Letters in a Mailbox
This archived post from “The Aroma of Bread,” was first published 11 Oct 2015
On October 4th, Marie’s younger brother Leo’s celebrated his 89th birthday, and yesterday would have been his 65th wedding anniversary. Sadly, he lost the love of his life, Angela, on 26 Sep 2011. But out of this sadness, a great friendship was born. My daughter, Kate sent Leo a sympathy card at the time of Angie’s passing due to the inevitable complications from Alzheimers. Leo responded to Kate’s message of sympathy, and soon monthly letters were being sent back and forth between New York City and Hilbert, Wisconsin, and in-person visits when Kate was home to see us.
Kate is home for a time, and on Friday headed off with birthday cupcakes to visit Leo. They had a great visit just the two of them – no mom and dad to put a damper on the flow of conversation that happens throughout the year via the written word. We did make one request. We asked Kate to ask Leo about a story he told while we were gathered in Marie’s room at the St. Paul Home shortly before her death. What we remembered from that day, was that Leo had gotten into trouble at school, and a letter was being sent home for his parents from the principal. Marie was asked to intercept the letter.
As Leo told the story to Kate, it happened his freshman year of high school, which was the 1941-1942 school year. During this time it was very unusual for a student to have a car available for them to drive to school. There was such a person in Leo’s class. Kate didn’t get the impression that this car was a point of jealousy for Leo, but it must have created some annoyance. So Leo and a friend cooked up a plan. They decided to let air out of the tires of the car. They were caught. Taken to the principal’s office, the other boy was let go without punishment. Much like in today’s school system, athletes, especially during the season, are given special treatment for bad behavior. As Leo recalls, this boy was on the basketball team. Leo’s punishment was to be a letter sent home to his parents, granted this was not much of a punishment, but the “crime” did not really harm anything, or anyone. Knowing the letter was to be sent, Leo asked Marie to intercept the letter, which she gladly did.
Leo’s parting comment about this incident? It was not the first time that Marie helped him to get out of trouble, and it wasn’t the last.