Sunday, April 1, 2018

The Perils of Radio

I've finally started going through the Harmon Family archives, sorting and organizing all of the documents, photographs, postcards, and other ephemera, and getting everything placed in archival storage containers. It's a task that will likely take a few years to complete.

Among today's discoveries was a letter written in 1931 to Mollie Harmon by George M. Skinner, who taught Sunday School to Mollie's son James. Skinner apologizes for introducing young James to radio, attributing his low grades to his new hobby. The letter reads:

Dear Mrs. Harmon:
     After talking to you yesterday and learning that Jimmy's grade were rather low I was very sorry that I might have been partly to blame for this since I was the one who interested Jimmy in radio. Radio, however, is also quite instructive in its own way and I feel amply repaid for the time which I spent on it.
     I thought that if Jimmy stopped working on his set for a short time he might be able to do a little better in school. He certain has a good set of brains, but, at the present time he doesn't apply them to school work. I am quite sure that he will, however.
     As Jimmy's Sunday School teacher I would like to say that you have ample reason to feel very proud of your son in all ways. In fact he is one of the best, if not the best, behaved boys in the class.
     I have made the agreement with Jim that until his grades are satisfactory I will not help him with radio. I hope that this will bring his grades up and if at any time I can be of any help to Jim at all you may depend on me to do my best.
     Sincerely, George M. Skinner

Also in today's discoveries was a small newspaper clipping from 1925, in which young James Harmon writes to Santa. At first, I saw it simply as cute. Then, going through family letters, I realized that his father was dying a long slow death when the note was written, and it suddenly became poignant and heartbreaking. James was 9 years old in 1925. His father died in February 1926.

Mollie and James Harmon at the time of Edward Harmon's death.

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