“Buildings taller than twenty wheat barns stacked on top of each another…”
“Lights – so many lights – on all night! You can go anywhere at any time of night…”
“There are more people in my building than the entire village!”
Letters sent to Theo’s family and friends back home were filled with adventures and descriptions that the residents of the small farming village of Mineola could not have imagined.
Accompanied with the monthly letters to his family were various amounts of money. Whatever funds Theo could afford to scrape together each week from his night cleaning job, he would send home to his mother to take care of his four younger brothers and sisters. He was their only source of income after their father lost his life the previous year in a bloody wheat thresher accident.
Theo’s mother displayed his letters on the walls of their kitchen so the children could read them and be proud of their big brother. They could only hope to be so successful as he had become after leaving their tiny village for the big city.
“I can buy anything I want now! I live in a large apartment with two televisions and I don’t have to share with anyone!”
“All my clothes are brand new and I have three pairs of shoes!”
Occasionally Theo sent photos as proof of his apparent opulence. It was very important that his mother didn’t worry about him, being away from home for the first time in his life.
His family didn’t need to know that he shared a room with three other workers at the back of the cleaning agency, where the supervisor allowed them to live. They didn’t need to know that he worked 16 hours a day at two jobs to send them almost all the money he earned each week. They especially didn’t need to know that he absolutely hated living in this brightly-lit and noisy city and wanted more than anything else to go home to the peacefully quiet pace where he was raised and now longed for. But he couldn’t even afford the fare to return home and some nights, not even dinner.
All his family needed to know was that this Big City Experience was the most magnificent life there ever was and that he was more than lucky to be here.