Ashland, Wis., March 24th 1946.
Mrs. C. K. Willis, 1732 Cabrillo St., San Francisco, Calif.
So Kenneth is in a Sanitarium with T.B. and how is he getting along? I was in our Sanitarium here for about a year in 26-27 after the cyclone. In fact, I was a down patient and never out of bed, going there on a stretcher and after being there nearly a year and getting no better crawled out of bed one morning and tried to dress. The nurse found me on the floor and they tried to convince I could not get home. However when I would not back down and insisted on going home they dressed me and almost carried me down the slope to the train. The conductor seeing my condition phoned the folks and they were at the train for me. Went home and did everything we did at the sanitarium. When warm weather came use to crawl outdoors and chop a stick or two of wood and finally after months of fighting got well and now at 68 am tougher than ever was in my lifetime. No one and nothing can cure you of T.B. except you, yourself, fighting the disease by right living, rest, fresh air all the time and care of yourself after you do get better.
When I went up to the sanitarium the doctor told me that there were old scars on my lungs, that I had T.B. previously and to look back and think my life over. Then it dawned on me that in 1907 when the telegraph strike came off I went out into the country on a farm. Weighted 132 lbs at the time, tall, very thin and weak. Inside two years weighed 198 lbs and the Doctor said that was when I cured myself, fresh air, outside office, fresh milk eggs etc. It came back at the time of the cyclone. I see so many knock under at the San that I simply could not stay and had to get out where I could fight the battle alone away from all the rest of the afflicted.
Well life has been all fight one way or another. Have been up and down a good many times so that it seems never to matter any more. At my age we are simply marking time and awaiting the last call.
I was out there in 1906. Went out from Chicago for the Western Union a few days after the earthquake and worked in Oakland down at the Ferry where the W.U. put up a temporary board office. I worked the Goldfield wire, the wire to all the gold mines just springing up in Nevada and which now are dead and gone, just ghost towns.
One day a young fellow came in to see me, said he was going to be my brother in-law, marrying Kenneth's Mother's sister, I forget the name now. He asked me to go to dinner with him to one of his patients house. Being a tramp operator did not wish to but he insisted. We went across the ferry to S.F. and to a very common looking house in the residence section, just where I don't know. When we went in noticed a girl about forty cooking the dinner in the street, (they had to as no fires were allowed in the houses at the time). He introduced me to an old lady dressed very common in a gingham dress. Did not catch the name but when we left asked him what the name was and it was Phoebe Hearst, the Mother of Wm. Randolph Hearst and his sister. Told him if I had understood where he was going he would never have got me there. However, they were just as common as any one in spite of all their money. Afterwards I worked on one of his newspapers in Chicago and saw him once when he came through the office. This incident was the one thing I remember about Frisco otherwise Frisco is just a memory.
Went into business just after the bank failures and did wonderful for a while or until W.P.A. came along and then like most of the retail stores we were the relief office for W.P.A.ers and quit in 41 just eight thousand dollars in the hole. Since forty one or until this spring have been slaving and paid off 100 percent and now am selling fruits and vegetables in Ashland having a small herd of registered Brown Swiss cows. Could and would go back into business again if I had some young ones to carry on. However, from the looks of what seems to be coming ahead guess it is best to play safe and keep on as am, nothing invested, no expense but gas and a good living, but it seems a shame that after fighting as I have to be 100 percent financially that I don't dare take advantage of the position it has put me in and go to it against just because am getting too old and no one of the right age to take hold. My boy here is only 12 and going to the same school Kenneth went to, in the sixth grade and it would be quite a few years before he is ready for anything even if he was inclined to business.
With all the ups and downs life has been very good to me, the fact that we are all in good health here is the one main blessing. Our wants are few and we have been happy, as happy of course as I can be knowing that I was all in the wrong when the children were little, a thing never admitted to myself until just lately, when we get old and look back on life, what it brought us and what it took away from us. But then, as it was so it had to be, therefore no regrets, no looking back at what might have been.
Kenneth asked about Harvey Raszkowski. Well Harvey graduated from Medical school, was interned at Mayos, Rochester, Minn. And after the war was over just a few months ago went into the army as surgeon and the last I heard was in Central American somewhere near the Panama Canal.
Uncle Maurice still in Duluth on the same job with the Steel Trust. His wife died and he is married again. Has a very beautiful home up on the Heights and he will be retired from the Company very shortly and on a pension of, as he told me, $187.00 per month. That should keep him the rest of his life.
Kenneth's Aunt Bena and Uncle Ben are out in Los Angeles this winter and once I wrote Julia asking where all the boys were but never got an answer from her. However, nothing makes any difference to me any more. For twenty years I worried continually because I never heard from any of them but now it has all passed.
Well Wanda, the cure for Kenneth is he himself, his determination to get well and the way he rests and takes care of himself, don't worry, etc.
Yours very truly,
Charles A. Willis
P.S. Come to think of it the doctor who took care of Mrs. Hearst and married Ken's mother's sister was Vandenberg - suppose they are still there.