Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Old Time Love Story

I've been visiting my Aunt in Palm Springs the last few days. We've been having a wonderful time going through letters my Grandmother and Grandfather exchanged prior to being married. Their correspondence reads like a novel - full of big dreams, loneliness, humor and yearning.

It was in a Arkansas melon patch that Alpha first laid eyes on Lloyd. She caught him eating the melons with his bare hands, and years later was fond of telling her grandchildren, "he was the ugliest man I'd ever laid eyes on!" At 17 years old, they parted when Lloyd's family moved to Oklahoma, and thus began the written correspondence. The first letter was from my Grandfather: 42 short poems. Check out these gems:

I love you little, I love you lots
my love for you would fill ten pots
nine tin buckets
eight tin cans
seven wash kettles
and six dishpans.

Long may you live
happy may you be
loved by all others
but mostly by me.

The sea is wide, the sea is deep
in your arms I long to sleep.

Long is the road with many a crook,
I hope someday to be your cook.

Grandpa, that is such false advertising! She always cooked for you!

Even though they loved each other from the beginning, they didn't drop everything to be together. He struggled to finish his (8th grade) education, then tried to join the Civilian Conservation Corps (there was a long wait list - this was during the great depression, mind you), and considered joining the army. She continued her education while working as a housekeeper and eventually became a schoolteacher. They rarely visited each other, relying on letters for communication. My Grandfather felt like he must make something of himself before he could be with Grandma, so he moved to California to make his fortune. The fortune wouldn't be made until much later, with the assistance of Alpha, but he made enough and experienced all sorts of difficult and interesting jobs and characters. Finally, in their letters, you can see how the "blues" of not being together became too great to bear, and they were married. The letters stop.

It strikes me how long they remained apart, despite their longings for each other. For 4 years they followed their difficult, separate paths. Of course the struggle didn't end with marriage. I think being apart actually prepared them to be together. They were married 61 years.

1 comment:

  1. I created a bit of a book using my grandpa's letters. Also recently took some photos from his old photo album and combined them with his letters to create "new" photographic art. It's on my blog so take a look and let me know what you think!