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This is a letter I received from my dad’s cousin who lives in Minneapolis. I’ve edited a bit out of it because there were some specifics in there and some of it just wouldn’t make sense to you if you’re not me.

Hi Ethan –

I am your dad’s cousin – my mom and your grandma (Jeff’s mom) are sisters.  I haven’t seen you since you were little, I’m sure you don’t remember me, but you’ve probably heard of our branch of the family.  I have many wonderful memories of your dad back when we were kids — at family reunions on the farm and staying at your grandparents house in Brookings.  We lived in Minneapolis and would travel to the farm… at least two or three times a year, and often we would stay overnight at [their] house on the way.  We always had a great time.  Your dad was a few years older than me, but what I remember most is that he was always so nice to me and would take the time to talk to me and actually listen to what I said.  I was kind of in awe of him — he was obviously so intelligent and self-confident and friendly and good-natured — just a great guy.  Your dad’s family growing up was pretty cool – Dex was so funny, and Brian was so nice, and they both were really cool guys.  And Brenda was a little princess (don’t tell her I said that!)… she was four years younger than me, but after a certain age that didn’t matter anymore and we would play together and I feel very close to her still.

Anyway, [your aunt] Brenda told me about your website (is it called a blog?) and so I’ve been checking out your postings since summer.  At first I felt kind of like I was eavesdropping and I decided that if it ever got too personal, I’d just stop reading it.  But it was so sweet with a “Gushing Young Love” thing going on.  I can hear your dad’s a voice when I read his writing.  And your mom is wonderful.  I remember Jeff and Rita came to Minneapolis, I think to visit some friends, and they stopped at my parents house to say hi (they were so sweet to do that).  If I remember right, they were engaged at the time.  I know I’ve seen a picture of them standing in our dining room — I’ve been looking for it and if I find it I’ll send it to you.

But I did find a few other pictures that you should have.  I wasn’t good at putting dates on the back of pictures, but the pictures of Alana with the puppy and the group were shot in 1980.  My husband and I had been married for about a year and had just gotten a puppy when your folks and grandparents and Alana [your sister] were in town and stopped at our house in [Minneapolis].  Looks like your mom is pregnant (is it you or Dana?).  And the picture of your mom with a baby (again — is it you or Dana?) is so cute.  I don’t remember if I took the picture at the farm of your dad and uncles at the table with [our] uncle… but you should have it.  Any idea of what year that might be?

Well, I just wanted to let you know how much your postings mean — it is such a tribute to your dad and mom.


When Nancy asks “is it your or Dana?” the answer is “you.”  Or rather, “me.”  Or rather: Ethan.   Dana is the youngest and was not yet even a twinkle in dad’s eyes.

In other news:  thanks to all of the support I’ve received, I was able to get over 2 hours of tape transferred to digital!  There’s nothing I can post yet, but at this rate I expect to be done by the end of January. All of the pieces are from the Vietnam era so far, so I don’t have anything from the bootcamp era to post.  And since I want to insert the audio into the proper places chronologically, it may be a little before we get any posted.

You should notice however that the donation button is gone.  I think we might have enough to get the lot done.  If not, you will see the button reappear.

I know that it specifically says “don’t tell her I said that!” but right after is says that they are close.  I’ll take the risk.


Jeff and Rita on her 17th Birthday


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We publish every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
For a quick rundown of the family, start by reading this post
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December 2008