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Decades Later, Letters To Grandma Returned To Writer

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(credit: CBS) Rachel Slavik
Rachel Slavik joined the WCCO team in October of 2010 and is thrill...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – In this digital age of e-mails and text messages, it’s rare to keep in touch with someone through an old-fashioned letter. But it wasn’t so long ago that this was one of the main ways to stay connected.

Jolie Raimondo was reminded of that when she stumbled upon an old box full of letters that showed the power of a written word.

Raimondo often sees potential where others don’t. She makes a living using her artistic flair to rehab old forgotten furniture.

“I try to take old things and give them kind of a new life,” she said.

In her ongoing search for a new canvas, Jolie stumbled upon a box of old papers that slowly unfolded into an unexpected treasure. Inside there were dozens of handwritten notes from a boy named Jim Lawin to his grandmother.

“They were just so precious and endearing that we just got pulled into the story,” Raimondo said.

Some letters captured Jim at an age when words didn’t come easily while others mentioned milestones.

“He had to scratch it out there was a mistake,” said Raimondo as she read from one of Jim’s letters.
“I have a car now, you know, a green Pontiac Le Mans convertible.”

Jim’s grandma kept more than just letters. The box was filled with pictures, newspaper clippings and graduation announcements, all tokens of a special bond.

“He must have been a favorite,” Raimondo said.

And just like Jim’s grandmother, Jolie saw a little boy grow up before her eyes.

“There are some from the early ’50s until the ’70s. That’s a 20-year span,” she said. “I assume she was wonderful given the fact that he was so interested in keeping in touch and was so doting on her. It’s a total connection. I find it heartwarming and sweet.”

Unable to throw anything away, Jolie decided to investigate whether Jim was still alive. She discovered that the now 70-year-old lived in Dickenson, N.D.

“Thank God for the internet. You can decipher who he’s connected to,” Raimondo said.

The next step was all too clear. She packed up the box of letters and shipped them to North Dakota.

“He should have the opportunity to look through it one more time,” she said.

More than 60 years after Jim Lawin wrote his first letter, his words allowed him to revisit the past.

“My mom encouraged me to write a letter once in a while. So I did. It was fun,” Lawin said.

Decades after grandma’s death, Marie Peterson was once again in Lawin’s life.

“She was pretty much up for anything I wanted to do. She was a good time,” Lawin said. “I think she was proud of me.”

Each postcard, letter and newspaper clipping reminded him of moments shared and those that had slipped away. With memories at his fingertips, Lawin finally saw their relationship through her eyes.

It’s a tradition that lives on in his family. A grandparent himself, the legacy of writing remains.

“My granddaughter now is 10 and she writes me every now and then, little notes. I never throw away,” Lawin said.

These days letters are often a last resort to communicate, but sometimes, written words can capture a lifetime of love.

Lawin said his grandmother’s home was sold 13 years ago, so he has no idea how those letters stayed together and intact.

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