Saturday Stories: Letters


Along with old pictures, legal documents and stories from old memories, I have saved letters written to me from my grandparents and some from my dad when he was flying bombing raids over Vietnam.  Today, I dug out a couple from Bumpa to me.  I don’t know what made me save them.  I was just a little girl when I received the first and a teenager when the other was written.  I am so glad I still have them.  He wrote in a beautiful script.  His letters were few because, according to Mamie, they had to be perfect.  He would spend days composing letters, crumpling up and discarding rough drafts. 
Dated June 22, 1976
Dear Granddaughter:
I want this to be a red letter day (he wrote in red pen) when you get a special invitation from us.  We would like to welcome you to the Big Red House for a red hot time at your grandparents’; and we will be reddy to do almost anything your heart desires, excepting talk about Baby Doe (Bumpa developed quite an obsession about Baby Doe Tabor during the 1970s because of a William Henry Jackson photograph he acquired).
I don’t have a fishing license yet but we could manage that too because we have a truck to carry all the fish in the county.  Maybe you should bring a long sleeved blouse and slacks to protect you from mosquitoes because they like granddaughters especially well.  We will have to search for some big worms to lure the fish onto the hooks.  I will point them out to you and you can put them in the can of dirt.
This is Mamie’s last day of school (she worked as head baker in the cafeteria) so she will have lots of time to spend with you.  She doesn’t know all the fine points about fishing but she sure knows how to play store and make believe.  You see, fishing is the real thing, so that’s where I fit in.  If we could borrow your Dad’s new station wagon we could just throw the dead fish in the back end and it wouldn’t matter whether it rained or not, would it?
I think it will do you a lot of good to have some of this intelligence rub off on you for a while.  They might have you skip a grade when you go back to school next fall.
Your red blooded Grandfather,
PS Mamie says you can’t spend all your time fishing because she might have some plans for you, too.  She’s a land lubber, but I lubber just the same.
Dated February 3, 1982
Dear Kristen:
This is a very important day as you will find out in about fifty years, unless the Social Secrity checks no longer arrive to gladden the hearts of the elderly.  This is the special day that we stand watch for the mailman who is the most welcome sight on the horizon.  It is an instant relief from boredom even though one of these checks reads like another from month to month.  Other important days are more surprising when we get a letter from you.
Mamie keeps a well stocked larder for these wintry days and we have plenty of both, without the need to travel over the salty roads until the washing has to be done (they never owned a washer or dryer!) at the laundramat, or when your great grandmother needs to do some errands.  It is quite monotonous for her to wait for company or the sound of the telephone when the wind is howling around that span of windows where she spends most of the day.
Marion gets provoked with Alton’s attention to the Rubic’s cube, and they pass the other idle hours poring over jigsaw puzzles.  I suppose Mamie will be relieved too if I ever master the cube.  We are involved with jigsaw puzzles, too.
We have been sleeping near the television set during the recent cold spell.  It bothers Mamie when I sit up late and switch channels for a complete coverage of programs.  With our new set we can get the latest analysis of the economy and the stock market performance.  It has become very interesting, but the report is scheduled for 11:30pm when her eyes are the heaviest and her patience is burdened to the limit.  When the sound is barely audible to me (he was very deaf) it is loud for her and there doesn’t seem to be much room for compromise unless I turn off the set when she hits the sack.  It would be more worthwhile to pick up a magazine in most instances because the entertainment is so poor.  We do enjoy one of the ads over and over again.  It shows how the dog is persuaded to change his mind about leaving home on account of his nutrition.  Do you suppose that Suzie (my dog) would become a vagrant?  She has pretty good catering and she should think it over.  Talk to her about life on the road and the sacrifice she would have to make as a loner.
There is a new petshop in the mall near Buffalo.  The young attendants are friendly and enthusiastic.  There was a large stock of puppies but they were expensive in our estimation.  The lowest price that we heard was over three hundred dollars.  Maybe there are some employed Buffalonians who can afford that luxury.  We talked with a young girl who showed affection for the cuddly pups in her charge and she was emphatic about her  preference for German Shepherds.  It was odd that there wasn’t a German Shepherd in sight.  Maybe they just took to the road on account of the TV ad that any smart dog would endorse.
We just returned from our local mall as my second installment begins.  Since the mall opened several years ago, my purchases have been limited to an occasional cup of coffee with a side order of buttered toast in protest to the huge public subsidy that the mall merchants have exclusive priviledge to enjoy with unfair advantage.  Today I wavered for my own advantage without any serious qualms because of a tempting shoe sale and the fact that we were temporarily loaded with our own government subsidy (social security checks).  Alton had told me about the fifteen dollar oxfords that normally sold for about thirty dollars in fair competition.  The moral of this story is the fact that we are men of high principles and nothing sways us excepting money.
We hope to see you here in April, or as soon as your folks can make arrangements.  By that time the weather should be more moderate.  Will your statewide music competition be finished by that time?  We were thrilled to learn about you role as pianist.  Your young brother is being exposed to culture everyday, isn’t he?
Have you seen the radical change in the latest Kodak camera?  Some critics have already complained about the retail price but the stock market quotation reflected more optimism among investors.  I think that Eastman and Polaroid should concentrate on their instant developing color film, and put more emphasis onto the reduction of prices for their popular film apparatus.  Kodak stock has enjoyed a steady increase every day excepting one since the sudden release of the camera, but it seems like a reckless gamble at this stage of trial.
Mamie wants to reach the post office before the noon closing today and I want to get washed up for a visit to a nearby town, so this rambling letter will have to end right here.  Mamie and I are conscious of the work that you did to distinguish this writing paper ( I made them homemade stationery for a Christmas present).  We like it and it will be reserved for top drawer communictions like this one.
Love to you and the family,
PS Say hello toSuzie
PPS Put some of your hoarded money into circulation to bolster the national economy.  If it works I’ll dip into my paltry sum.

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