I’ve got letters, lots of letters.
Growing up, I loved to write and receive letters. My mother was also an avid letter writer, and one of her penpals became a lifelong family friend. Like my mother, I had penpals, but from all over the world including a young man in France and a woman in Yugoslavia. I’m not sure what happened, but after years all of the penpal relationships dissolved. I still have some of those letters which I’ve not looked at for years.
When I think about letters, I remember the Perry Como show. He had a segment on his show where he sang songs from letter requests. I loved watching this show with my folks when I was a kid. (To see this video you will need to come to my website.)
So what about all of those letters? As most of you know I’ve been working on genealogy. I have a lot of family photos, so I was again going through them recently. My sister died in 1990 and several years after her death I was sent some of her things. Included were some photos, lots of magazine clippings of her successes, but also over 200 letters she received from boyfriends, girlfriends, and servicemen. These letters were all written when she was in high school – 1953-1955. I’ve been wanting to go through these letters for years, but just didn’t take the time.
What was interesting about these letters is not only what they said about their lives, but what I could glean about my sister and our family. I found out that my mother had been hospitalized in 1953. Two of the servicemen commented in their letters, “I hope your mom is out of the hospital and feeling better.” I also found out that my parents were pretty easy on her. In other words, she got away with a lot more than I ever did! She was 13 years older than me, and the oldest of four. I learned that we did have some interests in common including the fact we both served on our high school yearbooks. So I ended up finding out that these letters although written by others, really gave me a window to my sister.
Three of the servicemen were friends who grew up together in Northern Illinois. I’m not sure how she started to write them, but Tom did send her address to his two pals. These letters were penpal letters, not love letters. Some included pictures of the servicemen and service related stuff.
So because of my genealogy bent, I wanted these letters to go to family members. I was hoping to find children of these men. I wanted to do this because if someone had letters from my family, I’d love to have them now. So my search began. I found Dick’s son who was so happy to receive them. He never knew much about his dad’s service and only had few pictures from then. His dad had died in the 90s after struggling for years with Alzheimer’s.
I only have three letters from Jim. The bottom letter is my sister’s letter to Jim that was returned. When reading one of Tom’s letters he told my sister that Jim had been killed in Korea and that she didn’t need to write Jim anymore.
I immediately quit reading Tom’s letters and dug out Jim’s. The last letter Jim wrote he spoke about how he was going to go on R&R on the 8th, “but I don’t know if I will now that we are going back up on line.” He said he’d send her a small gift from Japan when he’s on R&R because she’s taken the time to write him in Korea. The letter is postmarked July 5, 1953. This may have been one of the last letters he wrote. He stepped on a land mine and died on July 12, 1953. He had written in the previous letters that he was due to come home in September, and then get out of the service after that. Jim didn’t have any children and only had a sister. I’m still in search for his sister’s kids.
Tom’s 57 letters and pictures are still waiting to be sent. I have found his children, but have not heard back from any of them. Dick’s son said he would help me if I needed help contacting them. I will do that now since it might be easier since his mom knows the family.
The remaining letters, including Ronnie’s 75 love letters, went into the recycling bin.
My friend Amy Abbott has letters from her grandfather sent to her grandmother back in 1929-1931. She put them together in a lovely book you can buy on Amazon. What a treasure!
Well, Molly found Ally’s bowl! I have another one I made awhile back that Ally has tried to get into even though it’s on a high shelf. I just put it on the table so hopefully they’ll both be happy.
Lastly, I have been sewing a bit. This purse is made for the Sew Powerful project. It’s a wonderful project helping girls in Zambia stay in school all month. I plan to make many more. If you’d like to join me, check out this link.
That’s all for today. Hopefully, both Jim’s and Tom’s letters will go home soon. Have a great week.
The letters sound wonderful. After we lost my parents I got lots of her photos and there was a trove of treasures in there. Letters and photos from her brothers, telegrams sent to my grandmother. These are so much more important to me than most things I have. Good luck on the letters.
Jackie, Thanks. So glad you have all of those letters and photos. They are priceless for sure. Dick’s son was so happy to get a pic of his dad from that time. He said as soon as he got them in the mail, he sat down and read them all. So happy I could give those to him. I have my mom’s diary from high school and right before she and dad got married. I treasure it.
Lynda, letters like that are priceless. I have letters written by my folks when Daddy was serving in the Navy during WWII, then some after they were divorced and stayed in touch a/c my brother and me. Even those have information I didn’t know because they both died in their 40’s, and I was not old enough to ask questions. I wish more people wrote now… there will be future generations who won’t have the opportunity to read letters from their families from before they were around. You’re great to be looking for family of the servicemen who your sister was writing to.
Judy, Yes, they are priceless. That’s great that you have those letters. I treasure my mom’s diary.
You are such a sweetheart to care about people you don’t even know. I, too, have been able to send things to people when it seems like it would matter. I find it to be such a good feeling to be able to send something “home” again. Thank you for your kind works.
Lee, Thanks. If it were my dad’s letters, I’d want to have them. I did get in contact with Tom’s son and he’ll get the 57 letters today. I didn’t tell him there were 57! He will be surprised! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.