Erma Bryan treasures a little note her mother sent in 1937. The letter inside is regular sized, but the envelope, sent through the U.S. mail for 3 cents, measures about 3.5 inches in length. She thinks she holds the record for a small letter.

Eighteen years old in 1937, she was living in Winfield, where she was helping care for the family of her aunt, who was being treated for cancer. The aunt would go to Wichita for treatment — Bryan remembers it as being radium — for three days each week. Treatment was much less advanced then, Bryan said, but the aunt recovered and lived a long life.

Bryan grew up in rural Pratt County, one of nine children of Mary Roberts, who was widowed at a young age. She recalls that her mother sold a week's worth of cream for $3.11 and that eggs "were not worth anything," but she managed to keep her family together and most graduated from high school.