Saturday, February 20, 2010

Old Mail found

I was cleaning out an old tin biscuit box where we kept odds and ends and found these letters that I'd saved. Two were still with their envelopes and were from a man in North Carolina. Two were written by my husband's father and were probably tucked into a package or a greeting card as there were no envelopes. Both men were quite old at the time of writing these.

Here is the Mr. Owens story: we traveled to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for vacations in the summer, when our children were young. As we neared the banks, we would pass a house located close to the road, that had wooden objects lined along the front. They were wind mills, whirly-gigs, and other items, all hand carved. They were truly folk art. One day, we decided that we'd stop and learn more about these items. We met the artist, Mr. Owen. He took us to his little workshop next to his house, and chatted with the children. On the way back home, we stopped and Mr. Owen allowed us to buy one of his objects. He was very cautious because he said that he'd had dealers from New York City come and buy his work then sell it for a lot. But he trusted that we wouldn't do that. I think the first item might have been a duck, later on other visits, we bought an airplane and a gull. Sometimes, we just stopped to chat. We'd take photos of him and the kids, he'd mark their heights on his door frame and marvel at how tall they'd grown. The letters are about a year apart, each one after summer visits with him. The 1986 letter refers to his having been ill. The next year, we stopped and spoke with his family. He was in hospital at the time, but his family was happy that we stopped and said they'd pass along to him that we'd been by. I wrote later on but received no reply. I assumed that he'd "passed" as they say down here. We all have fond memories of Mr. Owen.
I cherish these little notes from my father-in-law to our children. He didn't write often. We usually spoke to them on the phone, and we drove to visit them once or twice a year, usually in the summer and then again at the children's winter school break. Everyone thought we were totally crazy driving north to Chicago in winter. We were, but it was an adventure, and the kids loved seeing the snow. At that time, we didn't get it often or for very long. (Oh how different this winter has been!) I think I'll attach Mr. Owen's letters to the bottoms of two of his pieces of art work. Look for photos of his work on the blog in a bit.


Barbara said...

What a lovely story about Mr. Owen! Thank you so much for posting this, Mim! His art and his letters are treasures.

Lesa said...

How wonderful that you have those letters. Years ago I was able to read letters that my dad wrote to my mom when he was stationed in India. Blue ink on onionskin paper(mentioned because I know you're as addicted to ink and paper as I am!)

My great grandmother used to stay with us in the summer and, because long-distance calls were so expensive, she maintained a correspondence with her children and friends. I still think a flood of letters and cards in the mail, just as she received, is a wonderful thing.

Thanks for sharing your story about Mr. Owen.