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A Humorous Letter from Rev. Graham, thankfully not discarded

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Rev. Graham and his wife, Gusty, an elderly couple, who befriended my father when he was a pastor in Ambridge, PA, visited us back in Wilmington Massachusetts and I remember how he admonished my father that he should also learn something from his children. My father became angry and said that the children learned from their parents and not the other way around. I sent a letter to the Grahams because I said I saw them as such a model couple. I had never spoken with any friend of my father’s ever before. That I saw him as such an example is the reason that this gentle soul sent the humorous farce about fighting with his wife. They really had a great relationship. He calls her a little bundle, but she was six feet tall! At the table he would always say, “Gusty, are you still in love? Have a pickle!”

We’re moving. Here is the letter I just found going through boxes of old papers:

June 2, 1966

(I’ll add a line to Mother’s full letter.)

Dear Peter and all the other good Kreys (There ain’t no other kind of Kreys than good ones):

Have just come in from a game of golf – a game I try to play twice a week in order to get a fresh supply of oxygen into my red blood corpuscles. Today I played with an architect (born in Switzerland and now retired) and with a retired postmaster (born in Italy). I did not play too well. A comrade of mine became suspicious of my orthodoxy. He watched me drive the ball, not straight ahead but first across to one side, then across to the other side, then across again, and so on. He accused me of trying to play Catholic golf, because I had too many crosses.

I’m afraid, good Mr. Peter, that you set Mother and me too high as examples to be followed. Mrs. Graham is a rough character, and so am I. I become enraged and exceedingly violent. And I seize the little woman by the hair and give her a terrific shaking up. Then I seize her and explode into many, most abusive vituperations at her, and then I pitch her with utmost unchivalry through the back door into the back yard.

But does my violence subdue her? Not in the least. Back into the house flies the little bundle of dynamite; she hurls herself at her spouse, grasps my hair by the handfuls and yanks them out with female efficiency, so that my poor pate is soon going to be as smooth as the skin of a Baldwin apple. To be sure, I have reported her unseemly roughness, (reported it to the police department, indeed). But did I get relief? No, the big, huge policeman turned upon me and denounced me as a rogue, a villain, an unchivalrous helpmeet, and threatened to put me behind bars.

So there! Unhappy me! I think I’ll get an airplane and sail off to Argentina and reside among the Indians in some deep, dark jungle.

Still, upon reflection and quiet meditation, I am concluding after all that, having been patient, really patient with her husband for over fifty years, she really is a gentle and sweet lady, and if she will accept me, I’ll give up all notions of flying to a jungle in South America to live among the Indians. Anyhow, they might roast me in a fire and make a meal out of me.

Coming down out of nonsense to the level of sense, we thank you for the account of the doings of Mother and Father Krey, and Ruth – she is a stately lady – and Esther – all bright and gay with her Harvard professor; and Matthias graduating and on his way to Borneo, Japan, or “somewhere East of the Suez, where the best is like the worst” (as Kipling says); and yourself looking out along the same path which was trodden by your good father; and Mr. Andrew, mounting proudly up to six feet – tell him that Goliath mounted up to nine feet but his height got him into trouble near the Vale of Elah; and Mother Krey is feeling lively again – what a wise and lovely soul she is and an excellent companion to your father; and your father now sixty-eight – yes, we join in wishing him many more years of progress in theology and as the head of his household.

And what shall I more say – of Johanna – bless her heart; of Phoebe, whose two children love her; of lovely Tirzah; of manly John; of Mother Mirjam, whose warm heart warms up the cold city of Quebec; of school teacher Rhoda; of twenty-year old Priscilla, beautiful and fair and pleasant; of high-schooler Philip; gentleman Shem, the teenager and strong; and the twelve year old tender of the geese, little Suzie who has many charms.

Congratulations to you all. You are millionaires in the wealth of love and family life and faith.

Cordially,

Mr. Graham

N.B.: Esther’s husband, Al Lowrey, was a comptroller of Brown Brothers and Harriman, who lived in Harvard Square, but was not a professor at Harvard. Matthias was designated by my father to become a missionary, but he became a pastor to the people who usually say “Eh!” in Canada. So that did make him a missionary, I suppose. Tirzah was the teacher. Rhoda became a physicist. Those are really the only mistakes he made trying to relate with all of us sixteen children. (James had already died.)

Also note how he has the style of St. Paul’s greetings at the end of his Letter to the Romans, where he also greeted Phoebe, who delivered the letter for him to Rome, and Priscilla (and Aquila), who are also greeted by St. Paul there. While he reminds of the dastardly humor in the “Ransom of Red Chief” and mentions Kipling, he has the artistic touch, imitating the style of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, quite easy to miss. I’m so happy that this letter survived.

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Written by peterkrey

April 4, 2014 at 12:44 pm

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