Raymond, AB on July 31, 1942
: c/o Mr. J. Maudsley
: Raymond, Alta.
: July 31/42
: Dearest Joan,-
: Hello Joan! I’m sorry but honestly I meant to answer your lovely letter the night I received it, but somehow or rather its [sic] almost over a month now. (my head is hung in shame. ahem!!) I just love long, long letters and yours just hit the spot – swell! but I can’t write long letters for anything. Also, your letter’s the most interesting and I drop whatever I’m doing and read it immediately.
: I bet you were proud when you received your first pay from berry-picking. I certainly wish I was in your boots! Were you able to find another job? I hope so, but not a strenuous one.
: Did we have some heat last week and now do you know that it just poured like cats & dogs and it even hailed. We started running home but by the time we were half through the field, it even poured harder and we reached home just drenched. There was no fire and did we ever feel comfortable! Gosh, it’s a crazy weather out here. It certainly know [sic] how to change suddenly. Almost every night, there is a thunderstorm following with
: heavy rain, and is it ever pleasant working in a wet field, let me tell you.
: The only reason why I didn’t write to you earlier was that I couldn’t find time, Joan. (touch of laziness may be included too.) Every time when I start to write I can’t seem to get it finished. You know, I tried at least six times and every time, I had to start newly again; but this time I’m going to finish it for sure. Mind you, I couldn’t get it off my mind.
: And oh, Joan! Am I ever glad!! We finished our first hoeing yesterday but after this we’ve got to hoe Maudsley’s corn. (I thought we get a rest; but oh, no!) Hoeing isn’t so bad as how thinning was. Usually, every year by this time people say that they should be on their second hoeing by now, and fighting for water. We needn’t fight for water this year, no sireeee! You see, Dad had to haul hay in for about a week and a half so we had to do the best without him. We didn’t want to get behind the others so we worked longer hours than most people. And now, Dad is building another room approximately the
: same size in which we are living in now. (12’x14’) Then, it’ll be a decent house to live in; don’t you think?
: Many of our beets got drowned on account of too much rain, poor things. The ones which were planted on a higher land is [sic] coming just dandy, but I’m afraid the ones planted on a lower land isn’t [sic] coming along so good as we thought. Certainly, I’m going to bring home some “Raymond Sugar” to you. I don’t know if they’re the finest and sweetest sugar in the world, but at least, they taste like sugar. Every sugar we buy in bags or sacks, it has “Raymond, Alberta” written on it. Imagine, a small country-like town of Raymond written on sugar bags! Someday, it’s going to make a history of the largest sugar producing factory in Canada. Day after day, you do the same work and it seems like ages until you get accustomed to the long monotony of working in the beet-fields.
: I haven’t been to town for ages, so I just can’t tell you what fruits they sell. I Know they sell oranges because we buy it ever so often. Sometimes my brother goes to town and he says that they sell oranges, apples, cherries, raspberries, and strawberries. He also said that the berries look half rotten, or I mean stale, and not so large and juicy and red as back in B.C. We’re all going to miss our fruits & berries this year.
: Our garden is coming along good and
: bad – I don’t know which. Cabbages, carrots, corns, lettuces, and potatoes are coming along swell. Mellons [sic], cucumbers, squash & canteloupes [sic] didn’t come up at all. I think they probably got drowned. And do you know what? The tomato plants have started bearing fruits now. I hope the rain won’t ruin them after they’re nice and ripe. Honestly, the rain & wind just ruined our peas & beans. They weren’t good at all this year. Altogether we have five hundred fifty plants of cabbages & is it growing dandy. I think I’ll go on a “Cabbage Diet” this year winter – but don’t say anything about diet just now, because I’m eating like a hog. How’s my waistline did you ask? Well – ahem, I think I look more like a sack of potato than I looked before. I don’t know how much I weigh ‘cause I haven’t weighed myself since – heaven knows when!!
: Has the carpenter finished fixing your house yet? If he did, surely your house must be pretty now; even though it was from the beginning. Have you, by any chance, strolled down about our vicinity? If you have, that is if, will you please tell us what condition it is in? Even though we barred all our windows & doors, we don’t feel safe ‘cause many of our things are still left in the house. (especially the attic.)
: Mind you, we even forgot to bring our photo album. Mother was sure she put it in the suitcase, but I guess it
: must have gotten misplaced with other things & taken up to the attic. And oh! we left behind so many things that we just don’t want to think of it. Now, Joan, you don’t have to walk all the way down there purposely, - but I just said if by any chance.
: It’s so peaceful & quiet and nothing happens here, so I haven’t anything much to write to you. Ah, yes! There was a Stampede on the 1st & 2nd of July. On the morning of the 1st there was a parade with fire-crackers going off. Imagine, fire-crackers on Dominion Day!! It seems funny to us, but I guess its [sic] their custom. We went on the 2nd, because it was said that too many people always attend on the 1st that you couldn’t hardly see the performances. Lucky for us that we did! and it was a wonder that both days were fine. There were many different performances such as bucking, steer decorating, calf roping, horses, etc.. . A cowboy was sent to the Lethbridge hospital because he got kicked or stepped on or something by the horse. (P.S. there is no hospital in Raymond.)
: It was fun, but I would have enjoyed it more if you were with me, Joan. And I certainly wish you did see it too. Mother was the only one that didn’t go because she didn’t want to see them get bucked off. Raymond is noted for having its first stampede in the whole Dominion of Canada, thirty-nine years ago this July 1st, 1942.
: I have lot [sic] more to write about the Stampede, but I guess I had better stop or they’ll charge me double.
: I don’t know how much to thank you for those plants & seeds, Joan. You know, I only asked for the seeds, and here, you sent the plants so you could just imagine how surprised I was. Mom told me to thank you very very thank much. It’s just coming along swell.
: And – thank you very very much for those lovely pictures you have sent. Were [sic] still allowed to have a camera yet, but since we haven’t one, we’ll have to borrow someones. We’re intending to take pictures before our cameras get banned, if they ever do. I promise that I am going to send you some, but I don’t know when, only that its in the near future.
: Well, I must say that this letter certainly got long, but I hope you don’t mind, do you Joan? Even though we’re far apart, I know we’ll meet again – and I hope it’ll be soon. I’ll always remember you and think of you, no matter when & where. I’m just itching for the time to come, when we’re all together and happy once more. Convey my best regards to your parents.
: Heres [sic] hoping you’re all well & happing.
: Your loving friend,
Mototsune, Sumi. Correspondence from Sumi Mototsune to Joan Gillis. 31 July 1942. RBSC-ARC-1786-02-11. Joan Gillis fonds. University of British Columbia Library Rare Books and Special Collections, Vancouver, Canada.