Correspondence for July, 1934
July 3, Ketchikan, Alaska, Gen. Delivery
I wrote you a long letter this a.m. just after getting your second registered letter with 20 in it, sent June 25th and your typewritten letter of June 19th which I also got this a.m. I mailed them at P.O. I am going to mail this on the "Alaska" when she stops here Thursday a.m. Maybe you will get it quicker and maybe not. K got paid 9.75 today for the last 3 days in June. Next regular pay day about Aug. 3 or 4th but if necessary he can draw against it, or will get paid anytime he quits or gets fired. I have been doing some very close figuring and while we can't save anything, we can hold our own and not run behind. We'll have to stay here at same place. And I figure that whether we leave here on July 11, 18, 25, or Aug. 1st (which is when our weekly rent expires) I'll have to have $35 more than I will have, and should have $40, to be certain. But staying here and working longer won't help, because we can't save anything anyhow. In a cheaper room I could save a little, but we are in good here, and our credit is good and I'm afraid to move on acc't of having to wait so long for pay day and K doesn't want to draw anything till he has to. He will just keep on working till I get my money.
There is no need for either you or me to worry much now. When you do telegraph the money there is no need to send any message with it as that costs extra. And unless K gets fired it would not be necessary to send the full hundred either. You could just send 40 or 50 and I'd be O.K. But of course you won't know exactly as it takes a week for me to get a letter there. There is no need for you to send me many more of your own money, and you may need it. When you get R.'s money will be time enough. I don't think he will back out, but if he should I can, I think, get out of here and back to Seattle on $35. Maybe on less. With luck to get a cheap ticket I might even do it on $25 more than what we will have. And if by any chance he should back out I expect it would be best for me to get back to Seattle as soon as I could. Cheap fare tickets are usually listed so far ahead as to make it doubtful if we can get any here, even for K by himself; but might have luck. And all the Northland boats are tied up in Seattle. If we had just the right combination of circumstances we might even get back for $20 more than we will have if he works to the 15th -- for instance. But one can't be sure so I suggest 35 as the least amount. Should you get R's money you might just wire $50, instead of $100, however.
And then have D. mail a good bundle of literature to K, Gen. Del. Seattle instead of to me. The reason I did not get that pkg from her was she forgot to put Gen.Del. on. I asked them to look it up but it seems it was held at a different post office -- at Terminal Station on account of "incomplete address." I did not know enough to go there and look for it, as I would have done if it had been in Los Angeles.
Enough firecrackers are being shot off here the past week to burn up all of California. Bang, bang, night and day, especially at night. This is an all night town. Stores open all night and maybe closed all day. One had a sign on it Sunday "Closed today; open 10 p.m." Only 3 or 4 hours of darkness now anyway.
I find the salmon berries very good when fully ripe, especially now that it is not raining so much. Only two days rain in last two weeks. Awful dry spell! They have a taste slightly resembling a raspberry and are about one inch in diameter and not at all watery in decent weather.
If you don't like your new room and want a better one, let me help you a bit. When my money comes take enough to pay a month's rent in a decent place. Perhaps you'd rather do that than get curtains for the hall anyhow. I suggested the curtains in one of last week's letters because I thought you'd want them if you were secretary. Do whatever you choose about them; and if you want a better place to live after you get the money use some of it for that purpose. You earned it.
No, you'd not be able to stand Wellington, Kansas and all his relatives, job or no job. And I'm sure it's like this place -- no radicals in it! If this place were on this mainland and if one did not have to go through Canada, I'd have started to walk back long ago. As it is, that is not practical.
This town has queer ways, to me. It is impossible to get a small cheap meal at any price; but on the other hand you get a big meal for what you do pay. For instance, the cheapest hot cakes and coffee is .25; but there are 5 or 6 big hot cakes and 2 or 3 cups of coffee with no extra charge. Dinner is always .40, 45 or 50 cents. Same thing varies from day to day. But if you get a big plate of meat, two or 3 vegetables, desert and all the coffee you want, and even a second plate of meat if you want it without charge. Something in the all you can eat for 50 cents order. I only go in once a day or once in two days and bring out a big sandwich or two for the next meal in my room. K is working so hard he must eat anyhow. The cook, when he is alone, often gives K an extra meat or egg order. One can't eat cheap here, but if one can spent 1.10 or 1.25 a day they can eat "awful good" if an awful lot. I suppose that's the custom of the country.
Also, I think the almost universal giving of credit has a lot to do with the high prices. Even I got credit when I came here! And I find it quite the usual thing. A ten cent store could make a fortune here -- there is none, and nothing like it. I don't see why Woolworth or Cress overlooks such a bet as this.
Also I want to tell you (I forgot to tell Mrs. D when I wrote today so you tell her if you see her) that Sears Roebuck have a broadcasting station here in Ketchikan and they broadcast local and national news at 6 p.m. (from about 6 to 7). Maybe they could get it on their radio.
July 4 - 3 p.m.
Much big doings today. More firecrackers shot off than I've seen in 20 years! Also we witnessed the "Channel Swim" -- 3/8 of a mile from 1 island to another. Much excitement. Winner got $35 and first woman in got $15 special. She might have got in first and got $50 in all if she had had a good boatman. Hers let her get away off her course so she came 3 min. later. Only 2 men got in at all. Pretty rough water, though usually its calm.
I heard people say it was the first 4th in 10 or 12 years when it did not rain. No sleep possible last night on acc't of big noise. About 5 or 6 a.m. They got tired or stopped to eat and it was quiet a couple hours. Regular old style small town 4th.
We are going after some berries this afternoon. Carrots are 2 bunches for 15 cents here -- same as were 1 cent a bunch in L.A. Usually they are 10 cents a bunch. The "Northwestern" comes up from Vancouver tomorrow but I doubt if she brings any mail for me. The only time I ever get anything is when the C.P.R. boat gets here Mon eve. Then I get mail on Tuesday about 10 or 11 a.m.
K. goes to work at 12:30 noon now, and works till 5:30 p.m., which permits him to eat dinner just before work and supper after work and cut out breakfast - a slight saving!
Friday, July 6
I just got your letter mailed in L.A. June 29. It came up on the "Northwestern" last night. Your news is discouraging in a way. I have been thinking for the last few days that R. might stay there and I'm afraid he'll back out of buying if he does. I don't see why he should keep his own place, but he might figure he could not sell his; with the boundary line only 9 to 14 inches from his north house wall, unless he first bought mine -- I would have been willing to buy him out last fall -- but not now, for then he'd always know where we lived and might have someone spy on us for him. However, keep at him about once a week and ask him about progress.
If K holds his job, I can manage -- and I have a possibility of being able to move to a cheaper place, but won't know till tonight or tomorrow. If so I can save a little myself. If K works through till Aug1, he'll have 81.25 coming to him, but will have only about 20 to 25 clear of expenses. That is all we will have left, after paying up everybody, I mean. It's raining again today, too, to still further depress me! But if I can move to the cheap place I have in mind it might make 15 or 20 more. I guess we are in for a spell of worry, anyway I look at it. I don't think you'd better send me any more of your money, unless something happens you can send 35 (or 40 which is safer) at once. I think the sooner I get back to Seattle, the better and cheaper it will be and the more money I'll have, but you should keep a reserve. So unless you get some Liberty money, or something equally nice happens, I don't see as you can do much.
I'm sorry to make you so much trouble and worry. Also I'm feeling quite blue and sorry for myself just now. But I guess it can't be helped. Tell R. you only hear from me occasionally and don't think it safe to try to send mail to me and if he doesn't want your deed as power of attorney, I'll deed to place to you and you to him. Or tell him I'm where it takes a month to get a letter to me, or some darned thing. The last letter I wrote him before leaving L.A., I told him he would have to deal with you in all things and that while you would know my address if and when anyone knew it, I had instructed you not to give it to him. I told D. and Mrs. D if he asked them to just refer him to you.
Well, K says if R stays in Kansas we might be able to come back to L.A. next winter at any rate. And maybe stay there. There is that much advantage to R's departure. If I had only known he had gone before K left L.A. I might not have gone myself at all and a lot of things would have been different.
I suggest that you write to Carmicheal and ask him what progress has been made in clearing up the Florida title. Don't refer to any money compromise unless he does. Then, if he does, accept what he offers. It will be $100 probably. But act as though we wanted to land. See if you can get an answer out of him. Or write to "Presiding Bishopric", Independence, Missouri, stating that you are writing on my behalf and have my power of attorney. Probably they won't answer, but you could try it. I think they are going to turn over the land instead of the money. Its most 3 months now -- but they have another 3 months yet if they need it so we can't expect any offer of settlement unless they have failed, or think they have failed, to clear title.
It is queer how things turn out. I never would have left Calif. if it hadn't been for wanting to get as far away as possible from R. for fear some of us would get killed. And now he's gone and I hope he stays -- provided we get his money first. I've lost my sough and seem to have lost the asthma, but I might have spent 2 weeks in Yosemite or some place and done it cheaper. I'm glad you got the watch but you can't et any money on it or for it. Unless maybe Mary would want it and give or lend you something for it the 1st of August. Mrs. D. has a good one, but show her yours anyhow.
A man who lives here told K the weather might be good here till about Aug 1st. Then he says it rains continuously from Aug. 1st to the end of next May. I don't really think R. will take the bank job, not if he has any sense. He knows he can't handle another person's money honestly. He had narrow squeaks from misusing clients' money in L.A. and barely made it up before he got caught. He knows he has that weakness and if he does have anything to do with a bank, it will be bad for the bank and he might land in the pen if he lives long enough.
Write to me as often as you can, even if you have no good news. I'd like to know what's what, anyhow. Would it be possible to intimate to R that he should make a down payment of say 50 or 100 now in order to bind the sale and then pay the balance as soon as the estate was settled. Have him make out a monthly contract sale (not a trust deed) and pay say 50 or 100 down and 10 a month? I think he might do it if it was put up to him. Could you not tell him that if he may be a month or more late that would be the best plan for both him and you? Another month's rent is due Aug 1st. Perhaps you could tell him that I had promised to repay you $120 (or more) out of the sale of the place to reimburse you for 2 years' taxes you paid and that if he would make a down payment it would enable you to collect what is due yourself. He knows you paid that money, and he knows well enough that you can't eat watches and toilet sets and you can tell him that if you could get a down payment it would help to tide you over till you go to work again. One can't always tell the truth, exactly but one can approach it. He could pay 10 a month as well as 5 for rent. He hates to pay rent anyway. And make the down payment offer "50 or 100" and let him make out the contract of sale and sent it to you to sign, along with the check for payment, via Calif. bank. Then the bank will give the money and give him back his contract.
I think you could try it, maybe.
This is No2 letter for today. We just moved out of Gilmore Hotel into what I think is the world's worst room at 2.50 per wk. Don't have to pay anything till I get it. Landlady 80 yr old German woman from Frisco. Been here 30 years, however. Woman who owns restaurant where we eat steered us in here. I could stand the room better than a better one at a higher price. The Gimmore gave us last 3 days free too. The manager says cost of living here is same now as it was 15 years ago in boom times but wages are way down. We are at 647 Mission St. But as no mail is delivered in this town, send to Gen. Del as before. Should you have to wire money, send to K. this address, or to me Gen.Del. and I suppose they would drop a card to me. However, I only call for mail on "Boat days" -- so best to send any wire to K. this address.
I expect a letter from you tomorrow, or Wed. as there are 2 and maybe 3 mailboats coming up next time (tonight and tomorrow) via Vancouver, BC and Tacoma, Wash. They are loading now at Tacoma instead of Seattle. We hear that the blockade may go on again any time and the gov. of Alaska has advised the ordering of as large supplies as possible on that account. I wish they'd get that strike settled soon.
Now I'll tell you my latest news. I sent you a note last thing Friday night telling you I had moved. A pretty awful place, but I could stand it awhile. Close, musty, old and damp, an attic in an old shack in an old, and, I think, a tough part of town. There is a stove, but wood costs so much and dry wood is so hard to get that I don't think we will use it much. I started to cough and breathe hard as soon as I moved in and I thought that I had got over that. Must be something is the dust and age of the room which makes me worse. In that case, there must have been something bad in the C. house, too, which made me worse last winter.
We can save a little money now, provided I don't eat too much. I think I can save about enough by the 10th of August to get us back to Seattle, provided the job lasts that long and the weather continues good. It rained Sunday all day but is fair today. So K is still about to work. He is standing the work better than I thought he would, though he gets a lot of stone dust in his lungs and has a sore back that gets no better. I hate to be here an other month but if I have to, we can live as long as he keep on working and I hold myself down to minimum expenses for food I can save from 5 to 7 dollars a week from now on. Back debts all paid. I do not want you to try to send me any more of your own money, for you have done enough. But when R's money comes wire 50 to M.K., 647 Mission St. this town or send to me in registered letter. It is better to wire, for several reasons. For one thing, should the work end, or weather get bad, I would want to leave as soon as I had enough money to get back to Seattle. Something might happen that I would have the amount sooner than Aug 10. Or, if you have already sent anything extra before you get this letter, and if the work ends suddenly I might be able to leave sooner.
Also I wrote to Aunt H air mail Friday and I expect an answer (air mail -- I sent her a stamped envelope) either 17th or 24th of Aug. or during that week. I did not dare ask her for any money, but told her a very good and plausible story and that I was trying to raise $100 for a certain purpose. She may send it, though it is doubtful. However, I got it from her 20 years ago, in a pinch. I did not dare risk an out and out request, and possible refusal. Should I get it, I'll wire you at once and mail back to you your $40 by P.O. money order. As I say, it is very doubtful, but you can never tell what Aunt H. will do!
Should you get a telegram, send literature there to M.K. Gen.Del. and write me same way till I get my forwarding order cancelled at Seattle. I'll have my mail forwarded from here before I leave to Seattle. Mark any mail sent to Seattle "Gen.Del. Hold till called for." Keep me informed as to what R. is doing, as far as possible. If he stays in Kansas, we might return to L.A. for awhile next winter.
Another thing; if the strike keeps on, I can't make much money in Seattle because the people there are so broke. So if K keeps on working, and the weather should accidentally continue dry and decent here, and we can save money for a stake, I might stay here a little while even after we get money enough to return, so as to pay you back what you sent me. That will have to depend on circumstances here; and also on whether or not you get R's money. If he should die or back out before the deal is completed, I'd want to get everything I could here, even at some sacrifice of health and comfort. But I don't want to stay after the heavy rains start. Someone here told me yesterday it had not "really rained here for 2 months." If they don't call the first 11 days I was here "real rain" and if they don't call what we had yesterday "rain" -- well, I'd hate to be here when it does rain! And a man out of a job here is in an awful fix. Much worse than in California. Really, I think one can live as comfortably on $10 a week in L.A. as on 30 a week up here. However, at this season, it is probably easier to get work here; but I'm told half the town was on relief here all last winter! There is very little work for women -- except they are Indian, for common labor, or blonde Swedish types for clerks, waitresses, etc. Some of them are from Seattle. Have to be young, good looking, and able to stand a lot!
Should I by any chance get that money out of Aunt H. I'll let you know at once by wire to Mrs. Erwin. Also the date of my leaving Ketchikan. And, of course, after you would not need to send me any. But don't depend on Aunt H doing anything!
I brought up all my old stocking and the other day I sorted out those I could wear and cut the others up in long spiral strips. Each stocking makes a step 10 or 12 feet long. Then I crocheted two starters for rugs. One is black and gray shades, oval and now about 10 x 15 inches. The other round, about 15 inches in diameter, of brown and tan. Save the stockings and in 5 years we might have 2 rugs! I wish I had plenty crochet cotton and a steel hook. I could make a bed spread in the time I waste here. Most of my time is spent at the library. All day and part of the evening.
Wood alcohol is best for bed bugs but if they are established in either room or mattress it is almost impossible to get rid of them. Also they will get into your clothes and you are likely to carry them away when you move. Every tiny crack must be painted with alcohol and it must be squirted around doors and moldings and window frames with an oil can. A mattress is hopeless if they are really in it. And they get under wallpaper and eat out the paste. Some kind of poison paste which they eat helps. Fumigation by the health authorities of the entire building is the only solution, really, unless they are only in your apt. and have not been there long.
You won't get this till Mon or Tues (16th or 17th of next week). If we had air mail up here I could mail this tonight and you'd get it tomorrow afternoon! Write anyway, whether you got much news or not. I watch the boats and the mail all the time.
K. still working but gets a vacation Tuesday because the crusher has to be fixed. We met a Filipino here tonight who heard me talk many times in L.A. and Seattle. He's laying over here between boats. Came up on Canadian boat and goes out tonight to the Yukon. I'm giving him a card to mail to Calancy with our regards on it and telling him to mail it when he gets there. That is, if I see him again before the boat goes and I think I will.
K is going to try to get work tonight unloading some of the 2 or 3 boats which are due with a lot of extra freight tonight and tomorrow. The picture I send you just cuts off my house of the left side of the picture. The district looks better in the picture than it does any other way.
We had 2 mail boats last night but nothing from you on either one. You see I got my weekly letter on last Thursdays' boat, I guess. Maybe I'll have one against that away this week. Rain again. today. So far it has not rained when K was working. He strained himself rather badly yesterday, but maybe a day's rest will help. The work is pretty heavy all right. He found a little dray wood yesterday and we had supper and will have breakfast in the room this a.m. I can't mail this till Thursday, anyway -- I hope things will get straightened out soon for all of us.
There is a long letter in the mail, but I'd better send this too. K. got laid off tonight. I still have -- counting what's coming to him in wages -- about $20, of which I owe 2.50 rent here up till next Friday, the 13th. He may get other work, or may not. But perhaps R.'s money will be here soon now. If I get 40 from you before next Fri and can get a steerage ticket for K we can get out. But if only 35, maybe I can and I maybe I can't. Mail boat goes down after midnight tonight so I send this. Next mail from south here Fri a.m., I guess.
I got your letter dated July 7 today. Came last night. I'm glad to get all the news, if nothing else. By this time you have the letter and note which I sent down by last Saturday's boat, so you know K's job is a thing of the past. He did not as yet get anything else, and it is possible he may not get anything. I paid this last week's rent this a.m. (up to tonight) and have enough to keep us 2 weeks if we are very careful and if I let the rent slide, as I probably will. Perhaps by that time you will have R's money. Anyway we will hope so.
I'm sorry that we have to eat up what K earned instead of being able to use it for fare out of here, but there is no help for it. That means that when you do telegraph R's money here you should send more than $50, to be safe. Also it means that I can no longer get out on 35 or 40 extra, as I had hoped to do. If it had come this a.m., I could have done it, but by next Friday another week's expenses will so far eat into what I have that while I might get out for 40 more, 45 might be necessary. Unless, of course, he gets some more work.
The strike has disrupted work and business here very badly and it will be a terrible winter for Alaska, in consequence of it. I will (and always have since I've been here) spend as little as humanly possible. I don't expect a reply from Aunt Helen before July 20th, if then; and I really don't expect any money then, but I cling to any and every possible hope. I have to. It takes only 4 days for letters to come if they make good connections, but one of yours was 12 days on the way. At present boats are leaving 3 or 4 times a week from Tacoma. Also I have extra opportunity to send mail south. If the Alaska boats are still running when you get R's money it will probably be best for you to see their agent in L.A. and have 2 tickets, in name of Mr. and Mrs. K--- telegraphed here. They wire without charge, I'm told here at this office. If they get here before the 27th of July I may be able to get out without any more money. But if it is delayed beyond that, I will, unless K gets more work, have some debts to pay and you would need to wire K also, either through the Alaska line or otherwise, $10 for each week's delay beyond that. I say this now because it takes so long to write you and get an answer back. If he gets any work, I'll let you know. If you have R's money you might as well wire $25 anyway so I'll have something when I get to Seattle. I think the Alaska Line will handle it all for you. But if the boats are not running -- that is, if they have no boats up north (at the time you go to see them) which are due to go south via Ketchikan to Seattle, -- you will have to wire care U.S. Signal Corps, as I told you. The Alaska boats may be stopped at any time. Then I have to go by Can. Pac. RR Steamers. They leave here every Sat. a.m. Or by Can. Natl RR Steamer which leaves every Sun eve. I suppose the CPR has an office in L.A. but don't know. If so, they would handle the matter just as well as the Alaska Line, and their boats always run -- every week for 25 years! Our street address had to be given -- (647 Mission care Mrs. Hamilton) to either ticket office or telegraph office.
You handle the matter of deed and other correspondence with R as you see fit. I suppose he really will get his money as quick as possible -- for his own sake. And he'll try to pay before Aug. 1, when rent is due.
I'm sorry you have been sick so much. Is it the room, by any chance? Because as soon as I moved into the room I'm in now I began to cough and have asthma again and it gets worse every day. And I had almost no asthma before since leaving Sacramento and no cough since leaving Seattle, till I got into this room. They rent better places in L.A. for 1.00 a week! When you get my money you take an extra $10 or $15 and fix your room up as you want it, as a present from me. Get good stuff. Get cretonne (fast color) for bed spread and side curtains. My present, please!
Johnny Malerta (alias Spaghetti) must have been the man you say who asked about me. If we get the 500 out of R we'll be doing well; and that's more cash than I'd get out of him if I had not left him! You know how hard he held on to the money he got for his place. He ought to give something. He'd have died in the hospital 3 years before his brother if it has not been for my getting Keoun to help him. I saved his life and he knows it, but probably $500 is all that it's worth! If he stays in Kansas he will probably have Kane paint and fix up the place and sell it -- and Kane will take his time doing it, too! I would not want it myself, now; but if R stays in Kansas, we might come for a visit next winter -- maybe. I guess I'll have to try my hand at writing in earnest, when things get straightened out. There an article (the first one) in the Sat Eve Post for July 21 which you want to read -- on the drought. Don't miss it.
I feel pretty blue at times, but I guess things will work out in time. But waiting is awful hard -- waiting and not being able to do anything about it. If I could do anything at all to help the situation I might not feel so bad. If Canada did not have immigration laws, etc.etc. I'd try to go from here to Prince Rupert and get over on the railway somehow till I got to Vancouver. But it's out of the question, under the circumstances. And if I did so I'd lose touch with you, and the mail, and everything. So I guess there's nothing for me to do but sit tight and wait awhile longer. It's only a month ago today since I got here but it seems 6 months! I'll send this by tomorrow morning's "Princess" Boat so you'll get it about Tuesday of next week.
As I told you last time I wrote, if Aunt H send money, I'll wire you at once so you won't send me anything and will know when I leave. Then you will have to get D to send K a bunch of lit to Seattle Gen. Del. -- if possible. I'll stay here 24 hours after getting the money (if I get it!) so there will be no mix up. I'll have my mail forwarded before I leave.
When I leave here, if I have time to go and get them at the last minute, I'll bring back some little trees to put in 2 inch pots. Yesterday I found some very odd looking bits of some sort of mineral mixed in with gravel. I think it is silver copper and a little gold. I send you with this 4 or 5 grains. There is very little of it and I imagine it is worthless. Anyway it took 2 hours to find 10 small pieces of it. I have 3 larger pieces than what I enclose suitable for nugget strippings.
Monday, July 16, Ketchikan, Alaska, Gen. Delivery
I'll start a letter now and see what happens. We had expected to get mail today by the 'Aleutian,' but she has got stuck in the mud or something the other side of Prince Rupert and [has] been there ever since last evening. Now it is said she will be in 3:30 a.m. Tuesday -- 12 to 18 hours late. Anyway, we get 2 mailboats in tonight and tomorrow and one due Thursday, and maybe Friday another. There is every possibility the Alaska ships may be tied up again if the Gen. Strike spreads to Seattle and Tacoma, because that will tie up transport of freight from warehouses to dock.
Also, and this is most serious of all, so far as I am concerned, Canada may refuse to furnish oil to Am. board (they are all oil-burners). There is also a possibility that oil supplies may be so reduced in Vancouver that even the CPR boats may have to stop running, in case the Gen. Strike spreads to Los Angeles.
If you have any money at all, better stock up on flour, beans, rice, cornmeal, sugar, and the most important staples to last a month as the food question will become serious if the strike lasts long, and if it spreads to L.A. -- as it may....From what we hear, it's already bad in S.F. K. has not been able to get any more work, so far. I still have $13.50 left. I paid my rent up till last Fri. As I told you in my last letter, I can't expect an answer from Brockton before Friday of this week, at earliest; and I really have practically no hope of her sending anything. But by the time you get this letter it will be 4 weeks since R. sent you the letter saying it would be about a month. So maybe he'll have it by that time I hope so.
I expect things will be bad in Seattle but I think I'd rather be there than here.
If and when you get his [Roser's] money, you had best take some of it and stock up on food stapes, like I said. Get plenty while you can do so. The drought is to be considered, too, and I'd rather pay for it myself than have you do without. Besides, I may be in L.A. this winter if R. stays in Kansas. Beans, whole yellow corn, wheat, rice, sugar, or what you think most important. Beans and wheat will have to be fumigated in order to keep. D. has the handmill to grind it with.
I seriously believe food may be very scarce next winter. I think the situation is worse than the newspapers admit. I think you should urge Mrs. D. to lay in a supply for herself, insofar as she can do so, too, on the "permit to buy" and ration system. Beans and wheat can be got already fumigated to kill weevil at seed stores. Yellow corn and rice are not affected by weevil. But I think peas are affected, also lima beans. If Erwin does not see the importance of this, when you get R.'s money tell him I want you to buy some stuff and hold it for me for next winter and, if necessary store same at D's house. Flour and cornmeal won't keep, but fumigated wheat and corn will.
Tuesday, July 17
I just got your 2 letters this a.m. If you want to stay where you are by all means fix the place up nice and get good stuff while you are getting it. To be too skimpy in either quantity or quality spoils it all.
By this time you know K isn't working any more. We can make coffee and do very light cooking in the room.... Neither he nor I eat at restaurants.
This is a quaint town. Price varies 50% from day to day. You ask for a dozen doughnuts at the bakery and sometimes those are 30 cents, or 25, or 20, or 15. Also, you never get a dozen. You get 13, or 16, or 15 -- never, by accident, 12. You ask for a pound of anything and they guess at it. They never cheat customers though; I got almost 4 lbs of sugar when I asked for 2 lbs. Hamburger 30 cents a lb. But canned meats not more than 50% higher than in L.A. K. catches fish some and we cook them also.
My landlady talks most as much as the Hawthorne cat woman, but she is a very lively woman for 80 years old. Came to S.F. in 1864, lived in S.F. 36 years. I think she is a wealthy old miser and owns a lot of property up here.
I guess you are wise to send 100 when you get it, after all -- can't tell what will happen. I know you can't do anything for me till you get his money. And if I get money from Brockton, I'll send you some of it.
Got letter from Mrs. D. mailed 11th via air mail. She got seeds from me for salmon berries. You should have got trees on July 5th. I figure mail according to when the boat leaves, not according to post office stamps. The letter you got on the 8th and 9th (Sunday and Monday) left here about 1 a.m. Friday the 6th. K. just got papers and letters from E. 6 cents due on papers. If you want some of your books in your room, when you get money hunt around for a couple of bamboo cases cheap at second hand stores.
The Utopians seem to have grabbed off my idea of a revolutionary organization of Americans, in a way. Only I would have it very revolutionary, and limit it to native born Americans. Such a group has a future, if they could keep the reformers out, and the preachers. It is probably a side show for Sinclair to help put him over of Gov. In case he fails to the Dem. nomination, they will nominate him; and if he does not get it, they get behind him. There is a way for a new party to nominate after the primaries!
Sabo seems to live up to his -- or her -- name. Glad you still have the kitty.
Thursday, July 19
This week we have more than our usual quota of mail boats from the South. We had the "Princess" and "Aleutian" Mon. eve., and the "Haleakala" Wed. The "Northwestern" is due this ever (Thurs.) and the "Cordova" Sat. Then another Princess boat is due next Monday. So we have a chance to get mail on each day following boat arrivals.
Some small employer here said the strikers ought to be shot, and somebody burned his place the next day! I think sentiment is generally with the strikers but people not involved wish something would happen soon to end it. The Library here gets the Seattle Post Intelligencer and The Portland Oregonian. Sears Roebuck broadcasts over radio local and world news from 6 to 7 p.m. and sometimes till 9 p.m., and at other times also if they feel like it. They advertise very little but put on a good show, so to speak. I don't know the wave length. Anyway you could not get it in L.A. though it might be picked up at Laguna Beach.
Thursday, July 19
We had a mail boat in yesterday, and I got a letter from Aunt H but no money. Apparently she has very little cash. She speaks of a bond -- amt not stated. And gives her lawyer's address, etc. I thought this last letter ought to be kept safe in case anything happens. I am enclosing it so you can keep it with other papers you have. She won't last long. Then the estate will have to be liquidated. She says she destroyed her old will. You read the letter yourself.
I still have 9.00 after paying this week's rent. I haven't paid it yet, but maybe I will tomorrow. I can get through 2 weeks longer if K fails to get work and longer if he does. Though when he works, he has to eat so much more. Anyway, I can hold out all right if I have to till about Aug 3. Something should happen by that time. I think I can keep out of debt till Aug. 3. so that if R only makes a down payment, I can get out if you can only send tickets. Tickets will be 26.50 apiece, $53. After Aug 3, I might have to be in debt a little.
Last papers from Portland and Seattle to get here are of date July 16 and things certainly look bad. Get yourself some food staples before L.A. gets a Gen. strike. Thought I don't suppose L.A. will have one, yet you never can tell. We get mail again tomorrow.
Friday, July 20
Whenever it stops raining, and the sun comes out up here it turns cold. "Cold light" is nothing new -- they always have it here. There is no warmth in the sunlight. I have had my coat off about an hour since I came. I wear my heavy underwear and your khaki dress, too.
The "Cordova" is due here Sat. or Sun. but I don't know yet if she carries mail. The local paper here says strikers in S.F. are split and some have voted to arbitrate and go back to work. The boats are taking on fresh oil from storage tanks here. Vancouver won't supply them anymore. They load up here for the round trip. There seems to be quite a supply here, but all the fishing boats use it, too, so no one knows how long it will last. The trollers are back on strike again after a temporary peace, and refuse to catch fish till the price goes up.
Big day in Ketchikan today! Practically every mail box in the P.O. has a brand new Sears Roebuck Annual Catalog in it this a.m.! You know what that means. No one will work till they read it.
Saturday, July 21
We get another mail boat tonight, but since I have to get mail at the Gen.Del. window, I have to wait till Mon. a.m. to see whether I get anything or not. Then another mail boat -- either the "Princess" or "Yukon," or both, gets here Mon., 23, so I must wait till Tues. for that mail. We have never had so many mail boats in a week before. They are rushing them out of Tacoma as fast as possible in fear of being stopped again anytime.
Did you notice what a lot of different kinds of stamps I get here to put on letters?
I've read most everything in this library which I had not already read. Have even read most of the Library of Original Sources. I'm likely to start on the Presidents' Messages next We had a warm day yesterday. It went up to 65 or 70 for a couple hours. I read of 108 and 110 in Kansas City. Hope Roser like the climate of Kansas! I suppose having a nice house, car, "civic honors," etc. has turned his head. There is plenty of radical activity in Kansas if he wants to find it. I hope he stays there but am afraid he won't. I think I will come to Calif. as soon as it looks like he might stay.
I said awhile ago that I thought I could manage to keep out of debt, or at least have money enough to pay my bills with up to and including Aug. 3 -- in case K. gets no more work before then. I forgot when I said so that I always pay rent for the past week here -- not for the week in advance. I am paid up till the 20th and will pay till 27th July, anyway, and we can eat till after Aug. 3 or longer, but I may have a week's back rent to pay by that time. However, I can probably get away without paying it if I have to.
Should Roser only pay 50 down, it will be best for you to get 2 tickets from Alaska Line or CPR and have them telegraphed. You should arrange for 2 tickets on the first available boat south from Ketchikan to Tacoma or Seattle. And they will have to be for Mr. & Mrs. K., giving our two first names and street address. If he pays 100 down, or the whole amount, it would be best to telegraph cash as I might get a cheaper rate, if luck is with me. I won't need anything besides tickets if it gets here by the 27th, and I can probably get out all right any time before Aug.3 with nothing but tickets. After that it will take more. R's "month" will be up next wed., before you get this letter, so I hope something will happen.
I can't remember whether Mormon money is due Oct. 1 or 31st. I think it was sometime in October.
I guess I'll have to get a typewriter when I get the money and settle down in earnest to try to make a business of writing. My cough is back again most as bad as last winter and the asthma, or whatever it is, keeps me sitting up half the night, and even then sometimes it is all I can d to get my breath. Last night I "almost could not." Bad grammar!
Same day, p.m.
I noticed just now that we have an extra mail boat going south Sun., July 22, so I am going to send this by her, by ordinary ail. She is the Haleakala (from Hawaii) and makes a faster trip than any of the others.
We have a fine sample of U.S. Navy efficiency here, 2 submarines and a destroyer. It took the destroyer 8 or 10 times as long to tie up to the wharf as it does a passenger or freight boat -- and they are bigger. All the natives standing around, making fun of it. They say all the navy boats, are so clumsy that way, and the officers and men don't seem to know what to do. We heard one man say, "Hello, there's some more of Uncle Sam's Scrap Iron."
I mailed you an answer to your two letters of 16 and 17th this a.m. Since them I learned the next mail boat going south won't be here till Wed. -- may be Thurs. (25 & 26) so I guess after all you won't get it before San. or Sun. (28 or 29).
You will of course use your best judgment in dealing with R. and if you think best not to forward the letter I sent you to him -- O.K. You know more than I do about it. Only, as I explained, I though as early action as possible ought to be obtained.
Tell Mrs. D. to give you all my mail and you open it and read it before sending it on. Don't send it if it's not important. Just tell me the gist of it. Carmichael will write to that address, if he writes at all, and so Aunt H. next time she writes. I will hold on to the money as long as possible. In any case, since I have the extra $10 now I would be able to get back to Seattle any time before Aug. 10 without any other money, except tickets. So if R. "bites" and you should get only 50 from him you should get 2 tickers for $53 (total) on Alaska Line, her first available boat, if possible, and they will wire them here at Ketchikan office.
Let me know then what you think he may do. My guess is he will be there some time yet as I think he is getting a swelled sense of his own importance. Big frog in little puddles stuff. I think his main idea in wanting my signature is to find out where I am. I'm sorry I didn't deed it to you in the first place. I did not think he would act that way, but that is what I should have done anyway. Would it do any good for you to hint that I might like to trade it in on another place, unless he can sign up for it soon?
Maybe it would interest you to know some of our food prices here. Hamburger 30 cents/lb.; apricots 20 doz.; pears (small) 40 doz.; carrots, lettuce, onions, beets either 10 a small bunch or 2 for 15 (same as we pay 1cent a bunch for) and beans 8 to 10 cents lb. Canned milk, sugar and coffee about the same for some mysterious reason. Those big sardines like we used to get for 5 cents are 2 for 25 -- if they have them. Canned salmon we got for 2 for 15 is 15 a can here -- where they make it! Potatoes 5 cents a lb. I make coffee and get bread, milk, sugar, and once in awhile beans or canned meat. They are cheaper than fresh meat, as one can get a 15 oz. can of corned beef for 20, all ready to eat, while fresh meat is 30.
K. catches fish most every day. Wood is so hard to get, I can't cook much. We whittle it fine and as soon as it burns, set the coffee pot down in the stove and let it burn and smoke till it boils. Can't afford to warm up the stove, so just make a campfire in the stove. We make a small board do for a meal. Of course, I don't buy any fruit or vegetables. I get salmon berries at times.
The last few days, my cough and fever with it has been so bad I have not had the strength to go after them. I guess I am getting over the fever now, but have plenty coughing yet, and will have till I get away.
We have 2 warships and 4 submarines here for over 2 days. About 1,000 men and 90 officers dumped on this town of 5,000 persons. They mostly got themselves girls -- white or Indian -- so I suppose the population will be somewhat increased by next spring! It is reported the entire fleet is to be sent here next year. Someone says the gov't wants to get a new baby crop in Alaska.
TO QUEEN FROM ROSER:
July 23, From Wellington, Kansas
Your letter of the 19th received. You did not send any receipt for $10, but it is not necessary, as you mention it in your letter. There is always a chance of letters being looted, so I always like to know whether my remittances reach their destination.
I deal in chinaware, so if there is anything you need in that line, let me know and I will send it to you. Am sending fountain pen and a couple of pieces of silverware; if there is any other silverware that you need, let me know. We are getting along very well with the liquidation of the assets of the estate, except the notes. There are a bushel of them, and it will take months to collect them, that is as much of them as is collectible. As soon as I can help you, I will do so. I have had a tremendous expense in getting my business well started and in good running order, as my brother got very careless with his jewelry business. He had many other irons in the fire. Then, I have had to spend a great deal of money in repairing my buildings, which my brother neglected. For god's sake, don't get a job at housework. It is bad enough to do shorthand work. If you get "stuck," come to Wellington and I will take care of you. What about your books? I thought you took them to your room in town.
I sent you the papers about the land in Florida. Asked that Carmichael at Santa Ana get in touch with you. I guess it is the best we can do in this matter. They will not pay any more cash, and I guess are very glad to get rid of the land, It is almost worthless and I hope your mother will sell it as soon as she can. The taxes will eat it up. Better have the Bishops' deed and their affidavit recorded at Ocala, Florida. I don't know what they call the Registrar of deeds there.
I am keeping posted on the strikes by reading the Wichita papers and also the L.A. Daily News. They all publish about the same Press dispatches. It was a great opportunity, I think, and probably the rank and file did the best they could under the circumstances. The big shot scabs like Green and Woll did all they could against the interests of the workers. They are labor Enemy #1 and #2. The Communist Party has been terribly persecuted and may have to go underground again. Well, recovered before and I guess they will again. My impression is that the Utopian Society is a racket. They will collect large sums of money and the clique in power will mainly profit by it. The secrecy feature will be favorable to graft and looting the organization. No radical should join it. What will it take to fix your typewriter? I will send the money.
I have had a notion lately to try some public meetings in my hall, say about Russia, I will have to be somewhat diplomatic at first. It will be no expense to me. I held a street meeting on the corner three doors from here (busiest intersection) a week ago last Saturday evening. Had a big crowd. Spoke on the subject of "Sunday Theaters," as we were to have an election the Monday on whether Wellington would allow theaters to run of Sunday or not. It gave me a good chance to fire a barrage at the political preachers who caused the election to be held (by referendum), and I sure took all the advantage of my opportunity. Every Saturday and especially in the evening the main St. here (Washington Ave.) is crowded with motor vehicles, belonging to people living here and farmers from the country. They have a custom of sitting in their auto and standing on the sidewalks in groups, visiting and consuming soft drinks and ice cream brought out from the drug-stores. A Pentecostal preacher (young fellow about 270 preaches for about twenty minutes on this corner every Saturday evening. I took a big drawer from my store and plumped it on the sidewalk and started in as soon as the preacher got through inviting the people to come to Jesus and also to his church. (He did not claim that Jesus was at his church). He was quite startled and remained about half an hour and then could stand it no longer. I made great preparations with notes, because I have not spoken from the box for a long time, but when I got up, I was "inspired" and forgot all about my notes in my pocket. The crowd sure enjoyed it and kept getting larger and larger. When I had spoken three quarters of an hour, I got down, but the people insisted I go one, so I got an encore and talks for half an hour more. I enclose an ad I put into the daily paper here the Sat. before the election. I can't remember whether I told you about this or not.
Tuesday, July 24
I don't know what to say about sending literature to Seattle. If you get only 50 from R., you will have to send lit. to Seattle because I'll have to stay there and speak if possible. I can make expenses, but no more. If the strike is still on or the state troops are called out, they may not have any meetings and, in any case people may not have much money and if they have no money I can't get it away from them.
If it looks like R. is going to keep on staying in Kansas, it would be better for me to return to L.A. provided he sends the 100 or more. K. is willing, on acc't of my cough and asthma being so bad, to risk it again. But If I do came back, I want to concentrate on writing for sale of M.S.s as I'm afraid if I speak much I'll always cough. Also, if I can live by writing (you know I did make 300 one year). I can keep out of R's way -- out of sight more.
I think you should write to me at Seattle (through addressing it to K.) just what R. seems to be most likely to do. If I have the $90 all at once, I think I'd better go on the bus to Calif., if things don't look too bad. We may all be better off to be fairly close together if this strike situation is to continue, and maybe get worse. (There is to be a big one in Nov.) I wish we had never left L.A. at all. And if I had known sooner that R. had gone east, I would not have left till he got back, at least. Anyway, I'll look for a letter in Seattle, Main P.O. and if I do come south will send you an air mail letter from there.
After you send the money (if and when you get it to send!) if you think I could safely come back, you could keep your eyes out for a room for us. I'd like to have one with a wood fireplace, if possible, or a chance to put in a wood heater. It won't matter in August but later on I'll have to have heat, someway or other and the gas is not good for me. Electricity costs too much. I would be better off somewhere on the hill, I suppose, but 2.50 or 3 is enough to pay. And I can't fight bugs very well.
If R. makes the down payment, I'll have to figure on the $10 monthly payment for my rent. Till we get the rest, I'll try to live off Plaza in meantime.
I wish I had good news to write, but the only good news is that it is not raining this week. This is the last sheet of the paper I brought up from Seattle. I was just over to the market to get coffee and milk. They have peaches, very poor ones, 40 cents a doz. One box all moldy on top and 3/4 rotten at 15 cents a doz.
The natives are complaining of the heat. I can't find any thermometer, but I have on my heavy underwear and my coat yet! It is really a hot, dry season for this country and that is fortunate for me. With all the heat in Kansas (108 last week for 3 days) I'm afraid I won't get the money out of R. before something happens to him, and then I'll be stuck here indefinitely. Everything has gone wrong this year so far.
Thursday, July 26
Before I forget it, I want to tell you that there is an article in Aug. "Harpers" on religious belief of American scientists by Prof. Leuba which brings his former book up to date, in a sense.
K. found a dollar bill on the sidewalk today. Too bad it could not have been $20 or $50 or a $100 bill instead! As I told him, it would not have been any harder to pick up! If he had found a couple of 20 dollar bills, or even one $20 and one $10, we'd be going south today. No other luck or good news yet.
Friday, July 27
Checked the mail, but she found no letter from Queen.
"I suppose that as soon as you get word from R. to send the deed and that he is ready to pay, you will write me anyway. So I'll be likely to get a letter about it before the telegram conveying the money comes. I think he will "bite" on the down payment plan, if he really wants my signature. But if it is just curiosity to know where I am, he may not. I see 12 persons died from heat in Kansas one day last week. It got up to 86 degrees here, but I was not too warm, except the attic room we have got too hot at night.
K is not feeling well today. I don't know whether it is the limited food, or just mental depression -- I get that way myself but try to keep up as long as there is any ray of hope. If Roser should back out, or die too soon, I don't know what I'll do, or can do!
The weather here has turned cold again.
I'd better send this along so you'll know I'm still alive. I can't walk home from here, but if things go much worse I might get someone's rowboat. Only that would take 2 months, even if I did not lose the way! I'm afraid I'm coughing too much to speak more than 2 or 3 nights in Seattle anyway. But I could walk from Seattle to L.A.!
Sat. July 28
There is a steamer going south with mail early Sun (July 29) a.m. so I thought I had better send you a letter by her, even though there is not much to say. My last 2 letters from you came last Monday and were dated 16 and 17th. I'll probably get one next Mon or Tues or Wed, as there are 3 boats on the way North now.
I still have 12 left and rent paid to last night, 27th. I feel confident you will get money out of R next week, but maybe it is only a sort of self-hypnotism. I get so tired waiting that I have to bolster up my courage some way. And K feels badly because he can get no work to help out and gets almost as depressed as I -- maybe more so.
We have talked over a plan as a last resort, in case it can be done no other way, and that is that. I should go alone to Seattle, If I can get a ticket or if there should ever be money enough on hand at one time to buy one, and leave him here till I can raise the balance in Seattle. But that is a bad plan, if any other can be arranged, as it is not very fair for me to run away and leave him to face this situation alone. But I told him that I might be able to raise the price of a 17.00 ticket for him and he could probably not get 26.50 for me if he went back first. Anyway, I suggested when he lost his job that he go back to Seattle for $17 and leave me here, but he would not consider it as he was afraid I couldn't stand it. I feel the same way about leaving him here, naturally, but if R backs out, or dies before you get the money, something desperate will have to be done.
Speaking is possible is Seattle but here not even the Salvation Army has street meetings, though they have a big hall, etc. I am only thinking of this plan in case of necessity -- I know you are unable to do more than you have. That is a lot. The Norco goes South next Wed or Thus, however and if we only had 30 more we'd both go on her. It is not often we can go on a cheap boat, or if we had 27 more he could go 2nd class on another boat and I on the Norco. It is too bad this combination of circumstances could not have happened 3 weeks ago and that I did not get K's 10. We have agreed that if there should by chance be money enough on the next mail (though I don't expect any) that I should go alone in the Norco Wed and he should wait here till I, or you, can send a ticket by wire. And not wait longer for R's money.
I have thought of this plan before, but we have never had enough for any ticket on any boat, for me, at any one time (without leaving bills behind). And, besides, I've expected R.'s money any day. Your last letter enclosing the 10 makes me think maybe he is stalling and does not intend to buy at all. Else why does he pay 2 months rent? I can't carry out even this plan now, but if some unforeseen money should come, or he should get a job, I might do it if I can get money enough together. The trouble is that most always I'd have to pay 26.50 for a ticket and a chance like I would have next week may not happen again.
I'm more afraid to go away and leave him here than I dare to say in writing, but as a last resort, if R fails us in any way, it will be necessary to raise the money some way for my fare and for me to go alone. I think I'd have done this three weeks ago (on the Norco) only I didn't have quite enough money for one ticket, let alone rent. Had I had 5 more then Id' have gone south alone. Perhaps everything will turn out for the best, as it is. Maybe R. will bite on the partial payment plan or something.
About the time you get this, via air mail you will also get another from me by ordinary mail Writing letters is the only amusement I have, except watching for boats to come in. And reading yours, of course. I get one from Mrs. D. about every 2 weeks.
When I think of all the trouble I have made for myself, and for you, and K, I get so disgusted with myself, I don't know what to do. And if R had sent me word immediately about going to Kansas I'd be in L.A. yet -- I never would have left when I did, either.
She worries about money.
I see you wrote to R. on 19th to urge him to speed up. You should get my (special delivery) letter on 29th, at latest enclosing one to forward to him. I hope for some action this week. Someway I feel optimistic about things now. I feel as though something good was going to happen. In spite of the long wait I feel more hopeful than I ever did before.
I'm afraid you can't et rid of the bed bugs in that house, no matter what you do. Fumigation by an expert is about the only way. They will come in from other apts. Thorough saturation of all cracks in floor, wall, molding, bed, chairs etc. with wood alcohol will do it, but it has to be thorough and must be done twice about 5 days apart as the first treatment does not kill eggs.
I got a letter from Mrs. D same time as yours, dated the 23rd and enclosing a typewritten copy (made by D.) of a spread or adv. which R. printed in a Wellington paper. Have you seen it? He sent it to Graves and want G. to come to Wellington to start a 4A group! I did not think R. Would have the nerve to print anything like that in such a town. Must have shocked Olive and Mary to their toes! Bible references and all given! I though he might have "backslid" by this time.
[She worries about the worth of the property in Florida.]
You notice another new stamp on this letter. They say FDR is a stamp collector. That must be why we have so many new stamps!
On Sunday I met a radical from Seattle. He is working on the S.S. Haleakala which came through Sun and brought your letters. He says meetings are being held as usual in my old corner but about 75 communists were arrested at their headquarters.
If Carmichael insists on my signature, tell him you will get it for me, and send the document to me and I'll send it back to you to give to him. R. may find out about where I am from him, but I'll have to risk that. Do it all yourself is you can, however.
Tuesday, July 31
I got your air mail letter dated July 24 (but it was postmarked L.A. July 26, 1:30 a.m.) this morning. It had the news of the trial etc. in it, but you had no news from R. since your had written to him... Perhaps something will happen this week. I can keep out of debt, or have money left to pay bills with till Aug 10 but if I get money enough or a ticket to go back on before that I'll go. However R's our only hope now, I'm afraid, and unless you can get him to make a down payment, I see nothing ahead but trouble.... If I could get to Seattle, I can at least eat and keep up expenses but here neither of us can do anything. As I told you in my last letter, if nothing better can be done I'll have to try to get there alone, then get K. out later. That's a desperate remedy but better than none. And if I should have the means to get 1 ticket for myself that is what I'll have to do.
I mailed the copy of R.'s adv. which D. sent me to McIntosh with a card. I just mentioned to him that I was sick up here, could not stand the climate and was coming back to L.A. as soon as you could send me the money. Also told him R. had got rich and was to buy Hawthorne place from you and that was what you were waiting for. I did not say anything to K about writing to Mc so when you write don't refer to my doing so. Mc might know of a job for you. You know he's a capitalist now -- has the drugstore at 501 So. Central Ave. Harris, the Englishman, could easily lend the money but I don't know if he would.
Now that you are no longer Sec'y can't you take your own magazines to Plaza and spread them out like I used to on Sunday and get 1 or 2 dollars for yourself? The Plaza has been without them long enough to be hungry by now. If I were there I could make that much anyway.
I suppose if you had money enough to get K a $17 ticket to Seattle he could get the rest of the way and I could stay here till I got more money from R. Or if I got to Seattle, I can send K. some to eat on up here till I can get him a ticket. I probably could not beat my way to L.A. alone very successfully.
Proceed to August correspondence
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