Dear Leona by Frank Skidmore
Today we have a special Sunday blog post with Dear Leona by Frank Skidmore. This past December, while writing Christmas cards I was able to touch bases with my former personal business coach, Frank Skidmore. What a delight to discover he had published a book taking the original letters from his grandparents courtship in 1897 and beautifully sharing them in his book!
It has been a joy to read the paperback this weekend. At the end of today’s blog post, I share some letter writing practices I noticed from 1897 we can still apply today – all these years later!
“Dear Leona” by Frank Skidmore
There is Foreword of how the letters came to be in his possession. “…The bundle contained letters from my grandfather to my grandmother, written before they were married – approximately six months before they were married, I came to find out. They were love letters written during a short but effective courtship. …”.
The Synopsis shares:
“Did you ever wonder how your grandparents met? This book presents the story of the editor’s grandparents and offers a taste of small town life in the 1890’s Catskill Mountains.
It begins with a mystery box in the 1990’s, a tragic death of the mother of two young boys, a shunning of a long-respected village resident and details of the six month distant courtship. All of this leading to the marriage of his grandparents – Leona Tinklepaugh and Morris Skidmore.
This love story also provides a look at two villages in the Western side of the Catskills – Worcester and Summit -with glimpses into Jefferson, NY. Throughout are the names of many other residents in that area. Readers may find members in their own family trees, perhaps, as for the editor, with surprising connections.”
I’ve included a scan of one of the letters from “Dear Leona” that Frank Skidmore shared with me via snail mail, letting us see the beautiful handwriting of his Grandfather.
The Introduction helps put the stories time and place into perspective for 1897 and place of the western side of the Catskills. There is some background given including understanding social etiquette, drawing on census reports insights, and what could be expected in journeyman experiences. The book, “Dear Leona”, uses a cursive font throughout the book.
Even though you are only reading the one side of the letters – all to Leona – you still get caught up with her having her wedding dress sewn, and seeing their playing with how to sign her future married name. I found myself caught up in the story and then there were no more letters! There is an Epilogue giving dates and drawing on the Jefferson Courier is most helpful.
While reading the book there were several pages I ended up folding down corners to make sure I could go back and reference given I knew I would be writing this blog post! Reading the personal letters of their courtship was very special. It was impressive how quickly it seemed for mail to be received back and forth with posting.
There are letters written by pencil and even comments on the splurge when writing with pen and ink. Also, there was a comment of sending one letter via another person to save the 2 cents postage.
For those of us still hand writing letters in 2017, here were some things I particularly noticed we can still apply today:
- The City and State were consistently provided where he was writing from, i.e. Worcester, N.Y. along with the full date spelled out in the upper right corner. If we aren’t already, we can begin adding City and State with our letters.
- Even though most of the time he signed them MWS, every once in a while he would use MW Skidmore. This is something we can apply today to every once in a while sign our full name at the end – just so others YEARS from now really will know the identity of the letter writer.
- After reading the book I had to know – were there ever any letters found from his Grandmother to his Grandfather. So I dashed an email off to Frank, to which he shared: “There were no letters from my grandmother to my grandfather.” So just remember one day a hundred years from now someone may only have your side of what you are writing about so maybe give a few helpful sentences to reflect the latest!
After receiving my paperback from Barnes&Noble it was fun to send it off for Frank’s signature – this was during the recent snow appearing in North Carolina which delayed some mail delivery.
Currently at age 75 years young, Frank is working on getting two more books published! There are other letters to/from/about his uncle a Marine in WW1 who was killed in France. He is currently editing them into two books: “Dear Boys in Service” and “Dear Momma, Papa and all.”
Here’s to making the time to preserve and share for the future our treasured letters!
Dear Leona by Frank Skidmore Attribution & Thank you to the following who are referenced today
Mr. Frank Skidmore
Image Cover from Dear Leona by Frank Skidmore Barnes&Noble, available in paperback and ebook
Synopsis Excerpt from Dear Leona by Frank Skidmore Amazon.com, available in paperback and Kindle
Foreword Excerpt from Dear Leona by Frank Skidmore Kobo.com available in ebook
Publisher: Xlibris US (December 1, 2015) Dear Leona by Frank Skidmore