you might remember that Steve was gone for a week - last week - to Arizona.
Job related. A Youth Camp.
He left on a Sunday - so, at church, Luke came running up to me distraught.
"Near, Daddy's going away on an airplane". (sad face)
I say: "I know Lukie, (rubbing his head), but he'll be back".
Luke says: "But I don't want him to go".
I said something to cheer him up - can't remember what - but I understood his heart.
My dad didn't go to Arizona - ever, that I can remember. He went to band camp each summer. In the beginning it was to Auburn University. The earliest I can remember, I was miserable. It was for a week and it was traumatic. I do have a vague recollection of losing it emotionally one night and the sense of Mother being exasperated as to what to do. I now know that she knew he was only gone for a week. She just wanted me to go to sleep, I'm sure.
I happen to have memorabilia from that week - or one of the weeks - or some of the weeks - during his band camp. Here are the postcards I have - they're postmarked 1953 - I was 2 and Mary Ann was 4.
and this one to Mary Ann
I also have letters which Mother wrote to Daddy that week.
No cell phones. No cordless phones or really good calling plans. It was expensive to call long distance - and there was no emailing - no computers. People wrote letters. With pen and paper.
It was one week - but families communicated with so much distance between them.
Auburn to Evergreen - both in Alabma - but it felt far away - without the Interstate - without easy travel.
This is Katy my dog - I mention her in each of the letters.
Me at the age of these letters -
I think this is how Mary Ann looked at the age of these letters.
Dear Frank, Your youngest daughter is so homesick for you it is pathetic - she has talked about writing you a letter all day, so I just sat down and wrote exactly what she said.
We do miss you more than ever - we're staying alone and I'm not minding it at all - Suzanne spent the night with us Sunday night, but had a headache last night and didn't stay. I'm so tired at night and am still having pre cramp tension, I really had rather be alone than have to entertain - I don't mean Mary - I mean like with Ellen. I'm really taking advantage of your being gone and letting the fan run all night, til about 4, really - I don't like having it on because I can't hear anything. Incidentally, the Brittains have an air conditioner and so far she still hasn't started - I'm so glad they have an air conditioner.
Kathryn still hasn't done anything - Elliott ate supper with all the Little Leaguers last night and Kathryn asked us to eat with her and the children - she had spaghetti and we enjoyed it lots. I hated to go and see her go to any trouble, but she insisted, said she needed company.
By the way, at the Little Leaguers' wiener roast last night an award was presented to the best loser, winner and everything and Scott won it - The boys voted on him - Isn't that an honor? I think it is - Be sure and tell Mary and John Law if you see them - I know they'll be thrilled.
Whaddya think of John Law's move? I'm so glad for them - I don't know a whole lot about it, but I'm sure it's the sensible thing, or he wouldn't do it - I hate to see them leave Evergreen, but I'm glad they're doing it. I'll bet you were surprised. Mother told me they talked to somebody last night and you were out there - Head on! Sister seems real happy and satisfied - I hope she stays that way.
Gotta go to the sewing circle - Josephine is here with the children - She helped me today, I feel so bum, before cramps - Tell them you can't go to camp next year - married folks need to stay home. Love, Edith
That letter was from Mother to Daddy - and next is the letter I dictated to her to send to Daddy. There is one envelope with the handwritten letters and it is postmarked 1957 - so it was the summer before I went into the first grade. I had just turned 6. Mary Ann would be 8, going into the 3rd grade. So - I guess that is that. That's the age. In my memory it feels younger. Perhaps I'm remembering different years. I never liked when he was gone to band camp.
Here is my letter to Daddy - in Mother's handwriting: (I repeat,the above picture is KATY, my DOG - as you read this letter, it's important to remember that)
quote - "Josephine came to help Mother and then we ate we're dinner and then me and Mary Ann rested. We got some new library books and then Suzanne's head start hurting and then we ate with Kathryn and then I cried cause I wanted you and nobody was spending the night with us and Katy had a BM in the back of the car and they had such a hard time cleaning it up - They got it on Mary Ann's foot - Josephine's so mean, but I really don't mean it and I love you and Jim is moving and John and Mary - Letasu got some cute shoes and Geoffrey got some cute shoes. and are you having fun and when are you coming back, I want you to come back quick and don't make me cry - " unquote
The envelope is addressed to
Mr. Frank Wilkerson
Music Dept. - A.P.I.
That's it - no zip - no numbers - just that. Simple.
If anyone is up for it - there's one more from me and one more from Mother -
again - dictated by me and Mother writes it.
We went swimming today Monday afternoon - we had such a good supper. We drinked out of whiskey glasses - did you have a good sleep? I hope you have a good time - Do they have a television there? Me and Susan are being so happy - Katy is still barking - we ate supper with Ella last night - we had such a good breakfast. I met Jackie and Bill, I went swimming with Jackie and Bill down at Binion's - Do they have a swimming pool there? Do you go swimming if they do? Suzanne, Rusty, Rachel and Florence went swimming too - I nearly cried last night - Love, Elizabeth
and this from Mother on the other side of the page.
Dear Frank, I won't waste your paper so I'll write on the back of Lib's letter - Isn't she funny? We went to the pool with Avalon Ellis and her 2 children, that's who she was talking about. We had a very uneventful time - It's getting too late to go swimming - It's been so cool since yesterday - I hope it's real cool in Auburn.
I feel real upset right now, we've just heard about a wreck that Talmadge Stuart, Connie Rigsby and Sandra Hagood had - Sandra is Dr. John Hagood's daughter and he had just given her a new ford and Connie was driving and turned over several times - Connie isn't hurt, but Talmadge has serious head injuries and had to be carried to Mobile to a brain specialist and no one has heard yet - It happened late this afternoon - The Hagood girl was hurt, too, but don't know how seriously - I hope so much that it won't be as bad as they think.
We're being brave and staying alone, we don't like it but we aren't afraid at all - The girls were so sad last night, Elizabeth said she didn't think she'd ever go to sleep, but she had no trouble - We ate supper with Mother last night, but we're planning to stay at home and try to be sort of independent - I like it better that way - We miss you so much it's not even funny - I wish it were already over - Write to us real quick - Mary Ann said she just wasn't in the mood to write tonight -
We all love you, Edith.
I wish that I had a picture of Josephine. Her name was Josephine Lark - and in the letter I was most definitely teasing Daddy - about her being mean. She was anything but. She was magical and was our babysitter from time to time. I want to write a whole post about her.
so - Daddy came home from camp - Steve came back to Luke from Arizona.
Luke would ask his mother how many nights they had to go to bed before his daddy came home. They did a countdown.