Stumbled upon an old box at the farm the other day. Peeked in side and found a very old letter from my Granddad to his parents. Our farm house was built in 1917 and although it's a small cottage it holds a mansion size worth of memories. The more time I spend here with my mom the more history she tells me every night on the front porch. I should probably be writing it all down!
My Granddad was born 2-2-11, a neat date written out I think. He lived an interesting life serving as a Navy captain doing research on radars during WW2. Before the war he was a Professor of Agriculture in New Mexico, a soil scientist. Who knew there was such a thing? Not me. Who wants to study dirt? Not me. After the war he received his PhD from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and then was hired as the Department Head of Agronomy at the University of Arkansas. Go Hogs! Also my alma mater. He worked there for over 30 years! And fun fact: my Granddad worked with Norman Borlaug. Look him up if you have an interest in dirt... and Nobel Peace Prize winners.
But before all of that he was just your average 24 year old looking for a job. That is where the letter begins. It was the summer of 1935. Doesn't that sentence sound like the start of an interesting book? Um no. Two years after the Great Depression had ended. Hum, similar to the times we may be heading in to. No thank you. The 10 page letter speaks to a couple of weeks in California looking for a job.
He starts the letter on July 18, 1935, describing his bus ride from Tucson, AZ to Los Angeles, CA. Can you believe it was only $7.45 for a bus ticket?! Bitty & Carolyn have a trip planned to LA that was postponed due to the Coronavirus, and let's just say that would not even cover a cocktail for one.
He continues to the back side of the first page listing some of his dreams. One of which is owning a farm in California. That never happened, but he did get this little place in Oklahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plains. I can't remember my dreams at 24, do you? Should have written them down.
The letter goes on to discuss staying in a hotel for $2.50 a night. Again, Bitty & Carolyn would not have survived! Granddad talks about the 1935 Expo, like our State Fair of Texas. So sad there will not be a fair this year in Dallas. If there was a fair this year I would be chomping on funnel cake. Granddad chose to try chow mein for the first time while at the Expo. After a wild night out...just kidding, he states 9pm was a big deal, he goes on to write about filling out a job application. Who can relate? ME! Maybe I should try applying for farming jobs instead of jobs in fashion?
Granddad was obviously a hard worker, even then he was out in the dirt. He helped a crew pick oranges. And similar to job searches today he sent out a lot of applications. No internet or email back then. #onlineoroff He heard back from one potential employer and also received an interview with another. Had he got that job he would have been making $150 a month.
As it turned out he did not get that job, and was probably turned down for a host of others. Granddad persevered and lived a full 99 years. I miss my Granddad so much and am so happy I have this memory of him to share. This letter reminds me to write things down, whether with pen and paper or electronically. It reminds me to keep applying for jobs and not give up. It also reminds of family. Lots of love, Carolyn Jaxson