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Maudie & Fred

Frederick David Mathis, the 10th child of James Henry and Mary Elizabeth, became a teacher and taught in several rural schools in southern Phelps County, MO.  In the spring of 1920 Fred was teaching Democrat School, located a few miles from the town of Duke, MO.  One of the students was Maudie May Reagan.  Maudie wrote a letter to her teacher inviting him to a dance at her home April 23.  On April 23 Fred wrote a letter of application to the Board of Directors of Democrat School stating he would teach the next  term and do the janitor work for $45 per month.  Maudie's father was a member of the Board of Directors.  On April 26 Maudie wrote that "Papa is in favor of you teaching the school...."  but that the other two Board members wanted to hire another person.  April 29 Fred wrote asking Maudie to try to change her father's thinking "for I don't believe it would be a good idea for me to get it."  He didn't get the school.                                                

In the summer of 1921 they both attended "Normal School" - a teacher preparation course - in St. James, MO.  Maudie wanted to be a teacher too.  In those days a person passed a Missouri State test to get a teaching certification, a high school diploma was not required.  She wrote asking him to help her with some school work.  He worked some math problems and mailed them back to her.  She wrote saying some of the girls in her rooming house weren't very nice.  He wrote to encourage her,  but included a bit of teasing.  He owned a Kodak Brownie box camera and there are pictures of them
and their friends.

Beginning with the invitation to the dance, they saw each other almost every weekend at church, dances, picnics, etc., and wrote letters during the week until their marriage on 25 January 1922 - the day after Maudie's 18th birthday.

Shortly before my Mother's death at age 90 she told me that she had never been able to dispose of those letters, that it would now be my responsibility to do so.  I accepted the responsibility with the promise I would not read them.  She replied "I don't care if you read them."  I've read all 95 letters and cards. What a gift to have insight to the kind of people my parents were as young adults.  What a responsibility to keep the promise to dispose of them.   

Virginia Mathis Tipton