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The string of events started by Fred Espenship who now lives in Evergreen, Colorado. He found the blog and sent the link to his Aunt Fran Weigley who lived in Florida. Fran was 85 when she started reading my blog in late 2007. She had a deep connection to Leetonia as her Dad, Norman Ottman was a CCC Foreman starting sometime after 1929 and I am unsure of how many years they lived in Leetonia total. But they lived in what she called "The Square Camp", which is Cassel's Red building on the side of the mountain. Her dad, lived there rent free and supplemented their diet with quite a lot of deer meat. They then moved to what many know to be the "Herre Camp" and is now "Steele Waters." Fran had one sister named, Norma, who was Fred's mother. This link shows a picture of Fran and Norma Ottman.
At 85, Fran was not afraid of new technology and followed the blog, emailing me information she thought useful, including several pictures of her family in Leetonia. If I failed to post on a regular basis she would email me to make sure I was alright. She even learned how to scan old pictures and send them to me. The one with her mom, Beatrice, feeding the bear a bottle is one of my favorites(see link). The one thing I have noticed about people who used to live or even have a camp in Leetonia is they always have fond memories of this place. Those who have lived here know how hard it is to make a living here and survive what mother nature dishes out.
In July of 2009, my interaction with this family would take an interesting turn. I do a lot of construction work on the places in Leetonia and that summer I worked on the old "Herre Camp". We replaced windows, painted and replaced all the floor coverings. We pulled up the old carpet upstairs and saw a letter wedged between the carpet and the floor. The letter postmarked, Sept 21st 1940 and it was addressed to "Miss Norma Ottman". Norma was the mother of Fred Esphenship. (Original blog story about finding letter).
You can imagine my surprise in finding such an old letter, yet alone knowing the son and sister of the person addressed. What are the odds such a thing could happen? I opened the letter, which I have transposed here and read it with great interest. The original is also scanned, and I have included it as well, but I thought it would be easier to read this way, since it was folded and in cursive.
September 21, 1940
Received your letter today and was glad to hear from you so soon. Yesterday we went to Atlantic City to see the 1941 Dodge. I got home around 1:00 Friday night, boy was it hot down there. Geo stayed down for weekend. I sold a Dodge 1941 this week. I was down to Leapsons this week to see how John was coming along. Mr. Leapson had to give some blood last Monday. I guess she is very sick from why(what) they tell me. But you know how Mrs. Leapson is about that. I have not seen any of the Ricks yet only passing by in the car. Have you heard from them yet? I saw mother today and the little dogs that Sunshine had. How is your kitten? I have not anything to do tonight so I may go to my mothers and go to a show. Bob has not been down all week I may see him tonight down at mothers. Have you been out with anybody yet?
Dear Norma please don't think that about me, really I had the job and was going to start work on Monday, but he didn't need me at the time. He'll let me know when he needs me. Ed is trying to get me into Standard Press Steel. He got a job there last week some man who works there got him in, he told me he made nearly $30.00 last week, but he worked Sunday.
I am sorry what I said in my last letter saying it was O.K. You know that I still care and always will. If I get this job at Standard Press Steel everything will be O.K. then please don't be mad at me, because I didn't lie to you. I would like to see you some Sunday.
I guess I better say goodbye.
Love Fred X
P.S. Please trust me Norm.
Say hello to everyone for me.
Did you get your candy?
The person writing this letter is Fred Espenship who is the father of the Fred Espenship who forwarded my blog to his Aunt Fran. The letter is to his mother Norma, so it became obvious that their relationship continued and they got married. But why is the letter under the carpet in a hallway? Was Norma hiding it from her parents or just saving it and forgot about it? I am afraid we will never know. Norma although still alive when I found the letter, memories had faded and could not remember the letter.
One thing is for sure having a good job to get the girl was important back then. I think impressive jobs and money still get the girl today, but we just don't talk about it. I am not sure if Fred stretched the truth about a job he didn't have to make himself look good, but he was determined to make it up to Norma. Whatever he did it must have worked. He got the girl, Fred was born, read the blog and forwarded it to Fran. Then sixty-nine year later: I ended up living in Leetonia; writing a blog making connections to the past; remodeling Norma's childhood home; tearing up the carpet to find the love letter. Amazing. Life is a great process of discovering mysteries and it is never dull even in a place as remote as the ghost town of Leetonia.
Mountain girl, Paula, logging out.