Wednesday, July 15, 2009

With Drops of Jupiter in Her Hair...

Genuine excerpt from a letter written by my maternal grandmother (Henrietta, of fried-chicken-fame) to her sister, Sarah. Exact date unknown; my mother and I estimate it's about circa 1941.

Monday afternoon

Dearest Sarah,

...I wish Mary Ellen had someone to set a good example for her! today she has been into mischief all day long--what with painting the back steps with stale grease I had thrown in the garbage and getting it all in her hair, to pestering other children until she has been bodily thrown out of every yard in the neighborhood--she was waiting for John when he got home to go and buy her more sand for her own sandbox; then she stands on the back steps and shouts loud defiance and yaa-yaa at all the world in general because her daddy will do just as she wants and the heck with them... I just refuse to squelch her very much because an assurred [sic] personality is too rare and she is so lovable in spite of her escapades...

Ahem. If you haven't guessed, Mary Ellen is my mother. My mother's cousin Juana (Sarah's daughter) stumbled across this letter a few weeks ago and sent it our way.

It makes me laugh for a number of reasons: a) my mother, in the past, has insisted that she was a very good girl. b) my grandmother, rest her soul, always insisted that my mother was a huge pain in the ass to raise. c) the above description reminds me so much of Miss D. that my sides hurt.

My husband and I have always insisted that Miss D. came from Mars. Or somewhere out in the galaxy, farfar away. There's no other explanation. Both my husband and I were socially awkward, painfully shy, nose-in-a-book, rule-follower kids. Growing up, people always looked stunned when I spoke even a word. He read the Webster's dictionary for fun. And as painful as it is for him to admit that, it's even more painful for me, because I did it too. But he's worse because he also read the entire set of Encyclopedia Brittanica's.

How did two such oddballs produce Miss D? She is the Empress of Outside Voice, the Neighborhood Dilettante, the Hurricane-Strength Force of Nature.

In the past, we've blamed my sister-in-law, and for good reason. She's spunk personified. She could make friends with a fire hose; she's that dynamic. When she was in high school, my FIL actually resorted to nailing her bedroom windows shut because Little Miss Social Butterfly kept...escaping... during the night.

When my mom showed me the letter this past week, I thought it was the most awesome historical relic ever.

My husband and I also decided that we're sending her elsewhere to be raised--desperate times.


  1. Oh that is too funny! Painted the stairs with bacon grease?? My goodness. I'm sure I'll end up with a kid like that and wonder what hit me. =)

  2. Can't tell you how much I love this post. It's hilarious and poignant and just plain awesome. Did your Mom laugh? :)

  3. You and your husband sound like you are made for each other! Your daughter probably feels she needs to make up for your shyness! Someone has gotta be loud and entertaining - but having said that - I think your blog shows you aren't shy and you've got a great voice and thoughts! :) xxx

  4. I love it, I guess I need to try and research where Haley got all her naughty from, LOL

  5. I love it! Now when did your mom start becoming more calm?

  6. Ha, y'all, my momma still has the strongest naughty streak in the West! And I don't think we've stopped laughing since we got that letter--geez, she was a pistol!

  7. What a treasure to find that letter. Here's to hoping you find more and post them for us to read!

    (And I wish I had someone besides my husband to share the personality load that belongs to my daughters. Unfortunately there's no question where either of them came from.)

  8. I haven't met Ms. D yet but, girl, you have that streak in you, too! Methinks you got it from Momma Mary Ellen, hid it behind all those big words you learned from the dictiontitiary and the encyclistpee book, and then hammered those genes hard into a teeny unsuspecting ova that became Ms. D.

    Hope you're having a good weekend!

  9. How awesome to find that letter! Maybe someday our kids will find our blogs and then come to us with a huge apology and a bottle of wine.

  10. I absolutely love this Dana. Priceless.