Galatians 6:11 See what large letters I make when I am writing in my own hand!
Dad saved just about every scrap of paper that ever crossed his desk, and he carefully organized them all in his file cabinets. I’m not really complaining about it, because although it meant that we had to work for hours and hours to go through his papers when our parents moved from their home of over three decades, what we found was a magic carpet ride back in time.
There were letters from Capt. E.J. Fosha, 91st Illinois Infantry Regiment (1862- 1864), his great grandfather on his paternal side, and all of his mother’s diaries, letters, memorabilia, scrapbooks, etc. He saved all the letters his father wrote to him when he served in the Navy in WWII, and all the letters he wrote back. There were carbon copies of letters that Mom wrote to friends and family members, a billion loose photos, and every little thing that had to do with each of us six kids (report cards, fathers day cards, valentines, letters to Santa, artwork, doctor visit bills, college tuition bills, letters, IOU’s, test scores, transcripts, wedding expenses- from what I can see, he got off easy with me!).
I would never have remembered that when I was seven years old in 1962, I wanted a little stuffed dog (as I indicated in a pencil drawing), a pair of slippers and a pair of play shoes for Christmas (Shannon will laugh about that, because I always ask her for a new pair of slippers every Christmas!). I carefully wrote in my best second grade script that I hoped that Santa would safely make it all the way around the world.
In a letter back to New Orleans from a homesick little girl who was visiting her grandparents in Houston (1964), I wrote, “I miss you very much” at least three times, and that I also missed the dog, the rabbit and even the duck. But my letter reported that we’d gone to the Wee Wild West, the Briar Club, Hermann Park and the Putt Putt Golf course, so I must not have been TOO miserable!
Three years later, I advised my sister, Tetot, to go see “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and that I thought it was hilarious! I also generously offered to share all the Mad Magazines that I had purchased with her. Later that same year, I wrote to Dad that we’d had car trouble in Lake Charles, and that Mom had had to rent a 1967 Ford Galaxy 500. I told him, “Real nice. Let’s get one.” I drew him pictures of all my new back-to-school wardrobe items, including the patterns of my stylish fishnet stockings! He must have rolled his eyes at that one.
The most fascinating one was a three-pager I wrote to him about being in the 7th grade (he was stationed in Australia for six months at the time). Before I discovered this letter, I could not have begun to tell you the names of my teachers or the classes I took that year. But they all came back to me, in vivid detail, on the pages of this letter. What a treasure! Joel laughed at the part that read, “My allowance is doing fine. I only use 23 cents a day, since I make my own lunch and I have my budgets planned.” Dad taught me well!
The letters go on and on through my college years and my newlywed days in Dallas. After that, there were cards for special occasions, and a newspaper clipping or two, but once I returned home to Houston for good, there was no need to write anymore.
All the love I could possibly send was enclosed in those many letters over the years. Especially when Dad was far away in Australia, how he must have cherished them! Imagine being away from your family for six months at a time in the days before cell phones and e-mail. Mail call must have been a high point of his day (when there WAS mail!).
It’s sad to me that few people take the time to write letters anymore. What a shame that the younger generation will have no written record of its history! E-mails, calls, text messages, and face book communications are the way of their world. When it comes time for them to recall the past, how will they?
Thanks for saving our histories, Dad, and Happy Fathers Day! When I next come to visit you, I’m going to bring all the handmade cards I’d made for you over the years, with hopes of getting a laugh out of you! It would be music to my ears as we walk down memory lane together…