Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My Dearest Daughter

In 1958 my mother got married and moved across the country. These are the letters written to her, mainly by her mother, between 1958 and 1960. Others in the series are in my del.icio.us file.



I don't have a letter from grandma for this particular week, so I thought I would explain a little bit about the courtship between my grandparents.

My great-grandparents, Paul and Mary, came to this country from Lithuania.  I believe they had six children and my grandmother, Helen, was the oldest. They settled in Springfield, Illinois.

I gather from stories and things I heard growing up that my grandmother was very pretty and very popular. She had been engaged once to a man named Tony and even had engagement pictures taken.  But Tony wanted her to move back to Lithuania with him and she didn't want to go. He left without her and that was that. I remember when my grandma once recounted this story to me she wasn't a bit sad or whimsical about it either; she thought he was kind of silly for wanting to leave America in the first place. Helen also played tennis and was involved in the theater. Of course all of her activities were under the umbrella of the Lithuanian Catholic community!

My other great grandparents  lived in Indiana. Calvin  was the second child of ten children born to Dan and Lowertta. Sometime in the early 1900s my great grandpa Dan and his kin were given some handbills promoting the wonderful farmland in Manistee County Michigan, and so they moved the family up there, sight unseen. Of course, anyone who lives in that part of the Michigan knows that the soil is mostly sandy and not great farmland, but that's another story.  Calvin, grew up there and stayed until he had a falling out with his father. He became a welder.

When Calvin was in his mid 20s a friend of his told him that there was a lot of work in Springfield. So they traveled from Manistee County Michigan down to Springfield Illinois any way they could and started working as welders. Grandpa Calvin had a friend, who had a friend, who thought that a girl he knew would be just perfect for him. And so my grandparents were introduced on a blind date. It was love at first sight for my grandpa. For my grandma Helen? ...not so much.

They went out a few times, to dances, dinner and church socials. Calvin started to come around the house. He made friends with her brothers. He stayed for supper. In fact to her, it seemed as if he were always there and it started to annoy her.

So Helen decided she was going to get rid of him once and for all. She invited him to drive her (in her car) to choir practice. Calvin was thrilled to have the chance to be alone with with his girl and he happily drove her downtown for the practice. Once they arrived, he got out of the car, like a gentleman, and went to the other side to let Helen out. But while he was going around to the other side, Helen slid over, started the car, and took off, stranding Calvin downtown by himself. I guess that did the trick because he quit bothering her and shortly thereafter went back to Michigan.

He wrote though. I guess he wrote just about every day sending letters and postcards. She never responded. But he wrote for months and months. I'm actually impressed with his persistence. Eventually though, he became discouraged and he sent her one last letter saying that if she didn't send him some sort of an answer, that he would never write to her again.

And something snapped in my Helen. After all that indifference she wrote him back and told him that she loved him and did want to see him again. I still don't really understand this, but maybe she really enjoyed his company and letters and the idea that he was growing weary of not ever having his feelings or actions reciprocated might have scared her. Maybe she realized he was a quality man. Or maybe she just wanted to get married.

The timing was somewhat unfortunate. Calvin had just broken his leg in a work related injury and was in a lot of pain. However, when he received the note he was determined to get back to Springfield as soon as possible. The story goes that he got a friend with a car to drive him there. The story is more impressive when you figure it was probably a Model T or some such car on all of the bumpy roads that existed back int he 1920s, and that since there was no national highway system yet, it was a long trip. Calvin must have really wanted her to endure a long bumpy car ride with a painful broken leg.

This time they clicked and the two were married on April 17, 1927 (Easter, Sunday), in her parent's home.

The wedding of Calvin and Helen

The result of that blind date, courtship and marriage was two children, two grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren. Thank goodness for my grandfather's persistence and patience!


On a more somber note -
Last year at this time was the beginning of the end for my Mother.





Add to Technorati Favorites




Please browse my eBay items!
Visit my new Amazon Store!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...