Letters from Mother to Dad

I ran across some snippets of letter between Dad and Mother mixed in with business correspondence. 

My parents weren’t particularly demonstrative (maybe that’s where I got it), but they conveyed their closeness in shared moments and glances.

This series was part of a photo book I put together documenting Christmas 1969.

A letter from Mother

Based on the fact that it’s on Markham and Brown stationary, this must have been written shortly after they were married. I’m not sure if she sent it to Dad or to her parents.

“I wish everyone could be as happy as I am all my life. I had most everything I wanted and now I still have what I want. I don’t see how it can last forever. I am twice as happy as I ever expected…”

Mother buries the lead

Newspaper writers constructed their scribblings in what was called the “inverted pyramid” style, meaning that the most import elements were at the top, making it easy for an editor to trim from the bottom if space was tight.

If you put the important thing at the bottom, it was caused “burying the lead (spelled lede in journalistic jargon). Friend Jan says I’m bad about doing that.

Anyway, in this undated letter to Dad, Mother lists all kinds of mundane things she had taken care of, then, in her buried lede, she says, “Thank you for a nice day. So glad you made me a mother. Love MLS.”

Making memories

In 2012, I discovered this frame.

I wrote, “I don’t remember taking it, probably because the moment didn’t mean as much to me then as it does now. I often say that some days you make pictures; other days you make memories. This was one of those cases when I’m glad I made a photograph that lets me fill in a memory that I DIDN’T make at the time.”

That’s one of the shared moments I mentioned in the lede.



5 Replies to “Letters from Mother to Dad”

  1. My Aunt Carmie, who lived in Chicago, and my Grandmother Cherry who lived in Cape Girardeau used to exchange letters. One would write a letter listing ALL the events and happenings in their lives, mail it and when the response came in a day or two the other would respond to that letter. This went for about 40 years or so. When my grandmother died I remember getting this box from the upstairs and when opening it. I found ALL of my Aunt Carmie’s letters to my Grandmother from the middle 1950’s to 1997. I did read one of two and I felt like I was intruding a little, my Aunt was, and still is alive, so I boxed them up and returned them to my aunt. She sat down and started reading them a tear or two was shed, but every once in a she would stop and tell us a story or two of what was going on in the letters. After the funeral, I helped her pack them in her car and my aunt Carmie returned to Chicago. I would bet she still has them.

    1. I had a college reporter friend who was a prolific letter writer. She’d pen long, angst-ridden letters where she was trying to figure out what was going on in her personal and professional life. I told her once that I didn’t think she was actually writing to me, she was using me as the psychiatrist on a postal couch, and I was much cheaper than a real one.

      She finally figured it out, I assume, when she wrote, “When I realized that I was never going to be the best, I got better.” I filed that idea away and dusted it off a lot of times.

      When I was cleaning out my office one day, I ran across a folder with all her letters in it. I mailed them back to her saying that she might like to see who she was decades ago, or she might want to burn the envelope without opening it, or she might want to share herself with her daughter. I’m not sure which door she chose.

      She and I got together in 2013 to do a presentation on the birth of the student rights movement at Ohio University.

  2. What a special shot of them on the picnic bench. You can see in her face how special he made her feel. She is so happy they are ‘one’. And he’s happy he has her!

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