Works in the Herald 1934
EPISTLES TO AB: PARENTAL PRAISE

Fourway Farm,
December 14, 1934.

Dear Ab,

Your ma has been at me pretty frequent lately in that quiet sort of way of hers about these here letters that I been writing you since you went down to the city. And I been wondring, Ab, if you know anything about it.

For all our sakes, I hope you donít. Because if I though that you had been complaining to your mother about the idees and habits of your old man behind his back it would hurt me pretty much.

But I reckon praps I am getting a bit too sispicious in me old age and if so I dont want you to hold that against me.

What your ma has been saying to me lately and pretty frequent is that I am too much inclined to find fault with you in these letters and that Ime a bit too mean with me praise when praise is doo.

Well, Ab, you had ought to know me pretty well by now. I have always been Jack Blunt like me father before me and his before him. And it has always been a tradition in the James fambly praise aint no recomendation.

But when a stranger with nothing to gain by it praises a son of mine, well, I donít know as it would be good for you to now just how your foolish old man feels about it.

But I got an awful lot of respeck, Ab, for your Maís wisdom (even if I havent so much for yours) and if your Ma says I been too short and crabby and mean with me praise, and if she says its without prompting from anyone, well I reckon she is right, and Ime sorry.

You may know, or you may not know how much it costs to say that much. And if I go on being short and crabby and mean with my praise, well, I am getting pretty old and set in my ways, so you will understand if you got the gumption.

Of course, if you aint got the gumption I donít care if you donít understand. So now we know where we are.

And another thing your ma has got into her head is that this plucked and painted filly you call your girl friend donít come up here to see us account of what you been telling her about hr crabby old manís remarks concerning her.

Now, Ab, I do you the credit of thinking that your Ma is right off the track here. No reel James donít go blabbing no fambly gossip outside the fambly. And I do you the honer of believing that, in spite of city life and city ways, you are at least a reel James.

Since the days of your great grandad, and further back than that, all the James fambly has been happy famblys, though some of em might be a bit short in this worldís goods. And they have been happy famblys because inside the fambly they aint had not secrets or intreegs, and outside the fambly they aint opened their mouths about things inside.

That might seem a bit mixed, but you will find it a great receet for fambly happiness as a broad working skeem. Hitherto most Jameses has knowed it by instink.

Well, Ab, I donít want to lecture no more. What put t into your Maís head I reckon was account of that rise your employer gave you recent and the letter he wrote about it. I have told you how glad I was about the rise, but I aint told you what he said in his letter to me because I donít reckon it would do you any good to now.

If and when Mr Sprague wants you to know what he said to me in his letter I reckon he will tell you to your face and in his own good time. For the present it ought to satisfy you pretty well to know I aint seen cause to blow you up about it.

Well, Ab, I think thatís about all the news I got excep the grasshoppers aint been up this way yet.

Love from all at home,

Your aff. father,
JAS. JAMES

"Den"
Herald, 15 December 1934, p6

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2005