By any standard, it was a pretty smooth sales job. In early December 1920, little Nina Treutel of Vesper, Wisconsin, was writing one of her regular letters to her Aunt Emma (Treutel) Carlin. After some regular business, the 6-year-old slipped in a postscript in hopes it would help her obtain a treasured toy doll.
“Oh! Yes Aunt Emma I have 23¢ cents all saved up ready for that dolly,” Nina wrote. (A cute aside: the cents sign was written backwards.) “Just think Aunt Emma, Uncle Oscar said I could have it for $1.50¢.” (Backwards dollar and cents signs.)
One can just imagine in that little girl’s mind, Aunt Emma was just waiting to learn of the 23 cents to seal the whole deal. Maybe even in time for Christmas 1920! It reminds me of the 1983 film, A Christmas Story, in which a young boy works on his own marketing pitch to obtain a Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle. Set in the 1940s in small-town Indiana, much of the plot revolves around little Ralphie’s efforts to get that rifle for Christmas only to be told by various adults, “You’ll shoot your eye out.”
In the film, Ralphie gets his rifle, but we don’t know if Nina ever got that cherished dolly. It’s logical to assume she not only wrote her letter of suggestion, but perhaps augmented it with some face-to-face discussion with dear Aunt Emma and her brother, Uncle Oscar Treutel. You will get good odds if, like me, you believe Nina got her dolly.
Aunt Emma Carlin was a favorite of all the children in the Treutel/Hanneman families. She was the second-youngest child of Philipp and Henrietta Treuel. Her family moved to Vesper in 1900 after the death of her father. Emma was a prolific letter writer and kept a detailed scrapbook from which this letter came.
Nina Treutel grew up and married Lawrence Wilson. They spent most of their married life in Waukegan, Illinois, for a time operating a small grocery store detailed elsewhere on this blog. She was one of the younger sisters of my grandmother, Ruby (Treutel) Hanneman. Nina died in 2005 in Arizona.
Perhaps the most charming part of that 1920 letter came before the sales pitch for the dolly. “Why didn’t you come down Sunday?” she wrote. “Well I must shut up because pa wants to close his letter with love from mama.”
©2016 The Hanneman Archive