Still thigh high and sifting

Now the place looks downright outrageous. Everything is everywhere. Period. FG got through the storage locker and when I turned my back for one second to go through Abby’s elementary school artistic masterpieces he slipped a bunch of boxes into the garage. Where everything was in organized piles, appearances aside.

One box made me wish that Judy (Kenju) and her scanner were right here by my side. Get this: For three generations, the women in Rich’s family wrote letters to each other and their men folk somewhere between daily and once a week. These letters were kept and sorted, in the envelopes, by dates and rubberbanded into packets. Each packet has a label with FBW—>EMW or similar.

This correspondence filled over 40 boxes at one time; the brothers had gotten it down to 13 in a previous move and those boxes, unbeknown to me, were in our storage locker (underneath the NFL study). Rich and one brother did another sorting and then several boxes came back here. It’s not likely I’m going to dump these: I think there’s an epic book in there. Not only are the letters there, covering family history through four wars and the Depression- there are also postcards, tickets, programs, photos, matchbooks, dress fabric swatches and newspaper clippings all arranged. Rich’s mother had her high school and college mementos bound into two giant clothbound volumes, each six inches thick.

So you see how I get bogged down around here. Anyway, because these are all in these dated packets I looked for the packet from July, 1953- and there it was! First 2 pages handwritten, with a tiny newspaper birth announcement taped to the top, and then 4 typewritten pages.

"…Dearest Grandma,
I know just how much you  must have been thinking about me and the boys these past days and I’ve wanted to write as soon as possible to give you all the details…I’m still in the hospital as I start this, but no doubt be at home to finish it since I am leaving in about 4 hours. Richard and I will be here for our noon meal and then Norman is coming after us…I would say that actual labor began at about 3 am Monday and kept on until the baby was born at 10:30 am Tuesday. No part of it was hard to bear except the suspense. In the end, no surprises. His name is Richard and he weighed 5#, 15oz. He looks and acts much like the others except that the color of his hair is something all his own.
…Each of the boys reacts to Dick in his own particular way. Bill has been through this before and wholeheartedly loves the little one and is justly proud. He’s lost all tendency to be jealous-had already by the time Calvin arrived. He’s STILL a little jealous of Jon and I suppose always will be. Meanwhile, I’ve made a point, from the beginning of paying more deliberate attention to Calvin than I did before, both to reassure him and to keep him from developing an animosity toward Dick…with four, each of the three will have his favorite brother. Bill is really in the toughest spot even with Dick’s arrival, for with all of them so young, he is the only one at present, who CAN dress himself and generally get along with a minimum of help or attention from us, All the other three have to have so much done for them…I have humored Bill in his wishes for help with his dressing, etc. since we’ve had Dick because I could see that the way things were otherwise did make him feel left out and neglected and understandably enough."

I never met Rich’s mother; she died about six years before I met him. These letters are giving me insight into a bright and caring woman and a glimpse of where Rich came from.Towards the end of this letter she notes that she hasn’t gotten back to writing verses yet with four boys under five and she worries that the editors will get annoyed. This refers to the fact that Rich’s parent’s made money by writing greeting card verses in these early days; they were the early poets of Hallmark. She finishes with,

…"Meanwhile, it’s not so serious financially, since Norman has just been assigned another Military Intelligence Unit, made up of two Order of Battle teams, and so his military pay will resume shortly."

So now I have a vision of this young family: mother -a bright graduate of Swarthmore, father -a decorated Lt. Col. fresh out of WWII and four young tow heads. I love it! This was a perfect "birthday card" for my dear FG.

FG also brought back a little something else of interest. After the war his father got an advanced degree in economics from that OTHER university in Michigan. Check this out: it really WAS a cow COLLEGE. Big Dave, can you think of anyone who might want to be POTLATCHED with this? I can’t so if you come up with any ideas, get with me.Msu

21 responses to “Still thigh high and sifting

  1. What a treasure trove!! NO, NEVER get rid of those special boxes. I am sitting here, marveling at the organization and feeling oh, so ashamed of my attempts to get Nyssa’s stuff organized. Never mind any of my history. How did they do that? And writing letters so often? How did they ever collect it in one place? Now we know your next calling so we’ll all be waiting for that signed work hot off the presses. With this, I’d ditch the NFL stuff completely. Let them find a place to store it.

    Aren’t all the states like Michigan. The “State” schools were the agricultural and applied sciences and the “University” was for more esoteric degrees? Makes for great rivalry. Oklahoma State and Oklahoma University. The University of Texas (or as the Dallasites say “THE” University of Texas) and Texas A&M (or Texas Tech) and of course The University of Virginia and Virginia Tech. Of course at William and Mary the rivalry is not in sports but IS with The University of Virginia. Apparently Thomas Jefferson, being a graduate of William and Mary wanted his son to attend. His son, however, could not meet the requirements for admission, so Jefferson started The University of Virginia. It still seems to be a point of contention, or at least folklore.

    I checked out the eBay items. They are doing very nicely. Almost bid on the glassware and candlestick group but this server has really been acting up.

    I know this is really hard for you, physically a lot of work and emotionally a lot to deal with. Just keep rubbing that little marble and hang on. We are here if you need us.

    Oh, just for you. I wrote about making a plastic nest for the little robins. They left and not a week later, momma mourning dove has moved in. She laid one egg and yesterday another. It looks so strange in that makeshift nest, but I’m sure the nest is more secure than the one she made in the fig tree last year.

  2. Treasures! What a lovely letter about Rich’s birth. I love real letters, but never write or receive them these days, more’s the pity. Isn’t there some folk history project out there where they collect family correspondence?

  3. Finding the letter was a treasure! This is so interesting. I never knew moving could be so much fun. Great post!
    Have a wonderful day!
    (=’:’=) meow hugs
    (“)_ (“)Š from da Raggedy one

  4. Definitely a book should be written from the contents of the boxes you’ve got there… and definitely the boxes should never be gotten rid of! What a treasure!

    This story reminds me of “Daddy’s Bear”… there is a teddy bear that used to be my father’s that my grandmother is holding on to for me. She keeps saying “when you’re 16 and learn some responsibility” and then “when you’re 19 and legal” and then “when you’re not moving around so much” and then “when you get married” and then “when you have children of your own”… I don’t mind at all, but I wonder what her next excuse will be once Zoe is born. Daddy’s Bear is probably the closest thing I have or ever will have to the boxes you’ve got there!

  5. My goodness, Vicki, you got b**g material there for the next 10 generations. Great early selection.

    About the pennant, I can’t think of a single person who would want it. Oh, maybe one….

  6. Great old style pennant. Those used to be very popular when I was in high school. I loved the letter–that is very special. Glimpses of the past are fascinating.

  7. I have a letter like that, written by my late Uncle Jim soon after my birth.

  8. Thank God that Big Dave is on vacation! Help me out here, Hoss?!

  9. Vicki, thanks for the mention, and I would have loved to be there with you. What a GIFT for you to have those letters and the insight into your MIL and Rich’s history! If I were you, NO progress would be made on the move until I had read all those letters and noted each piece of memorabilia! I am trying not to be envious!

  10. Give a guy a heart attack here. When I saw that picture, I immediately thought to myself, “Oh my god, she’s gone over to the dark side.” Thank goodness you’re just trying to get rid of the thing.

    I honestly can’t think of any upstanding soul who would adopt an orphan pennant like that one. Whatever you do, don’t put it in your yard sale. It’d likely cause a riot. And if I were there, I’m sure I’d be forced to join in.

  11. Thank you, Vicki. That means a lot coming from you!

  12. Gene has some breathtakingly beautiful artwork posted for you today!


  13. Bonnie-I’ve never been so tempted to delete a comment from my blog. You and Hoss owe me. After I’ve been so nice to you guys. YOU BOTH OWE ME.

  14. Wolverines are cute when they’re mad!

  15. Mr. kenju thanks you, Vicki. He is responsible for that clean pool!

  16. Hope your sale is going well. Cute ad, BTW.

  17. I stumbled across your blog while I was doing some online research. What a wonderful legacy for future generations if these letters are preserved for posterity! How many of us would love such a personal glimpse into the lives of our ancestors?

  18. I loved my potlatch package!! Thank you so much, Vicki!! Go MSC (my dear dad’s alma mater)!

    P.S. My beloved children are fighting over the Tintin book. “It’s the end of world!” ;~)

  19. A POTLATCH came today and I am speechless….. yes, I will be out taking pictures through the keyhole. I’ve never seen one like this, it is spectacular!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Mr. Rhett loves his picture frame, his only complaint was that it didn’t have a picture of his beloved Sophie in it.

    And the fish…. well, let’s just say that for me, the head moved, then the tail, then it curled up, then it turned over and jumped in the floor…. does that make me all mixed up?

  20. Vicki. Had a dream about when Abby and I were little at your old house. We were under attack by the children in the neighborhood and had only those faulty laser tag guns and vests to defend the fortress. We fought pluckily and emerged triumphant with the aid of an elaborate pump-and-souse system Abby fashioned that drew from the hot tub. Masterful. Thought it strange enough to tell you about it.

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