A Letter From My Grandfather
The first picture was taken in 1914 upon his graduation from the University of Tennessee School of Medicine. The middle one is from 1916, where he served as a 1st lieutenant in the Medical Corps in France during WW I. The last picture was taken circa 1935 in Judsonia, Arkansas, where he served as Mayor and was also long-time president of the school board.
He and I share the same birthday but I never had the opportunity to meet him as he died sometime in November of 1955. On April 4th of that year he wrote a letter to me. It was typed on the letterhead of “Woodyard & Felts, Judsonia, Arkansas” which was the pharmacy he owned until it was destroyed by a tornado in 1952. The letter is reproduced below with spelling and punctuation faithfully followed. The “Shiner” that he mentions refers to the black eye I had at birth.
My Dear and Only Grand Child: I received your letter with Great pleasure and admiration, and mindful of the Genuine Love that Prompted you to Contact me so early. I must tell you how much I love you, every pound and ounce of you, And Say I am going to Let you in on our first Secret, You are larger than your Dady was at your age, Now Son don’t let that Shiner worry you, for sometimes the Stork gets a bit Carless, he has so many little ones to look after. Now if you will be quiet and listen I will tell you a True Story: Once upon a time, Long ago, Our Creator GOD Made His Creation and set it in Motion, and called it Good, and He being Lonesome Spat upon the Ground, made some Clay mud and made a man to be with him, in his Image and likeness, But he had no Sole or Spirit of Immortality, so he put the breath of life into the man, And that Breath became Immortal, kinda like he did you. God saw that the man he had Made, Adam he Called HIM, Was lonesome So he Mad A Woman to become a help Mete for Adam, and to become Mothers for you, me, and All of Us. Our Mother Was good and Precious, but one day a Serpant entered the Garden, and Begiled our Mother, So God Was angry, because She disobeyed him, so he Put a Curse Upon our Parents, and it is that Curse that causes you Dady to Work and your Mother to Labor, so that Explains your Black Eye, but Dont let that Worry you, for one Night GOD Sent His ONLY SON into the World, That through him all our of Our fathers and Mothers, might be Forgiven and Redeemed by His Precious Blood, for our Disobedience to him in the beginning. Of Course we will have to Believe on and Trust him, For Eternal Life, Beyond this one here on the Earth. Of Course I Could tell you the Story, how the Unbelieving Jews Killed This Son, Crucified Him Upon A CROSS, and Buried him, and on the Third Day He Came back to Life in a Spiritual and Ressurrected Body, but you will have a few years, to Listen to Your Father and Mother, Tell and teach you about Him. Now Son your Length and Features isnt too Important. But it is most Important What kind of Spirit Inhabits that Body, Or Temple it Is Called. Grandmother Tells me that you will be home today and I know you are going to be proud of your Home and your Father and Mother, for you together are what makes up what Society Calls the Family. And The one who was Crucified, Commands us to honor Father and Mother, and he also wants them to Love you, so that the Family you are part of will make a happy one. Now after I tell you that I love you will you remember me to Mother and Dad, and Grandmother, and Convey my love to them also. I must say that I deeply regret that I didn’t have the Pleasure of personally greeting you upon your arrival, but am Looking forward with fond anticipation, to meeting you soon, and in the Interim be a sweet little man. I must apologise for burdening you with so long, and random Message but guess it is My awkward way of Telling you that I Love you so very Much. I shall be looking forward to hearing from you often.
I didn’t receive this letter until, perhaps, 2001 or ’02. I suspect that my father was somewhat embarrassed by it. The spelling and grammar weren’t up to Grandfather’s standards, but he was laboring under a prior stroke. Too, Dad related that Granddad had become a “religious fanatic” late in life and religion was something that I think made Dad uncomfortable. But having travelled my own Damascus road this letter is a delight and treasure to me, errors of language and simple theology notwithstanding. I wonder what I’ll write to my grandchildren?