Friday, April 2, 2010
Once Upon a Time. The End.
I have no idea how I came to own these two pieces of paper, a letter and a postcard. They were found in a box with some other detritus. Together, they constitute the beginning and the end of a story, though one without much in between.
First the somewhat foreboding letter from the University Hospital at the U. of Michigan, dated December 7, 1907:
"Mrs. J. Fred Betz
8 Division Street
Dear Mrs. Betz, - The doctor informs me today that your baby will be operated next Wednesday morning.
E. S. Gilmore, Supt."
So, you might wonder, how did that turn out? And you might never know the answer, given the rules of random ephemera. But we have the postcard.
Addressed to Master J. Betz, Jr.
"Think I shall be home on Wed. will telegraph. Be a good boy and clean up lawn. You are going to have company! Love, Mother Got your card."
The postmark date is obscured, but you can see the stamped message "Buy A Liberty Loan Bond." Those were sold in 1917 and 1918. So young Master Betz survived his surgery, and at the age of 10 or 11 was responsible for cleaning up the yard.
There's another part of this story that impresses me, about how the nature of information, and getting it, has changed. Just to see what would turn up, I searched Google and found that Mr. Betz, Sr. was a successful grocer there in Adrian, Michigan. And in 1903 he built a building for his business at the corner of Tecumseh and Frank Streets. Within seconds, I was able to see that building on Google Street View - it's still standing - and know that it now houses Associated Charities of Lenawee County. Mrs. Betz - Minnie Luella - was trained as a teacher. They had four other children. I didn't pursue things any further, and I don't know any of the rest of young Mr. Betz's life.