Posted by: notsofancynancy | November 22, 2012

World War II, chapter 39, The Wedding Postcards

World War II

The Wedding Postcards

Chapter 39

Capitol Dome and Snow Scene, Salt Lake City, Utah

To tell this story we must go into the future. We must move away from the 1940’s and into 2000, for just a chapter.  By now you know that on that furlough in 1944 my parents got married. But in 2000 my family received horrible news. My sister’s home was burned to the ground. It was fully engulfed within 15 minutes. Our history was in that house: Our family Bibles; genealogy, Grandma’s and Dad’s bonds etc. who really knows what else we lost that day?

18 February 1944 Dear Pop & Mom, having a swell time so far. Won 64 cents in a blackjack game today. Met a sweet girl on her way to see her Hubby. Write when I get time. Love Viola

My husband and I were on our honeymoon when we heard of my sister’s house fire. We had come into town for my daughter’s surgery.  I will never forget the conversation with Dad sitting on the cool stone hospital bench in the heat of the summer as he told me what had happened. It was a devastating blow. I knew our family history lie in those ashes.

San Juan County, Utah

About a week later Hubby and I headed up there to see what we could do.  We ended up staying a month to get Sharon and her husband Harve back on the property.  My sister lost 41 beloved cats in that fire. It was a special breed of Silver Tip Persian Cats. You can see her cats in movies like “Stewart Little.” One of her cats played Snowball, the big white cat in the movie and she sold a couple to Fancy Feast. “Gimmel” plays the pampered cat who gets his fancy feast served in a stemmed crystal bowl and the person in the scene clanks the spoon against the crystal which causes Gimmel to come running.  She loved and took pride in these special cats. We set cat traps in hopes a few were able to get out of the house on their own. Doug and I went out each morning to check and reset the cat traps praying that we would find just one of her precious cats and disappointed each time we found the trap empty. I spent hours walking among the old oak trees calling for cats. I never found one though.

February 19 1944, Dear Mom and Pop, It is 11:10 and I am now $1.38 ahead Gee talk about beginners luck. One more day! I hope no one wants to play tomorrow I don’t like to win all the time, Love Viola

We were sifting through the ashes that had turned to muck from the water of the fire hoses.  We were finding small things so it kept us going. A wedding ring, some jewelry, some coins and stuff like that.  We had taken a break from sifting and had just come back to it. I knew we would never get through all of the ashes, but I was determined to find something important. It was hot, starting to smell really bad. I dreaded having to wear those masks that doctor’s wear.  It was suffocating to me, as I am claustrophobic.  I could not breathe. We were dirty, smelly, tired, and living in our motor home with two crazy Jack Russell Terriers. We only had the shower in the motor home so that meant very short showers.  It was so discouraging we wanted to give up. I thanked God every morning for bringing me a wonderful husband who stood by me during this daunting task. He had to do things that I could not do. It was bad and he was by my side the whole time. I was assured that I had finally found the right man.

The Pioneer Monument, Salt Lake City, Utah

I was standing looking at my sister’s whole life turned into nothing but ash. There was not much left but hope. I thought what would Dad do? And I got back to work, because that is exactly what he would have done, without a thought.  As I walked back I noticed in the area where I had been digging a piece of white paper that had not been there when we had left. I bent over to get a better look. It was an angel that my sister had drawn and cut out before the fire. It was the weirdest thing. It did not have one smudge on it, no burnt places, no water damage it was just sitting there where it had not been before. As I stood up I saw a small stack of what looked like postcards. The postcards in this post were in the middle and did not have too much damage. It was a miracle! Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, these pieces of our history had made it. I did not know at the time what an important role they would have in telling my parents story.

24 February 1944, Dear Folks; We dood [sic] it! We got married at 7:45 last night. We are on our way to see Aunt Dick & Grandpa & Grandma. Will write when we get time, Love Viola and Lefty

I now know why they were spared: To help me become interested in preserving the story of the journey of the postcards that began in February of 1944 and ended 56 years later when an angel pointed the way to me to find them and retrieve these tiny pieces of our history.

I feel like I should say The End….

Update 2012. I wrote this originally back in July 2011. Back then I did not think that I would be writing Dad’s story and wanted to tell the story of the postcard. I also focused on this last post card I never realized that the other two postcards were written right before Mom met Dad in Nebraska. I did not know why Mom would write “We dood it.” on the wedding announcement. Finding my grandmother’s letters I came across this newspaper clipping she had enclosed in one of them. It seems in 1944 Red Skelton had an incident and at once I knew this was the key to the mystery of “We dood it.”

‘Dood it’ Kid and His Bride to Be

© notsofancynancy July 2011 Revised November 2012

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Responses

  1. This is so touching. Just seeing the postcards with their burned edges brings tears to my eyes. And so appropriate for Thanksgiving – for the postcards, the family, and the story. So much to be thankful for.

  2. Outstanding postcards! Their condition shows their history!

  3. Well, I’m so glad there was a happy ending because I could barely read it through the tears. I can’t imagine the heartbreak of losing all of her beloved cats and worldly possessions, that is devastating. I’m glad you were able to salvage something thru the ashes, thanks be given for that.

    • Thank you it was something I hope others do not have to go through.

  4. Thanks for another great post, have a wonderful Thanksgiving :o) The postcards are great -I like the black jack messages ;o)

  5. How incredibly sad but so wonderful that the postcards were found. Definitely an angel looking after them.

    • Yes I believe the angels showed me the way.

  6. Amazing story. A fire is a turning point–a surprise adjustment of all of your assumptions. You start anew with what is left. And here you are preserving your father and his story forever. What a blessing came out of the ashes.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words and yes I am definitely blessed.

  7. Nancy,
    I have been meaning to write this since we do similar posts. While I transcribe my grandfather’s diaries, I listen to Caruso – his favorite, not mine! It somehow brings me closer to him. Maybe you already do this, but I can imagine listening to 1940s Big Band music would bring these years of your father’s letters even closer.

    • I love that. Some of the chapters where Dad mentions a song on the “Hit Parade” I put a link to the song on the page so other can get that same feeling!

  8. Such a beautiful story Nancy so very touching the loss one goes through in life is horrible but you are hear to tell the story that is all to clear as I sit here in tears for all they lost that day

    • Thank you so much! It was hard but we have got through it.

  9. Fascinating story – the postcards are so wonderful. I agree with a comment on this page – listening to the Big Band music brings my dad closer to me also – I didn’t appreciate that music growing up as he played it (sometimes constantly, it seemed) but now I do. :+)

    • Yes it is awesome! I love listening to Big Band music while I read.

  10. What a tremendous loss for your sister and hued husband! I am sure that the loss of her beloved cats was just overwhelming. And yet this sad story put you on such a specific path to learning about and sharing your family history. What a story!

    • I agree! it was one of the hardest things we had to do but together we got through it together.

  11. Hi, Nancy — I finally found time this week to catch up with your stories. This one took me through a range of emotions. I only know you through your wonderful writing, but I can imagine that you were a great comfort to your sister during her loss.

    • Thank you so much, I really tried. I wish I could have found one of her cats but it was not in the cards.

  12. What a sad and tragic story yet filled with positive outcomes. However, I cannot begin to understand how one must feel when their home – with all their memories and possessions – becomes ashes. And to lose pets/animals – in any number. But indeed the postcards have become even more of a prized treasure. “Dood it” was a pretty popular quote used by us teenagers in the late sixties…but now, I know where it came from. 😉

    • It was hard to see my sister loose so much. I am blessed that Dad’s letters and our family photo’s were not there.

  13. It’s great to know that there are others out there in the cyber world helping to keep the memories of “The Greatest Generation” alive.
    I really enjoy your posts. Keep them coming.

    • Thank you so much. I feel blessed that I came across my father’s letters. He did not talk about the war in words but with these letters I am able to piece his time in the military together. It is up to us to keep the memories alive.


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