To John E. W. Chaffee. Albany, Oregon.
Dear Old Pal:

Hearing from you after 60 years is the best thing that has happened to me for a long, long time! I am thrilled spitless! You were the best pal I ever had, and I still feel the old affection. Our years together make a story as good as Tom Sawyer's and Huckleberry Finn's. We really had a swell time and did many stunts that no modern kid I know would do. And, John, you were always unselfish with me, as when you tried to give me by far the bigger half of a loaf of bread! That was on our hobo trip from Kansas City to Sumner, Mo. — (not Waverly, as you write in your letter).

I remember all the long walks we took together — the 45 miles up into the country where my sister taught — 22 1/2 up and the same back, I mean.) We did this without food, and got back at about 4 in the morning. Then that trip in a driving August rain to the Elkhorn River for camping! And the walk back from Sumner to K. C. with 10¢ in our pockets! We had no food but green apples & garden stuff eaten raw, because we needed the dime to cross the bridge at K. C. But we walked across the railroad bridge and kept our dime for pancakes and syrup down there somewhere in the slums of K. C.! I see you recall our jail experience in Sumner! It was all very funny. And do you remember the Helping Hand Institute?!! My gosh! You always joked when in trouble, and I can still see you that night by the dim lantern light grinning at me from a bunk among the bums and derelicts!

And do you remember when we planned to steal plums late at night — several times? You remember I tied a string to my toe and put the string out through the screen of my bedroom window. About two o'clock you came and pulled the string

And our feasts and beer busts! They were funny & did no harm to anyone, not even to us.

Do you remember how you used to lecture on The Hen?! It was quite a lecture, John!! O There is so much to remember, and it's all good. What kids we were!

I'm writing so fast that I fear you'll have trouble reading this. I'm really quite excited!

John, a Mrs. Bower-Aly of the University of Oregon at Eugene is doing a Doctor's thesis on me, and also collecting material for a full-length biography. She has been collecting material from New York to Los Angeles, and she must have a talk with you. She will love it. You were my best fan in the days when I was writing Chalboa (dedicated to you) and The Wizard of the Wind. I'm sure you will remember. Also I did The Divine Enchantment, my first book, in those days, and you were very encouraging. I used to recite parts to you when we were on one of our walks; and, by golly, you listened and I know you believed in me. That is a very good memory indeed.

You must remember that I had the typed manuscript of The Divine Enchantment with me on that hobo trip from K. C. to Sumner. I showed it to the boss of the marble shop where I worked awhile, and he said, "Some day, I'm sure, we'll hear of you". That was the time when you collected our food from back doors while I polished marble. You were the woman furnishing the meals, & I was getting a few dollars together for our return to Nebraska. Bless your heart, John! You were a great pal, and you always had guts. Instead of griping, you joked. Do you remember how your feet bled on the walk from Sumner to K. C.? You kidded about it — "Talk about your heroes at Valley Forge!"

Well, John, will you talk to Mrs. Aly if she wants to call on you? She is only 50 miles south of you. You definitely belong in the story of my life back there when I was all hope and longing.

I have been at the University of Mo. for nine years as Poet in Residence and lecturer in English, with the status of full professor. It's a joy to be with the young people. My classes are large altho' the prerequisites are stiff. I have 107 in one class now. In one course, "Epic America," I give my Cycle of the West each semester. They flock to that one. Do you know my Cycle of the West? Shall I send you a copy?

Our farm is 5 miles north of Columbia. Our daughter, Alice, is a trainer of [gaited?] show horses. She and her partner (a master horseman about 60 years old) have 23 horses and colts. They are all of the finest strains & registered. Mona (Mrs. N.) and I have some fine Hackney ponies — fine harness ponies.

John, go to your Library & ask for a reference work entitled "The Best Books of the World, from Homer to Hemingway", edited by Don Asa Dickinson. It lists and describes 3,000 books from 1050 B. C. to 1950 A. D., 3,000 years. Look for my Cycle of the West in it. And also look me up in Who's Who in America. There are many others. I just want you to know what I've been doing.

And I do want to know about your life, John. You are a contractor, or were, I remember. And a good one I know. Your father taught you, and he was a master workman.

I'm so sorry, John, that you have lost your wife. I do feel with you. It's tough, I know. But, John, this life is only a beginning. It goes on. There is much scientific evidence for this conviction of mine. You will see your best friend again, I feel sure. Keep up your courage — you always had plenty.

With the old affection

John Neihardt

Mona (Mrs. N.) says: "Send him my affection too".