It's so odd to me that everything I remember from my semester stay at Indiana University is documented in my letters home. I wonder if perhaps instead of the memorable stuff ending up in letters, writing it down is what made it memorable.
I was wondering that when I opened a letter I'd written after I'd broke up with Michael. I giddily told Mom about my new boyfriend Dave. I remember that Dave was a big one for making plans and lists. I remember on our first date he'd made a plan for our future and made me sign it. (I still have it somewhere. He's a lawyer now. Meretricious. Can't hold up in court.) What I didn't remember at all is that we went shopping for engagement rings sometime in our first month of dating. I described what I was wearing, I have photos from that day, yet I can not remember going into the jewelry store or anything else engagement ring-related. I can only imagine Mom's horror getting that letter.
Evidently I inherited this speed romance gene from Mom. She knows a boy, they go on some dates, and she writes her way into his heart. There's one young man named Wessel who seems quite taken with her. At the end of his envelope pile I see an unsent letter from her (not a carbon) that seems to put him in his place. A year later there's his response to her wedding invitation. (I've found Mr. Wessel online. I'm wondering if he might like his letters back.)
Then she meets a boy in December, writes him three letters a day starting Christmas break, he's in love with her by mid-January. The love and marriage plans are professed in an unsent letter there too, but it's from the boy to my Mom. I get to see the unsent letter to Mom because the boy (my stepfather) found her again years after she ditched him, married Jerry, and had two children, including me.
Those are particularly fun to read because they both kept both sets, so it's like a historical document. Also, they both have legible handwriting. After reading all these letters I have changed sides on the abandonment of cursive in school. Cursive is evil. Oh, and back in the day there was a habit of folding two sheets of typewriter paper and writing on it in a style I can't even describe without a video. Sheet 1 contains pages 1 and 4, the inner sheet contains 3 and 2, right first then left. It's like Shakespeare's folios, except for the backwards way the inner sheet is.
Sadly, the boy with legible handwriting is ditched for my scribbly father, from whom I see one very passionate letter. (I know there are other Jerry letters, but I don't know where.) The letter from Jerry was sent while he was visiting his parents and evidently telling them he's engaged. It doesn't seem to have gone well at first, but he makes a case to his parents and "Mad Aunt Jo." (Run, Mom.) He spends a few pages giving some genealogy.
On my grandmother's side I was surprised to see I'm a Southerner. Her father was "A black sheep" (run, Mom) " from a very rich and genteel family" in Spartanburg, South Carolina. This is a good match for Mom, whose great-grandfather owned much of Marion Ohio. Genetically, I should look for some small pond I can be the Big Fish Of.
My grandfather's side is where the big surprise lay: my great grandfather was full Cherokee. I just read an article on how it would be impossible for everyone who thinks they are Cherokee to actually be Cherokee, but here I am all one-sixteenth Cherokee. (Indian name: "Writes On Blog.") And he isn't just a nameless guy, his name is "S"... "a"..."m" ... "s ...e ...r ... y? ...Maybe?" Very poor handwriting. He shouldn't be too hard to look up, since he fought for the Confederacy and was "a federal Circuit judge." Yeah, right, I thought, that's bullshit. A Cherokee U.S. Circuit court judge? But, and here I show my ignorance to my Cherokee relatives, the Cherokee have an entire judicial system they started in 1839 - constitution and circuit courts and all - that was taken away in 1898.
So, here I am the very end of that particular run of Cherokee blood. Tsk. It's absurd, of course: unless that 1/16h is pooling in my face and giving me my red chin.