Tag Archives: romantic notion

She Wore His Pin

At the end of the Spring semester in 1930, Jim finished his final exams and moved out of the fraternity house and into the Senate Apartment Hotel at the corner of Armour Boulevard and Troost Avenue in Kansas City.  He was beginning a summer job working with the Missouri State Highway Department.

May was a busy month for Mary.  A trip to St. Louis for the Fairmount Derby.  The end of the school year class picnic.  A flurry of bridal showers and bridge parties. Before Jim left town, she also made one last trip to Columbia with her friend Helen.  While she was there, she enrolled in classes for the Fall term and reacquainted herself with her sorority sisters at the Tri Delta house on Richmond Avenue.

When she returned home to Jefferson City, her relationship status changed.  She wore his pin.

Postmark Jefferson City, MO

May 28, 1930 10 PM

Wednesday

Dear Jim:
I hope you are getting along all right with your work.  It is really warm here this afternoon.  If you stay out in this long you will get a good suntan.

The breakfast was so nice this morning.  I hate to have to come down to toast and bacon in the morning.  We had strawberries first.  Fried chicken.  Gravy.  Baked Apple.  French fried potatoes.  Jelly and hot biscuits and coffee.

I weighed today and guess how much?  I am 98 pounds.  I’m so proud of myself.  I have gained 3 1/2 pounds in a month.

Helen and I went to the baseball game this afternoon.  It was very exciting and when we left Henry was ahead, that is his side was.

Mother went on a picnic so she came in all tired out today.  In fact we are all lazy.  It must be that we are getting old.

I wore my white dress and blue coat today.  It had your pin on it and several girls saw it and thought it was quite nice.  However they thought I had had it a long time.  Just wait until some Tri Delta sister gets a look at it.  Anyway they can’t collect until next fall.

I talked to Mrs. Lindsey today.  She said she wanted to see you so much.  She is very fond of your folks.

Jim-I surely wish you good luck and I’ll write more tomorrow.

Henry was sick last night.  So guess you did the right thing by going on the first train.  Helen was dead and I wasn’t feeling extra.  So guess it was best but I hated to see you leave.

Love, 

Mary

When a young man gives a young woman his fraternity pin, it is a sign of his affection and a symbol announcing that later they will become engaged.

Jim was a Lambda Chi Alpha.  This was his pin.  The pin she wore.

I happened to marry a Lambda Chi.  He was a member of the same chapter at the University of Missouri.  (He and Jim both served as treasurer of the chapter.) My husband never owned a pin.  So, I never wore his pin.  But before Jim died, he wanted to be sure that my husband had his pin.

Pinning may seem like an old fashioned tradition in the world of social media.  But it is still a romantic notion signifying a change in relationship status.  The biggest difference is that when Jim pinned Mary, he fastened a lasting connection that extends beyond the limits of a timeline.

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The Case of the Missing Lipstick

Postmark Jefferson City, MO

April 8, 1930 7:30 p.m.

(Two letters in one envelope…)

Read this first.  I wrote this at school in case someone saw it they wouldn’t think it was a letter.  

Dear Jim: 

I can’t find out from Dad yet what I can do about driving our car over Saturday.  He thinks he might want it.  I am about ready to go to sleep.  I can’t get enough it seems.  Tomorrow night I have bridge club and I’ll be glad when it is over believe me.  Somehow I am not so fond of the girls as I am the other bunch.  Next week I am going to have another club.  Then I’ll be through for awhile.  Please excuse this paper but it is all I have at school.  I might not get home in time to write one.  I am going to see Frances.  She is at home now.  I really am anxious to go.  She has something interesting to tell me.  George had his folks came see her Sunday.  Mrs. F said “She was glad George was going to marry such a good woman.”  Frances said she thought that was a funny way to express her feelings. 

Jim, I have a slight cold today but I can’t blame you, can I?

The weather is so pretty I wish I could get out and walk about two or three miles.  I might get some energy.

Well I must quit.  I’ll finish when I get home and read your letter.

Tuesday

Dear Jim:

I was surprised to get your letter.  I mean the kind you wrote.  You are really grand to me and I am so glad you have the ideas and ideals you have.  I hope my actions are always like you want them to be.

I have been out to Frances’ house for about an hour and half talking hard and fast.  She is up and walked out to the car to meet me.  It was been eight days since she was operated on.

I was glad to get my lipstick.  I couldn’t decide just what I did with it.  I really didn’t think you took it back with you.  

Well, I am glad you wrote the nice long letter.  It was a real surprise.

Love,

Mary

The letter box is full of mystery.  This letter has mystery galore.  Starting with the furtive note written during school on manilla art paper with a pencil; so no one might suspect she was jotting a letter!

It is important to pay attention to the clues each letter holds.

Mary is hostessing her bridge club tomorrow.  Who will attend?  What about favors and food? Given the date of the letter, I was able to locate this newspaper item about the party.  I am guessing the girls listed have no clue Miss Mary Potter is not as fond of them as she is the other bunch.

Frances and George Furtney are engaged.  Whatever it was Frances had interesting to tell Mary has their tongues wagging.  No clue.

Mary has a cold.  Her suggestion that she perhaps should blame Jim hints that they’ve been close enough to share one another’s germs.  A kiss?  The missing lipstick is another mystery that might provide the proof!

The grandest mystery is the letter Jim wrote to Mary.  I have not yet stumbled upon it to open up the secrets it contains.  The ideas and ideals he shared.  The thoughts and feelings that make her want to make him happy and proud.

How I hope now she gets to drive the car on Saturday!

 

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The Art of Flirting Through the Mail

Like a sculptor molding clay or an artist painting a landscape or a musician composing a melody, flirting is an art.  It is creative expression.  It also requires skill and practice.  People flirt for a variety of reasons.  Some people cannot stop flirting.  I’ve met some who should really try.  But mostly, flirting is playful, romantic; gestures and comments to demonstrate interest in the other person.

I was thinking about Mary and Jim and how they flirted through the mail.  How do you send a wink in an envelope?  Or a suggestive smile or a giggle?  Mary sent Jim candy.  Flirting…yes or no?  He calls her “honey.”  Definitely flirting.  Don’t you think?  He flatters  her.  Shamelessly flatters her.  She’s just the sweetest thing he can think of.  Awww!

The next piece of correspondence I find is from Mary.  It is a letter tucked into a purple envelope lined with tissue patterned with gold fans.  The postmark is January 29, 1930, 6:00 PM.

See if you can detect any flirting.

Wednesday, January 29, 1930

Dear Jim:

Well, now I am afraid you have found a girl and quit me.  Please don’t.  I’m afraid I would go jump off the bridge.

I taught school today but I was so sleepy I almost died.  I had to go to the dentist also.  Monday I’ll have them cleaned and then I’ll be through for about six or eight months.

Mother was at a party today and I went for her.  I got stuck on a hill and I thought I would sure be there all night.  I finally had to put the chains down and drive over them.  

Say sometime when Ed Brown gets well and you think about it-ask him for Helen Gilmore’s address.  I would like to drive write her.  I hope your foot is alright-if it isn’t be sure and take care of it because you might have what Ed has-please don’t.

Jim this is going to be rather short but Nixon will mail it and save the walking up the hill tonight.

Write soon.  I hope every thing goes alright in school.

Love, 

Mary

Text messaging is the flirtation tool of this century.  I found seven rules for flirting in a text.  #1  Make smiley faces or frowny faces to communicate your mood.  #2  Use nicknames or pet names whenever possible like “sweetie,”  “darling,”  or “honey.”  #3 Wait for the other person to respond before you send another message.  #4  Asks how he or she feels or what they’re doing.  #5  Act cute and flirty as if the person was with you.  #6  Grab their attention right off the bat.  #7  Be the first one to end the conversation by telling them you need to do something or go somewhere.  Keep them wondering what else you having going on.

Notice any similarities?  No smiley faces or frowny faces, but there is some unquestionable flirting going on.

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The Letter Box

My Grandparents' Courtship Correspondence

The courtship between my grandparents took place largely in letters.  An old-fashioned, romantic notion for those of us who live in the modern information age of technology.  Most of our interpersonal communication is electronic.  Cell phones, email and text messages were conventions barely known to my grandparents. Their social media consisted of stationary, a fountain pen and a two cent postage stamp.  For nearly four years, from 1929 to 1933, Mary Potter and Jim Kunkler wrote letters to one another every day when they were not together.  Sometimes twice a day.

Some years ago my mother happened upon a bundle of letters while cleaning out the basement of my grandparents’ home in Ohio.  It wasn’t surprising.  My grandmother was a saver.  She kept everything.  We found trunks filled with all kinds of stuff like World War II ration stamps, old baseball game programs and powder puffs still in their original packaging.  Newspaper clippings with names of people she knew were tucked within the trunks of items for someday use or reference.  The bundle of letters, though, were a valuable find, a true keepsake.  Further sifting and sorting.  More letter bundles were discovered.  My mother had uncovered virtually all of the letters my grandparents’ wrote to one another during their courtship, along with some additional assorted correspondence.

My mother boxed up the letters and gave them to me for safe keeping.  She also urged me to “do something with them someday.”  I put them in the attic.

Someday came a few weeks ago when I realized that this treasure might be too easily lost forever like a deleted email.  This cherished piece of family history, the story of Mary and Jim and their letter writing courtship needed to be shared with my children and preserved for future generations.  Now was the time to do something about the letters.

So, I climbed up in the attic and began to rummage around the cardboard boxes and plastic bins.  Our attic is a repository for cardboard boxes and plastic bins.  We have a varied and extensive collection of cartons from such moving companies as Mayflower, United Van Lines and U-Haul as well as numerous shapes and sizes of Rubbermaid containers. (I guess I must be a little like my grandmother.) Finding the box with the letters was going to be a challenge.  After an hour of searching and almost giving up that they were gone, I found the box.  Behind the Christmas decorations, next to our daughter’s American Girl Collection and underneath a box with my high school yearbooks and memorabilia was the box of letters.

This correspondence has been read by only two people.  Until now.  As I read these personal letters, my twenty-something grandparents are both well known and strangers to me at the same time.  The letters are like reading a conversation between two people that loved each other and that I happen to love, too.  I just didn’t know them then.  Strange but not fiction.  How I wish they were still here to ask about the friends they mention and the funny anecdotes they record!  Still, like any great mystery or adventure, there are clues to be explored to point me in the right direction that somehow will lead me to understand, just maybe, a little more about them.  And perhaps myself in the process.

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