The day was like a normal day in Old Town, Maryland. One of the youngest kids would usually get the mail around noon every day. Today Sally, Casey’s littler sister, was busy helping momma clean the house, so he took over the mail duty for the day. He slowly started down the dirt driveway. His destination? The rusty, old mail box.
What came in the mail this day would completely change his childhood. It would be a letter he’d never forget receiving. And between you and I, it’d be a story he’d be telling his grandchildren many decades later. But of course we all know little boys can’t predict the future, so in Casey’s mind, it was just another scorching hot Wednesday in September.
The dusty dirt beneath Casey’s feet sunk as he stepped on it, leaving tiny little footprints as he walked. Above the little chubby-faced boy the green leaves tangoed to the robin’s song. The boy was wondering if his best buddy, Levi, had left a note in the box that morning. Every once in a while they’d leave notes in each other’s boxes just for fun.
But Levi was too busy helping his pa with harvesting corn that day to spend time writing a silly letter filled with nonsense. At least “nonsense” is what their parents called it. If you’re a writer, you know indeed that Casey and Levi’s parents were wrong on this account. Letters are meticulously handcrafted treasures, and no minute spent writing one is ever wasted. To the boy, the half-mile walk to his family’s mailbox was a long voyage that took hours to complete. But in reality, even with his short legs, he could retrieve the mail and make it back home in fifteen minutes.
His mother prayed a quick invocation asking for the absence of bills before she flipped through that day’s mail. A note reminding her of one of her debts would always bite a hole in any happiness of her afternoon and pull a cloud of depression over her evening chores. But what she found in the stack of mail was more upsetting than any bill could ever be. A letter addressed to Bill Kasecamp (her eldest son), with a return address stating it was from the selective service. Rosa’s heart dropped to the ground. She didn’t have to open it to know what it was. If you’re a mother I’m sure you understand what she was feeling. I myself am not a mother yet, but I have a mother, and I know how much she worries about my siblings and I, so I sort of understand how Rosa reacted.
This drafting letter meant that was her eldest son going off to war, and Lord only knew if he’d even return home. Rosa was loosing one of only two sons in the line of ten children. Her other son’s chubby face, the face of 6-year-old Casey, was staring back at her in her shock. Casey was too little. Casey was incapable of doing any truly helpful work around the farm. And Jim worked full days on the railroad tracks; he was never home to complete the daily chores. If you’re imaginative, picture being Rosa in that moment. Having a full farm with chickens, ducks, pigs, cows, and horses that all needed daily care. Not only that, but you have fields to be plowed and grain to be grown. You have one faithful, hardworking son who takes care of all those things, and then you find out he has to leave, and could possibly never return.
But Casey’s parents were Christian folk, and even though Rosa was more weary and terrified than she had ever been, she knew the Lord wouldn’t leave her during this if he’d never left her before.
She wasn’t a smart woman (at least not book smart). But she was an extremely wise woman. I can tell you with certainty that while the next few years were the toughest, Rosa became an even stronger person. But for that story, you’re gonna have to keep reading.
I’m over-the-top excited to be sharing a part of my novel (!!) I’m working on. For a while I had no clue what I wanted to write a book about–I just knew I wanted to be an author–until I started investigating my PapPap’s life and what his childhood was like. And all of the sudden… I had a book idea that I’m incredibly inspired to write.
Would you read a book about little 6-year old Casey and what his childhood was like?