Friday, April 6, 2012

Epistle from Dwight January 1, 1950

I'm not sure everyone is interested in this round of correspondence, but I thought I'd try a few and see what you think.  Considering that these letters give us a window on our lives 62 years ago, I  find myself going back in time as if these days were only yesterday.  It is true: I had two boxes of treasures when I left college.  One was a collection of FFA memorabilia and high school stuff, one was a box containing all the letters I got from home for the years 1949-1953.  These letters were my lifeline.  I left home having barely turned 17, no money, no job, 2 FFA jackets, 2 pair of jeans, some tee-shirts, and that was about it.  I hauled these two boxes with me from Laramie to Bozeman, then to Fort Collins, then to Ann Arbor MI, then to Fort Collins, then to Cheyenne, then to Washington, D.C., then to Ann Arbor, then to Penn State, then to Laramie, then to Fort Collins, then to Provo, then to Riverton UT.  I never looked at these letters all of those years.  It seemed sufficient to know they were there.  Then, when getting ready for my 50th anniversary of graduating from the University of Wyoming, I got them out, sorted them in chronological order, and typed every one of them to put in my memoir of my UW years.  Talk about reliving every moment of the past.  Then, as now, I realize what treasured artifacts these letters are.  I hope no one throws them away when I am gone.  I don't know where I got the courage to think I could make it when I left home under these circumstances.  On second thought, I do know.

Rooftop Penthouse
Horse and Sheep Barn
Laramie, Wyoming
January 1, 1950

Dear Folks,

Arrived safely.  Hungry.

We dragged in a little after 5:00 tonight.  I drove to Thermop, then Felix drove to Casper, I drove to Wheatland, then Felix drove on into Laramie.  We made it in good time just stopping to change drivers, and then didn't have to hurry.  We probably met over 2 doz. cars all the way down and there was no snow or ice at all on the road.  Those sandwiches came in handy for dinner for both of us today and saved a half hour stop or more for something to eat.  We fought a terrific wind all the way down which was the only trouble we had.  The sun was shining when we got to Wheatland; it is clear tonight.  Averaged about 18 miles per gallon in spite of the wind, which wasn't too bad, but it took a quart of oil.

Love, Dwight

Note: about 15 miles north of Laramie, Felix (Felix Bessler, my high school classmate) told me that his friend had a cute blonde girl friend named Velna that I should call when we got to Laramie.  Who knew that 62 years later she is still in the other room watching All My Children.  My door is closed so I don't have to listen to it.  Note also that this letter took probably 4 or 5 days to get back to Penrose, so my parents and family had to wait for days to know that I arrived safely.  At that point, we had no telephone at home.


Ann said...

You thought you could do what was ahead of you because no one ever told you it was impossible, or that you couldn't do it.
When John lost his arm, the psychologist at Primary Children's Hospital told us that as long as we told John anything was possible, he would never think otherwise. You wanted to go to college and so, off you went - and go you did. I love your story. There is so much to be learned from your "I can do it" attitude. I know it wasn't easy, but when I was little, I always thought you were off having this amazing adventure. The only sad thing was you never came home to stay again, and life became different in Penrose.

Judy said...

Great comment, Ann. I was just thinking that when these letters made it to our mailbox, we read and reread them. And then Mother carefully put them away. We would not have had access had she not done so. Remember when her life was looking more defined and she sorted through all of her letters and then gave each of us a box containing what we had written home over the years?

Judy said...

P.S. I really wasn't through. Thank you, Dwight, for turning to this chapter on the blog. Don't stop.

Elizabeth said...

Okay, time for me to chime in. Mother went to college (nobody told her she couldn't) in a day when such independence in a woman was rare. Dwight (who lived for a time in the sheep barn) and Louise went to college (and Louise even picked pears),and no one told them they couldn't. In fact, wasn't it expected? (After all, Mother had a college yearbook!) I expected it, for sure. It didn't look like my dream of doing so would happen for a while, but Dwight took care of that for me, too. Hooray! We all took a turn! But, Judy, while it's true that Mother sorted the letters and stored them in shoe boxes, you and Ann and I went through them and allocated them to siblings after she was no longer here. I still appreciate her foresight in saving them, and can dovetail them into the letters that came my way, which I saved over the years. Lots of history and stories, all worth while reading. That means when someone else gets tired of contributing, I'll have to get to work?