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#2770: Willa Cather to James D. Cather, September 24, 1945

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My dear Jim1:

I am so sorry that you have taken so much trouble and put so much energy into this matter of the sale of the bank stock3.

Meta4 telegraphed me on Saturday that she had sold all her stock to Mr. Yockey5. Meta is certainly the person most concerned, and just as soon as I am able to go to the Chase Bank I will sell my stock to Mr. Yockey, following Mr. Rutledge's6 carefully explained procedure. I had hoped and expected that all holders of the stock would be governed by Meta's decision in the matter. I feel that it would be Roscoe's7 decision.

While I know that your advice and counsel must often have been helpful to Roscoe after his illness, it was Mr. Yockey who met the depositors and borrowers day after day during Roscoe's long illness. Roscoe often wrote me that Mr. Yockey was very popular in the town, and yet never for a moment tried to make himself as important as the president of the bank. The bank is one of the few independent banks in the Sacramento Valley8, Roscoe once wrote me - the Bank of America has most of them. Colusa9 is an old settlement and the people are rather conservative. They like to have their own bank and are anxious to have it remain an independent bank. These facts I know from Roscoe. He was rather proud of keeping the bank independent and not selling it out against the opinion of more conservative citizens.

Meta may have a good many reasons for wishing to have Mr. Yockey and his Colusa backers continue to run the bank. In the first place, Roscoe will always be respectfully remembered in the institution. Furthermore, Meta may continue to live there for some years. Her mother10 died long ago and the old home in Havelock11 was broken up. (Whether she has brothers, I do not know.) I think she wants to stay on at Colusa and think things over. In my first letter, I begged her not to be in a hurry. Her connection as the wife of the president of the First Savings Bank of Colusa, will always give her a position there, and among personal friends and neighbors she will feel less lonely. If the bank should be sold out to the Bank of America or any other banking chain, the old depositors and friends of the bank would feel sore, I am afraid. Indeed, I am sure of this, because Roscoe so often wrote me, and he told me in San Francisco12, that the people in Colusa were so kind and friendly to him because they like having their own bank and dreaded a man who might sneak it into a banking chain. How I wish I had saved some of Roscoe's letters about the bank. I think they would make you feel that it was almost a point of honor and loyalty to him to continue the First Savings Bank of Colusa as he left it. But I don't save business letters, unfortunately, and it never occurred to me that he would not have expressed the same sentiments to you and Jack13 many times. And still less did it ever occur to me that you or jack would disregard his wishes.

Of course, you and Jack will sell the stock you own in your own way. But I should think that you would let Roscoe's widow's decision be your decision. You wouldn't lose much money by so doing and you would take an attitude gallant and friendly, which I would be proud of. I am sending a copy of this letter to Jack, because I want you both to know exactly how I feel about the matter. I think you have seen only the business side, and not the human and social side of the subject.

You surely cannot think I am prejudiced, for I love your two dear children14 with all my heart, and I long for the day when I feel strong enough to see them.

I must explain that I had a severe attack of influenza before I left Northeast Harbor15. It was impossible to change reservations without waiting three more weeks - - - everybody leaving. I rode down to Boston16 with a temperature of 103 and spent four days in bed there, with an excellent doctor looking after me. However, the traffic to New York2 is so heavy that I had to take the midday train while I still had considerable temperature - 102 - not enough to be dangerous but very uncomfortable. And a few days of temperature does take the strength out of one. I know Jack felt a very deep grief at Roscoe's death. And how much more do I, since I have known him, baby boy and man, since my very first consciousness. I am not going to try to force myself to anything, but just as soon as I feel a little stronger I will go down to the Chase Bank for my stock and turn it in, in accordance with Mr. Rutledge's instructions.

WILLA CATHER

P.S. Miss Cather has been ill and she wished to get this letter off to you as soon as possible. In order to avoid any delay, I am not taking this letter to her to be signed, and trust I have transcribed her dictation accurately.

Sarah J.Bloom17 Secretary