My mother has told me so many wonderful stories about our rich family history. There is much to learn by reviewing the past.
Recently the rediscovery of an old vintage cigar box containing some old and yellow aged letters sparked my interest. These date back to the World War 1 era and a particular correspondence letter from 1920 will be shared with readers of this particular article.
The sentimental letter was written to my paternal grandfather by a war buddy of his after they had both survived their part in the war.
This is one of several personal letters that were kept in this small cigar box all these many years from that same friend. Obviously they had forged a bond between them that lasted beyond those days of the early models of airplanes being used in that first World War.
The dimensions of this vintage cigar box are 7 1/4 inches by 5 1/4 inches with a depth of only 1 1/4 inches. The old stamps on the exterior of the box are interesting and the inside lid of the box shows a beautiful picture of a horse named Alcazar.
For some reason it seems that many old cigar boxes are adorned with pictures of horses.
August Uihlein (1842 - 1911) and his brothers, Henry and Alfred who came from the family who developed the Jos. Schlitz Brewing Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin fame also apparently loved horses. Together they owned 1,200 acres of land at Truesdell which is near the town of Kenosha, Wisconsin. By 1900 they had 2,000 trotting horses!
$25,000 was paid for the horse named Alcazar which was undoubtedly a lot of money back in that time. Alcazar was born in California in 1883. He was an award winning horse who adorned the wrappers of cigars for over half a century. Perhaps he was also featured on other vintage cigar boxes?
Writing letters has almost become a lost art in this day and age. But back in the early part of the 20th century letter writing was a much more common way of communication.
Telephone lines were strung in cities and out into the countryside. Many people back in those earlier times shared a party line meaning that others on the same telephone line could overhear conversations or even chime in and add to the conversation.
Telegraph offices still existed and one would give the message to the telegraph operator to type out and transmit via the wires to one's recipient. Again there was no privacy between the sender and recipient.
A personal letter was about the only way one could economically transmit news or share feelings between people and have it be a private form of communication.
Learning handwriting skills was taught in schools. Many a sheet of paper was used in cursive handwriting practice back when I was in elementary school! Beautiful handwriting was more the norm and letter writing skills were developed with practice.
We have lost much in this day of more common emails and texting. In the future there will be fewer letters like this one from 1920 to reread, cherish and from which to learn.
Letter from the WWI Era
Here is what was written to my grandfather many years ago from the location of Frisco, Texas and dated Feb. 29, 1920:
"My Dear Friend:
I regret that I have been unable to answer your interesting letter until so late - but going on the theory that it is better late than never, I am seizing my first opportunity to make amends.
Everything it seems has conspired to take my time. My girl in Tenn. was sick a month of acute articular rheumatism and died. I do not begrudge that time, I only regret that her young life was so untimely withdrawn from us.
Then the weather cleared up and we started farming again. We have about 350 acres of good looking oats, and more than half of the remaining ground listed and ready for planting corn and cotton. Another week of fair weather will see us ready for planting time. Our wheat is looking good - other people say it is the best looking wheat in the county.
Say - you remember Lieut. Phillips, M.H. Brown's pilot at the front? He fell and was burned - died the next day. Also the big red faced pilot, Harry Smith, who came to our squadron just a few weeks before we left Clamecy? Another Lieut. collided - or rather ran into him, cut off his tail - and both were killed. All these happened at Kelly Field. Smith was a personal friend of mine - and a wonderful pilot - a most excellent man. All these things remind me how fortunate any airman is who flew over the front and came home to quit the game. The death rate was terrible - but it might have been greater.
The splendid work and sincere co-operation of the air service men on the ground more than did its part in winning the war and in conserving the lives and limbs of those who did the real flying. And I want to tell you that no one in all the list did a better, a more unselfish, a more patriotic work than you. Always on the job - every machine you allowed to take the air was perfect even to the smallest detail. Such manhood mixed with ability and willingness is not often seen in this world - you are the exception, not the rule. Thus have you ever been in my esteem - and your place there shall ever grow and enlarge.
But I have told you all this before - just wanted to repeat so that you may know I am sincere in my beliefs.
I had a circular card from Morse the other day saying that soon he is to mail us a squadron roster, and the return card asked for our correct address. I'm sure you have received the card also. I shall feel better about it however when I really have the roster.
How is your business coming? I hope it is going satisfactory for you. It ought to get much better with the advent of Spring and Summer. I'm always wishing you success in your ventures - and if wishing means anything, you will always have an extra bountiful success.
I have several more letters to write tonight so will close this with a promise to do better next time and in reiterating that I have not and never shall forget you.
Sincerely your friend,
Hubert H. Rogers"
It is such a pleasure to be able to read a letter like this about a grandfather that I never got the chance to meet. He died of pneumonia when my dad was only 7 years of age. Antibiotics like penicillin did not yet exist.
My grandmother always told me what a fine man he was and a correspondence letter from 1920 like this as well as others in that old vintage cigar box serve to confirm that accolade.
Home of Mr. Rogers after his military service.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2011 Peggy Woods