Flea Market Love Letters
"I'm including...": Treasures Found in Letters.
Today we're looking at three letters and some of the little "additions" slipped inside decades ago that have stayed with their letters all these years. In this blog we're going to take a look at the context of some letters, a glimpse at the first page, and wonder what the included treasure might have meant when it arrived first. It's incredibly rare for photographs, clippings, etc. to be found with letters -- thinking about it, they're often the things that go "walk-about" when a letter arrives in my door too, so that's no surprise. Which is what makes these wonderful artifacts of history from the 1910s, the 1920s, and the 1940s all the more amazing!
The McAllister Letters are the latest addition to the Flea Market Love Letters archive. They date from 1912 to 1914 and seem to mostly be to a lady named "Harriet McAllister" from Minnesota U.S.A. I was really delighted when I was photographing them to come across this gem of a letter.
The little clipping in the top corner, reads:
"TWO FRONT ROOMS, suitable for young couple. In modern home for light house keeping; hot water heat, gas, bath, electric light and phone; $12 per month. Phone Midway 3980."
And the letter itself starts:
"Dear [unreadable] boy, I was so happy over your last letter. For it settled my doubts as to when we shall be married.
...the only time that I really am patient is when I come up here and back to you. And then I lie awake clear into the night thinking and planning. As yet it is mostly a dream a great..."
There's unfortunately no envelope so I can't tell you when exactly it's from but placing it between our age range that means this little, gossamer slip of fabric is in the least 109 years old. To say I was excited when I unfolded the pages to find this intact is an understatement! What do you think this whisp of fabric will tell us? I can't wait to find out!
The Biery Letters make up one of the -- if not the -- largest letter collections in the archive. The letters range from the early 19th Century right up to the mid-1930s. Written primarily to an Alice Biery by her sister, the letters are an intact time capsule of decades of American history.
In this photograph we see that Alice's sister has written a letter just after the holidays in 1926. Alice and her sister lived worlds apart in 1920s Pennsylvania and Arizona.
Most of the Biery letters are in pencil, which is amazing to think it's survive and is legible all these 90+ years later. This one begins:
"Dear Alice, -- Your beautiful gift arrived yesterday with the same mail. I rec'd a gift from Alice, I never had such beautiful things that the way you dress! I am hardly able to write, its so awful hard for me to put myself together..."
And a scrap paper addendum, or Postscript:
"Went to the Dr's and had a soft tumor + it's not a cancer,I'll be only old + slow + reverted uterus"
So while it's not clear from the first page why the newspaper clipping as been included, they're often times even more of a snapshot "of a time" than a letter and serve to paint a more elaborate picture for us readers. This included newspaper clipping talks about some of the early tourist attractions of Arizona. At the time of this letter, Arizona had only been a state since 1912 -- 14 years! It was still very much a "Wild West". What it must have been like for Alice's sister to move from the East Coast to the West? I can't wait to get to the Biery Letters some day and unwrap this story.
The Garber Letters were gifted the same time as the Roth Letters, and at first I thought they were the same series. But after spreading them all out and taking a look I realized nope, we had two series -- the Roth's from the 1930s and the Garber's from the 1940s!
Dating from 1942 this letter to a G.I. was posted from Mount Jackson, Virginia and begins:
"Dear Big Brother, I'm sure you are my biggest brother with a big job, any way by our talk people wouldn't know we have but one brother. We are really proud of you my dear. We have been having some rain the last few weeks and pretty now. It seems as thou summer should just be starting instead of just ending. School starts Sept 3. or 4 so we have only a short time to play around. Dotty + Billy have been over with Auntie a few days. Freddie wanted to go along but he finally though he would better stay home. Billy Payne has been transfered to Calif. Vernon M. wife is in the hospital with appendicitis..."
As we mentioned, it's incredibly rare to find photographs remaining with their letters so it was both a treat and a mystery when this fella slid out from the envelope! Who are you young guy? Are you Garber's brother? I look forward to featuring the Garber series in the future and cracking the mystery of who this endearing schoolboy was to our letter writer and recipient.
Which was your Favorite?
While I famously try not to pick favorites, I wonder which was yours? Which letter series can you not wait to see unfold next? Whichever it is I'm sure the treasures of the letters themselves will reveal almost as much as these "little" additions. Thanks for reading!
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