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    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeNov 11th 2017
    I've taken the liberty of re-posting something that George Streit had posted on his website. It gives me great pleasure every time I read it, so I thought I would start a thread where the rest of us can share some of the stories our own parents and grandparents told us about their lives. (I'll write something later but must interrupt myself now to feed the cat!).

    * * * * * * * * * *

    The Turkey Letters

    When our dad was a youngster. He and his buddies would brew beer or something like it out in the woods and have all night parties drinking the brew and roasting a turkey over an open fire. It seems like our pop was the one who always supplied the turkey and he became an expert at stealing the biggest finest tom around.

    After falling in love with our mom, and at her insistence, he decided to change his ways and enrolled in the Cleveland Bible Institute to become a preacher. From there, he wrote letters to all the farmers he had stolen turkeys from, offering to repay them and asking for forgiveness.

    What we call the turkey letters, are the replies he received from the farmers. Most of the letters are so old and fragile, they can hardly be read, but I was able to make a photo of the first page of the two best ones and I also printed them so anyone can read them.


    Mr. Geo. Streit Nov. 22, 1915 Polk Ohio

    Received your letter and to say I was surprised is putting it light. For I never thought of you as one of the guilty parties that stole my turkey. I would like to have a chat with you when you come home, for I had a fellow spotted for doing that trick and would like to know if he wasn't one of the party.

    We certainly do forgive you George. You know what the turkey was like and if you feel you ought to give us something for him, you may do so, but I will set no price. Will accept whatever you feel like giving.

    Your friend as ever J. S. Cypher

    PS May god bless you and ever keep you faithful.


    Friend George. Jan. 12, 1916 West Salem, Ohio, R.F.D.

    Will answer your letter that I received last Saturday. Was glad to hear from you, but was awful sorry to hear that you was one of the bunch that stole my turkey. I would not have believed it from someone else, but as it is coming from you I have to accept it as true.

    Now George, you ask my forgiveness. I will forgive you with all my heart because now I think you are trying to do the right thing, but I want you to write and tell me just who was in that bunch because I have been blaming it all this time on altogether a different party and I have not treated them right. And then I have to go to this party and ask their forgiveness for the way I have treated them the last three years.

    Well George, you wanted to know in your letter what I wanted for the turkey. I don't want any more than he cost me and that was $5.50 at George Camp's sale. He was a full blood bronze tom. And that was not the worst of it. We could not get another tom in the neighborhood that fall and so we had to take our hens to town and sell them and go out of the turkey business.

    Now George, I thank you for being the man I think you are.
    I will always have faith in men that try to do right in the sight of God and Jesus.

    Your friend Ed Rickel
    Myrtle .......... Since you mentioned the Turkey Letters (also one of my favorite family stories) I thought I would add a little more about them.

    A long time ago, when we were little kids. Before bedtime, our dad would hold several of us on his lap and read us bedtime stories. Occasionally, we could feel tiny little bumps on his legs just under the skin. Of course at our age we didn't know what they were but we seemed to be fascinated with them and used to play with them and they would move around under his skin.

    After we grew up, and found the turkey letters among his old papers, we realized that those little bumps were actually buckshot from some farmer's shotgun. Also, our mother shed some light on the mystery.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeNov 11th 2017 edited
    That's funny, George! It's interesting that neither Mr. Cypher nor Mr. Rickel mentioned having fired shots at the culprits.

    Here is my contribution, which is a true account. I hope you enjoy it.

    Guy was born in 1900 to a family who had settled in a New England hill town in the 1700s. He was a consummate gentlemen - honest, honorable and respectful of others. He never married. His only travel outside the county was when he was stationed at a prison camp in Texas during WWII. He wore flannel shirts all year long and got a haircut every Spring. His large family home had fallen down years ago, and when I knew him, he lived and worked in a two-room cabin next to the two-lane state highway. The front room was his place of business, where he sold cigarettes and candy bars. It was also his living room, where he had a couple of straight chairs and a TV attached to an outside antenna. The back room was his bedroom. He had electricity, a sink that somehow got water from a brook outside, and a separate outhouse.

    When we moved there in the 1960s, the village had an old church and school (no longer used), a barroom, and nine houses, including Guy's. I don’t know why, but I quickly made friends with him. I often walked down the hill after supper and sat in his cabin, watching the snowy image of a baseball game on the TV and saying very little. In addition to his concession, he also trapped furry creatures in the winter, so sometimes their hides were tacked to his walls until the fur trader could pick them up. In early Spring, he made maple syrup and in the summer he sold vegetables. He took care of houses for some of the seasonal residents and was available to shoot porcupines who had tangled with neighbors’ dogs.

    In the 1970s, I worked for Guy during sugaring season. We had a strict division of labor. Guy was the only one who tapped the trees and boiled the sap. Karen, his long-time helper, drove the truck, which held a holding tank and pump. She and I stacked firewood and gathered sap, which we delivered to the dilapidated sugar house, where Guy would boil it in the evaporator.

    We also had another helper - a high school girl who joined us in the afternoon. One morning Karen opened the lid of a sap bucket and found a dead squirrel. She proposed a practical joke. We would leave the squirrel there and let our high school helper “discover” it. The surprise worked perfectly. When we returned to the sugar house and told Guy about this, he told us an ethnic joke:

    Once there was a Scotsman who had a sugarhouse. His helpers told him that they had found a squirrel in a sap bucket and the Scotsman said, “I hope you wrung it out good.”
    • CommentTimeNov 12th 2017
    Good story, Myrtle. I enjoyed it. Here's mine:
    My father claimed to be the first white baby born in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, in 1886. He says the Indians kidnapped him when he was two weeks old because they had never seen a white baby before. They returned him shortly afterwards, saying, “He won’t eat our food, and he cries too much.”
    Since my father lied a lot, I'm sorry to say, so I never knew whether to believe him or not.
    When my grandmother and grandfather (born in 1878 and 1894) bought their first car, a Model T, they were sooooo proud of it, my grandmother told me. They drove it down from Ohio to the old home place in West Virginia...and got it stuck in the mud. Great-uncle Ebert had to come with the team of work horses to pull it out--and the West Virginia family teased them about it forever.
    In 1934 my paternal grandfather published a small pamphlet describing the religious, courtship and social customs of the 1870s and 1880s in rural central Mississippi. If you're interested you could read the whole thing online at, but I'll give a sample here of the sorts of things he discussed:

    "Another social diversion of those days, that no longer exists, was the log rollings and quiltings that came along in early spring. All winter, Pa and the boys would work, clearing up a big new ground, and in doing so would cut down the trees, pile the brush in heaps, and cut the logs into convenient lengths for piling, so they could be burned. Now Pa and the boys couldn't pile those logs because they were too heavy, and so they had to request their neighbors, usually the strong, vigorous young men, to come on a certain day next week and help them "roll logs". This was a necessity because the ground could not be cleared of the rubbish in any other way. But when this happened, Ma and the girls suddenly decided that the new scrap quilt, they had been piecing up all winter, must be quilted right away, But although they could quilt it themselves if they had to, yet if Pa and the boys were going to get the neighbor boys to help them roll the logs, it was nothing but fair that they should get the neighbor girls to help them quilt. And it somehow happened that they had the quilting the same day appointed for the log-rolling; for what was the use of making Ma fuss around cooking dinner for company twice when it could all be done at the same time.

    On the day appointed, the young men came, armed with their "hand sticks" each one boasting of his strength and how he could "pull down" any body in the crowd, and especially bantering his rival in love, for a test, under the big end of the butt-cut of some former giant of the forest. And after they had all taken a drink out of Pa's jug, to make them stronger, off they went to the new ground to pile the logs.

    Pretty soon the girls came too, armed with needle and thimble and a make believe work apron, a dainty little affair, about as big as a good sized handkerchief, with ruffles all around it. What they boasted of or talked about I never knew, because I always went along to see the boys roll logs and see who got "Pulled down". But when Pa and the boys came in to dinner, they always had the quilt swung in the "big room" and were busily at work. After the boys had taken another drink out of the jug, and sat down to dinner, the girls waited on them; and then a little later, after they had finished eating, the boys waited for the girls outside while they ate.

    The log-rolling was usually finished before night, but somehow the girls never could finish the quilt until just before supper. And so everybody had to stay until after supper, and while the girls were eating and clearing away the dishes, the boys moved all the furniture out of the "big room". And if Pa was a Methodist, or what was better, if he wasn't anything, religiously speaking, somebody presently began to tune a fiddle. And pretty soon the whining voice of the fiddle was mingled with the sound of shuffling feet and a sturdy voice calling, "Swing your partners", "Do ce do". But if Pa was a Baptist, and especially if he was a member of Sulphur Springs Church, then they played "Charley" and danced to the music of their own voices, rather than to that of a fiddle. For in the eyes of all good Baptists the fiddle was an instrument of the devil, to the music of which Herodias' daughter danced, when she demanded the head of John the Baptist on a charger.

    But whether the fiddle whined, or the young folks sang, they danced on till the wee small hours, and sometimes till the Morning Star warned them that the dawn of a new day was near. And then away to their homes they went, to sleep and dream such dreams as only youth and maidens know, -- dreams that gild the hovel as well as the palace and make of earth a mortal paradise."
    • CommentAuthorbhv
    • CommentTimeNov 13th 2017
    Gourdchipper, that is just the picture that comes to my mind whenever I hear Alison Krauss.sing.
    • CommentTimeNov 13th 2017
    I don't know a lot about my parents childhood - they rarely spoke of it.

    My dad was born in 1901 so his belief was: kids are for working on the farm. We had 15 acres, house with a wood stove, so there was lots of chores to do. I did hear a story from an aunt that was married to his brother before she died: my dad and another guy got drunk (they were teenagers) - got the idea to throw rocks through windows. The place they choose: the police station!

    The only things I know about my mom, born in 1922, was why she had no problem with us climbing trees. Evidently there was a tree in their yard that her and her brother that was a year younger would climb as close to the top as they could and swing back and forth. My brother who is a year older and I use to do the same in the fir trees. She also told me that this same brother of her's, who later became a major league pitcher, use to get on the roof of the house seeing who could shoot their pee out the farther. Evidently my mom gave her brother some tough competition - who would think a female could! I also know my mom use to tell her mom she was going to stay at one of her brother's when in truth she was going out partying. She was very promiscuous which is how she ended up pregnant with my oldest sister at 16.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeNov 13th 2017
    I'm loving all these old stories. Mary, I'm of two minds about whether your father's tale is true or not. Gourdchipper, I'm going to follow that link as soon as I finish my evening chores.
    • CommentAuthorLindylou
    • CommentTimeNov 14th 2017
    Our family has three historic artifacts that attach us to American History: the history of canals, and the Gold Rush of 1849. One is a small scale used to weigh nuggets of gold, the second is a handwritten letter from California, and the third is a copy of a property deed for a parcel of land that backed up on the Blackstone Canal that ran from Rhode Island up to Worcester MA. In our nation the use of canals to transport goods from one place to another did not gather as much momentum as it did in Europe, but there were several built. The Eerie Canal is one of the most famous and successful. The Blackstone Canal not so much.

    My great great grandfather was a baker here in Worcester during the mid 1800’s, and he invested heavily in the Blackstone Canal when it was being built. And he bought, as well, a piece of land for his bakery shop that would back right onto the canal when it was constructed. Well the canal had problems right from the start with inadequate flow of water at times as well as freezing over during the winter. Then to add wreck to ruin, the railroad built tracks to Worcester from Boston for a steam train. The Blackstone Canal went belly up shortly thereafter leaving my great great grandfather a pauper. Worse than that, he had to declare bankruptcy, which put a black stain on this honorable man’s reputation.

    His solution was to leave his wife and children in Worcester to manage as they could with what little he could leave them and go West to follow the California Gold Rush. Instead of becoming a miner, he became a shopkeeper. He stayed long enough to save enough money to pay off his creditors and get back his good name. He did write a letter that we have copy of to a very unhappy wife. He sent money back to her as he could - there was no real postal service at that time, money and letters being sent back with trusted friends. When he returned home he became a farmer.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTime7 days ago
    This is really interesting. When you describe RR tracks between Boston and Worcester, are you talking about the P&W RR that operates between Providence and Worcester? That is still an excellent line.
    • CommentAuthorLindylou
    • CommentTime7 days ago edited
    Myrtle, the Canal between Pawtucket RI and Worcester was completed in 1828, and while not without its problems (see above), did aid in the commercial and industrial progress of Worcester. First railway to Worcester was from Boston, was completed 1835, a sign of impending doom. The P&W RR which was completed in 1847 put the nail in the coffin. The Blackstone Canal went bankrupt in 1848. My ancestor followed the 49ers to California about 1850.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTime1 day ago
    Part of my family on my father's side comes from Prussia, specifically Konigsberg. I have their family tree going back into the 1700's. Some of them came to the new world in the early 1800's in New York and one pair of sisters came in the late 1800's. Their father immigrated to Detroit when they were young girls.

    They were my father's aunts and they both married local boys. My aunt Margaret married Tony Selinger who was one of the earliest sheriffs of Wayne County, Michigan and the other married Paul Miller who owned some land outside Dearborn and they grew a lot of their own food on the few acres out back.

    By the time I met them in 1955, they were all pushing seventy but it was through them that I discovered my first McDonald's hamburger and milk shake. The Miller's had a large screened in porch and we would have breakfast out there. Breakfast was a bowl of cornflakes with berries we picked earlier in the morning and then bacon and waffles and scrambled eggs and sausages. It's still like a clear dream, those breakfasts. Fifteen people talking and laughing and everyone wanting to know if Wolf wanted more waffles. Um hmmm. It's where I fell in love with coffee. That purcolator and all the cups and saucers clattering in amongst all the talking all directly linked to the mug of coffee in front of me right now.

    I would ride on Uncle Paul's lap on the tractor turning over the ground or whatever we were doing riding up and down the straight lines. There were rows of fruit trees and they pressed cider, and I was never told on when I snuck down into the cold cellar in the barn and stole an ice cold bottle of Squirt in all those summers. My three girl cousins once all insisted on taking turns kissing me in that barn - much to my sister's annoyance.

    I spent weeks and even summers living outside Detroit, and in Middleton Indiana, and in Joliet Illinois. I learned how to play Pinnocle in Detroit, a skill I have never used in my adult life. But Uncle Anthony did teach me a life skill. My mother was super protective and wouldn't let us learn how to swim because we would drown. When we stayed one year, they took us to a beach and taught us how to swim. Swimming has been one of my favourite things in life - along with a strong cup of coffee.

    On my mother's side, my great great grandfather, at about the same time as the aunts I talked about were born (about 1885), was the shoemaker in a small village called Stadtprozelten. His daughter married the son of a Swedish immigrant which produced my mother. I have her family tree too and in the early 1800's there's a marriage to an englishwoman named Butler who produced sons in Sweden from which my great great great grandfather immigrated to Germany - probably specifically to produce me with the son and the Stadtprozelten girl. Well, she was a girl at one time when she was into leather; but that was to help her father make shoes.

    I am a mutt. So of course my parents up sticks to the new world so I could learn english, marry Dianne, and write this bit.

    Living in the past, of course, is our only option. All of reality is in the past because before it happens it's in the future and nobody knows what it is, and then now happens and turns the future immediately into the past - no waiting - we're open 24 hours to serve you.

    It has to happen to exist and if it does then it's history. It's just a question of how recent.

    Some cities adopt a twin. I adopt a twin date. I measure how far I've come from popping out on this planet and I change direction to see where I would be if I was just as far in the other direction. I'm 67 born in 1950. The year is 1883.

    Why do that? Because being in the movie distorts the movie where few people remember that when you were a kid your father was driving a 1940's Maltese Falcon type car and people were just beginning to buy refrigerators instead of ice boxes and everybody thought smoking was good so ashtrays were everywhere and there wasn't hardly a pizza place on the entire continent. It's only when I look up pictures of 1883 that I get a sense of just how much change 67 years brings - and just how much we don't notice that when we live those years ourselves.

    (some people get Vanderbilts in their past - I get a shoemaker. How is that fair?)
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTime1 day ago
    What great memories, Wolf. And what great people.
    • CommentTime15 hours ago
    What a great post, Wolf! I'll have more to say later. Still dragging my anchor.
    • CommentTime15 hours ago
    Wolf - you naughty boy kissing your cousins in the barn. Oh, the things that went on in barns we never tell!!!
    Wolf ......

    Thanks for sharing your history with us. I've often wondered about
    how and where you came from.