Sometimes a choice has to be made whether to reveal information found in primary sources. I often rely on Skeletons in your Closet by Russ and Corinne Earnest as a guide as to how to expose or discuss certain matters.* To quote the authors, "The job of historians is straight forward. They research and record events. But the family historian must deal with misdeeds of people they love. These personal embarrassments and personal tragedies make the family historian's job especially difficult."
These photographs and a letter were found tucked in the Whitcraft scrapbook. Although no embarrassment is associated with them, they do present a minor dilemma. Clearly the photographs are innocuous. In sweet scenarios, a young baby shown alone or with those important to him. The letter is also inoffensive and quite heartbreaking. A grandfather pines for his great-grandchildren, while lamenting poor health. In this case, the difficulty is not with the artifacts.
Upon researching the subjects of the pictures, a minor problem surfaced. From information found on Geni.com (now MyHeritage.com), it is apparent descendants of the scrapbook's original fabricators value their privacy. As the scrapbook was started in the late 1800's, the letter and accompanying pictures were tucked in at a later date. Yet, they are a part of the Whitcraft scrapbook's history. What to do?
To be fair to both interested readers and the family, I have decided to share the pictures and portions of the letter without identifying the photographs' subjects and author of the letter. Presumably, members of the Whitcraft and its allied families will deduce the subject's identities.
The baby's initials are D.D.F and his mother's initials are J.M.W.F. The grandfather shown telling "tall stories" is D.D.F's paternal grandfather. The envelope containing the letter is addressed to G.E. Whitcraft (here I feel comfortable naming him, as we have discussed G.E. in other articles) and was sent from E. B. The letter itself is simply signed "Dad." As I do not want to tread on copyright laws, only portions of the two-page typewritten letter have been transcribed. Enjoy, 64 years ago....Pat
Atokz, Oklahoma, Sept. 7, 1953**
Dear E. & Family.
Dear E. & Family.
I am writing this letter in triplicate; a copy to each of you and one for my file reference. It will try to explain my condition as to my health and time I have left here.
My ailments seem baffling to the doctors as well as to me..We, bothe Mother and I were in the clinic last week. My right eye is gone and her left eye is gone. My left eye is fairly good and a bit long-sited. Her right eye is good but very short sighted. So we have taken the names of "Long-Eye and Short eye" for distinction purposes. We went to Okla. City by buss and do not enjoy buss riding. But thought it too far to try and drive the old jitney. I drove to ada when we went up there for our eye clinic. , ditance there and bac 92 miles and it tired me quite a bit..... [A discussion of additional medical ailments ensues, plus a brief paragraph about a law suit over 20 acres of land]
I want very much to gat back to see you all once more if I can. I am a bit afraid that Thanksgiving time may become too cold. and am wondering if we might be able to have a get togetger at Elizabeths in October. A sort of celebration of my first GREAT GrandCHILD whos first birthday is October 8. [This is followed by a discussion of possible plans have a reunion and bring the grandchildren together...in fact "Dad" states it would be "the crowning day of my life"]
...In some respects Mother is no better off than I am and she is worried about Leon's eyes and Ethel's required operation, which the DRs have told her will be risky. And she is worried about it. So these two worries have Mother somewhat upset; but she insists that she must go with me if I go as she thinks much of all of you as you have been so nice to her. And she appreciates it and often mentiones it. She is a good woman and your own Mother was an unusually fine woman as I weigh her fine qualities in retrospect. You were fortune to have had so fine a Mother; if your Dad was somewhat below par. Perhaps poverty and hard work warped him some.
Now for some remarks about my final day, which seems from all the factors can't be so very far away, tho' I have had the doctores all stumped, it seems as to how I come up every time they think I have hit the mat for the final count. I just tell'm its is my stubborn old Irish nearwhic has been clean of al narcotics and they say that seems the only answer. [This is followed by his wishes...a brief "exposure" at the funeral home near then. "Dad" then wants to be shipped to Holton for a plain funeral for "relatives and friends," suggesting his ties with Holton, Kansas remained strong and unbroken.]
...I am tired of doctors and hospitals and do not want to be subject to them any further. I prefer to accept natures dealing with me and making the final decision when for me. [After this, "Dad" seems intent to end on an upbeat note and resumes talk of the reunion]
Mother is coming in on the evening buss and it will soon be time for me to go to the buss station for her, so I will close now. You may overlook the misspelled words and errors as I make many mistakes. You will be able to guess it out I trust. With abiding lover for all, and So Long, Dad.**
*Disclosure: I am close to the authors of Skeletons in Your Closet and decidedly benefit from any purchase of the book. That being said, it is a helpful resource, and I stand by it.
**This was transcribed verbatim with regards to spelling and etc...Keeping in mind that errors were not easy to rectify on typewriters. Why did we not share the letter in its entirety? As stated, it is technically under copyright and short portions can only be shown. Moreover, no one wants all of their medical ailments aired.
Whitcraft Scrapbook Cover and Laid In