Skip to content

OLE STUFF AND SUCH Letters and cards, a by-gone era

By Frances Garner


You could almost set your clock by the mailman when I was a juvenile living in the country in the early 40’s.

Not that time was important because we had plenty of it outside of our daily chores.

The rural mailman could have been and was the highlight of most any given day.

There was always a lot of anticipation and that element of surprise associated with his daily run which was Monday through Saturday.

Just as sure as Sunday came each week, Mama would receive a weekly letter, scrawled out in long hand over several table pages from her only sister…”Aunt Carrie.”

Although the lived only 30 miles away, they only got to visit about twice each year, once during the holiday season and then on a protractive meeting day in the summer time.

Her letters would be full of her daily activities including the menu she was cooking for the day and what “Uncle Bryant” (she always referred to him as Mr. Martin), had not done.

These weekly letters not only brightened my Mama’ day but also served as a good conversation piece at the dinner table.

My sister and I would often read her letters and make light of the way she always signed them, “Your lovely sister, Carrie.”

Occasionally the mailman would blow his horn and we would run out to take the package he would hand us.

This was usually an order from the Sears and Roebuck containing new shoes after our feet had been carefully measured by standing barefoot on a piece of lined notebook paper.

Most of the time, surprisingly, they would fit.

Sometimes they would pinch your toes but you did not say anything for fear the exchange would not get made before school started or 4-H club rally came.

However, this was a tough decision since these shoes must last for a whole season. Soft sneaker and flip flops were in the far off future.

During World War II, my four brothers were all is some branch of the Armed Forces.

It was their first time away from home and the letters and postcards filled the mailbox.

Two or three of them might be overseas (sometimes on the front lines).

It was hard to beat Mama to the mailbox in those days.

She would always bring the mail back into the house, sit down and read it to my sister and me before Daddy came in from the field for lunch.

When the tears began to course her cheeks, we knew she feared for their safety or could read between the lines of the homesickness of these country boys.

However, she never let us doubt for a minute about their return home.

the older brothers usually wrote letters of concern for the family, the farm, and anticipated their safe return, while the youngest brother was always open with his homesickness.

You could read the whining between the lines (probably because he was the pet for so long).

In the span of a few minutes Mama could go from laughter to tears, contingent upon what the kind of the news the letter or card conveyed.

Postage was only five cents back then and looking back I wonder how Aunt Carrie managed to write so often as Daddy always said the Uncle Bryant was the stingiest man alive.

The government gave free postage to the soldiers during wartime.

Aunt Carrie’s letters continued weekly until she had a stroke and was unable to hold the pen anymore.

The boys all returned home safely. However, the oldest met, fell in love with a Yankee girl and opted not to return to the farm in Alabama.

His writing continued and we would receive a picture of each new addition as they came into the world.

More than once, we would receive a box of Boston homemade chocolates from our new sister-in-law and a present for my sister and me at Christmas time.

Following the death of my mother, I finally got to going through the old tin trunk which was used to store important paper and was kept in her bedroom.

Along with numerous and various newspaper clippings of the children, grandchildren, and other relatives, were score of neatly packed letters and postcards of yesteryear.

One postcard stood out for me. It was postmarked in New York from my oldest brother while on his honeymoon.

I discovered a lot of family history from these letters and postcards.

They made a nice scrapbook for our first family reunion following the death of our parents.

As I reminisce, I realize some things have been lost, yet some things have been gained.

This reminds me that I have not called my lovely sister in quite a while.

Do you think she just might appreciate a letter or postcard.

Leave a Comment