In today’s world, the Internet has replaced the hand written letter we may have gotten from our parents. Mother wrote to me weekly when I lived in Kansas. It was the news from the house and maybe a little of what was happening in the town but never advice. Perhaps I never asked anything; perhaps my letters infrequently written, weren’t highly detailed either.
I like to think that in emails, one is a little more specific about the subject on the screen. I like to think that in instant messages or the volley of short emails, one continues until one understands where the person is saying. There is boldness in Internet correspondence that rarely would show up in letters to children, let’s say, 50 years ago.
Two parents wrote two letters to one person.
“Last Saturday afternoon I went to the farm and picked up a big load of wood for the Heatiola and also for the stove in the basement. I had a big job because I had to make a road in the woods wide enough for the hay rack. I left at 1PM and it was dark when I got back. I got the whole load sawed during the week so I have some of it in the barn and the rest I put in the basement. I was going to get another load today but this morning I had Martin Swenson help me wire the garage for that heater I put in the car and also put in a light. I also got Mom’s new clothes line ready. I used five inch steam pipe and put cross arms on them and set them in cement. Mom and Judy painted them with aluminum paint.
Two weeks ago Sunday night, the 16th, I saw a big fire some place west of here. I drove down to the track and saw it was burning close to the track. I then drove out there and found it was about three miles west of Viking. Then I went home and tried to get some men to go with me but Martin Swenson was not home. We called Elmer Olson in Warren and couldn’t get him. Then we tried Art Swenson but neither was he home. Then I called Victor Ranstrom but no luck. Then I called Hjalmer Aaseby and I got him and Roy Copeland to go along. We took the motor car and went out there. Of course, I called the dispatcher first and he said there were no trains.
When we got out there it was burning a large piece of ground that hadn’t been farmed for years and it burned about 1 ½ miles along the track. There were six telegraph poles burned off before we got there and we put out the fire in quite a few. Then we also had some ties burning which were put out with dirt, we were out exactly two hours and 40 minutes which is what we are allowed on call. Hjalmer and Roy cleared $7.83 and they were quite happy about it.
When we started out we had a weak battery on the head light so the light didn’t show up very good. Hjalmer said I’m sure glad I don’t have to depend on you to steer this thing but I took a new battery along so we made out o.k.”
The letter continues with praise for the receiver attending church. The writer states attending church is more important than anything else. Especially if one goes with an open mind and heart to receive the word and do as it tells us. “We are trying to remember all you kids everyday in prayer as we want the very best for you all.”
It is signed May God bless you and may you put your complete trust in him. Dad
Mother’s write differently and Mother’s no matter what, are always in a hurry so they abbreviate. I am grinning as I think of abbreviations as the fore runner to text messaging. Mother's ask questions.
This letter is written on the same day.
“We got your letter Thurs. & didn’t go to TR yesterday to get Cashier’s checks so I’ll send you a personal check. If you have trouble cashing it & need money right away, call collect to us & we’ll wire you some. I’m going to town Tues. and will for sure send you the balance of $100.00 then.
Say, did you get the pkg with your brown sweater, Bible & cookies? You never mentioned it so we’re wondering. Would you like to have me send some cookies & rolls sometimes or What???. Another thing, do you want Daddy to get you a pass from Duluth to Mpls & then home, or what.
Daddy is getting the garage wired now. Sure would be nice to have a yard light too, someday. Maybe some day we can. Even a light right on the front of the garage would help a lot.
Murv was over last nite. They’ve been fencing. He’s going to apply for disability payments under the Social Security. The Drs claim he’ll never do the work he’s used to & won’t be able to work for a long time, so they told him to go ahead & they’d fill in the necessary blanks.
Your BC & BS payments amount to $20.50 for three months. You will be paid up to Dec 1. We will help you out on those & when you start working you can pay us back OK??? The BS is $7.05 for three months and the BC is $13.45 for 3 mon. & it was taken right from your old policy only now you have only 70 days instead of 120 days like at P&W.”
In a letter written the following Tuesday the mother says:
“I’ve got a few minutes before Rye’s are coming so will write. We are going to town today to change over the bonds and then Murv is going to apply for Social Security.
We took ... to the Dr. yesterday. She’s been sick since Sat. she had pains but wouldn’t admit it to the Dr. She figures you have to be real sick before you can tell a Dr.. He said it could be a cyst on an ovary or else the appendix. She stayed over with Margaret Ellingren last nite. I wonder what they were up to.
Do you want me to mail you your gray gloves?
Did you get the box with the watch band, the Bible, and the cookies????
Did you get your $25.00 check cashed?
Did you go to hear Beverly Shea on Sunday?
Bye, Bye write real soon. Love
The mother wrote often, we wouldn't have known that unless the child kept the letters. However, to know her, you would understand she was a letter writer and communicated with her children on paper often. Was she from the era of writers or was it just that she cared about her kids and wanted them to know it?
For a brief moment, I wanted to sit down and hand write a letter to each of my children. My son says he has gotten four letters in the mail from me since he left college. Imagine, so few you can count them. That reminds me the first of the month is here and it is time to write snail mail to those special people in nursing homes!