Thursday, October 27, 2011

Greetings of old

Since my bachelor uncle passed away in August, family members have been cleaning out the old farmhouse, homesteaded by my great-grandfather in White Lake, South Dakota.

The farmhouse is a museum in itself, containing rich treasures of the past. My grandparents and my uncle threw away very little. It's all still there!

Although lamenting the large task that it is to go through everything, I was the recent recipient of pieces of history and stories through a very large box packed full of hundreds of old letters, Christmas cards, and assorted greeting cards, wedding and birth announcements, and photos that haven't seen the light of day in years.

I am told there are more boxes of the same, and I am itching to get my hands on them. Everyone else seems glad to let me have at it.

Anyway, as I opened greeting cards from the 1950s yesterday, it struck me how wonderfully cute and innocent they all were, and the stark differences between cards of then and now.

No obscene cards in the bunch, no off-color jokes. Just ridiculously sweet with corny, sappy verse. Absolutely delightful.

Many of the cards are embellished with glitter, ribbon, and other decorations that you don't see anymore.

This one featured fluffy, tickly feathers on the angel's wing,
and glitter on the stars.

On a birthday card, a woman is holding a plastic rolling pin on her  arm.
Real plastic!

This little charmer has a real black net veil.
Believe it or not, it is a birthday card.
Another thing that struck me was the sheer volume of letters back and forth from aunts, cousins and friends.

Letter writing was expected and an almost everyday occurrence. Either a message was scribbled and dropped in the mailbox at the end of the farmhouse driveway, or a newsy letter from Aunt Hattie would be received. My Grandma even noted the date it was received and the date she answered it.

But think:  No e-mail, texting, Facebook, or phone calls. Long distance was very expensive, and it wasn't until the 1960s when they even had a dial phone on the farm. No instant messages. Rarely even a typewriter to make the job a bit easier.

No, letters were scrawled on sheets of linen lined paper, sometimes pages and pages long. I have saved the ones from my great-aunts and -uncles because after I put them in chronological order, I'm convinced there's a story that weaves itself together. 

I can hardly wait for the next batch to arrive. Stay tuned!