Lucy’s Letters – Into the Good Life, the Hard Way

Lucy was born on a farm about a hundred years ago. In this, the first of the letters Judy’s mother Lucy wrote to me in 1991, she shares her earliest memories of growing up on a farm near Gardner, ND.

Two things stand out for me in this letter. First is her description of walking around in the farmyard, feeding chickens. A hundred years after she fed those chickens there is a national debate about how to raise chickens, most loudly argued by those in favor of “free-range” birds, just like those in Gardner.

The second is Lucy’s handwriting. Longhand. My grade school teachers tried to teach me to write longhand, using the Palmer Method. They failed. I couldn’t learn to write neatly. Never did. Typing was my forte. Lucy wrote beautifully, and her daughter Judy’s hand writing is even more incredible. The Palmer Method of handwriting is no longer taught. How long will it be until Lucy’s letters are illegible in their original form? Do you have as much trouble reading the letter below as I do? Handwritten letters from the 1800’s are difficult to read, and it’s even worse for those written a hundred years before that.

How long will it be until even the words I’m writing today are illegible?
Grandpa Guy Havelick


Originally published 2014-09-29
Updated 2017-02-01

Lucy writes:



Memories – My earliest memories are of life on the farm – I remember walking in the yard with my mother and being given a little pail with wheat in it – she also had a pail and we would feed the chickens, they would come so close to us we would have to bat them out of the way.  She would put her hands under them on the nest – I thought “Even the chickens love my Mom.”

Play things were orange boxes with a divider in the middle for a cupboard and it could hold colored stones. (Yes Lon -I even liked stones when I was small.) Mud pies made of water and dirt-graced the shelves.

In the Summer time we wore bib overalls-white cotton shirts-and bloomers made out of Oxident flour sacks. Sometimes all the printing would not be removed but we really didn’t care. And we went barefoot until school started.

I can remember being very fussy about what I would and would not eat-like crust of bread-fat on meat-…-Mom always said “just leave her alone.

We would have friends visit our house on Sundays. Home canned peach sauce-pickles and home made bread. When Mom baked bread-7 loaves-2 pans of buns and cinnamon rolls were not uncommon. They were baked in a range-coal and wood was used. Oh how hot the kitchen got.


Lucy Letter 001

Lucy Letter 002




2 thoughts on “Lucy’s Letters – Into the Good Life, the Hard Way

  1. I can read Lucy’s handwriting. One trick I learned when scanning something with writing on both sides of the page is to back the paper with black (or dark blue) paper so you don’t see the shadowing from the print on the other side of the page.


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