Flea Market Love Letters
Guest Blog: "My Darling One"
I first "met" today's Guest Blogger Jen through the penpal exchange mega-project Penpalooza. Penpalooza, started by writer Rachel Syme, links folks around the world to exchange letters. In the peek of lockdown Penpalooza on Twitter was for many of us the space on the internet we went to escape.
So when Jen shared her story elaborated here to Twitter I knew we had to ask her to write it down for you, our Flea Market Love Letters readers! Enjoy!
I consider myself to not be one who saves many things from my past. I keep the memories; I write the memories; but I don’t keep many of the physical “things” that would fill a memory box or chest. I prefer to relive those past days through the images that fill my head; through the smells that wisp by; through reading back through scraps of paper or journals that I have kept over time.
There are a few precious things that I have saved from family members who have long since passed on, many whom I have never met. One of those special things that I have been gifted over time is an old cookbook that I believed belonged to my grandmother, but upon further research I found it had belonged to my great-aunt Ethel.
For years this cookbook has sat on my bookshelf. I have always been too scared to open the book for it is extremely fragile. The pages are separating from the binding and I fear some may have been lost over time. Recently, I decided to pull this well, loved book off the shelf to transcribe a handwritten recipe I knew was written on the first page. As I gently turned the pages of “Maids’ and Matrons’ Cook Book” I turned first to the recipe I knew was on the first page. I then carefully turned the pages to find the publication date of the book, June, 1921. It was then that I noticed that if I carefully turned one more page there was something there that did not feel as if it belonged. I was expecting to find a recipe card or maybe a page that had come loose from the binding. It was then I discovered several treasures.
First, I found 2 old driver’s license photographs of my grandfather, a postcard from my great-aunt Ethel detailing her aches and pains as she grew older that was written to my grandparents and then the most precious find of them all, a love letter written to my grandmother from my grandfather shortly before they were to be married.
I have many memories of my grandmother but only one of my grandfather since he passed away before I was 5. So, finding this letter was special in so many ways. I got a small glimpse into the man he was in 1924 and the love he had for my grandmother.
The letter opens with, “My Darling One: I am so lonesome and blue this evening and I sure need you to cheer me up for you are the only one that can do it, for Dear, I want you so bad today I believe I would want nothing else if you were here with me.”
I stopped reading, I felt as if I was intruding on a beautiful quiet moment between these two lovebirds. But of course, curiosity won; and I continued to read. The ink has begun to fade in some places and the long hand script can be hard to read but I wove my way through their private moment of love and longing for each other. The letter mentions that it was written one short month before their marriage. He couldn’t wait to get home to her and begin their lives together. Grandmother had a tooth ache she must have mentioned in a previous letter and he was worried it wouldn’t heal before their wedding. She had gone to a party without him and he was a bit jealous but stated quite clearly that he trusted her fully but wished he had been there to hold her hand, “I have enough confidence in you for to trust you anywhere but of course I am jealous…” The letter closes simply with promises of a present upon his return and the closing line of “I will see you soon, Clifton”.
Upon finishing the letter, I quickly called my aunt. She is the person we all turn to when we need to know something about our family history. I learned from her that my grandfather was living and working in San Antonio, Texas while my grandmother stayed behind with her family in Bridgeport, Texas. They were married a month following the letter. My aunt told me he loved my grandmother more than any man she had ever met in her lifetime.
This is the only surviving love letter that we know about. All other letters have been lost over time. How I would love to one day find those letters to learn more about their love for each other, their lives before marriage and for the beautiful words that passed between them.
For now, I will cherish the one letter that we have that was carefully tucked away within the pages of a long, forgotten cookbook.
Share Your Letter Story, Today!
Thank you again Jen for sharing your letter story. If you have a letter story you'd like to share send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.