Today in My History

2000:  ** Gone Fishin' **
2001:  We Can Stand With Pride
2002:  Old Dogs and New Tricks
2003:  Velcro Girl
200c4 Current Events
2005:  Pride vs. Puppies

2006:  Please Not Again
2007:
  Counting Carbs
2008:  The OTHER Party
2009:  All Alone in Paris
2010:  Not in (too much) Trouble
2011: 
She's Alive!
2012: What a Full Day!
2013: Belated Sunday Stealing

2014: Have You Ever?
2015: Nannie's Horses
2016: Finished, at last Finished
2017: Very Sad Sunday Stealing
2018  Why You Have Children


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mail to Walt / mail to Bev  

 

BEFORE FTW

25 June 2019

I had a great idea last night.  The other day Ned brought down a box of folders, which I have started calling "Before Funny the World."  For many years, I kept carbon copies of all the letters I wrote (remember carbon paper?).  I had forgotten I had them but they were all in a box labeled "Mom's letters."  As you can see, I was quite prolific.

The box sat on the kitchen table for about a week and yesterday, realizing that today is "anniversary eve" (our 54th anniversary is tomorrow) I thought I would check the letters and see if I had anything that I wrote in the days before our wedding.

I thought it was a great idea!

But when I went to get the box, it was gone.  Ned had moved it "somewhere" and didn't answer my text asking where it was.  So I didn't find any letters from 1965 and wasn't sure what I was going to write today.  But I knew Ned would be here so I didn't worry about it.

He wasn't sure where he put the box, but eventually found it and I discovered that the oldest letters in there were from 1967, when Jeri was 8 months old, so whatever wonderful things I was thinking on June 25, 1965 never got permanently recorded.  I am sure there is at least one folder prior to 1967, but I'm not sure where that is.  I remember I was keeping copies of letters  written to Walt's mother before we married, for example.  I have a feeling that I know it is in a cabinet here in my office, but there are two layers of boxes in front of the door, and it's not worth moving them in the hope that those folders are there.

The reason for keeping copies of every letter I wrote was not entirely egotistical (though I'm sure there was some aspect of that in it), it's that I wrote to so many people, and wrote so often that it was helpful to know what I wrote to whom and when so I didn't repeat myself.

I still do that, only now all the letters (and there are far fewer of them) are on my computer and take up essentially no space at all.

There was a time, somewhere around the late 1970s or early 1980s, perhaps, when I stopped keeping copies of my letters.  This was before I had a computer, so those years of my life are lost to posterity.

But what a wonderful treasure trove this box of letters is for me, at least, if not for anyone else.  I wrote most often to my friend Gerry, who lives in Santa Barbara.  She was my roommate in college.  She married the year before I did and I was in her wedding.  The only reason she wasn't in our wedding was because she had just given birth and I wasn't sure she could wear the bridesmaids dress (I have regretted that ever since)...she was in charge of the guest book.

We birthed babies around the same time, though she was a year ahead of me and her oldest daughter is a year older than Jeri.  But as I started reading through the 1967 letters (it's going to take me forever to even hit the highlights of these files!) I saw that I wrote to Gerry at least 3 times a week, each long 2-3 page typed letters  Those letters alone tell my history at least for the years I was writing them.

But I wrote to everyone.  Walt's mother, his sister, his best friend in college (who was Jeri's godfather), our friend Ed Andrews, for whom Ned was named (and who was in a Benedictine seminary at the time), my boss after I left work to give birth to Jeri, lots of Lamplighters people (the entire history of writing the Lamplighters history is in there somewhere), someone named Kathy who was obviously a good friend but who I can't even remember now, and a score of others, my cousin Peach.  I only skimmed through 1967 and hope to read it more thoroughly.  Somewhere in 1971 will be the story of my sister's murder.

Prior to 1967, Char and Mike were living in a log cabin in Alaska and Char tells me that my letters helped her survive her first Fairbanks winter trapped in a house with two toddlers, so I know that somewhere there are lots and lots of letters I wrote to her before Walt and I got married.  I will eventually find them.

Reading through the little bit I did this morning (and I haven't made a dent in 1967) was very therapeutic.  Whenever I look back on the kids' childhood(s) today I tend to think of all the things I didn't do and the times when I was not the best mother ever.  Reading these letters reminds me that I did some good stuff and tried the best I could be to be a good mother and occasionally was even wildly successful.

I'm so glad I kept these letters and I look forward in going back and remembering the old days.  When I stopped keeping letters is when I started keeping a typed diary that ultimately became "How I Did It," the book I retyped, printed, and gave to the kids one Christmas.  I think Ned was 10 at the time.  He later told me I had "given him back his childhood."

Without these letters, how would I ever remember days like this, from 1969 (letter to Gerry):

Yesterday was fun.  Walt lost his car keys, his pen and the statement for the house payment.  We decided to take the kids to the 2 p.m. puppet show at Live Oak Park, got there at 2:05 and found it all sold out. Instead we decided to visit Jay and Karen, who have a new house 2 blocks from the park.  They weren't home and we waited half an hour for them.  In the meantime Ned wet his pants so badly it was dripping all down his leg and had soaked his socks and we had no spares.  We finally gave up on Jay and Karen and went back to the park to buy tickets for the 4 p.m. show.  I went to Lucky's and bought Pampers so at least Ned was relatively dry. The show cost $1 per person (regardless of age) so I decided to stay outside with Paul. They locked the building where the puppet show was being held and it was so cold I couldn't possibly let Paul play in the playground, so ended up wrapping him up in my coat and huddling outside the exit door until shortly before the show ended when somebody took pity on me and let me wait inside.

(Not one of my "wildly successful" days!)

My letters these days aren't nearly the way they were then, but Funny the World has become the story of my life now.  After I die if anyone ever wants to write a biography of me, all they have to do is edit the volumes I have left for them!  And if the kids are ever interested in their birth-to-childhood days, it's all there in this big box of folders....and wherever the earlier ones are.
 

PHOTO OF THE DAY

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and his wife
attended a performance of Fun Home, in which Jeri plays in the band.
 

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