I’ve gotten a little more out of my shell, and prone to going up to people and telling them I’d like to talk about local-history-related stuff. Now, I’m not a complete idiot — nor am I into wasting my time — so I don’t go up to everyone with this line. Only select people that I intuit are, well, into it. (“It” being local history. Obviously.) While I’ve had some misses on this front (and thus the opportunity to continue to honing my intuition), I have happily encountered some truly wonderful people willing to share fascinating tidbits of knowledge and discovery.
And so, this is how we came to be invited into a very old home a few weeks ago. This was super-fun! The owners regaled us with stories of their discoveries… and then they brought out this box. It contained items that they’d found within the walls of their 100-year-old house.
They handed me this letter:
I gingerly took the document, and realized they expected me to read it. “Okay,” I said. “Here goes!”
I began reading out loud… until I got to a particular line.
“‘I fuh’ — um, wait. Am I reading this right?”
They sat looking at me, wide-eyed, and confirmed, “Yes!”
“Well first of all it’s very disturbing that anyone would engage in such activity… but then to casually mention it in the middle of this letter, is just… just…” I sputtered for words, shocked and amused.
At this point Andrew was incredibly curious so I passed the letter to him… and then we all had a good laugh because honestly, it’s REALLY surprising.
So. This letter. It’s was written on February 12, 1936, from 738 Elgin Avenue in Winnipeg. Here is what it says:
Because you have answered my letter so promptly perhaps my duty is to do the same especially when you promise to visit me here on Sunday. Yes I will be here on Sunday and quite a bit longer than that. About the time I am not so sure. Would do you make harm than good any way. I do not know if you know it or not – but I am taking here my grade twelve. I fucked the dog before Christmas, wrote few subjects of and went to Saskatchewan. Later on I found that grade twelve requires some studying and that is what I am doing now. So you passed in all except German. Pretty good. I have not taken any German yet. But I will have to if I do not want to follow your foot steps. Well here is no use writing it can be talked over personally. I will be waiting here for you and not write any more so as not to spoil your visit by mentioning things which are harder to describe than to talk over.
I am waiting.
Andrew thinks this may have been written by a city-Mennonite because of the phrasing of “I am taking here my grade twelve” — the mixing up of words is something many local Mennos do when their original language was Plautdietsch.
But other experts disagree.
No one really knows.
Andrew figures the writer of the letter wasn’t actually committing bestiality, but rather for some reason was choosing to swear casually in this way, that it may have been a casual turn-of-phrase back in the 1930’s.
But… in addition to this disturbing phrase, the way the letter-writer wants to speak “personally” about this “harder to describe”… makes me think dark thoughts about this “Gerald”.
So. Why was this letter in the walls?
Because the way insulation was done back then — in the attic, the sides of the walls were left open and then insulation was pushed into the walls that way. Over time the insulation settled, and other items from the attic would fall into the walls with the insulation… such as this letter.
I’ll post another time about the other, less illicit, items found.