Look through those old letters!When my father passed away two and a half years ago, we had to clear out our family home. My family had lived there for about 54 years and in addition to the regular family detritus, somehow we had become the clearing house for stuff from our extended family and friends of family, too! It made cleaning up very interesting.
One day we found a packet of letters and report cards belonging to my father and his younger brother, Mason, who had died relatively young, when he was in his early forties. My Uncle Mason had been a sociology professor and, like me, had traveled a lot for his career: California, Montana, Europe, the Mid-East, New England and then back to Massachusetts. He always sent my sister and me trinkets from his travels — jewelry, dolls and the like — but he died when I was in my early teens and I never got to hear his stories of travel or his service in World War Two.
I was thrilled to find this packet of letters from his time in the service (he was stationed in Europe and Missouri). Most of the letters from abroad were short and censored but he wrote faithfully to my grandparents. This one, though, made my brothers and sister and me chuckle a bit. We never pegged Uncle Mason as a regular shul goer, but this proved us wrong. The letter from the director of the Jewish Welfare Board, although a form letter, is a sweet and heartfelt one, alluding to the darkness of the War yet hoping to comfort my Bubba. I found it curious that it was only addressed to her and not my Pa, although my grandfather had been a founding member of the Waltham synagogue and was one of the loyal minyan.
If any of you reading this have family papers you haven’t looked at in awhile, take some time during this season of festivals and read and share them with one another. The storytelling and sharing are as sweet as the honey and apple!