Letters illustrate truth of parents’ love story

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 16, 2000

FERRIDAY — Nestled in a crack in the attic of their family home for more than 70 years lay a link to Billy Rucker’s past few children ever experience — his parents’ love letters.

&uot;I felt stunned,&uot; Rucker said of the discovery of the letters. &uot;It’s like finding a lost heir or something.&uot;

The letters were found by chance after Rucker sold his parent’s home to friends William and Gail Coleman in 1999. When replacing insulation in the attic, William found the packet of yellowed envelopes tied with a wilted ribbon.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;We were delighted to get them,&uot; said Rucker’s wife, Melba. &uot;This was so unexpected.&uot;

Melba called their niece, Debbie Rucker Coleman, who came over to help examine the family’s new treasure. Melba and Debbie unwrapped the packet, which contained 16 letters and one telegram, all addressed to &uot;Miss Margaret Perkins,&uot; and all but one from Rucker’s father, Henry. The only other letter was from a close friend, Gladys French.

&uot;We were a little unsure about reading them at first, but once we started, we read all of them in one sitting,&uot; Melba said. &uot;They were a little difficult to decipher. The penmanship and manner of speaking were so different to what we use today.&uot;

The letters are dated October to December 1928, five years before Margaret and Henry Rucker were married. &uot;It was amazing to read them and get a feel for how young couples were courting in the 1920s,&uot; Melba said. &uot;I feel that people will never be that formal with their feelings again.&uot;

Billy Rucker, who is a Ferriday councilman and assistant administrator of Riverland Medical Center, was hesitant to read the letters that day, mulling over his thoughts on his own.

&uot;It’s hard to say how I felt; this was my mother and father I would be reading about,&uot; he said.

He spent the rest of the afternoon cutting grass and only occasionally checked on the letter readers. &uot;Are you two still reading those old things?&uot; he would pass by and ask.

Now that he has had time for it all to sink in, Billy reminisces over his parents’ relationship as he knew it.

&uot;I knew that they were very much in love,&uot; he said. &uot;After they were married you never saw one without the other.&uot;

Margaret was the daughter of M.M. Perkins Sr., owner of the Chrysler-Plymouth dealership in Ferriday. &uot;Dad worked for Grandfather as parts manager, and Mom was always a housewife,&uot; Billy said.

&uot;Both of my parents had a very good sense of humor — Dad had a very distinctive laugh that anyone that ever knew him will never forget.

&uot;But Mother was a real practical jokester — everyone in town knew about her April Fool’s Day pranks — they say more of her rubbed off on me,&uot; he said with a laugh.

As word of the letters spread throughout the Rucker family, reactions were as varied as the individual that read them. Billy’s younger brother, Henry, wanted to &uot;get the scoop&uot; on his parents’ courtship. His older brother, John, was thrilled, and &uot;the girls&uot; in the family reacted with &uot;joy and tears,&uot; Billy said.

&uot;This kind of stuff just means more to them,&uot; was his explanation.

The one mystery of the letters is that they were written from Mansfield, La. The family does not know why Henry Rucker was in that area at the time. He was working at a service station and living in the home of Q.M. Roberts.

One thing is for sure, he wanted to be with Margaret.

For dear, I’ll never feel at home in this place — unless I could have the one I love near me … Love and kisses forever, Henry