We found two letters with beautiful illustrations from 1938 after my mother passed away from Helen Hoaks to my Grandfather Sweet. I think a lot lately about these letters. What a different era it was in terms of communication—the speed of communication. To take the time to illustrate four out of five pages in a letter is by today’s standards incredible! They also alternated who spoke within the letters. The first page is a funny one, at first one would think there’s some kind of abuse going on but when you read the letter they are wrestling! My Grandfather Sweet was very athletic and excelled in wrestling, he served as captain of the American Wrestling Team at the Pan American Games in 1937, where he won a gold medal. When he was young it was thought he would achieve great things (according to the newspaper articles that were saved, and what my Grandmother said at his funeral). He went on to be a English teacher at a small community college in Oklahoma, where I think he felt he could in the end have a greater impact—through education.
It also makes me think about ego and what part it plays in art, my own art, and my mother and my grandfather’s writings. I feel a part of them in me, because literately/genetically they are a part of me. Over time I do think people will be able to see themselves more in their ancestors, with so much more being saved through the internet. I couldn’t find out anything about Helen Hoaks, if anyone knows about her and her work as an illustrator please contact me! Her illustrations are beautiful and charming!