MsC 746


Collection Dates: [1906 -- 1930]
.5 linear ft.

This document transcribes a collection of materials held by the
Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1420
Phone: 319-335-5921
Fax: 319-335-5900

To the inventory of the Fisk Papers

[Ed. Note 2003: The letters in the Fisk collection were transcribed by Marion Ballou Fisk's grandson, Walter Fisk Giersbach, who also supplied the head and other notes found in the following text].

Marion Ada Ballou Fisk (1875-1961) was raised in the small-town New England atmosphere of Windham, Vt. She went to school locally, and then to Northfield Seminary for Girls, in Northfield, Mass. Charles Leon Fisk (1868-1933) was coincidentally a student at Mt. Hermon Academy founded, founded by Dwight L. Moody for poor boys, where he worked his way. In summers for a time, he worked at a Wallingford factory.

Finishing at Mt. Hermon, Charles was accepted at Princeton, and graduated in 1895. During college, Charles spent summers as meat cook at the big Northfield Hotel. It was there that he met Marion Ballou. She was a waitress, the most desired waitress in the dining room because she could carry all the orders in her head and remember who ordered what. Charles lost his head when the help went on a picnic (he had gone with another girl). He saw Marion in a girls’ race. She ran with grace, he said, and beat all the other girls as well.

From Princeton, Charles went to Chicago. He had wanted to study medicine, but it was too costly, so he decided to become a minister. At the Chicago Theological Seminary, Charles met three young men who were also musically inclined, and together they became the Hesperian Quartet, which continued after they left school. They were on the Chautauqua circuit for some years during their summer vacations.

One of the teachers who made a lasting impression on the students was Dr. Graham Taylor. He was interested in the inner city and its problems, and in addition to his teaching he had founded a settlement project, Chicago Commons, about the same time Jane Addams founded Hull House. Because of his enthusiasm, some of the students became interested in his work and went to the poor areas to help. After his seminary days were over, Charles Fisk accepted a call to an inner-city church, Berea, on Chicago’s Near West side. Marion Ballou had also come to Chicago after finishing at Northfield, and she enrolled at the Moody Bible Institute, which was also founded by Dwight Moody, the founder of Mt. Hermon and Northfield.

Charles and Marion were married Apr. 26, 1899, and went to minister together to the people in the Berea Church. At the Sunday School, they had a large number of children whose English was limited, so Marion got out the pastels and paper and, as she told them Bible stories, she drew pictures to help the children understand when she was saying. This was probably the forerunner of her later professional career as a lecturer-cartoonist.

This letter home to her mother marked her first successful Chautauqua program. For scans of the letter (which includes MFB's sketches of the pictures she drew, click here.)

Sabetha, Kansas
July 16, 1908

Dear home folks:--

You don’t know what a relief your card was to me today. It was just two weeks today since I had had your last card, and I was worried lest you might be sick somewhere. I am so glad you could go, and you had a good time didn’t you? I hope you did old Boston town up good and brown.

I’m going to begin my letter tonight, but undoubtedly I’ll not......

Sat. morn:-- I was going to write “finish it” when the baby made it know it was wide awake and ready for a little conversation, and as I had fussed with him for an hour and a half I gave up and went to bed with him. Now I’ll begin away back as near as I can where I left off. Charlie had a dreadful time on his trip and came home tired out and about sick, but cured, I guess of the Western fever. He rode his wheel over sixty miles away from a R.R. and the people didn’t seem to be extra willing to feed him, and so he had quite a hard time.

It was awfully hot here all week, & I worked on my new waist and practiced on my pictures and couldn’t either eat or sleep for worry. Friday I was really sick with a bad head-ache. Charlie came home at noon, and in the eve. went to the Dr. and got something to make me sleep & quiet my nerves. Sat. morn he moved my belongs down in to the cellar, and it was cool and nice down there to work. Sat. I washed and ironed some things we had to have. Sun. went about in the usual way, except that I put in a little practice in the P.M.

Mon. I practiced once through again and packed and dressed and got away on the 2:10, only it was 1½ hours late. Mr. Judd met us and took us up to his house. After supper I carefully coifed my hair like this, [image at right] it takes two rats to do it, and dressed in my new low-necked waist & Indian head muslin and went to the tent. I guess there were about 1500 people there and I was fairly sick to my stomach I was so scared. I was asked to sit on the platform while another lady gave an address, and as I looked out over the audience I said to myself, “There you sit, 1500 of you, but probably there aren’t half a dozen of you can draw as well as I do, and there isn’t one of you would have the nerve to draw in public, and so at my worst I’ll do better than you could do,” and while I knew, just the same, that if I didn’t do well I’d get awfully criticized, yet it did a good deal to calm me down, and when I got up to speak I was perfectly at ease & mistress of myself. I drew six pictures in 35 mins. Here they are approximately. 1, was an old New England home, and I told the grist of my New Eng. stories while I drew it.

2nd I drew a typical New Eng. man, telling meantime the story of man who took Gene Howard’s medicines, and then put on a hat & high collar and made an Uncle Sam of him.

3. I drew the American boy on July 4th & 5th. I made the picture a first, and then doctored up the same picture, but I can’t do it with pencils, so will have to make you two pictures.

No. 4 was the colored people and after giving them a few figures I sang a little coon lullaby, and drew the pictures while I sang, and it brought down the house.

The 5th was the Russian Jews, and the 6th was a twice life size head of Taft.

The people greeted me nicely and clapped every picture and three or four times between whiles. The next morning the daily published my picture and an account. I will send it to you later, but will you please return it, as it is the only one I could get hold of. I heard praise enough to quite turn my head, and the manager paid me my expenses more than he had promised. I’ll tell you why I want the paper, because it is a good recommend, and I am going to try to get some more work with it.

We stayed till Tues. eve. so to hear Dr. Waters and came home on the freight. It was a hard trip and once we got stuck on an up grade. Wed. we had callers all day, and took supper and spent the evening at Dr. Murdocks. Thurs. we started out in the morning to find a place to camp for our vacation, but stopped at Mr. Lewis’ and it ended up by our staying there all day till after supper, and then I began this letter in the eve. but Chester [her son] wouldn’t let me finish it. Fri. A.M. went in housework, and in the P.M. I went to a recital at Carrie Sherwoods, to hear “our daughter” play, and in the eve we took supper & spent the eve. at Dr. Ross. Saturday (yesterday now) we had one caller after another all day long, so I never even got my dishes done till dark, and we were invited over to Mr. Bells in evening to meet some friends of theirs, so you see we have had our giddy week and are all tired out in consequence.

Tonight Charlie gives his last stereopticon lecture, and then our vacation begins. We have a tent engaged and hope to get away Tues. to camp. “We don’t know where we’re going, but we’re on the way,.” and when I find out I’ll let you know, I’ve changed my mind. Will send the paper in this, & don’t return it till I am home again, so I won’t lose it.

We were so glad to get your letter. I am so glad you could go and have that nice time, and I enjoy hearing all about it. You’ve got lots to think about now.

How I do wish I could see you and have a nice visit. I’m going to plan now for that trip next summer.

You asked about that Magic Cleaner address. I found it some time ago, but have kept forgetting it. We are all well, and as cute as we can be, and all send lots of love to you all.

Ever your own,

This letter written by Mrs. Fisk to her mother in Cleveland. This shows the frustrations of balancing a business career and family. Her letter is written on her own, personalized letterhead advertising her lectures.

Killbuck, O.
Jan. 15, ’14

Dearest Mama:

Yesterday morning I woke up crying for you, and there was such a load on my breast that I couldn’t get rid of it all day.

I suppose it was because we had been talking of Mrs. Sharpe’s death & dying alone but I dreamed that they took you to a hospital & you were there five days and then you died. And they never told me till two days later, for they said they thought I wouldn’t care, as I had been too busy to come to see you, or send flowers, or even telephone to ask how you were the five days you were there. And I cried & protested that I did care, & didn’t understand & flung myself down in a paroxysm of grief & then I woke up. It seemed so real and so dreadful, and – a good deal like my last visit home. I was so glad to see you all , and loved you and loved your love, but I never had time to see or enjoy any of you, except that Monday night supper. But I do love you, and appreciate all you are doing for me and mine. I thought this morning of my little girlhood up in Windham [Vermont]. How pretty I used to think you were, especially when you combed your golden hair. It was like a long cloud of sunshine, if such a thing could be. How patient you always were with me. I always meant to be just such a good mother as you were, if God gave me children, but somehow I cold never play down to my children as you did to me.

Still I love them, and they love me. Marion’s [her daughter’s] prayer really broke me up. I don’t feel as if I had seen them “face to face” at all. Just the little while Sun. eve, and the wee bit Tuesday morning. No, that visit was a nightmare. I wonder if you have discovered all my forgetfulness. First, after I got down town to the office, I discovered that I had come away without my green rose or my bar pin at my throat. Wasn’t that a funny thing to do? Charlie [Charles Fisk, her husband] got me a new pin and I shall get a knot of ribbon if I decide I want one. Just at present I rather like it plain. Then I came away my thin corset cover for evening wear, so now it is up to me to do what I proposed – buy some crepe and make me one, so don’t bother to send me one. But most serious of all, I forgot my curlers. I left them in my table in my room, with my lavaliere, so I tho’t when I got it, I would see them, but I didn’t. I have two of the whalebone curlers that m. gave me for Xmas with me, and I am getting on with them & his pieces of paper for the rest, but I wish you would send me the others. I think you can fasten them inside a letter. They re the most satisfactory things I have ever had. There were some other things I meant to have taken too, but it was too wild a rush. I never got to see Mr. Alber at all. Was just in time at Schauffler, and had a nice time with my class, but only time to get back to the office and get my things before going to the depot. [She is referring to the Coit Alber bureau out of which she was booked.] C. [Charlie] left 20 m. before I did, so we had a little visit at the depot, though depot visits never amount to a great deal.

I was late getting into Galion, & had to hurry, but had a good crowd about 450. I am awfully tired – am still feeling the strain of the two strenuous days, but I slept yesterday P.M. & got a good rest last night, and can get another tonight.

I’m seldom as homesick, tho’, as I am now. I believe it’s worse than if I hadn’t been home at all. I still hear Chester’s wishful little voice: “Can’t I sleep with you tonight,” and feel his light kisses on my face as he kissed me this morning before I was awake. And dear Marion, I don’t feel as if I had seen her at all. No, I shan’t care if I don’t have Chautauqua work next summer. I think it would be fun to stay home for awhile.

I don’t know what to expect tonight. It is awful icy and threatening rain so I’m afraid it will be a small turnout.

Weren’t you glad to see the weather moderate? It was beautiful and balmy this morning – almost like spring, but it has clouded up now. Give my love to papa and the dearie children, and always and always your girlie loves you.

Ever yours,

Letter written on stationery of Hotel Drexel, Vale, Oregon; (“The Last Frontier”), The Caledonia Hotel in Rupert, Idaho, and the North Side Inn in Jerome, Idaho.

Camrose, Alberta
July 10, 1917

Dearest Mother Mine:--

I’m all aboard for Hardisty, at Canrose, waiting for the train to start and while waiting I’ll begin my letter. Unless I utilize such odd moments it is quite evident that I can never keep up with my correspondence. I don’t know where the time all goes, but I don’t seem to have much to show except so many miles traveled, and a lecture given every day.

Here we started and after trying to write on for a few words I stopped. I reached Hardisty at 10:30 P.M. This is one of the interesting things to see and makes me realize how far north I am. It was broad daylight until; 9 o’clock last night, -- even at ten the western sky showed the sunset colors and even when I raised my shade at 11 on going to bed there was the gray fading light of day in the west. I came in ahead of the others but I heard them come in about three o’clock and woke for a moment, and lo, the eastern sky was pink, and day was coming. These long, long days are wonderful to me. The days are hot but the nights are always coo, and almost always I pull up an extra cover before morning. This means good rest.

This is the great wheat country, and looks no unlike Kansas – a big rolling prairies country. They say they are going to have a bumper wheat crop this year, which certainly sounds good in the face of the need of a hungry world.

Well, my first Canadian week is over, and thus far I am pleased with this country. They tell us we will find harder sailing when we get over into Saskatchewan, which is largely settled by the old English, and therefore slower, but this is new country made up as is our own west by new settlers, very many of them from the States. Our audiences have been larger than they were in the States, and much more appreciative than they were in Utah and Idaho.

One feels nearer the war up here for every town, no matter how small, has sent its quota of soldiers, and usually away out of proportion to their population. There is a noticeable dearth of young men, -- you notice it especially in Chautauquas, where young couples are apt to come together, but here are groups of girls – their escorts undoubtedly “somewhere in France.”

One frequently sees wounded soldiers, sometimes on crutches – some are to be returned when sufficiently “patched up.” Those who come back minus an arm, a or leg, are fortunate for they can still make a living but the pitiful cases are those wounded in the head, or dying from gas poisoning. I have seen none of these, but I have heard of them. And with it all, one is impressed by the kindly spirit of toleration of these Canadians. They have accepted it, as I wrote to Charlie, like a disease that is troublesome and persistent, but not incurable. They are doing all they can to work a perfect curse, but they are patient about it, and I have yet to hear the first word of hatred for the Germans. Rather it is a pain & regret, and a hope that they may yet be regenerated in the coming years, so that they will be really human and worthy to dwell among their fellow men.

I have had some pleasant times this week. If I remember right I wrote last from Kamloops while waiting for a 7 P.M. train. Well, I got tired out with waiting, so lay down dressed and rested what I could, which wasn’t much. Finally they called me at 4 A.M. and at that the train went out at 5, -- 10 hours late. I had thought I would curl up and go to sleep the three hours ride to Revelstoke, but I found my son Mr. Coleman on board. He is my “favorite son” this summer, a Missouri boy, -- a nice clean boy who is studying in Agricultural College, -- and dreading fearfully in a good American way, to go to war in the fall. He says, “I’ll go, of course, and I’ll do my duty, but I’m a young fellow yet, and I don’t like to think I may die, or worse yet, maybe go through life blind, or a cripple.” It is pretty tough on a red-blooded young fellow, isn’t it? We’ve got a mighty nice bunch of boys this year, and sometimes when I look at them and think what may be their lot within the year, -- visualize these boys I know, -- not an indiscriminate bunch of boys, but my “sons,” torn and mangled, -- I tell you, it makes me sick at heart. Certainly war is hell!

Well, Mr. Coleman came and sat with me, and I didn’t sleep, and I guess it was just as well, for we passed thro’ some wonderful scenery.

Revelstoke was a beautiful place. Above the town – only 17 miles away to be exact, but in the clean air not seeming more than 3 miles, was Mt. Begbie. On this side is an enormous glacier. It was the best view I had ever had of our Mr. Duff, the Supt. and I went walking and saw some Chinese homes – just holes dug out of a bank. I meant to go back later and get a picture but after my program, some ladies took Mr. Duff, Mr. Earl and me for an auto ride, and it was wonderful. It is real primitive mountain country around here, and they tell me bear stories that make your hair curl.

The next day in Gleichen I had another delightful time. One of the men in town took me out to an Indian reservation. It was the first time I had ever seen a real Indian teepee on its native heath. The only one I went into is owned by Mary, an educated Indian woman, -- that is, she can speak English fairly well, -- and her teepee was as neat as wax, and very attractive.

Seeing how interested I was, Mr. Bartch took me to an open air cemetery. They aren’t allowed to use these any more, but they used to put their dead into a rough box, & set it out on the prairie. The body was wrapped in blankets, and in the box were put his personal ornaments & cooking utensils. Some were so old that the blankets were rotting away, & we could see the bones of the skeletons. But the most interesting thing of all ,was the place where they had their sun dance. I wrote Charlie quite a detailed description of the booth, which undoubtedly he will read to you. From the tree trunk erected in the middle, Mr. Bartch took a skin rattle and gave it to me, and I am dreadfully glad & proud to have it. When we got back to town he told me to put it under my coat and not let anyone know I had it. Someone has since told me that without doubt I am keeping some soul prowling restlessly about the Happy Hunting Grounds unable to join the celestial chorus because he hasn’t any instrument.

Since then, the week has been rather ordinary, -- the scenery hasn’t been very interesting, -- flat and wholly western.

At Red Deer I gave my program in the morning on account of the Fair they were holding in town, and we all went in the afternoon, and had a great time. They had a lot of amusement features, as well as the Fair exhibits, and I must confess our crowd patronized those the most. But, as might be expected, Fate had a back-handed swing for me, for after our return to the hotel, I received a message from Mr. Erickson thro’ the Supt. Mr. Schumacher, for me to cut down the lecture part of my program by about a third. Knowing me as you do, Oh, you know how this cut me and I bawled pretty near all night long. But now I am calmer, I’m not feeling quite so bad, but a good deal more mad. I had given that lecture over 450 times before coming on this circuit, and it has universally made good. It has been heard by more than half the managers – big ones – in the States, and now Mr. Erickson, who two years ago, was just an ordinary tentman is the only one who has ever criticized it. They have made me the goat of the System, as I am the only one who does a program without a prelude of any kind, and on an afternoon at that! I have talked with three – no, four – Supts. since then, and they all tell me not to change, and not to shorten my program, and two of them have advised me not to write to him, and I guess I won’t, for I can’t write this sort of letter that will sound right. However, I shall talk it out when I see him. I was in his town the day before, & if he had any criticism to make, why didn’t he make it to me instead of sending them thro’ someone else. That’s a coward’s trick. Since I began this letter, yours has come and also one from Mrs. Honda. They were at Spokane at a medical convention, and didn’t get my letter till they returned. Evidently they felt very much cut up about it. She sent her love to all the family and mentioned you especially.

No, Mama, you are not bad about writing. I claim the whole distinction for badness in that direction. I’m glad you could go and enjoy the E. Cleveland Chautauqua. You make my head swim with all the piecing up, and things you are doing. Why don’t you sit out on the porch and rest some? I’m glad you are crocheting on your waist again. I have mine on this moment & love it more than ever. Yes, I enjoy my white one very much, too. I love to know all the things about the Dutchman’s pipes and the roses, & the garden, but it makes me very homesick. Usually I enjoy my Chautauqua work, but this summer I’m not enjoying it at all, and while my companions are a nice bunch, and I like them all a lot, they are younger than I and we don’t have such a lot in common. I guess I’m soured on everything since Mr. Erickson’s message.

Charlie writes me that my time was half gone July 5, and I am glad. It has gone awfully slow, though. I hope the last half goes faster.

When I get into a bigger town I must get some net and make some sleeves for my black dress. The net we used that Eva gave me didn’t really pay for making up. It is in shreds, and I have only worn it three times.

Now I must close and begin to think about my afternoon program. I love you dearly, mother mine. I think you’ll get to see quickly a lot of me this fall. I am to be back with Alkahest [her bureau management] this coming season. In a way, I can’t help being glad, much as I dislike their “eats,” I am glad to be reinstated

With love to papa and heaps for you.


(How much does a purse like Marion wants cost? If I send you the money will you get it for me? I’ll write a note to slip inside. If I send it from here I must pay 45% of its cost in duty, and my thrifty New England soul revolts at that.)

A letter written home later the same year provides insights into the sights, people and difficulties she encountered on the road, including a visit to Yellowstone Park. She writes on stationery from the Stark Hotel in Twin Bridges, Montana.

en Route. Sept. 4, 1917

My dearest darlingest mother:--

Just at this present moment our train is waiting in Columbus, Nebr. I feel almost home, & have, ever since we reached Lexington, for though I know, when I think about it, that two nights and a day stretch between me and him, but these places are all so familiar to me that I don’t feel strange any more.

I have treated you pretty badly these last two weeks, about writing letters. First it was because I was simply driven to death, and then since you went away I don’t know where to address a letter, so I’m going to get this ready, and mail it when I get home, as I judge from your last letter that Charlie knows where you are.

I don’t know just where I left off, but I guess it was just after we first got back into the U.S. and I tell you, I was glad to get back on Uncle Sam’s soil again, with our beautiful flag flying above us. My work has gone better too, but the traveling has been desperately hard, with a lot of night rides, and auto trips. However, in them all, there is just one thing to work up to, and that is that wonderful Park trip. You know I had quite given it up, and even when you sent your guide book, I had no idea I should use it. I wanted to go, but I couldn’t find anybody who was going on my day. Then at Townsend Mr. & Mrs. Stein, he is one of our advance men,-- said they were going, and immediately the trip began to look desirable again. Then later, that same night, I met the McDonalds and Wallaces, who were going, and the McD’s said I was silly if I didn’t go. I began to think so too. Then Mr. Skri crooked his finger at me, and when I went over he said, “Say, mother, I want to go thro’ the Park.” Well, we agreed to go, and left Three Forks at 1:23 next morning, and I was mighty glad he went for the Steins [Sterns?] failed to show up, so I would have been all alone. Right here I’ll say that I’m quite contented that it came out that way, for I don’t think more than two people can do a thing like that together, and outside of my own folks I don’t know anyone who could have been a more congenial companion, and he said the same of me, & added that he didn’t know anybody else who wold have so much like his own folks as I did. He was always at hand when I needed him, but quite self-effacing, and was contented to stand for a half an hour & look at that canyon, & not talk. I didn’t want to talk then, for once in my life. We reached Gardiner at 11:25, but now instead of stage coaches, they have long yellow 12 passenger automobiles lined up outside the station. We drove to Mammoth Hot Springs, & had dinner, & then had 1 ½ hrs. to look about. We were rather special, and they told us we must leave at 1:45. We climbed up around the wonderful lime formations, & saw some beautiful colored pools, but we didn’t [go] down to Hells Kitchen, for fear we’d be late, but we needn’t have worried or hurried, for we waited over an hour for a car to come for us. We drove 49 miles that P.M. to Old Faithful camp, passing thro’ the Hoodcross [?], a really frightful waste of gigantic rocks, and the Obsidian Cliff, was the greatest disappointment, in fact the only disappointment to me, in the Park. It is a gigantic rock, and one can see patches of obsidian here and there, but I really tho’t the one overlooking the Rainbow Pool was finer. We stopped, & prowled thro’ Hell’s Half Acre, -- my, isn’t that Excelsior Spring frightful! and spent some little time at the Norris Basin. Of course, I tho’t that wonderful, since it was my first real look at such things, and I don’t recall now, anything uglier, anywhere, than those mud geysers!

We got to Old Faithful around 7 o’clock. As you may remember, the Shaw-Powell camp is about as far from Old Faithful Geyser, as is the Inn. We got supper, & went out and saw Old Faithful, under the search light, & then went to the hotel, and collapsed in some rocking chairs, and sat all evenings, we were so tired! We had planned to get up early, & start our investigations, but when we found we didn’t have to start for the Lake until 2:30, we decided to take it easy, so didn’t get up until the boy had been around & built our fires. That’s a grand institution, isn’t it? I slept like a log, but Mr. Skri said he didn’t rest very well. At 8:30 we started out with a big bunch of fat sisters, and the guide but in a few minutes we decided we could do better alone, so after seeing O.F. again, we deserted them, and went to the Castle Geyser, and she geysered for us! Then we went to all the others, except the Giantess, & Bear & Cubs, & those in that group. We saw the Grotto, and the Turban inscription, and the Giant was boiling clear to the top of the cave, so we didn’t care to get too near. We walked as far this morning as the Morning Glory Pool, & on our way back, went out past the old Wylie Camp, the Daisy, to the Rainbow Pool, Handkerchief Pool, & Emerald Pool. Isn’t that wonderful! The hd’kf pool was another disappointment to me, for it didn’t wash my hdkf clean, as advertised. We got back for dinner at 12:30, and after dinner Mr. S. wanted to go to the Giantess &c, but I just couldn’t! I was unwell, and so much walking nearly killed me. He wouldn’t go without me, so we took in O.F. again, & then left for our P.M. drive.

We go much faster by auto than they did in the old stage coach days. We stopped for maybe three-quarters of an hour at the Thumb, and investigated everything interesting there – indeed the driver got quite out of sorts because we were late getting back, but we weren’t as those of us, the kind who likes to rush thro’ things too fast.

We got to the Lake camp about 4:30, and Mr. S. went off to see about a place to swim, and I sat down to write a bit, -- I didn’t like that place at all, -- but presently he came in and said he had found five perfectly good bears out back of the camp. He made good his promise, too, for then seven before we were thro’, and we got some pretty good pictures of them. I’ll tell you more about this when I see you, but after this Mr. S. went for his swim, & hardly had he gone, than the clerk came & told me we couldn’t leave for the Canyon Camp, as we had been told we could, because there was no-one else going, unless we cared to pay $19.00 extra. I was quite stirred up about this, but there was nothing to be done about it till after supper, and then we walked up to the hotel & interviewed the transportation Agent. He was mean and talked ugly. I told him we were Ellison-White folks – that our company had already put our $400.00 into this trip, and had asked us to write up the trip, & said: “and believe me, I shall write this up and you’ll be in it good and proper.” He was still intractable, but the hotel clerk came over and asked us what it was all about, & we told him. Mr. S. heard him get the Agent aside and say” Maybe there’s something in what these people say. Maybe you’d better look it up.” So he phoned to headquarters and from then on, we were treated like princes royal. He got out a 7-passenger car, and himself drove us to the Canyon, and made arrangements for our next day’s trip. The Canyon Camp was beautiful and I loved it. We attended the concert given by the “savages” and next morning got up at 5:30, and went down “Uncle Tom’s Trail” to the bottom of the Falls. I’m glad you didn’t undertake it. I thought of you at the Grand Canyon as I clambered up. No, you certainly wouldn’t want two such climbs in one summer! Though of course this was short in comparison. It winded me, however, and we got back just simply starved for breakfast. We were marked people at the camp for our early rising. At 8:30 a 12-passenger automobile under the personal supervision of the Trans. Agt. came for just us two, and took us to Dunroven [sp?] Peak, and Inspiration Point, and as we were the only ones, we could stay as long as we liked, -- no, not quite, for I wold have like to stay forever. We got back about 11:30, and the clerk at the camp said we might wait dinner until 1 o’clock, so we walked the trail to Artist’s Point, where I wanted to stay again, forever. We said we walked all day in the Geyser Basin, about the Devil & Hell & sulfur & brimstone, but at the Canyon we talked of Heaven’s Gate, and lovely beautiful things all day.

After our late dinner we went out to see the Upper Falls & for us one last longing look at the Canyon, and left at 2:30 for Yellowstone, stopping once more at Norris Basin. I came out with one foot on the ground, so at Ashton next day I bought me some comfortable shoes. I think my old bronze ones lasted pretty well though. Everybody said I looked a lot better after my Park trip, and I’m glad I had the rest, for since then, the traveling has been a fright!

Sun. night we left for Rigby, by auto, for a 171 mile drive to Salmon. We had a 7-passenger car, and might have been more comfortable, but the driver took his wife along for the pleasure of it! Ye Gods! Mr. Olson is so big – 6 ft. 4 in. that he couldn’t find any comfortable place with the jump seats up, as they had to be, & one of his knees was rubbed raw. The driver had a new car that he didn’t understand, & hadn’t driven anyway since spring, nor been over the road in 12 years. Is it any wonder he got lost, and it added another fifteen miles to our journey! The roads were dreadful, & we couldn’t sleep at all. I was never so shaken up. About 2 o’clock we hit a particularly atrocious bump that sent us all clear to the top of the car. When we lit, Bob was almost crazy from a bump on his head, & Mr. Olson had had his nose skinned and was bleeding like a stuck pig. We did up his wounds as best we could, by the light of the auto lamps, and went on. An hour later we struck another one, & Bob landed across a bar, and hurt his back. The other boys got him out & walked him around till he was better. Soon after daylight, as we were going down a long curving hill, with a bridge on the bottom, the brakes refused to work, and the car ran way! Mr. Skri and I were sitting in the little jump seats & he said: “We must jump,” and suited his action to his word. Mr. Olson gave me a little push and said: “Jump, mother, and save yourself,” and I jumped. Mr. S. caught me enough to break my fall, so there were no more serious accidents than a torn stocking & a skinned elbow, as I plowed thro’ the sagebrush. I was up in a second, expecting to see the car turn turtle & kill them all, but it turned, crossed the road, jumped a deep ditch, -- I don’t see how it ever did it, and came to a stop in a wash of sagebrush. I could have had hysterics without a bit of trouble, but I kept a tight hold on myself. I felt the others were having a hard enough time, without my mixing things up any further.

We reached Salmon at 12:30, -- and I lay down an hour, and then gave my program, and strange to say, I never did better in my life!

Next morning we were up at 3, and at 3:30 started with the same car, the same driver & the same wife on a 210 mile ride to Shelley. It was hot, and dusty, and so tiresome, but we made the trip that time, without accident, which was better than befell the next day’s crowd, for Miss Hill was so sick, she couldn’t give her program, & Mr. Labadie had his head so badly cut that he had to go to a hospital and have three stitches taken in his scalp. It knocked that day’s program silly.

But to return to ourselves, we arrived at 2:45 or 3 and Mr. Skri insisted on my lying down, & himself, tired as he was, went to the tent and set my easels up for me. Wasn’t he splendid!

Irene Obverts Holden came down from Idaho Falls to spend the day with me, and I enjoyed it, only I was too tired to really enjoy anything. My program, I felt, went awfully slow, tho’ she said it was good. Then to cap the climax, about supper time I received a phone message from Mr. Miller, Supt. at Montpelier, that I wold have to leave at 9 o’clock that night in order to be in time for my P.M. program! I almost rebelled, -- I would have in fact if Mr. Miller had been anybody else but Mr. Miller, so I was up again all night again. The rest of my journeyings have all been along the same time. I have only had one night’s sleep, -- unbroken, I mean, since then, until I got to Laramie.

It was really a hard pull to say goodbye to the Corners [?] Players for I have learned to sincerely love them all, as I believe they do me, and I really do think I have helped them all. Miss Young has grown more womanly, and doesn’t scoff at goodness, as she used to do. Bob has really been like a lonesome son, to me. Mr. Skri has been an all-around good pal, -- always on hand to do the friendly thing, -- I think the most unselfish man I ever knew; Mr. Olsen has been my intellectual friend, and the last night we worked till after midnight on a play he is writing. They all told me it had been a privilege to know me. I went up to their last program, of course, and then we all went to the depot to see Mr. Skri and Mr. Eserl [sp?] off for Portland. I was supposed to leave at 11:40 but my train was reported 3 hrs. late, so we went back to the hotel, and as I said worked until after midnight on Mr. O’s play. Then he, Janet, Mr. Valentine (the tent man) and I, went out and had something to eat, and then Janet and I lay down for an hour. But at 2:15 they called her, for her 2:45 train, so I got up and saw her and Mr. Olsen off, for Ogden, where they were to rehearse for their winter work, and I was told that my train wouldn’t be in till 6 o’clock! Think of it, 6 hrs. late. I couldn’t sleep much, nor have I been able to on the train during the day.

Wed. noon, LaSalle St. Station

But I slept last night, -- twelve full hours! Now I am in the depot, have wired Charlie that I will arrive at 2:34 tomorrow morning. Isn’t it horrid! I’ve only one more piece of news to add, I believe, and that is that on that memorable drive my poor old hat was completely ruined, and in its place I bought a big floppy green felt. I have a hunch that Marion will fall heir to it.

I have loved your letters; I am truly glad you succeeded in getting away. Now be free, and get a good rest. I’ll look after everything to the very best of my ability, come what I can, be patient with papa and all the rest, so don’t have a care or a worry. Charlie writes that Marion has done real well with the homework. Give my love to all the old friends and relatives whom you see, and take your time about getting back. My work doesn’t begin until Mar. 5. I’ll try to do better now about my letters. I love you so much, my sweetheart mother.

Always your,

Thurs. morn. Safe home in En. Our Station. Charlie with me

A visit from the Chautauqua had a lasting effect on the audiences, as evidenced by this letter from George Carver, owner of Carver’s Cash Grocery in Melrose, New Mexico. This also provides insight into the relationship of the lecturers and the audiences.

Feb. 4, ’18

Mrs. Marion Ballou Fisk,


My dear Mrs. Fisk:--

Am sending this to Dallas in care of the Dixie in the hope that it may reach you speedily.

Since our Red Cross entertainment Friday night was a success in every way and because of the large part you played in making it such, I felt we should at least write you a line. Net proceeds were over $72.00. The entertainment seemed to please the audience, I guess they enjoyed the “eats” coffee or cocoa and cake, and the pictures made a killing for us. [In pencil is the note: $40.20.]

We saved the auction of the pictures for the last thing, then displayed them one at a time as we sold them and all sold well. Through a misunderstanding, however, one was not accepted and had to be sold a second time. It was “Uncle Zeek” and after it was brought back to the stage I announced that we would not sell it at all but would give it to the ugliest man in the house but the crowd would have to decide on the man by vote within ten minutes and it would cost five cents for every vote. Enough, for I know you are busy but the “gent” brought $18.75.

Thanking you again for the pictures, assuring you of our appreciation of the service rendered and wishing you God speed in your work, in which the “bunch” join me, I am indeed

One grateful fellow,
G.C. Carver

Many of Mrs. Fisk’s letters were written on the fly and often while waiting for a train. This one was written on the letterhead of the Copper Queen Hotel in Bisbee, Ariz., en route through Texas. This letter shows her flair for description, which was utilized in her lectures.

El Paso, Texas
Feb. 9, 1918

My darling mamma:

It is 8:30, and in half an hour I can get in my sleeper, and as I am tired, that is what I mean to do, as I am very tired. I have to be on the road almost all day tomorrow, as I am afraid my usual Sunday letter won’t get written unless I begin it now.

I have had a wonderful week, mamma, and again and again I have wished I could share it with you. It is hard to even imagine such cold as I even so recently left, it is so lovely down here.

I guess I wrote you a fairly enthusiastic letter from Safford. Well, Miami was quite different, for it is a mining town among the hills. The streets all go like this: [She illustrates it with a line going down and up.] And the houses appear to just claw on to the hillsides. I think I sent Charlie a sketch of myself going to the schoolhouse. It was a very fine picture , doubtless he showed it to you. The H.S. Prin. at Miami had been Supt. with Ellison-White, for several years, so we found scores of mutual friends – and enemies – and we had a nice time talking them over.

I had a very pleasant time in the evening there also, but I didn’t have a nice time getting away for the drayman forgot to get my trunk. [She refers to a six-foot-long iron-bound trunk covered in leather that was custom-made for her easels and materials.] I was nearly frantic, and if it hadn’t been for the splendid good conductor who held the train twenty minutes I never would have got away. My trip that day was hard, for I had five changes, and two of the trains I rode on were freights, -- pronounced frights, by those who ride on them, then my last one was late, so we never pulled into Bisbee until ten o’clock in the morning. It was 2:30 when I tumbled into bed, and I never woke till after ten o’clock. Then I sallied out, and the first thing I heard was that the town was under quarantine for smallpox! Well, that hit me square between the eyes, of course, for I had such a small week anyhow.

I wish I could describe Bisbee to you. It is in a canyon, and the main street is four miles long, & very narrow, and very crooked. The business houses are excellent , but they are crowded in together every which way to get in at all. The residences cling to the mountain-sides. There is no grass, except a little in the Plaza, which is about as big as Mr. Dempsey’s lawn, and no trees. All the soil and the mountains are copper color, and that’s just what they are, copper . Just beyond the town they are mining away a mountain that is practically solid copper.

But it was the people that interested me most,-- negroes, Mexicans, Spaniards, Americans,-- prosperous business men, rough prospectors, driving their little trains of pack burros,-- all passed and repassed. All around loomed the gigantic red mountains, above was a cloudless turquoise sky, & always & always flooded down the golden sun. I just went out and
sat in it for hours, and drank great lungs full of that elixir-like air, and I didn’t have any coat on either!

From there, I came to El Paso, and spent a day. It is a very nice town and I am glad to have seen it. I was the first quest ever at the new Y.W.C.A. It is the most beautiful one I was ever in, but I don’t enjoy being the first guest. There was a reception then that afternoon, and you see, it made me “Exhibit A.”

I finished a pair of socks, for I tho’t surely in a town of this size I could exchange for wool, but they hadn’t any at all. Later a lady at the Y.W. told me she tho’t the Navy League would be glad to exchange, as they couldn’t get socks enough, so I posted down there, but the lady in charge was gone, and her assistant was mighty uppity. I guess she thought me a German spy with poisoned socks.

Last night I was in Mesilla Park, at the Stark School, &then I received the p.c. you sent so long ago to Berrien Springs. Charlie writes that his Mich. mail came back. I cannot understand it for I sent forwarding orders to B. Sprgs, and yours has been following me all this time.

Last night I slept in an adobe hotel. It is very nice, and we would never know, except for the deep window and door casings. They tell me they are cool in summer and warm in winter, and that they are durable in this dry country is attested by the fact that some have stood for 400 years.

Now I can get aboard, I guess, so I’ll say goodnight and maybe finish tomorrow somewhere.

Goodnight. Sleep tight. I love you.

Sun. morn. I am on the train, and I don’t know what sort of work I shall make writing, but I want to finish this, and have it ready to mail in Uvalde. I’ve just been rereading your letter. I am glad papa has rented his house again. That makes him feel good.

You and Marion are doing a land office business, knitting, aren’t you? I’m at a standstill again. I finished up the Xmas napkin rings I had begun, and now am working in odd minutes on some more green trimmings for my dress. The other on the jacket is so soiled I am ashamed of it.

I have only these few more dates to add that I know.

Feb. 18, Dayton, Texas
“ 19, Grapeland, “
“ 21, Palestine, “
22, Troup, “

I slept heavily last night, tho’ I did not get to sleep until very late after all. There was so much noise about, and the little lady across the aisle was softly crying. Her mother is very low, & she is hurrying to her, -- and our train is over three hours late, & every hour is very long to her.

Thurs. night I stay over in San A. and I have written Sin Orras [sp?] to come in and spend the evening with me. Won’t it be nice if he cam. Now I must close. Give my love to papa, and a heart full for the dearest little mother in the world.

Your Marion

In this letter, she writes to her daughter, who was also “talent” on the Chautauqua circuit. Mrs. Fisk describes a thunderstorm that tested her ability to control the crowd and repeats laudatory statements about her leadership.

Lititz, Pa., June 24, ’24

Darling Marion: –

It’s early– I haven’t had breakfast yet, – and for over an hour I have been up, writing letters, straightening accounts, and trying to get a head start for another terrible week. It surely is a great game, isn’t it, and if one is conscientious, there is more to do than there are hours for.

I was more than glad to get your letter yesterday, and it was very interesting. It made me kind of mad, too, for after all, it wasn’t a case of overlooking you, – you were really let out by Trimble, as we suspected. Of course, Pa should have stood up for you but as long as you had Harriet and Bill on your side it was all right, and everything is well that ends well. I am glad you had a chance to let them know you could yet work anywhere and everywhere. I am glad you had a chance to see Bill and had such a nice time with him.

Isn’t “Abie’s Irish Rose” just delicious? I love the subtle wit of it, & I am so glad you had a chance to see it.

Well, old dear, my first week as a Supt. is over, and very successfully, if signs point for anything, but I never worked harder in my life, except putting over the E. Cleveland Chautauqua. For one thing, it was all so new and strange to me, and of course I was right up on the qui vive every moment; another thing, I was too popular, and had too many room-mates & one thing and another, so that it was 1 o’clock almost every night before I got to sleep, and one night 2 A.M. if you can reconcile this statement. However, I was told repeatedly that I was the best Supt. Rogersford ever had, and Mr. Wagner the chairman of guarantors, said he should ask for my return. The Juniors say they are going to do so too. Ever so many invited me to come and visit them, I was loaded with flowers, and, best of all, I got my contract. I don’t know what my “crew” think of me except Marjorie Turner. She is very frank to say that I am the best Supt. she has ever had, and the only one she ever really liked. We went thro’ one trying experience, too, for our program Wed. eve was only under way15 minutes, when the heavens opened, the rains descended, and the flood came. I hardly knew myself how bad it was, but there was a cloud burst only a mile away, and we surely got a generous fringe of it. Anyhow, I knew it was bad enough to start a panic, so I ordered booth & gate closed; the boys to the tent; Mary Fay down with the children; & Marjorie up on the platform with me, and for one hour and a half we led community singing. Folks sat with their feet up on the chairs ahead of them, but they sang. They couldn’t hear me four seats from the back from the platform, but as soon as it could sweep back, what we were trying to sing, they sang! Really, it was the talk of the week, and I was now called “brave” and “plucky” and “resourceful,” and since then Marge calls me “Ernestine”” (Schumann Heinke) & I call her “Frieda” (Hemple) By

Breakfast is over, and I’ve forgotten what I was going to say so I’ll pass on to the party for the “Boosters,” which was held on the platform Fri. night. The question of dancing came up, but because I do not think Dr. Pearson would like it, and because I want to avoid anything that might be questioned, I put my foot down on it, & ordered an evening of games. There was a little muttering, and I didn’t know but I was in for my first mutiny, but I threw my own self into it, and we had a very happy and successful evening after all, and the “Boosters” themselves seemed perfectly satisfied.

We came here yesterday morning. We are not too comfortably located, – I have a good room but the girls have a sweltering hot third floor room. They have their trunk down in my room and really stay there most of the time. They said they would rather take the hot room than be away from me. I don’t know how I am going to work this out. Mary Fay is a wonderful disciplinarian and folks say at R. that they never had such order in the tent, but she is a High School teacher, and hasn’t a bit of “pep” and she directs the children, but doesn’t play with them. On the other hand Marjorie is a wizard with the kids, but she is a careless book-keeper. I wish they were just changed around.

In this I am enclosing a check for $103.00, to cover the $100.00 I borrowed of you, and six months interest at 6%. Now hustle it right into your bank so to get interest from July 1, and sign the note I gave you, “Received in full,” with the date and your name and return it to me. It’s all in the family, to be sure, but “pizness is pizness,” and you may as well learn to do it right. This is your first experience as a capitalist loaning money to the poor.

Since I began this, I have been to hunt rooms for my party of ten, who came in today; to the Transf. Co. office; to the tent and posted my call board, and now I am in a barber shop chaperoning Frieda while she gets her hair cut.

Let me hear from you soon, and as often as you can spare the time.

Always loving you,

This letter from Mrs. Fisk to her daughter (who was also on the circuit) describes the problems of meeting with the local sponsors, or guarantors, for a program. Her discussions with the Lyceum also lead to her being offered a position as a Superintendent.

Lititz, Pa. 6-29-’24

My dearest Marion: –

When I woke this morning about 11 o’clock I found your telegram asking for your repertoire. It quite upset me, for I am sure you missed something pretty badly to wire about it, and for the life o’ me, I am not sure what. I don’t remember all the things you give.

I should think a good evening group would be: – “When Grandma was a Little Girl” and Susanna’s Courtship, or whatever her name is, in costume, and “By Courier.” For P.M. “Brother Jimmy, – Crooked Mother Family & “Little Georgie Washington” and perhaps “Aint Goin to Cry No More.” Seems to me you had other things, but I can’t remember. You ought to keep a list of your readings as I do of my sketches. Indeed, I thought you had such a book in which you were writing some of them.

By now you are in the full swing of your work, and enjoying it, I hope. I, too, am in the full swing, but not enjoying it here. I dislike Lititz very much. It is a Dutch town, clean as a whistle, but full of Mennonites and Dunkards & you know what that means. They have a deficit of about $800.00 this year and ever so many of the people are saying “Never again.”

The Chairman made a very fine opening talk, and said publicly that they wanted to get the contract started in next day, and asked me to have it made out and ready. I did so, but he wasn’t there, and never came near until the fourth night! I tried to find the next in line, but met a blank wall until the third night when one of the men told me they had quit, and weren’t going to do anything about it. I called a meeting of the guarantors, and we had one tall row, and out of it, I unearthed one woman, and together we have trumped for two days. Now we are almost at the end, and we have only about half enough, so I imagine I will have to stay over here to finish this up.

Dr. Pearson dropped in Friday, and I asked him about another job for fall. He says all his talent places are full, but he will take me as Supt. & pay me the highest he can pay anybody, tho’ it won’t be as high as for summer work. I wouldn’t promise, because I don’t know whether I shall be able. I never worked so hard in my life before, and when the day’s work is done, there are the blamed reports. I seldom get to bed before 1, and can’t seem to sleep after 5:30 or 6. Fact is, it is Mon. morning right now. Presently I must pack my trunk so to have it ready for tomorrow. We leave early, i.e. the rest do, and I also, if I go at all!

Let me hear how you are getting along. Are you having any bad storms? We had one here that was awful – broke up my program, and drove me back to my old Community Singing stunt.

Lovingly always,

Mrs. Fisk’s letter to her daughter is addressed to Miss Marion Fisk, c/o Mutual Chautauqua Assn. in Chicago, and was forwarded to Shirley, Ind. This describes some of the inner workings of the Chautauqua on a local level.

Beacon , N.Y. Aug. 10 [1924]

Darling Marion–

It has been so long since I heard from you, that I don’t know any more, whether I have a daughter or not, and I am sure you must be wondering whether you have a mother. I can’t even remember when I wrote my last real letter. Fact is, I can’t remember anything, for my days and nights, are one hectic nightmare.

I think I wrote last en route to Gloversville, and that was a tough proposition. Miss Turner was sick the first day, & kept in bed; our equipment was late, and our first program began late, –we had to walk huge distances to our meals, our tent was pitched on a play ground, and we were mobbed continuously by riff-raff, and everybody passed the buck, and on the last day when I was about crazy, trying for my contract, the folks came! I was glad to see them, of course, but I was so worried & harried that I couldn’t half enjoy them. And that was the only town that didn’t come through! Dr. Pearson held me over for a day, and then released me, and let me go on to Granville, & I missed the guarantors meeting then, and got a bad start, and had to work like a fiend, but I got the contract.

I had hysterics over Gloversville, and I have lost 8 pounds, and got nervous indigestion, and didn’t sleep well, so I have made up my mind, this Supt’s. job is no place for me. As the present moment I am writing while soaking my feet in hot water. I have walked continuously, ever since I struck this town, and my poor old feet have rebelled. It feels as if I had a blister under a callous. Things were in awful shape here, – it is a typical river town, and Jews! I never saw so many outside of Jerusalem! Again we were on a playground, – an ash heap, to tell the truth, and we have been troubled with bad women, who have invaded our precincts, and thrown stones, & cut & unlaced [?] our fence, – a precious group!

Even our own guarantors did not fully realize what we were, and I could never get them to meet at a guarantors meeting until the 5th night. It looked pretty hopeless, but last night they came romping in with the required 50 names, so again I have won an apparently hopeless situation.

I haven’t made any reservations at Winona yet. What shall we do? Go to the Westminster, which is headquarters? It is more expensive, but I rather like being in the midst of things, don’t you? Let me know right away & I’ll write. Dr. Pearson has invited you and me both to drive part way back with him, but I don’t want to. If I drive with anybody, I’d rather go with the Corts [sp?]. I don’t want to be under any obligations to Dr. Pearson because if I am, I’m afraid he’ll try to force me into being a Supt. again, & I don’t want to. Mr. Kramer wrote and asked me to take charge of the social activities on Sat. P.M. & Eve. the social “get-together” after the Assn. meeting, but I am too busy to attend to it properly, so I think I’ll have to say, “No, thank you.”

Now I must close & plan my program for tonight. I love you, dear, & hope to hear from you soon.

[She adds a post script to the top of her letter.] Athens, Tues. P.M. Couldn’t mail your letter till I got my trunk & my address book. Just got your letter. So glad! I love you.

Mrs. Fisk writes to her daughter Marion, beginning with a note about her son (Marion’s brother) Chester before going into details of her Eastern Pennsylvania tour and visit to her son at Princeton.

June 13, ’25

Dearest Marion: –

Welcome home, tho’ according to the program you sent Chester, you will be quite an old and settled resident of 1711 Preyer by the time this reaches you. You will have seen Mr. Giersbach off to his home, & really begun your summer career as a housekeeper. I hope you will succeed in getting some fat on Chester’s bones during the summer. He boasts that he weighs 145 lbs. but he couldn’t very well help it with such a big frame as he has, but there isn’t any fat on him. I am afraid he has worked too hard this year.

I have had an awfully excuting week. The chaut. [Chautauqua] at W. Hazleton closed Mon. night in a burst of glory as far as the program was concerned, but with eight names yet to secure on the contract. So I had to remain over while my crew moved on to Ephrata. I wired papa here that I would come as quickly as possible, and as a consequence the poor man met every train until I came.

They gave me the contract finally at 11:58. I got on a car for Hazleton at 12:20, & a train at 12:40, arriving here about 4:30, & oh, but I was glad to see papa! He had a room at the Young Friends Assn – a front room & very noisy, & he didn’t rest very well, but I was so tired out after my week’s rooming with a stranger & sharing the one bolster pillow with her, that nothing could keep me awake & I put in ten hours of sleep & two naps the next day!

We got up to Princeton at 1:55, Wed. P.M. & no Chester to meet us, tho’ we had wired him. Later we found he had gone down at 1:55 Daylight Sav. Time, but could not have met us later, anyhow, as he had to work at the Swarthmore-Princeton game. We were lucky in getting accomodations at the hotel for Wed. & Thurs. nights, tho’ everything was engaged for months ahead beginning Fri.

We went up to his room, got our mail, left a note for him & went down to the game & we were lucky in finding him right away. We walked around till he was thro’ then visited, had supper & then papa & I sat out on the campus & listened to the Sen. [Seniors?] Singing while he boned for his French exam. I slept ten hours again, we roamed around till noon & by then he was all thro’ his exams & was free only at mealtimes when he had to work in Commons. Yesterday a good many of papa’s classmates had begun to sift in, & I met several. It was great sport to see the old boys coming back. The 1920 class were dressed like pirates & had bro’t a calliope with which they made the air hideous. Yesterday P.M. the new Juniors had their “high hat parade” when decked in white with high silk hats & canes, a privilege never allowed before, they paraded around the town. Of course, the hats were smashed before it was over. At one place they stopped to cheer and a man, evidently a stranger, tried to drive thro’ the crowd. They motioned him back, & when he persisted in going forward, they gently but firmly pushed his machine back. We could see him jawing, tho’ we couldn’t hear a word he said.

....Wilmington, Sun. morn.

Princeton is a beautiful place and I don’t wonder both papa and Chester rave about it so. There is something old-world-like in its buildings with their arches, courts, &c & ivy-grown walls.

I was interested in the boys’ rooms and Chester’s,. as you would expect, is very interesting, full of keepsakes. On his door is the sign “Ladies Rest Room,” and over his bed, “Reserved for Undergraduates.”

His rugs are grubby, and this summer we must get him a new one tho’I don’t know but that Jersey dirt, will make that grubby too. My idea is to pick out something that will do for the dining room, & loan it to him for the next two years

Papa and I left Fri. eve & came back to Phil. & spent the night, then yesterday morning papa put me on the train for Swarthmore. I had an interview with Dr. Pearson & came in here in the P.M. Frances Maxwell met me and we made some calls. Things are pretty discouraging here for the opening term of the circuit, but I am hoping for the best.

This morning I went to church where I met several guarantors, & I think it helped.

I think I told you that Mrs. Bailey was using our icebox. I told them they might pay for the ice while we were away, but we would pay for it when we were home, for we would have to anyhow. I think the box will hold enough for you both. You will want to keep much ahead.

My dates are
June 15-22 – Wilmington, Del.
1716 Washington Ave.
June 23-30 - Montrose, Pa.
July 1-7 – Reading, Pa.

Now I must close and go riding with Frances. She sends her regards & so did Dr. Pearson. He says Ross has done fine work.

Let me hear from you soon, & ask me if there is anything I can help about.


Mrs. Fisk writes to her daughter Marion about the primitive traveling conditions and unexpected program changes in the back country of Kentucky. She writes on the stationery of the Hotel London in Lexington, Ky., which advertised rooms under the European plan for “$1.25 & up” that possessed “steam heat, hot & cold running water, baths. The last sheet of her letter is on the letterhead of the Day Hotel in Whitesburg, Ky.

N. Holstein, Va.
Oct. 23, 1925

My dearest dear Marion: –

I am filled and overcome and all that sort of thing with humiliation, to think I never got off a letter to you on Sunday, nor since. My intentions were of the best, but papa was with me over Sunday, and there was so much to talk about that even the very scant time I ever have, given even less. But now I’ll try to catch up and hereafter forever, never sin so again.

First, I’ll answer your two letters which I was so glad to get. Thro’ papa I learned how it came about that you got into the Lyceum Arts Bldg. and I am glad. I think you are doing wonders with your finances, by doing some of your own cooking, and it is pleasant to find almost a “girl from home” in Miss Campbell.

I am awfully glad to hear the nice things Miss Boyd said about your piano work, and I am glad you hadn’t fallen into any bad habits. I am terribly interested in lea