Sunday, November 23, 2014

True Love 4Ever

 Yesterday, my husband and I went antiquing.  While our son has confessed to his wife that he thinks this is a sign that we are entering the twilight years of our lives, (while neglecting to realize that he is aging at the same rate as we...), this is our new hobby -- now that our weekends are no longer occupied by hockey games and band competitions.

I know quite a few people who abandoned marriages of twenty-plus years after kids went off to colleges, simply because they couldn't find anything in common anymore.  I'm not even really sure when or why we decided to make this an official weekend activity -- it just sort of evolved into routine.

The label on the cheesebox read "WORLD WAR I Letters, $2 each." 

Mildred and Elwood are now part of my life.



Nov 23 How did your Attitude of Gratitude work out - tell us about it.

I am a scrapbooker.  I save ticketstubs and hospital bracelets, and wristbands from concerts that my daughter has worn for nearly a YEAR before they had fallen off.  So the discovery of a collection of letters, albeit being sold as less than a collection, that was nearly a hundred years old was fascinating.

While I have been unable to implement my specific plan to promote an attitude of gratitude in my classroom,  Mildred and Elwood's correspondence from 1917-1919 will certainly aid in explaining the importance of historical context, handwritten communication, the art of letter-writing.  

Elwood is the least romantic letter-writer whoever walked on this planet -- yet Mildred saved these letters.  

The first letter in my newly-purchased collection:

(Typerwritten on letterhead from the PHILIPS-BRINTON COMPANY, Manufactuers of Automobile Specialties, Ignition Department, Kennett Square, PA)

October 31, 1917
Dear Mildred:
Just a few lines as I am at work.  Iam sorry that I was not able to write to you on Sunday as I expected to do.  But I worked from Sunday morning seven o'clock till twelve that night a faast as I could go.  Seventeen hours.  Up the next morning at six and was at it till about three this next morning.  Will tell you all about same when I see you.  It takes so much of my time to put same in writing.  The supt. just came in the office and saw me running the typewriter.  I started single spacing with the intention of writing a lengthly (sic) letter but have decided to leave same till later.

I would like to see you and I asked mother wether she expected me over to Coatesville this Sunday and she said she thought I had better take a rest.  She knew that I wanted to go to Chester.  But I really thing (sic) that she needs me and that I can do quite a little if I go over.  So as far as I know now I will go to Coatesville this wee end with the intentions of working at the house.  It is pretty hard todo (sic) this when you want to do something else.  

Oh, Elwood, you old softy.  And the last paragraph?

Excuse mistakes.  Give my regards to the folks.  How is Papa by this time?  Have not been to work for the last two days.  Florence is in this morning.  Lost (sic) of work to do to-day.  Government orders to be shipped out this morning.

I guess this all with love from, 
(written signature)

I've already searched, and haven't located them so far.  Two years later, Elwood gives very specific details about who should be paying for the wedding -- (not him!) and how Mildred should destroy the letter outlining her parents' responsibility to pay -- while trying to preserve his relationship with his future inlaws.

Mildred and Elwood may be non-examples of personal or gratitude writing.  Or it might be something much more.  Often my ideas for lessons require significant creativity incubation to fully develop.

So today, I have an attitude of gratitude for Mildred's persistence and willingness to preserve a stack of letters from someone who obviously cared deeply for her, yet couldn't figure out how to say it.  I'm hoping this non-example of gratitude will actually reveal the gratitude attitudes from a hundred years ago, and offer a reason to my students to preserve from of their own.

While the Library of Congress may be collecting tweets and storing them, and Google may have records of every keystroke we make, I can't imagine that there will be too many who take the time to search for something that exists only in cyberspace.  

We have a responsibility to future generations to become Mildred and Elwood -- or even better.

Oh - and because it's too good to pass up - here's the transcript from the February, 13, 1919 letter, which was handwritten by Elwood (now employed at the NOBIS Hotel and Restaurant in Wilmington, Delaware) entitled:

"To my Valentine."
I'll let you get the enclosed which you will readily understand.  (It is a photo of what I can only assume is Elwood and his Mama).  I was thinking of being in Chester on this Sunday but perhaps we had better both go the Coatesville for the day.  (that's where Mama lives)  I will be up Sunday morning as early as possible.

You told me you would write telling me how you made out with your new work.  It seems funny that I have not heard from you by this time.  Perhaps you have been to (sic) busy to write me. I guess you forgot.

With love I close, 


PS Mother is going to be in Kennett Square tonight and she wanted me to come up there.  I would like to go.  But I only have 3 men on the floor owing to the fact that I fired my first man yesterday for not doing as I had repeatedly told him.  So I have to help out in case of another unexpected rush.  I will now write Mother that we will both be home on Sunday dear. This is if it suits you and your wish to go.
Your Sweetheart,

One can only hope that Mildred responded quickly -- or perhaps Elwood fired her for non-compliance.  I'll keep searching, and let you know if there was a Happily Ever After....

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