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Title: R & M Thompson, Alameda Ca. To W J Thompson, Carrickfergus
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileThompson, Ralph/88
SenderThompson, Ralph
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationworks in an office
Sender Religionunknown
OriginAlameda, California, USA
DestinationCarrickfergus, Co. Antrim, N.Ireland
RecipientThompson, W.J. and family
Recipient Gendermale-female
Relationshipwrites to his family
SourceT 2278/32: Copied by Permission of Miss Jean Totten, Ballynaclose,Ballinderry, Co. Antrim. #TYPE EMG Ralph and Mabel Thompson, 1425 Parn St., Alameda, California to Mr. W.J. Thompson, Scotch Quarter, Carrickfergus, County Antrim. 19 February 1920.
ArchivePublic Record Office, Northern Ireland.
Doc. No.9004079
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
Log03:05:1990 SS created 13:11:1990 GC input 14:11:19
Word Count3792
TranscriptTo Mr. W.J. Thompson
Scotch Quarter, Carrickfergus
1425 Parn St [Street?]
Calif [California]
19th February 1920

My dear Father and All, (Kathleen says my Grandpa)

How can we thank you sufficiently for such a splendid letter as that we received from you early last month - Oh, but it seems shameful to me to have to use those words "last month" for I had hoped to have a long reply mailed to you long before this but some of the "reason" twas not so, will be part of this letter's story, for like the advertisement of our American substitute for coffee "Postum cereal" "There's a reason" and may I here hope my reason is more legitamate [legitimate?] than theirs for Ive [I have?] no use personally for "postum."
Early in January or at end of Dear Kathleen was ordered to bed with "Measles" & after about three weeks she came through in splended shape with returned health strength and, we are glad to say, an unspoiled disposition.
Things went along very nicely & we were just "catching up" on many neglected things when your own "baby" if I may still claim that title was at last compelled to have eye treatment by a specialist in San Francisco & I have now to content myself with a pair of "specs" at my office work & at home when reading or writing - of course it meant many evenings, when I wanted to write so many people, that I had to rest my eyes, & consequently Im [I am?] away behind in my correspondence & my work overseas has made me a host of new friends who have been more than liberal in corresponding with me (not by card only) at Christmas and New Year time, till now it looks to me like I ought to have a stenographer to help me out (of course Mabel will
not stand for that!)
Now Father dear - all of you do not worry about my eyes & think Im [I am?] a bad case of old age setting in, or fast failing sight &c &c. Not at all. As soon as I got home from France I realized my suspicions were correct that I had overworked my eyes quite a lot in my work as a good deal of it was done during long hours & bad light – often poor candle light - and anything like accounting work under those conditions could have only one result.
I kept putting the matter off hoping for some improvement, but my work
in Balfour Guthrier Cos [Companies?] calls for constant eye work consequently I could not get any real rest to know if my eyes would get back to normal.
The specialist reported overstrain and a slight stigmatism [astigmatism?] & my glasses correct the latter and I hope will much relieve the strain I have been feeling. - have only had the glasses a little over a week now & find much relief.
Well last Monday week (Tis Thursday today) I came home & found Mabel in bed & when we had the Doctor he ordered rest as she overstrained herself -- Augh! She can tell Jinty all about it Im not very well versed in their vocabulary- Mabel was in bed practically all week & all the time I was nursing a miserable cold till Tuesday & yesterday I stayed in bed & last evig [evening?] the Doctor advised me to keep to bed for a few more days as so much Flu' [influenza?] has been around I should take every precaution. Well to complete the family circle Kathleen somehow contracted a bad cough & cold & was quite feverish for a couple of nights but this morning, we are thankful to say, is much better. Now how's that for a family? Mabel will have to be very careful for a week or so yet. Kathleen we hope can be out in a few days, and I hope to be able to get to business on Saturday for a short day. (Did not manage it today saty [Saturday?]
Dear old Percy if he could see me now he wouldn't think me much of a sick man for Ive just been hinting around to Mabel & her Mother, - Mr & Mrs Melrose surprised us yesterday by an unexpected visit & stayed over to hurry the lunch along, & sure I feel pretty good but I suppose that is really the time one should be most careful & not overestimate ones ability
to resistance against something worse than "colds"
Now all this time I have forgotten to plead excuse at my using pencil to write you but, Im [I am?] in bed & a pen is not the handiest thing under those circumstances so without the old joke of "excuse the writin' as the
pen is bad" Ill [I will?] plead a poor desk & a hurried effort. - Lunch -
Lunch over & the "folks" have gone so as to reach Modesto before dark.
They left about 3.15 & should be home if all goes well by 6.30. My hasnt the Automobile made such trips almost trifles? Its about 95 miles to Modesto and splendid paved (concrete & asphalt) roads all the way.
It was so good of Mr & Mrs Melrose to come down to see us when so busy with the spring work at home. Earl - their oldest child & boy is to be married very soon so we believe but he enjoys the joke of keeping us all on
edge wondering when.
I just received a paper "Telegraph" from Campbell telling of the death of Mr [Flack?] & I was very sorry to to know of his passing away tho' [although?] I feel a man living as he did must be much happier now. I did so enjoy meeting Mr Flack when I was over & appreciated his openhearted friendship so candidly offered to "Campbell's brother" Im [I'm?] sure David you will miss him a great deal more than you ever could have thought you
would & the circumstance recalls to me the death of Mr McCalmont some fourteen years ago - how much I loved him I never knew until he too had passed on.
Oh - I had such a splendid letter from Mrs Thomas just a few weeks ago (Minnie McCalmont) & she pays me a compliment I wish I could feel I was more worthy of. I had written her regretting my not seeing her when I was over for Christmas. Her address now is Mrs (Mary) Thomas,
19 Holland Park
In November I received a fine letter from Ethel Sutherland & which I acknowleded [acknowledged?] later, on a Christmas P.C. [postcard?] & will soon be able to send a decent reply to.
Jinty & Percy have both been so good to us in letters & Mabel & I both wanted time & again to get down to writing but our hands have been more than full. This letter we expect to give the general news to all the "limbs" of our family tree - Oh say David when will you complete the tree you started on -I would love to have a copy. Some men here have, by
corresponding with the Recorders or County Clerks, traced back for many generations their ancestors in a most interesting way -----------
But Mabel & I will write Percy & Jinty & Liz & Willie a joint letter very soon
Percy sent us such a lovely Irish calander [calendar?] & then the Song "Donegal" & Percy & London Illustrated paper it sure is a dandy - It's low
for me but Ill [I will?] have it transposed - my voice is rather high tenor for it- Thanks so much - more detailed appreciation later (Augh! my desk is tired & my writing getting worse)
Well I have had "tea" since my last page so it looks like between visits Ive [I have?] made a day of it.
January 2nd I was agreeably surprised to receive a very welcome letter from Uncle Harry (Wallesly) & it was indeed a treat to hear from him & I will endeavour to write him a few pages before long.
By the way Father Uncle Harry complains bitterly because you both are to blame for a greatly reduced correspondence effort.
Now Father just you surprise Uncle right now while you feel like it & he will enjoy it so much Im [I am?] sure.
On day following receipt of Uncles letter I received one of the shocks of my life An envelope – postmarked Belfast 8th Decr. [December?] & addressed to me at Modesto - I looked at it – turned it over & over & stared at it & felt my pulse "getting up" some & at last with a holler to Mabel of – Oh Gee heres a letter from Harry at last- I slashed it rapidly
with a knife pulling out the Contents immediately recognized Mollie McCutcheon's address & remembered well her writing. Augh Harry If I remember aright your "Sunday" writing used on my last letter - years ago - was pretty near good enough to be compared with Mollie's & sure that's a high compliment I'm paying you.
Mollie's a dear to write me as she did & send us such a pretty Christmas card from Belle & herself Oh David theres a job I have for you - I have for sometime had an envelope addressed all ready [already?] in which to send you a letter when Id [I would?] write it & in that envelope I had placed another addressed to myself & in it a sheet of paper headed with a certain Bangor address - will you see that the said envelope gets into Harrys hands for me? & I hope to see it again shortly
Im sure David your hands have been full for some time past having the
most of the business on your own shoulders & now that Mr Flack has gone it will make matters doubly hard for you write me when you can, all particulars, & how business is &c
Received a fine letter from Sunnyside from Dorothy Hamilton on 3rd Jany [January?] & glad they are all so well.
Then on 20th Jany [January?] & 30th Jany [January?] from Tom McConnell & May (Hamilton from Canada). May has been sick & is with May [Strain?] in Hamilton Ont [Ontario?] untilTom gets thru [through?] in some mission work in NS. [Nova Scotia?]
Stuart has had your letter for several weeks & like myself found great pride in showing it around among his friends & it also was in Modesto when
Mabel spent a day or two there Stuart in returning it writes of how much he enjoyed it & also states things are going nicely in Ripon now.
In his letter he says "Father may live to reach the hundred mark yet and I would not be surprised if he outlives the bunch of us. Of course I wouldn’t have much chance to prove my surprise if he outlived me."
Isn't that like him? Dotie & Florrie were especially appreciative at being allowed to read your letter & never fail to ask for you all -Florrie
(I was sorry it did not mention them) & her husband are on way to Australia now.
Dotie helped Mabel a lot last week & this week is herself sick in bed with Flu [influenza?] - they are fine girls Dottie & Florrie. Good night [?] & until tomorrow [?]

Good morning everyone - Now its only 20 m [minutes?] to 12 (or noon) so you see morning has almost passed [an?]d I had a little headache this morning so after a light breakfast I successfully slept it off so here goes to answer your letter after this somewhat lengthy introduction.
Now your letter is to all of us & this one is very much from all of us for Yesterday Grandma & Grandpa Melrose & Mabel were talking of you as I wrote & this morning as I write Kathleen has had me show her your letter by holding it up in bed & she said "Oh my didnt Grandpa send you such a long letter all of that and both sides??!" & she is going to write you a letter all for yourself which I will enclose.
Now Father for one who writes such a splendid hand as you do & such a well framed, intelligent letter, it does seem a shame you should leave aside your Waterman pen for years as you put it & might we hope to be put
on your new writing list for more frequent attention?
Although your letter only reached us on 2nd January it had been
mailed in time for delivery, at Pre-War speed, on Christmas but times & speeds & methods of handling have all slowed down somewhat and I presume the old Country is having much trouble, just as we are here, in the effort of readjustment to something about normal.
Well Father we do all very heartily congratulate you upon reaching your 80th Birthday & we are so thankful that you have been blessed with such good health & strength.
I do trust your "system" is behaving better than when I was over & that you are looking forwa[rd?] to good times in your gardens during
springtime & summer, with fishing trips thrown in.
The folks were feeling much "run down" last year after the heavy
summer & harvest time and were recommended a very well known medicine (& reasonably priced) called "Talnac" & it certainly built both Father & Mother Melrose up after their having fought off rather severe attacks of Flu' [influenza?] - Can you secure some of it in Belfast? I would think some such Tonic just the thing for you Father (Oh yes sure you could use a little [?] as well to make sure of success)
Yes as you say my visit was all too short & oh how frequently I think of numerous little things I wanted to talk about but in the rush it simply seemed my thoughts were rushing madly around so I could never get them properly collected.
The mention of your "vacation" spent with Liz & Willie & Percy & Jinty in November (You sure must have enjoyed a great deal, from what you say) reminds me of their bigheartedness when I was there. How I would have liked to spend more time in each home - to have had an apple pie some Saty [Saturday?] evg [evening?] in Lizzies (& a bath) & a nice game & a walk with Willie to Whitehouse. Sunday morning all after a seat beside Percy
watching the Reds walloping the Blues or maybe Jinty & Percy teaching me a little golf on Fortwilliam Links Och I!
Say Willie why dont you get out & punch a golf ball now & then - I'll bet you'd enjoy it thoroughly & would decide how to make the stroke in record time just as Dad would try to tire the clock by his method!
That was indeed a very sad accident on the water while you were out fishing. I do not recall if I knew any of the Houstons. I do sympathize with their families. I was surely thankful you had come through the squall safely - you should not be out in boats such weather.
You speak of the Epidemic of Strikes &c &c. Well as you know we are having our troubles tho [though?] recent months have seen some little improvement but clouds loom up again & again & with a great number of dirty
politicians (Looks like our next election will be some house cleaning time if only the voters remember & carry out their intentions for the acts of official America are far from what the hearts of the majority of the people
desire and tho' [although?] I have been far from being a so called "Democrat" my heart & every effort has been mostly used in urging backing for President Wilson who has been knifed in the back from every direction by dirty politicians of both his own and Republican parties apparently
for no other reason (at the foundation) than that he - Wilson - would
not be drawn into their nets or under their political power and so sacrafice [sacrifice?] both his own principals [principles?] & those of this great Country for the advance of any party or group of men nor yet selfishly for the Country itself & they have so twisted his sayings & suggested settlements that enemies of his & of this Country in both the British Isles & France Italy &c are encouraged by their example & waxing bold in adverse criticism of our every act.
I plead with you not to swallow all you read or hear of things political in this country the decent element of all classes seem to have
their backs to the wall & all we ask for now is a fight to a finish tho [although?] the dirty politicians already see the writing on the wall and are changing their snail shells in the hope the people will be lulled into forgetfulness by Election Day - heres one who wont I hope - -- Ahem - I notice I included yours truly amongst the "Decent" people - I almost forgot to add the ) There now what was I saying? Something about labour trouble Well your papers I suppose give you most of our news - Coloured & discoloured - Like the old country, we have very few what you might call independent newspapers. They mostly come under influence of one or other party or big interest or labour so you can hardly get real news from any one paper & know it to be uncoloured.
I get the Literary Digest weekly & put my trust in that as it gives both sideson all questions - I should have started on Politics on the first page for I'd never know where to stop. I dare not start on the Irish Question
Yes Father - Mother is much missed I know, by you all & Oh how I missed her when I was home - I wanted to talk more of her but felt perhaps I had better not, & while naturally my behaviour is very optimistic & you state my visit proved somewhat so and cheerful, yet underneath often came the hungry feeling for the missing one Oh God only knows how I would have loved to have had her amongst you all in the flesh when I was there, just to see how happy I was to be home again & to tell me Oh so many things overlooked by the rest of us & to hear all Id have to tell of Stuart & his as well as my own.
Really we did not have proper time after the novelty of my visit wore off for even one decent talk all together.
Of course Father I remember as far back as Grandfathers death I had rather a hazy idea of a deep sorrow at the passing away of a loved one - Maybe Jinty does not remember her reprimand at my then protest of so much mourning &c &c. but seems when I know such as grandfather & Mother & Charlie all passed away peacefully in soul and in Jesus Christ. Then theirs is the much happier state and theirs the anxiety over us as we struggle against temptations. & through trials to be worthy of their best thoughts of us and mine may be and is a deep human sorrow for one "lost awhile" yet again and again comes Christs words "Let not your heart be troubled" and above all is the thought that this short term is a mere trifle of time. compared with the hereafter still unrevealed but by faith understood to be far - oh so far in excess of our desserts, and full of joys above all that we dare ask or think even. I often come back to Paul's argument "If in this life only we have hope we are of all men most miserable" & surely no such thought has been expressed so fully in so few words.
Mabel & I are very very happy in our Christian life & who could or should be more optimistic than an Irishman who is a firm believer in our Master? God certainly has been good to us and has indeed blessed us abundantly even as you pray for at the end of your letter in P.S. [postscript?]
I was so glad to know Bob Lattimore reached home safely from YMCA [Young Men's Christian Association?] work in Russia. I had looked for a few lines from Daisy as I had written her but perhaps I should have written in Russian oski wusksoski poski Auntie is some compliment for you which I heartily back up.
How is Robert James & all the family - my how I would have liked to see Tassie & had more time with them all.
Im glad Lucy Fisher got your piano going when she was down & maybe it was well she was not in Carrick when I was there Emily & she were VERY good to me when I was home.
Now Father we do want you to take care of yourself & be very careful of "little Mary" as David calls it
Mabel & I never tire of planning our trip to see you all even as we
planned before I made the recent trip & DV [Deo Volente?] we are coming. What time of year would you recommend as best.
Do you think Ireland would fulfill all expectations I have fostered in other minds for her during say April & May of about year 1922? It would
take some scratching to do it but oh gee how we'd like to.
Now really I must stop - I can report myself much better tonight - Friday 8.20 p.m and I may possibly be to business tomorrow morning tho [although?] I'm still in bed.
Good night Father, Sarah
David and all - everyone. how we do love you all. pray God to keep you neath His wings & through His dear Son Ever your lov [loving?] So[n?]
& daughter Ralph & Mabel Kathleen sends a letter of her own [?] to you without the least instruction as to what she should do. On reading [over?]
[?] I [?] written I find many things that should not be & many that are not - Im [I am?] sure you will understand I was not feeling like being any too particular.