Open Session: What Readers Think


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It's a small world - I read in CAPPER'S of several people who had found long-lost relatives or friends (Heart of the Home, October). It brought to mind an incident in my husband's family.

My husband and his two brothers had known since they were boys that they had a first cousin named Leo, but they never knew where he was. Leo was 2 years old when his father drowned in a neighboring county, and that was the last time they heard anything about their cousin.

Sometime after that, Leo's mother remarried and took the boy with her and her new husband to Chillicothe, Mo. When Leo was 10, he went to live in Boys Town in Omaha, Neb. He graduated from high school, joined the Army and, as is military rule, became known by his first name, Melvin.

I got on the computer in 1997 and started looking for Leo. I sent out letters, and a month later our telephone rang. The caller said, 'I think my husband is who you are looking for.' She said they had gotten the letter about a week before, but Melvin Leo tossed it aside, thinking it was a gimmick trying to sell him a book on his last name's family history. His wife opened it, read the contents, and she said they sat on the sofa rubbing the goosebumps as they recalled his life. She told me that his mother had said that he had no relatives, and I told her to tell him, 'Well, you have 47 first, second and third cousins, mostly right in the area where you once lived.'

Needless to say, we were all excited to learn where he was. Within two weeks, one of my husband's brothers and his wife made the trip to Wichita, Kan., to meet him. It was no problem identifying him, as he has many of the same characteristics of my father-in-law. They then came to Illinois to meet some of the other cousins.

Melvin was one of the six who were chosen to be pallbearers for Father Edward Flanagan, who founded Girls and Boys Town. Melvin's wife has since passed away, but we keep in touch. It took us nearly 65 years to locate him, but it can be done, and we are so happy we did.

Rosemary Jarvis
Jacksonville, Ill.

Visiting the Cup Tree - You recently published an article about the Cup Tree in Laurie, Mo., with a photograph of it (''Cup Tree' takes root as must-see site,' August). Seeing it brought back good memories.

In looking through my pictures, I found this one, probably taken in the late 1970s. Driving through Laurie on a trip home, we saw the tree and stopped. It's quite unique - so pretty. There are cups of all sizes and shapes.

CAPPER'S has been in our family forever. (In April, I turned my big 90 years.) When was it first published?

Ruth Owen
Columbia, Mo.

Editor's Note: CAPPER'S began July 10, 1879, as a weekly edition of the Topeka Daily Capital. During the next 35 years, under a succession of names, it continued as a weekly publication for rural Midwesterners. On Sept. 6, 1913, it was renamed CAPPER'S WEEKLY, taking its name from then publisher Arthur Capper. The name was shortened to CAPPER'S in 1987.

New reader - My CAPPER'S is a jewel. It's new to me, but it must be one of the oldest publications in the United States.

I'm 77 years old, and when I submitted a story to your sister publication, Brave Hearts, my grandson typed it for me. He is 18 years old and a super guy. Children and grandchildren are such a blessing.

Jo Byrd Allmon
Knoxville, Tenn.

Lengthy lily - Here's John Claggett and his oriental lily, which grew 9 feet 8 inches tall and had 37 blooms. It was beautiful, but you had to look at the sky to see it. We never dreamed a lily would get this tall.

Helen and John Claggett
Antioch, Tenn.

Grandma Sweet Pea - The article about the dilemma of what your grandchildren should call you brought back memories ('Nana, Gramps, Pa? Grandparent name choices are infinite,' November). When our daughter and son-in-law were expecting our first granddaughter (now 12), they asked us what we wanted to be called. The fraternal grandparents had one grandson, and they were already called 'Grandma' and 'Grandpa.' That was fine with us. I had always wanted to be 'Nana.' I laughed and said I didn't want to be called anything with a 'G.' My husband immediately said 'Papa.' So, we've become Nana and Papa, among our most-loved titles. We also have dear friends who were the first and just about the only people I had ever heard of with the titles 'Nana' and 'Papa.' So, it also reminds me of them.

I think one of my friends has the most unique name, though. When her first grandson was born, both of his parents were in the Army. Her daughter had to serve a tour of duty out of the country. That left the grandson with his dad. He was about 2 and, needless to say, his language became a little salty hanging out with his dad on an Army base!

When my friend went to visit, she was a bit shocked at his language. His parents were working on it, but they had not solved the problem as yet. One day, Grandma dropped something and immediately said, 'Oh, Sweet Pea!' as if it were a naughty word. She did this a few times, and suddenly he was replacing his colorful words with 'Sweet pea.'

When she came home, and wrote or sent something, the grandson would ask if it was from Grandma Sweet Pea. Finally, he shortened it to just Sweet Pea, and she's been Sweet Pea to all her grandchildren ever since.

Teddie McFadden
Hollister, Calif.