Moving to Jamestown

Jamestown ND

Rear view of the “Pink” house a few years after they moved to Jamestown.

How about something a little different this time? Reading this letter from Grace brought up so many memories that I feel the need to say something about every sentence she wrote. There is a story behind each sentence, and this time I feel like I know the back story.

For this letter, I’m going to use a different format than you’re used to. After each sentence of Grace’s, I’m going to give you some background about it. Every sentence in every one of her letters, Louie’s letters, Lucy’s letters and Jim’s letters could probably get the same treatment, but today is my mother’s turn.

Grace writes:

Hi everyone,

We’re on the road again this lovely late summer morning in Wisconsin.

Guy’s comment:

After Grace and Norris got married they usually took at least one trip each year, often several. They brought Chris, Eric and Linn along when they were young enough. Later it was just the two of them. These trips sometimes involved fishing in Canada, hunting in Montana, national parks in Arizona, tourist stops in Wisconsin, or relatives in North Dakota. They put on thousands of miles, stopping every 100 miles for a quick break and to change drivers. On one of their trips the car broke down and they bought a new one in Jamestown. Each of their trips could be its own story. The year she wrote these letters they went through North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin, stopping to visit relatives, including Judy and me.

Grace writes:

Thinking of the summer Mama + I moved to Jamestown.

Guy’s comment:

This is the subject of this letter, and you know she could tell us a lot more stories about that experience. Moving from the farm where the nearest town had a couple of hundred people to Jamestown with about 13,000 people must have been an emotional event.

Grace writes:

Henry + Elaine got married that summer + we had picked out the house by the river in Jamestown to buy.

Guy’s comment:

Pettibone ND

Henry and Elaine, Emily, Ray and Faith

Grace doesn’t say anything about her oldest brother’s wedding, nor does she mention that her other brother Melvin married Elaine’s sister Iris. (Maybe that’s in a later letter that I haven’t read yet.) I bet there are some pretty good stories about both of those weddings to share. Unless Ray, Emily, Ted, Jan or Gary remember we’ll probably never hear about them. Grace could have told a whole ‘nother story about the second part of that sentence, too. Grandma drove hard bargains, and she probably did the same for the house purchase. You’ll remember the stories about Cars and Chickens. There are several versions of that story.

Grace writes:

At that time it was white and later on Mom had the pink siding put on. By the way — it was asbestos siding. Thought Linn + Eric might be interested in that little tidbit of information. 🙂

Guy’s comment:

Once again, two sentences and two more stories. I always knew the house as pink. We don’t have photos or any other mention of the original color. The more interesting story is the one about asbestos. You may not know that Linn and Eric were in business together for a couple of years doing industrial hygiene work, investigating for asbestos. Either of them could tell some pretty good tales about that experience. In a couple of weeks Eric will share some about what it was like to work with his brother.

Grace writes:

At that time there was an old electric stove and an old time ice-box in the house so we used those the first year. Now I wish we had them — they’d be valuable antiques like a lot of other things we throwed away.

Guy’s comment:

There were two out buildings on the lot with the pink house. Did they have anything left by the previous owners, like the stove and refrigerator? One thing from that old house I’d like to see today was the coal-fired water heater. Next to the coal furnace (that needed stoking several times a day, and at night) there was a pot-bellied affair that heated water as it flowed through the fire-box. There wasn’t much hot water, but at least the bath wasn’t completely ice-cold. What other quirks did that house have?

Grace writes:

Moving to Jamestown was a big change and certainly different from living on the farm.

Guy’s comment:

That’s a teaser for another letter if there ever was one. Big change? Certainly different? Grace gives us no clues about what made it a big change. Was it driving around town in a car as opposed to riding a horse to town? Was it indoor plumbing? What was it? Argh!

Grace writes:

I missed my “Skippy” a lot that year so the next year we brought him to live with us.

Guy’s comment:

Skippy

Skippy

Here’s one where we do hear more about a topic. Did Skippy remember them a year later? Did the new owners of the farm take the livestock, too? Including dogs and cats? Not that long ago there was a whole letter about Skippy the Dog, but that was a farm story, not a town story.

Skippy played an important part in Grace’s life. I heard lots of stories about him. Sadly, I don’t remember any of them. These letters are all that I have.

Grace writes:

I got acquainted with a girl to go horseback riding with + we would walk up to the college hill to the stable + ride out east of town.

Guy’s comment:

Grace loved riding. Remember the letter about the horse and the piano? Grace took me riding a couple of times when I was in grade school. We went to a stable south-east of Jamestown, beyond the State Hospital. I have no memory of the stables near Jamestown College. The college was about a mile and a half from the pink house, so it must have been an all day affair to go riding. Who was the other girl? What else did they do? How often? So many questions. Only one sentence. I’m hungry for more.

That’s the story, here’s Grace’s letter.

Grace Letter 042

One thought on “Moving to Jamestown

  1. Thanks for the added detail. Makes me aware of how many stories we lose each day, week, year. One would think that in a digital age we wouldn’t lose as many, but I doubt it. We lose at least the same and probably more due to a generational change that no longer values the “old stories”. Not all important things are on the Internet yet, lots still exists in peoples’ heads and hearts. Good thing big hearted people like you still exist!

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