Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Girl's Best Friend: M. LaVonne VanDeRiet Haynes

We recently moved, and are mostly unpacked. The final frontier of boxes is Mark's office, where all of our papers, official & unofficial, have landed. I've been trying to empty out the boxes that I have any power over and came across a box the other night that was full of cards and letters I had saved from high school and college. It made me feel a little sorry for today's generation, in twenty years none of them are going to have a box like that to unpack. It amazes me that people would take the time to write letters and cards--long ones even--to someone they maybe didn't even know that well. We are kind of selfish today I guess. I hate writing even thank you cards and generally think a verbal thank you is fine, unless I really really mean it. (So if you've ever gotten one from me, consider yourself extremely appreciated.) I also loved checking out the greetings and the signatures. A "love" thrown out from a casual friend, a lack of "Dear" from someone who didn't want to be complicated, XOXOX smiley faces and tears from a little sister who missed me, a "Dear Twitter and Pated" to Mark and I when we were newlyweds. (That was from my missionary brother Jake in Brazil. I was actually surprised at how much he wrote me! He even managed to spell better than he does now, haha.) I'm getting a little off track here, what I wanted to say was, the ones I loved reading the best were from my Grandmas. I'm sure my siblings still get nice cards from Grandma Heagy, with her beautiful loopy handwriting, but Jake and I are probably the only ones who received mail from my Grandma Haynes because she passed away not long after I was married.

So today, as a treat to those of you who love her, here are some words from Grandma (or Gramma, as she signed her letters--you know you all say it that way, anyhow) and some insights that I gained from rereading them. I had forgotten how much I truly LIKED her as a person, not just loved her as a grandmother. Here is one letter from her, as an example. I think it is really indicative of how much she cared about people and how passionate & fierce she was about the things that were important to her.

Nov. 4, 1997
Dear Jackie O,
Thank you so very much for that wonderful letter. We are looking forward to having you home again. Brooke says you are getting homesick, at least she is meaning she misses you too. I have spent most of last week getting people to sign a petition to get our library county funded. It has to be voted on, so I have been running around to most of the west end of the Slope. Nobody is ever home so I have to go back again and again. I think it is important. You would do it too. Jake has an area in Fairfield he is doing.

I went to the choral concert at the school last Fri and you won't believe this but both Duke in Choraliers and Jake [cute, she accidentally spelled it Jack. Those Haynes men are all alike, you know...] in Chorus both stood up and sang. What a surprise and they really looked good. [Notice, she didn't say you sounded good, haha.] Bill Lee said he was so glad to have Duke sing with them. Katy told me she was on the decorating [committee] planning for their homecoming dance and they did a garden scene or something like that, anyway they had a fountain of goldfish and little bowls of them around on the tables. The boys started daring each to eat one and they soon ate them all. Katy saved one and brought it home. She was so mad. I was hoping all those kids would get sick, but I guess they were really tough guys or jerks or something. Is that crazy or what.
When we were out in Seattle we went to the huge South Town Mall and there was at least a thousand people in every store. Some Asians, Chinese, Indian Buddists with turbans on their heads. So many different nationalities, like a trip overseas. The big food court served that many different foods, too. I was sure glad to get out of there. Nobody was shopping, just walking around. So many people. I suppose it is like that down there, too.
I helped Verda and Lena make a quilt for the Cub & Boy Scout Auction. It was just tied but it brought $65. The Tacke's bought it.
Then she talks about her Primary class at church where she had a student who struggled with reading and writing, and it really bothered her.]
I wanted to help him but he didn't want me to do it. He would pound his head and nearly cry. The other kids each wrote about 10 things on each one and he only had 2 on one list. I feel so bad, he can't read or write past early kindergarten. When he gave the closing prayer, he prayed that he would be able to write next week. I don't know what to do, I cried when he said that and you can't talk to his know it all parents. He is a smart little boy but what a mess he is in.
We are making some really nice Primary projects, mostly pioneer scenes and stories. The kids love it. Lorraine Kolste had a baby girl. Rhett says she looks like Katy. Her name is Mikell. [
Rhett was one of her students. She loved to visit with them.]
I went down to visit Rita [probably "visiting teaching" for the church, kind of reaching out to your neighbors and helping the ones that don't come to church, etc--something she loved and never missed in I don't know how many years, listen to how sincere she is] the other day and she showed me some pictures of Joe's family that she had copied for some of the kids Xmas presents. Some of them were of his Grandparents in Canada over 100 years ago. Such a great job of copying they did, some of his family were Scottish and some Cree Indians, all very handsome people. Rita was surely pleased. Joe sure has an interesting life and so nice to visit with.
We have been busy putting in a well across the road for the cows. Such a lot of work and tinkering around. It will really be a big help though, we won't have to drive them back and forth every day.
It sounds like you are working very hard and I am glad you are having fun too. Yes, you really need lots of sleep just to keep with your studies, let alone living in a dorm with lots of other gals. Keep up the good work, we are so proud of you and love you lots. Be careful, take good care of yourself. Love, Gramma & Gramps
Really looking forward to seeing you again soon.
PS. I told the Schwann man you were going to the Y to school and he asked what kind of classes they were giving there and I said just about any kind. He said, when did they start that. Anyway he thought you were going to the YMCA. I had to straighten him out good.
Wasn't that a great letter? I know my siblings are hoping for a mention here, and they all know that Grandma was their biggest fan, so here is another letter and then some excerpts from when she was keeping me up-to-date on all that.

Mar 15, 2000
Dear Jacky & Mark,
I want to thank you so much for all the family history work you have been doing. That is so very interesting about Mary's lamb, I knew they used it in McGuffeys reader, first children's literature they could relate to. [
This was when I was investigating the long held belief that we were related to Sarah Buell Hale, the author of Mary had a Little Lamb. Turns out we are definitely not.] I am surprised all of that story is in the computer. Who puts all that information in there? It is truly amazing. We are fine and the weather is cold, windy and maybe snowing later. We had a barnyard full of coyotes this morning, sure scared the cows. I am not sure what they were after. A mountain lion killed one of Kosel's calves the other nite so Gramps has loaded rifles in the pick-ups. I don't like big cats they get up on the roof or in the trees and jump on you, it is scary.
Well basketball is over, I really miss going to the games. Duke had a wonderful year, he has been picked to play in a tournament in Billings this week-end, I guess your folks are going and we will do chores. Darcy had a good year in Volleyball and now they are both out for track. I got to see Brooke in one game, it was such a surprise to see her play so tough and fast. So unlike her, but she was good. [
Seriously, I think she knew us as well as her own kids. No question.] I hope all is well with you and so glad you could all get together at Kelly's wedding. We love you and miss you.

Feb. 8, 2000
...I am feeling fine now. Even went to Duke's game and yelled at the refs and our dopey coach. So I am mending fine. Brooke is playing ball but I haven't been to any of her games and I have been missing Darcy's volleyball. I sure wish everything was not on the same nite. Brooke is really into basketball. I was so surprised that she likes it.

May 16, 1999
Dear Jackie and Mark,
I am so glad everything is fine with you. I heard you got seasick on your cruise. It is an inherited trait. We both got so seasick we didn't care if we drowned. How are your jobs? I hope you are getting some ice cream samples...We went to some track meets and Brooke did so good 7 ribbons she just didn't believe she was so good. Duke has just burned up the track, Sat. at the district meet he got 3 firsts and 1 second. His goal for the year was to get 40' in the triple jump and 20' in the long jump and he did. So he was walking pretty proud. They will go to Divisional at Glasgow this Sat. We will stay home and watch cows and care for Brooke. Darcy will go as an alternate in a race or two. She hurt her leg over in Missoula so she didn't get her best jump in as they said she scratched, she felt pretty bad, but she has done very well. We went to Brooke's spring thing at the school last nite and what a great job they did. It was a whole show about Egypt with mummies, pyramids, tombs, beautiful costumes and even a snake. They sure did a lot of work on it. I thought it was one of the best ever. They even had the Nile River across the classroom.
I feel bad that Jake is having a kinda of tough time[in Brazil on his mission]. He says send food, they only feed him rice and beans and no catsup. He also says we should be so very thankful to live in the USA it is not so nice there. I just may have to go get him. I hope it gets better for him when he moves again.

Oct 1, 1997
Dear "Faraway Jackie",
At least that is how it seems to me....
I went to Darcy's game last Sat. and she sprained her ankle. I felt so bad for her. You did it too once so you know about that. She is doing fine and will be able to play in her tournament next week. She is terrific on defense and the team needs her. Duke is still O.K. and doing better but I sure worry about him getting hurt. Jake caught his pass last week for a touchdown. It was Haynes to Haynes. I think they both like it better now.
Last week the missionaries were here for supper. They are both new to this area. One is a nice friendly sort but the other one is having a bad time, he can't hardly talk and is very homesick. He sat in our living room and just looked at the floor. I didn't know what to say. He is from N. Carolina and Jack got him to talk about his home and made him show him on the map. He is really strange and I felt sorry for the other Elder. I gave them cake and strawberries and (you would have really laughed) I knew when I handed him his, something was wrong. Wouldn't you know he was allergic to strawberries. I was glad when they had to leave.

[Spring 1999]
Sounds like your shower was a great success. I am so glad. Sorry I couldn't be there. We are getting ready to start farming, we branded our calves and Gramps got some (cow dirt) in his new teeth so he took them out and put them on the barn window sill. Then he forgot where they were. I guess he will soon be able to manage them. We hope you are fine and all is well. We miss you and also Jake. We had a nice letter from him and he is doing fine.
Gramma and Gramps [
here is a bald-guy illustration that Grandpa sometimes signed with]
We sure love you.
We sure love you, too, Grandma.


  1. Gramma wrote me weekly on my mission and I could count on having ten dollars in the letter weekly as well. I even got 10 dollars and a letter after I heard she had passed away as the mail was a couple of weeks behind the actual events. I saved my weekly letters from Gramma in a black binder at mom and dad's if anyone ever wants to read them.

  2. Thanks for typing all those up Jackie!