These letters were written by my mom to my dad during the Summer of 1954. He was in New York, at Columbia, doing graduate work while my mother, my sister and I stayed with my grandparents and uncle in Detroit. Reading these letters (which we found hidden in a dresser drawer after my parents passed away) should provide some interesting insights into my three-year old self. Unfiltered. Parent to parent. Juicy details. I’m going to dig into these and see what kind of rotten kid I really was! (Obviously, I’m going to skip the mushy stuff she wrote. Ewww!) From a letter dated July 1, 1954:”Your little Risa misses you so terribly that last night I said, ‘Look at the picture of Daddy and say hi to him.’ So she turns around and says, ‘But he doesn’t talk to me that way!’ ” (I will also skip the parts about my bathroom issues, which are discussed in painful detail. Ewww again.)
A behavior report,dated July 6: “When they’re behaving, they’re like angels.” Elsewhere, our behavior is described as “embarrassing.” Yikes.
And by July 8, our behavior has been upgraded to “impossible.” If my older sister set a bad example, I would mimic her. We were in trouble! But then our mom tried a new tactic: “I bought the girls a bunch of stuff to play with yesterday and am taking them places each day so they won’t become bored or obnoxious.” Score!
My teeth! My molars merit a mention in the letter of July 11. Plans had to be canceled on my account.July 15: I’m a water bug! We went swimming at a friend’s house. “Nobody could get over the way Risa took to the water — just like a duck. She has a pose that would slay you –she leans back, and it’s as if she were languishing on some gorgeous beach.” I can still do that, too.
On July, we received a package from my dad. In my mother’s letter she writes: “Included you will find a thank you note, written by your daughter herself! And Risa signed her name too.”
But there is a downside to an exciting day. “Risa was so pooped, she fell asleep at 5:00 while we were on our way home…I decided to deposit her in bed, and then just wait for further developments. You can well imagine what has transpired. She awakened at 8:00 full of vim and vigor, completely refreshed! Oh woe is me!
The way Risa took to water? What happened to that eager swimmer? Maybe that’s for another year…