Handwritten letters are a lost art, so it was particularly thrilling to find one inside a card from my paternal grandparents, Carl and Ruby Hanneman, sent for my first birthday in June 1965.
My grandmother was a prolific letter writer, note scribbler and update scrivener. She wrote in a stream of consciousness. Sentences didn’t always have punctuation and could stretch on for half a page. But she captured details that might slip past a less-careful correspondent. Like exactly what time on Tuesday she and Grandpa Carl got their car back from Floyd “Snuffy” Clark at the auto body shop.
Unlike a photograph, a personal letter brings out the writer’s personality. Reading the note in the birthday card, I could almost hear my grandparents voices. They switched off writing in the card. Grandpa went first, telling how Grandma loved the birthday card and money sent by my parents. Then Grandma Ruby took over and provided a full update on the happenings on Morris Street in Mauston, Wis.
June 27th, 1964
Dear Little Baby Joey,
The little sweetheart — one year old! Grandpa Carl and I send our love with big hugs and kisses to you — God blesses always Baby Joey — love, love, love from Grandpa Carl and Grandma Ruby xxxxx
Dear Baby Joey & Little David, Little Lori & Mama Mary and Daddy David:
Grandpa: Ruby got her beautiful birthday card and money from all of you and she wants to say thank all of you so much — it was too much after all the others you have given me —
Grandpa wants me to go to Carpenter’s now to eat it is 7:30 p.m. & bad storm warning out & it’s thundering now.
Grandpa Carl had a nice Father’s Day — we stayed home and we ate at Noneng’s new restaurant — he got nice cards and things, too, and it was stormy bad weather then, too. David we got your nice letter & the check — Dad destroyed the other one. Pretty soon will have you all hear (sic) again. I think I will go to Aunt Emma this week. Donn is driving Tom, Jane & Mary Ellen on July 3rd. I go back on Sunday. The youngsters will stay here & at Lavonne’s for several weeks.
I called Marvin’s, talked to Mabel — I am not going to Aunt Emma’s this week. Marv is taking a week of his vacation & they leave Fri. a.m. for Tomahawk — so that upsets my plans. Now I won’t be able to go until later in July.
Mary is to have planter warts treated on bottom of feet 1st and 2nd of July. They had planned to come this Sat. & with my planning to go to Arpin we changed it. Now I wish they would come sooner.
There was a big extra addition on Parade of Homes in Mad. Sun. paper for open house. 15th annual Mad. Parade of Homes from June 20th thru June 27th on Madison’s far west side. I hope David knows about it by now. I have the booklet saved for him whenever he comes this week. [Nota bene: I believe we were still living in Grand Rapids, Mich., in June 1965, but would soon move to a house on Lake Wisconsin. This was shortly before construction began on my parents home in Sun Prairie, Wis.]
Dad has been feeling much better. Mr. Clark (Snuffy) had the car Mon. & fixed all the rust spots & put new chrome on front — we got it back Tues 22nd at 4:00 p.m.
Thurs. a.m. 24th:
Dad drove to Camp Douglas & Hustler this a.m. to solicit more ads — he wants to go to Necedah tomorrow a.m. [Nota bene: Carl helped put together the printed guide for the Juneau County Fair. One of his duties was ad sales.]
Mary I keep thinking about your Mom. I hope and pray she is getting along nicely & eyesight will be helped.
How are our three little cherubs? I really did miss them and Grandpa did too. He felt badly because he had to be in bed so much while they were here. They are little loves and we enjoyed all of them so. David wrote that Little David asked about us. How does Baby Joey manage in the little walker? If the back wheels rotated like the front ones do, I bet he would really walk soon.
Have some birthday cake for us & we will be singing Happy Birthday to Joey here — all love & XXXes to all.
Dad & Mom xx
Top Image: The front of the birthday card at left, with a photo of Carl and Ruby Hanneman from around 1960.
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