Posted by: notsofancynancy | September 2, 2014

The Suitcase, Chapter 2, The Beginning

The Suitcase

Chapter 2

The Beginning

In order to tell this story I have to go back to the beginning.

My Dad’s Grandparents on their Nebraska Homestead

My father’s family came to the United States from Scotland and Denmark in the mid 1800’s and settled in Pennsylvania. Meeting there, my father’s great-grandparents then went west following the lure of free land with the Homestead Act of 1862. They ended up settling in Cozad, Nebraska. My dad’s parents married and lived in Cozad until my dad’s mom passed away in 1936. It was a month before my father’s 17th birthday. My grandfather then moved the family to town, in Lexington. There were eight kids in the family, but most of them were older. Dad was just a farm boy from Nebraska, born in 1919.

Mom’s Grandparents and young mother on their Kansas Homestead

My mother’s family came over in the late 1800’s from Bohemia, which was part of Czechoslovakia. They settled in Chicago and they also took advantage of the offer of free land and homesteaded 250 miles away from where my father was born in Brookville, Kansas. Mother was an only child, born in 1924.

“Vi”

My parents met at a barn dance. Dad was friends with one of mom’s extended family. In 1937 my mother and father started a pen-pal relationship that blossomed from a friendship and eventually into love. It would span from that first letter through my father’s time overseas in World War II and did not end until he was safely on back on US soil in 1945. It was these letters my daughter found in the attic of my family home. It is thanks to her that I have a story to tell.

Dad’s Graduation Picture

The first letter is written 5 September 1937, my mother was only 14 years old. Dad, who would turn 18 in October writes Mom:

Dear Viola

George let me read his card you wrote him, And so I thought I would write and tell you that I am sorry I didn’t get to say good:by before you left. I was coming out to Ray’s again Sunday nite, but it didn’t stop raining in town until after it was too late. It rained just enough to keep us from working on Monday. Then it rained again Thursday nite and Friday nite so we only got in three days the last week before school started. Not near much when I had planned for a good week. School starting isn’t the worst that could have happened, but I wish we had about three more month of vacation. I am not much of a letter writer so don’t get mad.

Write Soon

Love and Kisses

Lefty

Since I like history I found the post script is also very interesting.

P.S. Farr lost the fight but I think he got a dirty deal even if I was for Louis he shouldn’t have won the fight. In case you want to write my address is, Lexington, Nebraska.”

No really that was his address! You did not need street numbers back then. He did not need one for my mom in Kansas either. Weird, it was just Brookville, Kansas. No numbers were needed.

I searched for information about the Louis-Farr fight in 1937. This is what I found out.

**On a humid day in August of 1937 after postponing the event three days because of rain, British Empire Champion Tommy Farr and the World Heavyweight Champion Joe “Brown Bomb” Louis came up against each other in a long-anticipated fight at Yankee Stadium in New York City. Louis had knocked out the eight of his previous nine contenders and went on to knock out the next seven rivals. Tommy Farr gained respect by the crowd of 30,000 when he courageously attacked and hurt Louis in a fifteen-round fight. The referee, Arthur Donovan Sr., was so impressed and surprised that Louis was unable to knock Farr down he went into Farr’s corner right after the last bell to congratulate him and shake his hand. At that moment Farr thought the referee was raising his hand in victory. Mr. Donovan turned sensing his mistake and almost ran away from him. The crowd saw this mistake and also thought the ref was raising Farr’s hand in victory. All the while the ref was yelling “No, No, No, No!” Of course, no one could hear this. Because of all of the of all the noise the excited, then confused crowd projected. Then after collecting himself and counting the votes Donovan announced the winner. It was Louis, by an incredibly small margin. Apparently the crowd could be heard booing the decision all the way to Nebraska.

This is a glimpse into my father’s character. What is fair is fair! What he heard about the fight was not fair and even though he was for the guy who won, it was not a victory in my dad’s mind. These are the values he instilled in us kids.

This makes me wonder if the one time my parents met, did they actually talk about this fight or was he just making small talk?

Dad writes one letter each month in October, and November of 1937 and they have exchanged pictures. In the October letter he writes,

We are all ok here. There are 6 or 7 cases of polio here and talk of closing the schools again. I hope they don’t school is just getting interesting.

In December he sends her a card that says, “Dive right in, To the New Year.” It was signed. “Love and Kisses, Lefty” (one of Dad’s many nicknames.)

References, **Wikipedia, http://www.bestboxingblog.com/

© 2012 re-write 2014 notsofancynancy

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Responses

  1. “There are 6 or 7 cases of polio here and talk of closing the schools again.” Such a seemingly casual comment. We’ve forgotten the fear such a statement could bring and the damage such an epidemic could leave in its wake.

    • Yes I agree, that is why I thought it important to mention it here. 6 or 7 in a small town it Nebraska seemed like a lot to me.

      • In a small town where mail can be addressed by name only, 6 or 7 polio cases would seem almost an epidemic. I grew up on a town of around 12,000 in Colorado and only a few cases of polio caused great concern.

      • I knew it seemed like a lot and your stats make that more real. Thanks for the comments I love that even after I post I can still learn more.


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