The Journey Continues: Letters Home from Philosophy Studies, 1965 – 67- Part 9
The November 10 letter begins on a sombre note responding to the death of the philosopher’s uncle who served in WWII and to the news that his mother is in hospital which he learned after the fact! He assures her of his prayers and those of his brothers at the mount. The December letter tells of approaching Christmas and its musical activities and of his new job as ‘beadle’ of the Jesuit scholastics at the Mount! It ends expressing a longing for the sun of the prairies.
Mount Saint Michael
Spokane, Washington 99207
[hand written letter]
November 10 , 1966
Thanks muchly for your last letter + for news of uncle Leo + family. I sent off a letter to Aunt Evie a couple of days ago. You know, the more I think about uncle, the more I realize the suffering he must have gone thru. Emotional problems are the hardest to deal with because we don’t understand them too well.
Perhaps his started especially in the war. War can have a terrible damaging effect, especially on a more sensitive person– so it’s impossible for us to judge + you know how a person can suffer just putting up with one’s own faults.
But this isn’t exactly a proper or rather suitable topic to write about to a recuperating person, is it? Marlene phoned telling me you were in the hospital– I told her I’d write + “give her hell” or something like that about her affairs.
By now you should be feeling better, at least I hope so. I’d have written sooner but there was a dead-line to meet with another paper– It was due this morning at the 8 o’clock class. Another one is due on Saturday but I’m half thru writing it so there’s no problem.
We had a few little exams about a week ago + I thought I goofed, but as turned out they ended up 2 A’s + a B- so that gave me a little satisfaction. The 50 minute short answer exams are hard to judge. You get them done just at the bell– don’t get a chance to check them very well– hand them in – then worry because you just don’t know. But that’s all part of the game I guess.
We had our first snowfall the other day but the weather turned a little warm during the day so it disappeared quickly. But there’s still some on the mountain tops + the lads are beginning to haul out skis + things for another season of skiing. I’m looking forward to it too.
These days are so busy that I’m not getting too much exercise. It’s almost impossible to get out everyday– and I usually get out only twice a week for a good strenuous game of handball.
If I don’t my studying goes on a down hill grade. With too little exercise you just end up being sluggish + tired practically all the time.
There is a chance that a few of us will get to go skating tomorrow night at the Coliseum in Spokane. G.U. is having a Canadian-Alaska Skate night + admission is not too bad so we “Canadians” might get to go. I hope so for I haven’t skated now for a couple years.
The last year at Guelph was shot because of my knee + last year we just didn’t get cold enough weather for ice.
Next week we will be performing Carmina Burana (about 8 – 10 [of us] from the Mt) with the G.U. Choral people, the Spokane Choral Society + the Spokane Symphony Orchestra. We had a practise the other day with the whole “gang” (over 100 singers) + it was really a treat to sing accompanied with a full orchestra.
But it was also fatiguing for we stood for almost three hours– my knees were ready to buckle + my back was beginning to ache. We have another practice on Sunday AM at 8:00.
I hope you can read my writing. I noticed that as the letter continues, it gets worse + worse– good luck! My type-writer has gotten so much use lately that I decided to give my hand a chance.
When I got your letter the other day + Marlene’s phone call I put a little note on the board asking for prayers. So all the lads here were praying for you + uncle Leo + his family. So you see with all those prayers you didn’t have to worry about a thing.
It’s really wonderful thing to live in a place like this for everyone is really a brother + concerned about you + your family. It is true problem[s] arise – some people suffer, other doubt– + things may get rough at times, but these are life + happen in any vocation.
Life’s a struggle wherever you are. But by + large for me you can’t beat this one + no doubt I have you, dad + the rest of the family to thank for giving me so much love + guidance+ helping me to appreciate my vocation.
Get well quickly mum + continue to offer your prayers + sufferings for me. You + all the family are always in my prayers,
Mount Saint Michael
Spokane, Washington 99207
December 4, 1966
Dear Mum, Dad and all,
Just a short letter to let you know that I’m alive and busier than ever. I’m sorry that my birthday letter to mum was mailed too early. The reason that happened was the mail or air strike in Canada which I thought was still on.
Things are really moving around here for me. I have two exams coming up, one this Tuesday, the other the next week. Besides trying to prepare for them, there’s a few papers to get done, one for the end of this coming week and two others by the 16th when our Christmas holidays begin.
Besides that there has been a scramble getting our choir in shape for the T.V. show. We recorded the songs a while ago and on the eighth we will go down to the T.V. station to video tape it. I wouldn’t mind so much but it was decided that my solo have to done live again this year.
It was nerve wracking enough last year when in the last week before the T.V. show it was decided that I would have to even sing a solo. This year I’ve plenty of time to prepare and also to worry. I’ll put my solo on the tape I’m sending you.
The other day I wrote a Christmas carol and Don DesRoches helped me with the finishing touches. It turned out very well (It only took 45 minutes to finish the job– sort of an inspiration?) And I’ll put that on the tape too.
I’ve about a side and ó of the tape done already. . . . I hope there’s room for everything.
Christmas card sending is coming up too. Since I had to design a card for our Christmas program here at the mount, I thought I may as well make some for my own use. So this last week during philosophy class I got a little inspiration and yesterday I made the silk screen.
I don’t know how it will turn out yet. I like the design better than my last year’s attempt. I’ll find out this afternoon if my silk screen turned out.
This week another job was given me. . . One that will keep me busy seeing people, putting up ordo signs, getting permissions, and many other things. I’m now called the “beadle.”
There is perhaps a little glory in the office, that of distinction, but the work will keep me out of trouble for the next few months. I only got into the office yesterday, so I don’t know how it’s going to be besides busy.
Well, that is about all for now. I assume that you [are] all well and that everything is going alright. You probably have snow by now. . . . we don’t. All we have been having this past month is rain and more rain.
But that has been a blessing for the gym we are building because as long as it is warm enough to rain, it is warm enough to work with cement, and they are trying to get the place roofed in by the time the snow does come.
The rain is also welcomed for the winter wheat, but it would be nice to see a blue sky once in awhile. I can remember a blue sky only twice in the last month, and one of those days it was so foggy in the valley that it looked just like a prairie on a windy wintry day with snow drifting all over.
Good bye for now. . . you are always in my prayers.
All photos courtesy of Frank Obrigewitsch, SJ