W3434 TO REV. THOMAS BAKER from his grandson John Puckridge Baker
Jun 9 1880
To: Rev. Thomas Baker, 3 Bold Street, Hamilton, Ontario
From: 312 Thames Street, London, Ontario
Rev. Thos. Baker
My dear Grandpa,
In case of interruption or want of space I will to business first this time. As you are aware Willie arrived here on the 26th of May. I went with him to be examined by the Inspector on the following Monday, and the next morning, Tuesday June 1st, he commenced school. He was pronounced fit only for the junior department of the [third?] book. Considering that all was strange to him, I thought he passed his examination well, he has been applying himself closely and I trust we will be enabled to send you a report of his progress that will prove gratifying.
I had intended that till the holidays he should upon no pretext miss a day, but much to my disappointment and his discomfort he has caught the measles, perhaps from Alfred, who had them a few days since, in a very mild form. As a guide to you in giving me instructions what to get for him, I will let you know what he brought with him. One suit of plain tweed nearly new, the coat of which is rather heavy for midsummer days, One Hat, One pair socks, One pair coarse boots, considerably worn. One woolen [sic] undershirt, One pair of coloured shirts, and One pair of handkerchiefs, together with One very old coat and pair of overalls neither of which would be fit to wear out of the back yard, and no trunk of any kind. In the way of school books, he had nothing whatever but a slate, and a ["third" crossed out] fourth reader. He says that he has had no books bought for him but the reader since he went to his Uncle's, and that he studied in books belonging to the others. Minnie tells me that he also has, One pair of braces, and one good ulster overcoat. I think it right for me to add that I think he is one of those boys, (of which there are very many) who are not very easy on clothes anyway. So judging from his present appearance Uncle John has not allowed the bill for his clothes to grow large and has thereby set an example rather hard to emulate, and also keep the lad looking respectable. I shall try however, after hearing from you, to be guided by your instruction.
Lottie came to London with Willie on the 26th and is well as usual and seems to enjoy the holiday very much. The Dr. who is going to perform the operation on her throat has examined it and says that he is satisfied that the trouble can be very much relieved. But is of opinion that as the season is now so far advanced it would be better to defer the operation for a few weeks till the extreme heat be past. She was of course ready to go immediately after the wedding, but that occasion was postponed for some two or three weeks later than was intended at the time of the Dr. making his first calculations, and he thinks that if it should happen that the first union failed to be perfect, and the ground had to be gone over again, it would throw it into the very latest of the summer, since concluding to have the operation performed here, it has always been our intention to secure the best apartments at the Hospital, as it is doubtful if any other would do for such a long and trying operation and it is intended that her food (under the Dr.'s approval) will a good deal of it be from here, although that would not be absolutely necessary but might add to her comfort, the Dr. seems to think it would. With regard to the expense toward which you have kindly contributed $10.00, I am sorry to say, that I cannot give you a very definite answer for we have not good means of judging how long it will take, or what the eventual expense will be, we hope if the operation proves successful to make the Dr. a present of five or ten dollars, as of course he makes no charge for his services, indeed, is not permitted to if he happens to be on the Hospital staff at the time. But we do not expect that it will in any case cost over fifty or under thirty dollars that is to say in the cash outlay, though it may be done should everything prove favourable for even less than thirty cash outlay. I only hope poor girl, that she has courage to bear it well.
With regard to Lottie's clothes, of which I think you made mention in a former letter, I think she has [not?] a very good stock although she is much better provided for than for Willie. The dress she wore to the wedding was a white one which Alice made her a present of last summer, it is a very nice dress of the kind, the material cost about five or six dollars. Aunt Jane had it made.
Now with regard to this matter of boarding Lottie, I have felt much perplexed, and now feel much hesitation about introducing it at all, but as it would very likely lead to further misunderstanding if I let it pass, I think it better to speak plainly at once, and I earnestly hope that you will see the justice of my remarks and not feel annoyed. There has certainly been a misunderstanding between you and I, and I think there must have been between you and Uncle John. Did you pay $100. per annum for Lottie & Willie's board. Or did you pay $1.00 per annum for Willie's board and let Lottie help Aunt Jane, to pay for her board. If the first proposition was your understanding, the latter must certainly have been Uncle Johns, or else under what pretext has it been that from the first day Lottie went there, she has done the entire washing for a family of eleven, and during much the larger portion of the time received no aid from any one, also baked all the bread for the same family, and in short, did and expected to do the main weight of the work of the house, just in the same way that Minnie did when she was there, (and they were only too glad to have her there) and received her board and clothes for her service. If the first proposition is the right one I can only say, that neither the children themselves, nor any one related to them, [or?] interested in them in that neighbourhood thought so. But as the coming six months is all that is at present spoken of, I hope you will allow me to say that Lottie is welcome with us as our sister and our guest, and if the amount spoken of, viz, fifty dollars is more than you had intended or expected to pay for Willie's board, I will of course do as I said, viz, board him for whatever Uncle John did. And though I can say positively, and with a clear conscience that if I were killed on duty to-night I would not leave a dollar in the world but my life insurance, yet I would rather board him six months for nothing than let him lose his last opportunity to get a little knowledge where with to commence his trade and I am sure he would improve but little where he was.
With regard to our going to church I can only say that I shall be most happy to make arrangements to identify myself with the interests of some religious denomination. I thoroughly agree with you that there is but poor society outside the churches, and for Minnie's sake I should be very glad if we had a respectable standing in some church, for there are not young men any among my fellow employees where I could feel warranted in introducing to my sisters, they are as a class a rough illiterate lot, and as far as church was concerned we have not heretofore been in a position to appear at church as we would wish, nor yet had we our house furnished as we would wish to be able to receive such visitors as one would wish to receive and as far as I have been able to observe, the churches are much like the world in the importance they attach to these matters.
But in preparing for Alice's wedding I was obliged to fit both our house and persons somewhat for the occasion and think we can manage now sufficiently well for people, in our position in life. We have had everything to buy for housekeeping since coming to London and I have also paid off outstanding debts to the amount of over $200. So it has really been the most profitable part of my life in a pecuniary sense. As to what church to attend, we will decide by the time the children have got their clothes. We are a long way from the Congregational but no doubt your name and influence would greatly assist us in gaining respect there, but we would have to move if we thought of attending it [words crossed out] regularly, but as to this we will see shortly. With kindest love to Grandma and yourself in which all here unite. I remain,
Your Affec't Grandson
John P. [Puckridge] Baker