This is the first installment of the “Biscuit Tin” letters. The letters start in 1908 and continue sporadically for several years. They were written by Alice –a young lady of some means – she travels, attends school and had been East previously – this is where she apparently met Mr. McDonough, whom she calls “Pansy” in many letters. Pansy worked at Whitchens Drug Co. (I believe it was a drug store) in Woburn, MA. All the letters in the box were sent to him at the drug store address.
As time permits I am trying to find out more about our Alice and Pansy from local historical societies and will share what I can find with you as I post the letters. So our saga begins below as Alice writes to Pansy after ~ well just read on...
From Chula Vista, Cal
September 7, 1908
My dear friend,
Of course you will be more than surprised to hear from me. But, dear, I want you to forgive me, in all respects, for I humbly beg forgiveness of you. Probably you realized that others had a greater influence over me and while I was there and at school I could hardly do anything, without consulting my Uncle or other relatives. The last letter I wrote you was written against my will; and I cried, because I was copying a letter written by my Uncle for you. It was all like a dream to me. But, now, I am free to do any thing, as I am going on nineteen now, and of course I am allowed to do as I please.
But, now I will close this ‘mean’ subject with the ardent hope of receiving your forgiveness in your answer to this.
My dear, let me tell you, that thoughts of various sorts, were placed before me; if I did not copy and send that last letter to you. And I beg you will burn it up – please?
Your gift you sent to me; through the kindness of Mr. MacDonald was greatly appreciated and I opened it more than once when I was alone in my room and looked tenderly into the face of the kind and thoughtful giver.
Well, I sighed, after I had finished that last tear-stained note to you dictated by another. I will, someday, when I am free to write as I wish; I will write and ask his forgiveness.
But the horrid thought appeared quite often in my mind since I left the East June 7, 1907 –that he will never notice the over ‘bored letter girl’ he knew. Convince me that me thoughts were and are full of nonsense.
You remember the night I bought up the ‘maid’ – just so she would not say we were out walking. And I bribed everybody, every time I did any thing. Maybe its quite useless for me to relate these past occurrences, for I think you realize how “closely guarded” I was situated, and, dear, I thought too much to part with any of those very sincere gifts you presented me.
But as I have already stated threats to the “poor little sixteen” year baby, or your gift – and then I sent your gift back, through fear!
I beg you will keep this a secret from my relatives there. By this I mean that probably you might say, (unconsciously thinking that “talk” might be aroused by them) something about having hear from me.
But there is one other that I can trust you telling him, and that is Mr. MacDonald (the ticket agent). I think and have always thought him a perfect gentleman, and one with you, of whom I could trust and confide. And I wish If You Care to have him hear this letter or parts of it. To let him know that I haven’t forgotten you, your dear thought of presenting gifts and other things similar. Now even of course I knew no other as well as you two, while I was in Woburn.
I studied very hard while at school. And took in New York City, before starting for Calif. Perhaps you remember of my speaking of my cousins, Harry Wood and Ada, - well, Ada married the January I was there and moved to (???). So we stopped over a day or two with her. Breaking the monotony of the trip.
I have had just the finest kind of times while here and I have met just loads of people – fellows and girls. Still I hear from quite a few in the East. Some of Yale College and NY City -but none of Woburn. So let you be one of the “dearest friends” who writes from Woburn. And let it be a long, long one to. Enclosing the gold locket (if you still wear it) for I hated to give it up, when I did.
|The Coronado Resort mentioned in Alice's letter|
Last summer I arrived from the East. Mon(?), Ellen and I spent these weeks in Los Angeles and had a gay time. This summer we spent a few weeks at a beautiful resort La Jolla and at the wonderful beach resort Coronado and (??) City. (??) closes for the winter tomorrow but I have spent some dandy times over there.
Went autoing nearly ever other day and covered hundred of miles of “INTERESTING” places and scenery.
Well, dear, if you are sensible and nice it won’t be hard for you to see through all I had to put up with and how all occurred. Tell Mr. MacDonald to drop me a card if he cares to as I would really appreciate it. Perhaps this letter will cheer you –and again it might prove just the opposite.
But dear I did love you. I do now but so many are in the way that I could express my self better after hearing your decisions.
Very Sincerely – your old friend,
Alice B. Wood