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.
The 14th letter in the Grandpa's Love Letters series is quotidian. With each letter, I expect to find a hidden meaning, a beautiful turn of phrase, or some insight into my grandparents as young people, lovers, and individuals.
When I read a letter that's mundane--about the weather, traveling back to Paterson for the weekend, and my grandfather's corns, for Pete's sake--I am disappointed. I have to remind myself that letters in the 1940s weren't the same as they are now. We write letters today to say something important. Some letters in the 1940s bore people's souls, but they often expressed day-to-day matters too. This letter, especially, reminds me of how we use text messages. Grandpa is basically asking Grandma "where u at?" for the upcoming Friday night.
This letter mentions my grandfather's father, Adolph Note. Adolph (often spelled Adolf) was born on March 21st, 1880, making him 60 at the time of this letter. He worked at a dyer at the Auger & Simon Silk Dyeing Company in Paterson, NJ. He traveled back and forth from Belgium to New Jersey several times. For example, he first arrived in America at age 25 in 1905 from Moerkerke, Belgium. He arrived again in 1909 on the Lusitania, four years before it sank.
By the time that my grandfather was born, Adolph was naturalized and a saloon keeper. He owned the Lafayette Bar and Grill in Paterson, NJ. After he sold it, the bar became infamous as the site of a triple-homicide that Rubin "Hurricane" Carter was wrongfully convicted of committing.
Adolph's obituary noted that he was a retired stationary fireman and was a member of the Belgian Circle. The Belgian Circle was a social group of Belgian-Americans. I asked my uncle once what community projects they did, and he said, "They just drank!"
Feb. 26, 1940
We arrived at about ten o'clock last night after an uneventfull (sic) ride. Every one of us felt rather low because we had to go back. The roads were not improved any over the condition they were in on Friday. The weather was extremely cold in the Poconos but Ray Bonte kept the heater on for more than half of the way.
Fred's mother packed some lunch for Fred and us but we did not eat any until we arrived in Scranton. Our boarding house mistress made a pot of coffee for us and we had coffee and cake before we went to bed.
My corn kept bothering me on the way here but so long as I kept my foot still it did not hurt much.
We have just finished our first full day in our new quarters and if the meals are always as good as they were today it will not be so bad.
I talked to Otto as soon as possible about coming home again this coming week-end. He has changed his plans, and intends to leave at about one o'clock Friday noon. I do not intend to leave when he does therefore if I do come home I will leave here at about Four O'clock in the afternoon with Ray and Fred. Before it becomes definite I will have to see Mr. Minatelli but I do not think he will have any objections to my leaving at that time. Wil you be home if I can tell you definitely that I will leave on Friday? I sincerely hope so.
It is not eleven thirty and I still have to drop my father a line or two so I'll close now. I remain your ever loving sweetheart.
P.S. I am looking forward to a lot of kisses on Friday. Ray.
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