Myra’s letters to her parents in Florida, November 1954:
It’s such a tremendous sensation – the living in and owning of this house that I find it hard to write about it – where to begin or how to tell it other than in a fragmentary way. As I walk through the house every senses reacts to it – the sight of the lovely wood, the feel of the soft rug underfoot, the soapy-hot-water smell in the basement and (the joke turns on me) the empty sound! It’s not as though we graduated to this luxury in slow steps. We moved into it from incredibly cramped quarters – and oh the difference in our way of living. So much more relaxed.

A long letter from Dad to Monnie and Grandpa, January, 1954:
"Dear Monnie & G'pa: No tillypox [using Grandpa's mixed-up word for politics] this time. Have much more important things to think about at the moment regarding future than the Dems or GOPs. Guess Myra mentioned possibility of our staying here. What a decision! Have pondered this one for some time and will no doubt continue to do so for sometime -- at least until they ask us to get out of town or go to work. There are many advantages and disadvantages and it seems the more we think about it and discuss it the farther away from a decision we are. Have even made a list of pros and cons; practice here versus practice elsewhere and it only confuses us. One would think it would be a simple matter to snap up a job with an outfit like the great Mayo Clinic but there are certain features that may or may not be desirable. The chief factors which perhaps deter me from accepting are; 1.) One is never completely independent here -- i.e. I will be 10th man down on the totem pole in my department plus being one of 300 M.D.s, paid a salary and working for the whole organization. I take vacations (1 month per year for the first 5 years or so -- increases with the years) when they can be worked in with the other men's schedules, etc. My patients and surgery are my own but nevertheless they are also the Clinic's and policies of treatment etc. are somewhat directed by unwritten standards -- one goes with the group or gets out. That part of it isn't as bad as I've made out -- hard to put in words -- but at any rate it's always in the back of one's mind -- 'Well now, is this what the Chief would do under these circumstances?' etc. 2.) Almost completely lacking in practice here would be that sense of personal achievement that comes with creating one's own reputation in a community in private practice. Your patients are people who you see everyday in town and if you are a good Dr. they return when you're needed. Word spreads and you become a 'pillar' -- rather gratifying. Here, by virtue of merely being a Mayo Clinic surgeon, an undeserved mantle of greatness is wrapped about you at once -- also gratifying but heavy for small fry to wear. Here too, one sees his patients only for a short while, then they are gone (I guess sometimes that's an advantage when dealing with the hopeless things we see here.) 3.) Also rather frightening is the thought that in taking a job here you automatically accept the responsibility of advancing your profession. Because of its reputation, the galleries in the operating rooms always have visiting doctors from all over the world who have come to see how 'the masters' in the field do it and what they do that is new or better. Working under those conditions certainly makes men out of boys. (Except for Dr. Ghormley and Young, all of the staff orthopedic surgeons are under age 41.) 4.) Most of the men here do a lot of travelling and speaking all over the country. The younger men are sent out on the B&C circuits. so to speak, giving talks at the local medical societies in neighboring states and counties. If an M.D. over in Sleepy Eye, Minn. writes Dr. Ghormley asking for a speaker for the county society on a snowy night in December, more than likely 'you know who' would be sent etc. ----- Well, as you know this can go on and on. Of course the advantages -- particularly to a poor boy, are many. No initial outlay for starting practice -- no overhead etc. The financial side of things hasn't been mentioned yet, but one usually starts out as 'assistant to the staff' at (I think) $500 a month for a couple years. I would guess that the next year would see a rate to $7500/yr. or so and then the climb is rapid. I know one of the younger men who was assistant to the staff for 2 years and is now in his 3rd year on staff is making $12,000 -- of course that is all take-home pay -- no office, nurse expenses etc. -- equivalent I would think to $18,000 or so in private practice. The encouraging thing to me is that whether I stay or go the future looks good at least as regards the two main things that seem to count most -- security for the family and doing worthwhile work that you like to do. I spoke to one of the men regarding staying on and mentioned the fact that before I accepted the job I would like to spend sometime in an orthopedic center elsewhere in order to broaden my experience. If I went on right now I'd me more or less 'a prophet in his own county.' After association with respected men elsewhere I could then return and be of more value. I only know that these men have taught me and after all there are other centers almost as good as the Mayo Clinic. He then told me that it could be arranged to send me down to the Campbell Clinic (world famous orthopedic clinic) in Memphis, Tenn. for six months instead of St. Paul -- a much better type of training. So we have that to consider too. Looking this epistle over, I can see how discombobulated it is, but guess it indicates our present state of affairs. Anyhow, I wanted to talk it over with you. Love from us all, Roger." [According to the obituary the Clinic released in 1966, in January of 1954, Dr. C.R. Sullivan was appointed assistant to the staff of The Mayo Clinic and that in the same year he received the degree of Master of Science in orthopedic surgery from the University of Minnesota.]

Mayo Orthopedic staff in the early ‘50s. Dad is in second row, 4th from left. 3rd from left is
good ol’ Dr. Tony Bianco. And in first row, second from right is Dr. Mark Coventry.

Myra, January 28, Thursday:
I've been figuring out our expenses for the year and find that for two months we may need a $30 check. $80 (our rent went up $10 which was more than fair) to Morris', $20 for electricity, $30 to Sears, $44 for the car, $50 for oil, $32 for dentist, $27 for Rog's Shell oil gas bill, $18 for new tire, and $73 (on a collection of bills like the phone, hardware store, $10 on my debt to Muriel, payment on Encyclopedia, etc.) $28 Prudential, which brings us mighty close to the $400 mark, leaving us the same penurious $100 to live on for the month (milk bill is about $5 a week, laundry for Rog's shirts and cleaners, my gas, groceries, etc.) For two months the bills run like that; in the third month all the big local bills should be cleared up and then we can foresee some steak and some new underwear and an evening out. So if you could send me $30 on the first of the next two months, that should keep our heads above water till we've safely paid out debts. Then we can make a more leisurely start paying back you and Uncle Russell and Rog's mother and Muriel and Warren. ($300 to Uncle Russell, $70 to Muriel, $20 to Warren, $300 to Rog's mother (plus interest of course), and whatever is the preposterous sum we owe you.) . . . Rog brought his paycheck home today and to my horror I find that his take-home pay is $438!!!! So instead of needing $30, I have to ask for $53. It's 12:45 and I've been juggling and refiguring since 10:30. I see no alternative but to ask for more help until we've paid off our debts -- maybe two more months. I'm tired -- goodnight. Love, Myra. [It amazes me that my Dad's mother charged interest to her only son. And here she is with probably over forty grand in the bank from her husband's insurance; a rough guess based on the information that Grandma Rock had $14,000 left when she died in 1966.]

Myra, February 5, Monday:
Two weeks ago I spent most of the day chasing down to the Clinic. I gathered up three boys at 3:15, picked up Sharon and Arleeta [Morris] at their school at 3:30 so they could baby-sit (the bus wouldn't get them home till almost 5:00), drop them off, go get Kip, bring him home, and then go down to see Jim Hunter (my obstetrician-gynecologist). I did that five days in a row and it seemed that I was constantly in the car coming and going. I had gone down there because I had suddenly developed the most consuming pruritus in a mortal area. Jim cured the yeast infection, but informed me it is a harbinger of very early -- you guessed it -- pregnancy. We took a urine specimen the first of last week, and sure enough, here we go again! Though Rog at best can only be resigned, I am of course thrilled. If I manage to get past that third month this time, then I'll have to insist on your making a visit this fall. This baby is due on October 1.

Myra, October 8, 1954, Friday, written at the hospital the day after I was born, to her mother who is taking care of the older four at the Millstone:
Dearest Momma -- It's 11:30 and you are right now undoubtedly picking up garbage from around Danny's highchair and here I am half way through my first day of vacation. Yesterday at the time we both knew things were astirring but the identity of #5 was still a mystery. Now we know -- our fifth little wee boy -- Little Luke!!! Momma, he looks just like the others -- such a dear ugly little grub!! It's all worked out very well, hasn't it? I wasn't so terribly late and now you can begin counting the days remaining before you'll be comfortable and happy and relaxed at Lake Winnimissett again. But whatever you do, don't make too much work of next week. Please! Now to go back to last night -- that very exciting evening when the three of us were on our bed talking about 'The Millstone.' I was so thrilled about our house that I could scarcely be attentive enough to timing my pains. But quite suddenly I knew that I wanted to be safe in St. Mary's hospital before it got to the point where it would be difficult to get into and out of the car. Roger, unaware how close the pains were, made a very leisurely trip through the rain talking first about a boy's name and again about our house. As soon as I arrived I was questioned, weighed, examined, and prepped, and by 10:00 my pains were three minutes apart, a full minute in duration, and very well sustained. For the next forty-five minutes, time ran out fast! The Fellow examined me and then I heard him ordering my hypo and calling Carl Johnson who is taking Jim Hunter's calls this week. That hypo has a wonderful effect: it doesn't slow down your pains or even diminish their severity, but the amnesiac effect of making the interval between seem long and lazy relieves greatly. I hopped over onto the cart and was whirled into the Delivery Room -- that big exciting wonderful Delivery Room. It was just 10:35. As soon as I got on the table I was given gas during the next pain and almost instantly went into that delicious state where you are the only relaxed one in the room. Everybody is moving about with a dream-like rapidity while you lie back in luxurious calmness. My legs were wrapped and put up in the stirrups and then my hands were placed in those nice cold reassuring grippers and then my wrists shackled. The pains seemed to be one on top of the other but as each one started the mask was clapped over my nose and mouth and two huge inhalations took away the pain while the contraction continues. Carl came in a few minutes before those last fantastic bearing-down sensations began. 'Two deep breaths now and then push -- push -- little harder -- that's it!' and you can feel that hot hot stretching-wider-bigger sensation and then the sudden complete relaxation. And with the mask still on my nose and from a very very great and foggy distance some one said -- 'little boy' -- the interval between the actual delivery and the delivery of the placenta always is the point of deepest anesthesia and you hear yourself saying uncontrollably 'Five little boys! Isn't that marvelous?' and 'Oh, I'm all through and I'm not pregnant anymore. Let's start all over again!' and 'This is wonderful, isn't it?' and 'Has he got all his arms and feet and are both descended?' Look at the clock and it's 10:50 and Carl brings the little naked yelling thing over for me to see there's Little Luke, my new baby. I tell you there's no comparable sensation in this world! I've relived yesterday in my mind again and again and am saddened to feel it even now slipping away from a real physical sensation into an intellectual knowing. Since beginning this note I've had an hour's visit with Little Luke and a chat with you. Did Rog tell you this one weighed seven pounds thirteen ounces? In comparison to 6-13, 6-14, 6-15, 7-1 -- a big bruiser he is! Incredible that twenty-four hours ago he was still sloshing around inside!

Myra, October 10, 1954, Sunday:
Dear Poppa, I wish you could have been here to share all the excitement of the past week! There will surely never again be two such momentous events in such a short period of time in our family. We acquired the home we will probably live in for the rest of our lives (the first home we've ever bought -- to add to the thrill) and added another little boy to our wonderful family!!! My cup runneth over surely!! I know that Mother has written to you in detail but I also know you'll want to hear it all again, so here it is: By September 22, I was beginning to look for the baby. I was quite disappointed when your birthday came and went with no baby arriving. When October 2 was crossed off the calendar I was really getting itchy. I hated to face Mama in the morning and tell her I felt no symptoms -- it meant just one more day she had to be away from you -- so Sunday I was terribly restless. Monday no baby. But Tuesday Roger rescued Mother and me from the doldrums by coming home with the world-stopping news that in all probability The Millstone was ours! You can imagine the excitement -- though a damper was put on the rejoicing by tears from #1. He didn't want to leave his school and friends and no enticing feature of the new house stayed the flow of tears. Even Jeffie, infected by the ambivalence of tears and glee, began crying and was hard put to explain why. Wednesday, was spent talking 'house, house, house' and the baby might have been forgotten if I had not been so very uncomfortable. Never in all my pregnancies have I ever felt so cumbersome, so clumsy, so full, so very very pregnant. I couldn't bend, I couldn't breathe, I couldn't walk, I couldn't sit or lie down without bumping into baby! Jim Hunter had said on Tuesday that it was a big baby and I heartily agreed with him. But when I got out of bed Thursday morning I knew the day had finally come. The baby had dropped down so far and the difference in the way I felt was so great that it seemed I had already delivered! I had no other symptoms for the rest of the day -- an occasional contraction but scarcely any pain. I wanted Mother to see the house so we made arrangements to go out about 2:30. What a sensation it was to drive past that wall of huge cedars and turn in the driveway knowing it was our house! And what fun to show Mother all the rooms and all the space and all the views -- and know that four acres of Minnesota belonged to us! By suppertime I was getting excited about the baby. My pains had no regularity about them, but they were definitely well-sustained and bound to progress to real labor. In the midst of this, the kids were already hyper-excited by the intensity they recognized in Mother and me. In the midst of all this Roger came home from a visit with Schuster in the Business Office loaded with facts and figures and legal phraseology and began shouting into the hubbub all his news of the day. Casual mention that I was going to the hospital that night went through him without the slightest comprehension. It was the wildest meal you ever saw -- everybody talking, everybody laughing, people jumping up and down and churning around the small kitchen -- and me in the middle of it trying to time the interval between pains. While Rog and Mother did the dishes and put the boys to bed, I took a bath, got into a nightgown, and tried to turn the conversation from house to a boy's name. Nothing was definitely settled when 9:30 came, but I was ready to go. Combed my hair, closed my suitcase that I'd packed while you were here, took a double dose of milk of magnesia (to avoid the possibility of mineral oil two days later), went upstairs to kiss my four wonderful sweet little boys good-bye, and then had to hurry Rog who still seemed unaware that I was progressing fast. We left shortly after 9:30. Little Luke was hollering by 10:45. And here I am again -- back in one of those weeks that are such peaks of extreme happiness: a week that begins with the incomparable experience of bearing a child, a week full of sleep and rest and uninterrupted hours of reading; and a week of being alone with myself! I'm very happy as you can tell!

Myra, October 17, Sunday:
My last letter was probably written about the 10th or 12th of August -- two months ago -- sixty days in which time we've had our wonderful, much-too-short annual visit; Rog and I have bought a magnificent estate that will be 'home' to the boys for the rest of our lives (a good God willing) and we have added one more son to our wonderful family -- little Luke Longstreet Sullivan I'd say those were sixty full days! I know you're happy to be home, Momma, but the place seems mighty lonely around here without you. We got too accustomed to having you in that study. Christy keeps going into that room coming out shaking his head saying 'No Monnie; Monnie gone to Florida!' . . . Roger recently had the trembling experience of writing out a $3,750.00 check, made arrangements to pay cash for a new huge Hotpoint refrigerator and a clothes dryer! . . . Little Luke has been a mighty good baby. (Christy calls him “Li'l Lutey”). He's not on any predictable schedule, but I've been getting six or seven hours sleep a night and that's not bad with a brand new baby in the house. • On Friday, June 24, 1992, The Millstone was sold by the current owner, Dr. Chesboro to the next owners for the sum of $295,000.

Myra, October 31, Sunday:
Our new address Mom will be Route 2, Institute Hills, Rochester. We were over to Coventry's last night where we met the Bollman's, our neighbors to the south. Dr. Zollman is head of Experimental Medicine -- runs the animal farm. They could only speak of how much they are going to miss the Penders and what wonderful people they were and that we've got a lot to live up to. [I'm confused as to this mention of our neighbors. Our closest neighbors were indeed the Bollman's, as Mom writes here. But Mr. Bollman was an optometrist, a lensgrinder. On the other hand, Dr. Zollman, not a neighbor, was the head of the animal farm up on Institute Hills Road. Confusing. The letter continues:] Tomorrow is November 1st. Rog writes a check for $39,500 and we own our house! We and the Mayo Clinic that is!! November 3rd Rog is off and every last little thing is readied for the movers. November 4th he is off too and we begin a new way of living -- even the arrival of our first child did not make much of a difference in our manner of living -- but this new home changes everything for us. • The Penders were the people we bought The Millstone from. It was built in 1929 by the Sheards. Then the Penders lived there. Then us from 1954 to 1967. We sold it to the Kelly's. Dr. Kelly was in the army and eventually had to move out of The Millstone to ship off to Viet Nam. Then the Hoffman's lived there till 1976, when the Cheesboros moved in. Their reign, one of the longest lasted until 1992, when the Lindors moved in.

Myra, November 7, Sunday:
Thursday came, cold and threatening snow -- but other than a few flakes it did not materialize. The van arrived at 9:00 and in the process of backing its own huge bulk noisily up to the front door, terrified Christy watching from the bedroom window. So he quickly followed Danny over to Muriel's and hasn't yet been back inside the old house. Luke stayed home in his cradle and had one bottle propped for the first time. As each room was emptied I repainted chipped and worn areas so that the place actually looked quite presentable ere we left. Emptier and emptier -- with Rog and Jeff helping the two men -- till by 11:00 the house was completely echoingly poignantly empty of all save me and Luke and a bottle of milk in the ice box. I hung up wash in the basement, packed away some things for church bazaar and then had lunch with Muriel and Harold. Rog and Jeff had left with the movers; and Danny I had put to bed for his last nap in that little cubby hole. After lunch I took Christy with me and left, thinking to empty my car and be back in time to get Kip and pick up the two little fellows from their naps. But Roger said he had to unpack the freezer so he was the one to return and I've not been back to the farm and the little house where I lived the four happiest years yet of my life. You know of course that it was an incomparable sensation to turn my car into the driveway Thursday afternoon at 2:20 p.m. and be home!!!! Everything had been labeled '1,' '2,' or '3' and put down in a specified room: '1' -- basement. '2' -- screen porch. '3' -- guest room. So I managed to get a lunch for Rog and Jeff and after they left for Route 4 again, I began putting away kitchen things -- and oh what a marvelous feeling to have so very much room. I spent so much time enjoying the arrangement of my pantry that the Buick was crunching into the drive again before I knew it. You should have seen them! It was the funniest sight of the day: Rog behind the wheel relatively roomy. Kip beside him, holding and bottling nervously the baby; Jeff stuffed in beside him holding the bird cage. One of the cats perched on the back of the seat and in the back with hardly the room to drop a tear, Danny crying and wedged in between a seatful of stuff, a floorful of stuff, and one large collie dog. They were a sight to behold, erupting from that car: my husband, my four other boys, my pets. The household gods had changed hearths.

Just a note regarding the construction of The Millstone. It was designed by an architect named Harold H. Crawford; apparently a very talented guy. Tony Lund (my childhood dentist, and fellow house-boat owner on the Mississippi) so liked our house, he decided not to build as he was planning, and found another Crawford house in town and bought that one. And the man who bought The Millstone in 1992, Dr. Kieth Lindor, also was familiar with Crawford’s work. (He mentioned how most of his houses were slightly English in design, noted for their small rooms. He compared Crawford with two other area architects, Francis Underwood, and also the an who did The Plummer Building, Ellerby.) Crawford’s blueprints for The Millstone (which I borrowed to copy on August 1, 1992) were finished Thursday, October 17, 1929. On them I note: "Harold H. Crawford, Architect, Rochester, Minnesota. Phone 2698. Specifications For Building A Residence For Dr. & Mrs. Charles Sheard To Be Erected at Rochester, Minnesota. Bids will be opened at the office of the architect not later than 4:00 PM, Wednesday, November 6, 1929." Dr. Sheard was an "optical physicist" who worked up at The Institute Of Experimental Surgery, there at the top of the Institute Road.

Myra, November 9, Tuesday:
Did my first drying today in my latest time-saving machine. For 9 months of the year in this part of the world that dryer will be in continual use. How easy life is now!!!

Myra, November 12, 1954, Friday:
I've brought the typewriter downstairs to the living room because there are still a few licking flames around the log in the fireplace. Even as I sit here in the empty but lovely living room I can hardly believe that this place is really ours! Since early July this house has been uppermost in our thoughts and now we live here! And surely you must find it infinitely more unbelievable and impossible to imagine us in actual possession of such a magnificent home! My last letter carried you through that first gathering together of the seven of us and all our earthly goods in our new home. And I phoned you that evening to try to share with you the excitement and exaltation of that day! By late afternoon I had put away the kitchen things, defrosted some vegetable soup, and served us very comfortably our first meal! Somebody was always lost that first night. Kippie called downstairs twice that he couldn't find the stairway up to his room; and whenever I called Christy to ask where he was, the answer was 'I don't know!' Danny spent that first evening and most of his time since climbing up and downstairs; he took a few tumbles but the stairs (and he) are well padded that he wasn't hurt at all. Jeff was the only one of the boys who knew his way around; and of course little Luke slept through it all. That first evening poor little Danny was very disturbed about going to bed in a strange place; he cried hard and long that night and no amount of comforting seemed to help. He cried a while the second night too; but thereafter he was at home. Unpacking was not difficult because we had so little to bring. Rog did a major portion of the unpacking and by the end of that second day the house was in good order and there was even a pie for supper. Only the Tower Room was cluttered with boxes; but that was a blissful job -- unpacking and placing my books. And that is still my favorite room. It catches the afternoon sunshine . . . -- Later -- Interrupted here by Luke -- and now it's my bedtime -- so up to that equally empty master bedroom with its fireplace and those open pegged beams and the mullioned window! Oh what a beautiful beautiful house. I will continue this letter tomorrow by a more detailed description of each room. How we love it here! We hardly sleep nights for talking about our house! . . . It's such a tremendous sensation -- the living in and owning this house -- that I find it hard to write about it. Where to begin? Or how to tell it other than in a fragmentary way. As I walk through this house every sense reacts to it -- the sight of the lovely wood, the feel of the soft rug underfoot, the soapy hot-water smell in the basement. It's not as though we graduated to this luxury in slow steps. We moved into it from incredibly cramped quarters -- and oh the difference in our way of living! So much more relaxed! And I've spent one day cleaning since I've moved in. One day, instead of every day! Believe me please, this place is much much easier to keep clean than the other place!

Myra, November 15, 1954, Monday:
I still cannot believe it -- even sitting here in actual possession -- that we really own this house! We talked, and dreamed and planned and plotted and hoped for this house all summer -- and now here we are!!! The first weeks we were here the moon was quite full and every evening we walked around and around the grounds; and then later looked out from our bedroom window, at the beauty of this house and yard by moonlight! It has a character, a charm that even a $100,000 modern newly-built home can't hope to achieve! How lucky lucky lucky we are! And everyone that sees it says it “just suits the Sullivans” -- and yeah verily they are right! This is our house!!! You can see why it's so hard to write a specific letter. I get beguiled into such thoughts as those just written! And how I wish I could share it all with you. I wish you had been able to look more closely that day last August that I brought you out here. And oh incidentally -- that day you were walking around within a few yards of your own printed name!!!! I found an old 1933 Who's Who in my Tower Room and promptly looked under the L's and, sure enough, “Longstreet, Rubert James.” Right here the day you were here -- and had been here, twenty years, waiting for that quixotic ten minutes of juxtaposition. That volume remains in an honored place on my knotty pine shelves!

Myra, November, 1954, Sunday:
Life is so exciting that I can't seem to attend to mundane things like letter-writing. Yet there are so many many things I want to tell you about -- small things but so enjoyable. Like the new softness of towels out of the dryer, the heavy feel of our big newel posts, the way the flooring fits around the hearth in the Pine Room [aka the Cozy Room, aka Dad's study, aka the Reading Room], and the wonder of owning such things as aluminum wheelbarrows, and stone garden benches and sixty-foot fir trees and chandeliers and a thermometer outside the window. There are so many unexpected pleasures -- like one discovered today -- that I've space to leave a dictionary lying open where I can browse at odd moments! This is the most wonderful way to live!!!

Myra, November 25, Thursday, on the first Thanksgiving at The Millstone:
We had our first Thanksgiving dinner as a family this evening. We have not had one before because of the expense, but this year I got a turkey for $4.56 and roasted it with all the trimmings (your special dressing -- or is it stuffing) I put on an old white table cloth on the dining room table and made a lovely centerpiece of fruit in my crystal bowl and flanked it with blue spruce and pine cones. Two tall green candles and our beautiful chandelier -- such a lovely table -- and all of us gathered round -- even Luke gazing contentedly from the buffet and Danny in a high chair surrounded by newspaper. Kippie pushed in my chair, Rog said this blessing -- and we had Thanksgiving dinner in our own home. The first 'occasion' at The Millstone. Danny's birthday is next. But what an extreme pleasure it was to sit down to a meal and not be surrounded with dirty pots and pans. We closed the door to the kitchen and ate in uncluttered splendor. The living in this house gets easier and more fun all the time.

Myra, November 26, Friday:
We've had our first real hard snow of the winter and our yard is breath-taking! All the beautiful evergreens are loaded with snow and as I look out my tower room window the light falls on a big blue spruce with its snowy branches! It's lovely! And all our many-paned windows are trimmed with snow like on a Christmas card. How you'd love to see it tonight. Our wonderful home.

Myra, December 4, 1954:
We've been here one month! The moon has come around to full again and now our nighttime view is lovely! Thick evergreens covered with snow and the shadows in the tracks on the snow! . . . You ask about the names of rooms; we are unsettled about some designations, but some are well-adopted. The Millstone was so instantly appropriate that it may outlast the mortgage. And Pop will be delighted to hear that the lights at the gate (which are controlled from the vestibule) are known as 'The Warder-Ho Lights'. But the room in which I now sit in order to enjoy the fire) has not grown into a definite name. This is that pine-paneled room which the Penders called the “den.” It is generally called by us the Cozy Room but sometimes is referred to as the Reading Room since we'll tell most of our stories here. That sun parlor has no name Mother because someday it will become a part of the living room. We plan to carpet it, hang the same drapes, and make it into a music room corner of the living room. So actually it is just part of a room that hasn't been furnished yet. Christy calls it the glass room because of the doors. The Tower Room and Wigwam retain their names, but the store room upstairs has become our (Kippie's, Jeff's and mine right now) workshop. There was so much more room in the Wigwam than I remembered that all the stuff to store disappeared. So we've put the kitchen table Rog made up in that room and that's where we have our hobbies and things we make. Right now we are drying pine cones preparatory to gilding them; and Jeff and I are painting a couple of spice boxes to make into color boxes for Kip and Christy for Christmas. And the boys have been busy cutting and pasting strips to make string chains to decorate the Christmas tree. It is so nice to have a place to leave stuff like that out of sight before suppertime. And we're up out of the way of the little fellows and there are no more arguments with them. . . . Wednesday morning the snow was deep around us when chugging down the driveway first thing in the morning came the Institute snowplow to plow out our garbage approach and the turnaround. Then later in the morning Rog put the snowplow attachment on the front of his 2 hp tractor and plowed paths to the doors, around the house, and out to the barbecue. That same day he took this series of pictures that I'm sending you. The one enclosed here was taken from the corner of the vegetable garden looking toward the west wing of the house. It looks big here but do you realize that on the other side of that sun parlor are four more rooms that also have a northern exposure? Notice the tire swing? We brought our old tire with us and took down that bag swing that was there. Which reminds me that when we left Route 4, I brought with me a memento of that piece of land we enjoyed so much for four years -- one of the large oddly-shaped rocks that surrounded my flowerbeds in front of the house -- and put it in line with the large rocks that rim the turnabout. We still continue to notice little things about the house we had not previously seen. A few days ago we noticed that the doors between the pine and the walnut (the Cozy Room and the dining room) rooms (they are two big double doors that open to form a large doorway between -- (this sentence is getting complicated) -- these doors are pine on the one side and walnut on the other! And we noticed that there are several decorative patches of brick in the stone part on the outside part of the house.


Roger appointed to the staff of The Mayo Clinic (no longer just an “assistant to the staff”) on January 1, 1955.

Myra, January 1, 1955, Saturday:
[Describing Christmas, 1954.] Anticipating an early rising and a peak sneaked, I strung a cord across the head of the stairs with a don't-you-dare sign. It was 7:30 however before we were routed out of bed and what a shouting tumultuous descent! The room was very shortly littered with Christmas wrapping and the loot was being counted. It was a good Christmas despite being a 'bad year.' Yesterday I had to opportunity to see my husband in the operating room. Christy banged his head against the corner trim on the buffet and sustained a half-inch cut that went bone deep. So out came the indispensable ace bandage and the blood was staunched. Fortunately the 16-year-old girl to the north of us was home [Mary Ann Weld]; so I took Christy down to St. Mary's. Roger was just finishing his last case (about 1:00) so we didn't have to wait. The little fellow was wonderful but of course, so was his daddy. Rog dropped enough provocaine into the wound to deaden it before injecting any more into the skin -- no, he says he injected the tissue from inside the wound. Then he slipped a couple stitches in without a whimper from Christy. I went into the operating room with him -- the nurse slipped a gown (green used here) on me. It was exciting to see Roger in his white scrub suit, cap and mask, and his green gown -- the big lights just above his head and the nurse offering him his gloves. I must say he was beautiful to look at -- my own husband -- operating in the biggest and best medical center in the world! And I must also admit I gave very little attention to my injured son in my preoccupation with my husband. I was very glad for an opportunity to see him in his 'natural habitat' -- though it was scarcely more than a glimpse. My thoughts today frequently dwell on the pleasure of beginning a new year in this house. There is so much to do, so many plans to make in fixing everything just as we want it. It's such a comfortable feeling to begin living in a prosperous fashion. We refuse to buy anything makeshift again -- we'll wait till we can afford to exactly what we want. It's Rose Bowl time -- are you listening with half an ear too Poppa? You'd love to have seen the boys today. The weather has warmed up to 30˚ and the sliding has been excellent. Kip and Jeff have been establishing a good run that begins at the top of the hill on the private road approaching our place. They ride the sled together, Kip steering and Jeff lying on top of him. (The extra weight increases their speed.) They come down the hill and take the corner into the drive and zoom down the drive towards the garage. As they approach the end of their run they both brake with their feet. Then up goes the sled on Kip's head which is his manner of porting it back to the beginning of the run. Christy and Danny are not allowed beyond the gate so they spent a while this morning perched on the wall leading to the gate watching their big brothers zooming past and tromping back. They look so cute -- like a pair of little cardinals. Occasionally Danny defies authority and ventures beyond the gate, but Christy raises the hue (note) from inside bounds and Kip and Jeff surround him and return him. . . . So we begin '55 with a good letter. Goodnight my dears, Myra.

Myra, January 10, Monday:
We had a nice long weekend. Roger made rounds Saturday and Sunday morning and then was home the rest of the day. We had a fire all afternoon and evening both days -- there never was anybody who loved fire in the fireplace better than Roger and I do. Owning a home with a fireplace was always an ambition -- here we are with a house and four fireplaces. We have no equipment for our bedroom one -- no fire basket, no screen, no tools; and the fireplace in the Rumpus Room is (till the kids are older) fitted with a gas heater. So we are using only two but have kept them warm most of the time. It's Jeff's job to keep the basket on the hearth filled with wood, and it's one of Kip's chores to clean out the ashes (there is a trap in each fireplace) and lay the fire so it's always ready to light. . . . I've still to pack up those blueprints safely, Poppa, and send them to you so that you can form a picture of this place. In the between time, here's one more picture -- taken from the Low Forty which gives the house an austere look quite suitable to Institute Hills. As Pop said once, 'That has a formidable sound.' This picture shows the part of the house hidden from view by the sun parlor in one of the other pictures. The single windows ({1} indicated on back [see photo below]) are the Cozy Room and Lukey's room {2}. The dormer directly above is in our workroom. The three-sided blister is part of the dining room and, upstairs, part of the boys' room. {3} are the kitchen windows, {4} guest room, and {5} the Airie. The big screen porch which is over the garage is hidden by that evergreen {6} -- which must come down. It is mangy looking and misshapen by the deciduous tree to the right. . . .

Roger read most of A Stillness At Appomattox to me while I was wrapping Christmas gifts. So I know you've some pleasant reading ahead. . . . Kippie went back to school this morning and I sure miss him. He's still a pleasure to have around -- he helps so willingly -- and entertains Danny when he's unhappy -- and it warms my cockles to see him read. There's something so very satisfying about having a child reading in the house! Such a warm protective feeling! He's enjoying this Childhood of Famous Americans series. He read: Tom Edison, Will and Charlie Mayo, Tom Jefferson, Henry Clay, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Daniel Boone, Kit Carson, Brooker T. Washington, Knute Rockne and 2/3 of Ethan Allen. He was reading about the time Edison fell through the ice when Jeff wanted him to play. First he refused saying he had to find out what happened to Tom. But very shortly he dropped (no never mind dropped -- he's very loving with books -- has a collection of bookmarkers always handy) his book and joined whatever game was afoot. Curious about his lapse of interest I asked him if he had finished the chapter. He said no, but he knew Tom was saved or else there would be no light bulbs. . . . We went to the library last night -- my books and kids' books -- and you'd have loved to have seen them come home, each one (of the big four) of them with their arms loaded with books. Kip and Jeff bounced up to their room to get into pajamas before settling down with their new ones; Christy and Danny with the abandon of two- and three-year-olds dropped on the floor just inside the door, surrounded by blithely-tossed-off mittens, caps, and boots; snow suits still on, little fat legs stretched out flat in front of them, laps full of books, absorbed in the pictures. It's a scene I add to a collection of charming scenes in my memory of my little boys. So soon they won't be my little boys.

Lined up on the dining room table, from left: Jeff, Chris, Luke, Dan, and Kip.

Myra, January 21, 1955, Friday:
No school today and I'm glad Kip is home. We've had a lovely snow fall in the past 18 hours -- and it's only 30˚ so it's a wonderful day for playing outside. Both the A Squad in their olive green parkas and the B Squad in their red snow suits have been out for over an hour. I've been at the window the entire time watching them and delighting in the sight of them. It's one of those idyllic days for boys and such a scene to warm your cockles to see four of your own frolicking in the snow!!! It's like watching a flock of birds -- all together involved in their individual activities -- but moving in the same direction. First of all the new snow must be used for making 'angels' and as I look out the kitchen window there I see them all flat on their back in the snow waving their arms -- though Christy and Danny don't understand why and scrabble to their feet marking up their impressions. They discover the cowboy possibilities of straddling the wall by the terrace and there they sit in a row shouting “A-yah! A-yah! Giddyap!” until Danny tries it side saddle and discovers he can slide downhill on his bottom. That sets all of them to the same occupation until there are three or four well-defined 'bottom slides' down the snow bank. (Caesar all the while ranging round and round, sticking his nose under the snow and tossing it into the air. The next game is blowing snow off the bars of the climbing gym and birdbath and stair rail -- but Danny winds up eating it so everybody has a taste. Somebody must have suggested packing the down the snow in the rink so they all start tramping hard round the big marked-off area which is further elaborated by carrying snow shovels smartly angled over the shoulders. This game shifts to shoveling snow into the fish pond and then shaking the willow branches to scribble fresh marks in the bottom of the pool. Then the slides come out and they try some of the new drifts close to the house where I can't see the sled. But I can see the other three facing my direction all watching expectantly to their right and though I can't see the progress of the sled I can see the growing excitement in the faces as their heads turn in unison watching their brother speed past. But things fall apart all of a sudden. Danny bogs down in a big drift and loses a mitten and Christy gets his sled lines tangled around the runners. So I've brought them in now and started them on cocoa. I'm enclosing a picture of the house and some of the grounds that will give you a real thrill! Pender sent it to us recently saying that they had had an enlargement made from this aerial snap and thought we'd like to know of the existence of such a negative. But at last you get a complete view of the house and see the lovely grounds and the shape of the house. The only thing you can't see is the varying level of the land. The hedge in the foreground and the evergreens beside the road mark the only two visible boundaries of our property.

RJL, viewing pictures of Millstone sent to him by Myra, February, 1955:
#9 Momma likes the chair very much. 'It is all beautiful' she says. Now to me. And the boys by the fireplace. This is a fine interior view. Rich appointments, say I. But, what to expect of a Mayo Dr. anyhow? #10 comes on for my inspection. We hold viewer up to SW against faint evening sun. So cute, to see the boys dressed alike, and there in the snow. Observe that Caesar has no protection against the cold! #11 and #12 of Millstone in the snow. Lovely views. “Oh, boy” sighs M as she looks at #12. I agree. Excellent view of Sullivan castle. Excellent photography, too. Now sun is bright over LW. 'Let me look again!' How bright your sun shines on the snow! I got to see Minnesota in winter, laner or sooter.

Myra’s mother – Monnie – to Myra, February:
Have been awake for forty minutes and just lying here thinking about you and your precious family. So very glad to see that blueprint [of Millstone] for it has untangled so many impressions. On my three short visits to the Castle, entered each time through the side entrance (or what name have you given it?). The main entrance is through the tower and the rear entrance I suppose is into the kitchen via the huge screened porch. Never saw the half-bath on main floor and for the life of me I could not imagine its location. Like Kip (on his first day in new home), I could not locate stairs to his room in my mental picture. In fact, I was rather disgusted with myself because I could draw a floor plan of only the 4th. But now that I see the blueprint, I do not feel so stupid. It is a complicated plan.

Myra describing a typical morning, raising 5 little ones, February 28, 1955, Monday:
Today might be a good time to relate my activities of a typical day. I usually get a running start by squeezing in an hour or more of sleep each morning than the boys get. I don't get up till Rog leaves; he flips the covers off me and turns on the light just as he leaves and within fifteen minutes I'm usually up and dressed. By that time it's after seven o'clock. Before I get the boys up, I get breakfast ready, warm Luke's milk, pack Kip's lunch pail, have a cup of coffee and listen to the 7:15 news. Then I go upstairs and start on the B Squad. Kip and Jeff are dressed and ready to come down when I open their door; Christy has usually loaded toys or books into Danny's bed so he's been happy till I come for him. Christy is usually dressed but I invariably have some re-dressing or re-buttoning or upside-downing to do for him. ---- (At this point Danny came in; he climbs up the trellis beside the side door, rings the doorbell, and hangs there like a monkey till I come. Stopped long enough to fix toast and cocoa; now the other two are in -- mouths are wiped, cocoa wiped off the chair, butter smears cleaned off of window, bibs washed out, fight over last piece of toast settled amicably, and now they're up in Christy's room working puzzles.) Where was I? At about 7:40. Downstairs we all come, Lukee into the cradle with his bottle propped -- poor wee one -- Kippie always puts him down on at the breakfast table (you can count on him for old-man's habits, like wearing his underpants at night), Jeffie is insisting that he left his shoes right on the second pantry shelf and they're not there now of course. Breakfast is usually out of the way before eight and I've time to clean up the kitchen, pin up my hair, change Lukee, and collect the wash before it's time to go to school. I dress Danny, boots, snowsuit, mittens, and cap, send him out to play while I dress Christy; and ask Kippie if he's sure that he has hankie, lunch pail, brushed hair, and clean teeth. Then we're off. That sounds like we leave in a great cloud of smoke, but actually it means go out of the garage, open the doors, call Christy and Danny three or four times, get in and warm up the car, call Christy and Danny a few more times, go back inside to tell Jeff to ask the dairyman for cottage cheese, call Christy and Danny again, and then make a run at the driveway. Try to drive up driveway up a couple of times, try it again, and then down the hill to school.

Myra, June 9, Thursday:
Dan is the absolute cutest two-year-old we ever had. I've seldom seen Roger so affectionate with a child -- and he behaves like a ridiculously indulgent grandfather with Danny. Wait till you see him -- he's completely charming. The four little ones were on the screen porch one day, each of the big ones with a banana. Finding a peel on the floor I asked who put it there instead of in the garbage. Jeff immediately denied ownership. “It's not mine -- it must be Christy's.” Christy, to his own defense, quickly: “I didn't put it there. It's Danny's!” And Dan in age-old fashion of passing the buck said, “Lutee's blana.”

Myra, describing Grandma Rock to her parents, June 26, Sunday:
I'm getting so excited about showing you our place. Before Rog's mother arrived he was taking about your coming and I suggested he'd have the pleasure very soon of showing his house to his mother. 'You know how much fun that'll be!' was his answer -- and sure enough! The three of us came in the front door, saw the living room, Cozy Room (she objects to the name - calls it family room) and dining room before she protested, 'Now, son, I can't see it all at once. I'll be here three weeks, so we can do it gradually.' Poor Rog, his enthusiasm was shattered. So he's waiting for you to come. Many is the time he's said 'I can just see your old man bird watching down here on the Low Forty.' Or 'Wait till your Mom sees this.' He is certainly awaiting your arrival with as much excitement as I, bless him.

A note regarding the names we gave to different areas of our yard at The Millstone. The area inside the loop of the driveway was shaped like and therefore called "The Tear Drop." In between the driveway that went to the front of the house and the driveway that went downhill to the garage was a long section of yard (where the gas lamp and the flowering crab apple tree were) called "The Hot Dog." There was also the front yard, the back yard, the horse's pasture and the "Low Forty," down by the barbeque.

According the TV Guide, the top 5 TV shows of the '55 - '56 season were The $64, 000 Question, followed by I Love Lucy, The Ed Sullivan Show, Disneyland, and The Jack Benny Show.

Myra, October 1955:
I’ve spent the last two hours with some of the most emotional reading. I finished that slaughter at Fredericksburg and then tread though the magnificent battle of Chancellorsville. I became involved with it just before supper and could not stop to eat. I carried the book with me while I was fixing supper and then while everyone was eating I ran up to the library to finish that great success of Lee’s. Now, since I’ve had time to be with the children, and then put them to bed (Roger is at a meeting), I have.

Myra, November 18, Friday:
Roger has taken the weekend off; left yesterday and went up to the Cities 'to get away from everything' until Sunday. • The first of many references to these little "vacations" by Dad. I think it's probably safe to interpret "to get away from everything" as "to drink heavily." These little trips may mark the very beginning of the Dad's alcoholism.

Myra, right after Christmas, 1955:
During the ten days before Christmas there were parties almost every night to which we were invited and most of them were almost obligatory. But not very enjoyable -- great crowds of people, much small talk, smoke-choked rooms. So we invited our two closest friends to spend a slow quiet evening with us; I made no fancy snacks -- just apple pie and coffee. And it was so pleasant, just the six of us, a cozy fire burning, and most of the Christmas work done. . . . We opened some gifts on Saturday afternoon. It has become our custom to open the presents that are under the tree, sent by friends and relatives, on the afternoon of Christmas Eve. As soon as the last “napper” had wakened we began, trying almost successfully this year to keep it on a one-by-one basis. Each knew exactly which presents were his; the gifts were put under the tree as they arrived and through the days till the 24th each package was felt, shaken, sniffed, and squeezed almost out of shape. The tree was set up again this year in the sun parlor off the living room so that when investigation of the packages became too determined, I could close the glass doors yet not deprive them of looking at the tree. . . To return to Christmas. After everyone was safely asleep we brought out Santa Claus' things. Each child had three gifts, one good one, two small ones. Rog and I gave a gift too (we were faced with the question a few years ago about our never giving), an inter-com set for Kip and Jeff, a lovely big book for Christy, and a hobby horse for Danny and Luke. The horse was another of our projects during the holidays. It is a dear little grey horse with pastel polka-dots; Rog made it and I painted it and it was one of our most successful gifts. Then there were the stockings to fill with the ten-cent store gifts and the candy canes then, for me, the most exciting part about Christmas was over. Before going to bed we strung a rope across the top of the stairway with a 'wait for us' note on it. Once in bed I found it as hard to sleep as the little ones. They all went to sleep so very late, that as a consequence they did not waken till almost 6:30 Christmas morning. Roger says the Big Boys were awake once much earlier but they must have gone back to sleep. Luke never did wake up for the first excitement, but I suppose he didn't mind. When we gave them the go-ahead signal there was a mad descent and a great whoop rising from the front room -- Santa Claus had been there. See? He even left the fire screen ajar on his way back up, and peanut shells on the plate! We began the single-file procedure once again but it soon degenerated into an each-man-for-himself attack. Danny was delayed by his horse, rocking singing 'Baby Crocket.' Christy stopped to take out all fourteen screws from his truck, but Kip and Jeff had to go straight through to the end before they could stop long enough to look at what they had opened. By 8:00 Kippie collapsed in despair on the couch: 'The only thing wrong with Christmas is all this trash to burn!' (Disposing of the trash is one of his chores.) There was no such thing as breakfast that day, just apples and toast and cocoa to sustain them till lunch. Kippie spent the rest of the day setting up type to write his thank you notes and the others were in a frenzy of trying out everybody else's gifts. Christy's latest achievement is the ability to put together our state puzzle. It stumped him for a while and several times I told him I would help him later when I wasn't busy. Then one day I found him with the Atlas beside him for reference and the puzzle put together entirely. He knows many of the state's names, some by association: Pennsylvania, for instance, is “the state that holds New Jersey in place.” Christmas night was a beautiful climax. The boys were in bed early and Rog and I were sitting with a fire listening to the lovely carols that went straight on till midnight. Snow had begun falling in the late afternoon and when we chanced to look out about 8:00 we found that there had been a heavy fall (paper the next day said it was the heaviest in the nation: 10 -- 12 inches). It was one of the particularly lovely snowfalls with soft fat flakes that cling to everything. Roger went out with his camera to try a picture of the house in the snow at night. I spent most of December making a “stained glass” effect in the front bedroom windows (the only windows visible from the gate). Used black masking tape to make the pictures and then filled in with colored tissue papers, lighting it strongly from behind. Got a very satisfying result on my first attempt with such a medium and if Roger's picture is successful you'll be better able to understand what I'm trying to describe. But as I was saying, it was a very beautiful Christmas night. We turned on our gate lights, stood for a long time looking out our front living room windows, through the falling snow, at our beloved grounds. Sweet music, happy children sleeping, lovely fire-lit living room -- what more could we want!


Myra, May, 1956:
Spent the evening at Coventry’s house about ten days ago. there was a meeting here of the Contemporary Club, the inner sanctum of the inner sanctum of the big Orthopedists. Spent most of the evening with Dr. C.E. Erwin, of Warm Springs, an eminent man in surgery on the post-polio hand; he was FDR’s personal physician for years. Very interesting evening. All most all the doctors there (about fifteen) were “textbook men”. You know, “There’s Speed of ‘Speed and Smith.’"

Myra, February 6:
[In this letter Myra's discussing some Clinic party full of orthopedic big shots from out of town, including one from England.] He's a rotund, whiskey-florid, sporty man with a vandyke: according to legend he operates all day, spends the night at the Club drinking six or eight double-scotches, and beats everybody to the hospital the next morning … I chanced to find myself breakfasting with Dr. Charles Mayo of whom you may have heard. As I said, we had to pinch ourselves.

Myra, April 29, 1956:
I had a PTA meeting to attend on Friday night, Rog's birthday night… Just as we left Rog gave Danny a spanking and as we drove out of the driveway I could hear him bellowing. So we left under very unhappy circumstances and I failed to throw off the guilty feeling all evening and we came home early -- 8:30.

Myra, May 4, 1956:
I have pored over your file cards on the old books you own, Poppa, and have had much pleasure even from reading the title pages! I have become absorbed and possessed with the idea of owning some really old and valuable book. And I'm obsessed with the idea of getting into a second-hand bookstore someday. Much as I value books, I have never been in a second-hand bookstore, the heaven of the bibliophile, or bibliopege, or bibliomaniac (which word are we going to settle on?)! That doesn't seem possible does it? When I make my first trip to The Cities and to Chicago, you can bet that first place I'll head for is the second-hand bookstores. I love old books! I LOVE OLD BOOKS! I'd much rather read a second-hand and preferably a fiftieth-hand book than a new one.

Myra, May 1956:
Thank you for the book. Oh, it does me good to feel this book in my hand! Do you realize that for someone who loves old books like I do, I’ve had absolutely no access to a second-hand books store? Look back through my years of shall-we-say intellectual activity; over five years here in Rochester, where there is o second-hand bookstore; three years in Norfolk, the sailors’ heaven’ and prior to that the years of being confined to bed and my slow return to activity. I’ve had no chance! Never been inside a real second-hand bookstore in my whole 33 years. … That’s one of the dreams that I hold out before myself – my first visit to Leary’s or Brentano’s or some of the shops in Chicago! Not the “rare and fine books” just now am I speaking of; just the inexpensive pleasure of second-hand books. [Elsewhere she notes her library as of June, 1956, was 210 volumes.]

Myra, May 1956:
You’ll be pleased to know that all the boys have received at least some protection against polio. Kip had his first shot last spring, his second this fall. On Tuesday the other boys got their first shots; when any of them will get the rest of the series depends on the amount of serum available for this area. But we are assured that even one shot gives some measure of immunity.

From RJL to Myra, May 13, 1956:
Then I put Tchaikovsky's Capriccio Italiene on the Hi-Fi -- one of Mama's favorite records. It fills the room with marvelous melody as I write. I keep a record of date of playing each record and see that we have not heard this one since April 7. Unless, as may be the case, Mama was operator, in which case we may have played it since that date, for Mama views my bookkeeping with much indifference.

Myra, June 1, 1956:
10:30 p.m. I love these Bluebook letters, Pop; [Grandpa had begun writing to Mom in this fashion [writing in little blue composition books students use in college]. Mom didn't get into it for a few years] there is so much more of a personal element in them -- not just because of the handwriting, but because there is also something of abandon in your style that is not so apparent in your typewritten letters. And though they are an object of ridicule, your letter however they are produced, are valued by me, my most-revered and much-loved father.

RJL to Myra, June 7, 1956:
TIME [magazine], for all its being a GOP house organ, does occasionally get of a well written piece. . . . I shudder to contemplate the fate of our country if the General were to die and his VP [Nixon] should succeed to the throne.

RJL, June 22, 1956:
Can I ever forget Commencement Night 1941, your valedictory speech, coming up to me for your HS diploma and all I could muster, “Goodbye, Sister.” Remember? It was a solemn moment for me. I knew that my little girl was gone. No longer little girl and no longer around home. And so it was. You'll experience it someday!

July 8, 1956, 1956: This is the date Dad marked on one of those recordings he made on that old dictating machine he often brought home for the Clinic. This one is an interview with his mom, Grandma Rock, who was visiting us in Rochester. It's a stiff and sad little discussion, kind of an interview of sorts, where he asks the Rock about her travels. It is a sad, joyless little recording.

Myra, August 3, 1956:
This afternoon I mailed to you my letter saying I could not with an easy heart go to Chicago. I'm very sorry about it; I know it disturbs all your plans, but there is too much polio there for me. . . . I can't do it when today's paper tells me of Chicago's efforts to close up every possible source of contagion (pools, peddlers, smorgasbords, etc.) and continues to urge shots for everyone! I'll be glad when Jimmie gets himself and his family out of there.

September 24, 1956:
This is the date marked on another old recording Dad made at the Clinic of the five oldest boys. He made it on what was then a very modern business dictation machine. Basically it cut blue records; flimsy, clear blue records you could play on a regular record player, but worked best in that funny, bulky old machine Dad sometimes brought home for us to play with.

A photo of what that old dictating machine looked like. Missing is the big hand-held mike.

The top 5 TV shows for the '56 - '57 season were I Love Lucy, followed by The Ed Sullivan Show, General Electric Theater, The $64,000 Question, and December Bride.

Myra, October 7, 1956:
Today is Luke's birthday but we have delayed the celebration by two days so that his father can be with us. We'll have presents and cake that evening for supper. I suppose this is the last year that we can switch his birthday about without his being aware . . . Only once have I had a two-year-old baby and not been pregnant; now it's twice! . . . Just finished this afternoon reading the battle of Gettysburg in the last volume of Lee's Lieutenants, and it must be admitted that he is not as harsh on “Old Pete” in this analysis of events as he is in R.E.LEE. He seems to put a good bit of blame on Jeb's shoulders, Jeb who arrived on the afternoon of the second. “Well, General Stuart, you are here at last!”

Luke walking from front door of Millstone to front yard. Likely taken in spring of 1956.

Letter from Dad to Myra’s parents, October 1956:
Am leaving for Rochester day after tomorrow via Northwest Airlines. Am terribly sorry Myra can’t go, but guess the sitter situation is really tight.

Myra, October 1956:
When I open a letter from you and find that it is one of those special ones, I always tuck it back into its envelope to save till Lukee and Danny are in bed and Christy is occupied. Then I get my lunch and my cup of coffee, settle myself in the rocking chair in the Cozy Room, and proceed at a leisurely pace (sometimes by necessity because of Poppa’s handwriting) to read what you have put on paper a few days before.

RJL to Myra, October 8, 1956:
So closes another BB, a sort of personal conversation with a very brilliant young woman whom it is my pleasure to know, but from whom I am sorrowfully separated by 1,500 cruel miles. Love from Dad

Myra, November 9, 1956, Friday, on the stationery of Hotel Congress in Chicago:
Poppa dear Poppa!!! I have been to a bookstore! I have roamed through and fingered over and reached high into and dirtied my knees in a real second-hand bookstore!!! But it would have been ever so much more fun if you'd been along!

RJL to Myra, December 1, 1956:
At this point, I must reiterate (why not just iterate?) my profound desire that you and I have 2-3 days in the Virginia battlefields, together. I say again, come down to be with us here in August, trust me to drive you safely as far as Harrisburg, where you will be only 24 hours from Rochester. The more I think about this the enthusiasticker I get. We'll photograph you standing on Burnside's Bridge and at the Bloody Angle. Let's have these 2-3 days in our favorite subject before it is too late.

RJL, December 16, 1956:
When the phone rang in my room last night around 11:40 I said 'There's Myra' and Mama came tumbling in from her room and we enjoyed your Christmas call to no end. And as is our custom, we raided the ice box after the call was over, and talked and talked -- this time until 1:15. We got into the endless argument, or discussion, of how we could plan our living so that we could see our children more often than we have since 1949. One proposal is that we sell out down here, rent from the Morris's and thus be 1,000 miles nearer Jim, and in the same city with you. But this is a laborious venture for old folks whose blood has become accustomed to the sort of weather we have right now -- windows open on a lovely sunny day. At Daytona Beach Friday, it was so warm that I drove home without my coat on. And you casually stated last night that it was only 6˚ below outside. But the plan does have undeniable merits. Any comments? . . . I told you also of our good fortune in being willed a copy of the General's From Manassas to Appomattox. I have seen the book. It is a handsome volume, apparently unread. . . . You have a real addition promised to your rapidly growing shelves. • Mom's writing here about the copy of Longstreet's FMTA that I now have in my possession as I write these memoirs (12/91). It is an original copy of the general's only book on the Civil War, and signed by him. And inside it is still inscribed "Never despise your enemy, James Longstreet, June 18th, 1898" RJL got it in December of 1959 from the above named lady, a 86-year-old (in 1957 anyway) widow from St. Augustine, Florida, who gave it to Grandpa because she had no other Longstreet kin to hand it down to. Thus, I am the lucky, if more distantly related, ancestor.

The front page of my copy of “From Manassas to Appomattox,” by Lt. General James Longstreet.
The inscription: “Never despise your enemy. James Longstreet June18th, 1898”

RJL, December 23, 1956:
I spent several yesterday typing a copy of a portion of a diary that [your brother] Jim kept in the winter of '44-'45 when he was patrolling off Morotai on the PT #365. But the entries are periodic -- of course he wrote little of his real experiences. Especially did he omit the days when he had that hand-to-hand battle to the death with the huge Jap marine -- underwater. I shiver to think of it. Do you remember the first time I heard a brief account of that? I am not sure that you were present. It was in your back yard, on the Morris farm. I'll never forget how our boy reacted to even this brief recital. His hands shook, his lips trembled. I could have wept. Yet, there was our boy, survivor of the horror -- almost a Ph.D. -- but that January or February, 11 years ago, just a 19-year-old -- our little Jimmie -- the Boy Scout, the H.S. debater. Again, I thank a kind Providence that he as spared to us. Of course, that raises the deeper question -- why were 250,000 other boys passed over by that same Providence? I do not know.