Love letter

The following letter was discovered among my mother’s possessions and brought to my attention recently by my sister. Now that they have each completed their ashes-to-ashes journey, as it were, I figure it’s OK to print what the old man wrote to Mom just before they got hitched:

Barberton, Ohio, May 21, 1941.

Dear Jean,

A prime characteristic of a good letter is that it contain no mention of the writer. It should deal solely with the likes and dislikes of the recipient, and should close with a fervent prayer for his health, wealth, and happiness. To conform to these principles when writing to you is impossible because your likes, health, etc., are in a constant state of flux. I don’t know what has happened to you since Sunday night. I haven’t heard from you at all. Maybe you don’t love me any more. Maybe you love me a h—- of a lot more.

Would you like to know how I made out at the banquet Monday night? For the most part I enjoyed it very much. We sat at round tables in groups of eight, and five of those at my table were old school chums. The sixth was Ted Turney, coach at Heidleburg, and the seventh was a gentleman named Innis, present coach of Kenmore High School. An inevitable inquiry of old friends is “Are you married yet?” My modest admission that I was engaged evoked a minor sensation; and I was compelled to display your picture to all. It received more attention than the architect’s drawing of the proposed gym which was later passed around. I could have broken up the meeting with the one of you in a bathing suit.

I made one peculiar blunder; I tried to eat my shrimp with a spoon. It was in a dessert cup and I thought it was sliced bananas with red whipped cream on top. The spoon didn’t work very well, so I stole a furtive glance at my neighbor and saw that he was using what I had considered an implement for spearing olives. I made a changeover as rapidly and inconspicuously as possible. The rest of the evening was uneventful.

Sechie is back in town, but I haven’t seen him yet. We spent Tuesday evening looking for one another, but every place one of us went the other had just left.

Wayne King and some of his orchestra members stopped in to see Barney Monday night. Everyone was too thrilled.

If I see you before you get this letter, it will be sort of silly, except this part, where I say I’m crazy about you.



The 22 Xs may be symbols for kisses, but my mom also happened to be 22 years old the day Dad wrote the letter. He was 24. What a romantic. They were married the following Aug. 2. This letter most likely means little to you, reader, but it is my tribute to their lives together and a nod to the sense of humor—and romanticism—the old man had. (Plus it conveniently fills this space here at the end of the year when I’ve obviously run out of things to write.) I can only hope my mom, who died Dec. 1, found the heaven she deserves after living all those years as the lone believer in a family of smart-ass atheists and agnostics.

The name chosen for Chico’s new professional baseball club, The Outlaws, has some people pretty riled up because of the connotations associated with the nickname. Here are some alternatives: The Perpetrators, The Criminally Insane, The Psychopaths, The Felons, The Scott Petersons, The Junkies, The No. 1 Partiers, The Party Animals, The Realtors, The Rednecks, The Militia, The Constitutionalists, The Anti-Tax Crusaders, The Bush Cabinet, The Suicide Bombers, The Weapons of Mass Destruction, The Insurgents, The Neo-Cons, The Metro Sexuals, The Gangsters, The Cranksters, The Alcoholics or The Steroids.

Finally this, from online columnist Wayne Beson: “Reggie White, a former football star and preacher who took part in a 1998 ad campaign that said gay people have short life spans, died this week. He was 43 years old.”