Calle del Recreo No. 39, San Miguel de Allende, Gte., Mexico, November 17, 1963
Dear Frank and Lorraine:
Seems as though I never get around to writing letters, I am quite busy as I have the designing of a remodeling job for a friend and am personally doing the plumbing, which aids our income which was reduced to less than half when I got fired from the school store in May..All I did for them was up their Rug sales 60% in two years, book sales 400%, so they decided things were going so good they didn't need a manager! They have also fired the hotel manager who was making twice my salary so they are saving salaries but losing business.
We may have the opportunity to buy the local art supply store on the main plaza here but it will take about 5,000 bucks to go into the business. The institute store is very poorly stocked and so is the store in town: This place is becoming a major art center and people are flocking in here like crazy..It is almost impossible to rent a house.
Our house is nearly finished but we had to lay off the workers for lack of money. We will end up with 2 rooms and 4 baths. The place will go for about 20,000 dollars and all paid for.
I don't know if your are acquainted with the Mexican investment market, but you can pick up 10% easily here..To get our telephone we had to buy a share of stock, which pays 8%. Mexico is really going places and it would be smafrt to get in on the ground floor. Mexican Coca Cola pays 100% divided annually, but try to buy some! The banks pay 10% for time deposits. If you leave your money there for a minimum of six months you get that interest. Some pay 9%.
There is a new lake about an hour from here where I go fishing about every Saturday.
Well, I started this letter Nov. 17th, got interrupted, and very nearly never got back to it. We went on our vacation Nov.21st and got back here Dec.16th. We stayed at the same place as last year and stopped overnight in Guadalajara going and returning. Had a fine time and some good fishing. With light tackle I got a dolphin that weighed over 17.5 lbs. and two others that were nearly as big, all in the same morning. We caught various other fish and brought a couple back with us in our portabale ice box. We had fish to eat every day and sometimes twice a day. Hope you can all come down and have some fun with us some year.
Didn't have any car trouble this year,, except minor things. Last year we had to get a whole new rebuilt motor which practically ruined us.
Hope you are all well. We get very little news of you. I have been having a little trouble with high blood pressure and other small items, but vacation helped.
Our house construction is pretty much at a standstill for lack of funds. My studio, 22 ft. square, has the sky light in but lacks a door and some window glass, electric wiring, plastering, floor and fireplaces. It's a beautiful room with an elegant view, but I can't use it now because it's too cold. Our little kitchen lacks only a little tile work (we have the tile on hand) some cabinet work and a small amount of plumbing. The two latter things I furnish the labor for. Oh yes, it lacks a swingin' door between kitchen and dining room. We're hoping to be able to move into it soon. Then we will convert our old kitchen to a den-bedroom which already has it's own bath. I just have to cut a door thru to the bath.
Our dining room, which was our bedroom when we first moved here, is all finished except for bricking up the door to above mentioned. That will become a glass cupboard and the old clothes closet will become the bar. The plumbing is already there. We are quite pleased with the prospects. Next to the den-bedroom is our living room (under the studio). It lacks wiring, plastering, floor and doors, but it won't take much to finish it.
Upstairs next to the studio is our orchid room which needs only some chicken wire draped over the top with some moss and some shelves to be ready for business. We have a good many orchids now, probably over fifty, most of which people have given to us.
Next to that we have a laundry and maid's bath completed except for some shelving and a door to a store room. Next to that is an open roof space which is the clothes drying yard, a nice sunny protected space. About 8 steps up from that is our new bedroom and bath. The bedroom is all finished except for a little more work on the two clothes closets. The bath has most of the plumbing in but lacks the fixtures and a little tile work. My studio bath is in the same state of incompleteness. Our front hall needs plastering. All the electrical and telephone conduit is in the walls. We will also need a new front door, but that will be the last item.
It probably sounds like a lot of work, but labor is cheap here and the big drag is the materials and plumbing fixtures. When all is complete we will have 7 rooms and 4 baths. Hope we can get it finished so that when you folks have a chance to visit us we can put you up. The poor Pelows had to go to the hotel.
Sometime this summer we should have our final resident papers which will permit us to seek other employment or to go into business for ourselves. We hope to find something more lucrative. It is pretty obvious that the Institute has no intention of raising our salaries even to match the increase in the cost of living. One prospect is that the local art supply and book store on the main plaze here may be for sale, but that would take a minimum of 5,000 dollars capital.
In the meantime, I am designing and building a small house for a doctor friend from Canada, and making a little spare change on that, but as we can barely live on our Institute salaries now, it doesn't help much.
Anne and Dale sold a small painting for me which is how I got the studio skylight in. It consists of 30 glass bricks, high in the north wall, and give a good light. Of course all our new construction is reinforced concrete and brick. The studio floor is a solid concrete slab, which also makes the ceiling for the living room. All the floors are tile. Nearly all the windows and doors are steel, made to order.
I imagine there is a lot of news I have forgotten about. Mary goes back to work this coming Thursday, but I don't start until a week from tomorrow. We have had a long cold fall and winter has started off cold so our woodpile goes down rapidly. We haven't heard from you folks this Christmas season, but maybe you can say the same about us. Haven't heard from a number of people we should hear from so we are wondering if some mail could have been lost. The second class mail seems to come thru better than the first class.
We sent off some belated packages for Frank, Lorraine, Denise and Brandy so you should receive them eventually. We had planned to do our shopping in Guadalajara, but could find nothing interesting there except breakables. It's hard to find anything for a small boy that he couldn't get just as well in the States, so I hope he will be happy with a room decoration. Little girls are easy to shop for here.
It's getting dark and cold, so have to go and drag in some wood. The coldest we have had at our place is 36 degrees this year. Usually we just have a few cold nights and sunny days but this year it has dragged on and on with overcast days and mean winds. It isn't really cold excpet when you have only fireplaces. I have set up our living room and studio and our bedroom so that we can eventually install vented gas heaters.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all, and also happy birthday to Frank. Sorry to be so late with this.
I am going fishing tomorrow morning. We have our freezer that we brought from the States so we can store the surplus (ha, ha.) The lake is well supplied iwth large-mouth kbass and I have taken quite a few.
Love to all,
Hud and Mary Ann
P. S. Sorry to hear about Lorraine's accident. Went fishing this morning, not a nibble! Forgot to mail this this morning.