Monday, June 3, 2013

Amanuensis Monday: Looking for Louie - The Letters

Photo by  Petar Milošević  via Wikimedia Commons
Several years ago,  I transcribed a number of letters that were found as the family was cleaning out the Nelson family home.  Most were letters between my husband's parents, but tucked among these were two letters written by Louie Love Padgett.  I want to share parts of them because each provides more insight into Louie's character and his life.

Letter #1 - letter only, no envelope or date on the letter.  This letter was written by Louie to his father, John Adel Padgett.
Emory University, Ga
Dear Daddy;
I should have written you before this time, but I have never in my life had as much work to do as I am having now, it seems. ... I am enrolled in the School of Theology and enjoy the work there fine.  But instead of teaching one class as I expected to do, I am teaching two.  That makes five hours a day in actual class room work.  The preparation of these lessons naturally takes a lot of time.  I am also playing some foot-ball, taking practically all my time for these and other things that fall to my lot.
I am enclosing a check for the five dollars that you so kindly loaned me.  Thank you very much for the assistance.  
We had always heard that Louie taught at Emory, possibly at the Candler School of Theology.  This letter provides some confirmation for this family story.  How I wish it had been dated.  This was also the first mention we had found about Louie, the athlete.  As mentioned in the previous post about his college years, most of Louie's activities focused on academic and ministry related organizations.  Once again, we learned about another facet of Louie's life.

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Letter #2 - envelope postmarked 15 February 1926, Tallahassee, Florida.  This letter is written on business stationary with "L. L. Padgett, Oakman, Ga, European Tours Under the Business Management of Temple Tours, Boston, Mass" printed across the top of the paper.  The letter was written by Louie to his younger sister Jennie.

Dear Jeannie,
... I'm real proud to know that you are teaching, and I am sure you will find it agreeable work in spite of some discouragement and vexations that are incident to all worth while undertakings.  You will have bright days of happiness and contentment when you are aware of achievement and progress in your work.  You will have days of dark discouragement when you fail to see the real results of your labor.  Those days are just like the other days -- only it is our failure to see it that makes them seem darker.  Dejection of the spirit in that way is only "growing pains" that lift us higher and enable us to step forward more confidently the next day.

My own work has not been all a bed of roses. ... Traveling is difficult and lonely ... but my health has continued good.  Now there is a touch of spring in the air -- birds sing in the morning -- violets are blooming in the field -- jonquils and other flowers lend their beauty to the lawns.  I'm glad I'm living and its a good world. ...

Your devoted brother,
I love the gentle tone of this letter.  What a comfort it must have been to young Jennie to receive encouragement and understanding from a big brother as she was teaching school at the age of 19.  I would really have appreciated such a letter during my first year as a teacher!

The other important bit of information in letter #2 comes with the stationary Louie used.  By 1926, two years following his return from China, Louie was associated with a tourist agency.  According to the 1926 Boston City Directory, Temple Tours "took more people from America to Europe in small personally conducted groups ... than any other tourist agency in the world".(1)  Was he organizing tours to France, across Europe, or even to China?  Maybe someday someone in the family will stumble upon  a travel brochure detailing one of Louie's tours.

Looking for information about Louie continues to be interesting as we find information in such a variety of resources.

(1) U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989; database and online images; ( : accessed 29 May 2013); citing The Boston Cirectory 1926 (Boston: Simpson & Murdock Company, 1926).

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