Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wherein We Look to Lennie's Future

In Lennie's diary it is Aug. 2, 1898. Thirteen years from this day in the year 1911 Lennie will marry Alma, the niece of Lennie's brother-in-law, Frank.

Lennie will be 30 years old. His bride will be 18. Their marriage will last as long as they live and they will raise three daughters. One will die in her early 20s from a blood clot. One will marry but will remain childless. One will marry and raise five children.

Oddly, on this same date in 1918 Lennie will receive a letter from the Post Office Department appointing him a rural carrier for Wakefield, effective Aug 16. The letter notes that his annual salary will be $1488 and suggests "you provide yourself a vehicle of such capacity as will enable you to handle all mail that may be intrusted to you and protect it from adverse weather conditions."

Lennie's grandson remembers that Lennie often carried a shotgun with him on his rural mail route, grabbing it up occasionally to shoot a pheasant out the window of his vehicle. That's illegal these days (to shoot a gun from the road) but perhaps it was okay then.

During their marriage Alma's only sibling, her older brother William, will die on the battlefields of France during the Battle of Cantigny in May 1918. His body will first be buried on the field, then disinterred and placed in a cemetery dedicated to Americans. The U.S. Army will contact Alma, asking her if she wants his body brought home for burial. She makes that request and Lennie makes arrangements for William's body to be buried beside his parents at the Wisner, Nebraska cemetery. (photo is William Henry Kuckku)

When World War II comes along, the youngest daughter of Lennie and Alma will be living in New York with her husband and three children. During those years rationing will make it difficult to buy meat, eggs, sugar, tires, clothing, etc. Lennie and Alma will periodically fill a large wooden egg crate with eggs, ham, and other goodies and put it on a train to New York. The young family will return the empty crate to be re-filled and shipped again on a regular basis.

Many letters will be written between Alma and her young daughter...letters that detail the daily lives of the grandchildren. There will be many visits to Wakefield where Lennie, otherwise known as Grampa, will make his grandchildren feel welcome and loved.


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