The plain brown envelop arrived by mail many years ago. Inside was a simple piece of notepaper which bore a hurried note from my father, and several pencil and ink letters. It read, 'I thought you'd like these. You might want to keep them.'
The letters were written, it seems, by me. I'd forgotten them. I quickly glanced over the childish scrawl and tucked them safely away, and as is my forte, dismissed them.
Early this week the letters again came to light. I read them. The old dark memories returned. Late year 1963 my parents separated. One day we're a happy family unit, the next my mother has us bundled and driven far from our father. The reasons are still unknown to me, though I have my suspicions.
For a brief few hours, yesterday, I was transferred into a troubled younger self. A couple of the letters, one in particular, reveals a soul-torn child begging for the return of his father. I read how, without conscience awareness, I wrote and painted a beautiful outdoor lifestyle filled with game and fish filled waters, which I was sure, would appeal to the outdoorsman in my 'daddy.'
On a brighter note these newly recovered letters also showcase my ever involvement into all things outdoor related, especially firearms. Even at the tender age of twelve I was known for my sidearms while outside on the farm and in the field. I was a true product of a career law enforcement father.
Without further ado and without commentary I'd like to share certain excerpts from these letters to my father. I will transfer them word for word without correction of either spelling or punctuation. Please remember, I was twelve years old.
'Hope you are doing alright tonight. I got your letter after I came back from camping. I got home this morning at about 5:30 in the morning. I went hunting about an hour ago and almost killed a ribbet but he got away.'
'Daddy thank you for the shotgun. The squrrels are alright and big and fat.'
'I have been out working for Uncle Joe (note: names changed to protect the guilty) on the land all week.'
'I haven't killed many squrrils this year yet. I'm going to get me a hunting light so I can get me some ribbits (rabbits) sure wish I would have got that one this evening but that is the way of life.'
'Love, always, Stephen.'
'How are you doing? fine I hope. Weer doing fine down here and moma is getting along good. Were in the store this morning. and I'm not doing nothing. Yesterday was my birthday. I have been planting a garden for my Uncle Joe. We have been going fishing and camping and Hunting. We have some rabbits that have 4 babies. I caught a speckled perch that was 11/2 pounds on worm. an about 13 Bream will I have to close now
by by, your son.'
.....'I have not been able to go fishing this week because we have been cleaning yards and House. There is a pair of quails that have babys and when they get big I'm going to kill them....'
'I've been hunting today and nearabout ever day this week. It has been raining all this week ever day and so I have been going hunting on our land I killed a ribbet on the run and everbody has been going crazy. I have seen all together 6 (underlined) ribbits this week. I made a bo-bo. I was trying to cock my gun and I let go of the hammer and it went off I was luckey cause it was ponting toward the ground....'
'We got another dog yesterday and he's got german and another kind of dog in it....'
'How are you this night I am getting used to my school now. Do you know how to get in toch with Ed. Nipper so I can send him a squirrel, because he wanted one. If we can't send him in the mail we can take him on vacation.'
'......Uncle Willie killed 3 turkeys one morning in the river swamp. I would have called you on the phone but I forgot your number. Brother is doing fine and so is mother and sister....'
'......Daddy do you have that one shot 12 gadge shotgun you had? if you do will you give it to me for Christmas. I just heard the news man say it is going to drop in the low 30's tonight well daddy I have to get on my spelling words good-night.....'
'I have been alright so far, I like the books you sent me they are good. I sent off for Fur-Fish-Game I ought to get them soon....'
'....the school sent me my work to make up. I had a list of math, English & Soc. Std, and science I went back to the doctor and he said I was doing good and to come back to see him in two weeks. Mother is doing good....'
'....I read a story in a book of a man & negro who killed a allegator that was 14 feet 10 inches long and weighed 1,500 pounds. Our bird broke his toes....'
'I have sent you a peace I got out of a True Magazine and I hope you like it.'
'......I am thinking about runing a trapline down a creek behind our house for coons and skunks and maybe opossem to get money out of their fur and send it to a company by mail. I wrote Grandpa and ask him if he had any old traps left over from when he used to trap to send them to me. I am going to try and make some money this summer by odd jobs to buy the rest of my equipment. I am writing this letter at six:25 in the morning so I will have to close. Write soon.'
'How are you doing this morning? I am alright. I have been cleaning dishes. Have I ever told you about our house. Well the kitchen has a gas stove and the bathroom has a shower instead of a bathtub and two of them lights that are long (underlined) and they are by the mirro. I wish you could come down to live. Our yard is big as a paster (pasture) that cows live in...'
'.....Daddy i have some gun blew (blue) that has 3/4 of it in the bottle that I found in some junk that I thought you would like to have. An daddy we have this old anteck (antique) pump that has an electtrick motor on it that you would get a kick out of if you see it. (Can you read the desperation in my words...) ....'An we have a little dog that is as mean as an alligator. Daddy it is fun down here their are fishing holes by the glower and lots of rabbits.
(The last sentence.)
' Daddy, mommy said she would have you if you got right with the Lord. (Underline five times.) So I wish you would. I wish you would. I love you father and I cannot find nothing else to say. Goodbye.
My parents divorced shortly after.