Monday, May 2, 2011

Letters From The Past

I'm a research fiend. I admit it. I love the hunt for obscure facts, the thrill of discovery... far more than the tedium of actually writing the stuff down. So I spend ages sorting through ephemera on tangential subjects that will never actually imbed themselves anywhere but inside my brain JUST BECAUSE that's my idea of a fun weekend.

So, I'm researching along on another book about Salem (no, there can never be too many, shut up) and I come across this. And I must share.

These are real, actual letters written by a third grade class in Salem as part of a school exercise, asking what they would like to be when they grew up. The first is fanciful, something you might expect from an 8 year-old:

This next one is from a boy with a startling grasp of the reality of being a soldier:

"Then I will come home if I am alive." That's sort of chilling to hear from a little kid.

But this last one, this one... for the consummate expression of bleak existentialist crisis, look no further:

I think this is worthy of an OMG.

Can you imagine being 8 years old and knowing the individuality of your life is meaningless? This is 1912. Women can't vote. They aren't expected to have a career - many jobs are simply not open to them. Their property is generally controlled by a father or husband. Elinor is in third grade and she already knows her future:

"I want to be married because there is nothing else to do."

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