Letter #20: Belgian Circle Banquet

I'm continuing my series of scanning, transcribing, and annotating my grandfather's love letters to my grandmother leading up to their marriage in June 1940. The letters are chronologically organized and preserved, using the methods I discuss in detail in my book, Creating Family Archives: How to Preserve Your Papers and Photographs

In the 20th letter of the Grandpa's Love Letters series, Grandpa talks about work and mentions his stamp collection. In previous letters, he had written a few notes for Joe, Grandma's stepbrother, who also collected stamps. I had heard growing up that the stamp collection was stolen because I don't remember seeing it in person.

Grandpa mentions ten cent commemorative stamps of authors and poets. I was able to find online some examples of that series, which were printed in February 1940. Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) and James Whitcomb Riley were included.

The Belgian Circle of Paterson, New Jersey from the 1950s. Grandpa's in the back row, center, next to the guy who looks like Albert Camus.

The Belgian Circle of Paterson, New Jersey from the 1950s. Grandpa's in the back row, center, next to the guy who looks like Albert Camus.

In a previous letter, I mentioned the Belgian Circle.  My great-grandfather was on the board, as well as my grandfather. Mostly, it was a social group centered around drinking, according to my uncle. I always feel conflicted about writing about the Belgian Circle of Paterson because of the history of alcoholism and addiction in my family. I imagine many people working with their family history may feel this way too. Addiction can go back for generations, and I am thankful and proud that I've broken the cycle.

Two things that strike me about this letter: Grandpa seems to be randomly capitalizing the letter "I" and he used his birth name--Rene--for the first time in his letters. He must have been feeling very Belgian at the moment!

1940_03_27_01 (1).jpeg
1940_03_27_01 (2).jpeg



March 27

7.30 A.M.

Dearest Ann,

Wednesday morning and all is well. We reached here on time for work on Monday morning. It was much nicer riding than at night time.

We are almost sure of coming home Saturday so If we do you and I may go to the Belgian Circle banquet on Saturday night. Otto and I intend to do some overtime so as we can come home on Saturday. I have been working hard since Monday morning and have straightened a number of important parts of my new job. There is no reason at all why I should not be able to arrange my work so as It will run smoothly. Mr. Meyers promised to send up another desk from Paterson for me and when It comes in I'll be all set. I would like to stay on this job until I get it to run like a clock and then I would not mind at all making another change for the better.

Otto just asked me If I dreamt about you last and am telling you about my dream in this letter. He also just told me it has started to snow.

I must close now as breakfast will be ready soon.

With all my love

I remain your lover.

Very truly yours


P.S. Tell Joe I have two 10 cent stamps of the new issues of poets and Writers. 


To learn the preservation secrets used by libraries, archives, and museums to protect their priceless materials (that you can also use for your family heritage items), read my book: 

If you like archives, memory, and legacy as much as I do, you might consider signing up for my email list. Every few weeks I send out a newsletter with new articles and exclusive content for readers. It’s basically my way of keeping in touch with you and letting you know what’s going on. Your information is protected and I never spam. 

Ready to get started creating your family archives? Here are some of my favorite products:

Follow me on Pinterest | Instagram | Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook