How it all started…

About 8 years ago my mom passed away. Shortly after my mom died, her sister, my aunt Nancy, followed… All told, it was a tough few years; we lost my Grandfather, Uncle, Mom, and Aunt in fairly rapid succession. Those of us left behind hardly had time to grieve each loss before another one happened.

Nancy was the keeper of what little family history we had, and shortly after she passed away my uncle gifted me two Rubbermaid bins of photos, knickknacks, personal items…two Rubbermaid bins of memories. I suppose as the only girl in the immediate family, I was the natural, or the only, choice to care for what was left of these lives. I did a quick inventory of the bins shortly after I got them, but I couldn’t bring myself to really dig in. It was too soon. I packed them back up, along with a bunch of my mom’s things, and tucked them away for later.

Always having them in the back of  my mind, I never really knew what to do with the bins. On the cusp of a recent move and downsize, I decided that it was finally time to try to make some sense of these memories. On a sunny summer afternoon, 7 years after I became their keeper, I sat down on my back deck and started to unpack the boxes of memories. Immediately, I remembered just how special the contents of these plastic containers were. In the bottom of one of the bins was an old metal tin, inside the tin was what seemed like a lifetime of yellowed newspaper clippings and obituaries. There was an old chocolate box filled with old war memorabilia; Soldiers Handbooks, what looked like wooden dog tags, and other random papers. Lastly, there were stacks of old letters. STACKS. The envelopes worn,  stamped with phrases like “Save Metal Rags and Waste Paper”, with dates ranging from 1943 to 1945. Everything smelled faintly of cigarette smoke…it reminded me of my mom. Upon closer investigation, I discovered the letters were written by my Great Uncle Gord to his Mom, my great-grandmother, Amy. They seem to cover his time in basic training and possibly service in World War II. I opened one letter randomly, from 1945, and scrawled messily in capital letters at the top of the page were the words “VICTORY LETTER”. Victory letter. I read it again, and again. I was hooked.

I’ve decided that I can’t just sit on these letters. They are far too special a time capsule to be left in a Rubbermaid bin. This blog will chronicle my documentation of the letters, and offer one man’s first hand glimpse into history. The first letter will be posted here on January 5th 2015, to correspond with the very first letter that Gord wrote to Amy on January 5th 1943. I have no idea what the letters will bring, no idea what I will uncover, or what tales Gord will tell, but I’m looking forward to finding out.  I hope you’ll join me on this journey through history.

All content and photographs are property of myself, and Letters from the Oakwood Kid and may not be reproduced in any way without my explicit permission.

.:SK:.

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8 thoughts on “How it all started…

  1. you go girl……..I knew all your Moms family,though I only met your Grandparents a few times. What I can remember is meeting your grandmother @ Nancy`s and your grandfather on the docks @ Fed. Cold Storage , being awed at his math skills and listening to him whistle tunes with an uncanny tallent (one he passed on to your uncle Rick ) He was an intimidating man but oh so cool……..looking forward to learning about this toughest of all family experiences through your great uncles eyes……and thanx from all us “baby boomers”.

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  2. Gord is my Father .I loved / love him very much. He was a Very Good man. My sister Marilyn and I were supposed to meet with Nancy before she passed away to check out the letters we had come to hear about. I recognize the writing on some of the envelopes and pages where you show the writing as my Dads and I feel as though I would like to run my fingers over the writing and feel his presence. I look forward to seeing and reading more.
    Sheila Gords’ oldest daughter

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  3. I don’t know if I wrote in the proper spot earlier, so I will just say again that Gord is my father and I am his youngest daughter Janice.
    I recognize Dad’s signature on his letters.
    I use to see Nancy (my cousin) a lot at my Aunt Geraldine’s. (Dad’s sister) She was a riot!
    You are so fortunate to have the letters and other memorabilia…I have nothing of my father’s. I enjoyed reading the letters and look forward to reading more as they get posted.

    Like

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