Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Western Union

Long before email, text messaging, and instant messaging there was the telegram. If family or friends needed to get in touch with you or send you something quickly this was the way to do it. These small slips of paper could hold good news or bad. They could be a cause for celebration or an expression of grief. You didn't know which one it would be until you opened it up.

While looking through some things from my in-laws I came across these four telegrams. My mother-in-law kept them in her college scrapbook. This book is not the dressed up version of scrap books that we see today. It is a jumble of letters, cards, play programs, newspaper and magazine clippings, handwritten poetry, invitations to tea parties, school bulletins, etc. The stuff is glued willy-nilly onto the pages. Sometimes I go through this book just to re-connect with her. The things she kept in this book uniquely express who she was, what she valued, where she came from, and how she looked at life.

The telegrams were from my mother-in-laws parents to her while she was in college. I find these fascinating. They are a piece of social history; a wee peek into the lives of people from our past.

There are a couple of extraordinary things about these that should be noted.

Probably the most significant was the fact that when these were written the United States was in a deep depression economically. Any sort of schooling beyond free high school was unheard of; least of all sending your daughter off to an out-of-state college. This must have been considered a real extravagance.

But, what is the most interesting to me is that in a few lines of text you can hear and feel the love between my mother-in-laws parents and her. You can tell how much they missed her, how proud they were of her, how concerned they were for her, but most of all how much they loved her.


P.S. sorry to get all sappy and weird but since most of you know me well, you understand that I am sappy and weird.

No comments:

Post a Comment