This is one letter I wish 1 didn't have to write. Elsie is worrying because she hasn't been able to write about her tragedy and yet she feels that you all would want to know more about what happened. I, having been here through it all, feel that it is futile to write about anything so final as death, but I know if I were far away I'd want to know all the details, even though nothing at all can be done about it, so I'll just try to put down as much as I can think of. I'm just dazed and sick over it as I'm sure you all are. I last saw Gordon on the Saturday before Christmas. Mrs. Donatelli and I went up and spent the day and took them out to dinner. I came home and raved to Nick about how beautiful Gordon was and how willing he was. He wanted to wash my car for me as a Christmas present. Bud, I took your Christmas presents up a few weeks ago but Elsie wasn't home that day, so I left them inside the door. They were all pleased with their gifts. I guess they had a nice Christmas all around. They got a television set which Elsie said Gordon loved, to the extent, that he was letting his studies go. He and Ralph watched the fights and the scientific programs together and Gordon was just at the age where a father would find him fascinating, smart enough to be a real pal. Ralph had started taking him to lodge meetings etc and was so proud of the way he conducted himself–so grown-up and polite. Losing him hit Ralph so hard that Elsie instinctivly knew that she would have to harden herself against the shock and conduct herself in such a way that Ralph could draw strength from her. Only last week, they were discussing ways and means of getting the money for a college education for him because he was so promising. His teacher came to Elsie and told here that he had the highest IQ in his class. Gordon was wondering when his voice would change and if he would grow taller. Elsie called me Friday morning and told me about it and I walked around in a daze until you called, Lois. Last week was vacation week in Boston and we had the first real snow of the winter. Elsie found out later that Gordon and his chums has been sliding along the street somewhere and a Cop told them to go to Franklin Park where they belonged, so that's what they did and the Patrol car with two officers, who are supposed to see that the park is kept safe for the children, is what hit him. He never regained conciousness. This happened at three-fifteen and they called an ambulance from the police car. Within fifteen minutes they had located Elsie, who was at dancing class with Eleanor and they asked her if she had a son with a red plaid jacket and ten pairs of socks and no shoes, only boots on, and they told her to get her husband and come to the hospital immediately and someone got a cab for her. She was at the hospital at three-thirty. Eleanor was with her and saw Gordon with the tube for blood transfusion in his arm and she said "What's the matter with his arm?" And then she sat there for a couple of hours like an angel. She didn't seem to notice that his head was all bandage. Elsie remembers them asking frantically "What's his Religion?" Her Minister was there almost as soon as she was and she said he was wonderful. Gordon seemed to be holding his own for a short time so they sent them home with Eleanor. They were called back right away though and Ralph said he knew from the beginning that he didn't have a chance because he saw his first wife and other son die from a fractured skull. But Elsie said she never gave a thought that he might die. She just figured that it would be a long siege in the hospital. Gordon lived for seven hours then the minister made them go home and go to bed and he made the arrangements. The hospital said that he must have been very strong to live that long as it was the worst fracture they had ever seen. And he also had internal injuries as Ralph saw them draining blood from a tube in his intestines. Everybody is just furious that such a thing could happen in the park where kids are supposed to play there is a lawyer working on the case already and Nick thinks they have a case. I sure would like to see them get a tidy settlement. Gordon had enough insurance to cover expenses—one of the three-hundred dollar policies that pay by the week. The insurance man came to collect while I was there and he was horrified to hear the news. The house was filled with people coming and so they didn't have to bear it alone. Billy, (girlfriend) of Elsie, and who knew Ralph when his first wife was living, kept them so busy talking that they didn't have much time to think, which I think was a big help. the neighbors all bought food every day. Elsie is thankful for one thing, the other children didn't seem to realize at all what had happened although they talked freely of it in front of them. Lois refused to go and see him and she said "And you're not taking the other kids either." Elsie still doesn't know what to make of her. It doesn't seem possible that she doesn't realize at her age. I think it's just that age where your emotions are all mixed up anyway and you don't know how to handle them so you put on a poker face to hide it from the world. I took up a shopping bag of groceries from my shelf–Bisquick and cake mix–anything I thought would come in handy for quick meals and Lois was cooking all day.
Phyllis found the message on her door to call home and she decided to call from work–as she went to work, got herself a cup of coffee and sat down to glance through the paper. As soon as she opened it there was Gordon's picture with the caption "Killed in Accident." When Tookie got the news she was so upset that she momentarily took her eyes off her small son and he meandered down the hall, into another apt. and had badly mauled a three week old infant before the Mother got up from the basement where she was hanging clothes. It turned out that the baby wasn't badly injured but the eyes were closed and swollen and the whole face was bruised. Tookie almost fainted. Arthur was just trying to get it out so he could hold it. Georgie is at a school and they say her mental balance is in danger if she should get a shock so what do the stupid people do there but tell her and then send her out on an errand from which she never returned. Nobody knows where she is and she is in the habit of bumming rides when she has no money so Elsie and Ralph had her to worry about through it all. They figured if she got to the funeral she would most likely run screaming down the aisle and fling herself on the casket. Or worse be found along the road somewhere. Isn't that awful. No doubt she will turn up perfectly alright but they couldn't help their wild thoughts at the time.
Gordon was like a pale angel in the lace drapped casket. it wasn't him though. I've never seen him without red cheeks and a big smile. And then his injury were so bad that his head was swollen and half plaster, but the undertaker did a wonderful job. No one but the family would know that it didn't look like him. They had advised a closed casket but Ralph and Elsie didn't want that so they worked for ten hours to fix him. The undertaker came to the house for his clothes and I thought I'd die watching Elsie give him the Boy Scout suit and explain about the medal he had won, and that the pants were to have been his birthday present in a couple of weeks so the hems weren't turned up yet. Gordon had won a big award only a couple of weeks ago that everyone was talking about. It was a church award and he was one of the seven out of four hundred in the whole city who had won this. The Boys Scouts stood on either side of the casket while about a hundred children filed by after the service. Then the adults walked by and then the family, and that was all. We left him there on the Altar, which I think is a much better way of doing it than going any further. The undertakers take care of it from there. He was cremated and the urn will be held at the undertakers indefinitely. The officials at the church (Boylston Congregational) said that they had never had so many people in the church at one time before. The neighbors were really heartbroken. He had been doing errands for them and taking care of their children ever since they had lived there which is four and a half years. I'm so tired and nervous that I don't know what I'm writing. I'm sure of one thing though. I'm misspelling at least half the words and I just haven't the strength to go over this four times to correct the mistakes. I do hope you will overlook it this time and be able to understand most of what I'm putting down.
The funeral was on Tuesday which was later than usual, but Ralph didn't know whether there was any chance of Robert getting home. He's in the Philippines in the Army. As it turned out he wasn't granted leave as they figured it's no emergency. In other words, everything was taken care of and the parents were not bedridden or helpless. The Red Cross did the contacting for them and told them this. They don't know when or how or if, Robert knew about it yet. The Red Cross said they would notify him.
Dad actually came over Tuesday morning and stayed all day. He told Elsie and Ralph that he had a cottage at a beach that nobody knew about except a couple of his close friends and he wants to keep it that way so he won't have everybody pestering him for it, but he said he would come up after the whole family and take them down and they could stay for as long as they wanted this summer. Ralph gets a three weeks vacation so they are looking forward to that.
I just got through talking to Elsie for an hour–this is another day–Saturday, March fourth, My Anniversary – I was going to have a party but I sure haven't the heart for it now. Last year I was flat on my back after my operation so didn't celebrate then either. Elsie said that Georgie came home that Tuesday night after we had left and she dashed upstairs and flung herself on Gordon's bed and cried for fifteen minutes and the Ralph talked to her and then she was all right. She will go back to school on Monday. She travels by herself all right but this time she didn't have permission or money from the school and was emotionally upset and that's why Ralph was so worried but she is very smart. She went to the bus station and showed the letter from Ralph telling about Gordon and a policeman and he collected enough money from his friends to buy her a ticket and put her on the bus.
Let's see, I told you about Lois not wanting to go out of the house didn't I? Well, at the funeral parlor on Sunday loads of people came to express their sympathy and among them was Lois's school teacher. I told her that I thought it was because Lois was afraid the other children would treat her as "different" and she agreed. Elsie said that on Thursday two packages came addressed to Lois and her class had sent her two presents from S. S. Pierce Fruit Basket and candy. Wasn't that swell of them. Elsie said she is all right now and went out with her girlfriend today. Elsie will go to school with her Monday just to help her over the first moment. And Gordon's class sent Elsie a present too. Isn't that unusually thoughtful? Usually the flowers and thoughts are all for the deceased and after the funeral is over everybody forgets but those children sent Elsie a white azalea plant and wrote a card to this effect. "Whenever you look at this plant, remember how much we thought of Gordon." Oh Dear, I don't think I can write anymore now. I guess I've told you all the important things. Elsie was glad to get your letter this morning, Doris. She said she didn't think she would be able to write for a while but she will be glad to hear from all of you. I'll write about other things later. I know I owe you a letter Bud and Peg, and I'll try to write soon. Enough for now.
Love to all of you,
Identifications: Elsie: Elsie Brown Wilson, Gordon's mother; Ralph: Ralph Wilson, Gordon's father; First Lois: Lois Brown Winter, Elsie's sister; Bud: Elton Brown, Elsie's brother; Florence: Florence Brown Caldarone, Elsie's sister; Doris: Doris Brown, Elsie's sister; Nick: Husband of Florence Caldarone; Phyllis (age 23): Phyllis Wilson, Gordon's half-sister; Tookie (age 20): Dorothy "Tookie" Wilson, Gordon's half-sister; Georgie (age 17): Gordon's half-sister; Robert (age 24): Robert Wilson, Gordon's half-brother; Lois (age 14): Lois Wilson, Gordon's sister; Eleanor (age 7): Eleanor "Ellie" Wilson, Gordon's sister; Peg: wife of Elton "Bud" Brown; Dad: Harold Brown: Father of Elsie, Florence, Lois and Elton.