Friday, January 01, 2010

Before Twitter (IV)

By December 1926, my grandfather was clearly smitten with the woman who would become my grandmother. The air was thick with wedding plans. He traveled from Laramie, where they had met, back home to New Jersey for Christmas with his family. (His sister Mary had returned from India, and one of his aunts was in the hospital.) Grandmother and her mother traveled to Indiana.

Grandmother’s mother was from New Bedford, Indiana. Grandmother and her sister had gone to college at St. Mary’s, in South Bend, Indiana. I don’t know why my great-grandmother was in the hospital, and I don’t know why she decided to have an operation in Indiana instead of Laramie, where she lived and had raised her daughters. But as Christmas drew near, there they were, at a hotel across the street from what is now Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.

The plan was for Grandfather to join Grandmother and her mother in Indianapolis right after Christmas, and for them to be married there. They were making plans as the day drew near. Grandmother was far from all her Laramie friends and family, but her mother’s family would have been close by. Grandfather was sending note after note to Grandmother, answering (or not answering) her questions about wedding preparations, encouraging her plans. Here’s one he sent shortly before Christmas, undated—maybe on December 22?

Helen dearest,

Mother just reminded me of another thing that of name—and Father’s name is Reverend John Ten Eyck DeWitt and not just John T.E.D.

Thought perhaps you would like to know this so in haste I am dropping this note at once.

Have been wrapping Christmas gifts and doing things around home all day. Tonight dear, we all trim the tree and it will be a very pleasant evening at home.

In a few minutes now I am going to the Hospital to see Auntie who is much better. Mary is also better and is home. It was so nice of you dear to think of them and wish them well. Mary has told me how nice it was and Auntie soon will tell me.

Even though dearest our Christmas together will be a little late it will be such fun, won’t it dearest, and we will be so very happy, but then dear think of next Christmas at our home dear and so many more to come. Our happy days together will soon be here.

I love you very awfully much dear and soon will be with my precious Helen

Your Douglas

Helen, dearest I was just talking to Mother about what might be said about me as to family and there is so very much, but we here at home have clear records of our family on both sides back to 1656 in this country and record on Mother’s side back in Holland to William the 4th, family. Dearest, perhaps you will want copies of these records and I shall see about getting them if you wish. Both Mother’s and Father’s folks were all very much straight Holland Dutch. I tell you this dear as you might wish it.

I love you so much my sweetheart


On the afternoon before Christmas, Grandfather sent this final handwritten note before the holiday:

Oradell Fri Dec 24 1926, addressed to Miss Helen E. Holliday, Hotel Wesley 16th & Capitol, Indianapolis, Indiana (Google shows this near Methodist Hospital, but no obvious Hotel Wesley standing there today). Postmark shows received Indianapolis Dec. 25.

Dearest dear Helen,

Your two precious letters of Wednesday are here this morning and I am very happy to have them, and dear it is so hard to be away from you at this time, when there is such much to do and talk over. But dearest Helen your plans are my plans and that is the reason I [warned? worried?] as I did before just saying when I would be with you, which will be on Monday Morning [the 27th]. So far away and not knowing how all is with you and your Mother and what are your plans, it is hard to say anything definitely. If we could be married on Monday it would be so wonderful, but then if not as we would have so much to do, it would be Tuesday and dearest, you will know how it seems to you and the date on the announcements will be the one you pick, and I would like very much to pick them with you, but time is so short and it takes time to have them made up, that you will go right ahead dearest. There are so many things, not as we could wish, but dearest it is just that I would always feel that I had not helped Mother any, if I were not here for Christmas, as I am here so near it. But precious Helen, I will be thinking only of you dearest and want you and wish I were with you. And dearest we will have our Christmas together on Monday, dearest Helen my dear, and I will have two rings for you, one you will wear immediately, and the other as soon as we are married and dear the engraving is not done as we don’t yet know the date. I have had the two rings for days and each night and also many other times I look at them and wish I was seeing them on my dearest Helen’s finger. And dearest, I hope so that you will like them, but really dear, I am not worrying for I got them just for my sweet Helen and when I picked them out all my thoughts were of how you would like them. Dearest it will be very wonderful when you are wearing my rings to you my sweetheart and my dear wife. And this will [?] mean that you love me dearly and that I love my sweet Helen with all the love there is. Precious I love you always.

Helen it is so nice of you to ask me about myself for Mr. Burrage, but dear you know all don’t you and my precious, you are the important person and all should be about you, but dearest anything that you and your Mother say will of course be all fine with me. If there was anything special to tell you, I would dear, but always I have told you all about myself that has come to me, but please dearest your Mother should remember that my sweet Helen is the important person.

Honey dear about the number of announcements, it will be about 150 for my old friends, but dear that is lots so perhaps it will be less, but then it could be so many more, but it won't be. Dearest about where we will be married, it is hard for me to say not knowing your plans and your Mother’s plans, and then dearest I will like whatever you plan. As things are it will be impossible for me to have anyone with me that is an old friend of mine, for having nothing planned definitely ourselves, I can’t very well make plans for anyone else. But dearest I think you understand just as well and it just seems that it will have to be that way. As soon as I am with you, we can talk of so many things and you will tell me your thoughts and your plans, which of course are our plans. We will first get our license, which, you will know where to get, and then soon my sweet Helen will be my wonderful wife.

It is so terrible not to be with you my dear tomorrow on Christmas Day, and all day my thoughts will be especially of my sweet Helen.

Last night I had such a pleasant evening at the home of Charles Livingston Bull, the artist of whom so often I have spoken. His new studio, which I had not seen before is wonderful and soon I can be telling you all about our evening. Mr. & Mrs. Bull are both so extremely pleasant and exceptionally kind people, that you would love to know them, I am sure. This summer they are going to try to get out to Laramie to see us, and then we will be entertaining celebrities as, there is no doubt but what Mr. Bull is the best artist today, who draws of the wild animal life. So much have I to tell you of my pleasant evening with them, and also so much of all things here, that it is hard to write about.

Lately dearest I have been wondering very much what you have been doing yourself. From last Thursday to this Tuesday, there were no letters, and only your dear [voice?] of Monday. But you will tell me all when I am with you, won’t you dearest, for so much do I always want to know what you are doing. Each of those days with no letter are lost for me until you tell me all.

You are so good to tell me all the news dearest and we will have much to talk about. Especially good news was the oil well, and even though it does not amount to much, for I did not have much faith in Mike Lund, and I am glad I was mistaken. I happened to know quite a little about the Theater situation, when I was in Laramie, but of course I did not say anything, so your news did not at all surprise me.

Honey dear this letter may not reach you until Sunday morning, but I am hoping you will get it Christmas night, but mails are so funny. And dearest I love you, and love you and soon we will both be most very happy. My sweet precious, I will mail this at once and tonight I shall write you again. There is so very much to tell you I can't half do it in a letter.

Your Douglas who loves most dearly his Helen.

Finally Christmas was over, and Douglas could rush to the side of his fair Helen, no doubt by fast train. By Wednesday the 29th they were man and wife.

I remember, 50 years later, driving a few hundred miles with my family to help celebrate the golden anniversary of that happy day.

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