Friday, September 28, 2012

World War II love letter returned to it's owner

WARNING:  Grab a Kleenex

In February of this year, we bought two dressers at an auction. They were full of things dear to my heart, fabric and sewing supplies.  Little did I know there was something hidden inside, dear to someone else's heart too. 

We got the dressers home and immediately started going through the drawers. Some where I came across a folded up letter. It was dated May 29, 1945. 
Page 1

I couldn't help but think the family had surely missed this. No one would part with a love letter like this. I laid the letter by my computer.

A day or two later I was determined to find a family member. Something in one of the dressers had a full name on it.  I then got our local phone book and found that name was still listed. I  searched the web sites of the local funeral homes. I found a six month old obituary for Mr. L.  I read through the listings of his survivors, which included his wife, a married daughter in XXXX, and a son in XXXX. 

Next I went to Facebook. I typed in the son's name and found someone that I thought might be the right person.  I also found his daughter on Facebook.   By looking at her photos, I knew it was the right person. Her dad's picture was the same as the one used by the funeral home. I sent a message to both of them via Facebook. I told them that we had gone to an auction, bought these two chests and inside one of them was this love letter. Days passed and I never got a response.  I was sure my messages had been over looked. 

That was about February 13th. Days, weeks, and months went by with no reply. I stuck the letter in my desk drawer and forgot all about it. 

Fast forward to last week, September 18. I received this email: You wrote me on Facebook about a chest of fabric you had purchased at an auction in February. Unfortunately, I did not see your message until today (scary to say that I didn't even realize there was an "Other" button). I am sure the letter was from my dad to Mom; that would have been the time that their things were auctioned off and Mom had a ton of fabric. Due to my lack of response, I doubt you still have the letter. I thought I would check with you on the off chance you still have it.

I really appreciate you trying to get in touch with me!


I immediately responded back to her: WOW K. you have made my day! YES I still have the letter and I would love for you to have it. If you will email me your address I will send it to you.

A few minutes later this arrived:
This is incredible--I cannot thank you enough for reaching out about the letter! I have enjoyed looking through your blogs and seeing what you got at the auction and reading the reactions to Dad's letter. You can believe that if we had seen that letter it never would have been in that chest! My parents had lived in that house since 1966, so there was a lot to go through. My husband and I live in XXXX (I teach), so we had to keep making quick trips to MO to help go through things. My brother and his wife live in XXXXX, so they weren't able to be there all the time, either. I remember the chests you must have bought. It was the very last night we were there and they were in the last room. I was running out of time because we had to leave the next morning to get back for work. I totally missed the letter.

My father passed away XXXXX XXXXXX ; my mother is 89 and living  in an independent living apartment. They were married almost 68 years and really were in love all those years. Dad got home safely from the war; they had two children. ----SNIP-----

I called Mom tonight and she is so delighted at the thought of seeing that letter again! That would be incredible if you would mail the letter to her. 

I fired an email back, asking K. if I could hand deliver it to her. She was delighted that I would want to do that. We talked about both our mothers living in assisted living facilities just a few miles apart. 

Then K. asked me, if I grew up in Jefferson City, did I go to the public or the Catholic high school.

I replied that I went to the public school until my sophomore year, when my parents moved away. I told her I graduated in 1970. Oh My Gosh, so did she. I went upstairs and found my old freshmen year book. There we both were. We went to school together for 2 years, but never knew each other. Her sister in law was also in our grade and I do remember her. 

So today was the day I took the letter to Mrs L. I had told K. I would be at her mom's apartment between 10 and 10:30. I was knocking on the door at 10 promptly with fresh flowers in my hand for her. 

Mrs L. greeted me at the door with open arms. I don't know who was smiling bigger, me or her.  We had a wonderful visit. She showed me her beautiful home. Her view over looking the Missouri River is gorgeous. I saw her sewing room, (yes she kept her sewing machine and still sews). She offered me coffee, but I just wanted to talk. She told me wonderful stories of her husband and that they were high school sweethearts.  She talked about his time in the Navy and that for one 10 month period he was not able to contact the family.  She said he then came home on a 4 day leave and they got married. She talked about the homes they built together, their moves, their jobs, and I even found out she worked with the blacksmith's cousin for years. She told me how the dresser that contained the letter used to set between her children's twin beds. 

I told her I had gone to Jr. High with her daughter and daughter in law. I brought my year book along to show her. I then asked her permission to take her picture. I told her I had been contacted by both KOMU TV and KRCG TV to do a feature story but I felt it was a little too personal.  She totally agreed. 

She is so excited to have her letter back. She said at lunch yesterday she told her lady friends, "Do you want to hear my love story?" They couldn't believe I would go to the trouble to find the owner.

It was the best 45 minutes of my day, and probably hers too! 

Thank you Mrs L. for the wonderful visit and great hugs. 

As for that dresser that held the love letter . . . 

. . .  it was repainted and new knobs were installed. It is now in my son's family room. It no longer holds fabric, patterns, or love letters. But just maybe someday it will have another story to tell.

Life is GOOD!

Other post on the letters can be found here.


Anonymous said...

What an absolutely fabulous story Patti, thank you SO much for both sharing it and making it happen! You are a true treasure!

StitchinByTheLake said...

You're right Patti - I needed tissues! This reminded me so much of my own parents....and made me even more glad that I saved all the letters my husband wrote to me when he was in college. We will celebrate 48 years next week and someday when my children unpack that cedar chest those letters will be dear to their hearts I know. blessings, marlene

Flat Creek Farm said...

I missed that Kleenex warning ♥ I guess I was too anxious to read the Paul Harvey on this wonderful story. This is beautiful, beyond words. Thank you so much for sharing!! Bless you, Girl!! Now off to find that box of tissues....

Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes said...

Oh my goodness, what a wonderful story. I can't wait to tell my husband, he's a historian and a WWII expert, he'll love this!

Brandi said...

That is the sweetest. thing. ever. (the letter AND what you did) OMGosh. Big *sighs* over here. :)

Marge said...

This is beautiful, Patti. So kind of you to look for the person who needed that letter back. And what a blessing it turned out to be for both of you!

Blessings, my friend.

Janna and Mike said...

What an awesome story--you were so kind to personally take the letter to its owner. I love stories like this--my husband is a war baby and his Dad (90) is still alive.

Richard Beitler said...

So very very wonderful! Now a story for your grandchildren to pass on about the time Grandma found this letter....

Deanna said...

Oh girl, you were right about needing a tissue. What a beautiful story. And what a beautiful lady. BOTH of you!

Lise said...

Not only is this a beautiful story, but you are a very special person to have made the effort to get the love letter back to it's intended recipient:) Thanks for sharing, and you can be sure good will come to you (when you least expect it) as a result of what you did!

Zoey said...

It's a good thing I keep a box of kleenex next to my computer. What a wonderful story. You are such a special person, Patti.

Dar said...

Patti, I just read this post about the love letter and it brought tears to my eyes. That is such a wonderful story. I'm so glad that it was you that bought that chest. I would have tried to do the same thing, only I am not a Facebook user, so it may have taken a lot longer to find a family relative. I love these kinds of happenings. They give meaning to our lives. Bless you for bringing joy to this family.

Annie at Haphazard Homestead said...

What a wonderful story, and true act of kindness on your part. And no wonder Mr. L fell for her...she's a beautiful woman. Thanks for including her photo and one of the dresser in it's new home.

Ricky Bhadauria said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ricky Bhadauria said...

All i can is : What a beautiful story....Many thnx for sharing it..Really appreciate your personal interest and personal approach in handing over the letter personally to the owner...

God bless !!!