TO: ďHAROLDĒ Ė FROM: JANET CARPENTER
Dear Harold: January 16, 1953
Your letter reached me several days ago, but I couldnít answer it immediately Ė I didnít know what to say. It wasnít a complete surprise to me, for I had heard a rumor. It was in a letter from Dean Weyer.
The mere suggestion just about bowled me over. As if my students hadnít done enough in giving me, first, the gorgeous silk Doctorís gown, and then the car! But, Harold, Iím afraid to come. The trip wouldnít bother me, Pullman or plane. Iím still a first-class traveler. Indeed, Iím still quite an energetic old lady. You can get Ruth Stein to corroborate that. Iíll be eighty-two in June and I plan definitely on living another ten years. Heaven permitting. A good many of my ancestors lived up into their 90ís! But crowds of people lay me low. Iíd be afraid of the excitement. Also Ė I donít believe you have any idea what a sentimental person I am. Hastings College is dear to me as the apple of my eye, engraven on my heart. I was a student there under its first president, Doctor Ringland. That struggling little college saved my intellectual life. My father settled in Hastings in í84, just before what had been a tremendous real estate boom suffered a paralyzing collapse. Along with a considerable fraction of the population, we found ourselves as poor as poverty. If that poor little college hadnít been there, I could never have had a college education, for I was at that time a promising candidate for T.B., and I could never have worked my way through the State University.
Perhaps you donít see what all this has to do with my present decision. I doubt that thereís another person who feels toward Hastings College as I feel. Five years as a student there, and forty years as a teacher Ė it is a record. I donít believe I could endure to go into that southwest classroom on the first floor of McCormick. I knew it so well, both as student and as teacher. And the house on University Avenue. We built it and we lived there twenty years. I loved it Ė the house and the yard and the two big elms. I always hoped that it might sometime be the Presidentís house.
I love New England Ė itís a beautiful country. My forbears had lived here since 1638, and I always hoped that I could come back here to live after I stopped teaching. But I love the Middle West, too, especially Nebraska and Kansas. You know I taught ten years in Kansas. I am glad that my father moved West. I still think it is a far more wholesome part of the country to grow up in than either coast. And Iím proud as punch that we have a President from Kansas. And Iím not a bit ashamed of Nebraskaís contribution to national political life.
Iíd dearly love to see all my old boys and girls. I had such a good time with my classes. I loved teaching up to the very last minute.
Itís too bad to bother you with this long explanation, but I felt that I had to. You may share the letter, if you care to, with anyone who was interested in this matter of my proposed visit. It is a tribute beyond my deserving.
I wish youíd all come East Ė not all at once! Ė and come to see me.
Sometime your teacher,
And always your friend,
JANET L. CARPENTER