Treasures in a Pretty Box



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When my parents recently gave me a pretty box full of miscellaneous stuff, I was excited. Even without knowing was was inside, I suspected that I would find at least a few treasures. It had been Grandma Christianson’s.

Months later, I finally made time to really explore. In this post, I’ll share what I found. Hopefully, you will enjoy the contents of the box too.

— Denise

A Wedding Invitation

In 1927, a few years before Bennett and Margaret married, his sister Blanche married George Oliver Knutson. Bennett’s invitation to the wedding was included in Margaret’s pretty box.

Blanche and George Knutson, wedding invitation, 1927.

Division of Crib Hygiene

When Margaret and Bennett were expecting their first child, the Minnesota Department of Health provided some guidance. Their Division of Crib Hygiene sent a series of letters to help Margaret prepare for motherhood.

A postcard

The beautiful unused postcard. Was this from a trip they took? Did someone else give this to Margaret?

Newspaper clippings

The box included a collection of newspaper clippings:

  • Merlin Christianson Graduated From “U”
  • Miss Bertha Becher Wed To Merlin Christianson
  • A card of thanks in which Margaret thanked relatives, friends, The Red Oak Grove Women’s Society, Rev. Johnson, and neighbors for help, visits, gifts, and cards while she was a patient at St. Mary’s hospital in Rochester. She included thanks to her son “S/Sgt. David Christianson for spending most of his leave with me in the hospital.”
  • LaVern Christianson Given Math, Award
  • Two copies of “3 Couples Married Same Day, June 28, 45 Years Ago – Still Reside in Corning Area.” The couples were Mr. and Mrs. Nels Goodwin, Mr. and Mrs. Ed Goodmanson, and Mr. and Mrs. Astor Thompson. Mrs. Astor Thompson was Margaret’s sister Johanna Ragnila Aldahl Thompson. [1956]
  • Astor Thompson Plan Open House
  • Hundreds Pay Homage to Pastor Rasmussen; Rev. Wold Gives Eulogy [1957]
  • Obituary of Christ Christianson [1961]
  • Community Stunned By Deaths of 3 Youths in Car-Train Crash. This article and the accompanying obituaries reported on the tragic loss of nephew Douglas Allen Christianson and two of his friends. [1962]
  • Engaged: Marlys Knutson

An embroidery pattern

This didn’t really seem to belong, but there was an embroidery pattern in the box. Since it is marked with, “Mrs. Aldahl,” we can guess that it had belonged to Margaret’s mother, Caroline Hilson Aldahl.

Postcards from California

Margaret’s brother George Oscar Aldahl went to California to work. He died there in 1949. In her collection, Margaret included a set of postcards he sent her in 1945 from his Long Beach address.

U of M report to parents

With oldest son away at the University of Minnesota, it was probably a proud moment when Bennett and Margaret got a card saying he was doing well.

A telegram

When Margaret Olga Aldahl and Bennett Nils Christianson’s middle son was deployed to Korea in Oct 1955, he sent his mother a telegram to let her know when he was leaving, his new mailing address, that he was feeling fine, and that she should write as often as she could. A treasure!

Letters from Soldiers

Margaret kept several letters from from men who were off serving their country. Some of the letters were addressed to her and/or Bennett. Others were addressed to her sons.

1942: From Orville Byron Christianson, in Oklahoma, to his brother and sister-in-law Bennett and Margaret Christianson

Orville’s letter talked a lot about food. He thanked Margaret for the cookies she had sent and reported on his first feast of ginny hen.

1943: From Arnold Raymond Christianson, in Texas, to his nephews Merlin and David

Arnold asked the boys about their measles and skis. He told them about his training in the operating room. Finally, he inquired about their recovery from a chimney fire. Chimney fire, huh?

1945: From Ivan Gilmer Christianson, at training in Camp Lejeune, to his brother Bennett Nils Christianson

Ivan reported on his training, with details of the weapons he was learning to use. He thought the bazooka was “really a swell outfit.” He also mentioned hikes and snakes. Finally, he inquired to Bennett’s son’s condition after having ring worm. We knew about the ring work, but this helps pinpoint when the infliction happened.

1955: From Roger Christianson, serving in Japan to his friend and 1st cousin 1 times removed Merlin

In his letter, Roger didn’t seem to be enjoying army life. He was concerned with “the reserve bill” that was being worked in government and really just wanted to be done with his service rather than having to be in the active reserves once his deployment was done. On a lighter note, he had learned how to swim.

1956: From Alan W. Shoup, stationed in France, to Margaret.

Alan W. Shoup was an Air Force friend of Margaret’s son. He reported on his service in France.

Treasure box or junk box

I like to think that Grandma kept things in her pretty box for sentimental reasons. The contents spanned decades, so they may have been things she collected as keepsakes. But, she had to have received tons of other letters and clipped many other articles from newspapers. So, maybe this was just a pile of junk that just happened to end up in her pretty flowered box. Either way, it is fun to sort through and see what has survived all these years.

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