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Letter to Havana

Posted on 2014.10.02 at 11:00
Current Mood: happyhappy
Current Music: Come On-a My House - Rosemary Clooney
In honor of Throw-Back Thursday, we’re going to go all the way back to March 13th, 1950. That’s the date on a letter my late mother wrote to her sister Betty. A bit of background: I never knew my aunt Betty. She died young from MS. I know that she spent some time in Havana. According to this letter, she was working there, but I really don’t know the details. My mother was 17 when she wrote this and still living with her parents on Parker Ave. in Detroit. Mom was always an avid and excellent letter-writer, and it’s clear that this talent came to her early in life. Her penmanship in this letter is precise, stylish, completely readable, and utterly recognizable; the style changed very little in the course of her life. Here is the complete text of the letter:

Dear Betty,
Just received your letter and am eager for graduation so that I may join you in Cuba. It surely is wonderful of you to present me with an “all expenses paid” trip as a gift; but, when I acquire a steady position I’ll be able to repay your many kindnesses a hundredfold.

Mom is having a hectic time with that nephew of ours. Either she’s feeding him or rocking him to sleep.

His mother is recuperating but still unable to sit for a length of time.

Daddy is working now, and we’re all making a sacrifice to endure the baby’s bawling until his father is able to leave the hospital.

Sleep must be a marvelous thing. I’ve already forgotten how eight solid hours of it feels. But, one glance at the sweet countenance banishes all sorrow and rids one of that “tired” sensation.

I’m delighted to hear of your successful secretarial position there in Havana. I can just picture your daily routine: Rise at six o’clock; get to work by seven; slave until three, and then, rush to the beach where you can swim and endure the sunshine until the time approaches for the preparation of your many beaux.

I don’t envy you as far as weather is concerned. Cuba has quite a bit of warm sunshine; but Detroit, at the present, is blanketed with snow and possesses a slightly cool temperature. Spring is just around the corner, and that means housecleaning.

Mom and I will miss your elbow grease when it comes to washing walls and floors. Remember how you spent your summer vacation of ‘forty-eight? I was rummaging through my photo album and came across the enclosed snapshot. Let it remind you of those “good old summer vacation days”. Boy! You really put forth energy in scrubbing that dining room floor.

There goes that baby crying again. It’s his feeding time.

All of us martyrs send our love.

Write me of your newly discovered romances. Save some for me.

Respectfully yours,
Mary Anne Zabor

Among other things, this letter serves as a reminder that letter writing is a dying art, having been mostly replaced by text messages and comments on social media. I’m pretty sure mom never made that trip to Havana, though I couldn’t tell you why, and all of the people who could have filled in the details have passed on. But that’s really not an issue. I don’t need the details; just a quick whiff of mom’s spirit is all I require.

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