A Page Out of the Book Cliffs
Page 9 — Maud Ballard — Part 2
by AJ Rogers
Apr 12, 2018 | 430 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
You good folks met Harry (Hal) Ballard’s sweetheart in my last article. She had just recently arrived here from England. Maud was very new to our “Out West” ways, but was all about making the best of it, and very happy to be spending time with her husband while learning the area and getting tuned up on the Book Cliffs and the ranching lifestyle.

She was spending part of her time at their home in Grand Junction and part at their ranching headquarters in Thompsons. It seems she must have written letters every day and to everyone she knew back home across the sea. A couple weeks after returning from her first trip to Utah in mid-October of 1909, she wrote one addressed as follows:

My Dearest Old Two,

We have no delivery at the Grand Jct. house on Sundays but can get our mail by going to the Post Office between 9 and 10 in the morning — I went, and there was a big budget from Father, yourself, and several others. My dear old Hal came up from Thompson’s last Wednesday night, his train was due here at 7:15, it arrived at exactly 11:45 p.m. so it was 12 when he got up here, I switched on the electric lights on the verandah’s outside so that it might look a sort of “welcome”. Fancy, we have only had 4 and a half days together in “our own house” — 'tis a very busy time indeed.

On Thursday we had lunch at 1:00 sharp (they usually dine at 12, Americans!) and at 2:15 they brought “Lady” up from the blue barn, she does look so smart in her new harness, very trim indeed — she is a dainty dear thing — we stowed the picnic basket and thermos away in the back of the buggy and started off for a place called “Whitewater” some 12 miles away — ‘‘tis more like 16 miles of ordinary roads — Allie, how I wish you could see it — did I tell you in my last long letter that we could see the Henry Mountains 130 miles away, the air is that clear — well when we got there we hitched Lady under the shade of a Cottonwood tree (something like larches only much bigger) then climbed down a gully that even Lady couldn’t tackle, and sat by the side of the Gunnison River and had tea — we talked of nearly everyone, and contrasted the surroundings to the “Carlton” or the “Criterion”, and the road — to Picadilly!

At 5 p.m. there was almost an evil sunset, I mean it looked as though Giants had been fighting silently and bathed the mountains and hills in their blood — it hardly seemed real, then it changed to fiery gold; then to purples - then suddenly all was grey again; the sun down behind the mountains. We turned Lady’s head homewards, and by ten to six it was night with a brilliant moonlight, queer wasn’t it? Hal drove home, and it was jolly — he had his left arm around me and my head on his shoulder, we could have done fine for the cover of a magazine! Lady turned round to see what was the matter with her “two humans” that she was allowed to “gang her ain gait” so much — you would love her — she has a fiery eye, but there is no vice in her. And she lets me do what I like with her. As soon as ever I get a photo to send you I will. We got home at 7 and the next day Hal had to go back to Thompson’s — he writes me that he has a few sheep down there ready for dipping and marking (a bit chipped out of their left ear!) and separating, 35,000 — doesn’t sound like a few does it? Then there are calves to be taken away from their Mommas and HB burnt onto their little legs — poor beasties; the aforementioned relative gazing at them with a dewy eye!

One needs to have money in this country as I think I have remarked before — fancy, any old American gets $40 a month wages — girls in the laundry’s get $42 per month and their evenings — so is it any wonder they charge me $10 for a small table cloth! They want 10 cents extra for starching it, as they never do that in this country. Then marmalade (decent certainly) is 50 cents a jar, and jam the same — awful isn’t it. Some clothing is fairly cheap — but Hats — ye gods they are hideous — in England they were wearing them small compared to here — a favourite style is to have shoes with enormous black bows, tight eel fitting skirt, loose coat for the evening, and no hat — the hair most elaborately done — the raison d’etre is to be seen easily for every stare!

We will be charitable and put it down to the climate. I bought a hat yesterday at Frantz’s store, a black silky beaver, eight dollars untrimmed — the girl exclaimed “My but you do look cute, say don’t you think it “dandy”! To this girl everything is dandy. Mrs. Stokes and I were convulsed there last week. It is to have black feathers finished off with cut jet “cabochon”! Gee! — but that’s a fine word — ‘tis to go with my going away coat and skirt that has black and emerald green, remember? I have had to leave off wearing my silver bangles — owing to this water being so very salt, my arms got so rough and dry I couldn’t stand it — so far I don’t think I have lost any colour, but my nose bleeds a good deal, ‘tis the altitude I think, and I soon feel tired — however no one walks about here except going downtown; out on the roads you never meet pedestrians — otherwise I am in very good health and as fit as a fiddle…

Well, dear readers, our “Classy Lady” goes on for a few more paragraphs, but I must stop here. I’ve used up too much space more than likely, and the editor is liable to file this away for a few weeks waiting for room to print it. More next time.

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