Friday, December 30, 2011

CONTEST: Letters From Dad


            Last week, my family gathered at my Aunt’s house for our annual Chanukah party.  Each year, we chat with the extended family, eat a wonderful brisket with a side of potato latkes, and exchange gifts.  This year, we were in for an unexpected treat.
            As coffee and dessert were being served, my grandma brought out an old shoebox.  She handed it to my mother, saying, “You might enjoy looking at what’s inside here.”  I watched as my mom opened up the box and took out a pile of photographs of my father when he was a kid at summer camp, along with dozens of letters in his, now lost, cursive script.
            For more than hour, my sister and I took turns reading the letters aloud, much to the entertainment of the whole family.  The letters were short and to the point.  Again and again he would write that he loved tennis and waterskiing, and that he was the starting shortstop on the baseball team.  He wanted them to send him the daily sports section to camp, because he had no way of knowing how his beloved Orioles were fairing.
            The funniest part about the letters was how they ended seemingly every time.  He always asked that they’d send him gum.  He’d write, “Please send up some gum,” or, “I’m out of gum, please send more,” and best of all, “P.S. Please send gum, lots of it.”  Eventually, my grandmother obviously got sick of these requests and she wrote a letter to my father calmly explaining that if she sent him more gum now, by the time it got to camp he’d already be home, so he should kindly stop asking.
            This small window into my father’s childhood was unlike anything I had before experienced.  My dad never really talked that much about what he was like when he was a kid.  Seeing his cursive writing and amateur spelling is something that I will never forget.  Hearing my dad’s 12-year-old voice pleading with my grandparents for bubblegum was the best present I could’ve asked for.

--MCJ