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American History
Lend Us Lovely Images

Bell in actuality was a romantic person. Even while she was living in a log cabin hastily erected by her husband to try to beat the freezing drafts that would regardless of a Joe's wish to protect them still come through the spaces between the logs where the packed hay was blown out by the wind. Winter was approaching as they were trying to get the structure ready and the ground has become so frozen they could not use the mud to pack between the cracks. Bell's son Lee would remember and tell how they would awake in the morning with the snow resting on the heavy comforters Bell always made by hand.

"Mama, Mama,"  Lee rushed in to where his mother, Bell, was as usual busy in her quick nervous way. "Mama, here's a letter from sister Gertie."

Gertrude was affectionately nicknamed Gertie by the family who loved to shorten names with an ie to the last of them. Bell picked up her apron and wiped her hands drying them as she quietly thought about her girl she had left behind in their flight from the dust bowl. Gertrude was only fifteen at the time and she had been married to a man who would become her life time mate. She was a delicate beautiful child and more beauty did she possess than any during the hardest of times around the settlement where she grew up. She lent her beauty and courage to her mother and her family in the short fifteen years she had been with them and now as her life progressed she kept in touch with her mother. With the letters she sent she always included a picture of her family. They were a study of the life she lived in that they were records of her own ingenuity and skills.

Bell had taught her to sew, to crochet and the skills in the kitchen the moment the girl was old enough to handle the tools necessary to complete a task. Her tiny fingers would hold a needle and thread learning to hem tea towels and edges of garments when in reality she had not the thinking ability yet to do a task of anymore greatness than this. Today as Bell opened the letter a picture of  Gertrude and her husband and first child was there. Gertrude was dressed in an immaculate dress of white organza looking fabric which was edged with handwork so delicate no one could have found a  more lovely image.  Her hair was carefully and neatly arranged. The child with her was as neat as was her husband who looked back into the camera with eyes so intelligent as to tell the observer he was not thinking at all about the camera but of something else of far greater meaning.

Another photograph was there too. This one was of Gertrude alone. She was dressed in a finer softerGertrude garment and she had a quality about her to make one realize this was a woman who held a power of love so strong in her personality as to radiate the quality through to the thoughts of the photographer who caught it to be forever recorded in  history. The gentle sweet half smile was but just a whisper of  such an idea  the thought of it touched the mother's heart.

The mean surrounding fell away from Bell as she touched with a gentleness the sweet photographs of her daughter and her family. Gone was the roughness of the little cabin, her fears of the daily battle she waged to hold her family to life, and the having been made aware of the fragile balance there with the loss of little Inez. "Look, son, here are pictures of your sister," Bell held them out for Lee to see too.

"Mama, you know I have the most beautiful sister on this earth,"  Lee was always sure of it.

Bell put her chores out of her mind as she reached for the old violin she always kept in its case but somehow, ever ready to be easily picked up. The drawing of the bow across the strings was a song to fill the little cabin with all the sorrow, the love, the joy in the receiving of the treasured images of her daughter. When she put her violin away Lee asked her, "Mama are you sad, you are crying."

"No, no, my son, these are tears of joy. I am so happy for your sister's thinking of us this way. She has her own life now and I know all the work and care she put into this and I think it is just the most thoughtful thing for her to do to lend us lovely images like this.

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