The Love Letter

I never really knew either of my grandpas. Grandpa Buntjer died nearly 20 years before I was born, and Grandpa Kohls died when I was in the third grade.

I know Grandpa Kohls liked to fish, but he never took me fishing. I suppose it was because he and Grandma lived up in Kandiyohi County, where the sunfish were plentiful and the bullheads looked upon with disgust. Our lakes south of Worthington were filled with fish he had no interest in catching.

Grandpa Kohls always seemed a bit scary to me. He was a big man with a deep, booming voice — one that I’m sure yelled at me a time or two. My only recollection of him anymore is when he and Grandma babysat us kids for a few weeks one summer and I caught the chicken pox.

Wednesday night, on a visit to the family farm, my mom brought out a stack of cards she and Grandma found earlier this month in a box in the closet. There were Valentines, Easter cards, Christmas cards, post cards and birthday cards — the oldest dating back to 1910. (I’ll be sharing some of them on my blog near the appropriate holidays.)

I read each one with a smile, holding the paper delicately as if it would fall apart in my hands. Surprisingly, they’ve held up quite well over the past century.

The real treat came at the bottom of the stash, where I discovered a letter addressed to my Grandma, written by my Grandpa. The postmark on the envelope said Roseland, MN. (I’m pretty sure they don’t have a post office there anymore) and the letter was dated Jan. 26, 1936 — exactly seven months prior to their wedding day.

Grandpa began the letter by explaining why he couldn’t visit my grandma — listing all three of his reasons — snow, blocked roads and our frigid Minnesota temperatures.

“It is so blame cold out, of course it is a little warmer today, but that is about 10 below yet,” Grandpa wrote.

Even in a love letter, he made room to complain about the weather. I’d probably do the same thing!

Apparently Grandpa and I share a dislike for Minnesota winters. Then again, right about now, I think a majority of Minnesotans are complaining about winter!

Grandpa spoke of his concern for his bride-to-be and her mother being alone on the farm in the middle of winter, and then asked Grandma what she was doing to keep out of mischief.

Imagining Grandma getting into mischief made me giggle, and learning that Grandpa was concerned about her getting into mischief made me giggle more. (Grandma is now 94 and still has some spunk left in her, but mischief, well, I don’t know.)

Grandpa apparently stayed out of mischief by reading — he told her he read three books already that week, and was getting to the bottom of the barrel with the family’s reading selections. Now I know where my love of books comes from, (Well, Grandma Buntjer was an avid reader too.)

The last few paragraphs of the letter are my favorite, and I want to share them with you as just a little glimpse of blossoming love in the 1930s.

Writes Grandpa: “I must stop this old scribbling in case you haven’t got your glasses yet. You sure will have sore eyes reading this crap. Or you will have to go to town tomorrow to get some.

“Please excuse my mistakes and misspell words for I never did get out of the second grade at school.

“Answer soon if it keeps on storming. Might see you before this letter reaches you, but it will have to warm up a little first.”

He signed off by writing, “From your loving Art.”

I’m pretty sure the letter had to make Grandma smile … that is, after all, the key to a woman’s heart.