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.
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.