Letter from Hal Burgess to Leonora Curtin, 1930/12/19
Well Hi amie [French for buddy], what haven't you been through besides what you've told us in the last year? We were so dreadfully sorry to hear what a wretched time you had been having, as, from what you had said in a previous letter, I gathered that September would see you through more, if not all your troubles. I cannot imagine anything more cold blooded than the Dr's behavior, it was such a gratuitous affront to your mother's memory, as well as to both yourself + daughter. I had always thought of him as man of refinement + integrity, + not an insensate egotist. I am sorry my Dear -- it is infinitely the worst feature of the whole business, because so sordid + uncalled for. It is a very good thing the time in which he could confront the Will has elapsed.
I wished we lived nearer, + could do something to help, if only to keep you cheerful. The Daughter was a very good, sensible girl to bundle you off to the hospital in the way she did, it at least gave you a much needed rest, + a quiet time in which to clean, + collect your thoughts, which is always such a blessing, please give her my best love + congratulations. It sees quite wise of you to "sit tight" + hold on to the various properties untill [sic] such time as business conditions improve, that, judging by our own experience, it would seem best to get rid of all real estate investments, + take up some form of good Bonds instead.
Real estate of any kind seems to require such a dickens of a lot of looking after, + there's generally a never ending stream of unfair bills coming in, which is both annoying + unprofitable!! Your ideas about unemployment, + the absolute necessity of providing food + shelter, as well as clothes, for the unfortunate, + their families, are quite correct, but still, it is not right that the Citizen's houses should be broken into + pillaged, very often irreparable damage done, + that people should go about their legitimate affairs in fear of being whacked over the head or killed. We're having the same troubles up here in the cities + towns, yet the coal mines are in many cases shut down for lack of market? + there are something like three hundred million barrels of wheat, the remains of last year's, + unused portion of this years crop, still in Canada. Because (or partly) because [sic] about ten men are ruling Canada, of whom Beakly, Tharukou, + P. Burns are three, the country is going from bad to worse every month. Burns is paying 4¢ on food for his beef cattle to the producer, + the grain farmers are getting abut 40¢ each a bushel for their wheat on the prairies, + we have to pay anywhere up to forty or fifty ¢ a pound for our beef, + over two dollars a sack (a bushel + a quarter) for our chicken feed wheat yet a great many people are going about bragging about British junkies, + what a wonderfully democratic government we've got. It certainly does get one's "Pet Augora"!!
The thought, that it may be possible for you to come up to our part of the world the spring after next is delightful. I have often thought it would be better for you both, to spend part of the year on this Island than in the south. There are so many lovely places to see, the climate is so pleasant, living is probably no more expensive than in other parts, + if you decided to buy a place of your own, which would be the nicest thing of all, it would not be a bad investment, to look at it from the most conservative point of view. A fact worth considering is, that there are many Eastern Canadians who have built themselves homes on the shores of Lake Geneva, Switzerland, + lived there for considerable periods, who are coming to settle in this part of the world in preference. There are also a good many Californians, principally from round Hollywood, who are doing the same, there must be some attraction, other than mere imagination, that brings them. Well my dear it is getting awfully late, I simply must turn in, but was anxious this would reach you by Xmas.
I hope the next year will have more peace + happiness in store for you than the last + that you will have no more return of your personal troubles. I haven't even thanked you for your offer + good wishes, + hope you will forgive my not sending a carol. Please write again soon if you can, + tell me how things are going,
Always most affectionately yours
PS: Can you tell me what the enclosed leaf is? We have two very delicate, elegant little trees, about four feet high, the seeds of which were sent to us from La Jolla three years ago, by some friends from Scotland who were spending the winter in your part of the world.
We have seeds sent to us from different countries + always plant them out of curiosity, they nearly always germinate, but sometimes dont [sic] live long, which is probably because we have no conservatory!
P.O Box 23
Letter from Hal Burgess to Leonora Curtin, 1932/01/11
Now that you are much stronger, the tedium of "dickering" + striving with lawyers + realestate [sic] men will not wear upon you so much, + you will be able to keep cheerful, which, after all, is the chief requisite.
We were all very much amused at your descriptions of the "service" ? you got from the British Stewards, but how sickening it must have been. How on earth did the Company even make such a mistake as to employ English stewards on an American Boat, at such a time as this, of all others, when there is so much of this idiotic, dangerous jealousy + dislike between the two countries. We are, all four of us, getting frightfully tired + disgusted with the whole business, + are always getting into hot water with our English friends + neighbours for not agreeing with their tirades against the Americans, + now, the French!!
Just as if England herself, wasn't tarred with the same brush, stroke for stroke, I suppose, when people live abroad as much as we have, they become more or less Cosmopolitan in their thoughts + ideas, + much more likely to see things from an international rather than merely national point of view, as most of these people seems to. We get so dispirited at times, that we often think we'll put our names on the quota list [presumably for immigration], + return to some part of Washington, or Oregon again.
I hope that if President Hoover's New Plan of U.S. Income For Rice becomes law, it wont [sic] hit you too hard. What ever [sic] happens, there will probably be a certain amount of uncomplimentary talk at his door, though it seems impossible any loyal American, should put anything but pride + satisfaction in such a Chief Executive, for the single minded manner in which he has put the country, as a whole, first, regardless of personal, or political risks.
Thank you very much for the "Forum," it has arrived regularly since last February, + has been greatly enjoyed. ...[exclusion]... We did not find out definitively who had sent it (though we guessed it was you) untill [sic] sometime in August or September, when we received a polite note from the Editor, telling us it was a Mrs. T. E. Curtin [who] had ordered it sent to this address, + asking us how we liked it.
How very interesting, yours + Babs' work must have been with the flowers, + how lovely they must have looked. You're a lucky Old Thing to have such a nice grown up daughter, + be able to chase round all over the world, the way you do. Next time you get started, you might try New Zealand, it's a fine long sea voyage, the boats leave 'Trisce, + launch at Seeva, + I believe both north + south Island are lovely beyond description. Well my Dear, take care of yourself + keep fit. Bridget joins me in love to you both, always affectionately yours
Postmarked Jan 11 1932
Dated January 7th 1931