STAMPS & LETTERS (1900-1950)
Here are stamps on a few of the letters that my relatives sent back and forth between 1900-1950. When was a kid, I was a stamp collector. So stamps have always interested me, to varying degrees, ever since.
The envelope on the top of the stack, with the two purple (Victory) “Win The War” stamps, is definitely my mother’s (Ellen Clock) handwriting. Perhaps she just addressed it for her mother in law, Margaret M Clock. Apparently mother went back to Oklahoma, from Ladd Hill, Oregon …and stayed with relatives for a while at the end of World War II. She had two young boys at the time, Mike and Pat Clock. My dad (Charles Clock) was in the Navy, out in the Pacific, for the last two years of the war.
You cannot overstate the importance of mail during the early 1900’s (actually going all the way back to the 1600’s in America). No mail service would be the equivalent of no cell phone service, no computer usage, no TV, no email, no US mail and no home phone …today. No mail would mean no contact with the outside world and those you love the most.
The telegraph speeded up communications considerably, but telegrams were brief, expensive and inconvenient. The telephone replaced some of the mail. But up until quite recently, long distance phone calls were very expensive. Letters remained the primary way of communicating with your distant loved ones. Today, with our instant texting, unlimited long distance phone plans and emailing …its impossible to even IMAGINE what it was like! Often a letter meant the world. Treasures to be kept. My grandparents (Wilkie & Margaret Clock …especially Margaret) appear to have saved most of their correspondence …lots and lots of letters and postcards. Some appear in this blog, but there are far too many to include them all.
A letter, for much of that time period (1900-1950), took a 2 or 3 cent stamp …a postcard took a 1 cent stamp. Lucky for us …much of what they thought, wrote and said in writing, we can still read today. But all of our electronic communications now, will be lost for those that follow us. They will, mostly, only be able to speculate as to what we were really like.
A LITTLE SUITCASE FULL OF LETTERS
In the boyhood suitcase that my father (Charles Clock) gave me are several dozen letters and postcards, mostly between his dad (Wilkie Clock) and his grandmother (Margaret Ann Clock). Letters between mother and son, in other words. The majority of the letters were from mother to son, not the other way around (no surprise there, huh?). A couple of them are below.
Also, I have included two more letters here that were sent to my great grandma from other people …mostly because one of them is cute and one is funny. There are also letters to & from Margaret under different topic headings in this blog (See: Burma, Wisconsin, Europe Trip, etc).
But the majority of the letters are still in that little suitcase …waiting.
*This can get a bit confusing because my grandfather Wilkie, great grandfather Jacob and great great great grandfather Abraham …..all married Margaret’s.
This 1908, four page letter is from Margaret Ann Clock, my great grandmother (Jacob Wilkie Clock’s widow at this point). She is writing to her son (my grandpa), Wilkie C. Clock and his wife, Margaret M Clock …on her birthday.
At the time, Margaret Ann Lewis Clock is staying with her brother, Tom Lewis at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee ….next to Shiloh Civil War Battlefield. Her husband, Jacob W. Clock, has been dead for 22 years at this point. This letter was written 5 years before my dad, Charles Clock, was born. His older brother, Paul, was just 1 year old.
Margaret included 2 clippings from the newspaper with her letter. I think they tell us a bit about her …..her grandmotherly love and her belief in the prohibition of alcohol. If you look at the article about Carrie Nation getting national recognition …she wrote, “I always thought she deserved this”.
MOTHERS DAY LETTER (1915):
At the time this 2 page letter was written, in 1915, Wilkie Clyde Clock & Margaret M. Clock (my grandparents) and their family were living in Eau Galle, Wisconsin. My great grandmother, Margaret Ann Clock wrote the letter to them, her son and daughter-in-law. This was two years after Dad (Charles L. Clock) was born in Coleraine, Minnesota and Wilkie was preaching at the Methodist Church in Eau Galle. The parsonage and church are still standing today. Greg Clock (Virgil Clock’s son) sent me photos of them several years ago and they are posted in this blog. (See: Clocks of Wisconsin)
(NOTE: For historical perspective, when this letter was written …World War I was raging in Europe, the United States did not enter the war for two more years.)
LETTER FROM YOUNG WINDELL TO HIS GRANDMA MARGARET:
Cute, huh? At the time this 2 page letter was written, (perhaps the 1910’s) it appears that Wendell’s grandma, Margaret Ann Lewis Powell Clock (Jacob Wilkie Clock’s wife/widow) is living with her brother, Tom Lewis, in Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee. He was the caretaker of nearby Shiloh Civil War Battlefield and Cemetery.
Margaret (my great grandma) was Jacob’s 3rd wife, after Hannah (Leggett) and Sarah (Groves). They both died quite young, which was not unusual in those days. Death and serious sickness were constant companions in the 1800’s. For example, Hannah was only 26 years old when she died in Ohio, in 1844. Later on, Jacob and Margaret had a child that was “born and died in infancy”.
They lived in a TOTALLY different world than we do in the 21st Century. Death was always lurking nearby. They felt only God stood between them and death ….every single day! Now, many of us still say that, and believe it, at least kind of ….but they lived it! To understand their comments in letters and diaries ….often referring to death, the uncertainty of tomorrow, and how fortunate a person is to be alive ….we need to keep in mind what those times were like. In fact, how they were since the beginning of time itself. To them, the causes of death were often mysterious, and besides, it appeared little could be done about them anyway. The idea that we have ….that you could be rather confident your wife/husband would live til old age, that all your children would live til adulthood …is a profoundly revolutionary thing. All of that has changed in only a couple of generations …just since my great grandpa and great grandma’s time!
It is hard for us to even imagine the uncertain world they lived in EVERY SINGLE DAY! Modern medicine, food safety, sanitation standards and prevention of accidents …imperfect though they are now …put us in a completely different world. A new world and an outlook that …you, and your spouse, and your children, and your relatives, and your friends will most likely be alive tomorrow. It has changed, in the most profound ways ….how we look at ourselves, each other, God, life itself, the future, and our place in the scheme of things. For better and for worse, I might add!
Those that say how much computers, or air travel, or cell phones, or automobiles, or ATMs, or Facebook have improved our lives ….don’t know what they are talking about. The assumption that those you love, will most likely still be alive tomorrow …now THAT is something!!
Anyway, Margaret had 2 children from the Powell marriage ….Mary and Lewis. Young Windell was the son of one of her children from that marriage. Windell’s mother’s comments to my great grandmother …and his childhood “art” and doddles on the sides of this letter, are timeless. Life was SO precious! Life IS so precious!
Obviously this was written by young Windell’s mother ….. to his grandma (Margaret), but I’m sure the “art work” is all his! Margaret Ann (Lewis Powell) Clock is Jacob Wilkie Clock’s widow ….my great grandma and great grandpa.