Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Yellowed Pages

She brought out a box heaping with letters. That was the first load. Next she followed with four more bundled packets. Piles and piles of letters. Letters from my cousin, Gene; letters from his parents, my aunt and uncle; letters from friends, other family members. Over two years of letters. Letters written daily.

"Take them with you then send them back later," she said handing them to me. I was speechless.

Treasures come in all guises. Some find their treasures in precious gems, sunken treasure, Indiana Jones treks into the unknown. Some realize the treasures they have in their families and their friends. Sometimes we find added wealth in piles of papers laying tucked away just waiting.

My cousin was stationed in the Philippines from 1951 to 1953. A young man, a farmer, a scout leader entering a world alien to him. The same with all Darke County boys who turned quickly to men under the Flag. A world war was over and a conflict in Korea had begun.

I brought back from my trip to Indiana an extra suitcase, a bag full of letters. A few days ago Sydney helped me sort the letters by date. Slowly two piles grew taller and taller. History. We were touching history. I began typing the letters that began with a young man going to basic training. I learned that my aunt and uncle called one another Daddy and Mommy. My grandma related a tale of my grandpa's exploits with a flat tire and a truckload of gravel. The history of Franklin Township began to unfold with names of people I knew. Farmers bought farms, babies were born and little Pamela was beginning school. History.

The copying is going slowly. I'm so wrapped up in the story unfolding that the words travel slowly to the page. Each yellowed sheet of paper is priceless. It was a time when letters were written. A time when young men waited for the draft call. A time of separation.

The letters will be returned as I finish copying them. I hope to make them into a book for my cousin, a book of her family, my family. I don't know who decided to save the letters, but as one of the surviving relatives, I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

Yellowed pages of farming, army life, family life, boy scouts, points of views on politics and presidents, a history opens page by page.

Yellowed pages.

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