Once in a very great while we happen upon a scrap of paper that seemed so trivial that most wouldn’t bother investigating, yet upon closer scrutiny, we discover something so touching and even a bit beyond conscience, that it causes one to begin a chain reaction of even more discovery, and likely becoming all the more heartfelt of a story.
About a week ago I was at a home where there was some work being done in an old kitchen and one of the workers had the drawers pulled out of the lower floor to ceiling cabinets. Being of the curious type, I looked to see what the original flooring was in the kitchen before there were layers of linoleum installed. Since I couldn’t see well enough, I took a flashlight and looked. As I was looking at the floor I just happened to notice a wadded up piece of paper pressed against the back wall. The worker couldn’t reach it so yours truly with his long monkey arms managed to pull it out. At first I thought it was just an old piece of paper that must have fallen over the back of the drawer and I almost threw it aside, but some faded writing in pencil caught my eye. I carefully started un-crinkling it and discovered short letters written on the front and back sides. The most exciting thing was that the last name of the eleven year old that wrote the letters was familiar to me. I took it back to the office and laid it out flat with a heavy book to press it more smooth. Several days later I went back to the yellowed sheet and de-cyphered the writing. I must stop here and tell you that I’ve removed the name of the young man in the photo I have posted above simply because I wouldn’t want to have that family’s private letters being plastered all over the internet. After reading both letters I decided they must have been written as a class project and these were likely rough drafts of the final that was submitted to his teacher. The letter was addressed to Decker’s which was the meat packing plant that came into being before the turn of the century, but closed a number of years ago.
The body of the letter is as follows:
“My Dad should work safely because we love our Daddy and he gives us a nice home and furnishes us with plenty of food and clothing. Without a Daddy in the home on other children and Mother to make a living. Therefore, it is important that my Dad works in a safe place.”
In an attempt to envision life 60+ years ago and crawl into the mind of an eleven year old, I was moved to find how a child of that era considered the importance of his father’s safety as well as the possible extra burdens that would have to be carried by his mother, his siblings along with himself should his father exit the family. It also gave me a glimpse of how a child of that time tried to relay a message to his father’s employer in an attempt to remind Decker’s to maintain a safe workplace for his Daddy.
I braced myself and called a retired gentleman whom I considered to be this young man’s brother. After the initial greetings, I boldly asked him if he had a brother named ######. He said “Yes, Why do you ask?” He was delightfully surprised to hear I found a letter penned by his brother over 60+ years ago. I asked him how old his brother is now and he said, “He’ll soon be 75.”
To make this story all the more interesting, he said he was traveling to see his brother this weekend. The next day, I delivered the letter to him with a kind note. I’m sure there will be much talk of their early years simply because a letter and a boy were re-united.