Tuesday, August 4, 2015

New Year's Eve Love

I'm sure this isn't where their story began, but it feels like this is about the time that my wife's great grandparents, Raymond C. Wisner and Beatrice Hawver, started to get serious.

In 1918, Ray was 18 years old and Bea was 17. Ray and his parents moved to California from Illinois around 1910. They started off in the Lodi area and then homesteaded in the foothills near San Andreas. Here is a picture of the Wisner Homestead.

Lawrence Wisner Homstead San Andreas 1919

Another thing that I'm not quite sure on is the timeline of when they moved from Lodi up to San Andreas. I think they might have gone back and forth a couple times? Or maybe they still had a house in Lodi and San Andreas was their ranch?

Hawver Wisner New Years Invite When they moved to the homestead, they must have made some new friends. Maybe with neighbors, or maybe at church? I'm not completely sure that they were going to church at the time. Anyway, some of those friends to the Wisners, were the Hawvers. The Hawvers had lived in the area since around 1904. They sent this nice note to the Wisners, inviting them over for a New Years celebration.

Mr. & Mrs. Wisner,

You are invited to gather at the Canadian Valley farm to participate in a joint celebration, first enjoying yourself and to bid farewell to 1918 and welcome 1919. Second to bid farewell to our beloved neighbors Fishers. Also congratulate Miss Beatrice Hawver on successfully reaching the age of 18. Come early in the afternoon of Tuesday Dec 31.

B.M. Hawver

The picture below is from around 1918, of the Benjamin Hawver family, at their home in Calaveras County. Ben had lost his wife Magdalena in 1917, so it was just him and his 5 kids, Beatrice (17), Ruth (14), Gus (8), Judy (4), and Edith "Bobby" (3).

Ben Hawver Family ca 1918

I came across another picture, that is the Hawvers with their neighbors. I'm wondering if these are the neighbors that they are saying goodbye to on New Years? The Fishers? It looks like everyone is wearing the same clothes as in the picture above.

1918 Ben Hawver Family & Neighbors

So apparently, that get together on New Years was a great time for everyone, both young and old. A few days later, Ray wrote a letter to Bea, telling her lots things, including how his parents had a good time, his career goals, and also how much he likes her. Below is a transcription of that letter.

Ray Wisner Letter to Beatrice Hawver 1919

1919 Ray Wisner Letter 1 Jan 4, 1919

My Dear Friend:
I will write you a few lines to let you know that I arrived safely and to make a good beginning on my promise.

I am awfully lonesome just now. Have been just listening to a Victrola and you know that usually makes me sad and lonely. One of the pieces we played was " I'm sorry I made you cry." I think that's one of the prettiest songs I've heard for a long time. I can see you now, in my mind's eye, that afternoon after your father came home. I know how your heart must have ached, but you stood it all so bravely. The sight of those tears made me feel like crying myself.

I wouldn't make you mad for anything so I'll try not to write any more silly stuff in this letter anyway.

I had a long, slow and tiresome trip down here. I had rather rode a good horse. I got here at about 6:00 PM. I was awful cold then and is yet and has been for the last two or three weeks. I got my supper at the "Coffee Club" and then went and found a place where I could get board and room for $7 a week in advance so I paid for it last night & today. But I thought I could do better than that so today I russled around and found this place. I think I told you something of them. The people who live here I mean. The folks of those two boys whose pictures I showed you. I sleep in the attic with the boys. I had rather have a room of my own but we can't always have just what we want. I'm just like one one of the family here. I play the Victrola & piano whenever I feel like it. I pay $5.25 a week & my washing won't be over 50¢ a week. 

1919 Pine St., Lodi Postcard

Jan 6, 1919.
Well, I started this letter and company came, so I didn't get to finish it. And yesterday I helped these people trim up some brush & in the afternoon we took an auto ride, they have a Ford. In the evening I took a little joyride with one of the boys. It was some ride too, believe me I told him I didn't want to "go west" just yet. I don't either. I feel that I have a great deal more to live for since I spent that last night & day with you. It seemed to me that we had a kind of understanding between us that last night when we said good-bye. I know I understand you better than I ever did before, and it only makes my friendship grow truer and tenderer. I wish I could be with you more, but I suppose you don't. At least that is the impression I got from what Percy said about you a Danie that afternoon when I left San Andreas. I was the happiest person on earth, in spite of leaving everything behind, until I saw him, and then most of my doubts came back again. I surely hope there's nothing in it.

I hope all this doesn't make you mad. I am trying to write with the Victrola going. It's a pretty hard thing to do.

Ray C Wisner ca 1917 I went to work today. It seems kind of good to be back in the mill again. I may go into the butcher business. It's harder work and longer hrs. but more chance for rapid advancement. I could have gotten into the market up there if I had known of it, is what started me to thinking of it.

You wouldn't have any objections to a fellow who was a butcher would you? Please answer this. It may make a lot of difference in my plans. It would be easy to write if I knew how I stand, with you. If I could only be sure you cared. I wish I could see you and talk it all over with you. Maybe you think I am too young. I know I am awful thoughtless and babyish sometimes. I hope to outgrow that though. I out growed an awful lot of it that last day with you. Life seems so much more serious now.

I remember you saying you wanted to knit your father a sweater. I asked mother to knit me one but she thinks she can't. Would you knit me one if I sent you the yarn? The yarn costs about $3. I would love to have something like that made by your hands.

I don't believe anything has done the folks so much good, as that little New Year party, since they have been up there. It all started by you & Ruth & Maurice coming over that Sunday. It has all put a lot of life back in her. She loves Ruth and Maurice but she more than loves you (if that is possible). I don't give her any credit for that though, I don't see how anybody could help it. That makes me worry sometimes too. Mother said you were awful sweet and pretty & she didn't blame me for liking you, but thought I had good judgement. She said I looked awfully happy that night. I couldn't help it, I don't remember of ever being happier. Well when you get this read I suppose you'll think you've read enough for once. If it makes you mad just tell me and I'll try not to let it happen again.

Yours forever,

P.S. This is an awful messy letter but I haven't time to copy it so please excuse this time. Please write right away & please don't be angry with me. You know I'm lonesome. If you didn't get my card my address is: 505 Hilborne Street. Lodi, Calif.
Please write. I gave up going on another joy ride tonight to finish this. Yours ever, Ray.

1919 Ray Wisner Letter 1 1919 Ray Wisner Letter 2 1919 Ray Wisner Letter 3 1919 Ray Wisner Letter 4

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