One of the biggest hurdles to regular posting is deciding what to write about. I really have no excuse for not being able to do that. Every time I consult the stack of letters that my grandfather Joseph Bush Kingsbury contributed to the Kingsbury Family letter, I am reminded that I should start sharing his kernels of wisdom on a much more regular basis than I currently do.
Case in point. In 10 days I will meet my second cousin Marcia Moore for the first time. Her mother Josephine Kingsbury Moore was my grandfather’s niece. So without further ado, let’s see what Joe had to say about spending Thanksgiving in Iowa in 1966 with his beloved niece and her family.
From his letter dated 28 November 1966 JBK recounts his recent visit to Fort Dodge, Iowa where he spent Thanksgiving with his mother (his step-mother actually because his father remarried a few years after JBK’s mother died when he was 10), brother Clark, Josephine, Edson and their family. Clark Kingsbury is the youngest of the Kingsbury boys and the only son born to Wayland Briggs Kingsbury and his second wife Annie May Carter. Josephine is the daughter of JBK’s next older brother Frank Kingsbury.
First let’s see who was there and how they got there. JBK’s letters often describe modes of transportation in great detail:
“I arrived in Fort Dodge Tuesday evening after a six hour train trip to Chicago, a long taxi ride to O’Hare Airport, and a two-hour flight on Ozark Airlines. Jo and Edson were at the airport to meet me, and with them Marcia, home from Cambridge, Mass., and Dick, from Reno. Next morning Jo took me to the Friendship Haven Health Center, and we found mother sitting in her wheel chair at work on a big and complicated jig-saw puzzle, looking very fresh and pretty. I came back after lunch and had another visit with her.
That evening (Wednesday) about 10:30, I left with Dick and Gene in Edson’s Cadillac, for Des Moines (about 90 miles) and a few minutes after midnight we met Clark at the airport. We were back in our hotel in Fort Dodge and in bed by 2 am, and rested and ready when Edson called for us at 9:30 Thanksgiving morning. At 10:30 we started the celebration with a breakfast of waffles, bacon, sausages served by Marcia, Dick and their mother.”
Let’s learn a little more about the family gathered round that Thanksgiving table 50 years ago:
“I suppose in this age of packaged and frozen foods, an old-fashioned Thanksgiving dinner is doomed to disappear, and it will be a pity; but Josephine revived the old traditions. There were nine of us around a big, beautiful table, and the food was like it used to taste in the old days. Gene and his pretty wife Sue were there, and 9-month old Caroline furnished the amusement. She reminded me of Peggy Ann at that age, and like Peggy, she is a good poser for photographs. Dick and Gene took pictures of her sitting in her great-great grandmother’s lap.”
Many relatives have commented on my grandfather’s letter writing skills. I think this next paragraph illustrates the point. I don’t know any of the people he describes (but I’m about to meet some of them in 10 days!) yet I feel like I know them by his descriptions. His mother had moved into the retirement home in Fort Dodge from her home in Charles City not too long before his visit.
“I was delighted with mother’s appearance; her face is smooth and her color healthy and good, and mentally she is still alert and young. She follows every conversation and is an interesting talker. It was a great satisfaction to me to see her again after seven years, and to get reacquainted with my niece and her family. Jo is a strikingly pretty woman (I still think of her as a girl) with white hair and a fine complexion, and we all know her sweet disposition. Edson is a good-looking man who looks to be at his prime. Dick is a tall, blond, young man, whose hair is beginning to thin. He is on the serious side, very thoughtful, reliable, and interesting to talk to. He works in the Nevada State Highway Department, and takes courses in the state University in Reno. Gene is a tall, handsome boy with dark hair, who works in the Post Office, but hopes to move to Syracuse and continue university work there. He met Sue at Iowa City, and it is easy to see why he decided to get married. Marcia is assisting a Sociologist at Harvard, auditing some courses, and planning to get an advanced degree in Sociology. She is a pretty girl, and ‘modern’ in the best sense of the word – – very much alive to what is going on, but not one of the disillusioned and alienated generation. I hope she can get acquainted with Doris and Peg and their families; I am sure they would all be congenial. For some reason, Marcia reminds me of Peg.”
Thankfully, I know that Chris Pahud (another second cousin of mine) really enjoys these letters and is a big fan of JBK’s writing style. Once I get started, it is hard for me to stop. I can’t tell you how many hours I spend reading my grandfather’s letters. And since Chris is a musician I know he will appreciate this last tidbit when JBK describes his trip home to Bloomington Indiana.
“I got on the Lake Central plane at Chicago at 8:15, but before we reached Danville, Ill., the pilot announced that Terre Haute and Bloomington were closed down by fog, so I ended my flight at Indianapolis and Lake Central paid for a taxi ride to Bloomington (50 miles). The only other Bloomington passenger was a girl in a light colored jacket and trousers carrying a violin case. She had left London that morning and was to meet her husband, a music student at IU. We met him at the hotel in Bloomington and rode out to their apartment together, and I discovered that he was a Turk, and that they had lived in Ankara last year, so we parted with promises to see each other again. He is studying viola under Sir William Primrose, said to be the greatest viola player in the world.”
It helps understand JBK’s interest in meeting a Turk if you know that about ten years before this he taught at the American University in Turkey for a year. My uncle Dean and JBK’s wife Kitty, who died in 1959, were with him. More fodder for another blog post on another day. I promise not to keep you waiting so long for the next installment of JBK’s insights.