Category Archives: Letters

The Golden Hearted Farmer

Grampa in the donated overcoat.
Grampa in the donated overcoat.

When my grandfather died in 1949, he left a legacy that went far beyond the bounds of the farm. Here is an example that occurred after his death. He had a beautiful heavy overcoat worn only one season and just on special occasions. My parents gave that overcoat to Turtle Township good friends Carl and Susan Welty, Quakers, who were sending clothing and other necessities to Europe, still in poverty from World War II. The Weltys sent Grampa’s overcoat to an address in Hungary. Here is the thank-you they received and passed on to us, along with photos. I have not corrected Dr. Darnay Belaf’s syntax or spelling.

Keszthely, Hungary
12th November 1949

Dear Mistress WELTY,
We were very pleased to your amiable letter from 25 the September, we received it on the 3rd of October so more quickly than the others! The contents of this fourt box are so rich and valuable that I cannot express my heartily thanks as I would. God bless you and the golden hearted farmer, your neighbour for your infinite kindness.  Instead of the mentioned clothing it contents such a wonderful green overcoat which I never saw and never possessed in my life. And now by the aid of your noble heart I possess a magnificent overcoat from excellent quality in best condition. I were never able to buy such one. It arrived just in due time, for after the sunny and warm October days, winter is coming also here. It is not yet freesing but it was already snowing. It will be for me easy to bear the winter in your splendid present.

The letter continues with lengthy and poetic descriptions of the countryside, especially the bird population, for the writer knows that Carl Welty is a well known ornithologist. He describes a local museum, then includes this paragraph:

My family name DARNAY /abusive: DORNYAY/ is several centuries old and has also no connection the the name of this museum; whose director I was from 1940, till 1948.The war destroyed our beautiful and valuable collection particularly our hungarian etnografic materials, textiles etc. They are not to replace for already in the time of their collection they were unique objects. If we had money, we could collect many objects.

The long letter ends with thanks again for the very special overcoat. I know that Grampa would have been gratefully glad that his coat was keeping warm this fine man who lost so much personally, and whose country lost so much, in the war. And reading this at this moment—July, 2015—I am in the state of Illinois where our new billionaire governor has made it his first point of power to cut funds for the poor, infirm, elderly, children’s lunches, AND close down our entire splendid museum system. The deed may be consummated by the time you read this—though the public, every state in the union, and 29 foreign countries are protesting. Mr Belaf’s voice rings in my ears: “They are not to replace for already in the time of their collection they were unique objects.”

Dr. Belaf sent these pictures of himself and his property.
Dr. Belaf sent these pictures of himself and his property.

There were no laundromats then…

Ron Dougan, a college man: what did he do with his shirts?
Ron Dougan, a college man: Surely he didn’t send his shirts home.
A new post from Jackie:
My dad kept all the letters his folks wrote him while he was in college. Here’s part of one:Letter from mother to son at college, 1921:”I feel I must write a few lines about your clothes. You said you had spent money for BVDs and socks and you paid a big price for both. You send home a pair of BVDs that is worn out entirely. Not the ones you said Trev might have. I expected to have you send home your new ones to wash and you send one new and one that never was yours and all worn out. I have mended them but they are still no good. You have one new silk sock and no mate to it. I have three new silk socks here now, no mate to any of them. Your handkerchiefs are always somebodys else and not near as good as I got for you. I do not like such carelessness. You must look after your clothes. Every penny counts with us. We skimp here at home and won’t buy anything we need because we can’t. It makes me feel so bad that you lose things so. You lose $10.00 and we can’t scrape up enuf for Esther to pay $10.00 for in-town school tuition. We must put creditors off. I will not remark on your grades . . .”