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In this handwritten letter from Wesley Russell Updike to his son, John Updike, Wesley informs John about life at home - including his teaching at Shillington High School and a trip to the Alleghenyville auction. Wesley urges John to stay focused at college, take care of his health, and pursue becoming a writer for the Harvard Lampoon.

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Plowville, Pennsylvania


Alleghenyville auction, fruit, clothing, Harvard University, Harvard Lampoon, health, money, Boston, Wyomissing, Allentown, Greenwich, Mr. Brubaker, John Updike, Wesley Russell Updike, John Franklin Hoyer, Linda Grace Hoyer, Shillington High School




Wesley Russell Updike


John Updike


American Literature | Social History | United States History

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For permissions which fall outside of educational use, please contact the Ursinus College Library Special Collections Department:


Dear John,

I have just returned from the Alleghenyville auction. Grandpop has been gathering chestnuts so I took 12 qts. of them to sell. I told them to send the check to Grandpop and I hope it will make him happy. I have 5 bu. of pears picked with about 3 bus. to go. Next week I’ll take the best pears to the auction.

Mother and I are worried about your suit. She ordered it sent to you last Wednesday. I’ll call up to-morrow and send you a postal card to tell you the results. We hope you have it by this time.

We admire your attitude about everything and also your determination to be a Lampooner. We hope you are happy in whatever you undertake.

When I was a sophomore in college as childish as I was and have been before and since, I accepted Peg [unknown]’s advice, Work for an A and if you get a C, you can be satisfied you did your best. Don’t worry too much about the $500 stipend, because your health means more.

If those boys keep you from studying, find yourself a study nook in one of the town libraries or quiet missions in Boston.

I told Jack in my letter stating my objectives that I would:

1) Keep quiet in my classes, home room and study halls.

2) Keep my voice more under control.

3) Visit another math teacher once a week.

4) Review children in their recognized weaknesses.

So far, I have been good as my word. I am happy this way and want you to know that you are only expected to do your best.

Love, Pop

[The following are written in the margins of the letter:]

I tell everybody how much you like Harvard.

The old Buick is working good.

I visited Mr. Brubaker at Wyomissing yesterday and learned some beneficial things. All is well here.

Many, many people wish to be remembered to you.

If you ever feel like coming home before Xmas, get a round trip on the Greyhound bus to Allentown and come on home. I took the bus to Greenwich and I enjoyed it very much.

Letter from Wesley Russell Updike to John Updike, October 4, 1950



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