Saturday, August 8, 2015

May 9, 1970 The Tulips, The Mess, The President, The Kent State Affair and The Fruit Cake

Dear Mother & Daddy,

"We're having the most wonderful weather but the wind is a little too strong for the tulips. Flowers are out everywhere. We just hope tomorrow will be nice for we plan to leave about 8:00 in the morning. Ann called Wed. evening for us to bring some boxes. She wants us to bring home everything she has practically. She will be home a week from today for the summer.

Their play started Tuesday night and she thought it was real good. They have all been working so hard and late I don't see how they have done any school work.

I've been on the go all week but did get my dress done. B gave the Honors Day speech at school last Sunday afternoon and that was a nice affair. It was for students and parents so there were a lot of them.

I guess you have been worrying about all this mess on campuses everywhere. Our campus and Wesleyan too have been orderly even if they have had some parades, and our flags are flying at half mast.

President Nixon must surely have nightmares for doing what he has done in Cambodia. There is only one way to stop this war and that is to bring our men home and simply stop fighting.

Our students & faculty are pretty bitter about the Kent State affair but they haven't gone on a rampage. They have used their heads and I think it will continue that way.

I'm so glad about Jerry's farm. That is an ideal arrangement for all of them and I know Beulah and Nobel are real happy. I never dreamed they'd really get it, though.

We had a long letter from Bob and he has about all his class work finished. He had been doing some research on the Belshe family in the William & Mary rare books library. He found quite a few Belshes (all Roberts) and all apparently heirs of 3 Scotch brothers who were descendants of Sir John Belsches born in 1580. Bob has really been having fun, I guess. Now he wants us to get Grandad Belshe's (Uncle Bob's) birth certificate. I don't know why but that kid always has his reasons.

I have started a nylon dress (jersey) for Pat but I think it is going to be terrible to sew on. I promised to make her one to travel in and thought this would be just right. It has the biggest & brightest pink flowers you can imagine but is very pretty. She had picked out the pattern long ago and it would be real easy if the material didn't slip & slide. I have some new needles for the machine so maybe that will help.

One afternoon this week I acted as a guide for one of the University's museums. It is what we have always called the Castle and I know we pointed it out to you when you were here. Anyway, the old lady who owned it and lived in it died and left it to the University for a museum. The family took most of the furnishings but it will be used for an international children's art museum and other international exhibits. People have always been curious about the place so it was opened to the public so people could see it. Faculty wives and students acted as guides. It was fun but work. The place has three stories & a basement.

I made bread one day--wish you had a loaf--and this morning make a sort of fruitcake. I had candied fruit & nuts left from Christmas and wanted to use it up. I'll freeze it to use sometime this summer.

Take it slow on the sewing, Mother. You don't want your chest to start hurting again. I hope you both are fine and that you have a nice day Sunday. Your package should be there by now, Mother."

                      Lots of love,


NOTE: While ISU was certainly no Columbia or Berkeley in terms of student unrest, it had its share. There was ultimately a town curfew and growing conflict between the town's residents (who often found it challenging to deal with the University's rapid growth) and the University itself.  The difficult period of time (referred to in one of the books on the University's history as "The Year of Disruption") lead to the disappointing resignation of a very fine University president and family friend.

Below, Nixon's address to the nation, April 30, 1970:


  1. As always, your mother's letters take me back to the time she wrote them. I remember being - in a strange way - grateful that I was in West Texas and away from all the turmoil. I still had friends back home in Kentucky and I learned that on May 5th, the Air Force ROTC building had burned during a riot. It was a firetrap so the flames added to the spectacle along with the National Guard on campus. I cannot say that I miss those days.

  2. There were pockets of turmoil all over the place, some worse than others, but in general, Illinois State did what it could be maintain some sort of order while providing opportunities for students to be heard. It's not a time I would care to have repeated, that's for sure. Thanks, as usual, for your comments.


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