop for now. I guess we have placement tests all day tomorrow. Should be busy.

 

Monday evening, Sept. 13

   Back again, and very tired, again. Nancy and I have been doing some “fellow-shipping.” On the schedule, it was considered a “free night” for us, so we just stayed around the dorm with some of the other girls. It was fun – just a lot of breaking the ice, and getting to know one another. Our fellow dorm mates come from everywhere – a lot of them from Idaho, obviously, but there are two (at least) from California, one from Oregon, one from New York (!), one from South Carolina (double exclamation point!), and – amazing! – a North Dakotan, just like me. (Well, I guess I’m not actually a North Dakotan in the same sense, but you know what I mean.) I didn’t like or hate any of them at first meeting, but the Carolina girl insisted on calling me “Vicky,” in her syrupy Southern simper. (I guess a “simper” is actually the look, rather than the voice, but you know what I mean.) Anyway, as you can imagine, I corrected her, but I’m not sure she is as “correctible” as some people. We’ll see.

    Before our dorm time, we had a steak fry – again, just to get together, eat good barbecue, and wind down after a day of tests of various kinds. As you well know from your own college days, you don’t really know how you did on those standardized entrance tests. They seem pretty straightforward, and not “hard,” but who knows what they’re really measuring? Obviously, I did “fine,” but don’t know when I’ll know what that means. The English placement test seemed a breeze. We’ll see.

   Tomorrow, we meet with our faculty advisors. I don’t know if that means advisors that we’ll have for the semester, or if these are just folks to get us started. I don’t know what my major will be yet, so I don’t know exactly what the “advice” is supposed to be. I guess for the first year or so, it’s mostly just “general” education, so I guess it doesn’t really matter.

   Speaking of majors, I’ve been kind of thinking about American history, or maybe political science. Does that surprise you? It does me, sort of. I’ve had it in my head that I would probably start with English, or maybe Art, but I got to thinking about what you said about us eventually having a career as a team. You don’t know where you’re going, and I don’t know where I’m going, but it seemed like maybe something in history or government might be a good complement to your knowledge and interests. Plenty of time to think it out, and talk it out, I guess.

   Speaking of talking, I’m dying to talk to you – no, not about anything in particular, just about us and the things we end up talking about. I haven’t had time to be too lonely yet, but I think the time may be coming, pretty soon.

   I’ll send this in the morning. Much love, Vic.


***

-Greg-

Tuesday evening, Sept. 14

   Here I am, again, ready to start another letter to my love. This morning, I made sure the letter I wrote yesterday was with the “out” mail, then went to the duck traps. A good haul in both of them, and it took me several hours to process about 25 new birds. I also had a dozen or so re-traps from this season, and three mallards with older bands. I forgot to check those against refuge records, to see if they are “ours” or somebody else’s, but I’ll do that, tomorrow, probably.

   I took a chain and a lock with me this morning, so after I finished the banding, I went to the east gate and padlocked it. I also put up a half-dozen “closed area” signs in the vicinity, so there shouldn’t be any question as to where the refuge begins.

   I started processing data for the July-September narrative report in the afternoon, had dinner with your dad, then he went with me to check the duck traps. Another good haul – about 40 new birds, mostly mallards, as usual.

   Your dad was talking about you and Mandy growing up on refuges. In North Dakota, it wasn’t so far for you to go to school as it is here, but still – away from school - you didn’t have many kids to play with except each other. He thought that is one of the reasons that you two are such good friends. In a different way, here in Idaho it was still pretty much Vic and Mandy against the world. That would have strengthened the bond, even more. I’m glad you have each other. I love you both (in different ways).

   I’m having a little trouble with my ring, something I hadn’t considered because I’ve never worn a ring, before. When I’m doing any kind of work with my hands, it has a tendency to snag on things. I think I could hurt my finger, if I’m not careful. Therefore, I rigged me a “necklace” of heavy string, and I’m wearing the ring around my neck whenever I think it might be a work danger. Don’t worry; it is not leaving my person, for any reason!

   I think I’ll wait a day before I finish this letter and send it to you. Maybe by then, I will have something from you to respond to. I’ll certainly be ready, when something comes!

 

Wednesday evening, Sept 15

 Hello again, love. I’m just getting home from checking the duck traps. I went by myself because your dad was waiting for a call from your mom. It was a lovely, clear evening – beginning to feel a little autumny, with the temperature already in the 50s. Duck numbers in the traps were down a bit, but I still managed to band about 20 new ones. I took my time coming back home – parked on our little “bluff” for a while – not the same without my favorite banding partner, but still quite pleasant, with ducks floating on the pond, and a couple of great blue herons fishing on the bank near me. I had the truck window down, and could hear some coyotes putting up quite a racket, but I never saw them. An owl (short-ear, probably) flew across the road just as I was getting to the “narrows,” and I saw your bunny just as I pulled into headquarters. He misses you, I think. (How could he not?)

   I guess I should back up, and tell you about the morning. Tim went with me to the traps, and we had close to 30,  again: mostly new and still mostly mallards. After, we erected the temporary gate to keep visitors from driving through the “narrows.” As many times as I’ve driven past, I never noticed that the posts to hold the gate are in place. So, all we had to do was take the gate out there – it’s all put together, and stored in one of the sheds – and hang it on its hinges. Easy to open, easy to close, but clearly a message to not go beyond this point.

   Oh, I did check our records for the ducks that were already banded. Most of them were mallards banded here in previous years, but there were four that were not “our” birds. I sent the information to the Bird Banding Lab, so they can tell me where those ducks came from. I don’t know if I ever mentioned that we did get a response from the Lab on the first “foreigner” we trapped, when we first started banding. It was an Idaho bird, but was banded up north of you (on John O’Brien’s refuge) about five years ago. Apparently not a world traveler, but interesting.

   In Viet Nam news, LBJ is now saying that they are going to increase the American military there to over 150,000, which was their earlier target. No real change for us, although every one of these increases puts me closer to being picked in the lottery. I got a little anxious again, when I read it, but there’s nothing to be done. I just would have liked you with me when there’s news like that.

   In more local news, all the improvements to the Amalgamated Sugar plant at Paul have been completed, and they’re going to have an open house this week. The “campaign” doesn’t start until October 4, but they will be ready. Tim still hasn’t decided if he’ll work on the beets this year.

   An “I bet you didn’t know” note: the Idaho potato harvest will be smaller this year than last, but still well above past averages. Cooler than normal temperatures in the State last month are blamed. On the other hand, the ag folks are predicting that the quality of the potatoes will be better, for the same reason. Hurrah, Idaho spuds!

   News note about your college: did you know that the LDS Church has an institute on the ISU campus?  It was started last year, and is offering 17 classes this semester. An LDS frat has a full schedule of social and religious activities lined up. Obviously, we’re not in California, anymore.

   As you can tell from my repeating stories from the newspapers, there’s not a lot going on at the refuge to report. A certain assistant manager misses you tremendously, but that isn’t news.

   It’s bedtime for me (alas, alone). I’ll mail this in the morning. I love you.

 

***

-Vic-

Tuesday evening, Sept. 14

Hi Greg, I sent you a letter this morning, but – what with it having to go to town, and then out to the refuge – you probably won’t get it until Thursday. I’m likely in the same boat, hearing from you. I am impatient, but I don’t know any way to speed up the mail. (I did think of writing to my congressman; do you think that would do any good?)

   I phoned home this evening, and talked to Mom and Mandy for a while. Everything sounds okay, there. Mandy told me about your visit. She was glad to have a chance to talk to you. I gave her more of the details of our trip up here. You had told her just enough that she wasn’t really surprised, but I was glad to share more with her. I think she thinks we’re nuts (but in a nice way).

   We had conferences with advisors all day, today. It was kind of generic in some ways, but also very helpful, getting us ready to actually register for our first classes later this week. I still am leaning toward history and political science, but you and I will have a lot of time to discuss that before I really get into classes directly affecting my major.

   The formal discussions didn’t take every minute of the day. Nancy and I and some other girls wandered around campus, finding out where the various classes are located. (Note: I find myself saying “girls,” because everybody else does, but you and I know that we are “young women.” Don’t be misled by my usage of the other term.)

   There is a group of senior classmen (and women) who call themselves The Pathfinders. They organized this year for the specific purpose of helping us new students find our way around campus. They are very helpful, and very nice. Most are Native Idahoans, but the co-chair is a “boy” named Robert, who is from Winchester, Massachusetts! Apparently, he came to ISU originally just to get a long distance away from home, but he liked it so much, he stayed into his Senior year.

   Speaking of getting far away from home, that seems to be the main motivation of those “girls” here in the dorm who are not local. I mentioned the one from South Carolina: her name is Mary Belle Chamberlain. She occasionally comes across like she grew up on the plantation with Scarlett O’Hara, but she’s actually pretty nice. She tried to call me “Vicky” again, but I snarled and bared my teeth at her, and she changed her mind. I think she is bright enough, but I think the wilds of Idaho are not going to be her cup of tea, and she isn’t likely to be around next semester.

   Of some of the other “foreigners,” the Oregonian – Jessie – is probably here to stay. There are at least four Californians. Two are from the northern part of the state, and probably will do okay, here  - although I don’t think they’re from any really cold or snowy areas. The other two are from Southern California, and I have a feeling they will be missing their bikinis and surfboards pretty quickly. 

   I think I mentioned one is from New York. Her name is Christine Sharp (and she doesn’t object to being called “Crissie”). She’s from Upstate NY, not the Big City, and I think she’ll probably do okay here, if she wants to. She’s a dear. I’m very fond of her, already.

   Tomorrow is a  continuation of meeting with advisors, and getting specific directions on how to register for our classes. Freshmen register Friday. I’m not sure what we do on Thursday, when the upper classes are registering. Tomorrow night, the Associated Women are hosting a get-together, with socializing and a record dance – which, I assume, is a dance, with the music provided by a record player. I guess I will go but, right now, I’d just like to dance with you. When are we going to make that happen, Greg Cleveland?

   This is a short letter, but I really don’t know what else to say until I hear from you. Everything is going fine here, but I do miss you – a lot!

   Don’t forget me.

   Vic

***

-Greg-

Thursday Sept. 16

   Finally! I got your first letter today. I will respond, point by point.

   The convocation sounds very convocational. I bet you were having a little trouble appreciating it, after our day together.

   I admit to writing the suggestive and provocative note. It was probably good that you read it, and not somebody else. Regarding the pink roses on your pajamas, I do like them, but my attention usually focuses on who is wearing the said garment, not the garment decorations.

   Regarding the other note, bootleg hooch – in case you haven’t had a chance to look it up – “hooch” is just a word for liquor, “bootleg” means it was homemade stuff, which was illegal during Prohibition times. Like “moonshine,” you never really knew how the illegal stuff was made, and some could be pretty potent – and some pretty dangerous to your health.

  Funny that Nancy should know that song, but I guess it’s one of the better-known “oldies.” I’m not a fan of the idea of lovers “belonging” to each other – maybe because I hate the very thought of slavery – but I certainly believe we belong together.

   I didn’t figure you’d be reading the novels any time soon, but thought you would like them, eventually.

   First impressions of your dorm mates are interesting. How dare that Southern chick call you “Vicky!”

   Your idea about possible majors is interesting. I wouldn’t have thought of either, but they certainly would give us quite a background for whatever we might do in the future. I know your beautiful brain is interested in everything. Do you think either of those subjects would really capture its attention, long-term? Seems like a long face-to-face discussion between you and me sometime in the future is in order

   I just wrote yesterday, so you‘ll know most of the news when you get that one. Today, I checked the duck traps twice, once on my own, then this evening with your dad. I think we’re getting some migrants now – mix of pintails, gadwall, wigeon – but no big flights yet.

   The arrival of some migrants is probably due to our weather, which in some ways is the local story of most note. We got very cold today – well, cold for this early in the season. It apparently resulted from a deep low pressure area north of us that is siphoning north winds down over us. There was quite a bit of snow in the hills, and even a little on the valley floor, but the freezing temperatures were the real story. The farm folks are forecasting significant losses to unharvested crops, including corn, beans and hay. The potatoes and beets are apparently okay, because they stopped growth after the frosts we had a couple weeks ago. Tonight, the weather forecasters are predicting lows in the low 20s – November weather!

  Your Dad and I played checkers, and talked. I get the feeling that he and your mom are really thinking in terms of the Dakotas for their next move. He feels some allegiance to Mac and Region 1, but I think they are really “homesick.” That brings some scenarios to mind regarding you and Mandy that we can discuss some time.

 

Friday morning, Sept. 17

   We had quite a bit of cloud cover in the night, and temperatures didn’t fall as far as predicted. Even so, we were about 28 degrees – plenty chilly for me!

   I was re-reading something I wrote last night, and maybe it needs a little clarification. What I wrote seems a little harsh to me, this morning. I was talking about the lyrics to “Button Up Your Overcoat;” you know, “Take good care of yourself, you belong to me.” It seems like most love songs, poems, love stories, etc., talk about people “belonging” to one another. Maybe it’s an overreaction on my part, but that’s always made me think of the other person as “property.” “Property” doesn’t share equal rights, and in our mostly patriarchal families, it usually means that men have more say than women. It’s only been in fairly recent years that women in the United States could own property, vote, or get credit without their husbands’ consent. Even in church, the Apostle Paul told the women to keep silent, and if they wanted to know something, ask their husbands at home, later. None of that sounds like the kind of background that shapes my love for, and my commitment to, you.

   I don’t want us to belong to one another; I want us to belong with each other - as the marriage ceremony says ‘forsaking all others’ – becoming one entity, but maintaining our own identities and individualities because those are what make and keep us especially strong as a couple.

   Well, as I say, it’s probably an overreaction on my part, but I like us to be equals.

   I’ll mail this when I get to the office. I love you.

 

 

***

-Vic –

Wednesday evening, Sept. 15

Hi Love.  I’ll probably hold on to this letter for a couple days, until I hear from you, but I’ll write a little whenever there is anything to say. If I finished it now, and sent it tomorrow, it would probably consist of miscellaneous expressions of unrequited love – very maudlin (that means “tearfully sentimental” – I looked it up), and it would cause us both to dwell on just how miserable we are when we’re apart. We don’t need to be reminded of that, do we? So, as Sergeant Joe Friday would say, from here on it will be “just the facts.”

   As I mentioned in my last letter, today included more meetings with advisors, and more specific instruction on how we do our actual registration for classes on Friday. I think I’m getting a pretty good idea of what classes I will be taking this first semester.

   Nancy and I did go to the Associated Women’s get-together this evening. It was okay - more socializing, but we didn’t stay long.

   We’ve had a pretty significant change in the weather, today. It was cloudy and windy most of the day, and we had a few showers this afternoon. It didn’t even get down to 50 degrees last night, but I don’t think it got much higher than that, all day. The weatherman is predicting colder than usual tonight, but not frosty cold.

 

About noon, Thursday, Sept. 16

    Hurray! I got your first letter this morning. Thank you. I needed it.

   Interesting about the bird hunters. I don’t remember any extra visitors because of that; seems like I would have, since we were always home on the weekend. I can’t even picture the gateposts on the road, and I must have been by them a million times!

   I don’t think I’ll have time for any Hun hunting this season, so my shotgun will stay in its sheath.

   It will be sad to have Tim gone for the winter. Has he made up his mind yet about the “campaign?”

   I’m glad you and Daddy are spending time together. I had been a little worried about the prospect of two “bachelors” living across the driveway from each other all winter, and not getting together. It seems like this will be a lot better for future family relationships, particularly remembering that we are talking about future father-in-law and future son-in-law.

   Checkers. Yes, we all have played checkers together our whole lives. Daddy likes to tell the story that Mom’s parents started them playing, hoping they would concentrate on the game and not on each other. I don’t know if that’s true; if so, it obviously didn’t work (or Mandy and I wouldn’t be around).

   Chess. Yes, the idea of us playing chess together is intriguing – although I think we may be past the point at which we would be thinking more about the game than about each other. I am hesitant to try, however, because I am really good, and chess is not a game in which you can take pity on your opponent. If I crushed you a few times, it would certainly be bad for your ego, but also might be bad for our relationship. We’ll have to carefully consider that.

   I have been wondering what I’d would do with this “free day,” in which the upper classes would be registering, but we’re not scheduled until tomorrow. I think the weather pretty well decided for me. It was 31 degrees this morning – quite a bit colder than predicted – and we had some snow overnight. It melted pretty fast because the roads are still so warm, but now I think it’s started again, and I think we’re still only in the 40s! Nobody feels much like going outdoors, so I guess I’ll just stay inside and read. (I have three novels somebody gave me.)

 

Thursday evening, Sept. 16

   I did stay inside all day, and started on the Lord Peter book. He’s an interesting character. I haven’t gotten very far yet, as it seems there was a unending string of “girls” who wanted to talk. Actually, it was nice. I enjoyed the day.

   Tomorrow, I register for my classes. It looks like I will carry 15 ½ units, consisting of an English honors class, Speech,  U. S. History, Sociology, and one on the Federal Government. The half unit is for P. E. Everybody has to take gym classes their first two years. I opted to start with swimming. I can swim enough to save myself (I think) if somebody threw me in a lake, but I’ve never had much chance to practice. I hope it will be fun.

   It snowed on and off all day, but not much stuck. They have changed the weather forecast to maybe record cold tonight! I’ll tell you in the morning.

   Good night, Greg, my love.

 

Friday morning, Sept. 17

Hi Sweetie, I’m going to mail this as I go out the door to register. It is cold!!! I’ll tell you more tonight.

  I love you.

***

-Greg-

Friday evening, Sept. 17

Hi Love.  Your Tuesday letter came this morning, just as I was sending one off to you. Thank you. It’s funny to get these so long after the events. A lot has probably happened since then. You’re in the same boat with letters from me. I sort of imagine them passing in the air somewhere over Raft River – where we had our discussion and planning session  last Sunday – mine winging its way to you, and yours headed for me. I packed a special air-kiss in mine. If you felt a little light brush on your cheek, and then  on your lips, as you opened the envelope, that’s me.

   I’m glad you got a chance to talk with the other Anderson women. That must have been good for all of you.

   You will be through with all your registration now, and should have had your first classes before you read this. I’m anxious to hear what your schedule looks like. Did you get any history or government classes?

   The Pathfinder group sounds like a good idea. I don’t think we had anything like that. I think we just muddled our way to our classes, with map and compass.

   I think picking your first college as far away from home as you can get is traditional. I remember each September at my northern California college, a new group of boys and girls with sun-bleached hair and tanned limbs would arrive, probably because it was the California state college farthest away from L. A. and San Diego. We didn’t have snow and freezing temperatures, but we had a lot more rain and fog than we had sunshine, and I don’t think many of the beach crowd returned for a second semester (if they even stayed for the first).  I predict at least some of your Californians won’t last, and I’m dead certain “Miss Scarlett” won’t. From your description, she’s a real puzzle to me – why she would ever pick Idaho, in the first place. I think of how Venita Jo viewed the terrain around the refuge, and she saw it (briefly) in the warmer part of the year!

   I realize I’m making all these judgments about others when I, too, am a Californian – not from the sunny south end of the state, but still from a place that never experiences ice and snow and cold, cold temperatures. How am I going to fare in the upcoming winter, when even the unusual cold of the past couple days seemed pretty uncomfortable? Will I bolt for the temperate Pacific shore, and – if I do – will you come after me?

   In the letter I sent this morning, I forgot to say that I banded ducks by myself last evening. Your dad went to town and stayed the night, then came back this morning with a cake and other goodies from your mom so we could have a going away picnic with Tim. “The vittles we et were good, you bet; the company was the same.” Tim has decided he won’t go to work on the campaign immediately. He and his dad are going to do some major repairs and upgrades on the old homestead, then maybe he’ll go with the sugar beets in November. I guess they always need hands, so they’ll gladly take him whenever he shows up.

   I’m sure you know that I’m not looking forward to tomorrow. I’ve been reasonably okay so far, because it’s been just a usual work week. But tomorrow is Saturday, with no Vic and no front steps. I’ve been trying to think of something I could do to ease the shock. I thought maybe I’d drive down into the mountains south of Burley – just to see a little different terrain – but I suspect the area is going to be full of bird hunters, with the opening of the season, and a chance to get out after our bad weather. I don’t want that kind of “company.” I’ll wait for the mail, then go band ducks, but then… I hope you can find something good to do with your day; I know it will be hard for you, too.

 I love you with all my heart, Victoria Anderson!

 

***

-Vic-

Friday evening, Sept. 17

Hi Greg. Busy day, but I did get all my courses, and bought most of my books. I’m a little tired tonight, and haven’t had a second letter from you yet, so I’ll hold up writing a lot until tomorrow – when I hopefully have Letter #2.

   It was really, really cold, today – in fact, set an all-time record low for this date, 28 degrees. The previous record was 32 degrees in 1902! The lowest temperature ever in September was 26 degrees in 1949. (I’m hearing this on the radio; I haven’t seen any written reports, so I may not have the figures exactly right. Whatever the actual temperatures, I repeat that it was very, very cold. We may get even colder, tonight.)

   I bet you’re thinking about the same thing I’m thinking, right now – tomorrow is Saturday, and we’re not going to be together. Other than a persistent ache from missing you, it hasn’t been too bad this week because I’ve been so busy. I’m not looking forward to the morning without you on our steps.

Saturday morning, Sept. 18

   I couldn’t find an official temperature for overnight. I don’t think we got down to the predicted 20 degrees (!), but I saw something that looked like we might have hit 25 – still more than cold enough.

   We’ve already had some “escape” decisions. Mary Belle has called it quits, and is headed back to South Carolina, and at least one of the southern California women is leaving. We told them how freakily unusual this was for September, but then we had to tell them that it would be this way every day for most of winter. That was enough. I’m sorry to see Mary Belle leave because we were becoming good friends, but she really wasn’t made for this climate.

   More later.

Saturday evening, Sept. 18

   I got your letter! Before I talk about it, I want to tell you about my day. It wasn’t as good as it would have been if I was with you, but it may have been the second best possible. Several of us braved the cold, and went into town, and saw a movie. It was called “Cat Ballou,” and had Jane Fonda as “Cat,” a young girl out to find the bad guy who killed her father. A good-natured bandit – who is more interested in her, than in justice – joins up with her. They get in all kinds of scrapes, but they only confront the killer after they get involved with an always-drunk former gun fighter (played by Lee Marvin) who, coincidentally, is the brother of the killer. It is really funny but, more than that, it is just plain fun! I want to see it with you, sometime. It certainly took my mind off my Saturday-without-you misery – but it was still only second best.

   Now, to your letter. I’m glad the duck business is going along okay, but it must be hard without my excellent help. Your description of being out on the refuge after dark made me a little pleasantly achy – ducks and herons and coyotes and owls, and all finished off with a sighting of my bunny. It really was nice being out there with you. Maybe we can do it again, some time?

   Mandy and me; we’ve always been a pair. I thought siblings – especially ones close in age – were supposed to fight, get their feelings hurt, and be jealous. We never were any of those things. Daddy is probably partly right that our relative isolation kept us close to one another, but there’s more to it than that. Our situation hasn’t really been different than that of “farm kids” all around the country, but we turned out different than most (or, most that I know about). We’ve just always liked and loved each other.

   I’m sorry about your ring. I never would have thought of that problem. Just be sure that your “necklace” is extra strong. I don’t want to lose you.

   I’m also sorry not to have been with you when you heard the latest Viet Nam news. I know – as you do – that there’s nothing we can do about any of it, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to lend you my moral support when I can.

   Regarding your other “news notes:” (1) I confess to not knowing that the sugar plant was being renovated. Good for them; (2) Hurray for quality Idaho potatoes! I’ll have to eat extra French fries this winter; (3) I hadn’t run across info on the LDS institute yet, but I’m sure I will. Funny, none of the women I’ve met so far have given any sign that they were Mormons, but some of them must be.

   I guess that’s all I know, for now. I hope you were able to find your own version of “Cat Ballou” to alleviate some of the sadness of our being apart. I knew I wouldn’t like this part of going to college. To second what you said: A certain female college student misses you tremendously, but that isn’t news. It’s bedtime for me (alas, alone).

Vic

 

 ***

-Vic to Mandy-

Saturday evening, Sept. 18

Hi Sis,

   Just a quick note. I’ll tell you more, later. I need a favor. 

   Greg’s ring gets caught on things when he is working with his hands, so right now he’s wearing it on a string around his neck, whenever he’s outside. Would you go see Jeannie Bryant (I’m pretty sure she sold him the rings), and have her find a nice manly-looking chain to replace his piece of string? His birthday isn’t until October 27, but I’d try to get it to him sooner, just for safety’s sake. Tell Mom I’ll pay her back whenever I can figure out how to make some money of my own. I thought I would work this past summer, but our vacation sort of messed up that part of my plans. (However, the vacation was definitely worth it!)

   If you ever get a chance, see the movie “Cat Ballou.” You’ll love it. Mom and Daddy might, too. Good night, my lovely friend sister.

Vic

 


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