Monday, December 24, 2012

Ghosts of Christmas past

I picked a few cards out of the Christmas desk last night, not because they were the prettiest or the best preserved --- just because they interested me. If you want to read more about the Christmas desk and its contents, follow this link.

Look at the telephone in the card at the top. Imagine that the next time you pull out your cell phone. The card was sent to my grandmother, Jessie, by her niece and best friend, Ida (Brown) Rogers, then living on a farm near Miller, South Dakota. The postmark reads, "Dec. 24, 1912." Obviously, my grandmother was a little late getting her Christmas cards out.

The message reads, "Dearest Auntie --- Have been expecting to hear from you; feel very anxious. I am feeling better. Lulu (Corder) and husband (from Cincinnati, Iowa) and three children are here to spend Xmas with us. We're going to have a Xmas tree. Wishing you a Merry Xmas and a Happy N.Y. --- and love, from Ida." The photo below is of my grandmother (left) and Ida, taken a few years earlier.

Here's another card from Ida, this one not postmarked. It must have been mailed inside an envelope. In the spot allocated for a stamp, Ida has written "anxious to hear from you." Grandmother, most likely, was late with her cards again. Here's the remainder of the message:

"My Dearest Auntie: How I wish our families could spend Xmas together. I haven't gotten over the disappointment of your not coming. I sure would come back there to spend Xmas if I could, but it's too cold and too hard a trip in winter with 3 little ones. They all have bad colds now, especially Esther. Were are having real winter weather --- zero to 15 or 20 below of mornings. The ground is covered with snow, but Garrett, Archie, Vera & Grace haven't missed a day of school! Lette (James Galette Rogers)  got them a dandy $10 foot warmer for the buggy. Hope you are all well. I haven't been well since summer. Am so thin. I wanted to get you a letter before Xmas but won't now. Children are on program at Xmas tree. That means new dresses! Lovingly, Ida."

The next card was sent to Grandmother Jessie by her sister-in-law, Elizabeth (Miller) Mason, some time after 1915 but before 1920. My grandparents lived in English Township. Lizzie and Albert Mason and their children, in Benton Township --- south of Brush College school. Here's the message:

"Dear Sister: I'd like to be with you Chrismas day, but don't see how I can. I hope you are all well and will enjoy Christmas. I suppose we'll be at home that day. We are mighty glad to be at home these cold days. It takes lots of coal to keep us from freezing. Ray is cold nearly all day long, (except) while he is in bed asleep. We are all reasonably well. Ustel is going to have to go to Des Moines to get a growth taken out of his ear. Lizzie to Jessie."

The final card was sent to my Uncle Joe Miller by his cousins, Vera, Grace and Esther Rogers --- daughters of Ida and Lette, above, again some time between 1910 and 1920. It's as effective now as then in conveying a message, "To greet You at Christmas with all good wishes!"

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