My father William Bascom Wetherall (1911-2013) left 166 letters he had received, first from Orene Hardman, then from my mother Orene Wetherall, between 1937 and 1952. Of these, 125 letters were received during the 2 or so years they courted, between 1935 and 1937, before their marriage in 1938.

The other 41 letters, written in 1940, 1947, and 1952, are from Orene Wetherall during periods that she away on visits to Idaho, or while he too was working in a different part of Idaho. These letters are introduced on the Family letters page, which see for details.

I am calling the courtship letters the "schoolmarm" letters because, at the time, Orene was teaching at Yellow Rose School, a one-room schoolhouse on Little Bear Ridge near Troy, in Latah County, Idaho. The school system at the time was 8-4, and Yellow Rose School accommodated all students from grades 1 to 8 in a single classroom, taught by single teacher. My mother was also the school counselor, nurse, baseball referee, and janitor. Whatever had to be done, she did it.

One set of surviving photographs show 10 students ranging from 4th to 8th grades. Orene said she sometimes had as many as 12 to 15 students.

The letters transcribed below are just starters. Many others will follow.

Yellow Rose School

Little Bear Mountain, Idaho


Orene Hardman's 1st teaching job, after finishing 2-years of study at the University of Idaho in 1935, was at Yellow Rose School, a one-room, one-teacher, all-grade school house on Little Bear Ridge, between Troy and Kendrick, in Latah County, Idaho. As the sole teacher, Orene was also the nurse, counseler, baseball referee, and janitor.

The following gallery shows scans of original prints she kept over the years of photographs she herself took at Yellow Rose School.

Yellow Rose School Front view Yellow Rose School The school-house
Yellow Rose School A group of "Yellow Roses" Yellow Rose School All of my boys
Yellow Rose School Second, fourth, fifth, and sixth grade girls
Mary Thomas 4th from left
Yellow Rose School Halloween antics
Mary Thomas 2nd from left back
Yellow Rose School The soldier boys Yellow Rose School The fourth-graders Yellow Rose School The fifth-graders
Yellow Rose School The sixth-graders
Mary Thomas right
Yellow Rose School Richard, the eighth-grader Yellow Rose School Sign on 3-bear mountain Yellow Rose School The school-marm
on a huckleberry trip

Photographs of Yellow Rose School and pupils taken between 1935 and 1937 by Orene Hardman
All captions reflect the descriptions she herself penned on the backs of the prints at the time
Scans of copies in Wetherall Family Collection


Today's road distances

Saint Maries - Moscow 111 km, 69 mi

Moscow - Lewiston 52 km, 32 mi

Moscow - Troy 20 km, 12 mi

Troy - Kendrick 21 km, 13 mi

Kendrick - Peck 55 km, 34 mi

Peck - Lewiston 58 km, 36 mi

Peck - Central Ridge 13 km,  8 mi

Peck - Orofino 18 km, 11 mi

Orofino - Pierce 60 km, 37 mi

Pierce - Headquarters 21 km, 13 mi

Orofino - Kamiah 37 km, 23 mi

Kamiah - Kooskia 13 km,  8 mi

Peck area map Peck, Troy, Kendrick, Moscow, Lewiston, Orofino, Pierce, Kamiah
and other towns that appear in Orene Hardman's schoolmarm letters
Copped and cropped from Google Maps

Little Bear Ridge runs north-south through the that marks the present road
between Kendrick and Dreary (base of inverted triangle) and Kendrick (apex)

Central Ridge runs midway along the line that runs southeast
between Peck and Nez Perce

Towns around Peck

Orene Hardman's Clearwater habitat

While teaching at Little Rose School, Orene lived with the Arnot family in Troy. On days off, she sometimes returned to her home in Peck, or visited relatives in Kendrick or friends -- especially her future husband Bill Wetherall -- in Moscow.

Orene's "schoolmarm letters" to Bill were posted mainly from Troy, Peck, or Moscow. The letters posted from Troy were probably written in her room at the Arnot home.

Some of the traveling distances were a bit longer then than now, as some routes have changed a bit. Even on the same routes, however, travel times were not nearly as fast in mid 1930s as they are today. By then many families had cars, but people like my mother would usually have gone places by bus and train.

Orene Hardman (1913-2003) was raised on Central Ridge, southeast of Peck, until her family moved to Peck, where she went to high school. She then resided in a dormitory at the University of Idaho in Moscow. While teaching at Yellow Rose School on Little Bear Ridge (1935-1937), she lived with the Arnot family in Troy. She lived in Pierce when teaching there (1937-1938).

William Wetherall (1911-2013) lived with the family of his maternal aunt Meda (Baldwin) Ury in Saint Maries, north of Moscow. He also stayed at Lindley Hall and Willis Sweet Hall on the campus of the University of Idaho in Moscow, and at Elk River and other northwest blister-rust control camps during summers. His first job after graduating from law school was in Orofino (1937-1938).


Yellow Rose School

Mary (Thomas) Lee's recollections

Mary (Thomas) Lee's recollections

After my father died in 2013, I began constructing the present "Trailhead" website to showcase his and my mother's family histories. In my search for others who were working on related family histories, I ran across Niki (Townsley) Lee, who turned out to be the wife of Tom Lee, a 3rd cousin I have never met. My mother, Orene (Hardman) Wetherall, and his mother, Mary (Thomas) Lee, were 2nd cousins. My maternal grandmother Ullie (Hunter) Hardman (1891-1980), and Mary's father John Abraham Logan Thomas (1887-1982), were 1st cosins. Their parents, Ida Frances (Thomas) Hunter (1872-1920) and Jobe Cornelius "Neil" Thomas (1858-1937), were siblings.

Mary's father John A. Thomas, and my maternal grandmother Ullie Hardman, kept in touch all their lives. , and my mother kept in touch with John and his wife, Ollie (Wilson) Thomas, and John kept in touch after Ullie died. He he and Ullie's husband, Owen Hardman, often hunted together with others in their extended families.

Once we began exchanging information, Niki and I were able to both correct and augment each other's understandings of our respective family histories, working as we were without the benefit of knowing many of the people we had to connect and place in our engtangled family trees. In an email report dated 30 August 2013, she summaried her step-mother's recollections of Yellow Rose School like this. All [backeted remarks] are mine.


Mary Thomas Orene Hardman

Mary Thomas (left) with "Dorthy Wischmeier" [?]
At Yellow Rose School, Little Bear Ridge, April 1930
Scan by Niki Lee of Lee (Thomas) Family photo

The 1930 census for South Troy Precinct shows Mary C. Thomas (5) living on Little Bear Ridge with her parents John A. (43) and Olive R. (35) Thomas, and older brothers John C. (12) and Roy O. (11) Thomas. John is a farmer.

Orene Hardman at Yellow Rose School, circa 1935
Scan by Niki Lee of Lee (Thomas) Family photo

Hello Bill....while this is still fresh in my mind I wanted to let you know about our visit with Mary today. [ Omission ]

We went to lunch after her appointment and I asked her for some memories she had of Orene. She said that Orene was her teacher when she was in 6th and 7th grades. She said Yellow Rose school only went up through grade 8, which I'm sure you already knew. Mary also said that that one photo of her and the other kids that are dressed up for Halloween: that was ALL the students in the school. I said it was too bad Orene wasn't in the picture and she said Orene was the one who made the picture!

She said Orene lived with the A. C. Arnett [sic = Arnot] family. ( I may not be spelling Arnett correctly, could be Arnott, maybe?) She said Mr. Arnett was the International Harvester dealer in Troy and his children were all grown so he and his wife let a room for a number of years to various teachers, including your mother. She said Orene came to stay with them once in awhile to spend a weekend. Mary said her family [which lived in on Little Bear Ridge in Troy] always did all their trading in Kendrick but only went to town about once a month. So it apparently got to be a little boring week after week of not getting out during the winter months. (And she said when they did go to town in the winter it involved hitching up the horses to the sled and going that way. I think my memory of her telling me about a sleigh ride to Kendrick really was a sled ride from Little Bear Ridge to Kendrick.) She said it was always really nice when Orene stayed with them. But she reminded me again that her dad had cautioned her not to call Orene by her first name [Orene], or "Bug", that she was Miss Hardman. I asked her if Orene was a hard teacher or fun or ? She said she was a really good teacher, but she didn't cut Mary any slack, either, just because she was family.

I asked her if she went to your parents' wedding and she said no, that she doesn't remember anything about that. She said back then big weddings were only for rich people and that normally people just got married in their family home or the home of the minister. So she is guessing that they were married on Central Ridge at Owen and Ullie's home.

I asked her what she remembers about Central Ridge. She said that she was only six months old when they moved from Central Ridge to Little Bear Ridge. Her dad farmed that farm from 1924 to 1949. What I didn't know was that the farm John A had on Central Ridge was actually Uncle Wes' farm. What she said was that her dad took over farming it after Wes' wife died and he moved to Clarkston (Washington) but that can't be accurate. Wes' wife Virginia Jayne died in 1928. And they were living in Clarkston when they were enumerated in 1920 so I'm not sure what compelled him to give up farming and let John A take it over. He might have just been tired of it, for all we know.

She also said that they would about once a year while she was growing up the family would go to Central Ridge to visit other family. She said back then they used to take the road from Kendrick and up through Southwick and Cavendish to Peck. She said that what is now US 12 (that goes from Lewiston through Peck, Orofino, Kamiah, Kooskia and up to Lolo Pass on the Montana border) wasn't built back then. You could, however, go to Lewiston from Kendrick by going through Arrow Junction and then west on what is now a section of that US 12.

She had no knowledge of William Waitsell Thomas, that he died of burns or anything. She really doesn't seem to have ever heard anything about this at all. She also said she doesn't know anything about her mother and dad having had another child that is buried in the cemetery on Central Ridge. She seemed kind of vague about it, and thought it was really Wes' child and I said that yes, there was one of his children buried there too, but then I think she just got kind of confused.

I asked her about a school on Central Ridge and she said yes, there had been one at one time. She said it was close to the church at Steele.

That's about all I found out from her today. Oh, she did say that she remembers Theo really well, too. She said Theo had the most beautiful long black hair.

[ Rest of message omitted ]


Orene's marriage

My remark to Niki about marriage.

Interesting remark Mary made about marriages. My folks, though, got married in San Francisco. It was a very simple and private church ceremony, after securing proper permits from the city. Only one, possibly another couple were present. My dad was working in the city, proposed that she come down to marry him, and they tied the knot a few days after she arrived.

Orene Hardman married Bill Wetherall on June 1938 et the Trinity [Episcopal] Church in San Francisco. Only one other couple, who were Bill's friends, were present as witnesses. Another couple joined them for dinner afterword.

Bill had been in the city only a few months, and Orene only a few days, so they did not yet have a social circle there.

After graduating from law school in 1937, and until 1938 before he moved to San Francisco to clerk for a federal judge, Bill had been the assistant county prosector of Clearwater County in Orofino. After leaving Yellow Rose School in 1937, Orene began teaching in Pierce, and she worked there until she went to San Francisco to marry Bill.

Had Bill and Orene remained in these Idaho jobs, they would probably have married in Peck, where Orene's family had moved from Central Ridge in the late 1920s. And, as Mary said, it would probably have been a fairly simple family affair.


Central Ridge

"Uncle Wes" refers to Mary's paternal uncle John Wesley Thomas (1870-1933) and "Virginia Jayne" to his wife Virginia Emmaline (Jayne) Thomas (1874-1928). Their daughter, Eleanor Theodosia (Thomas) Vincent (1916-2007), was born in Clarkston after her parents moved to Clarkston shortly before her birth in 1916. Theo was 12 when her mother died, and 17 when she lost her father.

In Missouri Transplant (1985), her memoirs of their lives, she writes that "Farms had developed amazingly in the years since the [Nez Perce] reservation [on Central Ridge] had opened to homesteaders. Now, Daddy was farming several places [on Central Ridge] in addition to the home place [on Central Ridge]" (page 35). Theo states that her father left the homestead in the care of tenants, including at times his son Howard Thomas (1895-1958) -- and, according to Mary Thomas, apparently also, his nephew John A. Thomas. Theo writes a lot about the difficulties her father had overseeing his farm(s), but specific times and locations are not clear. See extracts and other details under Thomas lore on the Hunter-Thomas family page.

According to a taped conversation I made with my grandmother Ullie (Hunter) Hardman at her apartment on Christmas Day 1973, the original Hardman homestead was 160 acres, but acreage was added from "Uncle Wes's place". The 1910 census enumerates the Wesley C. Thomas household immediately after the Albert. C. Hardman houshold, which includes Ullie M. (Hunter) Hardman, who has just married the youngest Hardman son, Owen M. Hardman. In the same conversation, Ullie remarked that the Hunter and Hardman ranches were 3 miles apart.

The plot thickened when, among Ullie's detritus, I found an original copy of a handbill advertising a "Public Sale" by auction "at my place on Central Ridge . . . familiarly known as J.W. Thomas ranch" -- on "Tuesday, October 14" [1919], by "A.D. Hunter, owner" -- of what appears to be all of the livestock and farm implements associated with the ranch. This suggests that Wesley Thomas had fully divested himself of his principal Central Ridge propery within a few years after moving to Clarkston, which was before Theo's birth there in 1916.

The 1920 census shows John A. and Ollie Thomas living on Central ridge with two sons, John C. (2 + 3/12) and Roy O. (1 + 0/12). John is a "Farmer" on a "General Farm" and is working "O.A." (on his own account). The next household enumerated on the census sheet is that of his brother Fernando Thomas (1895-1991). Other neighbors include Theo's brother, i.e., John's and Nando's 1st cousin, Howard Thomas (1895-1958). The household of Albert Douglas Hunter (1862-1945) is not enumerated, for he and Ida Frances (Thomas) Hunter (1872-1920), and their youngest child Burton (1914-1973), had gone to Missouri to visit relatives and had not yet returned. Their other young unmarried children are enumerated with the Central Ridge families into which their older Hunter sisters had married -- namely, Ullie's Hardman family and Viola's McGee family. Ida would die on their way back from Missouri, while in Spokane, where she, Albert, and Burton were visiting the Keene family, formerly and later of Kendrick, into which another Hunter daughter, Eva, had married.

See Central Ridge ranch on Hunter-Thomas family page for details.


Road to Peck

My comment on the route to Peck was a bit convoluted.

Travel from Little Bear Ridge to Peck

I've looked into the geography a bit. I had thought they would either drop down to Arrow from Kendrick, passing through Julietta, or go toward Orofino via Southwick and Cavendish. There was a "Peck Grade" that dropped down from the Cavendish road to the bank of the Clearwater across the river from Peck. So that route was possible.

However -- another route was possible

Eva [(Hunter) Keene], in a postcard sent from Kendrick to Ullie [(Hunter) Hardman] in Peck, dated 28 November 1913, a week after Orene's [my mother's] birth, writes "Dear Bro & Sister -- Rec'd your card O.K. How is that baby any how? I am just crazy to see her. What color is her eyes & hair? Write & tell me all about her. It wouldn't surprise me if I should happen to land in Peck on the next train."

Eva also writes that, in a turkey shoot in Kendrick and Leland, [her husband] Wade [Keene] got 14 turkeys and [Ullie's brother-in-law] Uncle Ben [Callison] 7. I will have to revise my notions about where she and Wade were at the time, which had been based on other (secondary) information. Postcards trump everything else.

The point I would make (based on looking into railway lines) is that the Camas Prairie Railroad was running a thriving service up the river with stations at Spaulding, Arrow, Peck, and Orofino. I'm not sure when the river was bridged from the station side to the Peck village side. That might have come later than 1913. But the postcard of the men hauling grain down from Central Ridge mentions a ferry -- so possibly, in 1913, people would cross the river to Peck on a ferry. As I said in earlier mail, the bridge was there when I was in Peck in the 1940s. The first year I was old enough to remember being there was 1948, when we trained from Lewiston to the Peck Station. That was a very thrilling experience for a 7-year-old kid from the city.

According to the following overview of the development of the CPRR, the segment from Arrow to Stites -- with stations at Lenore, Peck, Orofino, Greer, Kamiah, and Kooskia -- began in 1907. Apparently, by 1913, Eva would have been able to reach Peck by train.

Camas Prairie Railroad

As for the Ferry at Peck (and the tram), drop "Peck" and "Central Ridge" or any other word you like into the search box [of the following website] and enjoy.

University of Idaho Digital Library

Check this out for what it says about transporting grain from Lenore by tram.

Lenore Tram

[ As "Geocaching" is a cache site, I have cut and pasted the content here. ]

Ghosts of America website: Lenore and Peck are both listed on the website. There have been strange things going on in many small towns surrounding this area. Be very careful while you do this route. LOL.
Lewis and Clark: "The return trip in 1806 brought the Corps of Discovery up the Clearwater River to Canister Creek (Jacks Creek at Lenore, Idaho) near where they had camped the year before. They went up onto the Camas Prairie (south side of the Clearwater River), down to the Creek Small (Little Canyon Creek at Peck, Idaho) then up across the prairie and down into the Nez Perces' Camp (Kamiah, Idaho)."
Peck: The community was named for George Peck who was a railroad official.
Lenore Tram: In 1898 a cable loop tram was built after the railroad reached Lenore so that wheat could be shipped by rail car. The tram reached from 1600 feet above to across the river. By 1903, 100,000 bushels were sent down the tram each year. The tram was destroyed by fire in 1937.

All I need now are dates for the construction and destruction (perhaps more than once) of the Peck Bridge.

Since this communication in 2013, I have found that, from 1907, the Camas Prairie Railroad (as it came to be called) pushed a line up the entire length of the Clearwater River from Lewiston to Stites. This branch of the line passed through Spaulding, Arrow, Peck, Ahashka, and Orofino running generally eastward, then turned south with the river with stops at a number of places including, just before Stites, Kamiah and Kooskia.

Peck Station was on the north bank of river across from Peck, on the west bank of Big Canyon Creek, near where the creek spills into the river. A steel wood-plank bridge was built across the river in 1909. Before this, people used a ferry to cross the river.

The bridge was swept away by high water during record rain storms in 1949, and soon after this the passenger service on the railroad ended. There is still a Peck Siding on the freight line that continues to run the length of the river from Lewiston to Kooskia and beyond. Transportation into and out of Peck is now entirely by motor vehicle.

The Wetherall Family Collection includes several snapshots of the Hardman family swimming on the Peck side of the bridge in the 1930s, and a few snapshots of the bridge shortly after it was wrecked by high waters that included jammed logs in 1949. I myself took pictures of what remained of the concrete abutments of the bridge in 1977.


Orene Hardman Mary Thomas

Theo Thomas in long coiled curls in early 1930s
Glossy snapshots in Orene Hardman's HS scrapbook
Wetherall Family Collection

Theo's hair

I made this remark to Niki.

Yep. That was her trademark. It was long for many years when I was a child. She'd wear it in various buns. She was rather statuesque and stood out -- and very heavy breasted -- and had a bit of facial hair at times. She and Wilton were a curious couple. I don't know where they met, but they married just a few days after my folks married in June 1938 -- and, whenever possible, after the Vincents settled into the Methodist Conference routine in California, they always tried to celebrate their anniversaries together [with my parents].

Theo and Wilton married on 5 June 1938 just 4 days after my parents married. According to Theo's memoirs, which I had not yet read when I wrote this to Niki, Theo and Wilton met in grade school and, according to her, they pretty much went together since they were 14. By "curious couple" I did not mean odd, but that seeing them together I wonder what attracted them to each other. By "wonder" I don't mean to imply that I thought it was a wonder they were a couple, but that the contrast in their appearances and personalities provoked me to be more curious than I ordinary am about people generally. And I habitually become curious about everyone I look at longer than a glance or two.

Both Wilton and Theo were very religious but at the same time rather secular. Wilton grew up the son of a Methodist minister and later became a rather intellectual minister of the same denomination. Theo, too, was raised in a family that appears to have been more strongly religious than most other families at the time, though religion was generally more important in family life then than now. Both were musically inclined, and both worked with church choirs.

See 15.93 Vincent-Thomas on the Hunter-Thomas family page for details.


Yellow Rose School Mr. & Mrs. Arnot
Mr. A. looks as if he's going to
jump at the "birdie"!
Wetherall Family photo
Arthur Arnot
Nettie Arnot Headstones of Arthur (1874-1958) and Nettie (1896-1962) Arnot
Normal Hill Cemetery, Lewiston, Nez Perce County, Idaho
Photographs by Kerry copped from Find A Grave (

Arthur and Nettie Arnot

Arthur Clarence Arnot (1874-1958) married Nettie P. Brock (1876-1962) in Troy on 28 November 1897.

The 1900 census shows the couple living in Troy without children. Arthur is a "Farmer".

The 1910 census shows the family living in Troy with 3 sons ages 9, 7, and 1. Arthur is a "Farmer" on his "Own Farm" working on his "O.A." (own account).

The 1920 census shows the family living in South Troy with 4 children, 3 sons ages 17, 11, and 1, and a daughter age 7. Arthur is described as a "Farm Operator" working on a "General Farm" on his own account.

I cannot find 1930 or 1940 census records for the family. The 1940 census includes residence in 1935.

Orene's predecessors and successors

The following teachers preceded and followed Orene at Yellow Rose School.

Ada Fergeson

Orene Hardman writes in a letter posted to Bill Wetherall in Troy, 19 June 1936, that her precedessor at Yellow Rose School was Ada Ferguson.

Ada Rosabelle Ferguson was born in Deary, Latah County, Idaho, on 14 December 1912, about 11 months before Orene Hardman was born in Peck in Nez Perce County. Deary is a few miles east of Troy, and Little Bear Ridge runs north and south between the two towns. The school, however, is closer to Troy, and Ida lived the Arnots, who boarded a number teachers in succession.

The 1930 census shows Ada, 17, living with her parents in Deary. The 1940 census shows her lodging and teaching in Bovill, also in Latah County. The census states she was living at the same place in 1935, and says that she had had 2 years of college, the requirement then for teaching in elementary schools. Orene remarks in her 19 Janaury 1936 letter that Ida was then living in Bovill.

Ada married Ben A. Sirginson on 4 June 1944 and they were divorced on 9 February 1952. Four months later, on 15 June 1952, she married Robert K. Hanson. She died on 19 June 2005, nearly 2 years after Orene died.

Jean S. Brammer

The obituary of Jean S. Brammer (1917-2003), published in the 27 February 2003 edition of the Latah Eagle (page 7), says that, after graduating from high school in Kendrick in 1935, she got a teaching certificate from Lewis-Clark Normal School in Lewiston in 1937, and a certificate in teaching elementary grades in the summer of 1938. It then reports this.

Her teaching career began in 1937 in the one-room Yellow Rose School on Little Bear Ridge outside Troy. In the following 10 years, she taught at Kamiah, Moscow and Kendrick.

It would appear that she replaced my mother, who taught at Yellow Rose School from 1935-1937.


A few other people figure in the story of Yellow Rose School and Little Bear Ridge at the time Orene was living and teaching there.

Gunder Reierson

On 30 November 1990, the Lewiston Tribune carried an obituary on Gunder Reierson (1904-1990), a retired Troy farmer, which included in part the following remarks.

He was born May 27, 1904, at Troy to Erik and Turi Paulson Reierson. He grew up on Little Bear Ridge, where he attended Yellow Rose Country School. He later attended Spokane Community College.

Reierson had lived in the same house his parents built on Little Bear Ridge since he was 4.

He married Edna N. Emmett Nov. 12, 1932, at Spokane, Wash. She died Dec. 16, 1988.

Reierson farmed in the Little Bear Ridge area until retiring in 1969.

He was instrumental in starting the Troy Telephone Co. and getting the telephone lines out to Little Bear Ridge. He was a school board member for both Yellow Rose School and Troy area schools for several years.

Bear in mind the remark about Reierson's contribution to the bringing of telephones to Little Bear Ridge when reading my mother's complaints about the lack of telephones when she was living in Troy and teaching at Yellow Rose School.


125 schoolmarm letters

28 February - 28 June 1937

William Bascom Wetherall (1911-2013) saved 125 letters he had received from Louida Orene Hardman (1913-2003) during the 2-year period of their courtship from early 1935 to mid 1937. At the time, Bill was finishing law school in Moscow, and Orene was teaching in a one-room school between Troy and Deary to the east of Moscow.

Bill and Orene married in 1938, but over the decades he kept the letters, with others she had written, in a shoebox. When she died in 2003, he couldn't bear letting her go. He put the box of letters, and her high school diary, by his reading chair in the living room. Until he died 10 years later, he habitually read a letter or two or a few entries of the diary before going to bed. When he finished them all, he would start over.

My father probably read my mother's letters as love letters, but I read them as belle lettres. They show her world through prose that sparkles with wit and humor, and breathes the playful sassiness of a petite, dark-haired, bright-eyed young woman in the throes of discovering what she wants in life.

The schoolmarm letters

I am calling the 125 letters the "schoolmarm" letters because, in many of the letters, she styled herself as a "school-marm" as she spelled the term. For convenience, I have divided the letters into the following 5 chronological groups.

 1935    32 letters   28 Feb - 28 Dec

 1936a   21 letters    3 Jan - 29 May
 1936b   16 letters    9 Jun - 12 Jul  Posted while traveling with college classmate Marguerite Manion 
 1936c   24 letters   15 Jul - 28 Dec

 1937    25 letters    5 Jan - 28 Jun

The 1936b group of 16 letters consists of 15 postcards and 1 letter in an envelope, all written and posted while traveling with the family of one of her University of Idaho classmates.

Practically all the envelopes bear a single purple 3-cent Washington regular postage stamp. A couple have the purple 3-cent Susan Anthony Suffrage for Women regular postage stamp, and there are a couple of stamped envelopes with the round 3-cent embossed Washington stamp.

Orene's writing

Orene's penmanship is that of an effortless, unhesitant hand that was at the command of her mouth. Words and phrases flow in short, dramatic sentences contrived to seize and hold someone's attention. The style is conversational except when intentionally formal. The grammar is perfect and rarely stiff or awkward. Orene was a confident and alert speller who occasionally flagged a word "Sp?". Overstrikes and other corrections number fewer than one per letter.

Orene sometimes stressed a word with underscoring and made ample use of exclamation marks. Her most strongest invectives were "darn" and "darned" (only once did she make an issue of "damn"). She hyphenated a number of words that today would be written with spaces ("high-school") or without hyphens ("to-nite"), and she liked phonetic spellings (thru, nite, tho) and contractions ("s'pose").

She tended to place punctuation marks outside quotation marks when the punctuation marks were not part of the citation. To see this was very gratifying for me, as I prefer this style -- which is common in the United Kingdom, and is standard in legal writing in the United States -- but which most American editors reject in favor of enclosing even uncited punctuation marks in quotes.


Schoolmarm letters

28 February - 25 December 1935

32 letters from Orene Hardman to Bill Wetherall dated 1935 survive. The envelope of the 1st is postmarked Troy 28 February 1935. The 2nd envelope is franked Peck 29 April 1935 but there is no letter. The 3rd has a Moscow 19 June 1935 cancellation mark. From this point, there are several letters a month, all but a few with envelopes.

The next till last letter in the 1935 groups is postmarked Peck and dated "Christmas day". And the last letter, which has no envelope, is fully dated "Saturday, Dec. 28, 1935". Most letters have only the day of the week, or a month and day, but no year. Even most of the numerous letters I received from my mother have only month and day, but no year.


Troy 28 Feb 1935 frank, Thursday [28th] letter

Orene vows to refrain from future moods

Walks to Kendrick Bill see lanky cousin

This 1st letter of the 1935 letters from Orene Hardman that Bill Wetherall saved is tantamount to the "establishing shot" which, at the start most movies, shows scenes that reveal the time and place of the beginning of the story.

Orene letters
Orene letters Envelope with Troy 28 Feb 1935 frank
Letter dated Thursday [28th]

Wetherall Family Collection


Bill Darling --

I'm afraid I pulled another sob-sister stunt on you last night. However, your telephone call tonite sorta' changed the color of the atmosphere in this neck of the woods. I guess no one but an artist or a musician should have "moods" -- and since I'm far from either, I'll have to refrain from future moods.

Bill, I'd love to come in to the prom [in Moscow]. When is it -- about the 21st [of March]?

I'm sure the roads will be opened by then. They filled up almost completely again Tuesday nite. Of course, since the weather is milder the snow is leaving rapidly.

I tried to tell you tonite that I may walk to Kendrick again this Saturday. Mother may be home by now. I haven't heard from her for about a week. If I'd walk that far to see my long lanky cousin [Maxine Keene in Kendrick], just think how far I'd walk to see you!

Next Wednesday is Marguerite's birthday & you'd better call her up and wish her many happy returns.

I'm listening to one very soul-rending story on the radio -- it almost has me in tears -- so before I spill big tears on this poor note, I'd better call a halt.

Will write Sunday if I'm not in Kendrick.

All my love,


Marguerite Manion (later Adams, then Anderson, 1915-2008) was a mutual friend of Bill Wetherall and Orene Hardman at the University of Idaho. She is credited with introducing them, and she remained a close family friend all her life, dying 5 years after my mother and 5 years before my father. In late June and early July 1936, Orene traveled with the Marguerite and her parents from their home in Firth, Idaho, through Washington, Oregon, and California, and took in Tijuana in Mexico's Baja California before returning to Firth via Bounder Dam, Yellowstone Park, and other points of interest in inland states. Her postcards and a letter to Bill while on this trip are examined in the 2nd group of 1936 letters (below).


Orene letters Peck 29 April 1935 frank, sans letter
Wetherall Family Collection
Peck 29 April 1935 frank

Letter missing

Several letters lack envelops. This is the only envelope that lacks a letter.

The cancellation on the cover, the stamp on which had been lost, tells us Orene was visiting her parents in Peck at the time. Although she is living with the Arnots in Troy while teaching at Yellow Rose School, her home is in Peck, and Peck is close enough for her to return whenever she has a day or two free.


Moscow 19 June 1935 frank, 18 June letter

Orene accepts Yellow Rose School post

Bill waiting for summer job offer

When writing this letter, Orene is attending summer school at the University of Idaho, where she had completed a 2-year normal school program. She had already applied for a teaching position, and the summer school was for "school-marms" (as she spelled the word) such as herself.

Bill is with his Ure relatives in St. Maries. He, too, has just graduated, with honors, and his name is mentioned in this regard in a recent newspaper article which Orene has read. He has applied for a CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) summer job and is waiting for a response.

Orene letters
Orene letters Envelope with Moscow 19 Jun 1935 frank
Letter dated June 18

Wetherall Family Collection

June 18 --

Sweet William --

I wish you were here. The crop of giggling school-marms and ardent bachelors, as you so appropriately called them is worse than usual. Heaven help me if one year has that effect on me!

Some ages since simmer school started. I'm getting so I can't look a sandwich in the face. You see, we're eating two meals a day in our room, and there isn't much variety. The third meal was eat out at a boarding house. I never had so much fun in my life as I have there. The crowd consists of two old sour faced women and five fat jolly men. Some fun!

By the way -- I have my contract. I guess I sure fooled the board of directors plenty. They didn't ask me a single question -- only, would I teach for $80? Since I thought the wage was $75, I didn't give 'em a chance to say anything else. They say I'll have one eighth grade pupil if he isn't in the reform school before then! I went to look the [Yellow Rose School] school house over, and it was such a lonesome looking dump I almost handed back their darned old contract.

Bill, I saw in the paper where a lad from St. Maries received honorable mention besides getting a degree because he had such a high scholastic average. Know him? Wise guy!

Le me tell you Zim was a sad boy when he left here. He came over to the house at about 6:30 A.M. to say goodbye, and was almost in tears. He sends a card, every day, and never fails to say how much farther he is from Idaho. After all, Massachusetts is a long way off!

The library is the busiest place ever. I've never answered so many dumb questions in my life. We have to tell each person to please look up the reference, and bring us the call number -- then we have to show them where the card index is found and that they can look it up under either author or title -- etc. As I've said before -- you'd better start prayin' for me!

Oh yes -- Harold Boyd brought me a book of yours. It's a book of poetry. I assume it is the one that Mary Wuester [?] had. I've read poetry to Marguerite till I feel woozy -- I don't understand it, and neither does she, but we like it.

Do you remember Bill Feed [?]? He is the Lambda Chi who was in that car accident at Christmas time. Well, as I was sayin', he's an old friend of Marguerite's and the three of us have been going for a ride every nite. I guess I forget to mention he has a big Lincoln. We all eat at the same boarding house, too. I never saw a grown person with so few brains. Every time he opens his mouth I shudder, because he's sure to say the wrong thing. He has the two lady school teachers shocked spitless most of the time.

Bill, I'd loved to have been here at [your] graduation, but it seems that I couldn't. Zim told me about it -- very much in detail. He said he was scared, thrilled, and sad all at the same time, and couldn't decide which feeling was the strongest. Weren't you just a wee bit pleased?

It would be swell if you could come down [from St. Maries]. Be sure and let me know when, though, because I want to be here! Really, I would like to see you.

Have you heard from your [summer] job yet? I'm sure you will. If not, the janitor vacancy [at Yellow Rose School] is still unfilled.

Say, mister, I'm wasting (?) a lot of good time for no good reason. Haven't I remembered you sufficiently?



Harold Robert Boyd was of a Class of 1935 classmate of Bill's at the University of Idaho. He was was served a term as class treasurer. was a member of honor societies and the English Club, the Press Club president and editor of the school newspaper, Idaho Argonaut, and otherwise big man on campus.

Mary Wurster appears to refer to Majorie Bell Wurster, another Class of 1935 classmate. She graduated with a B.S. in education, as did Elaine Hersey.

Gem of the Mountains

According to the 1935 edition of Gem of the Mountains, the University of Idaho yearbook, Harold Boyd, from Moscow High School, received a B.A. (page 39), William Wetherall, from East High School, Des Moines, Iowa, also received a B.A. Boyd and Wetherall were members of the Blue Key, a "National Upperclassmen's Honorary Fraternity" (page 292).

Wetherall was a member of the Bench and Bar Association, a "Local Honorary Legal Fraternity" (page 311). He was also the president of Lindley Hall, an independent residence fraternity (page 284).

Marjorie Wurster, and Orene's classmate and friend at Peck High School Elaine Hersey, are pictured as having graduated with a B.S. in Education (page 52. Boyd, Wurster, and Wetherall were all featured as "Campus Leaders", and Wurster's and Wetherall's portraits are side by side (page 253).

Working through college

Orene Hardman is merely named and pictured as a Sophomore (page 77). Marguerite Manion is listed and shown as a classmate (page 78), and as a member of Alpha Lambda Delta, a "National Scholastic Honorary for Underclasswomen" (page 308). Unlike her Peck High School classmate and friend Elaine Hersey, who immediately matriculated after graduating in 1931, Orene had to work to save money for college. However, finishing two years of college allowed her to teach in public schools. Marguerite, who was 2 years younger than Orene, also enrolled at the university after graduating from high school, and like Elaine, she would complete a 4-year degree. Marguerite was a sophmore member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sororitity (page 254). Both Orene and Marguerite were assistants of the Secretarial Manager of the Gem of the Mountains Business Staff (page 165).

Orene Hardman is also listed and pictured as a member of the Executive Board of the campus Women's Athletic Association -- representing "rifle" (page. That's right. She was a marksman -- or markswoman. Never mind that later in life, she had mixed feelings about keeping her her father's hunting rifle and pistol as mementos. She was, afterall, the daughter of an inveterate hunter, and a veteran in the kitchen of the cooking and preservation of venison, among other kinds of wild game.

Bill Wetherall, though graduating from high school in 1928, did not graduate from college until 1935, which reflects the fact that he, also, worked a while before enrolling, and also mixed work with study after enrolling.


Moscow [25/26] D[december] [1935] frank, Christmas day letter

Orene spends Christmas with family at Peck

Bill knows her weakness for Yardley's

The next to last letter in 1935 is in an envelope with a Peck frank, but the stamp, and the part of the frank with the date, is missing. The letter is dated "Christmas day" -- which, assuming it was 1935, was a Wednesday. The 1935 assumption is based on the content of the letter and the stationery.

Orene letters
Orene letters Envelope with Peck [25/26] D[ec] [1935] frank
Letter dated Christmas day [25th]

Wetherall Family Collection

Christmas day

Bill darling -

After all those rash promises I made, I guess I'd better start in accounting for myself. So much has happened since I last saw you that I hardly know where to begin.

First, let me say that my program was a "howling" success! Mother [Ullie (Hunter) Hardman, who lived in Peck], and two of her sisters [probably Eva (Hunter) Keene, who lived in Kendrick, and Almeda (Hunter) Oglesby, who lived in Peck, though Viola (Hunter) McGee also lived in Peck] came over for it. I had expected them, so it wasn't quite such a shock. I wonder what the suicide rate is among rural school-marms about christmas time! Will skip the details for the present, and if I haven't forgotten all that happened, tell you when I see you. We went to Kendrick Friday nite and decided to wait till that red-haired cousin of mine [Maxine Keene, Eva's daughter] got home, which was to be sometime Saturday nite. We went to Lewiston to meet her, only to receive a telegram saying she'd be home early Sunday morning. Well, we rushed back down to Lewiston the next morning -- and the [Union Pacific Railroad] Pacatello train was five hours late! Finally the brat came dragging in, but it was so late we had to rush home, and I didn't get a chance to say much more than hello. Bright and early Monday morning Mother sent me to Lewiston again, so I've really been home one day -- what what a day! Burton [Hunter] and i spent the day feeling, shaking, and smelling all the packages under the Christmas tree. It seemed like evening would never come! And Bill darling, I do want to thank you for your gift. I don't know how you knew my weakness for Yardley's [perfumed soap?], but I can guess! Anything better than Yardley' is just more Yardley's!! I must have been a good little girl, or Santa made a dreadful mistake. Anyway, it's all over -- and I can start in the next year right.

My sister [Babe Hardman] came home yesterday and is gone again today. Darn her! I wish she'd at least stay long enough for us to have a real good fight. She woke me up early this morning by flipping me on the nose, and I thought sure I'd get to wallop her but she just turned over and went back to sleep!

Bill, you do get all the breaks! Two chicken dinners already! I know you don't deserve it. Well, anyway, we're going to have turkey today. Mother sent me to buy a turkey, (imagine that!) and all turkeys look just alike to me. Consequently, I came home with a little, scrawny underfed hen. I guess Mother will learn not to trust me on such errands.

Saw [Peck neighbor and former Peck High School classmate] Elaine Hersey in Lewiston. She tells me she has a new boy-friend. I am so glad. I never did think Bus was good enough for her. She's coming up to see me and get all the gossip.

Burton, the pseudo brother, and I are going to Kendrick mext week. I simply love that red-haired cousin, and he returns the compliment (?). We look like a pair of freaks -- but who cares about that?

Burton is sitting here eating peanuts and crunching them in my ear. They sound so good I think I'll have to break down and try some. Wish you were here - you could shell 'em for me!

Truly, I will try to do better by my Bill next time, but just now I think this will have -- to be continued --



Maxine Keene (later Maxine Jones, 1917-2001) was Orene's maternal 1st cousin. Maxine lived with her parents in Kendrick but was residing in Pacatello while studying pharmacy at Idaho State College, where she a member of the Upsilon Chapter of the Lambda Kappa Sigma (LKS), a sorority for women in pharmacy. Maxine, like her father Wade and brother Tom, were very tall, and towered over Orene. They are featured together in many childhood photos, and they remained close all their lives.

Elaine Constance Hersey (later Elaine Laird, 1913-2006) was one of Orene's Peck High School Class of 1931 classmates and a member with Orene and 4 other PHS girls of the Six Pajama Kis (SPK) gang. The Hersey family lived in Lenore, and Elaine's younger brother Ronald Hersey (1914-1990, PHS Class of 1932) was also Orene's boyfriend for a while. She graduated from the University of Idaho with a BS in Education in 1935. See Orene's diary, Peck school book, and SPK club, and Orene's boyfriends for details.

Burton Hunter (1914-1973) was technically Orene's uncle. But his mother died when he was 5, after which he was raised by his oldest sister, Ullie Hardman, with her daughters, Babe and Bug (Orene), and was virtually their brother. Burton was 5 months younger than Orene, but was in the same grade, and so they were classmates through grade school, first on Central Ridge, and then at Peck High School. Burton, too, was quite tall and towered over Orene. She was devastated by his suicide in 1973 but remained close to his wife Peggy and their daughter Mary Judy.

I get the impression that Bill has not yet met many if any of Orene's relatives, whether in Peck or in Kendrick, or friends other than those who were also students at the University of Idaho.


No envelope, Saturday, Dec. 28, 1935 letter

Fan-letter golden rule

The last letter in 1935 has no envelope but, unlike most letters, is fully dated.

Orene letters 28 December 1935 letter has no envelope
Wetherall Family Collection

Dec. 28, 1935


Did I hear you complaining about the lack of fan mail? Remember the golden rule! Anyway, after receivingyour letter today, I find that we are both singing the same tune "I wish you were here!" If you ask my opinion -- which you haven't -- I'd say we were a pair of nuts. I assume the feeling is mutual.

Today I had an old maid's party here. Elaine [Hersey], Jean [Holmes], and another gal friend of mine were here. We sat around reminiscing. What fun! Everyone tried to talk at once, and now since they are all gone, I think of a hundred unasked questions.

Also today it rained -- and rained! It isn't any trouble to get around though. All we have to do is step outside and before you can blank we're down town! It's very convenient to live on a mountain side. In spite of the fact that it is very "unschoolteacherish" (look that up in Webster) I put on some of Burtain's disreputable old clothes and plough around the hill-side.

Bill, one precious week is 'most gone. I simply hate to think of going back and starting the old grind gi [overstsrike] grind again. Still, I imagine I'd miss Richard and the boy with the darling eye lashes. Also, I'd miss my fifth grade girl calling me "mama". In other words, I may as well decide I like it and go back all primed for action.

Now., [sic = Now] that I've cried on your shoulder and fulfilled my obligation (s'cuse me!), may I go to bed?

You know, in spite of all the dirty digs we hand back and forth, I sorta' like you. it must be the way you wear your hat!

All my live,

P.S. If you think you can tolerate any more of these lt [overstrike] let me know.


Apostrophes Orene makes abundant use of apostrophes to mark colloquial abbreviations of words. Her sentences are generally short and swift, correct without being pedantic. But at times she stiffens a phrase with overly proper grammar that seems out of character with the generally intimate tone of her style.

Overstrikes Orene makes practically no mistakes in grammar or spelling. Here she writes and "X" or lines out a couple of words she has started with mistrokes of her pen. And both the period and comma after "Now" are a mystery.


1936 letters -- 1st group

3 January - 27 May 1936

This 1st group of the 71 letters from 1936 consist of 24 letters written between January and May that year. All were posted before Orene joined the family of Marguerite Manion, a college classmate, on a trip through the western states, which took them as far south as Tijuana, in Mexico, and finally to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.


Troy 19 January 1936 frank, Saturday 5:30 P.M. letter

[Former teacher] "thick with the clerk of the board"

Rumors of Orene's dissatisfaction with school

"Notice I said "darned" [not unladylike "damn"]

This letter, just three weeks 1936, and about 4 months into her teaching job at Yellow Rose School, reveals that she was not happy with the situation, and moreover had become upset that rumors of her feelings about the school had reached the ears of the County Superintendent of Schools. She speculates that her predecessor, when visiting the Arnots, with whom she and then in turn Orene had stayed, may have have heard about Orene's feelings from Mrs. Arnot.

Orene letters
Orene letters Envelope with Troy 19 Jan frank
Letter dated Saturday [16th]

Wetherall Family Collection

The envelope bears 2 of the then standard 3-cent purple George Washington presidential stamps (Scott U.S. #722, 1932) on account of the weight of the 16-page (8 leaf) letter and 4 enclosed photographs.
The photographs did not survive with the letter.

  5;30 P.M.

Bill darling --

Upon my word of honor I didn't hang up on you! Please be generous, and let me off this time! You see, I was fingering around the telephone and totally by accident I pushed down the receiver hook. Honest "injun", that's the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth -- so help me!

Am I forgiven? -- Okey, then I'll start in where I left of. As I was saying, I'll write you such a letter that you'll get reader's ramp before you're finished. No foolin'. I was trying to tel you that when all of a sudden you weren't there -- and, by the way, where did you go?!!

Since you and I agreed to stop using the word "worried,", [sic = "worried",] I can't say I'm worried over what Sup't. Ross said to me, but, darling, I've been doing some high-powered thinking. I can't think how he knew. There is just one possible way to explain. during [sic = During] Christmas vacation Ada Ferguson was out here at Arnots. She is the teacher who taught here last year. She now teaches in Boville [sic = Bovill], but I don't believe she is particularly fond of the change. She was very thick with the clerk of the board here, and while she was here [on] vacation, went down to call on him. Do you suppose she could have told? Mrs. A. [Arnot] may have mentioned that I was not satisfied, but I don't believe she would have said a word if she thought it would do me harm. Regardless of whether I want the position, I don't like the Sup't. to get ideas such as that. The more I think of it the more upset I become -- I'm just wishing for your shoulder to cry on - or even if I didn't cry, it would be nice to put my head against. It's really a darned nice shoulder. Notice I said "darned".

Bill, I would forget for awhile [sic] the shocked silence which followed my very "unladylike" and totally uncalled for "damn" the other nite. I promise I won't do that again! Don't you think I'm in a nice repentant mood tonite? Isn't there something else I should apologize for? First thing I know I'll be lying down in front of the door doing a very good imitation of a door mat.

Say, Marguerite and I together had what we think is a brilliant idea. Let's see what you think of it. You know, Ermel Mattson is the bookkeeper down at the Table Supply, and she is graduating this year. Her job will be open -- that is, unless she plans on staying, and I hardly believe she would. At any rate, Marguerite is going to find out how the land lies -- and let me know.If Ermel plans on another job, I'm going down and see if I can sell myself. I'd be willing to do mos anything to keep from teaching another year, and I do like to keep books. It might be possible for me to take a few hours University work. Here I go -- counting my chickens before they're hatched! What do you think? Of course, it doesn't make a bit of difference what you think -- I'm only curious!

Oh, Bill! Did you know I was coming to Moscow Jan. 31st? Mrs. Pecar [?] wanted me to stay tonite, but I couldn't. Marguerite spoke up and said I'd have to come up between semesters! It seems to me that gal has brains -- or maybe it is just intuition -- anyway, I'm coming. Do you s'pose I'll see you? I'll be rather busy but perhaps I can spare you a minute!

I watched you until you were around the corner the other nite. I think I held my breath until you were save in Moscow. At any rate, I didn't go to sleep very soon. It always seems so lonely when you go. Sometimes I almost wish you would be stuck -- then you'd be here next morning. You know, there is a spare bedroom here! Of course, you could sleep in the barn if you'd rather. There's a little hoot-owl [sic] down there who'd love company.

Did you notice the number of this page? {10] -- Or are you past the point of noticing things? Just remember, you asked for it! Just take another asperin for that pain in your neck, and prepare for another ten pages. I'm just getting started. If I should repeat -- don't blame me for that, either

Today Marguerite told me she couldn't go to Spokane with me in April. If I should get the bookkeeping job I wouldn't need to go, either. Why don't we -- you and I -- go home (to Peck!) that week-end [sic]? If I could let school out for one day it would be just grand. Peck is usually lovely about that time -- if it doesn't rain!

I had a letter from other today. She tells me that the big, fat, over-grown namesake of yours is on very bad terms with his mother. She is trying to wean him, and every time he sneaks up for a "snack" he gets a "smack". That's what I call leading a dog's life! Or would it be a cat's life?

Did I tell you about the lake down in the canyon near here? That would be a grand place to go some day. It isn't so far, but what we could walk. As you said the other nite, what we need is some action. I know I wouldn't be so restless if I had some one to walk and talk with. I know that sounds absurd -- I mean, the "talking" part. Even when you do come, I can't say anything. Time is so short -- and precious.

I'm sending some pictures which will give you a fair idea of the way I feel on roller skates.

No. 1.   The dog looks kinda' doubtful. I feel the same way, but won't let a pair of skates get me down.

No. 2.   Whee! Feet, where are you goin'? Guess I'd better steer (Sp!!) toward a chiropractor.

No. 3.   Gosh!!

No. 4.   Good thing that tree popped up when it did. Aw shucks! I knew I could do it. Let me tell you, there's nothing to skating -- (even though the pup still looks dubious!).

I'd be willing to bet my last shirt that you're tearing your already much rumpled hair. Remember, faint hear never won fair maiden! (That isn't quite the quotation to fit the occasion, but it will do.) What I'm trying to say is that I'm not thru yet.

Mrs. Arnot and I were debating over the word "steer", meaning "to guide". I had it spelled "Steer", but when we both thought about it, we became doubtful. That accounts for all the exclamation marks. Undoubtedly I'm the world's worst speller, but I still think "steer" is correct. I'll leave it to you, shyster!

You can say what you like about me, but you can't say I'm not merciful. After all, I could write all nite!

Lovins and huggins,


Good-morning --

You know, I have a feeling you're not going to forgive all my shortcomings, so I'm going out to Sunday School this morning to see what the Nazarene's [sic] can do about it.

I slept like a log last nite, and already I've forgotten the mean words of the County Sup't. What is the verse -- "Sleep that knits the ravelled sleeve of car" -- etc.

I must ump into my Sunday-go-to-meetin'-clothes -- and don't forget --

I love you,



No envelope, Saturday [22th], Sunday eve. [23rd] letter

Locked in the schoolhouse and snowbound in Troy

Bill has a rival in Orene's father, whose words count

"A lame-brain posing as a school-marm"

This letter has no envelope, but judging from its content, it was written during the winter when the place where Orene was living was snowbound and she was unable get out. This implies the winter of either late 1935 and early 1936, or late 1936 and early 1937.

Other content suggests Orene was at the home of the Arnots in Troy. And later in the second of two letters that were posted together, she refers to February 28th and 29th a week in the future -- which suggests the letters were posted on the 23rd or 24th of February -- in 1936, since it was a leap year.

Orene almost always wrote on both sides of a sheet of paper, and the 2nd letter -- dated "Sunday eve." (23 Feb 1936) was started on the back of the leaf on which the 1st letter -- dated "Saturday" (22 Feb 1936) -- was written. So the two letters are physically as well as temporally sequential.

Orene letters Two letters, one dated "Saturday", the other "Sunday eve."
Presumably written in Troy on the 22nd and 23rd of February 1936
Envelope missing but probably posted on Monday the 24th
Wetherall Family Collection
Orene letters


My dearest Bill --

It is 7:30 A.M. and I am still about half here. I tried to write last nite but I was more completely blank then than now -- if possible!

They are cleaning out the roads today. I am so glad. Seems ages since I was anyplace but here -- even tho you do accuse me of gadding about!

I had a queer experience Thursday nite. I kept one of the girls in after school, and when she started to go home she couldn't open the door -- and neither could I! Something had gone wrong with the knob, and it wouldn't turn the latch. The only thing to do was climb out a window. However, that only proved to be another problem, because all the windows were stuck fast. We were feeling more & more like monkeys in a cage when one of the windows moved a wee bit. By concentrating on that window for about half an hour, we got it open far enough to crawl out. Yesterday I had one of my cousins come and fix it ← the door. I didn't relish the thought of climbing in and out a window for the next three months!

Yesterday I had a letter from Dad and one from Mother, who is still at Kendrick. Bill, you have a rival from the literary stand point -- and that's Dad. He can't write nor spell worth a whoop, but what he says goes over big with me. I guess I'll never be anything but a baby in his eyes -- and he talks sweet to me as one would talk to a baby. I feel rich when I get one of his letters.

Bill darling, do you know it will soon be spring? The air outside feels so balmy that it has me feeling the same way. And lest I get more so, I'll stop stop right here.

All my love,

[ On back of same leaf ]

Sunday eve.

Bill --

Another Sunday gone by and we are still snowed in. The roads were plowed out yesterday, and we started to church this morning -- with our fingers crossed! We had gone about a mile, and decided it was sort of hopeless -- so we turned around and came home. We were lucky to get back with no greater mishap than being stick twice. The road will be okey when it has been travelled enough to break a track. Until then, we're home to stay!

I've spent the laziest weekend. Yesterday I spent all my time outside, absorbing that lovely sunshine. Today I sewed and ate your candy -- thus adding to my already voluptuous curves. Or would you call them just plain bulges?

Bill, were you really in doubt as to whether I'd like to come to Moscow? If I were to try to tell you how badly I'd like to come and how much I miss you, I'm afraid my vocabulary would be inadequate. As you probably know by this time, I can't express myself as I'd like to -- but if you can read between the lines, I think you'll get the point. Anyway, if I possibly can get out, I'll be in Moscow this coming weekend. Will write particulars later.

And another thing! -- Has it just occurred to you that we were still far from being acquainted? Sometimes I feel that you are a stranger; and all I know about your is that I like you, and that I'd probably recognize you if I should see you again. Perhaps you won't care to know the real Miss Hardman. I know her quite well, and have never been able to get along with her. She and I are always at conflict over the most trivial things. She tells me that the attacks of "stage fright" (as you so aptly put it!) are due to a natural sense of reserve, and perhaps to unfamiliarity with the subject. Perhaps you can suggest a remedy -- or would you like a prescription yourself? Will discuss the matter more thoroughly at the next regular meeting to be held on Feb 18th or will it be the 29th?

Say -- you're a big bully! The idea of asking me for a long letter and promising to pay me back next summer. I think I'll charge ten percent interest! Do you realize there isn't one thing out here of interest to you? What do you think I am? (I'm probably just what you think -- a lame-brain posing as a school-marm!)

Just one more thing. If you wrote a letter on a wood chip and floated it down the Potlatch to me, I'd be just as glad to get it as though it were written on the finest parchment -- so forget this stationery complex.

I thought I was thru, but I've just had another brain-storm. Let's you and me combine forces and go see the president about the telephone situation on Little Bear [Ridge]. believe me, it is very unsatisfactory when we both talk upon different subjects, neither can bear the other, and the neighbors can hear both! I'm sorry I'm such a "dub"; but I do love to hear you say "Hello, Bug". [." (?)] I'm afraid that's about all we can expect -- what do you say?

I never reread my letters -- (the truth is, I can't!) so in case I haven't said this before -- I love you -- ditto -- ditto -- and I'm just sap enough to let you know it -- and I hope you never forget it for one little minute -- because if you do I'll hound you!



"one of my cousins" could refer to John A. Thomas, the father of one of her students, Mary Thomas, as they lived in or near Troy. Other cousins lived in Kendrick, but that would be too far away under the conditions.

"floated it down the Potlatch" refers to the Potlatch river, the largest tributary to the lower Clearwater river basin, the stretch of the river between Orofino and Lewiston, where it joins the Snake river, which joins the Columbia river, which empties into the Pacific Ocean. Bill lives in Moscow, immediately to the west of Troy. The Potlatch is considerably to the east of Troy. To wit -- the idea of him writing a letter to Orene on a wood chip and floating it to her down the Potlatch is totally "far fetched" -- purely romantic. I would guess that Orene knew that Bill had the brains to know not to take her literally.

Potlatch watersheds in Latah County
The principal watersheds of the west fork of the Potlatch river, which drains Latah County, are around the towns of Bovill, Helmer, Deary, Troy, Kendrick, and Juliaetta. The west fork of the Potlatch originates in mountains north of Bovill, passes through Bovill and continues south the east of Helmer. Deary, to the west of Helmer, is related to the watershed of Big Bear Creek, which runs south through Big Bear Canyon, to the east of Little Bear Ridge, which divides Deary and Troy. Troy, to the west of Deary, is related to the watershed of Little Bear Creek, which runs south through the canyon west of Little Bear Ridge. Little Bear Creek joins Big Bear Creek north of Kendrick, and Big Bear Creek joins the Potlatch, which is southwest, at Kendrick, from which it falls to Juliaetta, and then to Arrow on the north bank of the Clearwater river.


1936 letters -- 2nd group

9 June - 12 July 1936

The 2nd group of the 71 letters from 1936 consist of 16 letters -- 15 of them postcards -- which Orene wrote and posted while traveling with Marguerite Manion and her parents through the western states.

The trip took the party of 4 south through the coastal states of Washington, Oregon, and California, as far as Tijuana in Mexico, then north through some inland states, including Colorado, Utah, and Montana. The family briefly returned to their home in Firth, Idaho, after which Orene accompanied the Manions, without Marguerite, to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

Letters forthcoming.


1936 letters -- 3rd group

15 July - 28 December 1936

The 3rd group of the 71 letters from 1936 consist of 24 letters Orene wrote after her return from the trip with Marguerite Manion and her family through the western states.

Letters forthcoming.


1937 letters

5 January - 28 June

The 25 letters from 1937 cover the first half of the year. Why they suddenly stopped is not clear. Enteries in Orene's diary, and photographs, document the fact that they continued to see each other. Sometime in 1937, probably during the summer or fall, Orene's Hardman family and Bill's Baldwin relatives met at St. Maries. And Bill and Orene married in San Francisco on 1 June 1938.

Possibly there was less correspondence because they made more use of telephones. But I suspect there were more letters -- probably quite a few -- which simply got lost in the shuffle. They probably exchanged quite a few letters in early 1938, after Bill went to San Francisco to start a new job there, while Orene continued to teach in Idaho for a while.

Letters forthcoming.