There’s History in Those Love Letters Part IV

In the past I shared 3 love letters that my grandpa wrote to my Grandma Charlotte when they were courting back in 1936. My grandma was 17 at the time and my grandpa was 23. She was still attending high school and he was a school teacher in a one-room school house. If you haven’t had the chance to read those letters; you can do so here:

There’s History in Those Love Letters

There’s History in Those Love Letter Part II

There’s History in Those Love Letters Part III

Soon after he wrote those letters they got married. The letter I am sharing today is a letter written in 1943; 7 years into their marriage and with 2 of their 4 children being born (Janet and Judy). By this time my grandpa had quit his job as a school teacher and since work was somewhat scarce in the rural area of Wisconsin that they lived, he had taken a short-term job in Omaha, Nebraska helping to build their airport. He went with his brother, Denver. I guess in a way it is not a true love letter but by all accounts it shows that my grandpa was still very much in love with my grandma. There is also some important history in this letter. I thought about omitting a part where my grandpa made a comment about African-Americans. Although his comment wasn’t intended to be racist and merely indicated that rural Wisconsin did not have a lot of African Americans at the time; he used a term that is no longer acceptable. After some consideration I decided it was important to include it and to show how far we have come as a country.

Grandma Charlotte and Grandpa Ed

Grandma Charlotte and Grandpa Ed

Plattsmouth, Nebraska

May 31, 1943

Dearest Charlotte, Judy and Janet,

Denver is writing to Marie so I thought I would write to you too. I have just began to get rested up so I feel like writing.

Well I went to work today. I worked in the shop with Denver, helped on the trucks, took care of the gas pumping and fixed tires and things like that. I sure was a greasy mess when I got done work. I don’t know what I will get to do yet. Swanson isn’t here; he is in Minneapolis. I am staying in a room with Denver and a fellow by the name of Ed Jacques. He is a big fat fellow.

We eat at a restaurant downtown. It sure cost a lot to eat. It is awful crowded in our room. Denver and I may get a room to ourselves right away. One fellow from Arkansas thinks he may go to Asnaha (?) and stay.

Right beside the place we work is a bomber plant. They say they make eight planes a day there. They are taking off and landing all the time. They also try out their guns there.

There is only about two weeks of work unless something else turns up. I will let you know if there is. Some say there is an airport going in at La Crosse. I would rather go up there then. It wouldn’t be so far to take the kids.

I sure miss you and the kids. I sure hope your are well. If the kids get sick be sure and let me know as soon as you can.

Tell Janet there sure is a lot of negroes down here. I looked downtown for something to send home but I couldn’t find anything but I will look again tomorrow night. Maybe I can find something.

Did you go to the Cherser’s Memorial Day? I wished I hadn’t come down here when I did. If I had waited until now I would have known it would be a short job. The company put the bid on a lot of work but did not get it. Unless they can sub contract, the job will be very short.

Well honey, I guess that is about all I know. Take good care of yourself and the kids and give them a big smacker for me.

Are the berries ripe? I sure would like to have a big dish full with a little sugar and cream.

Write soon and tell me something.

Denver just asked me if I was getting homesick and I told him I wasn’t, but I really wish I was going to crawl into that old bed of ours instead of this bunk in the cabin.

When you get this newspaper read you’ll probably need a pair of specks. So I will quit.

With All My Love,


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You Have the Freedom to Marry Who You Want (Except Your Brother)

I remember being 4 years old and having someone ask me who I was going to marry. Without a moment of hesitation I told them I was going to marry my brother. All of the people in the room began to laugh and someone piped up with, “Oh honey, you can’t marry your brother. It’s against the law.”

Considering he was the only boy I knew at that age and I thought he was pretty cool; I was crushed. At the age of 4 I already began to picture myself as an old maid living out the rest of my days all alone because the one shot I thought I had at getting married was against the law.

Me at the age of 5 all dressed up in my Mom's wedding dress trying to figure out who I was going to marry!

Me at the age of 5 all dressed up in my Mom’s wedding dress trying to figure out who I was going to marry!

As a mother now to a girl and two boys I wasn’t surprised when my own daughter at the age of 4 declared that she was going to marry one of her brothers (her choice between the two fluctuated week to week) when she grew up. I only smiled and said, “That’s nice dear,” so as not to give her the same complex that I had at that young age. When she was still holding on to the dream of marrying within the family when she started school I decided that I better let her know the truth and I figured at least being in a school full of lots of kids she would see that she had plenty of options besides her own brothers. After I broke the news to her that her dream of her and brother standing at the altar wouldn’t be happening she looked at me and said, “Well, is it okay to marry girls?”

My response: “Ummmm….well….(goodness, I wasn’t expecting this question)…kind of, well, I think right now the only way you can marry a girl is if you go to California. Ummmm…actually, I don’t know if it will always be this way though.”

Since my daughter was only 6 at this point it’s no surprise that she had such a confused look on her face to my answer, shrugged her shoulders and walked away to go play Barbies.

Apparently, my daughter forgot about this conversation we had two years ago because a few weeks ago she asked me the same question, “Mom, can girls marry girls?”

This time around I didn’t need to hem and haw. I didn’t need to think about how I was going to explain this. Our country has made some important decisions concerning gay rights and I don’t think we have to worry about them going away. I think the freedoms for the gay Americans are only going to continue to grow.

I confidently told my daughter, “Yes, yes girls can marry girls if that is what they want to do.”

My daughter smiled and said, “That’s great. I wasn’t sure if it was against the law. I’m glad it’s not because I think I am going to marry (her best friend’s name) when I grow up.”

Of course since my daughter is only 8 years old, she has no idea who she is going to marry or whether it will be a girl or a boy. But even at the age of 8, it is just nice to know you have the freedom to marry whoever brings you the most happiness in your life.

This is my brother that I couldn't marry!

This is my brother that I couldn’t marry!

There’s History in Those Love Letters

Of course I never knew my maternal grandparents when they were kids because well, that just wouldn’t be possible now would it?

Grandma & Grandpa in 1936

Grandma & Grandpa in 1936

My memories of them are when they were in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

They were extremely hard working. They were running the all-in-one store/tavern/gas station in their small town. Plus my Grandpa was a farmer raising cows and tobacco. My Grandpa was a big burly man with muscles like an ox. My Grandma was a slight little thing with a ton of energy.

When I think of my grandparents I don’t conjure up images of romance. They certainly had a union that worked and I thought of them as a great team. They raised four children together and shared plenty of hardships and victories with one another. But I’m sure I never saw them kiss or hug. I never overheard an “I love you.” There was no gift giving among the two and no elaborate anniversary celebrations.

But I know how in love they were. I have the proof. I have a handful of love letters my Grandpa wrote to my Grandma when they were courting. He was 23 and she was 17. My aunts have the originals and my mom made me a binder of copies of them all.

When my grandparents were courting my Grandpa was a school teacher in a one room school house and my Grandma was still in high school. They lived a few towns apart so were only able to see each other on the weekends.

Enjoy reading the following letter my Grandpa wrote my Grandma and see how their love started and went on to create their family and many more generations. Their legacy lives on even though they are no longer with us. I have their memories forever in my heart and I have these words to know that my family was built on true love.

March 23, 1936

Dearest Charlotte,

Well Monday is almost past and all I can say is that it was just another blue Monday.

The kids were real good to school today, and I didn’t have to keep fire either so that helped. I had a new scholar to school today. It was Bobby Crumerine. He sure is the berries. He came up to my desk and asked me why I didn’t come over and take Marie K. to town anymore. I didn’t know what to say.

Gee I wish I could come up, but I don’t know when I will get to. I think I will have to take Dad to Viola tomorrow night.

George said he wasn’t going to Viroqua any more this week so I suppose I will have to come alone.

I sure wish you were coming home this weekend. I am afraid it will be an awful lonesome weekend.

It is almost eleven o’clock and I am sitting here thinking a lot and writing a little and all I can think about right now is you.

I am just wondering what you are doing. Probably out with some darn nice guy, and thinking how foolish you were to go out with me.

You said you liked me a little, but I just had a feelin you were foolin, but I hope not for I like you so darn much. I have been wondering whether or not it was love, but I guess it can’t be for I haven’t broken out with a rash yet although I have been looking for it.

I must close for it is getting my sleepy time.

With All My Love,


P.S. Please Excuse Scribbling I can’t do better I wasn’t cut out to be a writer.

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