Story so far: Grandma Cecile made on her way to visit her relatives back in her home village of Nieder-Mohrau, Czechoslavkia. She had crossed the United States by train, from Oregon on the Pacific coast to New York on the Atlantic coast. The Europa, a ship with the North German Lloyd ship line, had carried her across the Atlantic Ocean. She had reached her destination of Nieder-Mohrau and had written some letters, one home and one to Grandpa.
Every good story needs a little drama. Only one day after Grandma had written her letter to Grandpa, he sat down on his side of the globe and wrote to Grandma. What did he have to say? The normally taciturn Grandpa Alois wrote seven pages, three sheets both sides, plus one more sheet on one side. Apparently he had something on his mind. Enter the drama - as translated by my friend Al:
|Envelope Grandpa's letter came in|
|First page of the letter|
Stayton, Oregon June 18, 1926
My far-away Cilli
When these lines reach you, you have been away already for over 3 weeks, for me twice as long, in the old home country with your much beloved siblings, relatives and our friends and since I am so far away from you, so you can now enjoy your life with your loved ones as you wish without my being in your way or me even finding out a little about that. It is probably also easy for you to find somebody with whom you are happy who was around with you and with whom you would rather be and where you can trust better when sleeping than with me, but the reason for me not being able to trust you…
[unnumbered page: ]
Well, I hope that you do not forget so much, even though you have lost your wedding ring which reminds you of your promise that you have given to me. You have said it yourself and also to many other people, namely that in the old home country they don’t take it that seriously with the marriage promise and since you showed it to me plainly enough how much you still care about me. Since you know, however, that is was my greatest happiness to take you into my arms, and to be able to sleep with you but you were not satisfied and I had to sleep alone and I had certainly thought that you would sleep with me the last night, but this was not worth much to you even though it might have been the last time in our life to be alone together and why did you not do it.
You have sent several post cards but I did not see a single word and now I have to be satisfied with my fate as good as God wills it, even if I cannot sleep at night and I have no peace during the day and my head feels like exploding but I am not angry with you because you did not tell me the reasons that you cannot love me anymore and I pray every day that God may protect you and keep you safe from all adversities
…with body and soul may keep you but perhaps you get to know me again. But if you don’t feel very well there which, however, I do not wish for you and even if it should be to my detriment and I cannot think that it is because of your sister alone that you would gamble away your whole happiness since, as you know very well,that it was not worth very much to her to see you since she did not have to leave anyone and that I wanted to send her your free passage, but often I believe that there are still other reasons that you went which, according to your opinion I did not have to know but I hope that I am mistaken and that you still love me which you could prove to me, so God willing, and that not one of us as punishment is being called away so that we cannot see each other again, but if you are despising me, then relish your [illegible]….
…..and that you may live as you like it and you may stay as long as you like and that you do not have a great longing for me as I do, as you asked the agent whether you could stop over in Florida on your way back and to see the land there which we own and you might plan to spend some time there and I would just like to know whether you still love me and that a day that I can be with you means more to me than all the land in Florida. You, however, may think differently, and if that is so you may be better off to stay with your loved ones in the old home country, I am satisfied with my lot to be alone until the hill of my grave which perhaps is not too far away, … whether you still love me or not only God knows and you alone with your answer …..
[Last page ? (not numbered) on top of this page is an insert: ]
I sent the “Josefs Blatt” (A German print newspaper, named after St Joseph, it was popular among the German Catholic community in the United States.) to your sister – did she receive it ??
The back of page 3
But I hope and pray that you come back again soon and that we can enjoy a happy and long life together. I feel strangely, however, a lot of time that we may not see each other again, I cannot say why that is. Should this letter of mine be unpleasing to you or not worthy of an answer from you then simply toss it into a fireplace together with remembrances of me. So I hope for the best and pray that God may protect you and that I can have you healthy and happy again and loving in my arms.
[unnumbered page: This is a separate page, just 16 lines, and clearly written, perhaps in anger, and quite different in tone from the other pages of this letter. - Al ]
The final sheet
If you think of your promise that you gave at the altar before God and the priest, to cherish love and faithfulness to me and to remain faithful to me and not to leave me until death parts and separates us and don’t do it willingly, because then it is not a promise, then just stay in your beloved home country and don’t appear anymore before my eyes.
Wow! I did not expect to read that! When I first got the translation from Al, I almost stopped this whole project. Never had I ever heard of any of this back story. Had Grandma really lost her wedding ring? Was something wrong between the two of them?
I almost felt like I was intruding into a personal space that I had no business in.
The letter itself does not read smoothly. Al found it difficult to translate, partly due to grammar, spelling and handwriting. Grandpa Alois only had a few years of elementary school, so he was not highly educated even though he was an intelligent man. Add to that, Beitels always did have a way of talking in slang that might not be easy to understand.
It is also possible that he started this letter, and then worked on it for a while, writing more each time without picking up from where he had stopped. On the back page of the first sheet he started writing two lines within one for three lines and then erased what was in the last line below.
I talked to my cousins and my Aunt Virginia Beitel, who was still alive at the time. Had she ever heard of any of this? She was a teenager in 1936, so may not have been as aware as an adult might have been. She had no idea. No one had ever mentioned it as far as she could remember. My cousins urged me to press on to find out what was going on.
The next letter I sent to Al for translation was the one in the previous entry, the one from Grandma. It did not sound so brooding or mysterious. So, was this all in Grandpa's imagination, or would further letters give some indication of something else?
To see the photos closer, simply click on any of them and you will be able to scroll through them all.
Story to be continued......
To read Post "38 - Marie Lulay's letter to Grandma - 18 June 1936 Click here