I read a story in the New York Times today about a letter that was delivered to the widow of a man who had written the letter in 1945 from Germany while he was in the American Army . He wrote it to his mother . She has been dead for decades .
The post-person said to the woman at the door something like he was pretty sure this would be personal . The Post Office had tracked down the family even though the address on the envelope was no longer a residence . There was no information regarding where the letter had been since 1945 .
Turns out the letter writer , who was 22 at the time , survived the war , established a career and married the woman who eventually received the letter . They had been married for 60 years or so until his death a few years ago .
The letter , she said , brought up vivid memories of her late husband . She had told the post-person at the door that day that , yes, she knew him , although not at the time when he wrote the letter .
The Post Office had contacted the family a few weeks before the letter was delivered and the family had suspected that it was all some kind of a scam and discounted it . Turned out it wasn’t.
I used to volunteer at the Gilb Museum in Arcadia . I was in charge of the postcard collection . As I entered the cards into the website , reading and describing them , I often wondered where those people were nowadays . Did their children or grandchildren still live at the old address ? Once or twice the thought passed through my noodle that I might try to track down one or two of those people who had at one time or another passed through Arcadia . Most of the motels where they’d stayed are torn down now . The museum had postcards of the motels . Some of the cards were written by WWI or WWII soldiers from the former local military post , the old Army balloon grounds , now a golf course and the site of the Gilb Museum .
Who knows how those old letters and postcards wind up lost , or in thrift stores , or in some dark drawer in a history museum . I assume that almost all of them were delivered those so many years ago .
” Having a wonderful time . You should see the sunshine ! “
” Dear Mom “. ” Dear Cousin “. ” Hello old buddy”.
” Am lying all day in the sun at the pool with the palm trees for shade . “.
” Miss you”.
The 1945 letter mentioned that the Army food left something to be desired . He told his mother not to write him because he assumed that he would be sent home soon .
It was a good story today , overall , because the guy got home safe and had a long and apparently happy life . His widow was happy to get his letter , even though it was not written to her . A little moment in time when he wrote to his mother over seventy years ago from his Army post brought back in some profound way the entirety of the man’s life . Sometimes uncanny and cursory memories are like that .