Thursday, December 12, 2013

"Are You Going To Eat That?"

I remember my grandma constantly obsessing over what people were eating.  They were either eating too much or not enough.  She based her own food consumption on what Grandpa was having to eat most of the time.  It was more of a competition rather than an enjoyment of the cuisine.  She would actually count the number of helpings people went back for.  One time, she even kept track of the exact number of strawberries my son had eaten!

That being said, it is no surprise that she obsessed over not only her weight but everyone else's as well.  I thought it was just something she did as she got older, but reading the letter I transcribed yesterday, all I could do was chuckle.  Grandma had been obsessing over weight issues from her teens, and even managed to make it a competition back then.  Following is from her letter to Grandpa dated April 25, 1928...

"I was 5 ft. 3 in. in my stocking feet and weighed 129-1/2 according to Drs. scales.  According to the schedule for my height, I am 9-1/2 lbs. overweight.  Fern was 5 ft. 1-3/4 and weighed 131-3/4 lbs.  So she weighs the most taking height in consideration."
She was also quite curious about every little detail.  Apparently Grandpa hadn't divulged enough information about the highway paving job when he wrote about an unfortunate series of events, so Grandma's inquiring mind wanted to know more...
"That certainly was too bad about your misfortune...You didn't say as much about it as I expected you to, so am going to ask some questions.  Did you stay at Allison only two days?  Were the boys getting along all right over there when you left?  How come those guys didn't show up over at the other end?  Didn't they have enough sense to come or didn't you tell them when to come?  Was that 500 ft. all that was paved that day or the remainder of what you didn't get covered?  Who is that Bryant thing, a company or what?  See you might as well have started in the beginning and told me to the finish.  You certainly know by this time how curious I am about everything." 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The LAST Letter from California

If I have found them all and have them in the right order, it appears I may have just transcribed the last letter Grandpa wrote to Grandma from California.  True to his word, the letter dated Oct. 15, 1927, indicated he would be leaving for Iowa taking the Southern route.  Looking ahead, the next letters are dated in April of 1928 when Grandpa had a job in Iowa working on a highway crew.

I must admit I'm a bit disappointed.  I have so many questions about what happened when Grandpa got back to Iowa.  Also, it is known within the family that Grandpa worked for a tomato canning factory when he lived out in California.  I was really hoping he would've written about that in his letters at some point.  I guess him just saying he "got work" was all the more he was going to say about that in his letters.

  • How long did it actually take him to get home?
  • Did he end up helping with the corn harvest in Iowa that fall?
  • Was his reunion with Grandma all he was hoping for?

Grandma's last letter to Grandpa in California was dated Oct. 9.  In it she revealed she had started a night class at the Central Iowa Business College.  She also answered a question Grandpa had apparently asked about what she wanted him to bring her back from California...
"Well, you can bring anything and everything from a toothpick to a fur coat, including a keen sheik, if that is satisfactory with you.  If not, bring one of Henry Ford's 'best.'  If you can't pick anything within those limits, I will be S.O.L."
I also noticed quite a bit more in this letter from Grandma that she was maybe trying to impress Grandpa with her advanced vocabulary using words like:  compulsory, arbitration, conciliation, and habitual.  Unfortunately, she wouldn't use them in quite the right context making her come off as not very smart after all.  One particularly disjointed sentence went like this...
"I will remark about the 'burning love.'  You might be burning but I don't think it is that kind of love, so you had better connect a detachment."
I don't remember Grandma talking very much as I was growing up.  Perhaps she was told at some point that what she was saying didn't make any sense, and so she just didn't speak her mind very often.

However, her frequent times of silence could have had something to do with another part of this last letter...
"I am still that same girl always saying something crazy if there is anyone around to say it to.  One of the girls (you know the one I mean) at work acts so inhuman sometimes toward her guy.  If I were him, I would show her a few things.  The way she acts reminds me of the way I do and I think to myself that I am going to try to get rid of those crazy habits and not be so silly.  I might be a little more cultured in that respect when you get back and still you probably won't see any difference.  It remains to be proved and seen."

Monday, December 9, 2013

Grandpa Predicts the Future

Grandpa was only 21 years old when he wrote to Grandma from California...21!  I was clueless at age 21.  I certainly didn't have a grasp of true love let alone life and how it could turn out.  Grandpa seemed so ahead of his time, even with some of the insecurities he wrote about.

Perhaps his self-description of being like a robot or cyborg had a much deeper meaning that would explain his advanced thought processes...

"I don't always show thru my actions what I am.  A good share of the time I am an Automaton."

 I had that chills-down-my-spine sensation when I transcribed the following line from his letter dated September 25, 1927...

"Do you really realize just what my coming back means?  I'm coming no matter what now, but I some times wonder if you know what the future holds for you.  I can see Helen, just as tho it were past.  I can see us at 60 yrs. of age, but there will be be much happiness and much sorrow behind us."
 ...and again with this line from his letter dated October 9, 1927...

"There is one thing that keeps us apart.  That's money.  Maybe you think I was foolish to come out here this way.  I don't regret it and maybe you can understand it.  Back there I got in the old rut and I wasn't saving anything.  I'm just this trip ahead for I'd still have been broke back there.  Now I believe I have learned a lesson.  I think I can not only make money but save it.  That's what counts.  Maybe in a couple of years we can be married then." 

"With a bucket of love
and a dipper of kisses
I am
Your Dizzy Izzy"

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Marvin the Meddler

Transcribed several letters from "Marvin" recently.  I know there are more in the shoebox as well, but wasn't sure I wanted to include them just yet.

Still don't know Marvin's last name, but think I have an idea why Grandma might have gone out with him in January of 1927.  Obviously, I don't have the letters Grandma wrote to Marvin, but she evidently corresponded with him occasionally, as he mentions receiving them.

Here's what I've pieced together from Marvin's long-handed, green-inked scrawls...

  • He was a friend of Loren's.
  • Loren wanted to go out with Nadyne (Grandma's friend).
  • Loren and possibly Marvin worked at an oil station in Boone.
In fact, on one of the letters to Grandma, he wrote on the oil station's letterhead...

My best guess is that Nadyne didn't want to go out with Loren by herself so coerced Grandma to go along on a double date.  Unfortunately, Marvin was a smitten kitten, and began competing with Grandpa for Grandma's hand.

Marvin even refers to Grandpa in a couple letters by using the initial "F."

"I sure do think of you.  I can't help it and I sure hope you can manage to think of me when you are not thinking F.  Bet he would like to get a hold of me."

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Happy Anniversary Grandpa & Grandpa!

On this day, 84 years ago, the two people who exchanged the letters I've been transcribing...tied the knot! Using their middle names on the official record and taking Grandpa's mother to be their witness, they traveled from Marshalltown, Iowa to Knoxville, Iowa to elope.  Upon their return to Marshalltown, they each went to their respective homes where they would continue to correspond with each other for several months before telling the family about their secret marriage.

Why they got married on this particular day and why they kept it secret for so long will hopefully be revealed as I continue reading their story and gathering information through their letters.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

National Novel Writing Month Recap...Epic Fail or Just Plain Epic?

November 2013.  Where did it go?

      I missed my 50,000 word goal by 10,980 words.

      I only blogged 17 of the 30 days in the month.

But like a quote from one of my favorite Christmas movies, I will:
"Judge not [my] past but [my] future, not [my] failures but [my] dreams, not [my] imperfections but [my] possibilities." Preacher's Wife

November 2013.  How did it really go?

I transcribed 46 letters, becoming totally immersed in the story, the characters, and the history.

I feel I am at least half way to finishing a project that deserves my time and energy for the preservation of my family history.

I have the mindset to continue what I have started and look forward to the finish line.

As Abraham Lincoln once said,
"Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other."

To recap:  In no way do I feel missing the mark on my November goal was a failure!  Setting the goal actually pushed me toward my goal.  I will continue down this path of finishing the transcription of all the love letters circa 1927 which were found in my Grandma's keepsakes, and publishing them for the family to read.

I will continue to publish updates to this blog on my progress for those that have been following along.  I do appreciate all your comments and look forward to them.  The comments actually help keep me motivated as thank you.  And I will try to post more often so there is more to comment on ;)