Hallowed Ground – A Letter To My Great Grand Mother – Nashwauk, MN
My Mother recently came across this letter to Lydia, my great-grandmother on my Father’s side. The author is anonymous but it seems clear that the letter is from a sibling, most likely her brother.
The copy I received was of rather poor quality so I did my best to make it legible by enhancing it. To save you the time of having to parse each word in the letter I have transcribed it for your reading pleasure.
A couple of things to note about this letter.
The Hawkins Club is long gone and I was unable to find out anything more about this place though I suspect that it was most likely the type of place that would later be known as a Supper Club. Supper Clubs are a fairly common feature around the Mesabi Range area and the Upper Midwest generally. A key feature is they present themselves as a destination place to go for an upscale dining experience that often includes steaks, baked potatoes, and a trip through the salad bar. Liquor is optional depending on one’s age and tendencies.
The letter begins below the Hawkins Club imprint and then continues on the back side of the sheet of paper. I fancy the author, finding himself creating a masterpiece, then flipped the paper over again and added a post script above the imprinted letterhead.
Having written a few good, in your face, take that, letters I can tell you that a solid post script is an essential element as it is the place where the author summarizes and magnifies all scorn and disdain for the subject being discussed.
The opening line of this letter’s post script doesn’t disappoint and, in fact, is perfect in tone, imagery, magnification and finality. I suspect that the author, all frothy from the use of soaring rhetoric, couldn’t stop and used the last bit of space on that paper to capture the penultimate and devastating insult. Genius, utter genius and because of this I suggest that we overlook the faux pas of placing it at the beginning of letter.
The farm in question here was located between Keewatin and Hibbing and I had always known it as only belonging too my great grandparents, Anton and Lydia. Given the later ownership controversy over these few acres I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised to discover that the karma around this place had gone to hell many decades earlier.
After Lydia passed on there was a heated battle between my Grandmother, Violet, and her brother Elsworth over who would own the land. Elsworth, for reasons I was never quite able to figure out, managed to get undisputed ownership to the farm, a situation that Violet found rather annoying. This irritation would often erupt when we drove by it on our way from Keewatin to Hibbing for shopping or, on special occasions, on our way to a supper club.
A subplot to this whole dispute between Violet and Elsworth involved Goldie, Elsworth’s wife. To say Violet disliked her is to understate the matter somewhat: I think it safe to state that Violet despised Goldie down to the carbon dioxide she exhaled. I find this to be a perfected cosmic outcome as it forever assigned that ground’s fate to one of controversy. No sane person would want to own that land – why risk your eternal soul to eternal unhappiness over some dirt?
Violet hoarded things and grudges like nobody I have ever met or will ever meet even if live 10 lifetimes. God, I love her still even with all her flaws and pettiness; her unconditional love and support for me changed my life.
Now on to the star of this post, the letter.
The Hawkins Club
February 16, 1921
Lydia and the whole damn family,
Sid went to the farm to clear that 20 acres next to Pa’s place. He saw your shack up on that piece of land. You know that was Pa’s piece of land and your half was on the other side.
Well you didn’t even ask Pa’s permission and he was damn mad too and was going to raise Hell with you but ma wouldn’t let him. You knew damn well Pa wouldn’t want any land separated from the main farm.
Well you’re the damned cheapest, sneakiest bunch of grabbers I ever saw or heard of. We told you Pa was going to sell us that piece. Pretty damn neat trick to lose the deed all of the sudden. Pretty damn [xxxx] I get a shack of my own.
Oh, you’re not fooling us or Pa either. All you’re waiting for is to pull the last tooth from the old folks. No name is cheap enough for you. so you just kiss my ass you dirty low down bunch and go plump to Hell as that’s where you headed anyway. Why didn’t you go down and kick Ma out while you were at it?
Don’t wish you any bad luck but here’s hoping you’ll roast in Hell for your smallness.
The Wicks Devil
You’re too damn rotten to use for toilet paper.
Damn funny Pa can’t have the deed to his own property (I suppose we’ll see Holman’s in N. York pretty soon)
Copyright 2014 By Katherine Johnson – All Rights Reserved