Posted by: notsofancynancy | February 23, 2013

World War II, chapter 39, The Wedding Postcards

In honor of what would have been my parents 69th wedding anniversary enjoy this repost.

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. Oh that’s so sad to read. …all was destroyed within 15 minutes… that’s horrible. Thanks for sharing this cards full of history with me .

    • Thanks for reading and commenting! It means so much to know others enjoy it!

  2. I love your parents’ story told in letters and postcards. What an amazing family. Thank you so much for writing this meaningful history.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting! I can’t tell you how much it means. Plus it keeps me transcribing!

  3. I think my grandfather used the same expression in one of his letters. It must have been a popular slang term of the times.
    I am glad something survived such a horrible loss. I also have some letters that are singed. One of my grandfather’s great aunts had a blanket draped around her that caught on fire by the stove. Horrifically she died in the incident. I believe the letters were saved from her house.

    • Wow! I am sorry for your loss. I feel like the postcards are much more significant because of there history.

      • The incident occurred in the 1940s. It just gives me the willies every time I look at her newspaper obituary. She was a widow who never had children of her own (lots of stepchildren) and she was the last of her generation. She was close to her nieces and nephews. Several of the letters that were saved are between her and my great grandmother.

      • How awesome you have her letters!

      • I think it is definitely a future project. Many of the letters are from one of my grandfather’s uncles, a traveling preacher. My aunt & uncle have most of the letters, documents, etc. from that side of the family so I feel lucky that I liberated what I did before they took the rest. They are organizing my maternal grandfather’s papers so hopefully the project is in good hands.

  4. I believe not only did “your angel” lead you to the postcards, but she also protected them. My biggest fear is losing all the letters, photos and memorabilia I have. I only work with copies but I fear the loss of the originals. I really want them to stay within the family so a museum is out – and they have fires too. I pray for the day that I can afford a fire-proof safe large enough to hold them all.

    • I will pray with you. Even though the transcribed letters are not the same I feel like I am preserving them through my writing.

  5. Oh no. We’ve loved seeing the cats you mention and can imagine how glorious the rest were. Heartbreaking. As for what was lost of the family history, doesn’t bear thinking about but it gave you the stimulus to dig deep and tell your wonderful story.


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