Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Mom's Letters and Cards

In January of 1942 my Mom, Dad, Uncle Clay and two sisters up and moved away from Texas to California.  Mom had two older brothers (Fred and Jim) with wives and families that lived in the LA area.  Dad had a sister, her husband and toddler son (Amelia, Claude and Phillip) that had farms in the Corcoran area.  These "California" families had painted California as the proverbial gold mine in wages.  The Great Depression still had a grip on rural Texas at that time.  Mom and Dad moved looking for the gold at the end of the rainbow.

With only cards and letters to stay in contact with families and friends back home, Mom wrote frequently.  Grandma Chandler held onto those cards and letters.  Recently in going through Mom's family things I uncover a stack of these writings.  I spent a day and a half reading the letters.  The voice in my head as my mind processed the words was Mom's.  Occasionally it was Daddy's voice as he sent a letter or two and scribbled a paragraph along the edges on a couple of the letters.

Mom's early writings were filled with emotions about missing her folks, friends and the Texas dirt.  As they settled into the new area they went on daytrips into the mountains with Aunt Sissy.  Mom's words were excited about the beauty of the mountains.  And the snow higher than her head!  There was the familiar teasing of Uncle Bud and Aunt Opal about their dating girls or boys Mom knew they did like.  Notes about purchases of linoleum rugs, an electric ice box even the cost of milk and bologna were scattered in the letters.  As weeks drifted on there was a change in Mom's tone.  Instead of a sense of adventure and excitement mixed with homesickness fear and anger was becoming a dominate tone.  I checked the dates on the envelopes and I was shocked.  Mom and Dad moved just 6 weeks after Pearl Harbor was bombed.

Mom had hardly mentioned the war at the beginning.  She spoke of the Jap lady that ran a grocery store.  She wrote of men back home she heard had been called up to serve.  A sub being sited in the Gulf of Mexico brought her comment that, "..looks like the war is closer to you all than us".  One of my sisters fell in the irrigation ditch but was grabbed quickly by Dad.  It was the usual chit chat of a young Mom isolated from the majority of friends and family.  Then Uncle Bud was called up for his exam.  She began writing how she hoped he failed the physical.  The day she received the letter saying Uncle Bud was going into the service she was devastated.  The letter she wrote the next day was filled with sadness, fear and fits of 'squalling', which is crying in Mom's language.

Uncle Clay was still living with Mom, Dad and my two sisters.  Mom became increasingly irritated with how Dad's brother in law, for whom both men worked as farmhands, was treating Daddy and Uncle Clay.  "Clay told Claude that he could go to h*** and take his job with him" was one line in a letter.  Daddy and Uncle Claude increasingly "had words".  Daddy had to work Sundays at times which was totally against his upbringing.  It seemed about the only thing toward the end of the letters that kept Mom going became a sort of anger.  Truth was when Mom felt emotions that she could not handle, she would get mad.  The stronger the emotion the more angry she would get.

When word came that several of Uncle Clay's friends were pulled The letters ended in August 1942.  I really do not know exactly when Mom and Dad moved back to Texas.  Their original plan was to stay a year.

This post was started back in June as I was working to finish a certain amount before a trip to be with sisters.  I have not gotten back to the letter and photo scanning project.  Possibly in the next few weeks.  My walking wings have been clipped for a bit due to irritated tendons in the knee.  Seems 71 year old with two replaced knees needs to try more that just walking to stay fit.  Guess it is a good reason to begin the scanning again.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit.

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