The Farm Chronicles: A love letter, of sorts

The postmark is Ellensburg, Washington, August 22, 1939, 3-PM. Sporting a Bucking Bronc logo and the words “The Rodeo” written in script using a lariat over an arrow, the envelop was addressed to Miss Thelma Humble, Windham, Ohio. No street address. No zip code. It was to my mom before dad and her were married. Found it in an old Seasons Greetings four-pound box of chocolates (all gone), the box given annually at Christmas time to my dad by the hunting club that often roamed our farm for deer and rabbits. Curious, I opened the letter, quite the treasure—handwritten by my dad who had taken a trip out west with his best friends Al Borchardt and Earl Jones and visited our rancher relatives in Washington.

Here’s the text: “Dear Thelma, How are you, anyway? Got your letter, sure was glad to hear from you. Haven’t had any girl out yet, but oh is there a lot of them around here. We got here on Monday night the 14th. Stayed with Rose that night then Tuesday we ran around all day. Got a job and went to work Wednesday morning and can work as long as I want to. Wish you were around here some where. I would stay. Maybe I will anyway. Am taking hay into town for all this week. Been riding horses back every morning, sure been a real cowboy (haha). You should see my outfit. There is going to be a broadcast of the rodeo Saturday afternoon, September 2. The time will be from 5:45 to 6:15 your time. Don’t forget.

“Well, don’t look for us home too soon because I may want to work a little longer. Earl and Al are both working. Sure had good luck coming this far. Haven’t had a flat tire yet, saw two cars smashed up and one truck. Saw Adam and went fishing with him; was out 12 miles in the big pond, got a lot of fish, big ones, too. Haven’t been homesick yet and I know darn well I won’t. Boy, there sure is a nice moon out here, sure better than back home. Sure wish you were here. Have been swimming tonight. Uncle Lou is at the head of the rodeo and that helps out a lot. Have been down to the grounds. Sure is a swell place. If you see dad, tell him all I have to say that is some of it. The car hasn’t fell apart yet, running good.

“I haven’t made up my mind yet if I will ride at the rodeo or not. I think I will ride in the parade. That will be three or four times, so that will be a lot of fun. Getting bedtime for me, 9:00. You can write if you write real quick. It only takes four days. With Love, Carl.” Dad would have been 21 and mom 15 when this letter was written, a year and 8 days before he and my mom would elope to begin a marriage of over 49 years that ended only by Dad’s premature death. This letter recalls a simpler time when people concerned themselves with flat tires, fishing, swimming in the pond, and hauling hay. Proverbs 10:12 says, “love conquers all transgressions.” Even when you tell your sweetheart there are a lot of girls around and you don’t know if you are coming home! Oh, what a love letter, of sorts!!!!

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Bill Wilson