Tag Archives: USDA

September 1, 1941

Stationery from the Fort Gatlin Hotel, Orlando, FL.

Panama City Monday.

My dear Ina & Boys,

Have been rushed, but the dog fly control work is getting under way now. The Public Health horned in for the money and 2 of their men are here to make purchases. It is a PH program but actually we are operating it with Bureau funds for salaries etc. on the basis of an exchange of funds.

September 1, 1941

September 1, 1941

I went in by air for a conference on Thurs. night of last week & left Washington last Monday night arriving here about noon last Tuesday. Verbal arrangements were made with the PHS while I was at Washington. On Wed. night I met Mr. Padget at DeFiniak [?] & spent the night there. Mr. Dopson & RA were there and all came here. On Thursday night trucks rolled in from Gulfport & Florala so that our yard at the lab was filled with them. Friday we mounted sprayers on 8 barges & opened an office at #11 Page Bldg (upstairs over music store). The phone number there is 10. The control set up there is entirely separate from research, but Dr. Simmons is in close work with us & one man is helping him on research phases. Oil is being bought from the Sunny State & 30000 gals of creosote from Pensacola, delivered here by trucks with 1000 gal. tanks.

Mr. Griggs is in charge at Ft. Walton with 3 barge units which we shipped by tug boat from here at 6AM Sunday. Our first sprayer operated at Tyndall field on Sat. Mr. Landrum, Duck, Culpepper and Miller are in the crew. We will have 2 big barges with supply tanks, one at Ft. Walton & 1 here.

At Wash. I had a good visit with Claudelle & BM. Spent night at their house & they seem like newly weds. Joyce was there part of the time. Dr. Annand seems to be starting out OK as Chief.

Yesterday I had dinner & a good one with Simmons. In PM I took Mr. & Mrs. Landreau, Mr. & Mrs. Duck & son (8 yrs) for a drive to see the barges.

The high school opens next Friday & the date for opening of other schools has not been announced. After the Board meeting this week they will announce the date. Usually it is one week after the high school. Will let you know when. If you could come either next Sunday or one week from Sunday I could meet you in the car at New Orleans. If you could arrive at N.O. on Sunday morning I could be at the station & we could eat breakfast at the station & drive home that day. I’ll bring the ice box in the car. You could wire me Tourate when to meet you.

With love to all of you,

P.S. I am enclosing the Kehoe check with my endorsement. You can endorse & cash at Uvalde. Would suggest you call the station agent a day or two before you leave & reserve a drawing room to New Orleans.

August 18, 1941

Ina is visiting her family in Uvalde, TX with the three boys, while Walter stays back in Panama City, FL.


Thanks very much for the nice letter. No word on the control p. yet. Tides have helped some on Santa Rosa sound, but have not given complete control.

August 18, 1941

August 18, 1941

An announcement issued Sat. states that Annand was appointed Chief of the Bureau & Hoyt as Associate Chief.

The weather continues hot here.


February 4, 1941

1024 N. Oregon St.,
El Paso, Texas,
Feb. 4, 1941.

Dear Ina & Walter:

It is hard to say which was the more surprise, your letter or the announcement of the arrival of your third son. To say the least both came as a surprise.

February 4, 1941

February 4, 1941

On account of a severe attack of cold and a lot of work — only to be followed up by wife having a similar attack, this is the first time I have had to acknowledge receipt of your letter and the news. Certainly, congratulations are in order.

Several years ago, Walter, long before you met Miss Ina, you remarked that if you ever married and had children you want them all to be boys — so what?

On some two different occasions we have discussed the subject of transfers — you and I. Mention was made that some employees remain “put” at some one station for ever while others are continually being transferred from pillar to post. I know several, personally who have been stationed upward to 25 years at one post while others have averaged being transferred each 24 months. Within our Bureau it seems that you head the list. Trotter has averaged a transfer each 24 months. I have averaged a transfer each 30 months. Say; are we living right, or not? Are we so darn good or so darn rotten that they just keep on moving us to see if they can land us in a hole in which we will fit — or are others so good they hate to lose their valuable service by transfer — or so rotten they fear to transfer them for fear they will get lost in the shuffle?

The above paragraph is written for a specific purpose. Last year we were told in a casual way that possibly 1941 would see another transfer for us. We happened to not be in on the last wholesale transfer list last year when one-third of our force was transferred. If we are to be transferred this year same will probably come before June 30th. Furthermore, if a transfer is in the offing, goodness only knows in what direction it will be. A tentative application for leave for vacation has been made for the month of April and if same becomes a reality we had slightly planned going to New Orleans and in that event would certainly like to take you up on your cordial invitation to visit in Florida. Surely you would like to cast a line into the Gulf of Mexico in the vicinity of Panama City. According to the map Panama City is not far from the Gulf.

If we were to learn we were to be transferred in that general direction before June 30th, we would probably delay our vacation date. So that is that.

Under separate cover we are sending you by insured parcel post a little gift for that new boy of yours. Hope you three like it. To you and your family every good wish and contratulations from,

Your friends,
The Pettits

June 30, 1940

Sunday A.M.
June 30, 1940.

Dearest Sweetheart:

I’m hoping you will telephone today, but am writing this letter in case you don’t.

I agree with you that the Barrow house, 105 Cove Blvd., looks like the best bet. It looks like it is not crowded, it has no stairs, it is close to the lab and the grammar school, it rents for only $45.00, and it requires only a 6 mos. lease. The two-story house must be lovely, but $65.00 is too much to pay for a house in a small town like Panama City; furthermore, we had unpleasant experience with a long lease in Mpls. We can endure almost any unforseen unpleasant condition for 6 mos., and that will give us time to look around. Moreover, Mr. Gaddis told me something confidentially to tell you. When he saw Dr. Strong last, Dr. S. repeated that, although he could appreciate the value of your continued services in Mr. G’s division, he thought it was more necessary that you put the S.E. on a productive basis. AND he said “I’m going to need a new division chief in that work (whether it was Dr. Bishopp’s work or some other research work wasn’t quite clear to me, but I think it was Dr. B’s) and it may not be so very long off.” Moreover, Mr. G. asked him specifically if you were going to have to submit to Dr. B’s ideas in the S.E. Dr. Strong replied with an emphatic “No,” and said he was going to see to it that you did not. So, my dear young man, cheer up; your Panama City assignment may prove to be a very pleasant stepping stone to greater things. In that case, it might not be wise for us to sign a year’s lease, although we might be there longer than that.

June 30, 1940

June 30, 1940

We are enjoying Mama’s visit. I wished for you yesterday when Mama, Claudelle, Mr. G. and the boys and I took a picnic supper to Haines Point.

Don’t be too disappointed when I tell you that we received a letter from Thelma yesterday in which she said that Reitha and Boliver had married the preceding Saturday night in San Antonio in a double wedding with her roommate. Reitha had telephoned Thelma & Bob that afternoon for their consent. Reitha will finish her business course at Draughn’s in S.A. in August, and Boliver will finish his course in accounting in Uvalde in November, I believe. They both expect to work. It’s bad, but we shall have to make the best of it like we did Thelma Lee’s and Paul’s marriage. Theirs has turned out to be an unusually happy one. Thelma wrote that Thelma Lee had just won the $80.00 at the show on bank night.

Walter White has acquired a BB gun and a puppy since you were here. He acquired the latter before we learned definitely that we were going to move. Just what we shall do about it I don’t know. Lewis Dunbar is more fond of it than W.W.

We all are looking forward to seeing you on the fourth.

It is going to seem good to get our little family together again in the car and get on the road.

Honey, it is important that the house in Panama City be put in first class condition before we move in, don’t you think?

Lots & lots of love,

It was very kind of Dr. Simmons to go to so much trouble about a house for us.

December, 1939

This is an organizational chart for the “Screw worm educational and control” project Walter is now working on again. You can click to enlarge it. Screw-worm is a type of myiasis caused by C. hominivorax larvae, for those who’ve just joined us. Note that Bishopp is directing the project overall, while Walter is in charge of all of the control activities. At this point, those activities consist mainly of educating farmers about animal husbandry practices to prevent screw-worm infections in livestock. One other name to note: E.F. Knipling, who is now an assistant entomologist in the research branch of this project. In a few years, he’s going to come up with a truly ingenious strategy for controlling this pest. He’ll also be heavily involved in another project that will later shape Walter’s career.

December, 1939

December, 1939

December 7, 1939

This letter was out of order in the file, but I’m back-dating it on the blog so it’ll be in the proper order now. Sorry for any inconvenience to those reading on the site’s RSS feed.

Thursday Night

My dear Sweetheart,

I have just had dinner with Mr. Gaddis & Claudelle. We left Claudelle at her address and BM brought me here a few minutes ago. It was a very good dinner.

December 7, 1939

December 7, 1939

Had my first good talk with Mr. Bishopp today, and I have asked for reports for the past five years, his work program for each project and a copy of his budget for this year. They are still looking up files to find them & when Miss Lynch returns tomorrow I am quite sure I’ll get them. He had proposed to transfer two men to take care of me, but I told him today that the amount saved in them would not be enough and that I was quite sure that the chief did not intend that I be reduced in salary. He said that he understood that I was to have the minimum of the principal grade, $5600. This means that there is now no doubt about that and that my job is to see that the new alignment will provide this much with advantage to the work. I have some good ideas on how to affect the economies. He agreed that Schroeder could be transferred to Alfalfa Weevil survey & I’ll take steps to transfer him between June 1 to 15th.

I’ve seen a few motions from Bish which I am skeptical of, but I think I can handle. Stage should have left here today but left Wednesday with stops planned at the different research labs in Florida & Texas before returning to Portland. If he is out covering up weaknesses before my arrival I’ll be pretty sure to detect it.

Claudelle & I were invited to Bishopp’s last Saturday & I was treated very fine. Yesterday I went to his office at noon & not finding him there I opened different doors to locate him and Stage. After I opened Cushing’s door & peeked in, a voice in the hall asked whom I was looking for. It was Mrs. Bishopp & she asked in a mean accusing manner. Bishopp was with her. I told her I was looking for her. Then I told her I wanted to see Stage before he left. I was then informed that Stage left yesterday & was driving to the southern stations.

Today when I saw Bish he invited Claudelle & I to come to another party at his house on this Saturday night to meet some more folks. We are going. The conference today did not continue the icy atmosphere yesterday, but apparently with a full understanding that I was to examine & report on his division & recommend such changes as would provide a place for myself & improve the efficiency. Gaddis seems to enjoy my assignment & thinks it OK for the Bureau.

Hearings before the Congressional Committee eliminated the new item for encephalomyelitis but with no other cuts for Bish’s division. In other words we can plan next year on the same basis as funds for this year.

In about another week or so I’ll visit Florida & Texas stations. Claudelle is planning to come to Mpls & then go to Uvalde for Xmas. She plans to leave here the Saturday after next.

Please give my very best wishes to Kenneth Helen & Miss Fulcher. The Gulfport project needs Kenneth. Tell him his stock rates high in Wash. His promotion will not be to the next grade but two less than the next grade & the same as Messenger’s.

With love,

December 1, 1939

Another gap. Walter went back home after his previous meeting in Washington, and now he’s returned for negotiations around his new position. For those who haven’t been following since the beginning, “B” and “Bish” refer to Dr. Bishopp, Walter’s former collaborator in screw-worm research, with whom he parted on somewhat chilly terms.

Friday Night

My dear Sweetheart & Boys,

Dr. Wakeland and I arrived as per schedule and I am finding things rather encouraging. Strong is away but he made no doubt about his wishes, though I am not supposed to know yet. This afternoon I called at Dr. B office just to say hello and for a conference later on, which he suggests for about next Thursday. He did say that Mrs. B wanted Mr. Stage and some of the others to have dinner at his home, and perhaps tomorrow night. Stage works on mosquitoes at Portland Oregon & had arrived yesterday. Bish was most cordial but moved about in his chair in an uneasy manner. Bish suggested 46 the minimum of the senior grade but Strong stated that his wishes were that I be kept at the maximum of the grade (which is $5600*). By this I would lose the Prin. grade of $200 which is not so bad. I am sure that B will try to reduce it, but I’m holding out for that much. Although official word has not been given to me I am to review Bish’s entire setup on the work and make recommendations on consolidations & future work. Rather an investigation, with a view to consolidation of all Texas stations and to recommend procedures. It was Strong’s suggestion that I work here temporarily in Cushing’s absence and to review the set up. He stated that the proposal made by Bish was not acceptable (Panama City).

December 2, 1939

December 2, 1939

Mr. Gaddis has been most helpful and is in a position to help a great deal. Annand and Roehner support the views expressed by Strong and I am quite sure of Hoyt. Claudelle has been helpful and appears to be greatly concerned on the outcome and wonders why I want 2 months leave & what I am going to do with it.

Last night Yeomans was here and I spent the evening with he and Gaddis. Tonight Claudelle and I ate together and visited until almost 10 o’clock. Everyone seems to know that I am to be here temporarily in Cushing’s place & that I am to visit field stations, but Yeomans advises me to stay with B.M. Wakeland is going to visit some larger control offices in the east for ideas. He has been obliged to agree to a consolidation of Mormon Cricket & G hop at Denver and with R.A. as an assistant project leader. The alternative was to let R.A. run crickets as a separate project, which Wakeland cannot agree to do. The matter of Messenger as another Asst has not been decided, but the odds are against it and also against all other general supervisors for such a place. It needs to be someone with fiscal experience. Otherwise, it will mean running the projects from the Wash. office. Schmidt may be Asst in charge of Mormon cricket. He is considered almost a second Quarterman, for which I am proud. Tell Polly that Mr. Townsend will be in charge as this will ease her mind until I can arrange to steal her. Claudelle thinks it impossible for me to get Polly. Kenneth should be able to get away about the 15th of Dec. & it looks like we can close the office there about that time except for a few details. Rainwater & Lugginbill will be there to summarize chinch bug survey but they will not need much help. The meeting will be at Denver on Jan. 11 or 12th & will include Extension directors and Commissioners of Agriculture with less emphasis on state leaders. Regardless of my work here or visits to field stations I am planning to be home Xmas. Claudelle is uncertain but she wants to go to Uvalde & is going to look up rates with a view of going by Chicago & make a side trip to Mpls. She may not know for a few days yet.

With love

* That’s $93,534 in today’s dollars, so Walter’s pretty high up on the government pay scale now.

September 14, 1939

It’s been five months since the previous letter, because Walter and Ina were together again at home in Minneapolis. Now he’s traveled to Washington to sort out his future work at the USDA. He’s considering a transfer back to the Division of Insects Affecting Man & Animals (medical and veterinary entomology), but his exact assignment is still unclear.

Sept. 14
10:30 PM

My dear Ina,

Have just returned from the Cushings. Claudelle and I had them for dinner in Silver Springs & were joined by Mrs. Bishopp & Jimmie who were also there for dinner. Cushings took us in their car, and we left Claudelle at her place on the way here. A very pleasant visit & Mrs. B. suggested that she imagined that I wanted to work in the South again. I judged that B. had talked with her about my move to the Man & Animals division. Bish is now on a trip to Texas & will be in Dallas on the 16th & here on the 21 or 22nd. I don’t see how I can wait here until he returns & I don’t believe I can get through here in time to meet him down there. I doubt if that would be necessary.

September 14, 1939

September 14, 1939

Strong saw me this PM in company with Gaddis & we went over ‘hopper work. He seemed very pleased & took copies to show the Secretary of Agric. He said that he wanted to see me tomorrow morning & would call for me at Gaddis’s office. He seems to be in a good mood but is very thin and with some forced pep in talking. I am to prepare a news article on the program to be ready here next Tuesday for Mr. Milloy of the Minneapolis Tribune.

From talking with Gaddis & Cushing I am led to believe that there is no difficulty in transfer, but BM did ask if I wished to reconsider & stay on hoppers. I told him that that depended upon Dr. Bishopp’s attitude & what the chief’s office had to say. BM is doing all he can for me & I appreciate it. He is willing to pay my salary on ‘hopper rolls until Bish can get money. I have an idea Bish would like for him to do that until July so that he need not drop anyone. Apparently he & Cush have not considered who would be transferred to Gaddis’s division.

Cushing thinks it would be better for me to come to Wash. & seems anxious, as Stage from Oregon was supposed to come & he did not care especially for that. He also mentioned the same possibilities suggested in Claudelle’s letter & said it looked like a question of where I wanted to live if I did not care to come to Wash. Bish did call on Gaddis & say that he would like to have me.

I have an idea that the Chief is going to ask me to pep up the work in that division & see that they produce, regardless of my assignment.

More tomorrow, possibly by wire if unsure or different from what we already know.

Love to the 3 of you

June 20, 1939

I’m not going to transcribe this whole report, but it gives some idea of what was occupying Walter’s time and mind – and consuming a large chunk of Federal funding – at this point. Click the image for a slightly larger scan.

June 20, 1939

June 20, 1939

February 14, 1939

Walter is still working on grasshopper control, with the government-funded effort now gearing up for a new season of spreading arsenic-laced baits across the heartland. Notes on the back of this sheet suggest that the project needed more spreaders, and also some photos for publicity. I trust that publishing the old addresses and phone numbers of people who are most likely long dead won’t offend anyone, but if you can articulate a legitimate gripe about this please contact me.

February 14, 1939

February 14, 1939