Darrell Ginther, Age 15, Writes to Mother Pearl Ginther from the Yankton Hospital, 1949

Yankton, SD

Dear Mother,

How are you? I hope it won't be long till I am able to be well.

Grandpa was up to see me. He sent me some tracts to hand out. I was glad when I heard that Donald and Mr. Evanger built a wood shed for you.

I take treatments every day. But I hope and believe that I will be able to be back on the farm [Plain View Farm, Bryant, SD].

My I was happy to hear that Gloria plays in the band [Puyallup Junior High/High School School Band].

Would you know the address of Alida & Hance [Alida and Hans Spilde, his aunt and uncle in Sioux Falls, SD], so I could write to them.

They were up to see me on my birthday [he is fifteen], and bought me a toothbrush & portfolio so I could write.

I am able to walk alright [he had fallen through a very deep hole in the downtown city sidewalk while in Sioux Falls, injuring himself seriously, for which a modest amount of money was paid by the business responsible for the open, unmarked hole].

That is I mean I am not in bed all the time.

The intendents [attendants] are very nice to me. I usually go to bed at 9:00 soI get a good rest.

Did you get any pie cherries picked this last summer. Well, I hoped {will see you sometime?]. Well Leroy [his young Uncle Leroy] is on the Augustana Football team. They lost but I guess they got a chance yet to win.

Tell Wayne he is a good boy to do what Mother says.

Love from Darrell

Note: My brother Darrell's writing is in pencil, not very dark, and closely written to get everything on the old, yellowed postcard. Yet it is neat and the lines are regular, so that it is legible despite the small writing and being faded after so many years.

This doesn't sound to me like it is coming from a mentally sick person, leastwise a 15 year old boy! He seems to have quite a good mind and also a good grasp of where he is, what his circumstances are, able to express his hope and dreams, and wanting to get well and out and active in the things he loves to do in life.

He isn't just centered on himself and his own problems either. He takes pleasure in the accomplishments of others, even those being done for his mother's sake. He also acts as the oldest brother should, encouraging a younger brother to obey their mother, and commending him for it, asking his mother to tell him he is a good boy. He asks for an address of relatives he knows love and care for him, Alida and Hans. He cheers on his Uncle Leroy and his Augustana College football team.

He spells his words correctly for the most part, even "believe," which most adults and young people today cannot spell correctly, since they went through schools where phonics were not given, so they have no idea how to handle unfamiliar words anymore by sounding them out so they can spell them too. He can even spell "portfolio".

This letter, which saddens a reader because it is that of a young boy in a hospital writing to his mother about wanting to be well again so he can do the things again that a boy loves to do, also saddens because Darrell had no idea that years later he would be struggling mentally to keep his balance and independence.

This letter would most certainly have been thrown away in the RUSH RUSH that inevitably follows a passing of someone who had it, meaning his aged mother in 2011. Who would have taken the time to try to read it? Probably no one. Hundreds of other items would have been thrown out for the same reason. For that reason I knew I had to go through Mom's collections of letters, cards, etc., to remove those that were of value for heritage, and dispose of those that were not. That took years! Thousands of items had to be looked at in Mother's closets, drawers, sacks under the bed, desks, cupboards, wherever Mother found space to store them away.

If I had left this perceived worthwhile task for last, it could not have been done. In the hurry to get the place cleared, almost nothing of heritage could have survived. That is a fact of life these days. But I thank our gracious, loving God he gave me the time, opportunity, and task to do this, and it was accomplished, so that we can look back and see these people, like Darrell in the Yankton Hospital, in their struggles, hopes, and dreams as they really were, and hear what exactly they thought and how they saw things, not as our fading, sporadic or spotty memories recall things from the distant past!--Ed.

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