Hello there! - Across the nation!
How is the weather back east? California has redeemed itself. The sun is glorious. I am sitting out in Knox's back yard in a bathing suit (properly screened from public view) just soaking up those ultra violet rays. Yesterday the thermometer relaxed in the summer heat, and stretched up to about 85 deg. The time is drawing nigh for my departure from this beautiful country. I am loath to leave it. Some people take to California in the way they take to olives - the first taste not so good - and they want to go back east. But I don't want to go back east, I want my loved ones to come out here. Some day... I hope. The roses are coming out in a new spring crop. Lovely camelias. Sweet-scented frecsia in Anna's garden. The bougainvillea is the loveliest flower. It is a vine - like wisteria - with a mass of deep orchid blossoms. The Iceland moss is a striking flower - of purple-cerise. It is so very effective as a border, or on a rounded terrace. I have seen many beautiful calendula, coriopsis, French marigold, etc. Today (it is now 3 p.m.) Knox took me to "The Farmhouse" for a chicken dinner. In the front yard is a pansy bed. Along the walk and along the driveway are "rose trees." The trunks of these trees are about an inch and a half in thickness, and about three feet tall. Then they branch out just like ordinary rose bushes. But these are carefully pruned, to yield the larger roses. The peach and almond trees have been blooming for some time. The flowering almond is a mass of deep pink flowers.
Such a nice, friendly letter came this week from Mr. Milton Shirley, whose interesting letters you have often read in the Saltsburg Press. He lives at Anaheim - at Shirley Station - only 2 or 3 miles from Knott's Berry Farm. Had I only known it last Saturday - when Blaine and Katherine took me there! Mr. Shirley chides me just a little for not elaborating more on the beauties of Southern California - its flowers, fruits, and fresh winter vegetables. But - "If you do," he writes, "they may dub you as big a liar as I, for it is hard to convince easterners of the facts concerning conditions in this part of California." Well, I am eye witness to the growth of head cabbage, water cress, spinach, kale, carrots, beets, onions, lettuce, etc. I wrote my family a card from Hollywood, saying, "I am mailing you a crate of oranges. Did they rise up as one, and call me a fraud when they received a dear little souvenir crate of candy oranges - the crate being less than 2"x4"! To go back to Mr. Shirley, he was born in Conemaugh Township, near the junction of Big Run with Black Legs Creek - about 85 years ago. (And you should see his beautiful penmanship). He went to No. 8 (Getty's) school, with ten of Amelia Earhart's cousins. He is one of the pioneers of Orange County, having come out here 53 years ago. ***
If my last letter reached the Press in time, you know of the contact with old friends here. Mrs. Bertha Hobaugh Dill, lifelong friend of Anna's, and neighbor and friend to all the Gilkerson's, had us all, including Laird, over to her home for dinner one night. She has that rare combination of being a scholarly woman, and a good cook. Her rolls and her apple pie are really somepin'. Mr. Dill passed away several years ago. Her son Bob, big, handsome, red-haired and red-blooded, has so far escaped the wiles of Cupid, and is home with her. His work as field engineer for an octane gas company is of such vital importance to the war effort that he is kept right there. So much is he needed that sometimes he has to stay on the job day and night, catching sleep in small patches. His sister, Mary, Mrs. James Grupp, and husband live just "across the alley" - as Mary expressed it. They came to dinner, too. Mary, a highly intelligent and well informed woman, was assistant hostess. Then we had a charming little "lady-in-waiting," Nancy McPhilimy, eight-year-old daughter of John and Dorothy Kelly McPhilimy. She is a beautiful and well-mannered child. The McPhilimy's live in that vicinity, which is South Los Angeles. ***
Last January, in the moving orgy, I came across a clipping - a letter I wrote to the Saltsburg Press in April, 1918, when the then Secretary of War, Newton D. Baker, had just returned from the shell-torn fields of France. In that letter I referred to my Saltsburg pupils of 1916-17 when I said .".. in my own heart I have adopted those boys and girls for life." I was young then, and full of happy memories and loyalties. But the adoption still holds fast. For I felt a great thrill when Clair Snyder, one of my huskiest eight-graders, called me from Burbank not long ago, and invited me down there to dinner. Doctor Knox, whose keen eyes circumscribed a very small area for my social activities, would not hand out a sanction slip. But I said, "I've got to go there. It's one of my pupils." And so, one night last week, Clair came for me. He has changed less than I. The hair line above his brow has moved away back. But otherwise he is the same Clair. I understand that his mother, Mrs. Stahl, who has nursed so many other folks back to health, is not a bit well. If it will give your tired heart a lift, Mrs. Stahl, I can assure you that your son is doing well. He married a Grove City girl - graduate of that college, and a school teacher (so she's all right - ahem!). They have a dear little girl, Helen Ruth, eight years old, who showed me all her treasures, among them her pink satin ballet slippers, emblem of her litheness and grace, and her beautifully illustrated books, "Bambi," "Peter Pan," etc. - mark of her interest in books. The home - bought just two months ago - is a dream. White stucco, it curves out in an L-shape, to include - not a garage - but another "room" - for their car. In other words, it's all a part of a beautiful design. You enter a hallway. On the right - one step down - is a large living room, in exquisite taste - open fireplace, etc. On the left are two good-sized bedrooms, with gleaming tiled bathroom between. The dining room, straight ahead from the front door, has beautiful white oak "accessories." By the way, that table was laden with delicious food. A new dish to me - and most delectable - Bird's-eye green beans, with a cheese sauce. They have ice cream on hand all the time, of "Ilo's" own making. At the back of the house is a den, completely furnished in Philippine rattan, down to the last lamp, foot-stool, and magazine rack. An electric switch turns on the gas wall heater. Two sides of the den - all window - look out on a nice, secluded yard. Yes, Clair has done well, in the world's goods. He has a PDQ (Power, Durability, Quality) Service Station, right in front of the Warner Bros. studios, and caters to a wealthy clientele, Ernest Hemingway may write, "For Whom the Bell Tolls" - but it's up to Clair to see that his Rolls-Royce rolls.
The column is overflowing - and I haven't told of Miss Mary Jenkins, gentle lady from Saltsburg. But she will step into the picture next week. Monday morning I am leaving this wonderful home for Las Cruces, N.M. and Austin, Texas. Until next week, adios.
Florence B. Taylor
3904 Ave. F., Austin
Next - 3/30/1944 - Austin TX. Judith Moffatt's Wedding
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