April 6, 1932 – Ted Dreier to his mother

Lake Mizell

Winter Park, Florida

April 6, 1932

Dear mother,

Bobby has been away at the Island on the Gulf for several days rest from husband, child, and house, but is expected back today. We have had some wonderful trips to that island this year. It is so near that beautiful Weekiwochee River, on which we have made several trips. The first days of vacation, Bobby and I spent there alone, and came down the river one night by moonlight. The tropical beauty combined with the clear, cool water – so clear that one can see bottom at the spring 148 feet deep – is intoxication almost. On a previous trip, Mas and Beefy Hemmingway were with us. Beefy (which is short for B-fish) is an awfully nice girl whom we have gotten to know very well. She is Ernest Hemmingway’s younger sister and is a sophomore here.

We have been seeing a lot more of the students this year than last, and it is great fun, because there are some terribly nice ones. Unfortunately, there are not as many nice boys around as there are girls, though there are 3 or 4 we like tremendously.

There are at least 6 girls here who are as nice as any I have ever known, and I think John better come down here and look them over when he gets back!

Several hours have passed, and Bobby has returned, having had a glorious time. It is very nice that she and Ethel have become such close friends this year. They are really very fond of one another.

We are coming back here next year, but Mac and Ethel are not. We shall certainly miss them a lot, though we now have so many other good friends here, that it won’t be nearly as bad as it otherwise would be. The Binghams, Sprouls, and Rices are especially nice – tho’ we don’t feel the same happy and complete way toward them that we do toward Mac and Ethel. The latter are probably going abroad – he to do more studying along psychological lines – probably beginning some more serious psychiatric work, too, tho’ he has been practicing a good bit down here.

I am beginning to be really thrilled about teaching in a way that I have never felt about anything else, so that I am beginning to think that I may go into it permanently. It’s rather peculiar, because it seems to have come over me, all of a sudden, though I have been enjoying it more and more from the beginning. Or and Mrs. Van der Leenow, a very interesting Dutchman came to Winter Park a month or more ago. He had ever so many interesting ideas about philosophy and education and we had a great time seeing him. He especially got us studying the Montessori teaching methods – we have bought the books and are devouring them – and we have also been delving into his own very interesting book: The Conquest of Illusion (Knopf, Publisher) The idea of making real contact with the worlds of the people with whom you work – particularly pupils – and letting your world and his inter-act together – with a relationship that allows for equal spontaneity from both, with no domination by either, appeals to me as having the most tremendous artistic possibilities. It really seems thrilling. The writer has to find out the other fellow’s world, but he chooses what sides of it to tell or write about, emphasize, etc. – there is never any actual active relationship between two minds which affect each other, and help each other mutually to grow. If the relationship is right, I really believe that the teacher will learn as much as the pupil.

It is so wonderful having a kid Quintus’ age! It is so easy not to really give the necessary time and thought to him. I am that way about so may of life’s most essential things, but I feel right on this threshold of something wonderful and new now.

How have you and father been? I hope father’s affairs have not been too terribly hit by the collapse of preferred stock values. Have you been very much worried? Do write me about things.

Ever so much love, Mother dear. From Ted

P.S. The people who have been renting our flat in Schenectady are probably going to move out, so that we will have to decide what to do with many of our possessions. My own inclination is to dispose of a good many because I think it is awful to have so many things always to looks after.

We’ll have to find something to do with the piano – perhaps Alex Stevenson would like to use it, and then take some of the other things up to the camp, and dispose of the rest somehow or other. Have you any particular ideas on such subjects?