THE LETTERS TO CHARLIE DELAY
April and May went by in a novel-editing blur thanks to a fantastic conversation with an editor from a major publishing house, facilitated by my super-cool agent. The editor was spot on with her ideas to improve the manuscript, and while there are no guarantees, I’m thrilled with the edit. After a month and a half pounding away at keys, I have emerged from my 1952 motorcycle adventure and hit send.
Now for round two of waiting.
While we wait, let’s dive back into 1908, and find out what’s going on with Dora and her Letters to Charlie.
A month has passed since Dora’s last letter, where we learned about the fashion of 1908, and Dora’s continued insecurity. There was also a hint about her not being well, along with an amusing anecdote about Dora helping Mrs. Eastman with a renegade cow. A man named John was mentioned, who Dora feared would be upset if he learned she sent Charlie a photo. Perhaps another suitor?
You’ll remember from Letter #2 that both Dora and Charlie are telephone operators in two small New England towns, employed by Dr. and Mrs. Eastman. I found another tidbit in my latest search (from a book about the history of Woodsville) that showed Dr. Eastman’s Citizen phone company actually operated out of his house.
In addition to the letters, Dora and Charlie communicate over the line, which might explain how Dora unwittingly fell for a teenager eight years her junior. Perhaps she didn’t know the age difference when these letters began.
And here we get to the next in the series.
LETTER #4 of Letters to Charlie
This one is a bit jumbled, not so fluidly written, and a bit confusing. There’s little substance. A misunderstanding perhaps. The ever-present tone of insecurity and jealousy. Dora’s neediness for Charlie’s affection. Let’s set the scene:
Dora, alone in the office, picks up the line during a moment of quietness, desperately needing to hear Charlie’s voice.
She’s been upset with him, thinking he intentionally shunned her. Charlie has written, explaining things, but Dora is still unsure. She now sits patiently waiting for him to answer a question she has asked, heart pounding, gripping the handset to her ear… but the line remains silent.
Dora has switched from her usual sign off of, “Lovingly Dora” to “With love” which says something about the growth of her feelings. I hate to see her grovel for forgiveness, especially if he truly was mean to her.
Because so little happens in this letter, shall we open another? I think so…
LETTER #5 of Letters to Charlie
The next one arrives in Woodsville February 5, 1909, six months later. Was that because they were at odds? Or was Charlie still away? Or are the letters in between simply missing? Hard to say, but judging by the content, much has happened. Clearly, they had some kind of disagreement that has put Dora in a funk.
Let’s read on…
Is the Mr.Bailey referenced John from Letter #3 or someone else? Maybe Raymond Bailey, a man I found in my research, who was 20 in 1909, and worked as a telephone operator for the B&M railroad in Woodsville. Either way it doesn’t really matter considering Dora burned that bridge by being deceiptful.
Of course, Dora could always “take up Mr. Arthur” if Charlie denies her, although I doubt she can let go of her obsession with Charlie.
I’ve got to say, I’m disappointed in Dora. I want her to be happy, and that’s not going to happen with Charlie, not with the constant weight of guilt and him always making her unhappy. I’m guessing she knows Charlie’s age, considering this line, “I know I ought not care for you but I just can’t help it…” And yet, even when faced with an interested adult man, Dora chooses Charlie over Mr. Bailey. I’m sure deep down she knows a relationship with Charlie is doomed, but the heart wants what it wants, I suppose, even if that’s an immature, hurtful young man who makes her cry.
Until next time,