Globally and Locally

I will probably never know what the letter inside the 1960-era envelope was about or who sent it.

What I do know is that it was an instructive educational piece that reminded me of more things than I originally thought. My original commentary on the empty envelope was that someone who had an address of 1033 McMurry Place in Honolulu, Hawaii thought that my aunt, “Miss Ruth Ufkus[sic]” lived on West Main Street in Carthage, Illinois, in June of 1960.

And all that is true. I nearly left the analysis at that until I posted the image to Facebook and was made aware of a Chilean earthquake in May of 1960 that caused a tidal wave that significantly impacted Hawaii. Was it possible that the person was writing about that event?

Another reader made me aware that the address was often used for military housing during the time period in question. That was a clue as to the reason the person was in Hawaii in the first place and made me aware of the fact that the sender of the letter may not have been a permanent Hawaii resident.

A significant event on a personal level had taken place in the Ufkes family in late May of 1960: the death of Ruth’s father, Fred. That also could have been why the letter was addressed to her in early June of 1960: the writer had recently learned of his death. News did not travel to Hawaii as fast in 1960 as it does today.

The letter writer didn’t spell Ruth’s last name correctly. While I noted that error, it’s difficult to say if the lack of correct spelling really indicates how close the writer was to Ruth. Ufkes is one of those names that gets spelled incorrectly rather frequently.

The initial reference to the letter in this posted mentioned that it probably won’t be found. To say never is rather permanent and there is always the chance that it’s stuck somewhere in some other item of family ephemera that I have. The problem would be knowing that the letter was what was originally in the envelope.

Who knew an empty letter would generate so much thought?


4 thoughts on “Globally and Locally

  1. Lisa Gorrell says:

    Well if you do find the letter, hopefully either the handwriting or color of ink might help with the comparison. Sometimes I like misspellings of surnames. It helps with learning how a name is pronounced as the writer probably spelled it phonetically.

    • Yes. I always look at incorrect spellings as clues to pronunciation, particularly when it’s a name I’ve not personally heard.

  2. You may want to reach out to the central public library in Honolulu and see if they have white pages/directories dating to 1960. Although you noted that it’s a military address, I wonder if you can see if a name was associated with it in the phone book.

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