Letters from the West Coast

Long before electronic mail, voice over IP phones, and web cameras, we used to keep in touch through pen and paper. The letters were often long and thoughtful, with the writer immersing their hearts into written words. The words were honest, genuine and often personal in nature.

Today, penmanship has given way to electronic media and the English language concatenated into slang abbreviations for sake of laziness. Do u know wat I mean lol?

In this page, I present to you a series of handwritten letters from a young woman named Mercie Coats. Mercie lived in California and enjoys her gardening, Her writing recipient is a woman named Eva Moriarty from Ontario, Canada. Eva seems to be Mercie’s cousin. Their Aunt Aunnie has just passed away and a sleazy lawyer named Silvershield seems content with letting Aunnie’s house fall to ruins.

Eva has discovered a lump on her breast. This isn’t fiction, it’s the real life letters found in an abandoned house.

The House

The letters were found in the home of Eva and Elwood Ayrheart. Eva (Graham) Ayrheart was born on August 24th, 1919. The Ayrheart’s lived in an area of Ontario that was rich in oil. Oil pumping operations had been in operation in the area since the 1860’s.The Ayrheart’s worked the oil fields their entire lives. Elwood worked for different people over the years.

Elwood Ayrheart worked at Fairbank Oil during the 1930s and 40s. He also worked on a nearby rig on Henry Weaver’s property known as ‘Eighteen’. Eva’s knowledge of the oil business was influenced by Elwood and Charles and she may have taken on a role in the business.

On October 14, 1967 drilling was completed for Ayreheart 1, an oil rig registered under Eva’s name. During the 60’s the Ayrheart’s had approximately 16 oil wells in operation.

Elwood is described as a large but kind man, who took the time to educate new workers.

In 1981 Elwood sold his oil operations to Lonnie Barnes. Ellwood’s retirement years would be short however, he passed away in 1986.

On August 23rd, 2009 Eva celebrated her 90th birthday. She passed away on September 19, 2010.

For the last nine years their house has remained a time capsule – intact and undamaged. This house appears to have been vacated during the 1980’s. The bed is made, clothes are hung up in the closet, food is in the kitchen cupboards and the furniture is in their original location. Someone has kicked in the front door and strewn items around so the interior no longer has that ‘preserved’ look but somewhat of a cluttered time capsule.

On the bed are dozens of letters dating from the 1940’s written by a Mercie Coats of California to Eva. Eva had some lumps on her breast that Mercie wanted her to get looked at. Their aunt Aunnie had died and they felt that their lawyer was jerking them around. The letters discuss how the legal proceedings were going as well as the lumps. These letters have been transcribed by myself and were posted a few years ago to my Facebook page.

The remaining family lives in the area and has attempted to secure it from vandals. According to the daughter-in-law the items being scattered about the house wasn’t due to treasure hunters but due to a ‘revenge thing’ with a nearby local.

The Letters

March 25, 1947 – March 27, 1947

Dear Eva,

Your letter received this afternoon was nice hearing from you and knowing you had a nice trip and arrived all safe. We thought of you many time and wondered where you were. I was over to Santa Rosa Friday March 21, 1947 to see the lawyer Mr. Thomas M. Browscombe about the inheritance tax.

Mr. Coats took me over 9:30 am I waited an hour in his office before he would talk to me then he informed me he had to go to court and to be back 11:45 which I did them he did not show up. The girls in the office said to be back 1:15 which I did and waited till 2:00 pm he then came in and said I will write and tell them you are alright and to take out the tax and he would write me later but so far have no heard from him.

When I do get this money shall I have the bank of America send it direct to you.

March 27, 1947

Dear Eva,

I started this two days ago and to much to do could not finish. I have not heard from the inheritance tax yet. They have held out 100 and there will not be much left if any so i will keep the change. Am sending the balance in this letter certified check no one can cash it but you and if you cash it in the States will not cost you anything. you will have to have someone identify you. Now I want you to have those lumps looked after go to the BEST don’t trust anyone but a specialist and see to it he has a good record. No one can understand me here even the banker for giving up this money but I feel your health means more to me than this money.

Aunnie dear was so good to leave it to me guess she knew I would do the right thing. I was out to her grave yesterday. A friend took me. The flowers were all gone and the three of them lay there in peace. I was so afraid something might happen to me and you would not get this money. Look how quick Aunnie went.

I am afraid if Mr. Lodge come to me he will be disappointed. All Aunnie did for him and he never turned a hand to help her in her old age but when she died can remember the good things she did. Well he did not fool Aunnie and had she lived to make her will am quite sure he would of got nothing at all. Oh yes. the coroner has not did a thing as yet. I hope you folks will all get to gather and hold together seems to me the best way out.

Good bye with love.
Mercie Coats

April 22, 1947 – April 23, 1947

Dear Eva,

I am in the store and will try to answer your letter in part.

Was pleased hearing from you and to know you received the check all O.K. Want to thank you for the souveneir cushion (?) of Canada. It was very nice and thoughtful of you dear. I do appreciate it all also the pictures they were all interesting.

You have a nice home looks good and substantial (?). I had Bill drive me up to Aunnie’s place Sunday it was the first time I had been there since you were here. The wash was still on the line and only one cat to be seen. It all surely got me. I went out in the orchard by myself and cried good but that did not do me much good as I was almost sick afterward.

It seemed Aunnie was with me every step. She would always have me to come up to see the cherries. The cherries are about the size of peas and a wonderful crop. Trees look good hope there will be nothing to interfere with their harvest. The apple trees are full of apples to never looked better. Tommie has plowed once.

Mrs. Shelley told me they were going to have a man come in and cut the lawn and all tall grass. It was up to my knees going down to the old chicken house. Eva I don’t want you to set your heart to much on getting the place for what you told me.

Uncle Tom’s son Billie wrote to the coroner about coming out here but the coroner wrote back it would not do him any good to come unless he wanted to come for a vacation and be out his own money. What did he want to come for (the coroner did not tell me this out I heard it) They all will want everything they can get. That is human nature it seems.

Poor little Aunnie never a one to give her a helping hand when she needed so bad through those hard years. Before she married Mr. Conopius will its all over or her now and I know she is at rest.

I have been very busy trying to make a garden have peas carrots onions potatoes lettuce beans tomatoes squash all planted. You would think I had a family of six. Its nice to go out in your yard and get what you want for dinner. I’ve a few ripe strawberries I must close its past 5 p.m. have been all afternoon trying to write this.

April 23, 1947

Had to go home to get your address thought I had it but was not sure. My goodness we would not know what to do in a snowstorm like you had. guess just stay April. We never see it here on the ground of course in the mountains it snows and we drive over to look at it and from my front porch can see those mountains beyond Santa Rosa when they are white and its a treat to see them all covered.

I am interrupted so much you will have to excuse this letter. It must keep you busy with the chickens and stock.

I hope you don’t work to hard and do go up and have yourself attended to. Don’t put that off or it may be too late and you are young and have many years ahead of you. It’s now closing time bye.

Love Mercie Coats 

May 1947

Dear Eva,

All goes as usual with us.

We were glad to receive your card and hear you hope to return. The Little House looks lovely and undisturbed. Once in a while Mr. Silvershield goes there. He usually exchanges a few words with us so think he would have spoken of it if he ever uncovered anything of interest.

There is quite a good crop of cherries and apples all through this section are thick in the trees. Tom has the orchard in good condition. Cherry harvest will probably start in about 2 weeks.

About the babies I have had news and good. My son’s wife had a baby boy Easter Sunday bit it lived only one week. Xrays showed it had an obstruction in its food canal. We were all very much disappointed. We had Tommy, their son, with us one month.

Then April 26 Dorothy our daughter had a baby girl. She is a nice baby and they named her Janet Marie. I was over there about two weeks when she got out of the hospital.

I haven’t seen anything of Mrs. Baker or her daughter but we seldom get to S.R.

Our young chickens have come along fine and I hope yours have too. If you have an operation I hope you get along fine. We would be glad to hear from you, Eva.

Did you get thru with your hat and oranges
L. Pearl Shelley

May 14, 1947

May 14, 1947 letter

Dear Eva,

Your nice long letter of April 29th received and have thought of you many times and wondered how you were getting along after your operation. I will be anxious to know what the Dr. found and what he thinks he can do about the other lumps.

Do hope you are feeling alright and are sure you will feel better. it takes some time to get over an operation its a shock to the system but you are young and will come back quicker than an older person. You are fortunate in having so many good friends and relatives that helps a lot especially when one’s in a hospital. I am in the beauty shop my hair is now drying. I do hate to loose this time when there is so much to do at home and so little time to do it in.

My garden has been beautiful the roses this year were grand. I have bought 12 new ones and have that many ordered for next year. Have found out how to grow them they were also (?) mildew and mist this year where we sprayed the fruit trees with lime and sulphur we gave the roses a good spray to and it cured them all (?) the mist and mildew and the leaves are perfect also roses just think if I had only known this before. Mr. Shelly was talking to Mr. Coats the other day and guess he would like to have Aunnie’s ranch so he said he would give $6500 for it and I was not surprise either but really its worth more than that.

The old man who worked for Aunnie was in the store yesterday and said they had not cut the lawn yet or the tall grass now that should be done before it gets dry if some one drops a cigarette in that tall grass everything would go. It will not be long before they will start picking cherries some of the early ones are on the market now.

What a shame Aunnie never got around to make out her will. I think your Uncle Tom was wise to give his son the power of attorney. Your mother should fix her affairs the same way for when one gets her age things can happen. If someone who cared had charge of Aunnies affairs how different things would be. I could hardly believe my eyes when I read your letter the grass was turning green and tulips just coming up. What a difference in the two places here and there. It must be quire a change for you when you landed in Seb (Sebastopol).

I hope you get the ranch but you are wise in going ahead with your own place. I must close and write another letter. Lots of love and best wishes
Mercie Coats

June 7, 1947

Dear Eva,

I have thought of you many many times and wondered how you were after your operation. I know it would be hard for you to write me but do wish someone would drop a card to let me know. I am writing this in bed on a writing box lid.

Yesterday morning about 9 I was taken with shaking went to bed for two hours (?).The Dr got here about 2 in the afternoon and gave me tablets to take every 4 hrs and I am much better altho weak. He told me to stay in bed for 3 days and believe I do not have anything(not sure what the sentence said)

We are having a rain for the last week (?) a lot of cherries. I called Tommis Douglily up to bring some and he told me they were all picked and that was before the rain. He picked them as they were turning red to beharvested. I guess he save the whole crop. We should of had this rain a month ago lots of hay is down and the landing(?) will fall. It’s grand for my garden and we are having lots of nice vegetables.

Bills toe still bothers him and he is not working only at the store. I have not heard from Mrs. Baker for some time. Guess we both are to busy.

Have not heard a word about Aunnie’s property seems to take them a long time to do anything about it. I was out to her grave Decoration day someone had been there and put flowers on all the graves. I did not have many to take only carnations. My roses were all gone. Started this this a.m. its now 3 p.m. and rain still coming down steady. The ground is full of water. Bill said you would sink down in the garden.

A very strange year here. Wonder if its the sun spots or alombom effects or just weather.

Good Eva dear lots of love and the best of health for you dear.
Mercie Coats

July 25, 1947

Dear Eva,

We enjoyed your letter very much and were glad the first surgery was over. Let us hope you will escape further trouble.

Your letter was so realistic we could just picture you and the little girls and the dolls on your bed. Our new granddaughter is 3 months old tomorrow and laughs out loud now – weights 12 pounds. We’ve been so proud of Tommy that when I say Janet is extra cute you’ll think it’s just the doting grandparents – Well you visit us again and we can prove it.

Tommy can open doors and drawers now so that complicates things further. He and his parents paid us a visit the other night – Tues. eve about 4 o’clock we had the radio going and didn’t know anyone was about when the back door opened and Tommy walked in. We had such a good visit – they wouldn’t even stay all night as they have a pup now and would it would howl and disturb the neighbors if they were away.

John has a new Chev and it takes only 1 ½ hours to drive home. They loaded up with apples and eggs. We are getting 62 cents a day now for top grade but only 36 cents for checked or dirty which does them just as well. The fruit deal – I’m sorry to say is very very poor this year.

Perhaps Mercy has written you that it rain (and rained) in the middle of the cherry harvest. The Royals which went into barrels for Maraschino) are picked rather than green so Tom had gotten a large part of those off. The Bingo are usually sold for eating but Tom got them accepted for barreling and got quite a few of those in – All barreling cherries (brot?) 12 cents per pound. One could hear all kind of stories of cherry losses. We often had showers but seldom have storms that last 3 or 4 days as this did.

I didn’t get either a Royal or Bing canned tho we had reserved a tree of each for canning purpose.Then came the apples and this country has never seen such an apple crop. Every tree in this section is loaded to breaking and market is so poor and labor so high it doesn’t look as tho we will get the money back we have spent for spray and discing(?).

Apples on the ground are like a carpet under the trees but so far we haven’t had any picked up. Earlier we did contract to sell 10 ton of picked apples @ 30 dollars per ton – that we were lucky as that as understand the company is now paying $12 per ton. But the Company furnishes boxes and they have no boxes for you.

While I write this Albert is sitting down there in his truck waiting for a car load of empties (they may never come).Well knowing a poor fruit year may cause Annies place to go more reasonable and be an advantage to you in case you want it. The yard has grown up to weeds and dried up. We never see Silvershield about and have seen none of the legal notices in the paper concerning settling an estate.

We wonder if he and Scott are sleeping on the job. We want neighbors. But will stop crabbing and get busy.
L Pearl Shelley

August 25, 1947

Your welcome letter and most interesting folder of Port Huron received today thanks for your thoughtfulness. We did appreciate such what a beautiful country how I should like seeing it all. We have had no vacation as yet. Expected one this September but but Bill is laid up again with his foot and don’t know when he will be able to walk.

I am busy trying to prep store and home. Left this morning at 7:30 for the store and did not get home till 6pm a long day and then water the garden and attend to the chickens. Was 7:30 before we had or(sic) evening meal. Washed Sunday and carried 15 pts of tomatoes. oh! the tomatoes are grand this year have Burques new hybrid and and its the best I ever planted here.

The vines are loaded with large ripe and green fruit. Now for aunt Aunt Aunnies there has never been a thing done as yet. Don’t think there was much done on the place this year alltho Tomie got off some cherries. A rain came just as the cherries were ready to pick and cracked them in every direction. The apples were a fine crop but no juices(?) and as you drive by the orchards the ground was covered with apples like a carpet. What a shame and the apples are grand this year very few worms.

I was glad in a way Aunnie did not have to live there this heart(?) sick year for our orchard. Even altho she was a brave little sport and would of taken it with her chin up.

Your cousin was out here with his family said you tried to pull a fast one on them by trying to get the property for $4000. He seemed to rile me and afraid I was not very nice to him. He wanted to make me see he thought so much of Aunt Aunnie had a lot of her letters with him. Wanted me to read them well I was not interested and did not have the time to bother.

Told him was a funny thing to me he never turned a hand to help Aunnie while she was alive but after she was dead come way out here for a vacation. Also told him if she had lived to make her will he would not of got anything. We had it up and down for awhile but when he left he put out his hand and thanked me for being a good friend to Aunnie.

They drove a Packard car and put up at the Occidental Hotel in Santa Rosa. I asked him how long he expected to stay and he said a week. Silvershield (the lawyer) took him all over the property both here and at the river. The estate will surely have to be settled before long as I understand it will have to be settled in six months after death.

They tell me the place looks terrible would make me heart sick to go up there.Aunnie always kept her yard nice and grew with flowers.

I must close Eva and take my bath which seems to quiet me and I go to sleep much quicker. It’s always nice hearing from you.
Lots of love
Mercie Coats

Undated November Letter

My Dear Eva,

I hope my busy days are over for a while. We have had rain and showers the past 2 weeks so that ends the tomatoes for canning – also the grapes. Last week the church circle I am in met with me so I was very busy of course cleaning all the corners and had Albert working the 37 windows – then it stormed the night before and spattered the outsides.

However it was a beautiful day and there were 20 out. I got 5qts of ice cream and made cookies, coffee and punch. A couple of the women bought cakes and helped serve. We have an Australian bride in our circle who is expectant – they brought her gifts – lots of beautiful things. She was so surprised she had to go into the front bedroom and shed a few tears. She is a lovely girl.

I have lots of fun showing my bark canoe and of course a picture of the girl who sent it. It was surely hard luck loosing your calf and ram. Our 400 pullets were 7 months old Saturday and so far they have done awfully well – were laying 50% when they were 6 months old and have done so well ever since. Our fruit, as I wrote before, didn’t pay for expenses in producing it.

The place next door looks lovely and undisturbed – some month or so ago Silvershield came with a second hand man and took a load of stuff away. Those old chairs in that room next to the garage – another day they seemed to carry some of the furniture out of the house – Otherwise we haven’t seen him about.

I don’t remember whether I spoke in my last letter of Bill Hodges coming – Silvershield said he came but he didn’t call on us. I try to watch the legal notices to see if they advertise for bids on the car or anything but so far have seen nothing.

Dorothy (our daughter) and her husband and 6 month old Janet spent the weekend with us – Janet smiles and giggles aloud. We plan on keeping Tommy November 8-15 while his parents take a little vacation trip to Los Angeles.
Your husband surely works all ends – He would make a fine Sebastopol farmer. They have to be “jack of all trades”/

We are commencing to put parcels away on closet shelves for Christmas. It is just around the corner. Maybe no turkey as they say it will be at least 60 cents per pound.

Looks as tho they may discontinue the poultryless Thursdays as they argue “a live bird eats wheat” so better let them be killed. I hope you all keep well. Do you observe Thanksgiving in Canada?

Sincere regards from both – L. Pearl Shelley

December 2, 1947

My Dear Eva,

I must write you today altho its hard to do so far have my first finger on the right hand (?) its all swollen up. Was working in the garden and got a thorn in it which poisoned me. The Dr got the thorn out and the finger is a little better this a.m. Does not throb any more.

You will never how I appreciated that grand all wool blanket you sent us. It came yesterday I was so ill could not read all your letter but crawled in bed with that warm cheery blanket thrown all over my covers. Also had a hot water bottle. Finally I got warm and dropped off to sleep about two hours and felt so much better. You see it came just at the right time. I like it for it is warm but light. I never could stand heavy covers. I like the pink cherry colour to.

Thank you dear for being so kind and appreciating that means a lot to me. You Canadians never seem to be a socialable lot of people you seem to be visiting or company most of the time. I think its nice to be as hospitable. We in California don’t seem to visit much to much (?) I guess. Think we miss a lot.

We all think it very strange that Aunnies estate has not been settled up so far we have never seen it advertised altho I was talking to a neighbour and they said it was open for bidding. Mr. Wise adjoining Aunnies had put in bid. Aunnie never liked them and I know she would not like them to have it.

Mrs. Gordon was up there and told me the place looked terrible all grown with weeds and chicken feathers all over where the cats had brought the dead chickens home to eat from (?) Poor cats and Aunnie so. I have never been up since cherry time it made me feel too bad.

I miss Aunnie so much she was like my own sister to me. My only regret I could not do more for her. I just did not realize she was so bad or I would never of left her. She said to me Mercie I can be so sick and get well so quick. I knew she was terrible sick but she had so much strength guess it was her great will power.

Well I hope Silvershield is honest and you will realize something from the property. I will be anxious to hear how you come out. Do let me know all this is not idle curiosity. I am interested and to want to know first hand what kind of man Silvershield is.

Its warm and sunny here today. We have had (?) weather. Must close with love and thanks again.

Mercie Coats

January 5, 1948

Dear Eva,

First of all let me say thank you for the nifty little cushion. It was nice of you to take all those stitches for me and appreciate the thoughtfulness.

Santa treated me fine – John’s gave me a lounging robe and a comb and brush set.Dorothy’s gave me 8 glass plates and Janet’s picture. Albert-nylon stockings and slips.

But it seems as tho the main blessing that this family enjoys is the 2 grandchildren developing and adding new tricks each time we see them. We got Janet a go cart or stroller as she has outgrown the baby buggy. Tommy- a large truck and trailer.

We had a week or so of cold weather before Christmas. One or 2 mornings we were afraid the water would freeze in the pipes or where it drips for the hens but it didn’t.Now we are having a nice warm rain-will be fine for the country. Knowing they had such a snowfall in N.York

I’m afraid you have had snow too.An old fellow who used to trim Annie’s shrubs told Albert the other day he was going to see Silvershield to see if they would take him to trim over here up this spring. I hope they do as it looks terrible as grown up to weeds. This old fellow said Tom was to take care of the orchard. Haven’t seen Silversheld about the place or anyone else for that matter. We wish you and yours a good 1948 and hope you can someday be a neighbour.

Sinc. Pearl and Albert Shelley

February 10, 1948

(?) = I can’t make out the word.

Dear Eva,
Your letter and calander came today. Hung the calander in the store but people will ask where I got the Canadian calander. Told Bill the girl would remind me of you every time I looked at it. You will see we will be thinking of you often. Thank a lot dear.

I often think what a shame Aunnie did not know you personally how she would of enjoyed you and I know she was very lonesome for someone of her own. People (?) she seemed to be estranged from them.

Mr. Shelley told me the P.G.&E Co. was there and turned off the electricity. Don’t think Silvershield has done a darn thing looks like you folks ought to all get together and put some pressure on him.

The price of orchards have gone down since you were here as the juice has fallen out of the apple business. The place will become more run down all the time and the cost of settling drag on will cost more. Altho there has been a fine road cut thro below Shelleys and joins the other road which ought to be a (?) help to Aunnie place. Then again the grammar school is figuring on buying 6 acres from Mrs. Rhores to build a school that also will improve our end of the town. The place alright to sell.

Erickson sold his place for $13,000 he was on the right hand side after you make the turn above our place going to Aunnies.

Oh, Bill had to kill our little fox terrier dog she was about 13 years and getting old but how I have missed her. She used to follow me everywhere I could hardly stay at home missed he so much.

Eva did you ever do anything about that other lump on your breast. and did they call that yellow lump they took off your arm a canser(sp) after it was examined. I would really like to know because am interested.

Oh! Your blanket has been a dandy this winter because its been very cold here this winter altho we have had no ice to amount to anything and nothing much in the garden has been bit by frost. We have had very little rain and there is not enough water in the mountains to supply the PG&E electric Co. and they have cut down on the juice makes our electric clocks run about 15 minutes a day slow.

I am trying to write this in the store and there is an old man talking to Bill can hardly concentrate.

I was not very well for some time and very nervous so had to sleep by myself and your blanket came in good its sure is a good one. I went over to Santa Rosa and bought 100 per cent wool one for Bills bed cost me $12.00. We had to pay some extra on the one you sent dont remember how much. It was all out of the paper but had not yet soiled when they found your letter in the package was going to charge $2.00 extra for that but Bill talked them out of that.

We are not supposed to put any writing in packages here. Gee it must be cold there we just can’t conceive of such cold weather. We heat our house with gas to and our gas bill was $5.63 for January. The furnace was going all the time also use gas to cook with and heats the hot water tank to. We think it very reasonaable. We have natural gas here. Suppose you do to.

You must be feeling a lot better to gain 20 lbs. Well I had better (choak?) off and get this in the mail.
Good bye love
Mercie Coats

March 27, 1948

My Dear Eva,

Your lively Easter Card and letter arrived today. I do appreciate your letters its almost like being at your home to read them. I am glad you have no rivers of creeks near your home to worry you. What a terrible experience it must be to watch that water coming up to flood ones home and land. Oh those poor people how my heart aches for them. The pictures we see in the magazines of the flood conditions are heart sickening. I wonder how the people near (up?) under the strain year after year.

From your letter you to are having a power shortage. The Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has notified us we can only use 80 per cent of the current we used last year. The last week we have had a nice rain here most of the season. We now have 22.67 (mm?). There was snow on the mountains back of Santa Rosa but to (like?) to pack to help the water shortage for the coming season. We have plenty of water in our well.

I want to thank you for the Canadian money and the papers they were very interesting. I had been so busy fallen behind with all my letters. We have sold our paint store. The merchandise not the building. A Santa Rosa ma bought us out we had a good business and hated to sell but Mr. Coats is 68 and I 64 was time we were letting up a bit.

We want to take a trip get in the car and go till we get tired and want to come back home and I guess that will not take long altho we would like to go to the southern part of the U.S. and up the Atlantic sea coast to Maine and the north and home.

Would like to see you folks if we should come that way but don’t plan on that. We would not want to stop at your house only to visit while in the vicinity as we would not want to inconvenience you. It seems almost like the last day of school when vacation time came to be out of the store and nothing to do but do as we please. Guess we will be lost for a while.

We had lawyer Scott attend to our legal work and he told Mr. Coats he had tried several times to get Silvershield to settle up Aunnies estate but he just don’t seem to care. I sure would get after him or write to the judge and try to get it settled up while things are still selling. Yes we both thought of dear little Aunnie on the 6th of March.

Oh if I had only realized more how very sick she was I would never left her altho I was worn out and then the store worried me. It was the first of the month and there was a lot of book work to do. Felt I should be there to attend to business. I do miss Aunnie so much and wish I could run up to see her as of old. Aunnie was a grand time friend if I ever had one. We don’t begin to appreciate our friends till me loose them. I can close my eyes and hear her voice now. The time flies by does not seem a year since you were here altho in another way seems ages.

Life is like a dream when you look back. Gloria Kilchele the girl in the store next to us brought me a gardenia when we were leaving this evening and as we got home we found a lemon pie on the porch from Mr. Coats daughter in law. For our Easter dinner I bought a leg of lamb they were 73 cents a pound today. Have 75 bacon and butter 98 cents a pound, milk 19 1/2 cents a qt wonder when prices will ever go down again. Bill just recommended me we had to take a bath and its now 9 p.m. regular time would be 8 p.m. they set our time ahead 1 hour I don’t see what good that does. Good bye Eva.
Lots of love and thank you dear.
Mercie Coats

April 28, 1948

Dear Eva and Husband.

I hardly know how to answer your letter to show you my appreciation of your invitation to come and visit at your home for a month and your husband to take two weeks off from work to show us the places of interest.

My dears you know that touched at my old heart. Thank you from the bottom of it. certainly would like to accept and its an opportunity of a lifetime. I don’t think we will be able to take such a long trip this year as we had planned. Second after we sold out we both had a let down and just did not feel equal to the try.

Probably next year if all goes well we will take it and if we do will surely come to see you but not to impose on you. We will do the right thing by you if we do come.

Now about Aunt Aunnies property. It’s been over a year and plenty of time the estate had been settled. Everyone here thinks its terrible how Silvershield has done. So people people wanting cars and a house to live in and here Aunnies place stands empty and her car still standing there so Mrs. Shelly told me.

I called her on the phone as some one told me there was a light in Aunnies house at night but Mrs. Shelly told me it must of been the chicken houses of the neighbours up at night they saw. She also said she had received a letter from you and to tell you she was going to answer soon. Eva there is a good deal of complaint about Mr. Silvershield among people who have dealings with him. Now I could not prove this but it comes from one who should know and from the way he has handled Aunnies estate I don’t like him.

If you people want to get action have the heirs to write to the Probate Judge which is Judge Gillard Comstock who is a very fine judge and knows about Aunnies estate because she was in his court several times over legal matters and he treated her fine. Tell him you have not heard anything regarding the estate and you would like to have it settled up.

There was not any debts against the property when Aunnie died. There is hardly any income from it as it stands now but the taxes and legal debts will keep piling up. Silvershield has never listed the property for sale. I guess I am sticking my neck out but I don’t think its right to the heirs or the people who needs a home and plenty of people have looked at it so Mrs. Shelly told me.

I have been putting in my time planting a garden seems I feel better when I get out in the yard scratching around my plants. It’s raining this morning nice and gentle will do a lot of good. This has been a wet April and we are almost up to normal in rain fall. I must quit and get Bills lunch heard the whistle blow for 12 noon. Mr. Coats joins me in thanking you good folks for your hospitality poured(?) to us and hope to return the same to you if you should visit California.

Lots of love.
Mercie Coats

July 29, 1948

Dear Eva,

The days slide by. I would have tried to answer your letter earlier if there had been any encouraging news. Seems easier to write the pleasant things. So far as the buildings and yard etc. of Annie’s place nothing has been done. The yard is grown up with tall grasses and weeds and dried up.

We wrote Silvershield a brief note saying the condition was a fire hazard to (?) house and to our property. Both Weirs and we signed the note but got no reply.

Tom got the orchard in good shape. You may have heard that California had quite a long dry spell in Jan. and Feb. and then lots of late spring rains. The result was an almost complete failure of a cherry crop. Our apples are also very light but Annie’s trees being younger yielded somewhat better. There was such a bumper crop of apples last year all over the country that the dried and canned apples were not used up and market isn’t too good.

Well our hens haven’t failed us so we can’t complain. We had Tommy with us the most of April as his parents took a trip to North Dakota to visit her father. We enjoyed him very much. Then lately we’ve had a chance to get better acquainted with our granddaughter Janet – Dorothy’s girl. Janet is 15 months old and into everything. She and her parents went to Dallas Texas to visit his parents. When they got back Dorothy was about worn out from the heat and all so she and Janet spent some time with us.

I expect you have lots of little turkeys now. Your Collie dog will be lots of company.

All the neighbours and those who knew Annie think Silvershields neglect is a disgrace. Perhaps there is some angle of it we don’t understand. One woman said if she were a distant relative she would write to the Sonoma Co. Grand Jury-Santa Rosa Court House. We know very little about such things but do know the Grand Jury investigates the county offices. Might not be a bad idea.

I hope you both keep well.

Sincerely, Pearl Shelley

August 17, 1948

My Dear Eva,

I am ashamed even to try to answer your letter and I hate excuses but the long and short of it I did not feel like trying to think even about writing. We sold the store April 1, 48 and we both were tired out and glad to be out and when we did get out was such a let down not to have to rush rush every minute.

I just simply seemed to give up and did not seem to care much. I went out in the yard and just about lived out there and I guess it was about the best thing I could of done for I am much stronger and feel better.

I received your letter with the 10.00 money order on June 8-48 it was too late for decoration day as that falls on May 30th here but Aunnies grave was decorated. Mrs. Baker had been there with lovely boquets for all three graves and I had a beautiful boquet of yellow rose buds for Aunnies grave.

I have the 10.00 and am trying to get the concrete on Aunnie’s grave fixed. It never has been put down properly. I went to the cemetery care taker and have called Mr. Isayes the undertaker who has charge of the cemetery. He says it’s the administrators duty to have that attended to out of the estate and that Mr. Isayes is trying to get it fixed.

Well I don’t believe Silvershield will ever bother himself so I thought I would wait awhile and if they did not fix it I would use the 10.00 for that purpose to get the grave sealed back as it should be. It looks terrible to me and I know Aunnie would not stand for that one minute if she were alive and it was Mary’s grave. i know this will be O.K with you. If I don’t use it for this purpose will buy your wreath next Decoration Day.

Eva don’t send any more money as Mrs. Baker and I will always put flowers on Aunnie’s grave. It was fine of you to send 10.00 Mrs. shelly called me up the other evening and said they had tried to get Silvershield to clean the grass off around Aunnies house as it had dried and was a fire menace but he never answered her letter. She said some one told the fire warden about it and he went up there to look it over and he was indignant to think it would be allowed to go like that when so many needed homes to live in.

He said should it have burned up Silvershield could of been held responsible and he was going to see him. Mrs. Shelly said they sent men right over and hoed the grass all off and stacked it up. If there is none of the heirs holding up the estate and if you have wrote the probate judge and don’t get any action, why not try your Canadian Consolate in San Francisco probably he could stir them up.

All the neighbours here think its a disgraceful affair in Silversheild. Guess he thinks he owns his office. Well if everyone know what we know about him he would not get back in office again.

There was not much cherry crop and have not heard about the apple but Mrs. Shelly said they did not have any this year. Your letter was such a nice letter made me feel like I was there hearing about everything on your ranch. I do hope your mother is well when you wrote she was not so good.

Eva how are you feeling, did your arm get alright and how about the lump on your breast. Did you ever have anything done about that! Mr. Coats had a spell and I called in a Dr. and he examined him and said he was too fat and put him on a diet. He has lost 18 lbs and feeling much better.

Now I must quit and go to town for (eats or cats).
Good Bye lots of love
Please write when you can.

October 23, 1948

Dear Eva,

Well at last I have something to send you in regards to Annie’s property was in yesterday’s town paper and will take place 8th of November. I will be at the sale if possible to see what goes on. We were out to the cemetery today and Annie’s grave had all been (cemented?) in nicely. In fact a new cement alltogether and the year of her passing on was filled in to.

I asked the caretaker who did the work and he said the firm Annie do the work in the first place. We got results by keeping after them. I feel better now that it was taken care of properly. I will use the $10 for flowers next Decoration Day.

I have often thought of your mother and wondered how she was getting along from your last letter seemed she was very poorly. I do hope she will not suffer. What a comfort it must be to have a daughter like you to take care of your mother. I wish I could look forward to such love and care in my last days.

You ought to have some children of your own Eva. You seem to have plenty of someone else’s to take care of. We have had a very late year about 1 month behind with all crops. Not much left but the grapes I made grape jell this a.m. My fig tree is full of fruit only a few have ripened and not much flavor either to late. Last year they were grand and was able to care a lot will miss them this winter. We have had several short trips this fall just got back from a trip up the Sacramento river. Oh it was beautiful we certainly enjoy it. The weather was ideal. We are getting rested up and feel more like going places.

Have not seen Mrs. Baker or her daughter for a long time. Dropped her a card about Annie’s sale as it was only advertised in our home paper. Mrs. Baker would not hear of it in the Santa Rosa papers.

Bill made me a bath house 12×15 and what a pleasure I have had things grow so nice in it out of the hot sun and wind. We have not had any frost here yet or very little rain. Not enough to wet the ground down. Are still watering the flowers. We soon will have a President’s election are in hopes we will get a change of administration. The Democratic party has been in to long. I believe Tom Dewey will make a good President and our own Governor Warren for Vice President.

I must close Eva dear.
Am wishing you love
Mercie Coats

October 26, 1948

Dear Eva,

Your folks may have heard that they are finally advertising for bids on Annie’s place.

Lawyer Scott says this place has been appraised at $10,000. That will be fine if they can get that. In case no bids are that high the appraisal can be lowered. We are looking forward to again having neighbours and trust they’ll be the right kind.

The apple crop was almost a failure in our section and prices low. For the first time in our 28 years we didn’t sell any fruit. Our hens have done fine tho. We hope all is well with you. Better put in a bid and be our neighbour.

L.Pearl Shelley

December 22, 1948

My Dear Eva,
By now you must have my letter telling you of my dear Bills sudden passing.

Mrs. Gordon one of Aunnie’s close friends and who lost her husband in 1946 took me out to the cemetery yesterday. We took flowers and visited our husbands graves and Aunt Aunnies and how strange it seemed to think they were there that is their earthly remains. It just don’t seem possible.

Mrs. Gordon then asked me if I would like to (?) up to see Aunnies old home so we did. That nice neat clean house is now a sad looking place. Aunnie always took pride in her home. I stepped over the fence and had a nice visit with Mr. and Mrs. Shelley they did not know anything about the place but said that (army?) man who had put up a bid on the place had not been there for a month and they heard he had backed out.

I called up Scott the attorney this morning and said I had a letter from you asking about the property and Scott said that army man backed out before they could get him signed up and now they were looking for a buyer for both the river property and the home.

What a shame all that property could and would of sold if someone could of handled it from the first properly when prices were good and property moving. Property here now is very much at a stand still it all has been revalued and the assessment is about twice as high as a year ago. Our taxes were about doubled. There is not the free money as there was.

Sometimes I wonder if you folks will get much out of Aunnies estate they way things have gone. It will cost me for Scott the attorney for our estate $750 based on $21,000 and that don’t take in all the estate for there was money in the bank in our joint account which did not come in. The Pontiac is in both names. Three of Bills children got $3000 each and the fourth got the 7 acre ranch then I got the residue and its up to me to pay all expenses. There will be quite a lot of court cost advertising etc. funeral but at that I will have plenty to keep me as long as I live unless everything goes to pot and should that happen we would all be in the same fix but I don’t look for thing to get to bad they surely will right themselves in time.

My you are the busiest person I ever saw even when you are sick you find something to do. Like Aunnie said if I lived to be 100 there would always be something for me to do. I did not get the center piece as yet but suppose it will be arriving soon. Eva dear you have done so much for me now dear don’t you do anything more. I do appreciate all you have done.

I hope you will always write me as I do enjoy getting your letters. It has been very cold here snow all on the mountains back of Santa Rosa. The good wool blanket feels so comfortable and warm these cold nights. This box of paper was a Christmas present it looks to much like morning(?) and I don’t like to send out anything to that effect. That was comical about Elderwood going to the hardware store for the green thread just like a man would do and could not blame them either for there is the place they would go for themselves. My alls(?) brother has had a time with the mumps I do hope he gets alright for they can be bad on a man if they go down and he is only a young fellow.

From your letter looks like our climate is just turned around we are having cold weather and you the warm. I hope you will be able to wade thru all this letter. Thanks for the card and I wish you a bright happy prosperous new year.
Your loving friend,
Mercie Coats

January 13, 1949

My Dear Eva,
Your lovely letter and beautiful croched table mat and the delicious fruit cake all were received. Yesterday the fruit cake came and was in almost perfect shape.

Mr. Coats three daughters were here as it was Bill’s 69th birthday. We took what flowers we could find for the weather here is very unusual no rain but cold north wind with freezing weather. Probably would not seem cold to you was as low as 19 degrees in Santa Rosa and here in my back yard was 22 degrees freezing pipes and breaking them wise open where they were exposed.

All our flowers have been frozen. I don’t know when ever I could go out in the yard and find flowers not in bloom. They were a lot of rose buds but they were ruined. When we came back from the cemetery we had cake and coffee and we all thought your fruit cake was fine. All of Bills children are married and have nice families. He had 13 living grandchildren.

I have not been shopping yet just seemed I had no interest in anything my heart was so broken but when the weather warms up I will go over to Santa Rosa and try to find you something nice that I hope you will like. You have been such a wonderful friend to me.

I wish I had some good news from Aunt Aunnies estate but I don’t believe that skunk is trying to get it settled up. I am ashamed to think we have a man like that in office and that goes for all of Aunnies friends everyone thing its terrible.

Mrs. Shelley said the windmill had been turned on and that north wind had turned the mill and the tank had filled up and run over and was a solid block of ice back of the tank house. Said the PG&E man told her about it seems the electricity has never been turned off and he goes there to read the meter. Just think of that all that expenses and no one to use the electricity. Just paying it out against the estate.

Everyone who sees your crocheted mat admires it. I have it spread over a light blue silk and it makes it look so lacy and pretty. My there was a lot of stitches on it you must of worked hard I really don’t see how you do so much. My dear I don’t want you to do so much for me. I appreciate everything but want you to take care of your dear self and not work to hard.

About the last thing I heard Aunnie and Mary says if they had their life to live over they would not work so hard and they did work hard to and to think how their home has gone to pieces. Now I want to thank you for the invitation to your home. I know it would do me a lot of good and I know you would treat me grand and if I ever get the opportunity would surely come. I would not put you out or impose on you and would pay my way it would be no more than right. I should love to see Canada but not when its cold. I don’t like cold weather seems to go right thru me guess its because I don’t have much fat on my old bones. You surely received a lot of nice Christmas presents. You all seem so near to one another. I like to see that in a family.

I went to a Christmas Science lecture last night with some friends. He was a good speaker and the hall was filled everyone seemed so interested in what he had to say. I am running out of paper.
Good bye with love Mercie C.

October 12, 1950

My Dear Eva,
Your two fine letters reached me with your warm welcome to visit your home and how I wish it was possible for me to do so and hope to get to go again on my own and then can stay with you. Get behind that warm cozy stove and enjoy the comfort like an old dog.

Tell Ellwood the outside toilet would suit me fine to, for it would bring back old days where we were kids. My father lived with me after mother pass and I there had an outside toilet and also inside. Do you think he would use the inside one no he did not think it right to _ _ _ _ in the house.

We have the tickets to Detroit leave Oakland and pick up the car November 8th. They expect to stop at the Cadillac hotel in Detroit but just over night and Eva I don’t know if you could come that far and just get to see me and that is all too I don’t have the say about anything for I made up my mind if they were kind enough to ask me to go with them I would do as they do and never a decending voice from me.

I know they have business to attend to and its late in the year to spend much time out of their schedule. Now Eva I think it would be too much for you to come to Detroit and probably miss us or only see us for a few minutes. I think you folks are grand people for your consideration and appreciation of me and I know you would make me feel at home with you.

When you were here I was so upset over Aunnies passing and my having to work in the store and not very well either just seemed I did not have a spare minute. I have often thought I did not have the time to be as nice to you as I would of liked but you seemed to understand.

Some days now I don’t see how I can make this trip and I am a fool to undertake it. Last night I had a good sleep and today am feeling good if I only feel alright . Bought a new all wool coat and dress and wool hose, am taking my electric pad along.

Did I tell you got an electric blanket oh its so nice turn it on and the bed is all warm to get into. Don’t keep it on during the night for after getting warm in bed stay warm. It is really hot here now during the day (?) up in the 90 degrees but we did have some white frosty morning a few weeks back. Crazy weather looks like you will get more out of Aunnies estate than I thought you would. It had dragged on for so long thought they would use it all up.

You are getting to be quite an expert with your typewriter think I need one to. Hope you can make this out lots of love. Mercie Coats

October 23, 1950

Dear Eva,
I received your letter today and was glad to hear from you. I am so glad to hear that your getting your well in. That will be a lot easy on you and not near as much work as it was carrying water.

I would just love to have you on the 7th you are always welcome here. You should know that. Tell George and Gert I will try to get them to write to them. Tell them I would love to have them to come and visit us to.

I want to thank you people for looking into the Oro telephone Co. for me. I don’t know when I could have got down there to look after it myself. The children are at school and Logan is at work. Mother hasn’t been to well lately she has been in bed most the time.

She get up every Monday nite and goes to the doctor and comes home and goes to bed again. The doctor says he can do no more for her then he is doing. He told me that her heart is going fast and he can’t give her a new heart. But we haven’t told her that. She gets mad because she hasn’t got any pep left and she don’t say much anymore.

The doctor says she may pull out but then again she may not. She will be so happy to see you that’s all she talks about in the good time she had at your place.

I will close now as I have two more letters to write. So I’ll be seeing you November 7 and I hope I can show you as good a time as you showed us.

Yours lovingly, Helen (not sure who Helen is)
p.s. Eva when you cross the border phone me and I’ll come down and get you. My phone number is Webster 4-6143 but you just dial the first two letters of Webster which is WE-4-6143 and let the phone ring a while because I may be upstairs and I have to run to get a call before it quits ringing if I’m upstairs.

Now I’ll be looking for your call so don’t forget to give me a ring and I’ll meet you.

December 6, 1950 (Final Letter)

Dear Eva,

Well here I am at home again we arrived home about 4 p.m. November 27 and missed the cold spell in the East, were we not lucky. Den(?) was afraid of the weather and that was why he hurried south – we had had a heavy storm here kept hearing of it over the radio.

Finally Grace could stand it no longer and phoned her son. He told her the storm had done no real harm in Sebastopol. We have had another storm since we got back rain nearly 5 inches in 24 hours. And now its raining again and when it’s not raining the fog comes in.

My brother who lives with me and is 80 did not keep the furnace going and my house smelled damp. Had quite some time drying things for it was wet for so long just seemed to penetrate thru everything. We were in New York three days after that we just kept travelling went amost 5,000 miles after leaving Detroit.

Maybe you think I was not tired when we got home did not realize it while riding but took me a week before I began to feel like myself. You know I was more tired than I knew when you met us in Detroit. I could not sleep hardly any on the train and in the hotels was all so difficult from my quiet life here at home but I would not of missed it for anything. It did seem a shame to go all that way and not see all the things you wanted to see. The time of year would just not permit us to stay longer. I was disappointed we did not get to see your home and take you home.

Seems they did not give Den the release slip for the car here when he paid for it and that is what held him up. It came thru that afternoon you were there about 4 o’clock and we struck right out and travelled till eight o’clock before getting a motel.

After leaving Washington went south thru Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and into California at Bakersfield and what a sight it was all the hills and trees were green. Looked like a different world after coming thru thru desert and the east where the grass was brown and most of the trees naked. The leaves are now coming off of my oak trees. The ground is covered with.

I have a job my brother saw me out trying to clean up the leaves and said quite a come down after riding all over the country in a Cadillac. I felt like hitting him. Eva I am sending you a silver bracelet I got in New Mexico from the Navajo Indians. They make a lot of things and I thought it dainty and cute hope you like it when you put it on. Slip it on sideways they told me.

I have not found Gertie anything yet will send it to you and you give it to her for I don’t know her address. Have not cut your cake yet am saving it for Xmas. We travelled so just 4 and 5 hundred miles a day. I did not have time to get anything only postcards.

It’s now 2 p.m. and so dark can hardly see to write. We have had in Santa Rosa 16 inches of rain against 5 last year. We get more rain here in Sebastopol than they do in S.R. Will not get our paper till tomorrow to find out just what we have had.

Have not heard from Emma Baker since getting home she will be surprised to hear of my having a visit with you in Detroit. Hope you did not pay any attention to what the folks said of Emma seems there are some relationship there and the old Aunt owe Emma some money. I don’t blame Emma for she has her own affairs to look after and has been thru a lot that folks don’t know about. I like her she has always been nice to me. I just keep still.

Eva I must close have many letters to write. Love to you all and a Merry Christmas. As ever your friend. Thanks dear for coming to see me.
Mercie Coats