There we were sprawled on the living room carpet back home on the farm pouring over letters we had written that our mother had kept.
My sister and me with our 90-year old Mom close at hand.
Mom thought we might like to have the decades old letters back that we had written to her and Dad as we were beginning families of our own in Missouri and Montana. There were Lori’s bundles sent from St. Louis and mine sent from Great Falls. Bound by rubber bands, Mom had them all and on a July afternoon in 1994 bursts of merriment and sighs of remembrance bounced off the walls.
Truth be known, I had forgotten I’d written so many letters to my parents when we lived in Great Falls from 1966-1969. For Jim and me, those years were the epitome of “Life is Good.” I knew it then, and I’m reminded of it now as I reread the lengthy weekly missives I wrote in cursive or typed on an electric script typewriter. My stationery was white, pink, blue, green, orange and aqua,
Son Troy was not yet 2 when we moved to Great Falls. Son Dean was born there.
Those were the days of five and six cent stamps and only the name of the recipient, town and zip code was needed on the envelope as street addresses had not yet come to rural Newburg, N.D. Mom and Dad looked forward to our letters and it appears I loved writing them. They were long and newsy.
Allow me to share a few excerpts. Each began, “Dear Mom and Dad,” and ended with, “Love, Jim, Tudy, Troy and Dean.” My nickname has been Tudy since I was a tyke.
October 6, 1966 – Boy, am I a lady of leisure. I just love our (Boeing) trailer. I have a new, very cheerful wool rug in the living room. It’s striped, all different colors. They have cable TV here and we can get eight stations including two from Spokane and two from Salt Lake City. And I guess they charge $3.50 at the beauty shops here.
October 17, 1966 – As soon as Jim closes the door to leave for work, Troy runs to the window, gets up on the chair and waves until he is out of sight. We can see the mountains from here. They are covered with snow and very beautiful. There are excellent train connections to Minot. We can get on at 5 p.m., and the train gets into Minot at 5:30 the next morning. Jim goes for $30 round trip, I go for $15 and Troy goes for nothing.
June 3, 1967 – After a trip to Casper, Wyo. I wrote, “The Ramada Inn had only one room left that had two beds, so Troy got a big bed all by himself. At 4 a.m., I heard a ‘plop,’ and there he was on the floor. He didn’t get hurt and didn’t really wake up so I just put him back in bed and he slept on.”
May 1, 1968 – Yesterday morning I went to put my glasses on and SNAP right across the nose. I think I’ve had those frames since high school and they’ve been cracked for a while. Went to Valu Mart Optical and had my lenses put in new frames. They are plain black. We are having Lois and Joe Womack over for a barbecue Saturday night. She’s the teacher from Fisher, Minn., and Joe’s in the Air Force. (Readers: Lois is an Eggebraaten and she and her late husband taught us to play bridge. We met them at Peace Lutheran Church in Great Falls and became dear friends)
June 9, 1968 – Last night, Rosemary and I went to a movie and left our husbands home to babysit. The men play golf and go out for pie and coffee so we decided it was our turn. Went to see, ‘Yours, Mine and Ours,’ with Lucille Ball. It was so good. If it comes there you should see it. Then we went to a nice restaurant and had a hamburger and strawberry pie which was out of this world. We had such a good time. It does women good to go out once in a while, too.
November 18, 1968 – Did you realize I have a rare blood type? It’s AB positive. The Red Cross called Thursday and wanted to know if I could come Tuesday as they need my type badly. We got new shoes for Dean and boy can he ever walk well now. He doesn’t crawl much anymore, but he’s got one arm up in the air while he walks, guess this is how he balances himself. Troy enjoys him so much and we’re really glad Dean was a boy now. Guess we have to be (ha). We looked at pictures yesterday and they look so much alike you can hardly tell which is which.
February 2, 1969 – Sure glad January is over. Ever since February rolled in we’ve had much nicer weather. It’s been up to 30-above for the last three days. As pastor was reading the Gospel lesson this morning, we heard a big rumble and it sounded like the roof was caving in, but it was a landslide of snow off the roof of the church. Startled everyone.
End of excerpts.
As Jim and I read these letters, we realize there’s a lot of our early history together documented on their colorful pages. It’s a treasure.
It’s been said that if you were born after 1979, you may never have sent a handwritten letter to anyone. What a shame.
These days, everything is instant – email, text messages, Facebook. Technology is a wonderful tool and I sure wouldn’t want to be without it, but there’s great joy in sitting down with pen in hand and putting yourself into a message to send to someone to let them know they are important to you. Also as I read, I again realize how much my Mom and Dad always meant to me.
I’m wondering, does anyone write in cursive anymore? Seems to me a lot of people print. I never have enjoyed printing and I’m grateful I was taught cursive.
When our grandchildren were little, I sent them fun postcards with pictures of animals on one side and a written message from me on the other. As they grew older I switched to notecards and letters. They love getting mail that tells them what Grandpa and I are up to and I’m thrilled to say they’ve been known to write back.
I hope letter writing never completely goes away. Letters are your gift of time to a loved one or a friend. I couldn’t agree more with the one who said, “To write is human, to receive a letter; divine.”