Letters to Charlie: July 1908


Hello again! Sorry for the delay. Life got in the way and pushed my Letters to Charlie series to the side. Six months into our vagabond life, we’re getting a touch of vagabond-fatigue–not with moving around, but with scheduling places.

Kraemer Building Anaheim

The View from the Kraemer Building in Anaheim, One of our Favorite Vagabond Spots

Are we fatigued enough to ditch #vagabondlife and settle down? We’ve pondered the idea, but each time we start looking for something more permanent, we change our minds. Guess we’re not ready to give up this free-wheeling lifestyle yet. Maybe once we finish the Tiny Trailer, we’ll make that our home-base.

Enough about our silliness. Let’s dive into the next letter, shall we?

Dora and Charlie

Let’s do a little recap first. In 1908, Charlie would have been sixteen to Dora’s twenty-four. They are both telephone operators in small New England towns, and there is clearly interest–at least on Dora’s part–in having a relationship. Dora sometimes writes from Woodsville where she works, and sometimes from her home in Lisbon—which is where this week’s letter comes from.

Dora continues to sound insecure and needy, even when writing about something as simple as fashion. The description of her new hat and pink dress made me curious about…

1908 FASHION

 

1908 Fashion

In 1908, the Women’s Suffrage movement was going strong. Some women were moving away from domestic life toward office jobs, like Dora, unmarried at twenty-four and working as a telephone operator. This era of the “New Woman” demanded less fussy clothing than the Victorian Age.

1900s women in men clothes

Instead of puffy sleeves and voluminous skirts, women’s fashion shifted to a long, lean silhouette, clothes that better worked with their active lifestyles and helped them blend into the male-dominated workforce with no-frills tailored jackets. long, high-waisted skirts, and broad hats.

Maybe they saw this style as simplified, but man! Just looking at the undergarments required to get that “S” silhouette makes my ribs ache.

Turn of the Century Undergarments

Now that we can visualize how Dora may have dressed, let’s move on to…

LETTERS TO CHARLIE, #3

A couple of notes about the characters in this letter: Christie is Dora’s fifteen-year-old sister. There’s also a John mentioned. I’m curious about him. Was he a suitor? Clara is frequently mentioned in the letters. She may have been another operator or simply a friend. Maybe even a girlfriend to one of the Eastman boys.

Speaking of the Eastman family, after more research, I finally found their connection to Dora and Charlie. Dr. O.D. Eastman was the Vice President of the New Hampshire/Vermont Telephone Association, and once gave a speech at their annual convention on “Harmony Among Independent Companies” which leads me to believe Dr. Eastman owned the telephone exchanges where Dora and Charlie worked.

I’m also fairly certain Dora boarded with the Eastman’s when in Woodsville working, especially after reading the cow incident in the letter below. The Burns referenced is one the five Eastman boys.

And now…

The Letter. July 8, 1908

July 8, 1908

Lisbon N. H.

July 8, 1908

My dear Charles:-

You may not care to receive letters written on stolen paper, but as long as it belongs to Christie I guess you won’t care. I have sent her out to do my work and I am staying in the house.

I just imagine you are visiting with Minnie or Flossie now. I am glad that I am not there so you cannot accuse me of listening on the line.

I got my new hat last night when I came home, its lots prettier than it was last summer and then last night I got me a new dress and its pink. How do you think my body will look in pink? Perhaps it’s too gay for you.

 

1908 Fashion

 

The folks at home all think I’m growing poor. I haven’t told them yet what you said caused it.

Wasn’t it nice and warm last night? I guess you didn’t have to put your windows down.

Examine John’s picture close enough so you will know him when you see him.

Be good to Mrs. Eastman tonight. You will be glad, I know, to have somebody else to work with besides me.

How’s Clara? Good as ever I suppose. I haven’t talked with her today. She has had a good deal to say about you since she saw you. I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but really I don’t think she was very much impressed with you. She said that you never looked at her but I bet you examined her closer than what she thought you did.

We had a great time hunting after the cow the other night after I left you. I went and got all ready for bed and then I couldn’t find the cow. So I called Mrs. Eastman and we hunted until one o’clock and gave it up until Burns came about three and he found her about four o’clock over in the sheds at the schoolhouse.

1900s woman with cows

 

Mrs. E. and I put our skirts and waists on over our nightdresses and our shoes on but no stockings. You ought to have seen us. We were looking fine that time sure.

Please don’t let anyone know I sent you the picture because John might not like it if he knew it. I have found one today that I had taken when I was a senior that I might send to him but it doesn’t look much like me so I guess he will have to wait a while. I will send it to you and you see what you think about it.

Lovingly,

D. P.


And there you have it…

I don’t know about you, but the visual of the two women, coats and boots on over nightdresses, searching for the cow in the night cracked me up. I think Dora isn’t happy about being home in Lisbon. I wonder if she’s there due to illness, and what exactly Charlie thinks was the cause?? Clearly not being around to keep Charlie to herself, and his talking to Flossie and Minnie without her around is bugging her. Does she reference John to make him jealous? And why is it important Charlie study John’s picture so he knows him when he sees him? Hmmm…

We’ll have to wait and see.

Until next time…

Later Gators!

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1 Response


  • Anonymous // // Reply

    Very intriguing!

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