Roger writes a long letter which scans well. May abridge this slightly, which will be indicated below.
267 Elm Street
Laconia, New Hampshire
April 11, 1973
Dear Aunt Jean and Uncle Harold,
Your letter arrived this afternoon. It was very good hearing the news of your family. Before I begin . . . find a nice comfortable chair . . . sit down . . . and relax . . . this is going to be long letter. There is so much that I want to tell you.
Helen and I are pleased to learn than Catherine and X are moving into our neck of the woods. Sanford is only an hour or so from us. We pass through it on our way to the ocean during the summer. We would love to have them stop and spend the night with us on their way to Sanford. We do not stand on formality so they don't have to worry about making a good impression. Have them come as they are and we will take it from there. We have much in common. I am audio-visual director for the district library in Laconia. I do this along with teaching English and social studies. We can stay up all night discussing the Dewey catalogue system and viewing pictures of New Cumberland. The latter won't take very long! Our phone number is....
Last winter, I made a pilgrimage back to New Cumberland. Helen and I were visiting with Dick and Gretchen in Pittsburgh I spent a day in New Cumberland while Helen remained with Lisa in Pittsburgh. Aunt Margaret Brown arranged a tour of Dear's home for me. I had not been in it since her funeral. What a moving experience! As a child, the immense size of the home always frightened me. I discovered another insight to New Cumberland during my visit. I was always amazed at how rich the dirt looked around Dear's home. It was a deep rich black compared to the brown dirt around my home in Pittsburgh. It wasn't until years later that I realized it was nothing more than the soot from the power station across the river! I went to the cemetery to view the Ballantyne graves. I found Nathaniel's and Lucy's but the others were buried under over-grown grass. I had to dig the grass away from the markers. I visited the old plant and saw where we had spread Dad's ashes. His ashes are now under 80 feet of power company slag. I had to wander along the river bank to find any resemblance of the old plant prior to the burning of it in 1954. Several old timbers are all that remain. I rode slowly through New Cumberland. It was a sad visit except for my talk with Aunt Margaret Brown.
You mentioned your 25th wedding anniversary. Congratulations! I can well remember the day you were married. I had to wear short pants. I can remember the men trying to tie cans on the back of Uncle Harold's car. I have the picture of the wedding in my collection. I spent many hours digging around the old archives of West Virginia University. I went rummaging through many old copies of the New Cumberland Independent looking for articles pertaining to the Ballantyne family. I have amassed a fairly good account of the family. I would love to share these with any of your children. I feel it belongs to the entire family. My collection of pictures is very good.
Uncle Harold kept us supplied with strong boxes, paddle balls, and jacks as we grew up. We had a ball playing with those toys. He was always very considerate of Blaine, Robbie, and me. We always enjoyed your visits to Chessbriar.
Mother was here for Christmas. It was a wonderful visit. We had a ball and a Christmas that we will never forget. We hated to see her leave and she hated to go. She normally comes once a year for an extended visit. Mimi (her mother) died in 1970 and is buried outside of East Liverpool. Blaine and Brooke are being transferred to West Point Military Academy. Blaine is a major in the army and will be serving there as an instructor. They have a boy (Scott) aged around five years. Their little girl (Stacy) is about three years old. They are still living in Newport News, Virginia until his transfer in 1974. Bob (no more Robbie) is living about two miles from us. He graduated from Atlanta Tech and works as a tractor trailer driver between here and Boston. He loves it here in New Hampshire. He is 28 and still single. Helen makes sure that he behaves himself. She has put 20 pounds on him since he moved here.
I am not sure how many of Mom's brothers and sisters you knew of or kept track of from time to time, I will quickly outline where and what they are doing. [See page 2 of letter above for details which are not being transcribed.]
The information on the last page may not have been necessary. You may know all of them or none. At least you have all the scoop! I would like to know where to reach Aunt Virginia. I was very close with Mary Ellen in high school. We have lost contact over the years. I did see Aunt Virginia six years ago. Nothing since! Your help in this area would be greatly appreciated.
You might tell Roberta, that I work for the Laconia Police Department in the summer. It is very interesting work and I can well appreciate her interest in this area. I always wanted to be a state trooper. After those years in the Marine Corps - Helen said absolutely not! Being a teacher is somewhat more quiet and safe!
Serena sounds like she has an exciting summer ahead of her. We hope that she is able to complete her plans and make the trip to Brazil. Congratulations on her forthcoming graduation from high school.
John and Mary Virginia are new ones for me. They came along after our departure from Pittsburgh. John might have come to visit us on Chessbriar, but I was away at the time. John and Mary Virginia seem to be very active in their scouting and church activities. We hope to meet them some day.
We keep active and busy here in New England. I work at the local bank on weekends along with teaching full-time. During the summer, I manage the Weirs Branch of the Laconia People's National Bank and work for the police department at night. My police job is pure pleasure as I cover the nightclubs checking ID's on under-age students. I have very little trouble with them and I enjoy the bands at most of the clubs.
Lisa is now two and a half years old. She is just about potty trained and she is making complete sentences when she talks. She is the pride and joy of our lives.
Helen spends most of her time sewing clothes for Lisa and herself. She finished school in Boston and worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for five years prior to our marriage. She helped put me through West Virginia University. I feel her place is with Lisa now - so I don't want her working. We have a nice home between two lakes. She spends most of her summer at the beach with Lisa and the other wives in the neighborhood. It is only two blocks from the house. She goes to ceramics class one night a week. She loves it and the night out is good for her.
I love teaching in New England. Prior to coming here, I had signed a contract to teach in Columbus, Ohio. I had to turn it down when I accepted a contract for this area. The winters are long and cold. The other three seasons make up for the severe winters. The daily routine is very relaxed and slow. No traffic congestion, pollution, or over-population. We love it!
Catherine and X are going to like Sanford. It is a nice New England town. Many people from Laconia have relatives from Sanford, Maine. Helen's folks just sold their home to a family from Sanford. We will be very upset if Catherine and X don't spend the night with us on their way to Sanford. (Us old (?) ridge-runners, snake eaters, and hill-billys have to stick together!!) I know that Catherine and X must be a very refined couple. I just can't get all the West Virginia dirt out from between my toes!
You now have a good reason to come visit us. We are right on the way to Sanford. Our door is always open. When we fill up the beds - we will start on the floors.
Many thanks again for your letter. I feel badly that we have not kept in better contact over the years. The annual Christmas message seems so sterile. I am a real nut on geneology [sic]. I have spent hours tracing the Ballantyne family back to Paisley, Scotland. Paisley is a suburb of Glascow [Glasgow], Scotland. The original Ballantyne family left there in 1834.
I could go on for hours if it wasn't time for dinner and your eyes drooping over this fourth page. Have Catherine and X call us. Our love to everyone.
Love, Roger, Helen, and Lisa
P.S. I am going to send a carbon copy of this to Margaret Brown in New Cumberland. She would be interested to know that we had corresponded.