I’ve been working and sheltering at home for the past month and a half. Although I spend most of my day working and gazing languidly out the window, I have also taken up the very dangerous habit of online shopping.
Ok so, I was an online shopper before all this. “Amazon those water shoes to be here before the kayaking trip on Sunday,” you know, the usual. But I’ve taken the deep dive into the world of Etsy, and well, it’s something else entirely.
I collect books. Or rather, I collect words. I love old books, especially books that are inscribed or dedicated to a certain someone. I have a book of poems from 1850 that has written in neat penmanship in the front an inscription: to the author’s wife, from her husband with love.
Something about inscribed books, whether it be an old schoolbook with cursive writing practice, or a simple, from your son, with admiration, anything old or usual sparks my interest. It’s someone’s memory. Old books make me wonder, what kind of life has this old, beat-up hardback had? Was it sitting on a shelf in a library for many decades, or was it purchased as a gift and passed from father to son? Was it one of those books that you let each of your friends borrow, or was it a religious piece that laid on the bedside stand for prayers and devotions each night? Every book has a story. Every word has spoken to countless individuals over the years before ending up between my hands.
Anyway. This wasn’t even supposed to be about books. I’m off on a tangent again. This was supposed to be about the letters.
I was searching on Etsy for books- and I found someone selling vintage letters. Antique, heartfelt letters, from a Navy soldier, Charlie, to his fiancee, Charlotte, during the war in 1943. It piqued my interest, so I put in an order. When they arrived, I opened the small box and sifted through the handful of letters, either written in neat penmanship or typed on a typewriter.
They were typical letters, in some parts, like the way a man would speak to his beloved. He asked her if they had gotten the attic stairs installed correctly, and was happy that Charlotte’s mother wouldn’t have to go up the stepladder to get into the attic anymore, since that was dangerous. He also spoke about how his holiday was the following day, and he was going to spend it in the most exciting way, doing laundry! Many things he did reminded him of being with her, like seeing a movie would be much better if it was with her rather than with the other soldiers. He spoke in every letter about how he was looking forward to seeing her and starting their lives together, and having their wedding as soon as possible.
As I looked over the heartfelt and carefully written letters I wondered who these individuals were, what their lives were like after the war, their families, and if they got their happily ever after.
Most of all, I wondered how these precious love letters from so many years ago came to be in my possession. I live nowhere near where Charlie or Charlotte resided, nor do I have any family ties to them. Why weren’t these precious letters kept as family heirlooms forever?
I’m a minimalist- yet I find it strange the things that I cling onto. Love letters that belonged to no one of consequence I find priceless.
Perhaps it is because I have a fiance, a love that is similar to Charlie in many ways. The outpouring of love in Charlie’s letters reminds me of the things in my life that I should hold tightly to and treasure. I pray that one day, I will have a precious family to pass them onto.
#thoughts #antiques #vintage #writing