My grandfather was a college professor. He was 65 years old when I was born in 1955, but I enjoyed a 28 year relationship with him that profoundly influenced my life. The letters he left behind continue and deepen that relationship. I am so thankful for his written legacy.
I am taking the liberty of sharing a side of Joseph Bush Kingsbury that most of the world never knew. I’ve decide it is okay to do that. When I read his letters they are completely in line with the person I knew him to be and yet they reveal a side of him most people who knew him never got to see.
When my grandfather met his future wife he was 36 and she was 24. They married 11 months after they met. Thank goodness – or I wouldn’t be here! It’s kind of crazy (and a little selfish) when you think of things that way but I wouldn’t be here and you wouldn’t be reading this if those two people – who seem like such an unlikely pair in so many ways – hadn’t gotten married on January 4, 1928.
This letter was written about a month before their wedding when he was on assignment in Columbus, Ohio and she was living at home in Washington DC. I’m pretty sure she worked at the Library of Congress, which is so COOL! (If you haven’t been to the Library of Congress it is one of those places that I think all Americans MUST visit. Right up there with Gettysburg – but for entirely different reasons.) He worked for a Chicago consulting firm, Griffenhagen and Associates, doing studies for state and local governments on personnel policies and salaries, usually in an effort to come up with a uniform salary structure that equalized compensation based on training and experience across many levels of government.
When I read my grandfather’s love letters to Kitty, it’s bittersweet. I know their relationship didn’t work out the way he wanted it to and they had many years of unhappiness. But when I read of his “head over heels” love for his young bride to be, I’m happy to know that he had these feelings.
I also like these letters because I get a bit of an idea what Kitty was like. I met her, but I have no memory of her. She died in December 1959 when I was 4 years old.
Monday Night – Columbus, OH
Forgive me, darling, but I have another sentimental spell on, and I can’t go to bed without writing you again. Went to a romantic movie tonight (The Road to Romance – good too) – maybe that’s all that’s wrong, but I think it’s something deeper. Lately I’ve been so happy that it’s almost alarming. I’m likely to forget my dignity and do something childish most any time. I haven’t worried about anything for several weeks, and the world looks like a good place to live.
When I first knew you and we used to talk in a sophisticated way about love and marriage I said I thought marriage didn’t change anyone much. I’m beginning to think it does – at least the immediate prospect of it does. I may be kidding myself, but I think I am changing a little. For one thing – I can look back just a few months and see what a baby I’ve always been. I’ve just naturally thought of myself first and expected everybody to do things to please me, and if they didn’t I wouldn’t play. Probably you’ll have some occasions yet to remind me of this, but I’m beginning to grow up, at least.
Just think, a year ago I didn’t mean anything to you nor you to me! I don’t know yet why I fell in love with you – I certainly didn’t intend to. It was a rash thing to do, but having been cautious and deliberate all my life I enjoyed being reckless and I think it’s the wisest thing I ever did. As usual, I’m talking as though I did it all. As a matter of fact you just happened across my path and having seen you I was done for. For some unknown reason you chose to let me stay and now I’m your prisoner for life, and don’t want to be anything else.
Writing is so unsatisfactory. If you were here I would hold you so tight and kiss you till I made you promise never to let me go.