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by Janet Brigham

The postcard was nestled among the other belongings of a relative who died this summer at age 95. The relative’s family sent it to me because it ap- peared to be written by my maternal grandmother, Sibyl (1886-1960). I have known Sibyl’s handwriting since I was about five years old, and I knew this was not Sibyl’s handwriting. I thought the handwriting might be that of her husband, my grandfather Clement, whom I met only once. I quickly pulled up a digital copy of a letter Clement had written to Sibyl and saw that the handwriting was un- mistakably his. Why, I wondered, had Sibyl not written the postcard herself? She was a self-sufficient woman who rarely asked anyone to do things for her. The postcard’s date of July 3, no year visible, raised the possibility that her hands were occupied because she was preparing or preserving food. Southeastern Idaho’s crops from early July can include apricots, beets, beans, berries, cherries, and cucumbers. Baking bread also can be a consuming and messy project, along with laundry and other household unavoidables. Whatever Sibyl might have been do- ing, the certainty is that my grandfather, who otherwise was “haying” (according to the postcard), wrote out the message and addressed the postcard as if it were from Sibyl. What makes that interesting is that, like many families, theirs was battered by poverty and lack of available work. Whenever this postcard was written, it was before Clement left home to find work during rugged economic times.

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