Once upon a time, I had a side job working for an estate sale company. While organizing one particularly disarrayed house in preparation for a sale, we came across a small cedar chest packed with yellowing, forgotten letters. Now, whenever we would run across a distinctly personal item like this, we’d specifically bring it to the attention of the family who had hired us in the first place. In this case, the decedent had no surviving immediate relatives, and the more distant family members we were working for had no interest in keeping the letters.
While all sorts of surprising things will be snatched up by someone or another at an estate sale, our professional opinion regarding this box was that, given the bulk of the bright-shiny-new items that were available at this particular estate, we wouldn’t have much of an audience for a stack of 70-year-old letters. Additionally, we were (okay, I was) concerned about maintaining the integrity of the collection over the course of eight days of pawing hands. So our manager put a fair market value price on the collection, and, sentimental fool that I am, I bought it before we opened the doors to the masses.
It took another three years before I got around to sitting down and reading the letters. And I was floored. Here are letters that, over the course of a year, document an unfolding love story. Jim, our author, has beautiful penmanship and a way with words that he repeatedly denies. As a side note, his spelling and grammar are admirable. As a rare window into a time long past, I had to share them.
- Each letter will be posted on its corresponding calendar date. That is to say, a letter postmarked on April 2 will be posted here on April 2.
- Surnames have been changed to protect the privacy of any living family members/friends of whom I’m unaware.
- Any photos of a letter included in a post will be of that day’s actual letter.
- Jim rarely misspelled or crossed out any text, but I am transcribing any and every error and strike-through as they occur.
- These letters represent the culture of another time, and another person. Jim’s opinions and language are not my own.
- Some letters include snippets of Gregg shorthand hidden inside an envelope flap or written as a post script. Those snippets have been graciously translated by Heather Horgan (@HeatherJoyLove) and Tammy Miller, and are noted as translations when present.
- The other side of this love story is lost to time, and the constraints of a soldier’s footlocker. I have only the letters kept lovingly in a cedar chest for all those years by Jim’s sweetheart. Lacking her input, I invite you to write your own replies to Jim in the comments.
With all my love,