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#1542: Willa Cather to Rose Anderson Ackroyd, May 16, 1941

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missing or unreadable text missing text noted with "[illegible]"
uncertain transcriptions word[?]
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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ My dear Mrs. Ackroyed1:

Your letter has awakened many pleasant memories. Your grandmother, (or great grandmother), Mary Ann Anderson3, was a very special favorite of mine when I was a little girl of five to eight years old and lived at Willow Shade4 on the Northwestern Turnpike. When I was shut up in the house with colds, I used to watch out of the front windows, hoping to see Mrs. Anderson coming down the road. My family usually sent some word to her when I was sick, because she was so tactful and understanding with a child.

Years after we moved West, when I graduated from college5, I went immediately back to visit my great-aunt, Mrs. Gore6. At that time I had several happy meetings with Mary Ann Anderson. She came down to Auntie Gore's to see me, and I several times walked up that beautiful Hollow Road, up to Timber Ridge, to see her in her little house where she lived all alone, and where she was as happy as the day was long. She had a most unusual interest, you understand, in following the story of peoples' lives and knowing everything that happened to them. She got great pleasure out of other peoples' good luck, and was deeply sympathetic when they had bad luck. At this time I was twenty-one years old7, but of course I remembered all the people I knew in my childhood. Mary Ann and I talked for hours at a time, and she would tell me all about what became of the people whom I remembered —how they lived, if they were still alive, and how the older people had ended their days.

Your Aunt Marjorie8 and your Uncle Enoch9 both went to Nebraska10 with us. Enoch was with us for two years and then, when my father11 decided to leave the farm, he and two boys from Winchester12 went to California13 to hunt work in the big wheat fields there. He once sent us a picture of himself driving a big threshing ⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩machine, but after that we never heard of him. Your Aunt Marjorie died in 1928. She was in our family continuously after we left Virginia14 until the day of her death. She was greatly beloved by all of us, — children and grandchildren. Her love of children was one of her outstanding qualities. I have lived in New York2 for thirty years, but while my parents15 were living I went home16 for long visits, at least every other summer. I used always to spend many happy hours with Marjorie in the big sunny kitchen17 or on the shady back porch. She always liked to talk about old times in Virginia, and my father always told her the news that came in the weekly Winchester paper. I shall always remember those hours with Marjorie on the shady back porch or in the sunny kitchen with especial pleasure. She died from a short illness in the autumn of 1928, when I was in New England18. She is buried in the our family lot in Red Cloud, Nebraska.

I have had many pleasant letters since the publication of "Sapphira and the Slave Girl"19, but few of them have called up so many happy memories as yours, which brought once more my dear Mary Ann Anderson to my mind. How glad I would be to have the croup again, if I could watch out of one of those windows at Willow Shade and see Mrs. Anderson coming briskly around the turn of the road! Here is a photograph lately taken of all that is left of the once beautiful Willow Shade, and I have marked a circle around the window where I used to sit to watch for my dear Mrs. Anderson coming down the road.

Very cordially yours, Willa Cather

P.S. The name of the woman who wove our carpets was Mrs. Kearns20, but there may have been a Mrs. Cowper21 also.

Miss Cather asks me to explain that the signature affixed to this letter is genuine but unlike her natural signature. Because of an accident to her right hand22. It is still in splints and she can make only a very poor attempt with her left hand.

S. J. Bloom23 Secretary