Thursday, September 23, 2010

Letters To Myscie: A Western Love Story By Suzanne E. Smith

Part 6 of a Series

March 18=1883
Sunday P.M.
My Dear dear Myscie
All alone locked up here in my room where no one can disturb me, to have a nice long visit with you. Dear Myscie. I was so happily surprised when I took a letter from the office this morning and recognised the familiar handwritting of the address. I wish I might be that surprised every morning Myscie. I went directly to the stove, sat down and read your letter. I could not stay there somehow. I wanted to get away from every body; my head full-so light and funny, I breathed just as I had been running as hard as I could and was all out of breath and my heart was so hot! Oh! Myscie if I could but tell you just how strongly I feel. I went down to the studio where everything was quiet, sat down in a big easy chair and read your letter again. Oh dear, could I but just fly over to you this lovely Sunday afternoon and talk; tell you my dear dear Myscie how much, how dearly I loved you for being so nice to me, with my own lips; instead of sitting here writing to you with this "cold medicine" of a pen and in. For I can't make it say a thousandth part of what I wish. I have been thinking your letter over all day long. I have read it over a half dozen times I guess, and still everytime it gives me that strange feeling. Why is it Myscie? I know you love me now as I never knew before and, selfish?
No Myscie, you know how dearly I like to have others love you. Not as I love you, but kindly, friendly and as we all should like those who are worthy. But there has been a sort of feeling in all of your letters, Myscie of doubt, a kind of hesitency to wholly and confidently believe that I was true, that I was honest and sincere in my love toward you Myscie. That I would remain enchanted and always the same Joe I was when with you in Darlington, and promised alway to be.
Dear dear Myscie won't you believe me? Think over the past Mycie. Can you doubt? Read over my letters. Can you look back and remember one thing dear Myscie that might cause you to doubt? I know how much easier it is to speak ill of absent parties, than to praise them or even speak well of them. Especially when we would rather the ill would prove true their faulse[sic].
All this I know and more, and yet my dear dear Myscie I plead of you do believe me! Trust me! Love me as you never can another for I am true to you Myscie, and I do love you, all I have ever expressed to you and more. There is nothing in this wide world that I can do that I would not do to make you happy Myscie. You aske me Myscie, what you have written that has given me this idea? Even in your last you say "I can't realize Joe that I am only to be yours, I hope I may, but I feel as though I never would be x x x x x x x x yet Joe I feel more contented with you and will be true to you always" I have tried so hard to show to you my love. Don't these places show "doubt"? Don't Myscie, anymore. Trust me. That is all I can ask Myscie. I might write a thousand pages and ask no more; simply your sincere and trusting love.
Myscie, we really should tell your parents. I know, and I wanted to do so before I came away and truely did intend to speak to your mother. But I never had a chance nor could see an opportunity to make a chance. Do you want me to write to your mother about it Myscie? I would like to. Don't you think it best? Write me what you think about it Myscie. I like your mother Myscie, very much. I don't know but I love her too. She is so good to you, and was so pleasant and kind always to me when I was at the house. You are a good girl to take charge of the house while your mother is away and I know she will appreciate it very much.
Myscie you have spoken several times in your letters about that "tired feeling" you have so often, and those "head aches". I don't like them one bit. Won't you please go and see Dr., tell him all about yourself and how you feel and see if you can't do something for yourself? You ought to Myscie. Did you ever find that letter of mine? I never have told you about our trip from C- down here. Well, I will some time. It will take a whole afternoon so I will not start on it to night.
Oh I've a thousand things I could write you about if I could only get started. Write me whether you get your pictures all o.k. or not, and how you like them and how others like them Myscie. I did not hear from Jim last night as I expected. I will not hear now untill[sic] next Wednesday. We have mail from out where he is twice each week. I have forwarded your letter to him tonight and also one from (I guess) Annie. At least it had her father's stamp on the end of the envelope. I told you yesterday I think, about receiving a letter from Mother didn't I? I was somewhat surprised to hear from home, and yet I wasn't either. I had not written to mother that I was here or that I was coming but I knew Uncle or Auntie would just as soon as I left the city. And so they did; wrote home all about it the very next day. It was a very sad letter, and saddest letter mother ever wrote me. It really touched me and I fet very bad. I sat right down and wrote her a good long letter in reply. I am going to write mother again this coming week. Tell her all about you and I and of our engagement. I want her to know you, so when I write to her I can tell her about you. She has your picutre. I sent it yesterday. I have received all four of your letters Myscie, and worn them nearly all out, reading them so much. Write often won't you Myscie? Remember me to all the young folks that my inquire not forgetting your sister Jennie. I shall sit here and have the blues an hour after I finish this. I know I will; I feel it now. Good night
From your true and ever loving Joe

My dear dear girl. I've got the "blues" this afternoon. I guess I want to see you. Oh so much; have a good long talk with you, hold you in my arms and kiss you, and love you so dearly. If I could only fly! I am not fit to sit here and write and yet I must. I must be just as near as I can to you and writing to you seems the nearest or closest point I can reach.
I have a "boil" on my neck or rather one just comin. It kept me awake most all last night and today it makes me just about sick. I have a great big poultice on it and you should just see me walking around here. You would think I felt "too big" to live or speak with the common people by the way I carry my head. I have to laugh myself when I look in the glass and Jim and you would, I know if you could see me. Mr. Bass was very busy this afternoon and I tried to help him for a little while, but I had to give it up, so went and laid down and took a good nap; and now I feel some better. I can't think what has brought on this unless it is getting acclimated [sic]. It may be that. I never had anything of the sort in any form before and hope I never shall again. I can sympathize with "Jobe" from a small degree though I am afraid I haven't the patience that he had.

Boils are usually caused by bacteria called Staphylococcus (staph). Most staph infections develop into abscesses and can become serious very quickly. Certain health problems make people more susceptible to skin infections such as boils. Examples are diabetes, problems with the immune system, poor nutrition, poor hygiene and exposure to harsh chemicals that irritate the skin. While J.E. thought that maybe it was due to getting “acclimated”, the chemicals used in photography were, and still are quite “harsh”.
Although an accomplished photographer from the age of 16, J. E. Smith understood how rapidly technology was changing, and continued to stay up with the times. One resource he used was a book written by Edward L. Wilson in 1881, Wilson’s Photographics, a series of lessons, which remains in the family library. During his period of photography, glass plate negatives used to capture the images needed to be prepared before the photo could be taken. One of the many “recipes” for chemical colloidal solutions is included in this publication. It reads: “To render the collodion film sensitive to the light, it must be immersed in a solution formed of nitrate of silver crystals, and water. The water must be pure, and the silver free from contamination, used in the following proportions: Water; 36 ounces; Nitrate of Silver, 3 ounces. After the crystals are dissolved, add to the solution two grains of iodide of potassium to each ounce of silver used, first dissolving it in a few drops of water, or what is better, make a solution of iodide and silver, and add it. The iodide mixes with the solution and the potassium is precipitated. Filtration follows, when a few drops of chemically pure nitric acid are added, drop by drop until blue litmus-paper is slowly turned red by it. This solution is usually called the “bath” or sensitizing solution. Place in the glass bath-holder, it is ready for use.”

Oh dear Myscie, I wish you could look out the window back of Mr. B's studio. It looks out onto a peach and grape orchard and the peach trees are just loaded with blossoms. They do look just beautiful. It is at the window I sit and do most of my writing to you, with the window wide open. Myscie such beautiful weather as we are having. Today for instance is mild; thermometer about 80 dgs or 85 dgs Fr; sunshining, clear, just grand and still this is only a sample of what we have every day; day after day.

The average mean temperature in Socorro in March is 66° with average precipitation of 4/10ths of an inch of rain. It was remarkably warm at that time, and little did Joe know we were headed into a dry hot spell. Neither was he prepared for our wonderful springtime wind.
Edwin Bass and J.E. Smith were friends from childhood. Joe’s purpose in coming to Socorro was to assist his friend with the photography business he had developed here. From what we can tell by account, and the building in the background of the photos, the studio was located in the area of Manzanares and California. “Coon’s Orchard” was located in that area as well.
The studio of Edwin Bass was also located next to the Bullion Printing Office. At the time is was one of the only “English” Newspapers in town. The Bass Studio was soon to become the J.E. Smith Studio. The camera shown was one of the “portable” cameras he used, as it was not always feasible to cart around a big “rig.”
The next letter is dated five days later, and will be a continuation of where we left off. “Saturated” with morphine to ease the pain, J.E. Smith apparently was “not himself”. It is a long letter, and no real place to stop in between. So join us next time!

Letters to Myscie, a Western Love Story written by Suzanne E. Smith, All rights reserved.

All photos ©J.E. Smith Collection

From top:
J.E. Smith's camera
Coon's orchard
E.A. Bass Studio, 1883

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