1950: Uncle Fred welcome’s me aboard

Sepia Saturday 732. Resuming the series about letters from my dad’s brother Frederic Mason Charboneau while he was in the US Army during WWII.

When my dad’s brother, Uncle Fred, last appeared on Molly’s Canopy, it was 1942 and he was sending money home to my dad Norm Charboneau, who had just started college at Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y.

Since then, I completed an A to Z Challenge blog series in April titled My Life: The Prequel (In Snapshots) about my parents’ lives before I was born — followed by a blogging break to work on other writing projects.

Uncle Fred’s welcome letter

Meanwhile, perusing some family papers, I was surprised to discover a letter that Uncle Fred and his wife Jean sent to my parents shortly after I was born.

Frederic M. and Jean A. (Bastow) Charboneau shortly after their Aug. 14, 1947, marriage — hence the Better Homes and Gardens magazine. I’ve always felt bad that I have no direct memories of Uncle Fred or Aunt Jean. So, I was pleased to discover the welcome notes they sent to my parents after I was born. Scan by Molly Charboneau

So, I thought that their letter would make a nice transition from the A to Z series back to Uncle Fred’s wartime correspondence. Here’s part one, in Fred’s handwriting:

Holland Patent, N.Y., February 5th, 1950: Dear Mom, Pop, & little one [that would be me!]: Congratulations! We have been going to write every day, but with Jean working every day and one thing and another, we have just put it off. We have sent away for a present for Molly Beth, and as soon as it comes, we will send it to you. Jean is now sprinkling (10:15 PM) clothes getting them ready. Write more this next week. Well, I suppose you are walking the floor at night, or is she a model baby and doesn’t cry. That’s all for now. As ever Fred and Jean

Below that, Fred’s wife Jean, who worked a busy schedule as a nurse, added a personal note of her own:

Please forgive me. I’ve been very happy for you and should have told you so promptly. I hope we can see Molly Beth and, incidentally, her proud parents before she gets too grown up. I can’t see any vacation in sight for me, however. Many best wishes to you 3, Jean

Village green and gazebo in Holland Patent, N.Y. –– the town where I first met Uncle Fred, Aunt Jean and my other paternal relatives.

Meeting paternal relatives

I’ve always felt bad that I have no direct memories of Uncle Fred or Aunt Jean — since he passed when I was four years old and she later remarried. So, I was pleased to discover the notes they sent to my parents after I was born — because, although I can’t remember them, they certainly knew me.

We probably met in person when my parents visited Holland Patent, N.Y., to show me off to my paternal grandparents W. Ray and Mary (Owen) Charboneau. Fred and Jean lived there, too, and so did Uncle Owen and wife Gig (Desjardins) Charboneau. Plus, Fred and Owen jointly operated the Charboneau Brothers General Store there.

That was probably also my first meetup with Uncle Frannie and wife Marion (Warner) Charboneau, and Uncle Hube and wife Doris (Chandler) Charboneau and their families, who lived nearby.

Preserving valuable ephemera

It’s amazing how the smallest scrap of paper — a note, a birthday card, a telegram, or a letter like the one Uncle Fred and Aunt Jean sent to my parents — can meaningfully connect us to past generations. Here’s to preserving our valuable family ephemera for generations to come!

Up next, we return to Uncle Fred on WWII duty with the U.S. Army in England and North Africa. Please stop back. Meanwhile, please visit the other intrepid bloggers over at Sepia Saturday.

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