Written & Spoken Word

Wilma Dykeman's Letters from Northwestern

November 18, 1938

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Friday afternoon

Dearest Mother,

I'm sitting on the bed resting while I write this, and Ann1 is curled up on the other bed, so here's for a good chatty letter. Gosh, have I been in a rush lately. I'll finish crew work tonight, and will that be a relief. It's kept me going steady every night for two or three weeks. Besides, our mid-semester exams have been taking place this week, and I'm practically a wreck. It's over now for awhile, though, except one Monday.

Had a real sweet letter from Auntie Belle2 yesterday - much to my surprise. Also a six page letter from Burton today. Poor Burton, I do wish he were doing something. Ed writes real well. The only trouble with all these people is that they don't seem to like to write letters unless they get some. Wonder why? Ha. I try to write to you lots because I like to, but I just simply don't have time to write to hardly anyone else.

Am so glad you saw and liked "The Great Waltz."3 Joy and I have reserved seats to hear Dulsa Gianini,4 that grand Italian soprano, in "Carmen" next Thursday, Thanksgiving night. I'm looking forward to it so. Shall wear my good coat, etc. I like Chicago just heaps anyway.

Forgot to answer about the financial situation in my last letter. I now have $70.00 in the bank. I don't think that's too bad, in spite of the fact that I haven't bought any diamonds, or such. Do you think so?

Gosh, this is the school though. I've never seen so many wealthy people in my life as are around this place. Packards and Cords5 just abound all over the campus. Well, it's the type of a school to get the capitalists, and they do. I enjoy being around people like that for awhile though, if you know what I mean. Just sit tight on your own back hook and breathe the ritzy atmosphere.

It's been quite cold today, not bad though, and is rather grey outside now. What if it should snow for the Notre Dame game tomorrow?6 I'm going to wear my blue outfit with the socks Grandma knit, for the first time. It's just a few minutes before five and the University bells, or chimes, are playing, as they do every evening at this time.

Mary just breezed in from downtown with a new green sweater - it's real cute. She looks positively the same in about everything, though, so what's the difference?

One of the fellows in the play that I'm a crew member on has just been kidding the life out of me about my accent - calls me "North Carolina" all the time. Had a conference today with my training-of-the-speaking-voice teacher, and she pointed out certain differences in the speech too. She was asking me about Asheville, is from part of the south herself.

There really isn't too much to write - I can't think of much else. I'm just enjoying my work and my associations here immensely. Oh how glad I am that I came here, all the people I've met from the different sections and the grand professors we have and all. I miss you and talking with you, of course, but I can honestly say I haven't had that sick sort of homesickness since you left. I'm so tired when I fall in bed at night, and I'm on the go so during the day, I think, "Next week it'll be different and I'll probably get tired of it," but I just don't. Do you see how I mean? I really feel as if I were gleaning some of the better parts of college without a lot of the bad ones. I really fee quite adult in many of my ideas and beliefs. I truly think I have a firmer basic moral and spiritual stronghold than any of the girls. If you know what I mean. Mother, people just don't go back in the first 16 years of their life. Well, we can cuss and discuss all this at Christmas!

Do I still have relations in Asheville?

If so give them my love.

Lots and lots to my dearest --


  1. Ann Keith, Wilma's roommate and best Northwestern friend
  2. Annabelle Dykeman, Wilma's great-aunt
  3. 1938 biographical film about Johann Strauss' son "Schani"
  4. Dusolina Giannini (1902-1986)
  5. Luxury automobile manufactured in Indiana for one decade (1929-1938)
  6. Notre Dame defeated Northwestern, 9-7.