September 30, 1904 letter to James Keith from Ray Keith

September 30, 1904

To: James Keith, Shelbyville, MI

From: Ray Keith, Ithaca, NY

Ray is attending school at Cornell and was able to find very good accommodations and also a job waiting tables earning $3.50 per week, working less than three hours per day, at a boarding house. He had a “dandy visit” with Uncle Ethan and then found the folks at Perry very pleasant. They have asked him to spend the coming holidays with them.

Scan of 1904-09-30 Ray Keith to Jim Keith

Dear Uncle Jim,[1]

I landed right side up with care in Ithaca last Friday, Sept 23, and was quite fortunate in securing very good accomodations. My room is very very pleasant, nicely furnished, and steam heated and electric lighted.

Cornell is a beautiful place. The buildings are all fine stone structures and the surrounding grounds are very pretty. Instruction begins to day, so I hope from now on to keep busy enough so as not to get lonesome. During the past week there were moments when I think I would rather have been in California than New York State, but don’t infer from that statement that I have been homesick, for as yet I haven’t even shown the symptoms.

I had a dandy visit at Galesburg with Uncle Ethan;[2] hated to leave. I also found the folks at Perry[3] very very pleasant, and am looking forward with great pleasure to the coming holidays, for they have asked me to spend them there. So instead of being the most lonesome lad on earth about that time, I’ll probably be one of the happiest.

I never saw such a place as Ithaca for graft, every one wants all the money you have; I no sooner landed in town before a rooming agent was at me, pretty soon after that another wanted to know if I had any old clothes I wished to sell. Following him came a man with a contract scheme for pressing clothes; and several others after various subscriptions etc. These are a few of the solicitors I have met since I have been here. A man has to be pretty careful and watch his accounts closely, or the first thing he knows, he will have more contracts etc than he can pay.

I had a very encouraging talk with Dr. Moore, the bacteriologist here. He says there are excellent opportunities ahead for the right sort of men; so its up to me to make myself one of those kind.

I was quite fortunate in securing a job waiting table in a very good boarding house. I am only one of probably two hundred men who are doing the same kind of work to lighten expenses. My job is eqivalent to $350 per week, so you see that lightens things up considerably. I dont mind the work at all. About ¾ of an hour in the A.M. an hour at noon and an hour at night. Really good for me, for I get exercise that I might not otherwise take. Nor does this kind of work hurt a man socially. The student body is very democratic, one man is just as good as another as long as he is manly and behaves himself.

Well, its up to me to get busy about something else so we’ll call this off for this time. My love to Aunt Cora[4] and the youngsters.[5] Also remember me to the rest of the folks. Will write to them in a few days. Hope I may hear from you before long for letters mean a great deal to me now.

Sincerely yours

Ithaca Sept 30 1904

302 Mitchell St
Ithaca N.Y.

Have changed my mind; guess I’ll write LaVerne[6] a note to-day.


Found another A. R. Keith here in Ithaca so address me as A. Raymond, otherwise they might get mixed. I got two of his letters the other day. He comes from Rome, N.Y.


[1] James Keith was the half-brother of Ray’s father, Henry Keith

[2] Ethan Keith was the half-brother of Ray’s father, Henry Keith

[3] Assume he is referring to the family of George and Marion (Sprague) Tomlinson. Marion was the daughter of Martha “Patty” (Keith) Sprague who was the sister of Ray’s grandfather (and Henry’s father), Charles Luke Keith Jr.

[4] Jim’s wife, Cora (Meredith) Keith

[5] Winifred and Walter Keith

[6] LaVerne Harris, Ray’s first cousin, the daughter of Daniel and Louese (Keith) Harris

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