Shortly after my mother passed away two years ago, I acquired a small stack of letters she had written to our family members (mostly my paternal grandmother, with whom she was very close). The letters span a good twenty years of her life, beginning back in January of 1969. Of course, blogging didn’t exist back in 1969, but if it had, I think my mother would have made a great blogger. Her letters are incredibly detailed (okay, sometimes TOO detailed), and they make it so easy to imagine the life she was living during those years.
Though my relationship with my mother was always somewhat rocky due to her (untreated) manic-depression, I really treasure these letters. I can hear my mother’s voice quite distinctly when I read them. They are a pretty sincere portrait of who my mother was, who I remember her to be, her relationship with my father, and her experiences as a mother. They also help me learn and understand more about my early childhood years. And it’s fascinating to compare her concerns and priorities to my own current priorities and concerns.
I hope that my blog will play a similar role for my kids, in helping them understand and remember their own childhoods and our experiences as a family.
Because paper letters are so fragile and vulnerable, I am going to transcribe my mother’s words and keep them on a page on my blog. These letters may not be of interest to everyone, but I hope they will help my children “meet” the grandmother they never got a chance to know. For others, they may be an interesting portrait of life during the late sixties, seventies, and eighties, through one woman’s eyes.
I hope to not offend anyone in doing this. If I come across any letters (or sections of letters) that involve issues I think might be too personal or potentially hurtful, I will exclude them.
Friday, 10 January 1969
Dear Mom and Dad:
Well, we finally did it! We bought a T.V. and a vacuum cleaner. Now life is complete – hardly. The T.V. is a Sharp brand – they make the parts for lots of other T.V. companies. The best part was that the dealer gives a two-year warranty on all parts and labor. It is 18” and came delivered with the wrong stand, but we’ll get another one on Sunday. It’s just that after the effort Seth went through to set the stand up without the use of pliers or a hammer, it was a shame to take it apart. The vacuum cleaner is a canister Eureka which is really sharp, it has a piggy back stand for all the extra attachments and the cord snaps into the body. As soon as we finished dinner, I went to work cleaning the radiators out.I’ve got my work cut out for me this weekend. Besides cooking about 3 fancy dinners in advance, and vacuuming, I want to finish a pink knit dress I started before vacation. And there’s the Super Bowl, of course.
Did you get the bank book and check? Was the money put in the bank yet? We got your movie- letter. Your vacation sounds like it really turned out well. Ellen will have to write to me about her adventures.
On last Sunday I substituted for a first grade teacher at the synagogue. I should get about nine dollars for the three hours that I worked. I was kind of disappointed in the setup, however, which didn’t seems as progressive and unusual as I was led to expect. Also the other regular staff members were rather snobby and I felt like an outsider, even with our whole floor around.
Seth and I have been playing a lot of chess lately. On Sunday he found a chess problem in an advertisement in the Times Book Review, and all week long he’s been trying to figure it out. Every time he thinks he’s come up with the three-move checkmate, I play the opponent’s pieces and get out of it.
Today I am getting my hair trimmed at the barber shop during lunch. They have a barber shop near the dormitories that does both men and girl’s hair, so I figured I’d go, but I hope they don’t cut it too short.
It has been bitter cold and the ground is all iced over. For the past few days I have wanted to go shopping after work, but can never get up the nerve and warmth to make it the eight or nine blocks. Yesterday I did get halfway there, and stopped at an art supply store to pick up mat board and Elmer’s glue to start on my tissue paper picture. Today I’m supposed to make sketches for Seth’s approval.
That’s all I can think of for now. Write soon and a lot.