Friday, April 5, 2013

In whatsoever state I am...

*Look for a new posting every Tuesday and Friday*

Very nice comments made on my last posting made after my trip home at Easter.  The title of today's entry is a reference made by brother, Richard, about a common Bible verse often repeated by Mother: Philippians 4:11 - "In whatsoever state I am, there within to be content."  Catherine LeDuke has taken that phrase and truly "made it her own."  However, the state in which she currently finds herself is not a state that she would want any of us to fret about.

Catherine F. Patty
1933 Humes High Graduate
She would remind anyone who finds themselves feeling remorseful for her that she has led a full life, has been blessed in so very many ways throughout the years, continues to be blessed by having so many loving and thoughtful people around her, and has yet before her an Eternity with the One she has been so faithful to all the years of her life.  Whatever short, seemingly uncomfortable "state" she is in at this time will be but a blink of an eye in relation to the Everlasting Adventure that awaits her when the Lord finally calls her home. 

For now, each of us must have faith that however incomprehensible the purpose of this current state may seem to us, the Faith that has Guided her for a lifetime will someday provide her with the ultimate contentment she deserves.  I believe this with all my heart and would hope that those who place even a small measure of "trust" in me will feel and believe the same.

Snow was common on path to
Mrs. Worthington's 
With my sermonizing over I'll share a rare letter written in the Spring of 1937.  When Mr. and Mrs. James Neville LeDuke returned to Burritt College following their Memphis wedding they took up residence in Billingsley Hall.  James Neville was the House Master in this dormitory and had been living in the two room apartment since his arrival in September.  Catherine would share a bathroom with another teacher, Miss Kimmins, who had an apartment just down the hall.  They had no kitchen so breakfast, lunch, and dinner would be eaten at Mrs. Worthington's boarding house just outside the School Gates; the cost to eat 3 meals a day, times thirty days a month, times two people was a whopping total of $28.00 per month.  James Neville insisted that Catherine purchase a new warm coat and a comfortable pair of galoshes for this thrice daily trek.
Little is known about those first few months of their married life in Spencer, so this letter found recently written to Mrs. Patty in Memphis was a nice treat.  Being nosy is fun sometimes.
                                                                                        Sunday nite, April 18, 1937

Dear Mrs. Patty,
     We missed your letter this week.  We've had a fairly nice week.  Friday nite the elementary grades had their exercises.  Saturday Catherine and I went on a picnic, marshmallow toast or what have you.  We gathered flowers and please don't spank us we went in wading in the creek.  No, it didn't give us a cold.  At least it hasn't yet.  Six weeks from today we'll be in Memphis, and will I be glad.

Springtime finally
 came to Spencer
     Catherine has gone to visit Mrs. Hughes, a neighbor who is sick.  We're really enjoying being here since it has - At Last - gotten warm.  I thought it never would.  The place is rather pretty in a rustic way.  Flowers are blooming, Purple, white, and yellow violets, dogwood, redbud, bush honeysuckle, sweet William, and ferns.  Wish we could send you a bouquet.
     I have a sick fear that I'm gaining weight.  I know its silly for a boy to worry about weight, but I hate the idea of becoming fat.  I guess because all the "other LeDukes" are short, dumpy, and fat.  (That's a fine way to talk about my family isn't it?)
     Do you notice above that I called myself a boy.  It seems that I won't ever grow up.  Of course, if someone said I wasn't a man I'd get mad, but I don't seem any older than when I was 15 -- 22 now.  Terribly old.
     How's everyone I know in Memphis?  You all seem so very far away.  Living in Spencer is rather unreal after all.

     I hear the church bell ringing.  We went this morning.  If a baby behind me could have kept quiet, I would have enjoyed the talk - not a sermon, just an informal discussion.
     Catherine wore her blue suit and white organdy blouse and yellow flower and hat she bought in Sparta.  I wouldn't won't her to know I bragged on her, but just between you and me, she gets prettier every day.  We're just as happy as we knew we'd be - even more.
     Do you ever see anyone from STC?  Would like to take a look around and see how things are.
     Dad writes that grandma hasn't been well this winter.  Aunt Sallie (grandma's sister) died about 3 weeks ago.  The doctor ordered Grandma to bed for 3 weeks.  I hope she's all right now.  I hate to see people get old.  Grandma seems to want to hold on to life as long as possible and yet I believe she's realizing now that she hasn't much longer. 
     I don't know whether I'll teach here next year or not.  Mr. Scott hasn't mentioned next year yet, and I haven't approached him on the subject.  Guess I'll come back, tho.
     Well, my clock says its 7:20.  I must stop and write Dad and Miss Maude.

Dearest Mama -
     Well, it seems that while I was out my very good husband has produced a very good letter and in it told just about all there is to say.
     We did miss your letter.  I'm really worried, too, for since the warm weather has come, I'm afraid you're having another bad spell - I don't suppose I write often enough myself to complain with very good grace, but you're a good correspondent and I worry when you don't write.
     We enjoyed sister's letter.  Tell Daddy to put one in sometime.  Did he take in the opening ballgame?  Evelyn said Freeman had to go - I know you enjoy her visits - wish I could make one of them for her -
     Does Sister want anything in particular for graduation?  Would she rather we send a check and let her choose her own present, or let us pick out something after we come.  Which ever she prefers is okay with us -
     I've been wondering about coming to her graduation.  I certainly hate to miss it.  I suppose I could come on a week before Duke does, tho I do hate to leave him with all the "house-closing" to do in addition to being busy with the quarterly exams, class play, and what not.  I don't know what to do -
     It seems as if there were something else I wanted to say but I can't think what -
     I'm so sleepy now I can hardly hold my head up -  How's Nena?  Tell Aunt Nell and Aunt Sallie I'm still waiting for their letters.
     Write soon and tell us all the news.
                                                                                                   Love to you all -


James Neville LeDuke
'60's Faculty Photo
As is the case with this letter James Neville was the "chief" letter writer in the family.  When he died in 1977 the tradition of an envelope arriving with 4 pages of "newsy stuff" from Daddy and a page and a half of "there's really nothing much left to tell" from Mother came to an end.  Mother has always been great at sending cards out for proper occasions and her cards would always have written messages covering all available space, but for regular, everyday correspondence, she just couldn't hold a candle to James Neville LeDuke.
Ever since I started writing this "blog" I have been trying extra hard to "channel" 'Duke and acquire just a little of his writing energy to keep me going just two times a week.  Thanks Dad; so far, with the help of your Granddaughter Amanda, it's working. 

Jimmy LeDuke (I'd love to hear from you...feel free to comment below, or click HERE to send me an e-mail.)


1 comment:

  1. Lovely thoughts at the beginning of this post - as good as any Easter sermon I have heard this year or previous.
    I was fortunate to have had classes with both your parents (and your brother, Richard!), especially since Mr. LeDuke had quit teaching for a time before returning in the 70s. Ah, the stories that came out of that Chemistry lab!
    One day we were about to do an experiment which used or produced a volatile acid. Mr LeDuke was giving us the procedure, including what to do if we got any on us. He said "Stop what you are doing immediately and run down to the gym locker rooms. Don't take time to ask permission, just run. GO to your respective locker room showers.."
    At that point Mrs. LeDuke came in to the room, apologizing for the interruption, explaining that she needed to put some ceramics into the kiln that was in the storage room behind Mr. LeDuke's desk.
    He continued: "Turn on the water and take off all your clothes."
    Immediately Mrs. LeDuke's head shot out of that door as she asked "WHAT are you telling these CHILDREN?"
    Riotous laughter ensued.