Thursday, March 11, 2010


Post-Marked April 1911

My dearest sweetheart,
You simply do not know how very, very much I enjoyed my visit Sunday. I had, I think, the best time I’ve had in my life. You and your folks are so kind to me, and youyou love me so!
Mary and I worked hard on my (guest) list last night, and we expect to finish it tonight. Last night I added most of my Chester and Spartanburg names. This is very interesting business; isn’t it? It awakens old memories and associations and carries us back into the past. As you said, Sunday, I love, sometimes, to visit the past.
Got your delightful letter last night and thank you so much for your love.
When I came back Sunday night, I slept all night – from twelve o’clock – in the day coach with all my clothes on. The Pullman was badly crowded, and the day car looked better to me.
The weather continues very warm, dry, and unpleasant, and everyone wishes for real fall weather.
Breakfast is about ready and I will close. Will write you again very soon.
Thursday A.M.

This was a letter that my Great-Grandmother, Alice Cleveland of Spartanburg, SC, received from her beloved, Wellborn Reynolds of Marietta, GA. (Alice, by the way, is the Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Granddaughter of John & Priscilla Alden of the Mayflower but that's another matter.) I've found several of these letters around the house and everytime I discover one I am more and more intrigued. In the pile of letters that I found this one in, were also condolence letters from when my Grandfather passed away. In a personally emotional letter, I read as a friend of my Grandfather's told his wife, my Oma, how "no one could have described John any better than Pastor Richardson. He truly was a 'Christian Gentleman'." I had always known how great of an individual my grandfather was but for some reason, I found this letter extremely moving.

Today, in a time where tweets, status updates and mass emails are taking the place of letters and long personal conversations, it makes me want to take a stand and revert to the simpler days.

My father has a theory....with all of the technology that we have available to us, he feels that there will come a time when society just can't take it anymore. They will shut down and basically become like the Romans....need I say anymore?! After he shared his theory, I suddenly had my own apostrophe! Lighting had just struck my brain! It is true, we do have a lot of technology available to us; leading us to know things of far away lands much much quicker. There are people out there who believe the end of the world has begun due to frequent natural disasters and inclement weather. But is it possible that these events have been happening since the beginning of man...well not since the beginning of man but for a while at least.

Deep for a Thursday night isn't it?! I don't mean to rant all night or press my thoughts on you but my point of all of this is simple. When has it become acceptable for people to forgo personal, one-on-one communication? Is it that we have too much going on and find this method easier or do we really want to air our personal business to everyone and their brother!? While, yes all of the tweets, posts, and tags are fun, what will we leave our great-great-great-whatever to read or learn about us?! A printed email?! I just think there is something very irreplaceable about a hand written, post marked letter, postcard, what have you from someone from the past.

This is a subject that I feel very, very strongly about. My Mother's Father passed away when she was 11 months old. Growing up, this was something that always managed to capture my imagination. What was he like? What would he have looked like? What would he have smelled like? How would his voice have sounded? All of these questions plagued my mind. Luckily, he lived during a time, where letter writing was the norm and luckily, my Grandmother, the German, WWII survivor and pack rat, saved a fair amount of his correspondence. I've found letters from when he was at the Naval Academy in NY, letters to his parents and letters from his travels with my Grandmother. All of these allowing me a chance to know the Grandfather I was never able to know.

My Great-Great-Grandmother, Georgia Alden Cleveland, also kept a daily diary from 1890-1914. Come to think of it, there might just be a simple solution to this. This could just possibly be some kind of personal turmoil that I am struggling with. I mean, I've got rather big shoes to fill! My Great-Great-Grandmother kept a diary for over 20 years! I think the longest I ever went was a few months. Think of the history that she provided! She talks of going to the Chicago State Fair in 1898, of the Wright brother's inaugural flight and other events in history. That's huge! I know that I've had relatives who have witnessed other historical events but how many of them have documented it personally. Anyone can tell you the facts, but what about the emotions or even what about the weather of that day (Georgia Alden was known for journaling about the weather)?! I don't think you can find a smiley face to accurate depict any of those!

In my journal from high school, I've got a blank page for September 11th. I think it's time I fill that in now...

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