Letters From Jim
George and Pat Koch, or Grandma and Grandpa [on Dad's side], as I call them, told this story a few years back. It involves great-grandparents George and Helen Koch and some strange, typewritten letters they used to get in the mailbox now and then. They were always just signed "Jim." I don't know when the letters began coming, when the last one came, or how many there were. There might be some that have been lost. One letter refers to the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack as having been "34 years ago in December."
One afternoon at our grandparents', Grandpa pulled out an envelope full of these old letters and read some of them to everyone. Some of us were familiar with them, but I wasn't. I asked to borrow the letters to scan in at home. Dad and I have even thought about making a book about these notes. Until then, however, I am making them available for all to read, as they really are quite amusing. George and Helen used to always get a kick out of these letters, and they needed the humor, as they were going through a tough time in some ways.
For a long time the authorship of the letters was unknown. George and Helen have long since passed away. I'm not sure whether the author ever told them who he was. So who is "Jim?" He frequently refers to his wife, but never by name. Was he a neighbor, a relative, a fellow churchgoer? At least for a while, no one knew. But he certainly knew George and Helen well, given the content. He filled the letters with big spelling slips and grammatical gaffes, clearly intentionally. But enough history; on with the letters.
"Wait," you say, "so who is the author?" Well,
As it turns out, it was none other than Grandpa himself! Ever a prankster,
albeit an extraordinarily clever one at that, he penned these letters now and
then (possibly in his 20s or 30s), not only as a humorous stunt (George and
Helen didn't know any Jims!) but also, apparently, as a way to help
lighten his parents' mood when they were going through difficult times. He
remained anonymous until eventually he 'fessed up -- when and to whom, I'm not
sure -- that he was "Jim."
The quality of some of these (due to image resizing) is not perfect. Below you can also find a plain-text reprint of all the letters (unedited, of course).
In no particular
Plain-text version of the letters