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My Dear Cousin Hans

Before the telephone made it easy for Nebraskans to reach out and touch someone, letterwriting

provided a vital link between family members and friends. Good news and bad was

related in the pages of handwritten missives. Family letters took such a common form that

they were easily parodied. This “letter” appeared in the Civilian Conservation Corp’s paper,

The Buffalo.



“My dear cousin Hans:



“I now take my pen and ink in hand and write you mit a lead pencil. We don’t live ver we

used to live, we live vere we have moved. I hate to say it, but your dear old aunt vat you

loffed so vell is dead. She died of New Monia on New Year’s day in New Orleans at fifteen

minutes in front of five.



“Sum people tink she has population of de heart. The Doctor gave up all hopes of saving her

when she died. Her breath all leaked out. She leaves a fambly of two boys and two cows.

They found $10,000 sewed in her bustle. It was an awful lot of money to leave behind. She

willed it all to the boys and in case they die it goes to der cows.



“Your brother Gus took our dog Fido down to the sawmill yesterday to have a fight. He run

up against one of them big circle saws and only lasted one round.



“All of the Grossenback’s have the mumps and are having a swell time. I am sending you

your overcoat that you got at Allen’s by express. In order to save I cut off the buttons. You’ll

find them inside the pocket.



“We sent Hilda over to Roger’s to see if he had some pigs feet. She came back and said she

didn’t know, the butcher had his shoes on.



“I just graduated from the college just out. I took electrocution and physicallorture to be a

stinagraphter to. I got a job in the livery stable as stinography, taken down hay for de horses.



“There are a lot of people dying around here that never died before. Oh how I wish we were

closer apart. I am awful lonesome since we separated. Your brudder John is getting along

fine with the small pox and hopes you are the same. Hope you will write sooner than I did. I

remain here, Fritz Schneiderback.



“P.S. If you don’t get this letter, let me know and I’ll write you another one. Have received

the five dollars I owe you but I closed up the letter and can’t get in it.”


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