Just One Sentence

As you have noticed, over the years I have saved a lot of my memories. That is why I loved the idea of creating those memory boxes for the three of you. I have the photos, letters you wrote to each other and Dad and me when you were younger, my high school/college scrapbook, and the photo album Grandma made for me. Additionally, I saved the letters she wrote to me several years ago in response to the memory-jogging postcards I sent to her. What I don’t have, however, are any letters from Grandpa.

I learned from my trip to the National Archives that he was quite the letter writer in his youth—writing letters to his commanding officer, ambassadors at the State Department, and even, it seems, the Secretary of State. Did President Roosevelt hear of the plight of Grandpa’s family? I tried looking for evidence of that at the Library of Congress but came back empty-handed.  Could those letters, if they exist, be stored at FDR’s presidential library in Hyde Park, New York?

I guess he exhausted that part of his life when he became a father. Did he and Grandma write letters to each other when he was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas before they got married? I wonder. I will have to ask her about that when I talk to her.

I have only one very small note that Grandpa wrote to me—just one single run-on sentence that he wrote on my graduation card from high school. I wish I had more, but at least I have something.

Note From Dad


Back to the Days of Yore

Technology is great. We can connect with our family and friends in an instant via texts and “long-distance-free phones.” Losing our way is now greatly diminished because of GPS technology, and we can entertain ourselves via an endless array of games, movies, and television shows available on our smart phones, computers, and televisions. If we need a question answered, we turn to the Internet rather than heading to our local library. What would we do without these amazing machines?

However, Saturday night was a prime example of how technology has also robbed us of valuable time we lose because of these great necessities of life. How many hours do we whittle away when we set up our new phones and computers, fix problems with these wonders of modern times, and scratch our heads in puzzlement as we attempt to figure out how to set up a Twitter account?

We have become more impatient. Even three year olds are guilty of this as exemplified by Bryce, when he complained that a video on my phone was taking too long to load.

Last night, as Dad and I were about to settle down for “Saturday night at the movies” in our living room, our aging router decided to kick the bucket. Four hours later, Dad was finally calm, while I was ranting about how an evening on the prairie back in the days of yore was probably far less stressful than how we just spent our night.

I was thinking about a typical Saturday night at the Ingalls household. Caroline and the girls would clean up the dishes and then gather around the fire and sing along as Pa played his fiddle. Perhaps they read a book or took their weekly bath. In any case, they did not have their evening plans wasted by spending three hours trying to figure out how to put their technological house back together.

They did not fritter away an hour of their life getting into their horse and buggy to go down to the general store to pick up a new router. Ma and Pa did not need to deal with a millennial named Brandon who was mentally laughing at them because they just had no idea if they should purchase the $39.99 router or the $299 router. (Brandon, Grandma and Bampa Consumer were able to figure out how to put our house back together without your help. So there!)

I love all these gadgets–I really do. But sometimes I wonder if we all save more time or waste more time because of them. You all grew up with this, so what are your thoughts?

Grandpa Was Right

Grandpa was right, but I never realized it until today. When we were living in New York, we were separated from my parents by the Hudson River. There was no route between us that did not involve crossing that river, whether we crossed over the George Washington Bridge, the Bear Mountain Bridge, or the three-mile long Tappan Zee Bridge.

Like a good parent, Grandpa liked to give advance, and like most children, we sometimes laughed at him. Don’t deny it, girls. I am sure there have been times that you have rolled your eyes as Dad or I offered you words of wisdom which you thought was ridiculous. You are younger and have far less experience than us (more than thirty years less), but I am positive that sometimes you think you know more than us. Don’t even try to deny it. Mommy knows best!

Grandpa always told us that he never wanted to get a car with automatic windows, insisting that manual-cranked windows were safer. (Do you even know what this means?) He claimed if our car ever went off a bridge, having windows that could be opened by rolling them down was the only way to insure survival. His advice, to those of us who had to open our windows by pushing a button, was to have always have a hammer inside our cars.

I am fairly certain this is news to all of you. When Dad and I were teaching you how to parallel park, or do a “k-turn”, we omitted this important piece of advice because we thought it was just one of his quirky opinions.

What happened to change my mind after all these years? The awful flood here in South Carolina opened my eyes to Grandpa’s wisdom. As I read an article in today’s paper about the people who died in this flood, I read about a young girl who drowned in her car after leaving the hospital. “How did this happen, I wondered?” Apparently, she got stuck in the water, and called a friend in panic. The advice was to open the window, but she couldn’t because the battery was dead. She had no way out, so she died in her car. After reading this heartbreaking tragic story, I turned to Dad and said, “Dad was right.” This is so sad, yet we keep hearing this story over and over.

So what do you do if you don’t have a hammer or a tool to break your window? Grab something hard– an umbrella, your laptop, your phone (?), or use your foot.  The advice we are hearing over and over is to “don’t drown, turn around.”

Grandpa was right.