Dear Grandpa Joe:
Let me introduce myself. I’m your granddaughter Jerri, Dolly’s daughter. I only know you from your pictures, but I think of you often.
Do you remember how you said your daughter Geraldine, looked like a doll when she was born, because she was so small? Well, that nick name stayed with her for her whole life. Dolly was small in stature, but she sure was feisty. I’m not sure you ever saw your son Joe, as you had already enlisted by that time. He joined the Army and served in the 2nd World War. I bet that made Grandma Bert nervous, to think another family member was off to war. But he survived, he lost all his hair, but he did come back from overseas. Charlie, your first born looked the most like you, I think and he was quite a comedian, always quick with a joke.
Poor Grandma Bert was left a widow for the 2nd time after you died and she had 5 children under the age of 12. She kept that large house and took in lodgers to help make ends meet. Her family ran a boarding house for railway workers when she was younger, so I guess she had the necessary training.
I’m afraid the news gets worse. Your brother Bill was killed in action in 1917 and Charles died 2 months after you with TB. You’ll be glad to know that Dick made it home safe. He married and they had a son. It must have been tough on your parents to lose 3 sons. Of course, they still had the girls Myrtle and Ivy to look after. Myrtle never married, and she was a school teacher. Ivy married and had 3 children. Great-grandpa Charles died in 1921 and I’m not sure what the medical diagnosis was, but it was probably from a broken heart. Great-grandma Alice went on to live until she was in her 90’s still living in the same house on Bellefair Avenue.
There was a poem written called “In Flanders Field” about the 2nd Battle at Ypres, by Major John McCrae. Sometimes I wonder if you knew him, as he was a doctor and may have treated you for injuries at Ypres. It is probably the most quoted poem from the war. The poem refers to the red poppies that grew on the graves of the soldiers. We now use the poppy symbol for Remembrance Day each year.
I should close my letter now, as I’ve rambled on for long enough. We still think of you and thank you for your service with love and respect.