I knew of Maggie since she was thirteen years old and I was twenty. Her sister had married my brother and they lived in the upstairs apartment of my parents’ house. Although Maggie would visit her sister sometimes, I seldom spoke to her. When I did it was often a brief “Hi there” as she ran up the back stairs to her sister’s apartment. As the years passed, I began noticing how pretty she was. Yet, she still remained just a “kid” in my eyes – a cute kid. I also knew she had a little crush on me. I was this older guy who was in college and I’m sure she was impressed by that. In spite of that, however, Maggie and I had very little contact with each other and I paid very little attention to her.
When she was in high school and began writing letters to me, I think I was most impressed with her honesty and sense of humor – these were qualities that set her apart from other girls I knew and dated. Following are some excerpts from Maggie’s letters that made me begin looking at her as someone other than “my sister-in-law’s little sister”:
Maggie was in her third year of high school when she wrote the following to me. I never knew a girl who was so honest and was only 17 years old. I began thinking “who is this girl?”
Speaking of shape, I’m on a crash diet! Did you ever have celery for breakfast? It doesn’t work. Oh well, what’s a couple of unwanted pounds here and there… and here and there…and here and there…. I always did want to go out for football!
I haven’t decided if I should go into a career or get married. Should I go out and earn a man’s salary or stay home and take it away from him?
I have more of a maternal instinct and should just find a job till the right crackpot – I mean jackpot comes along.
Maggie had recently turned 18 and we had only been writing to each other for a few months when she said the following in several different letters:
…I look in the mirror. Sorry to say that it isn’t very often, though. My eyes can take it, but the mirror can’t
P.S. Hey! Beauty was a horse!!! Well!
(Maggie was responding to my referring to her as the “Beauty of Bridgeport” in one of my letters. Bridgeport was the community in which Maggie and I were born and raised. The “Beauty” she’s referring to is “Black Beauty” which was the name of a movie about a horse.)
During the 60’s some families would buy “aluminum Christmas trees to celebrate the holiday. They could be used from year to year and would save the cost of buying a new tree every Christmas.
I put up my skimpy Christmas tree and is it ever bad news. It’s one of the first silver trees that came out with a whole 25 crushed branches. When you look at it, you get the feeling that it doesn’t like you,
I had not written to Maggie for quite a while and I loved the way she let me know that she was not happy about that. She could cut you deep with the kindest of words.
Well, dear heart, I won’t ask you to write as I wouldn’t want you to strain yourself, but if you ever get the inspiration, please do.
This is just something that made me laugh. She writes as if she’s talking to me – “Well, I better let you go…” then makes her remark about the weather.
Well, I better let you go before I start talking about the weather. One thing I can say is that we’ve been having a lot of it lately.
After moving to her new apartment and living totally on her own for the first time, Maggie is honest about how helpless she feels:
You can’t imagine the challenge I have living alone and on my own. I found out that I can’t hammer a nail, can’t budget, can’t move furniture, can’t paint very well, and can’t have courage when I hear funny noises at night. Let’s face it, “It’s so nice to have a man around the house.”