Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Hardest Blog Post to Write

It is with bittersweet emotion that I write this post.  I have obviously been avoiding this one, as it has been three days since my last blog entry.


Because, about three days ago, I folded up the card table I have been using to sit at and type letters.  I moved it out of the furnace room and back to its spot behind the door in the laundry room.

Yes, I regret to have to write that I have transcribed the last letter found between my grandma and grandpa.  They both wrote letters to one another on 3/13/31...the last letters in the shoe box.

Grandma's work at the Donnelley Corporation in Nevada, Ia. was to only last the first three months of 1931. She then quit and went back to live and work on the farm in Marshalltown with the letters back and forth, of course, ceased.

However, my journey with these letters is not complete.  I now have before me the task of editing and writing in some back story from what my mother remembers as well as adding in information about some of the relatives mentioned in the correspondence.

When I began the project, I gave each character a voice by changing the font of each letter depending on who was writing.  As the letters became more intense, I stopped taking time to change the font, and just vigorously typed listening to their voices in my head.  So, one of my arduous activities will be going back through all the letters and making sure they have the correct font.  And while all the letters have been transcribed, I absolutely must include samples of their handwriting throughout, so will need to scan several letters to intersperse in the compilation.

My job will not end there.  Finding an appropriate way to publish the compilation and making copies for the family members will be the last step.

I want to thank everyone for following along here with this letter project, and I hope you will check back in now and then to see how the final step of the project is progressing.  It is the most beautiful love story I have ever read.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Letterhead Stationery Said it All

To earn some extra cash in January of 1931, Grandma went back to work for The Reuben H. Donnelley Corporation in Nevada, Iowa.  By this time, Grandma and Grandpa had been married for just over a year, and Grandpa still had dreams of making farming their livelihood.  The cash to fund his dream was not coming easy, so Grandma did the only thing she knew could earn some money--type.

Making seven cents a page and typing 65 pages a day, grandma contributed what she could so they could buy cows, pigs, and chickens to raise.  Meanwhile, Grandpa tended to the livestock chores and gardening while working at the Skelly Oil Company in Marshalltown.

Grandma would get a ride home or take the bus on Saturdays and Grandpa would drive her back to Nevada on Sunday nights.  The bus ticket cost Grandma $1.10, and she agonized over the fact that the round trip ticket would not cover two trips from Nevada to Marshalltown, but was only good for a Nevada-to-Marshalltown-and-back-to-Nevada trip.

The letters from Grandpa showed his exhaustion and frustration.  They were not the relaxed, poetic works of heart he had written to Grandma from California.  They were short, sloppy, and contained numerous spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors.

"Recieved you letter yestidy.  I was ver much astonish.  Howsomever you mad 1 mistak.  I worka from middy Sat. to sun by Sun.  I will brung the whash in Sat. Mourn.  Well this will be all fer awhile."

During the week, Grandma and a couple other girls working at Donnelley's stayed with a widow lady in Nevada--a Mrs. McCullom.  Apparently Mrs. McCullom was a lonely woman and loved the company of the young girls...

"...she wants to play cards or something every night.  Monday night when we came home from supper she had popped corn and had apples; Tuesday, gum, apples and candy kisses; tonight apples and popcorn.  Something every evening.  She serves real good breakfasts.  Have just been eating an apple at noon but tomorrow will have to get something else or will be appled to death."