Grandma Bergit Stadem's

Letter to Grandson Del Von Schaefer,

Possibly 1949, or even 1950

Born Russel Del Von Schaefer Dec. 3, 1944, this grandson could be anywhere from 5 to 8 years of age. He might be older, possibly, but I think his mother could be writing the letter for him (parents sometimes did that, if the children were too young yet to write legible letters to grandparents). If she wrote for him, he could be five years of age, just beginning school, just learning to read and write. We are missing a page or more of the letter, unfortunately, but it could turn up in the other books of archives. A search just needs to be made. The letter was sent to the Schaefers in California first, then forwarded to Pearl Ginther in Washington State a mere stone's throw a thousand miles up the West Coast, Del Von's aunt.

Del Von Schaefer probably has no idea this letter Grandma wrote to him still exists. How many of her now sacred letters to him does he possess today? One? Two? Zero? Certainly, he will want to read it on this page, but he cannot have the original--as it is part of the Archives now of Plain View Heritage Farm-- and copies can be made of course, but the truly sacred originals are not going to be dispersed and then lost to the wider Stadem Descendants Relationship.

Sorry, but not sorry, we must keep the Archives together, no matter what! I wouldn't sell even a single item for $1000--since each item is one of a kind and, therefore, priceless!

What really makes me sorry as a volunteer, aging Stadem archivist is that families may select and then keep things their parents pass on, so the result is the Relationship doesn't have a chance to enjoy them too, or they apportion amongst themselves the survivors the physical items and monetary assets from the estate after their parents go to Glory (which seems to be the main concern) but routinely throw away the TRUE TREASURES--the documents, the letters, the writings, as they don't take the time to read and sift through the accummulation of years in their parents' desks and secretaries and trunks in the attic, wherever such papers are stored or put away.

Why? It is easy to answer that, as I have seen it time after time happen in other households. In the hurry and scurry to clean out the houses and get them ready for sale and new occupants, the treasure of heritage is invariably discarded, all from haste and so little time allotted to the part of the process of estate liquidation that has to deal with the personal papers" of the deceased.

To do a proper and thorough job of it, you have to start years ahead, in some cases, if there is a great mass of material with valuable heritage items in it to sort through. I imagine that was the case with Russel Schaefer Sr. He was an educator, Ewalt Bible school founder, author, scholar, rare book collector, pastor, publisher--the list could go on. The result has to be considerable. Possibly Bernice Schaefer was not one to keep old letters, cards, writings, etc., but I don't believe she was an exception to the general rule among the Stadems, who were taught by Papa Stadem never to throw anything of possible use away. He did that religiously--and his children all learned from him. Their joy was to go and descend on dumps and find things of possible use! You don't think they would ever change, would you?

So what happened to Russel Schaefer's library and papers, along with Bernice's papers? Are they in boxes somewhere stored way? We never heard anything about what happened in their case, nor have we heard a single word about what happened to Joseph Rangen's and Estelle Rangen's papers. They could have contained innumerable heritage items, if they had been identified in a leisurely sorting.

Yet we fear there was the usual haste and scramble of these times to liquidate everything pertaining to the estates, and the result is sadly inevitable: golden, priceless, irreplaceable heritage is thrown out, discarded with the trash, totally overlooked except that it was considered "old" and thus tagged "throwaway".

It is high time to reconsider this Tumbleweed Generation treatment of parents' papers. Can the damage, all these losses, be repaired? The Good News is that the loss and damage can be repaired to a good extent, thanks to the collections of Pearl Ginther; her items are the heritage too, not just of Ginthers, but of Grandma and Grandpa, Holbecks, Lundrings, Svanoes, Rangens, Schaefers, Spildes, Taylors, and others.

We are sharing these things with you all now, so that you can add them to your own depleted heritage portfolios and restock them-- if you will take the interest and effort, that is, to restock them. I would do it for the next generation coming up around you, if not for yourselves.

To you it is probably all too familiar and not worth bothering about, but to them it is virtually virgin turf, they know next to nothing about these things and the times and the people involved in these items.

If my mother had not done this preserving and collecting of papers for years, starting early on in her life, there would be nothing now to replenish our heritage with, as I was the accursed "I hate old stuff" and a throwaway type, and tried burning everything I could get my hands on, whatever I thought she might not notice was missing.

My little brother Jerry was appalled how I would get bonfires going in the yard when Mom was away at work! To cover up my self-appointed ethnic cleansing of the past which I wanted to distance my family from, I had to cover the remaining evidence, and had a hard time covering the ashes too--but soon learned that fresh grass clippings would do it.

It was only much later, as I grew into a more sensible adulthood, that I began to value heritage of the Stadems and later on I began making my first efforts to seek it out and preserve it, possibly because I saw how much Grandpa Stadem valued our pioneer Dakota farm family heritage and sought to write it down and pass it on to everybody.

His efforts made a powerful impression on me, it would appear. I have repented of my former desecrations of heritage, and I hope I can live up to his example. Thanks to him, we have what we still have, a glorious heritage, which other families were heedlessly discarding while he was, with a Dakota farmer's tough and gristly hands typing painstakingly away with one or two fingers, working to preserve as much as he possibly could while it was still remembered.

Lastly, I do know Mim Rinderknecht has her mother's personal notebooks, in which she kept writing right up to her last days on earth, her scheduled events, doctor's appointments, church activities, prayers, people's telephone numbers, all sorts of things that told us what this woman of God, and Mother, and Grandmother was concerned about and loved. Mim sensed these were treasures and kept them from the Dempster Dumpster or the fire in the fireplace!

I looked into some of them, and saw these were heritage items for sure. I do hope they will be turned over to the Heritage Center Archives in good time. If one family keeps them, they could still get discarded in time to come, but in the Archives they bear a good chance of getting preserved for fuure Stadem Descendants, even if few now have any idea of their value or worth in regard to their own lives. Victor had a favorite expression: "I haven't the foggiest idea!" Well, most today of the Stadem Descendants haven't the foggiest idea what heritage is, and yet we must preserve these items for them for the time when they do wake up and are crying for it.--Ed.

Grandma Bergit Stadem...

...hope someone will take care of him. Am so glad you are taking music lessons, they say it is just like learning to read, so hav lots of talmodighed [Norwegian word used]. We are glad Del Von is such a big boy, am sure he gathers things up and put away his things and kiks [kicks off his dirty shoes]. When it is wet outside [cleans off] the dirt from his shoes, so mami wont have to clean up after him, and say thank you to Dady and Mami when they do things for Del Von, sure would like to se you, but I must say it was a wonderfull Idea for us to take all cows, pigs, horses, shep [sheep], chickens along and come and stay close by somewhere.

Thank you Del Von, but maybe the only place all [all, underlined] will be together will be when we get home [home, underlined] where Jesus is the ligth and we shall be satisfied (mattes) in looking at the face of Jesus, and not one of our dear ones missing, no not one [not one, underlined].

Thank you so very much for the good fruit, skirt and sweter. I know you could easy of used the fruit so that's what you should have kept--too much.

Yes, the sweter will be Lorin's, he dont have much that fits him but Darrell have ever so many. They sure had nice road for the bike just about all the time this winter.

We think we will go to Garfield to to nigth. Mr. Aas is there to show pictures. The boys dont get to go arelse they go with us as yet, they are so happy whenever we go to meetings.

O yes, I had to get to work and wash the silings in chicken [kitchen] and dining room, it is hard to climb up and down all the time, but it went. Supose it is good exersise for me, ha.

I dont know who I wrote to last of my children, seams so long, to all of you. Maybe Pearl would like to read this if you will send it please.

Myrtles baby got a spot on her lip, she hesitate to let the Doc. take it of, they think it is cancer, was born with it.

Much love and God's blessing to you all.

Papa and Mama, Grandma & Grandpa

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