There’s History In Those Love Letters Part II

I wrote a previous post about my Grandparents and shared a love letter my Grandpa sent my Grandma. I have another one to share with you today.

My maternal grandparents started courting in 1936 when my Grandma was 17 and still in high school. My Grandpa was 23 and had a teaching job in a one room school house a few towns away from where my Grandma was living.

My Grandpa in his school room in 1937

My Grandpa in his school room in 1937

Even though this is when they started dating they knew each other since they were children because they grew up in neighboring farm houses. My Great Grandma never liked my Grandpa but I don’t know why.

My Grandpa’s Mom, Alice passed away on January 9th, 1936 leaving her husband, my Grandpa and a young daughter Bonnie to live at the farm on their own.

Even though I don’t know for sure, I would think all of these circumstances play a part in my Grandpa’s following letter to my Grandma. I mentioned in my last post that my Grandparents did not express their love outwardly but this letter truly proves that my Grandpa was a very sensitive, emotional man and loved my Grandma very much.

My Grandma Charlotte's Senior Picture

My Grandma Charlotte’s Senior Picture

March 17, 1936

Dearest Charlotte,

Well I hope you are not disappointed in finding this letter is from me instead of some other guy.

I got home o.k. last night, but I had to get up and get breakfast. Ruby and Art didn’t come back last night. Bonnie and Dad were back sick this morning. And I felt so darn blue I cried all the way to school.

It is noon now and have I felt mean this forenoon. I bet the kids think I am terrible. They have all gone out of the school house; because they are afraid of me I suppose. I wish you were down here; I would have you make out some tests for me. Not only that but I would just like to have you here. You seem to make my heart beat faster, and I feel as though it should.

I have got to take Dad to Readstown to-night. I think I will mail this then if I don’t forget it.

Gee I wish I could come up some night this week, but I am afraid I can’t. I have got to go to bed more and redeem myself for things I have been doing. I can just imagine what your mother thinks of me.

Well I know what I think of you any way. I think you are the sweetest darn kid I have ever been with, and I was never so darn crazy over anyone in my life. But the question is just what do you think of me. I have thought a lot about it and have come to no definite conclusion.

I shall be expecting a letter from you; if I get it I will be surprised and if I don’t I shall be disappointed.

Write Soon

With Love

Eddie Heal

Love Letter

Page 1 of Love Letter

Page 2 of Love Letter

Page 2 of Love Letter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To read the first love letter click here!

This Is What I Would Give Them

I’m sure we all grew up having our parents tell us how good we have it compared to how they grew up.

Neither of my parents had a television set until they were of preteen age and then it was only 1 or 2 channels depending on the weather.

My father grew up in a house with no indoor plumbing.

My mom, well my mom actually didn’t have a lot to complain about. Her parents owned the general store in town. I often refer to my mom as Nellie Oleson (from Little House on the Prairie). My mom brought a bottle of Coca-Cola and a candy bar to school everyday for her lunch. Her Dad drove her to school and they had indoor plumbing! Still, she was born in the 1940’s and the world wasn’t equipped with the luxuries my generation had.

Soon, I too will take the right of passage of every parent, and begin to bestow unto my children the stories of how good they truly have it compared to what I had to deal with growing up.

This is me talking on our olive green rotary phone when I was 5 years old

Take for instance, the rotary phone, stuck to wall no less! I can barely have a conversation on the phone now with a cellphone. I can’t imagine being tethered to the wall! My children will have no idea how much better their teenage years will be, compared to what mine were!

Here I am typing away and proficient with a typewriter at 6 years old!

I began typing at 6 years old and used a typewriter all the way up to my senior year in high school. The horror of it all, thinking back on it now. The amount of time it took was unbelievable. I went through many bottles of white-out. My children will have no idea how much easier writing their essays for school will be, compared to what I went through.

My backyard growing up

I however had something my children may never have. This is the backyard I grew up with. This is where my parents still live. My children are growing up on a small lot in the city. From an early age I spent most of my days playing outside with the freedom to roam and run at my leisure. I had few playmates except for many pets. My sister and brother were much older than me so I was usually alone exploring and going on adventures through the woods.

The shed on our land

There was 2 1/2 acres filled with fruit trees, pine trees, a field, vegetable gardens and an old shed. My imagination was a vital element in my everyday life. I don’t remember ever being bored.

This is me at 2 1/2 years old….King of the World!

So yes, in many respects my children will have an easier life than I, due to modern conveniences and technology. However, they may never have this piece of serenity that I knew. They may never know what it’s like to wake up with an adventure everyday, just outside your door.

This is the childhood I wish I could give them.

I’m Not Sure My Kids and I Would Survive

On Friday, I decided a “fun” outing was in order as the beginning of school is only a week away. I decided upon Heritage Hill which is a living museum situated just down the road from us in Green Bay, WI. It is 50 acres of land that contains several buildings and houses from the 1800’s. Most of them are original buildings that have just been moved to this spot and restored.

As extra bonuses, it was a “free” week for kids and I roped my mom into coming along to help me keep the kids from breaking any valuable antiques and from losing anyone (eh….I mean just to come along for fun)!!

I thought this would be a great opportunity to give the kids some Wisconsin history lessons and make them appreciate the luxuries of the 21st century!

We started out in the Belgium farmhouse and explained to them about the lack of electricity, the fact you had to pump your own water and then boil it for your bath, bring in your firewood to heat the house and about the lack of bathrooms.

The Belgium House

Grandma, Bency and Iris walking around the farmhouse

Sheep outside the farm house

The stove in the farm house

Cesar wearing his puppy ears in his umbrella stroller in the farm house

A cupboard in the farm house

Cesar in the farm house being happy as can be

Iris pretending to churn butter. Iris has a blue dress under this green princess dress. She was playing dress up before we left and asked if she could just leave it on!

We left the farm house and I felt good about the attentiveness of the children, the quality of their questions proving they were indeed listening and the fact no one had touched or managed to break any of the irreplaceable 1800’s heirlooms!

Our next stop was the olden day cheese factory. This one we were not allowed to walk inside only peer through the open door into the replicated set up of the building. My mom was busy explaining to the kids the process of making cheese when I noticed my five year old; Bency, had wandered off and was busy examining a water drainage pipe. Really awesome!!!

The old cheese factory

The next few stops on the tour proved to lose Bency more as he asked to wait outside while we poked around the hospital and officers’ quarters. He clearly did not care the soldiers and the people who needed medical care in the 1800’s were made to lay on cots with mattresses made of hay or the fact that the pharmacist’s office stocked chocolate to help with constipation!

One of the buildings Bency didn’t want to linger in

We set off and walked farther down the path on our way to the fur traders section. Bency stopped to check out a drainage grate in the middle of the road and was mesmerized by it! Really awesome!!

Bency mesmerized with the drainage grate

The kids enjoyed the fur trader’s station because a man there in period clothing had them guess what each of the pelts was. Of course, Bency guesses zebra for the muskrat because he had no idea what it was and he uses any chance he can get to the say the word “zebra” because he loves them!

By this time the kids were getting hungry, thirsty and their legs were tired! We were clear across the other side of the park!! Really awesome!!

We continued walking with me making promises of a nice lunch and drinks when we got home. I let my almost 2 year old, Cesar, out of his stroller and gave the older kids turns in the umbrella stroller. Grandma didn’t whine but I’m sure if I could have fit her in the umbrella stroller she wouldn’t have minded a lift either. This park is built on a huge hill!

Our last stop was at the church. This is actually where my husband Alex and I were married in 2004. It is a great memory and whenever we have come here I’ve taken pictures of the kids in front of the church. Today Bency and Cesar weren’t so cooperative…actually not cooperative all!!

The kids in front of the church where my husband and I got married!

Now Cesar is mesmerized with a different drainage grate….we clearly need to go on a tour of drainage grates for our next outing!

We finally made it back to the van. Bency made a request, “Mom, please don’t ever bring me here again.” REALLY AWESOME!!!

As much as I love the pioneer days and sometimes romance the idea of being catapulted back and living a simpler life; I sure was happy to have that van to get us home so quick so I could whip out that bread and peanut butter I bought at the store and make my kids a nice lunch and put them on their soft comfortable mattresses for a nice nap!

One of the vegetable gardens in the park

Beautiful rose hips on the rose bushes all over the park

Iris and Bency standing in the place where the first court house in Green Bay once stood

Standing on a wooden bridge looking into the creek

Bency is obsessed with the crucifixion lately and is positive that this is the location and cross that Jesus was crucified on

Bringing Johnson Gunfrunk Back to Life

My Grandpa Dale was a farmer in southwestern Wisconsin. He died some years back but I can still picture him telling a story. He had a rough voice and even though he always talked calmly it carried well. He was constantly smiling; both with his mouth and his eyes when he talked and would let out a rumbly chuckle here and there. He folded his hands on the table when he talked and would move his head in such a way to accentuate the important parts of his story. He was a master story teller.

My Grandpa wrote countless short stories under the alias, Johnson Gunfrunk, that were published in magazines and in his local newspaper. Today they are still featured in The LaFarge Episcope, a small town newspaper in Wisconsin ran by my Uncle Lonnie.

I wanted to share one of his stories today that proves…Motherhood has ALWAYS been an art form!

Grandma’s Apron

I grew up in an era when all the womenfolk wore aprons and a more indispensable piece of apparel was never invented. Mother Eve probably started the ball rolling but hers was a rather skimpy inefficient model, and about as useful as a bird’s nest with the bottom knocked out.

Grandma always wore an apron and she used it for everything, to gather eggs in, to scoop up strayed baby chickens, she carried hot boiled potatoes to the table in a clean corner of it and then wiped the nose of a snotty grandchild on another corner. It made a handy pouch to carry wood chips and corn cobs for kindling and, although grandma never smoked some her neighbor ladies did, and they carried their clay or corn cob pipes in an apron pocket.

In a pinch it could be whipped off and used as a milk strainer; yes, I have seen that happen, but it was back before the days of milk inspectors.

Aprons were also useful to cry into when the old man came home drunker than a skunk and the missus realized she was going to have to do the milking all by her lonesome.

Grandma could be out slopping the hogs or teaching a new calf to drink out of a bucket when suddenly she would let out a whoop that meant company was coming. Making a beeline for the house, she would snatch off her dirty apron, exchange it for a freshly-laundered one, make a few splashes in the wash dish, pat her hair into place and emerge to meet the guests with poise and confidence.

You seldom see anyone wearing an apron nowadays and the outdoor type farm wives of the present who do get out and mix it up with the livestock all wear blue jeans and a tee shirt. No doubt this is more practical in this mechanized age as an apron would have a great predilection for winding up in a power take-off shaft. However, if I were a little snot-nosed kid again I would rather have my nose wiped on a corner of grandma’s apron than on the cuff of a pair of blue jeans.

By: Johnson Gunfrunk, farm reporter

My Grandpa Dale aka Johnson Gunfrunk